New Internationalist

Ether Street & The NI Crossword

Issue 327

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The story so far: an unholy ghost called Nil has given three NI readers exclusive insights into Monsanto's plans for world domination and into Albert Einstein's cornflakes.

For all your talk of having as many female incarnations, you seem pretty male-focused. Hard to believe you don't have a beard.

I assure you, as a spark of spirit, I don't even stretch to stubble - or breasts for that matter.

All the same, everyone you name-drop is a man: Stalin, Ford, Einstein...

They weren't incarnations, only acquaintances. But since you take this tack, I'll say one thing to you: Nzinga.

Unzinger? Is that one of those things you use with a digital TV?

N-Z-I-N-G-A.

Oh, Nzinga. Yes, that gorilla born at a zoo in Texas. There are pictures of it on the Internet.

I hope it's good-looking because it was presumably named after one of my finest lives, Queen Nzinga of Matamba.

Excuse our ignorance, but who?

You see? You blame me for mentioning too many men then, when I draw your attention to one of the most heroic female figures in history, you simply look blank. And I'd lay odds your knowledge of African history is pretty sketchy too.

Well, there was ancient Egypt. And Great Zimbabwe. And that King of Mali who had all the gold...

Kankan Musa. But there was so much more. Whole civilizations that rose and fell like the breathing of the gods, epic tales of heroism and resistance, only to be forgotten by a world whose idea of history is a theme park based on Henry VIII's dangerous liaisons.

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So who was Queen Nzinga?

It was 1624 when I succeeded my brother Mbandi as ruler or ngola of Ndongo - you might say the modern country Angola was named after me. The Portuguese had been attacking us from their forts nearer the coast and seizing slaves for their new colony in Brazil. And I'd travelled as emissary the year before to persuade them to recognize our independence.

So you were no shrinking violet then.

All the same I had to fight hard to become queen - the Portuguese tried to put up a puppet ngola and my own people, the Mbundu, had no tradition of female leadership. Until I took charge, that is. What times those were, leading the resistance against the Portuguese...

Hang on, we never learned about Africans fighting the slave traders in an organized way.

Organized? We gave them hell. I harboured fugitive slaves, encouraged rebellion wherever I could, built an army using mercenaries and Africans the Portuguese had trained...

But were doubtless soon crushed by superior firepower.

It depends what you mean by 'soon'. After a couple of years they conquered our capital but we regrouped by taking over the next-door kingdom of Matamba and for the next 30 years we harassed them at every turn. I used every resource I had to resist the Portuguese - and by the time I died they'd recognized they weren't going to beat me. Parts of Matamba were still free right into the twentieth century.

You weren't exactly a pacifist then.

Not in that incarnation, it's true. Of course had I known about the enormous benefits that slavery and colonialism were going to bring to Africa I might have been more accommodating!

Next month: the link between teddy bears and US foreign policy.

The NI Crossword
No 47 by Axe

Crossword no.47

Cryptic
Across
 1 Develop oil at random around empty level once seen from the Congo (12)
 9 Fertilize plant – parrot devoured fashionable additive (9)
10 Pacific island’s gold in run chaos (5)
11 Exodus from Oxford University Tuesday following depression (7)
12 Bad blood between a Nebraska and a Kansas town in the old days (7)
13 A Nile plumber produced covering foliage? (8,4)
17 Short beach Coe runs on in Basque Country (3,9)
22 Pharoah slams see-through get-up (7)
24 I am an associate of the office of the Arab chief (7)
25 Chekhov vehicle getting German approval, we hear, relatively speaking! (5)
26 March bird makes good pet after beginning of September (9)
27 Imperial mast constructed gets the range of the Riviera (8,4)

Down
 1 Gallop north, carrying Chinese test location (3,3)
 2 Civil, but not quiet, getting round limestone rock (6)
 3 French flag Rif tear into in expression of protest with Marseille extremists (9)
 4 City in India seen after hard, violent conflict (7)
 5 Glacial condition sends church football organization indoors in a bad way (3,4)
 6 Long Island, New York is initially identified south-east of Jinan (5)
 7 It gets sandy on row at New Zealand coastal town (7)
 8 Molluscs from Greek character almost upset Xerxes (7)
14 Silver, also known as nitrogen-bearing, from a part of Burma (9)
15 Avar uprising gets under East German Moravian centre (7)
16 A new English border, Nautilus-type, flower (7)
18 Animal, for instance, is on first class sticker from 23 (7)
19 Journey to oil refinery leads to Libyan port (7)
20 French department as outlined in Armorican tales (6)
21 Skin complaint caused by strange sphere (6)
23 Chief African Sikh leader confronted by Maori war dance (5)

Quick
Across
 1 Colonial name of Kinshasa (12)
 9 Move natural fertilizer from plant to plant (9)
10 Pacific republic with the world’s richest phosphates deposit (5)
11 Run-out (of river) (7)
12 Kansas cowboy town associated with Doc Holliday and Dwight D Eisenhower (7)
13 Coniferous tree also prefaced by ‘Stone’ (8,4)
17 Basque Country resort (3,9)
22 One of eleven Egyptian pharaohs (7)
24 Office of a Muslim religious leader (7)
25 ‘Uncle ——-’, play by Anton Chekhov (5)
26 Method of military marching (9)
27 Mountain range of Provence and Piedmont-Liguria (8,4)

Down
 1 Marshy, former lake bed, site of Chinese nuclear tests (3,3)
 2 Calcareous rock made up of fish roe-like spheres often filled with quartz (6)
 3 Ancient standard of France (9)
 4 South Indian city, twinned with Hubli (7)
 5 Glacial avalanche (3,4)
 6 City of Shandong province, on the River Yi (5)
 7 New Zealand city dedicated to Edinburgh (7)
 8 Gastropods which yield Tyrian purple dye (7)
14 Native of a province of western Burma (9)
15 Moravian city now part of the Czech Republic (7)
16 Flower of the crowfoot family (7)
18 Slender spear tipped with iron (7)
19 Cities of Lebanon and Libya which share the same name (7)
20 French department of the Auvergne (6)
21 Skin disease of various kinds, eg shingles (6)
23 Founder of the Zulu nation, died 1828 (5)


Last month's solution

Solution to no.46

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