Shakespeare in the Bush: in which an anthropologist tells the story of Hamlet to a group of Tiv, and ideas about the universal nature of literature get the worst of it.
Finally, the real reason Brad Pitts is in Africa - he's using a Zeppelin to look for diamonds. Celebrity colonialism indeed!
AIDS really did come from chimps in the 1950s --..."We're 25 years into this pandemic," Hahn said. "We don't have a cure. We don't have a vaccine. But we know where it came from. At least we can make a check mark on one of those." ... ...Identifying the source of the HIV pandemic is more than filling in a missing link in the disease's progression. ...
Bonofilter: Yesterday, May 16, U2 front-man Bono was a guest "editor" for the UK newspaper The Independent. Called the "RED Edition," half of this issue's proceeds went "to help fight HIV and AIDS among women and children in Africa." Highlights included US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice offering her take on "The Ten Best Musical Works" and an interview with Eddie Izzard on immigration in Europe. Is there a downside to celebrity editing, or is it a win-win-win for Bono, The Independent, and some people in need?
Ripples of Genocide. Journey through Eastern Congo with Angelina Jolie, commentary by John Prendergast, photos by Ed Parsons and Laura Engelbrecht.
The scientific tradition in Africa. An interview with Thebe Medupe, a South African astronomer.
The Nata village blog - "A unique opportunity to witness the battle to control the spread of HIV/AIDS in an African village."
Africa splits (Geographically speaking). Take a look at the photos, they are breathtaking.
Ascaris lumbricoides. According to estimates, about 1.5 billion people--about a quarter of the earth's population--are hosts to the Ascaris lumbricoides parasitic worm. Ascaris worms can grow to be 18 inches in length, and use their host's windpipe and esophagus to migrate between the small intestine and the lungs. A single human host may support dozen of large worms, which can be contracted by contact with fecal matter, animals, or undercooked pork. Under some circumstances (the worms dislike anesthesia, for example) one or more worms may exit from the mouth (a horrifying image), or the anus (one of the most disgusting images I have ever seen, and not safe for work, obviously). Here, the removal of a worm is caught on video (Realplayer). Too disgusting to post? Almost. But 1.5 billion people have got these in their bodies right now. That's what's grosser than gross.
Visit Somalia! Okay, so it has no government that is recognized by another country. It has a provisional parliament, though - but they usually opt to convene in another country's capital, over 600 miles away, out of fear. But hey, look at the bright side: They've got a minister of tourism, and he'll do his best to make sure you won't be kidnapped. No guarantees, though - it can still happen.
The other religious riots. While much of the world's press has covered the Muslim cartoon riots, not nearly as much ink has been spilled over the continuing violence in Nigeria. A good analysis of underlying factors here. A Shell report points to oil as a proximate cause of violence as well. For oil companies, this may not be a bad thing. (If I was more interested in trolling, I'd have framed this as "Christian Leaders Fail to Condemn Religious Violence." The real world's a little more complex).
Mind Over Matter: South African Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy site. Bound by the code of conduct of the South African Association of Hypnotherapists ("1.17 Practitioners must not practice dentistry unless they hold an appropriate qualification. 1.18 Patients suffering from AIDS may be treated at the discretion of the practitioner"). Possibly associated with these folks; I'm certainly inspired to put my subconscious in the glittery hands of this guy. P.S.: The female orgasm is 100% Purely Mental.
Tour d' Afrique, the other Tour. Ninety-nine stages, 120 days, almost 8,000 miles, racing on bicycles riding across the continent of Africa... the long way... from the pyramids of Giza to Cape Town. Registration's still open! Come on, it'll be fun!
How to write about Africa. Always use the word 'Africa' or 'Darkness' or 'Safari' in your title. Most travel books about Africa open with the author alone, carried along by some vehicle, looking down over some landscape and feeling anxious. Always end your book with Nelson Mandela saying something about rainbows or renaissances. Because you care.
Blood Flows With Oil in Poor Nigerian Villages An insightful NYT article on "the desperate struggle of impoverished communities to reap crumbs from the lavish banquet the oil boom has laid in this oil-rich yet grindingly poor corner of the globe" Ok, so the quotes a little heavy handed but the pic on the 2nd page speaks volumes.
In Europe, it's debated whether it's Suchowola Poland, the village of Krahule near Kremnica Slovakia, Dilove in western Ukraine, or Bernotai Lithuania. In Asia, there are more disputes, but Kyzyl put up an obelisk and stages tours. Various places claim that the Central African Republic is at the geographical centre of Africa, but that seems more likely based on looking at a map than measuring anything. On January 9 1956, Admiral Byrd flew over the geographical center of Antarctica. Alice Springs is pretty close to the centre of Australia. The center of North America is at latitude 48°21'19" north, longitude 99°59' 57" west in Rugby North Dakota. South America's center is officially Chapada dos Guimaraes in Cuiaba Brazil.
