Consciously or sub-consciously, you rarely think of Germany without picturing Angela Merkel or of Russia without Vladimir Putin. Because whether we like it or not, the political leader of our country represents how the world perceives their nation. But is it a reflection of that nation’s people? […]
This is where the idea for Face of a Nation originates. It is a personal curiosity project that aims to create portraits of different nations based on their leaders from the past 50 years.
To this end, Soykan took photos of presidents and prime ministers, spliced them vertically and put the resulting strips together, forming new, composite portraits. The strips are ordered by the periods these men (and the odd woman) governed. The width of each bar represents the duration of each government.
Although perhaps the most important lesson is how boring leaders look, some trends can be clearly spotted, and I am not just talking about the switch from black-and-white to colour photography. The end of apartheid in South Africa is visible, because all subsequent presidents after De Klerk were black (top illustration, detail). American presidents lead for exactly four or eight years (bottom left). Syria and North Korea are hereditary dictatorships. And if you are the leader of Turkey (bottom right) or Italy, you should probably make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date.
For many a bad sign, for a selected few, no more riffraff, as Rotterdam gets its first gated community, called Ringvaartstaete (PDF in Dutch). It’s only 12 villas of which 6 have already been sold, according to the real estate agent, with prices ranging from 900,000 to 1.5 million euro.
When I think of gated communities, I imagine inside them a scene out of the American movie Pleasantville, with its idealistic American 1950s. Then, there’s also South Africa with its compounds, clearly separating powerful white people from anybody not fitting that description. And then there’s the ones I flew over some 10 years ago when landing in Moscow, which separated the nouveau riche from the hopelessly poor.
What bothers me the most is that Quote magazine felt the need to caption their photo of the community “Not only for whites”, which I find it scary. The article also ‘reassures’ us, as the real estate agent claims they’ve had the honor of welcoming “their first ‘coloured’ buyer”.
On February 6th, Dutch singer Stef Bos was awarded a prize in Pretoria, South Africa for his contribution to the Afrikaans language and music. It was the first time ever that a foreigner has received such an award.
His new CD ‘Kloofstraat’ which will be out in March will have songs that are almost completely written in Afrikaans, a language Stef must speak quite well since he lives half the year in Cape Town. The rest of the year he lives in Antwerp, Belgium, as do many Dutch people.
Here’s Stef Bos singing his first Dutch hit from 1990, ‘Papa’ that seems to be a classic song dedicated to fathers.
Last Friday, 12 June, under the banner of ‘Sustainability and Africa’, the Delft University of Technology welcomed former President of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner, F.W. de Klerk (in the middle), who was instrumental in brokering the end of Apartheid. He told the small audience, “even though I have been in government very long, don’t trust the government too much”.
De Klerk was invited to the Netherlands by the Amsterdam-based KidsRights foundation, a joint founder of the ‘Plakkies’ slipper initiative, a successful venture started by two Delft University of Technology students. Like some Dutch people in this video, I didn’t think much of these slippers, but with some background information, not just some uppity Afrikaans advert, it made more sense.
Designed by Michel Boerrigter, plakkies (Afrikaans for ‘slippers’), are made of used car tyres and were made hip and trendy for the ‘Western market’, with South African children drawing the designs that go on them. The profit goes towards a good cause and the business employs 70 people. The only disadvantage is that they do smell of used car tyres when you first buy them, but Boerrigter reassures people that this extra charm disappears quickly enough.