Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Angels Are With Us.

I'm not particularly political. But sometimes ...

On the radio ages ago I heard John Pilger talking about his new book, Tell Me No Lies. A collection of other peoples Investigative Journalism. Classics of the genre. Like the guy who hitched to Hiroshima and broke the news of what an Atomic Bomb actually did to people, while everyone else was at an event held by the American Forces Media machine.

It's the stuff we weren't meant to find out.

What caught my ear that day was Pilger talking about how modern newspaper industry was actually working against this kind of journalism. He talked about a Blog that was written from occupied Iraq, and said that this was where the truth would be found in the future. People reporting what they see, and what they know.

The blog was Jo Wilding's Wildfire Jo and after that radio program I spent three days reading her blog. Some of it makes me furious, and some of it breaks my heart. But I couldn't stop. It was very familiar.

Years ago, I spent a few months up in NWFP - the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan - wandering about, talking, clowning around, drinking Kowar, sweet green tea, and doing whatever turned up. I juggled for kids and adults, for bus queues in Chitral, and played guitar for the Swat Police, well the off-duty ones. (I remember doing Sittin On Top Of The World, and Woody Guthrie's I Ain't Got No Home - realising halfway through the line about "everywhere I go the police make it hard!"). Being such a harmless novelty I got to go places I wouldn't have dared, ordinarily, and started to think that I was much safer than I really was. You just take it as it comes.

I was befriended by a Mujaheddin group from Badhakshan, possibly for the entertainment value, and spent many hours walking around with a 14 year old Afghani guy trying to learn a few words of Afghani. It was weird to think of him as one of a fighting team resisting the Russians. Summer and winter up in the Hindu Kush. The Mujaheddin left Afghanistan so they didn't have to fight each other after the Russians left, and were refugees in Pakistan. They laughed and joked and did what work they could, and met up in the evenings to eat. Hard times. Normal folks.

The thing is that everything Jo Wilding is writing about is real. From the descriptions of people surviving, trying to live lives in the chaos, to getting on a bus of medical supplies in the hope that this will help it get into a city under seige. Doing it because there really isn't anything better to do. And someone asked her to help.

John Pilger chose the post of April 12th 2004 to represent what has really been going on in Iraq. He called it "the best and bravest eyewitness journalism".

Read it and weep.


Post a Comment

<< Home