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Alternate History Africa without European Colonization

Alkebu-lan 1260 AH (higher resolution) is an alternative history map of Africa in AD 1844, taking as its point of departure from our timeline an even deadlier medieval Black Death, killing almost all Europeans. It is made by Swedish artist Nikolaj Cyon, who explains some of his sources and thinking in this Prezi presentation. Cyon's thinking about alternative history is partly inspired by playing the computer game Civilization, and he has made a mod where you can play the medieval kingdom of Kongo
posted by Kattullus on Nov 13, 2014 - 28 comments

American mothers around the world

Joanna Goddard has been interviewing American women raising their children in other countries, to hear how motherhood around the world compared and contrasted with motherhood in America. She's talked to parents in Norway, Japan, Congo, Northern Ireland, Mexico, Abu Dhabi, India, England, China, Germany, Australia, Turkey, and Chile. [more inside]
posted by Banknote of the year on Oct 10, 2014 - 50 comments

That's a lot of decaying plant matter

Word association time: I say "peat", you say… "Scotland", right? Not necessarily! Peat is found around the world, including in many African countries. Earlier this year, scientists trekked through a Congo swamp, braving gorillas, elephants, crocodiles, and more. Their reward? Discovery of a peat bog the size of England. The team estimates that the bog covers between 100,000 and 200,000 square kilometers (40,000 to 80,000 sq miles), with the peat-layer reaching up to 7m (23ft) beneath the ground.
posted by Lexica on Jul 11, 2014 - 28 comments

mega-culture

A huge "yet mysterious" chimpanzee 'mega-culture' discovered in remote Congo - a community of perhaps tens of thousands of individuals with its own unique customs and behaviors, the Guardian reports. Observed unique behaviors include feasting on leopards and using tools to harvest giant African snails. See earlier report "The giant lion-eating chimps of the magic forest" and new camera trap videos and survey results. [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Feb 8, 2014 - 29 comments

"Images of poverty are the Congo’s most lucrative export"

What if poor people capitalized on their own natural resource, poverty? This is the central question of Renzo Martens' 2008 documentary, Episode III - Enjoy Poverty, the second film in a triptych exploring power relations between photographers and their subjects. [more inside]
posted by Ouisch on Feb 5, 2014 - 13 comments

Sapeurs Star in the Best-Dressed Guinness Commercial

A recent Guiness ad featured Congolese sapeurs, and it's joyful to watch. (Sapeurs previous, & previously.)
posted by of strange foe on Jan 29, 2014 - 23 comments

bonne écoute

Les disques africains collects, rips, and uploads out-of-print records (and their sleeves!) from the golden age of vinyl in francophone Africa. Don't miss la belle chanteuse Sali Sidibé, psychedelic grooves from Benin, or this incredible 35-minute oral-musical history of Bobo-Dioulasso. New posts appear, as if by some rare magic, every three to four days.
posted by theodolite on Aug 5, 2013 - 15 comments

*burp* what took so long?

"Ariane Kambu Mbenza grew up with her uncle in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When she was seven years old, he asked her to be in charge of preparing food. Sure, Uncle. No problem. She had grown up watching her mother cook and played kitchen plenty of times. "In Africa, you know how to cook automatically." Now a mother herself, Ariane showed me how to make what in Congo would be called, " Riz aux legumes avec poisson grillé avec la sauce tomate à l'ail." Text Via followed by Congolese mini Waffles as seen in the photo in the linked newspaper.
posted by infini on May 31, 2013 - 16 comments

The Dapper Rebels of Los Angeles, 1966

In the summer of 1965, riots broke out in the Watts neighborhood of southern Los Angeles. Over a six-day period, 34 people were killed, 1,032 injured and over 3,438 arrests were made. In 1966, LIFE magazine revisited the site of the worst riots America had ever seen in its history. The photo essay depicting the region’s ‘fearsome street gangs’ however, turned out more like a fashion shoot for dapper style… [more inside]
posted by Mezentian on Apr 1, 2013 - 35 comments

Children In Eastern Congo Meet A Giant White Male For The First Time!

Professional MMA fighter, UFC veteran and Christian advocate Justin 'The Viking' Wren visited the Mbuti Pygmy tribe of Eastern Congo last fall. It was the first time children in the remote parts of Eastern Congo got to see a giant, hairy white man and an iPhone.
posted by triceryclops on Mar 6, 2013 - 38 comments

"Life on the Mangubo compound, unlike the world outside the jungle, was both peaceful and egalitarian."