MoAD is San Francisco's newest museum. The Museum of the African Diaspora is the latest addition to the SOMA neighborhood's expanding cultural riches, and promises to be fascinating (and, as far as I can tell, unique in the world). [more inside]
Yesterday, Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times Op-Ed columnist, wrote a compelling article on the dire situation in Darfur and ways Americans can respond to this tragedy. Yeah, that's thoughtful and all but we already talked about that here, and here, and here, and oh yeah, here and even more here! So, what do the last two years teach me about 400,000 dead? That I still couldn't tell you exactly where it is in Africa..but I know that Paris dated a guy named Paris. Happy sleeping America, and now where's my Soma.
Congotronics! Mawangu Mingiedi, 72, a musician and truck driver from Kinshasa, was simply trying to allow the music of his street band, Konono No. 1, be heard over the traffic and street noise, but when he fashioned home-made amplifiers out of junkyard parts he created something raw and distorted with a sound all its own (quicktime). (via MonkeySARS, where an MP3 awaits you)
No Condition is Permanent. World music, and African music in particular, often falls into two categories: pleasant and inoccuous, or the fetishized other. Even speaking of "African" music is misleading. Senegalese mbalax doesn't sound that much like Camaroonian makossa. And I don't say this as some great authority; I'm still just at the beginning of the learning curve. So come along with me. There's the broad Benne Loxo du Taccu, the sidebar of Mudd Up!, the great (and self-explanitory) African Hiphop, Stern's Music (this link going to a more accessible Thione Seck), Aduna (for Francophones— my middle-school French gets me by, but I'm really there for the music), Du Bruit (more Francophones, with an emphasis on vinyl sharities), and Worldly Disorientation (which covers all sorts of world music, but has some excellent African stuff). Have I missed anything great? Recommend it in the thread. I tend to prefer the psychedelic and dubby stuff more than straight folk styles, but that's me.
DeBeers is selling 26% of its mining operations to a South African "black empowerment" holding company. The new company's shareholders include DeBeers mines' local employees and pensioners and trusts benefiting disadvantaged groups. Its chairman has been a prominent figure in the ANC and the National Union of Mineworkers. Seems pretty cool, even if DeBeers is only doing it because South Africa's Mining Charter says they have to.
“The name’s Power. Michael Power..."
Faith in Chaos. Photojournalist Pep Bonet (previously mentioned in this excellent post) has won the 2005 W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography, a $30,000 prize, to support his project on post-war Sierra Leone. The W. Eugene Smith Grant was founded in 1976 to provide financial freedom to photojournalists working on long-term projects in the humane tradition of W. Eugene Smith. Past winners have included Stanley Greene, Brenda Ann Kenneally, Sebastiao Salgado, Eli Reed, Eugene Richards and Gideon Mendel. More inside.
National Geographic has a special issue on Africa out this month. There's also their Africa resource site.
The Utopian Nightmare : "What is utopianism? It is promising more than you can deliver. It is seeing an easy and sudden answer to long-standing, complex problems. It is trying to solve everything at once through an administrative apparatus headed by “world leaders.” It places too much faith in altruistic cooperation and underestimates self-seeking behavior and conflict. It is expecting great things from schemes designed at the top, but doing nothing to solve the bigger problems at the bottom." Also, be sure to check out the the 16 ideas, values and institutions that may not be with us 35 years from now written by a variety of interesting people and compiled as part of Foreign Policy's 35th anniversary (although not all are free or available without registration).
Hope for hungry children, arriving in a foil packet [NYT article], interesting article about a seemingly simple (if partial) solution to malnutrition in Niger: a peanut-butter-like mixture that avoids the problems associated with traditional treatment methods. What truly interests-and bothers me-about this article is that a French company came up with this. Is there an American company that makes products simply to alleviate world hunger?
"For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid!" says Kenyan economist James Shikwati. His point is that economic aid from developed countries destroys the economies of African countries by eliminating entrepreneurship and the need for free trade.
I'm so glad we got that circumcision debate over with since there is no evidence of a benefit from circumcision, except maybe that 70% reduction in the risk of HIV infection....
China's non-interventionist approach to Africa. They recently lifted 200 million of their own people out of poverty. Unlike the G8, they aren't concerned about corruption, aid, debt relief, social impact, human rights, the environment, or spreading democratic ideology. They build governments, hotels and industrial plants in Sierra Leone, export 60% of oil from the 'genocidal' Sudanese, sell weapons to both sides in war zones and deal arms to embargoed dictators like Mugabe. They'll be the third largest investor in Africa at the end of this year. The People's Republic of China: threatening - or Jeffersonian?
