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Material World: Cain and Abel in Africa

Material World

In March, the BBC's website reported that more than a 100 people have been killed in the last three months in the Democratic Republic of Congo province of Ituri because of unrest between the Hema cattle herders and Lendu farmers fighting for control of land. In 2006, the BBC reported that as many as 60,000 people had died since 1998. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced from their homes, becoming refugees. Much of the animosity revolves around the 1973 land use law, which allows people to buy land they do not inhabit and, if their ownership is not contested for two years, evict any residents from the land. Some wealthy Hema used this law to force Lendu off their land, leading to a growing sense of resentment.

Material World: Dying Younger

Material World

Life expectancy is usually calculated from birth, the average number of years a new-born baby can expect to live if the mortality rates pertaining at the time of their birth apply throughout their life. After decades of progress, there has been a turnaround.

In England and Wales, 1991 saw women living to 79 years and men to 73.  By 2011, women were living to 83 years and men to 79 years. Since then little improvement has occurred. Figures for the period 2014 to 2016 were published in September 2017. Women can now expect to live to 83.06 and men to 79.40.

Peter McDouall: Scottish Chartist

The third and final part of our series of prominent individuals in the Chartist movement.

We are indebted to the late Raymond Challinor for his biography of Peter McDouall but which endeavours to make McDouall out to be yet another in the long run of ‘Scottish Lenins’. (

George Julian Harney was to recall, No man in the Chartist movement was better known than Dr McDouall’.  Peter McDouall (M’Douall) was a significant figure in Chartism. Imprisoned twice, dying at a relatively young age, it is not an exaggeration to say that McDouall gave his life for Chartism.

George Julian Harney: Red Republican

‘It is not any amelioration of the conditions of the most miserable that will satisfy us: it is justice to all that we demand. It is not the mere improvement of the social life of our class that we seek, but the abolition of classes and the destruction of those wicked distinctions which have divided the human race into princes and paupers, landlords and labourers, masters and slaves. It is not any patching and cobbling up of the present system we aspire to accomplish, but the annihilation of the system and the substitution, in its stead, of an order of things in which all shall labour and all enjoy, and the happiness of each guarantee the welfare of the entire community’ George Julian Harney, 1850, Red Republican (quoted in ‘Yes Utopia’ by Ron Cook).

George Julian Harney, the son of a seaman, was born in the squalor and misery of Deptford on 17 February, 1817 and died in Richmond, Surrey on 9th December, 1897.

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