MANGAL MEDIA— a Manifesto
I. Who is Mangal?
We are a collective of writers, journalists, artists, and scholars from the war-torn third world. We will no longer allow white boys in keffiyehs to steal our stories and sell them. We will no longer work with Beckies as they accumulate wealth and prestige from the comfort of their Starbucks HQ, while commanding fixers to run around doing the work for them. We will no longer stand by as our designs are plundered for use in high-end fashion, as our music is appropriated and repackaged, as our culinary habits are “discovered” and sanitized by self described cultural pioneers.
We, who are directly affected by, and the subject of, the stories on international news, will now be the ones to write them. Our voices will no longer go through the intermediary of blue eyed children from Western Europe and North America (WENA). Our talented sisters and brothers who can and do write, who can and do paint, who can and do make music, will no longer be valued at less than WENA’s children, because we are destroying the WENA brand.
When WENA watches over our wars and our struggles, it does so with an impartial eye. Untainted by five hundred years of colonialism. When WENA curates our culture, it does so by sieving out all the bad bits and only leaving what’s compatible with its own idea of democracy and freedom. WENA has convinced the world by extended use of force that its values are superior, that we are children on it’s knees, hungry for affection. But even hungrier for discipline.
Mangal is not interested in engaging with paternalistic colonial authority.
We will no longer reason with it, nor plead it hears our side of the story. We will no longer trample over each other to prove we respect “Western values.” Our stories will be told without WENA’s interference.
Mangal REFUSES to jump through hoops so it can check every item on some humanitarian organisation’s list that prove we qualify as “rational”, “reasonable” and “moderate”, and therefore deserving of a platform.
Our demands for freedom are neither moderate nor Western. We will never forget who toiled for their democracy. Asian coolies harvested their tea, African slaves their sugar. They press oil from the blood of Arabs, rubber from the blood of Mexica.
We have been made to bleed for their liberties, we can very well bleed for our own.
No more will we give them their daily bread, no longer will we forgive their debt.
Mangal does not need nor trust ideological consistency. We are vast and we are varied. We do not consult empowerment manuals written by dead European men. We do not answer to the elitist, intellectual vanguard to light our path toward revolution. We do not inhabit their fantasy world where real struggles fit neatly into boxes labeled with arcane terminology. We do not stand at attention for sun deprived greybeards who spend too much time in libraries and corridors of power.
II. What is Mangal?
Mangal is a salute to the spirit of the nameless men and women who have been stolen from their land, whose lands have been stolen from them. Our heroes are those who use the first idea to come to their hand as a weapon. A weapon to bludgeon their master’s skull and set fire to his house. Our allegiance is to Orisha, Voodoo, Ghost Dance and Candomblé. Faiths that emerge out of a context. Beliefs that crawl out of life itself, not sterile ideologies manufactured in an intellectual laboratory sitting pretty in a colonial capital.
Mangal is portable. It does not come with baggage and conditions. It settles into its environment without making demands of the locals. It brings us together around one common goal: to take back what’s ours. We are not starry eyed peaceniks who aim to end all global disputes. We merely propose to minimise in-fighting until we get our hands on the master’s loot. If we can learn something about cooperation on the way, then all the better.
Mangal is nutritious. It is not only concerned with political empowerment but also with providing income to talented people of colour. It is a giant grill for everyone to throw down their own food and share. Jerk fish, tofu, kofta, plantains and satay. Absolutely no mayo! Around Mangal we discuss, debate, taste each other's ideas and cook up new ones. We gather as co-conspirators to decide what’s next, away from the prying eyes of those who have vested interest in sowing discord among us.
III. What Next?
We are currently gathering writers, journalists and artists whose voices have been deemed too incendiary or too subversive for the colonial custodians of news and culture. Ever worked as a fixer for clueless journalists who walked away with fame and fortunes, then threw you into the fire after you handed them their stories on a gold plate? We have. On the margins of the publishing world because your writing does not harp on the afflictions of the privileged? We are. Does your academic writing shrug with disinterest at the petty existential crises of great philosophers? Ours does. Maybe you simply have never been translated.
We aim to establish a platform free of bootstraps and bootlicking. We refuse to mimic the hierarchies put in place by self-appointed overseers. We challenge the prevailing view that those from the third world cannot be trusted to write about their own situation and can only be reached by a “relatable” intermediary. Gradually, we want to create a parallel stream of writing and cultural production where it is common sense that garden-fresh local points of view are privileged over pre-packaged centralised perspectives.
To be able to do this, it is absolutely critical that we can reward the labour of our contributors financially. Every one of us is dreaming of a system for sustainable production. One which will allow us to finally express ourselves the way we want to. Then we want to bring as many friends along as we can. We also want to pass our technical skills to those who wish to join.
If your opinions lie outside both the purview of authoritarian national regimes or the euphemistic internationalism of neocolonial institutions, join us. Do you feel pressed between narrow ideas of tradition which constrict your individuality and a euphemistic cosmopolitanism that represses your identity?
What do we do when our only option is either to march to the beat of local tyrants or to sing the praises of Imperial humanitarianism? We call on our friends. Somebody brings the drinks, another makes salad and another lights the Mangal. We put our resources together and feast.
Just what else are we supposed to do?