A trip like this may seem strange to you. You could reasonably accuse us of a kind of exoticism. But people travel for lots of reasons. There’s beach tourism, sex tourism, wine tourism. This trip, for me, offered something a lot more interesting: a chance to feed our long fascination with the idea of pre-agrarian society. For 40,000 years, from the rise of behaviorally modern humans until the development of agriculture 9,000 years ago, all of our ancestors had lived somewhat like the Mbuti do today. More than anything, Dan and Chris and I just wanted a glimpse of what that past might have looked like.
Of Men, Okapi, and Rebels, or, looking for Mbuti hunter-gatherers in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 1, 2013 - 6 comments

Twelve Missives from the Roi des Belges

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 - 7 comments

A Look at the Bushmeat Crisis in Central Africa

"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 - 20 comments

Three Ts and Gold

Last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission changed their rules to require companies to disclose if they use 'tantalum, tin, gold, or tungsten if those minerals are “necessary to the functionality or production of a product”' These are also known as 'conflict minerals.' The Deadly Tin Inside Your Smartphone, Businessweek [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Sep 27, 2012 - 17 comments

The Lesula of the Congo

A new monkey species, known to locals as the 'lesula' (Cercopithecus lomamiensis), has been discovered in a largely unexploited rainforest within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
posted by Wordshore on Sep 12, 2012 - 44 comments

The Act of Killing

"The Act of Killing is about killers who have won, and the sort of society they have built. Unlike ageing Nazis or Rwandan génocidaires, Anwar Congo and his friends have not been forced by history to admit they participated in crimes against humanity. Instead, they have written their own triumphant history, becoming role models for millions of young paramilitaries." [more inside]
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates on Sep 1, 2012 - 41 comments

Tragedy at Epulu

The Okapi Wildlife Reserve, a UN World Heritage Site, is home to approximately 5,000 of the estimated 30,000 okapi remaining in the wild. Last week, it was also home to a tragedy. [more inside]
posted by MimeticHaHa on Jun 28, 2012 - 43 comments

One down, many to go.

History is made: the ICC has made their first ruling; Lubanga is guilty, and the use of child soldiers is now clearly against international law. [NYT] [BBC] [Guardian] [actual judgement] [judgement summary] [more inside]
posted by jaduncan on Mar 14, 2012 - 25 comments

Ntaganda: "We didn't kill you this morning."

The Warlord and the Basketball Star When an athlete-turned-humanitarian and an energy executive tried to buy gold in Kenya, they found themselves mired in Congo's dangerous world of conflict minerals -- and totally outmatched. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Mar 1, 2012 - 3 comments

Collateral Damage?

Richard Mosse's photography from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [Previously] [more inside]
posted by gman on Feb 11, 2012 - 21 comments

The shot that nearly killed me.

In pictures: the life of a war photographer (There are some graphic images in here; not for the squeamish, though for most would be SFW for most workplaces).
posted by smoke on Jul 6, 2011 - 11 comments

Go Back to Where You Came From

Six westerners make the same journey that thousands of desperate people make every year to Australia, but in reverse. [more inside]
posted by smoke on Jun 21, 2011 - 105 comments

Crowdfunded visual journalism

Emphas.is is a site where photojournalists can pitch ideas to be funded by many small donations, i.e. crowdfund them. So far nine projects have been pitched, covering a range of subjects, from the Uyghur in western China to life in Greenwood, Mississippi. Each project has a short introductory video and all are interesting in their own right. So are the descriptions and photographs that accompany the projects. The blog is worth checking out as well, especially the interviews with journalists, such as the four women who want to document a mass rape that happened last year in the Congo and a project about communism in Laos. The FAQ explains Emphas.is and how crowdfunding works in greater detail.
posted by Kattullus on Mar 24, 2011 - 3 comments

Crater love

Mount Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the world's largest active volcanoes. The Boston Globe presents photographer Oliver Grunewald's amazing photo essay of a June 2010 expedition to the lava lake sheltered inside the crater. [more inside]
posted by Joe in Australia on Mar 5, 2011 - 34 comments

On entre OK; On sort, KO! Franco & the All Powerful OK Jazz

When he was seven years old, Francois Luambo Makiadi built his own guitar. He would become one of the titans of 20th Century African music, Le Grande Maitre of the All Powerful Orchestre Kinois Jazz. [more inside]
posted by williampratt on Jan 2, 2011 - 8 comments

Cursed By Gold

Georgina Cranston travelled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to photograph the women who work deep inside some of the country's disused gold mines. [more inside]
posted by gman on Dec 4, 2010 - 13 comments

