An 'Accidental Activist,' And England's World Cup Hope

An 'Accidental Activist,' And England's World Cup Hope

3:47pm Dec 08, 2013
Susanna Ireland / Eyevine/Redux

The online magazine Ozy covers people, places and trends on the horizon. Co-founder Carlos Watson joins All Things Considered regularly to tell us about the site's latest discoveries.

This week, Watson tells NPR's Arun Rath about about a rising star in soccer who could turn things around for England in the World Cup, and a Bahraini woman who calls herself an "accidental activist." He also shares a clip from an Ozy interview with President Bill Clinton regarding Nelson Mandela's legacy.

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It's time now for The New and The Next.


RATH: Carlos Watson is the cofounder of the online magazine Ozy. Each week, he joins us to talk about what's new and what's next. Welcome back, Carlos.

CARLOS WATSON: Arun, good to be with you.

RATH: Nice to have you back. So we've had some interesting news in the world of sports. We had the World Cup draw took place yesterday, so we know the teams that are going to be head-to-head next summer. Now, I have been an England fan for a long time, and it feels like England's been cursed for about 50 years in the World Cup. There've been all these frustrating, awful endings. But you're here to tell me that there might be a savior, literally a savior.

WATSON: Well, you know, no two ways about it. So England loves its soccer. You know, a lot of people say combined Americans love the NBA and the NFL, and that would represent English love for soccer. Now, England hasn't won, as you said, in almost 50 years - since 1966 - tons of heartbreak, including in the last World Cup in a match against the U.S. But now, here's comes a strapping young fellow, 6'4"-, 210-pound goalie named John Ruddy, who was kind of an obscure guy, struggled with his first big league opportunity there - Premier League as they call it - but has come on recently, joined their national team and this time around is bucking not only to become the starter on the national team but perhaps their star.

And if that happens, there could be a new name that many Americans and many people around the globe become familiar with: John Ruddy, English soccer star.

RATH: Well, in British fashion, I'm going to try not to get my hopes up too high just yet.


RATH: But there's been a lot of handwringing over the last several months about what's happened with the Arab Spring. And you have an activist you feature that has - she's got an interesting perspective on it.

WATSON: Maryam al-Khawaja is a 26-year-old activist in Bahrain, calls herself - appropriately - the accidental activist. While she grew up in a family of activists who'd been protesting for more freedom in that oil-rich country of about a million people, the reality is she actually tried to step away from it but found herself constantly drawn to it. And ultimately when her father was arrested, sister arrested, brother-in-law arrested - and not only arrested but beaten - she found herself drawn to that work and trying to stimulate a furtherance of the Arab Spring effort there in Bahrain.

And she now, by the way, is living in exile in Copenhagen. But one of the interesting things she said - and I thought this was very telling and insightful - she said, I'm not doing this because I'm assured in outcome. I'm doing this because it's right. And whether it takes 20 years, 50 years or 70 years, I've got to commit myself to it in that way.

Not many of us would say that genuinely at any time. Not many of us would say it at age 26. And not many us probably could say that knowing that their father and their sister are in jail as we speak.

RATH: Yeah. Finally, this week, of course, the world has been mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela. Ozy spoke with President Clinton some several weeks back. Here's what he had to say about Nelson Mandela.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Mandela really taught me why, in practical terms, hatred was a dead-bang loser. We had a talk one day. I said, now, I know that you later invited your jailors to your inauguration. You even put the people who put you in prison in your cabinet. But didn't you hate them again? He said, briefly I did. But he said, I realized if I hated them when I got outside that gate, I would still be their prisoner.

WATSON: That's incredibly powerful. And it's a reminder of Mandela in his 95 years old, the many things and the many lessons he taught.

RATH: Carlos Watson is the cofounder of the online magazine Ozy. You can explore all the stories we talk about on Carlos, thank you.

WATSON: Arun, always good to be with you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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