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The Accordion Wars: Famo music and gang violence in Lesotho | People and Power

Fierce rivalry between followers of a unique, accordion-based, musical tradition known as Famo has fuelled years of deadly gang warfare in the tiny African kingdom of Lesotho. Financed by organised crime and gold salvaged from the area's disused - but still productive - apartheid-era mines, the murderous feuds have now spilled over into neighbouring South Africa. So why is this blend of traditional songs with Western instruments causing such violent animosity and what can be done to bring it under control? For People & Power, filmmakers Naashon Zalk, Hamilton Wende and Tankiso Makhetha went to find out.

South Africa: My Father Died For This | People and Power

May 6, 2021

As South Africa’s apartheid government fought to cling onto power in the latter half of the 20th century, it routinely imprisoned, tortured and murdered its opponents in the liberation movement.

Controversially, in the years that followed the end of white minority rule, many of those crimes went unpunished.

In 1995, President Nelson Mandela’s new African National Congress (ANC) administration established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to help heal the country by revealing the facts about the era’s gross human rights violations.

However the commission’s emphasis was on gathering evidence, publicly acknowledging abuses and hearing testimony from victims, rather than on prosecuting the perpetrators – many of whom were granted amnesty in return for participating in the process.

The reconciliation hearings helped unify the new South Africa but they also disillusioned and frustrated many survivors and victims’ families who wanted more than mere acknowledgment of their suffering – and who have never given up hopes of justice.

Lukhanyo Calata is one of them. His father was part of a group of anti-apartheid activists – famously known as the Cradock Four – who were assassinated by security forces in 1985. No one has ever been prosecuted for orchestrating or committing the murders, but as this episode of People and Power reveals, Lukhanyo remains utterly determined to hold his father’s killers to account.

Namibia: The Price of Genocide | People and Power

Dec 16, 2021

In May this year, the German government formally acknowledged responsibility for the colonial-era genocide against Namibia’s Herero and Nama peoples more than 100 years ago.

It was the first such atrocity of the 20th century, committed between 1904 and 1908 in the name of Imperial Germany in the territory known then as German South West Africa. As such, many historians now see it as foreshadowing the Nazi Holocaust of World War II.

But Herero and Nama activists, who have long campaigned for reparations, say the compensation on offer does not truly reflect the appalling suffering of the tens of thousands who died – through ethnic cleansing, disease, starvation, imprisonment and torture.

In Namibia: The Price of Genocide, filmmakers Naashon Zalk and Hamilton Wende have been finding out why.

From Our Own Correspondent - BBC


South Africa: End of the Mine?

Click to Image Visit "From Our Own Correspondent" - BBC BBC NEWS Mon 21 Apr 2014 11 minutes by Hamilton Wende In an extended essay, Hamilton Wende asks whether we are in the twilight of South Africa’s mining industry, which has been at the heart of the country’s identity for so long. Once, the country's rich mineral reserves - of gold, platinum and diamonds, among others - were thought to guarantee it a prosperous future. Its mining industry has been a motor of progress since the 1870s; and despite the exploitation and inequality of the business, the clout of its workers played a central part in dismantling apartheid. Now, though, the sector seems to be in the doldrums, beset by strikes and with some operators even talking about closing pits altogether and moving operations elsewhere.

South Africa

Click to Image Visit "From Our Own Correspondent" - BBC BBC NEWS Tue 10 Jul 2012 10 minutes by Hamilton Wende Insight, wit and analysis from BBC correspondents, journalists and writers from around the world. Presented by Pascale Harter. In this edition: The city that wouldn't die 'One of the most dangerous places in the world'; 'don't walk - anywhere, and don't go out at night'; 'gunshot capital' - these are the sorts of things that have often been said about Johannesburg in South Africa in recent years. The decaying, and increasingly disorderly, state of its town centre was one blot on the hopes for a new Rainbow Nation after the end of apartheid. But, according to Hamilton Wende, a lifetime resident of the city, not any longer - as "Jobes" seems to be reviving itself. Over the seas and far away People from every part of the United Kingdom have been going abroad to seek their fortunes, get educated, or make new lives elsewhere for a very long time. Scotland, in particular, has seen great waves of emigration from its shores to South Africa, Australia, Canada and the USA, among many others. In the early 1900s no less than one fifth of the working population left its shores. Lachlan Goudie recently found, while visiting the Isle of Mull, that Scots are now scattered around the world but still held together by a common story.