Josephine and Frederick's grand adventure

Democratic Republic of Congo: Lubumbashi to Kinshasa. We made the decision to tackle this part of Democratic Republic of Congo when we were in Egypt. It would take us about 4 months to drive from Cairo down to the Zambia/DRC border. We immediately started our quest for information. It would soon become clear that very little information was available. We did not know of a single traveler that did this in the last 20 years. We knew of two who tried (both on motorbikes) in recent years. One crashed after a few days and got evacuated. The other got arrested and deported. Both didn't get very far. So we had to be creative and think of other sources of information. If there is one thing you can find anywhere in the world it is Coca-Cola. They should know how to get their goods in the country. We had no response via email, so we called them up. Their answer was pretty short: They do not have a distribution network outside the major cities in Congo. And it proved to be true, Congo is the first country we have visited were Coca-cola is hard to get once you leave the major cities. The moral of the story was: nobody knew anything about the road conditions.
posted by bluesky43 on Nov 15, 2010 - 167 comments

"There is Sape only when there is peace."

The Congolese Sape is a photoessay by Héctor Mediaville on Sapeurs, a male subculture in the Democratic Republic of the Congo which is defined by its haute couture clothes. Blogger Eccentric Yoruba wrote a post for steampunk blog Beyond Victoriana on Sapeurs which was crossposted to Racialicious detailing the history of the movement and linking it to dandyism in general and explaining its political significance in the 70s, when it was championed by music legend Papa Wemba (live footage from the 90s and 70s).
posted by Kattullus on Nov 14, 2010 - 24 comments

Rape as a tool of war in eastern DR Congo

Rape used as a tool of war: 200 women gang-raped near Congo base U.N. says. UN Chief outraged, FWIW. All links to news articles, but not for the weak of stomach.
posted by allkindsoftime on Aug 24, 2010 - 54 comments

Helping the Congo by Reducing Conflict Mineral Demand

I'm A Mac and I've got a dirty little secret. Consumers are funding warlords in the Congo who rape and pillage, through their demand for high tech items. The Enough Project and Raise Hope For Congo are trying to change this. Conflict minerals 101.
posted by Xurando on Jun 27, 2010 - 85 comments

In To Africa

A Glimpse of the World
All across Africa, new tracks are being laid, highways built, ports deepened, commercial contracts signed -- all on an unprecedented scale, and led by China, whose appetite for commodities seems insatiable. Do China's grand designs promise the transformation, at last, of a star-crossed continent? Or merely its exploitation? The author travels deep into the heart of Africa, searching for answers. [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 26, 2010 - 20 comments

''Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you'': Vachel Lindsay reads The Congo

Vachel Lindsay reads The Congo.
Jim Dickinson reads The Congo.
Laura Fox reads The Congo.
Vachel Lindsay as Performer
Lindsay and Racism
See also Race Criticism of "The Congo"
A podcast: Noncanonical Congo: A Discussion of Vachel Lindsay's "The Congo." [more inside]
posted by y2karl on Feb 10, 2010 - 28 comments

All aboard for the Africa Express

A preview version of a 20-minute film following Damon Albarn as he and other western musicians (including Franz Ferdinand and Fatboy Slim) travel to Mali, Nigeria and Congo as part of the Africa Express, a sprawling musical collective collaboration between Africans (including Toumani Diabate, Baaba Maal and Tony Allen) Americans and Europeans. The film includes a visit and concert at The Shrine for last year's Felabration. [more inside]
posted by criticalbill on Jun 19, 2009 - 4 comments

Madoff Congo scandal

The US Attorney's office has submitted email correspondence between Bernie Madoff and his victims, some of whom are more deserving than others. Via
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Mar 23, 2009 - 60 comments

Scorched huts and crushed skulls

"The Lord’s Resistance Army is now on the loose, moving from village to village, seemingly unhindered, leaving a wake of scorched huts and crushed skulls. Witnesses say the fighters have kidnapped hundreds of children and marched them off into the bush, the latest conscripts in their slave army." [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Feb 6, 2009 - 52 comments

Welcome to Katanga

General Laurent Nkunda is a Tutsi warlord in Katanga who was recently interviewed by the Huffington Post. The BBC believe he is nothing more than your standard African rebel with a long list of atrocities to his name. An opinion supported by the UN and some human rights groups. The War Nerd has come to his defense, however, suggesting that he's just angered the UN by refusing to disarm and allow the Hutu "refugees" from the Rwandan Genocide to terrorize the lands under his control. [more inside]
posted by Pseudology on Jan 11, 2009 - 8 comments

Out of Africa

Out of Africa. As award-winning Globe and Mail Africa correspondent Stephanie Nolen bids farewell to a place she's come to love, she reflects on how it has changed, and how it changed her. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Dec 16, 2008 - 4 comments

Goma, DRC

Covered in lava, Goma in the DRC, was destroyed by the Nyiragongo Volcano a few years back. Since then, the aid hub has seen a lot of turmoil. As Rebel General Laurent Nkunda of the CNDP nears Goma, 250,000 have fled the area and disease is rife.
posted by gman on Nov 9, 2008 - 7 comments

Who saves the saviors?

