Happy 90th, (ex) prisoner 46664!

Nelson Mandela turns 90 on 18 July 2008.

Moving Images blog joins the world in wishing him many happy returns of the day — and many more birthdays to come!

To mark the occasion, we feature the song 46664 (That’s My Number) Nelson Mandela recorded some years ago to draw attention to HIV/AIDS.

This background story comes from the YouTube channel of Andrew Heath:

was Nelson Mandela’s prison number when he was incarcerated on Robbin Island, Cape Town for 18 years.

46664 is a global movement fighting against HIV/AIDS in Africa and around the globe and MUSIC is a key element of the 46664 campaign.

In 2003 Jacqui Joseph (TV Presenter & Director of GHC Productions) was asked to host the first “live” Nelson Mandela 46664 Concert at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town with an audience of 40,000 that was broadcast globally and on the internet to 2 Billion people.

Jacqui provided her services for free and interviewed all the artists performing at the concert including Beyonce, Bono, The Edge, Peter Gabriel, Dave Stewart, Brian May, Roger Taylor, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Angelique Kidjo and did the voice over for the official 46664 DVD.

As a result of her charity work and involvement with 46664 Jacqui and all involved in the campaign became official Ambassadors to the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Although a number of years have passed since Jacqui fronted the first big 46664 music event she now feels the time is right to re-energise and raise the public awareness and profile for the 46664 campaign.

In order to do this, Jacqui asked Max & Andy (remixer/producers) to come up with a fresh musical anthem & video for the 46664 campaign.

In 2006 Max & Andy completed the track and video and the result is: 46664 (THAT’S MY NUMBER)

46664 (That’s my Number) combines samples taken from Nelson Mandela’s inaugural 46664 speech in 2003 over dubbed onto an infectious re-mix of pop, ska and reggae classics.

The 46664 (that’s my number) video includes images sampled from the first official 46664 DVD and live concert shot in 2003 as well as original clips filmed for the GHC Productions video.

Nelson Mandela 46664

Mobile phones in Sri Lanka: Everyman’s new trousers?

Mobile phones - social leveller in Sri Lanka

Mobile phones - social leveller in Sri Lanka

Mobile Phones in Sri Lanka: Everyman’s new trousers?

This is the title of my latest op ed essay, published this week on Groundviews, the leading citizen journalism website in Sri Lanka.

In this, I try to place in a social and cultural context a series of discriminatory laws, regulations and taxes that my native Sri Lanka has introduced – or threatened – in the past few months all aimed at mobile phones, and only mobiles.

This, despite the fact that the proliferation of mobiles has brought telecom services within reach of millions of Sri Lankans in the past decade, helping raise the country’s overall tele-density (mobiles+fixed phones) to 54 telephones per 100 population. With over 11 million SIMs issued, mobiles today outnumber fixed phones by three to one.

In my essay, I cite specific examples, and ask the crucial questions:

Why is this already licensed and regulated technology often targeted for ‘special treatment’ by different arms of government?

Where is this wide-spread suspicion and hostility towards mobiles coming from?

I argue that it is rear-guard action by the traditional elite and bureaucracy who’d rather not allow such digital empowerment to spread. And this has historical parallels.

Here’s the crux of it:

“There is a numerically small (but influential) privileged class that resents information and communication access becoming universal. They might talk glibly in public on using ICTs for social development or poverty reduction. But back inside the corridors of power, they make policies and regulations to undermine the very utility of these tools. This is no accident.

“The mobile phone is the biggest social leveller in Sri Lankan society since the trouser became ubiquitous (initially for men, and belatedly for women). Our elders can probably recall various arguments heard 30 or 40 years ago on who should be allowed to wear the western garb: it was okay for the educated and/or wealthy mahattayas, but not for the rest. Absurd and hilarious as these debates might seem today, they were taken very seriously at the time.

“Make no mistake: the mobile is the trouser of our times –- and thus becomes the lightning rod for class tensions, petty jealousies and accumulated frustrations of an elite that sees the last vestiges of control slipping away.

Read the full essay on Groundviews

Relevant to this discussion is a short film that TVE Asia Pacific produced for LIRNEasia in late 2007, summarising the findings of the latter’s large sample survey on tele-use at the bottom of the pyramid in five emerging markets (which included Sri Lanka).

TVEAP News, Nov 2007: Film highlights telephone revolution in Asia’s emerging markets

Watch the film online:

Teleuse@BOP – Part 1 of 2

Teleuse@BOP – Part 2 of 2

Photo courtesy TVE Asia Pacific