Today's Story Line

Who gets the best farmland is one of the most volatile issues in post-colonial Africa. In Zimbabwe, some 3,000 white-owned farms have been targeted for confiscation - about half already have been seized by force.

In South Africa, after a slow start, there's been progress on land reform. In the past 18 months, some 6,500 land claims or about 10 percent of the outstanding disputes have been settled. Today's story (page 1) looks at one South African tribe's land claim. They aren't trying to get their land back. Rather, they want the same financial support, training, and access to the local political institutions that the neighboring white farmers have received.

David Clark Scott World editor


*CHOOSING AN HONORIFIC: Should the choice of words reflect the cultural norms and definitions in the country where a reporter is working, or US standards? For example in today's story about land reform, reporter Kate Dunn says it felt unnatural to refer to two senior citizens from the Nama aboriginal community as "Mr. David Cloete" and "Mr. Pieter Brand." They were introduced to her, as Oum (Uncle) David and Oum Piet. A Monitor editor asked her whether some readers might see this as similar to the US pejorative 'Uncle Tom.' But says Kate, Oum is an Afrikaans term of respect for elders and the most polite honorific one can use with Afrikaans-speaking South African seniors.

Similarly, says Kate, people who are of mixed race in South Africa are called "coloured" - a pass term in the US but still commonly and comfortably used by South Africans despite its roots as an apartheid racial classification.

Kate worries about the day she may have to quote a local politician whose name is Darkey Africa. "I'll probably ask if I can just use his initials," she says. "I don't think US readers would believe it's his name. On the other hand, Mr. Africa might be offended that Americans wouldn't believe it's his name or could be offended by it!"

*HOW TO EAT A BERLIN BAGEL: When reporter Lucian Kim went to his interview with the general manager of Berlin's Jewish Community, he wasn't exactly sure where the office was. Emerging from the subway, he spotted three policemen in front of a nondescript building, and knew he had found the right place. Nearly all Jewish institutions in Germany are guarded around the clock. After the interview, Lucian ducked into a Jewish deli next door. Again he was reminded that he was in Germany, when he was given a knife and fork to eat his bagel.

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