In the field of humanitarian aid, personnel decisions are life and death business. The UN knows all too well the costs of poor oversight, but aid worker and blogger Michael Kleinman makes another observation, far more disturbing. In the multi-billion dollar humanitarian aid business, some lives are worth less than others, and not only among the populations served. [more inside]
posted by cal71 on Oct 28, 2008 - 11 comments

More gorillas exist than previously thought

A previously unknown population of 125,000 lowland gorillas have been discovered in the swamps of the Congo Republic. Enjoy them while they last.
posted by Daddy-O on Aug 5, 2008 - 53 comments

The Cramps and The Gun Club

Give it up for The Cramps and The Gun Club. Two of the greatest bands to come out of the late 1970s/early 1980s punk scene, they (wikis here and here) shared a few things in common: guitarist Kid Congo Powers as well as a penchant for re-invigorating the raucous, carnal, primal spirit of American popular music--i.e. early garage rock and rockabilly (what the Cramps dubbed "psychobilly") and blues. Start with this screamer from The Cramps, and this blistering classic from the GC's first LP. [more inside]
posted by ornate insect on May 5, 2008 - 48 comments

Staff Benda Bilili

The other day I happened to come upon a music video that is just so grooving, so human and so real, that, well, it moved me, darling. Just check it out. After watching the clip, I learned that these guys are mostly disabled by polio (that's why several of them are in those rather unusual wheelchairs) and that they were living on the grounds of the Kinshasa zoo, which is where the clip was filmed. Then I learned that last year they were seeking to bring a lawsuit against the UN. Then I found some other clips. And now I am a major fan of Staff Benda Bilili. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Apr 26, 2008 - 47 comments

Penis-Theft Victims Get Testy

Koro, previously, has gripped the streets of Kinshasa, Congo. Unlike the 1967 Koro Epidemic in Singapore, which was blamed on tainted pork, the afflicted men in Kinshasa have blamed the psychosomatic penile shrinkage on witchcraft by a rival sect, and responded with attempted lynchings. In order to prevent bloodshed of the kind seen in Ghana a decade ago, police have responded by apprehending the alleged sorcerers. [more inside]
posted by Navelgazer on Apr 25, 2008 - 36 comments

Congo Cookbook

The Congo Cookbook is a collection of recipes from Africa. (Easiest to view them all here.)
posted by Upton O'Good on Apr 13, 2008 - 17 comments

Big Deke

He is a sports character for the ages. At 41, he is the NBA's oldest active player. Number two all time in blocked shots, he is probably best known for his trademark finger wag and unimitable deep gravelly voice. His current team's 20 game win streak has led him to gleefully suggest that their critics pucker up. [more inside]
posted by John Smallberries on Mar 13, 2008 - 27 comments

music videos from West Africa

#1 African Music Website. Africa Hit offers an extensive and varied selection of great music videos from West Africa. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Dec 31, 2007 - 11 comments

Papa Kourand: Roots of Konono No. 1

The full-on, amped-up sanza sounds of Konono No. 1 have been celebrated here at MeFi not once but twice, and they are indeed wonderful. Björk's been working with them a bit lately, too. But let's go back a few decades, and take a listen to the unplugged version of this type of music: mesdames et messiurs, Papa Kourand, the grand old man of the sanza! [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Oct 10, 2007 - 11 comments

Hearts of Darkness

This article, about rape in the Eastern Congo, (nytimes, bugmenot here) makes for hard and disturbing, yet important, reading. [more inside]
posted by sy on Oct 7, 2007 - 38 comments

Sex like a handshake

Sex like a handshake (even baby sex?) Titilation and humor from Vanessa Woods, researcher at the Lola Bonobo sanctuary. (Previously)
posted by imposster on Oct 4, 2007 - 30 comments

Hail Abacha

Dear Friend, I am a Swiss Banker currently in possession of over $ 1 Billion in funds stashed away by the late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko of the Congo. Our Swiss Confederation President Micheline Calmy-Rey said her government is holding just $6.6m frozen in accounts. "We discussed the question of Mobutu's funds and my government is prepared to restore the money to the DR Congo as soon as possible," Ms Rey told reporters in the DR Congo capital, Kinshasa, after talks with Mr Kabila. But we can help you get the rest of the 92.4 million dollars if you will just send us your bank account number and call to confirm your ID and pin number.
posted by infini on Jul 17, 2007 - 65 comments

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