Many of you are perhaps familiar with the berimbau
, a musical bow with a calabash resonator, best known as an instrument for accompanying the Brazilian dance/martial art known as capoeira
. But the roots of the instrument lie, as you might guess, in Africa. Still, it's not often we get a chance to hear the original African version of the instrument being played. This video, though, in which one Chris Haambwiila of Zambia conjures up an intricate, bewitching groove
, is one that will be of interest to those who enjoy elemental and unadulterated human rhythmic expression. And the two little boys getting down to the sound will win your heart, for sure.
posted by flapjax at midnite
on May 3, 2013 -
They wash dishes in restaurants, clean toilets and look after elderly incontinent people in the West. That makes the majority of the 30 million who have emigrated from Africa. Some are much luckier, they work in subaltern management positions in corporate America or in public institution in Europe. Few are real stars, successful with high pay and social status. Regardless of their current fate, they all share one thing in common: most of them want to return to Africa.
The recent medias’ drumbeat about “Africa is Rising” is making them restless and hopeful because most of them have quite a petty life in the West. They are constantly harassed by the state police, crushed by daily racism from their neighbors and strangers, economically and politically isolated, and with very little hope for a near-future improvement.
Unfortunately their dream to return home is painfully held back by deep fears and unanswered questions. Here are the top 10 fears of the African diaspora about Africa, and also the top 10 questions most of them are confronted with.
posted by infini
on Apr 28, 2013 -
An effortless melding of Malian and western styles topped off by the gorgeously smoky voice of Fatoumata Diawara
The infectiously brisk tempo, chiming guitar artistry and tight, rapid fire harmonies of Shirati Jazz
The warmly grounded choral expression of South Africa's Black Umfolosi
. The delicate, calmly unfolding wellspring of melody (starting off with a classic Morricone spaghetti-western quote!) of kora master Toumani Diabate
. The loping, balafon-driven groove over which the majestic, declamatory voice of Oumou Sangare
soars. The classic, Cuban-inspired rhumba (but with the distinctively African feel and sound) of Orchestra Baobab
... all these modern treasures of African music and much, much more from Africa and beyond at the World Circuit Soundcloud page
. Enjoy the ride!
posted by flapjax at midnite
on Apr 18, 2013 -
In temperate climates, "fairy rings
" appear in grassy meadows and lawns, and these are caused by fungi, with some rings expanding for hundreds of years
. But in the western part of Southern Africa, there are a different sort of "fairy circles
," barren circles that are surrounded by long-lived perennial grasses. The Himba people
, an ethnic group in northern Namibia, attribute them to original ancestor, Mukuru, or consider them "footprints of the gods,"
and scientists have been stumped for decades
. Professor Norbert Jürgens
, from the University of Hamburg, might have finally solved the riddle
: a species of termites that are most active at night and don't build big, noticeable nests, have engineered the ecosystem by eating the roots of grasses that grow within the circle, keeping the soil moist for long periods of time
. The discussion continues, as some scientists who have studied the phenomena aren't so sure about the theory
posted by filthy light thief
on Mar 29, 2013 -
The Forces Of The Next 30 Years - SF author and Mefi's Own
Charles Stross talks to students at Olin College about sci-fi, fiction, speculation, the limits of computation, thermodynamics, Moore's Law, the history of travel, employment, automation, free trade, demographics, the developing world, privacy, and climate change in trying to answer the question What Does The World Of 2043 Look Like?
posted by The Whelk
on Mar 27, 2013 -
"Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, acclaimed in part for his groundbreaking 1958 novel "Things Fall Apart," has died, his British publisher, Penguin Books, said Friday."
Set in precolonial Nigeria, Things Fall Apart
portrays the story of a farmer, Okonkwo, who struggles to preserve his customs despite pressure from British colonizers. The story resonated in post-independent Africa, and the character became a household name in the continent. [more inside]
posted by jquinby
on Mar 22, 2013 -
The blog US Slave
collects long-form articles on every aspect of the history of slavery, primarily focussing on African slaves in the USA and their descendents. Among the content there is this biography of Ota Benga
, the Congolese Pygmy man who was put on display in the monkey house at the Bronx Zoo, and several posts about Sarah "Saartjie" Baartman
, the so-called Hottentot Venus. [more inside]
posted by daisyk
on Mar 15, 2013 -
The stereotypes about Africa/Africans are too many to list here. They’re mostly negative, myopic depictions that focus on war, famine, abject poverty, disease, and corruption. In other oversimplifications, Africans are written up as model immigrants, overachieving geniuses, or displaced chiefs moonlighting as gas station attendants.
