Ken Olende

Star Trek

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Director: JJ Abrams; Release date: 8 May

The creator of television's Lost and Alias has been brought in to breathe new life into the tired Star Trek franchise. He has probably succeeded. The film works as an action adventure from the spectacular opening space battle, even though the plot is full of holes and occasionally near incomprehensible.

The original iconic crew of the Starship Enterprise are introduced again. The recast Kirk, Spock and companions have yet to graduate from learning to fly spaceships at Star Fleet academy on Earth.

You Must Set Forth at Dawn

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Wole Soyinka, Methuen, £19.99

Nobel prize-winning author Wole Soyinka has written plays, poems and novels steeped in what Nigerian tradition there is and that of his own Yoruba people. Since he first rose to prominence in the early 1960s he has been centrally involved in the complex and dangerous world of Nigerian politics, which has led on occasion to both imprisonment and forced exile.

You Must Set Forth at Dawn is his third volume of memoirs, if his powerful 1972 prison notebook The Man Died is included as well as his 1981 childhood reminiscences, Aké the Years of Childhood.

Bank Job

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Review of "Looting Africa", Patrick Bond, Zed Books £12.99

"Looting" is often in the eye of the beholder. Endless reports bemoan Africa's poverty and corruption - and then offer free market solutions. In this useful, angry book on the economics of exploitation, political economist Patrick Bond lays into the real looters, including national economies, banks and transnational organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

Mali: On-Screen Platform for the Voiceless

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Sometimes it seems that the Western powers, the multinationals and the banks get away with murder, confident that no one can challenge them. Anti-capitalists rage that the impoverishment of Africa is a crime and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should be put on trial. I spoke to director Abderrahmane Sissako whose forthcoming film, Bamako, literally puts them in the dock.

In a surreal contrast, a formal trial - with robes, lawyers, witnesses and cross examination - takes place in a domestic courtyard in Bamako, the capital of Mali in West Africa, while everyday life continues all around. Women fetch water from the standpipe. Someone is close to death with no money for medical care; a couple marry; another relationship breaks down as the husband can't find work. A workshop of fabric dyers toil in the background.

Impulse of an Era

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Review of 'The House That Trane Built', Ashley Kahn, Granta £20

In the early 1960s a major shift was taking place in jazz. This was exemplified by the changes in the work of John Coltrane, where every one of his releases seemed to revolutionise the music.

Ashley Kahn takes a step back to look at the environment Coltrane was working in, through Impulse, the record label that released most of his revolutionary music.

Impulse was set up in 1961 as a jazz label for the ABC-Paramount group, who rightly believed that the sales of jazz albums like Miles Davis's Kind of Blue showed a large potential market for modern jazz.

Distant Memories

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Review of 'The Last Friend', Tahar Ben Jelloun, New Press £11.99

Ali and Mamed are inseparable friends growing up in the Moroccan city of Tangiers at the beginning of the 1960s. Their lives are constrained by the intricacies of shifting social, religious, class and racial relations in Morocco. Ali is pale skinned, while Mamed is never allowed to forget his Arab background.

The country is still occupied by France, but nearby the anti-colonial Algerian war is on, and the talk among their circle is all about racism and colonialism.

Empty Shell

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Review of 'The Next Gulf', Andy Rowell, James Marriott and Lorne Stockman, Constable £8.99

In November 1995 well known Nigerian author Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists in Nigeria, West Africa, were executed by the military regime. For the last five years of his life Saro-Wiwa led protests in the Niger Delta against Shell oil environmental destruction, and for better distribution of oil wealth.

Saro-Wiwa was improbably accused of ordering the death of four Ogoni elders who had been killed by a mob. Close connections between Shell and the state had been referred to as the 'privatisation of the state', and Shell's international image suffered greatly.

History of Imperialism: Brutality, the British Way

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British efforts to preserve empire in Kenya unleashed a wave of atrocities, says Ken Olende.

On 20 October 1952 a state of emergency was declared in Britain's East African colony of Kenya. It lasted until 1960, and was the most brutal campaign in Britain's attempt to hold on to its empire after the Second World War. The rebellion was crushed and it is significant that, while the rebels called themselves the Land and Freedom Army, they are remembered as the Mau Mau, the bastardised name given to them by the settlers.

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