Turkey and Mozambique

Click to Image Visit "From Our Own Correspondent" - BBC BBC NEWS Thu 25 Oct 2012 10 minutes by Hamilton Wende Pascale Harter presents dispatches from BBC correspondents around the world. Thousands of Syrian refugees have crossed into Turkey to avoid the fighting in their home country. Some have ended up in Izmir, today a peaceful port city – but one that has a history of violence. Greeks lived there for thousands of years alongside other ethnic groups, but they were forced out in the aftermath of World War I. Fergal Keane has been reflecting on his encounters in the city with refugees from today’s regional conflict. And in Mozambique, Hamilton Wende went searching for signs of a time gone by, but found himself dazzled by a country using its natural resources to rebuild after decades of conflict. Remnants of the colonial past are everywhere in Maputo but the city is also forging a new, cosmopolitan African identity.




Book Review | Fiction ‘Red Air’
Dec 9, 2020

Journalist, author, and producer Hamilton Wende, has reported on conflict for more than two decades. And he drew inspiration from his time as a war correspondent to pen his latest novel, ‘Red Air’. #eNCA Courtesy #DStv403

The guest on Talking Books is Hamilton Wende, an author, freelance writer and television producer, who has covered a number of revolutions and wars across the African continent, and he has written several books – including novels, non-fiction and children’s books. He talks to CNBC Africa’s Jill de Villiers about his adventures, writing and the wonder of children’s fiction.

Featured Author, Journalist and Producer Hamilton Wende

Hamilton Wende chats to Mandi Friedman of Life, in a Garden, about his most recent and incredibly exciting war tale, Red Air, a thoroughly enjoyable read for both men and women!

joburgtoday 247. tv


Dec 13, 2017

InFocus today we review a new book by renowned Author and Journalist, Hamilton Wende, titled Arabella

Podcast interviews

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Published Nov 22, 2020

War correspondent who covered 17 different conflicts, pens novel set in Afghanistan

The ideas have come to Hamilton Wende in his dreams. They have been sparked by the animals residing in his garden and triggered by the things he has seen in war zones. For 25-odd years Wende has travelled the world as a war correspondent. He has covered 17 different conflicts, and in between he has written books. It is his experience in war zones that he drew on while writing his latest novel, Red Air. The novel is set in Afghanistan and centres around ageing CIA operative Al Morris who is kidnapped by warlord Azmaray Shah. The reason for that kidnapping is an article that Morris’s son Danny wrote, where he unwittingly betrays Shah and this leads to his son Turan’s capture. The journalist is forced to save his father, and deal with the guilt of a fractured relationship. He joins a rescue mission run by the US Marines. “So it's about a parallel story about two fathers and two sons, and the conflict in Afghanistan, I wrote it with the kind of idea of looking at the emotions of the marines in battle,” explains Wende. The book took seven years to write, including a spell where Wende was bed-ridden following a back operation...

SAfrea Chronicle

Apr 4, 2021

Dust of War

Arja Salafranca talks to writer Hamilton Wende about his latest novel, Red Air, set on the war fields of Afghanistan

‘I have made a life of witnessing other people’s hells, but now, for the first time in my life, I stand at the threshold of my own.’

ed Air, Hamilton Wende’s latest novel, is set in contemporary Afghanistan. The country was rocked by the Russian invasion in 1979, and since 2001 it has been embroiled in an ongoing war following the US invasion that began when the US and its allies drove the Taliban from power in order to deny Al-Qaeda a safe base of operations in the country. Red Air opens when CIA operative Al Morris is kidnapped in Afghanistan. His son, Danny, is a foreign correspondent from whom he is estranged. Danny writes an article about the terrorist group which unwittingly betrays an Afghan warlord, Azmaray Shah, and leads to his son Turan’s capture.

Azmaray Shah insists that Danny come to negotiate for his father’s life and for the release of Turan.

Despite their estrangement, and his initial hesitation, Danny joins a mission run by the US marines to rescue Al.

Writer Wende is also a foreign war correspondent, having covered some seventeen wars across the world from Africa to Iraq and Afghanistan. But this is fiction, as Wende pointed out to me as we sat talking about his novel in his writing studio in the home he shares with wife, Lianne, and their children, in Parkview. This idyllic scene – a view of lush gardens outside – is worlds away from the blood and violence of war, any war.

Inside there are wall-to-wall bookshelves on one side of the converted garage, and on the other side there are photos, pictures and posters of some of Wende’s other books – he has written other novels, two children’s books, as well as collections of his journalism. A laptop was open on his desk as we spoke, sitting in two wingback chairs facing the bright exterior view.

I have witnessed war often before, but from a distance, with a hotel room to return to at night. I thought I knew war, but I realize now that I had no idea what it meant…