Outside of these caricatures, many Africans are going to work and school, voting in their local elections, and spending way too much time on Facebook. And they’re over the ignorance that has collectively miscast them. In response, a swelling movement of young Africans are launching concerted efforts to wrest the image of Africa from entities and interests that don’t promote a balanced understanding of the continent.
posted by infini
on Mar 3, 2013 -
Born in Africa to French wildlife photographer parents, Tippi Degré had a most unusual childhood.
posted by DaDaDaDave
on Jan 18, 2013 -
"To the world of today the men of medieval Christendom already seem remote and unfamiliar. Their names and deeds are recorded in our history-books, their monuments still adorn our cities, but our kinship with them is a thing unreal, which costs an effort of imagination. How much more must this apply to the great Islamic civilization, that stood over against medieval Europe, menacing its existence and yet linked to it by a hundred ties that even war and fear could not sever. Its monuments too abide, for those who may have the fortunate to visit them, but its men and manners are to most of us utterly unknown, or dimly conceived in the romantic image of the Arabian Nights. Even for the specialist it is difficult to reconstruct their lives and see them as they were. Histories and biographies there are in quantity, but the historians for all their picturesque details, seldom show the ability to select the essential and to give their figures that touch of the intimate which makes them live again for the reader. It is in this faculty that Ibn Battuta excels."
Thus begins the book, "Ibn Battuta, Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354" published by Routledge and Kegan Paul
. Step into the world
of "the first tourist
" who made his mark as the world's greatest traveler
before the age of steam. [more inside]
posted by infini
on Jan 12, 2013 -
Perched high up above the Thames in downtown London
every month this past year a different writer has spent four days living in a replica of the Roi des Belges, the boat Marlow travels up the Congo in Joseph Conrad's The Heart of Darkness
. Each author would write a short text during their stay "which explores London, rivers, the work of Joseph Conrad, or even all three." They would be visited on the last day by a journalist from The Guardian who recorded them reading their essay, poem or short story. Among the poets, historians and novelists were Adonis, Jeanette Winterson, Teju Cole, Michael Ondaatje and Kamila Shamsie. These recordings, each prefaced by a short interview, are all available on the Guardian website, to stream or download. Below the cut there is a link to each recording, with a short description. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus
on Dec 31, 2012 -
The African King With A Multi-Billion Dollar Empire RBH functions as a communitybased investment company whose primary investment aim is to generate the income required for the funding of sustainable projects. Income generated from RBH’s commercial interests is invested in infrastructural development, as well as in the members of the Nation itself. Over the past decade, more than R4 billion ($475 million) has been spent on roads, utilities, schools, clinics and other public amenities. This has benefited not only the Bafokeng, but other people living in the North West Province of South Africa, the area which the RBN calls home.
posted by infini
on Dec 1, 2012 -
"Decades ago, the Mbuti typically sold about half the meat they captured; now they sell nearly every carcass, saving only the prized entrails and heads for themselves. The hunt, in essence, has devolved into an all-out commercial endeavor, staged not for subsistence, but to feed growing regional markets. And the impact is clear.
posted by Scientist
on Nov 13, 2012 -
How Things Fell Apart
, By Chinua Achebe - 'In an excerpt from his long-awaited memoir, the inventor of the post-colonial African novel in English discusses his origins as a writer and the seeds of revolt against the British Empire.'
I can say that my whole artistic career was probably sparked by this tension between the Christian religion of my parents, which we followed in our home, and the retreating, older religion of my ancestors, which fortunately for me was still active outside my home. I still had access to a number of relatives who had not converted to Christianity and were called heathens by the new converts. When my parents were not watching I would often sneak off in the evenings to visit some of these relatives. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Oct 25, 2012 -
Like folk enthusiasts and field recordists John and Alan Lomax did in the US, Englishman Hugh Tracey documented an astonishing amount of traditional music. Tracey's love was the music of central and southern Africa, and his recording work came at a crucial time in the history of the region, when, due to repression from Christian missionaries as well as great social change and migration, traditional music of various kinds was fast disappearing. The hour-long audio documentary Discover and Record: The Field Recordings of Hugh Tracey
is an excellent introduction to the man and his work, and is chock full of some absolutely fantastic music. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite
on Oct 22, 2012 -
For more than two years, scholars and imaging scientists have been using advanced scanning techniques to recover the mostly illegible contents of an 1871 field diary kept by the British explorer David Livingstone in Africa. Low on paper and ink, the explorer had resorted to writing on newspaper sheets, with ink made from berries, and over time the original document had become almost impossible to read. Now the team has unveiled an online “multispectral critical edition” with images, transcriptions, and relevant notes, making Livingstone’s first-person account accessible again. They’ve also created a “Livingstone Spectral Images Archive” to give anyone who wants it direct access to the images, transcriptions, and metadata the project has created, no strings attached. Almost everything in both the edition and the archive comes with a Creative Commons license that allows the contents to be reused with attribution. [more inside]
posted by Horace Rumpole
on Jun 3, 2012 -
Frenchman Xavier Chevrin
is driving an electric car 3,000 miles through Africa, from Nairobi to Johannesburg. Finding outlets is a challenge, about 65 percent of Africans do not have access to electricity. The daily video logs
are a joy not only for the beautiful scenery along a contemporary African road trip, but the excitement of many Africans who have never seen an electric vehicle. The vehicle
is a souped-up version of cars used by the French postal service, a Citroen Berlingo
powered by Venturi
. This is Xavier's 2nd long distance electric car expedition, previously he did Shanghai to Paris
, it set the record for the longest distance traveled in an electric vehicle.
posted by stbalbach
on May 23, 2012 -