Fazal Sheikh's photographs have documented the plight of refugees in camps across Central and East Africa and the Middle East. However, his photographs are distinctly different from the images of refugees we commonly see in printed news articles. Sheikh's photographs implicitly assert that the individual refugees share humanity with their oppressive rulers. He does so by depicting the individuals in portraits rather than as victims of a social and political drama. Sheikh, an American citizen, was just awarded the Grand Prix International Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Assia Djebar the Algerian novelist and filmmaker was elected to fill the only vacancy at the Académie Française, the august French institution that watches over the French language. Ms. Djebar, 68, is the first North African to join the 40-member academy. Most interesting in light of recent discussions here on Dutch/Muslim relations. Comments from those who've read her books or know her from her work at LSU or elsewhere would no doubt be appreciated
Outcasts in Their Own Villages "More than one million young women with the condition are scattered throughout the so-called fistula belt that stretches across the southern hem of the Sahara from Eritrea to Mali. Because of their severe incontinence and smell, many have been ostracized by their families and villages and live by themselves or with fellow fistula sufferers. They are the lepers of the desert." [also see]
In Congo, 1,000 die per day: Why isn't it a media story? "A media story is currently developing around the Congo - focusing, paradoxically, on how the conflict is not a media story." A journalist's-eye view of a story approaching the tipping-point towards widespread media coverage.
Other Africas. Critical observers have long noted that museum collections from Africa are composed largely of the spoils of colonial pillage. Thus the Africa we normally encounter in museums—the Africa of masks and ritual objects displayed on walls and in glass cases—is a fetishized Africa of colonial nostalgia. The objective of this exhibit is to offer images of Other Africas, perspectives that lead us away from the desolate and romanticized Africa of the Western imagination toward those places where African modernities are emerging.
african dress traditions as shown in a collection of old photographs ... (some photos show bare breasted women)
The 10 year long civil war in West Africa's Sierra Leone may have concluded in the last couple of years but rehabilitation of the country is painfully slow. War crime trials are under way but are underfunded and there's only scant attention paid by the western press. Naturally, the most vulnerable are at greatest risk. Pep Bonet has photographed children at the hospital for the blind, a war amputees soccer team and the rather disturbing conditions at Kissy mental hospital in Freetown. There is only space for about 150 of the estimated 50,000 people left psychotically disturbed by the war. These lucky ones are held in chains by way of treatment control. (via) [aid]
Live Aid redux planning underway. Goal this time is raising awareness, not money. Sweet, unquantifiable awareness.
Eleven years ago this month a genocide of horrific proportions nearly destroyed a country. We must never forget.
Some good news! The greatest problem Africa faces is bad government. When the President of Togo died earlier this month, the constitution dictated that power should go to the head of Parliament, until democratic elections could take place. The army expressed their regret that this couldn't happen, since the head of Parliament was out of the country. This was due to the army closing all the borders. They instead gave power to the ex-President's son, and altered the constitution to remove any reference to presidential elections. Now, it looks like progress is being made through protest and peer-pressure.
The Vagina Monologues is, to the outrage of many, being staged at a cultural center in Kampala, Uganda, East Africa. For the past few weeks, the play has been a key topic of debate, with many radio stations even refusing to utter the name of the play out loud, and shaming call-in listeners that do. Today, the local media council announced that “to the extent that the play promotes illegal, unnatural sexual acts, homosexuality and prostitution, it should be and is hereby banned, citing the play as "a smokescreen for graphic lesbian pornography" and that the play's "graphic descriptions of masturbation, rape, and genital mutilation in a manner that is “abhorrent, outrageous and disgusting." Local NGOs are even refusing to accept funds generated by the sale of tickets.
The site of the world's first nuclear reactor? Gabon. About 1.7 billion years ago several deposits of uranium in Oklo, Gabon spontaneously began to undergo nuclear chain reactions fed by small drips of water. These natural breeder reactors ran for almost a million years, producing both intense heat and plutonium byproducts. Aside from the strangeness of naturally occurring reactors, Oklo provides the only existing case of how highly radioactive waste behaves over a period of tens of millions of years -- exactly the problem faced by the DOE's Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site.
Use of AbsorbShun natural powder in any quantity may cause temporary tenderness and micro abrasions to the genital area.
A Natural Solution for a Tighter Vagina Dry sex is extremely popular in Africa due to the sensation of tightness and additional friction it provides, despite the fact that it is associated with higher rates of HIV transmission. But if you don't have access to mutendo wegudo (soil with baboon urine), Scott and Cynthia Koss have the product for you.
Is circumcision an AIDS weapon? To cut or not to cut? Does circumcision prevent the transmission of HIV? It was deemed "An acceptable strategy for HIV prevention" in Bostwana and a study looking at the magnitude of females who get infected with HIV/AIDS/STDs through circumcision
Tracking African locust swarms - a rainy winter and spring in northwestern Africa promised a rich harvest for area farmers, but instead has brought plagues of ravaging locusts...
"Swarms of locusts can contain as many as 80 million locusts per square kilometer...a small part of a typical swarm can eat as much food as 2,500 people in a single day."
"Swarms of locusts can contain as many as 80 million locusts per square kilometer...a small part of a typical swarm can eat as much food as 2,500 people in a single day."