In the 12 months ending in March 2005, the South African police reported more than 22,000 cases of child rape. In Zimbabwe, at least 2,000 child rape victims have died of AIDS since 1998. “Everybody should be aware that things like this should not happen to children.” This is the scourge of sex abuse of girls in Africa.
To be a Sapeur in Kinshasa is to treat every trash-strewn alley or muddy street as a fashion catwalk. Inspired by Congolese rumba star Papa Wemba* and his Société des Ambianceurs et Persons Élégants* (le Sape), urban peacocks cheerfully adopted "Religion Kitembo”, literally the worship of clothes. "The Pope of the Sapes" himself appears to have undergone a conversion since his recent legal troubles. Photo gallery by Héctor Mediavilla. *sound
Compassionate Slavery. A representative of the World Trade Organization proposes foreign corporate "stewardship" of workers in Africa from the moment they are hired until they die, describing it as "the best available solution to African poverty, and the inevitable result of free-market theory".
Kira Salak is a writer who embodies an old-fashioned spirit of adventure. She has kayaked the Niger River solo; during her time in Africa, she freed a slave. On another trip, she sampled Ayahuasca in the Peruvian jungle. At the age of 24, she trekked alone through the tribal violence of Papua New Guinea. Her work is a wonderful alternative to the blandness and narrowness of contemporary consumer society, in which there is nothing new to be discovered and everything can be reduced to lucre.
(RED) is an initiative started by Bono and Bobby Shriver, to (Embrace) you in the fight against AIDS in Africa whenever you buy iconic red-colored products like the iPod, Amex card, Armani and others. A portion of the sales proceeds of each product goes to the Global Fund charity that gives away antiretroviral drugs to HIV infected people. Watch out for Bono painting the town red with/on Oprah today to mark its US release. Make friends with it on mySpace.
Zambia's presidential election took place in an atmosphere of enthusiasm. New rules ensured that it would be free and fair, making this the most successful election yet in the country's fifteen years of multiparty rule. Still, the challenger's support for Robert Mugabe's dictatorial regime raises some questions about his commitment to democracy. Meanwhile, Mugabe denied rumors that he was postponing his own presidential election, due in 2008. Are Westerners ignoring hopeful news from Africa?
When worlds collide: King Mswati III of Swaziland chooses his thirteenth wife at the Umhlanga, a Zulu reed-dancing ceremony [NSFW, tame]. The BBC reports on the story, but then realise US networks they syndicate to might be fined due to FCC regulations on nudity. Richard Porter, editor of BBC World, explains more in his blog.
Canada's a nice place to live. At least I think so, anyways. And so do, apparently, about 150 delegates from the International AIDS Conference. They've decided that they'd rather stay here than go back to their homes, mostly in Africa, and are claiming refugee status in order to meet this goal. While it's understandable that some of these claims may be legitimate, and that the home countries might not have been as enticingly developed as Canada, it does seem that for some "delegates", their claims are not what they may seem.
The Bushi-Nenge of French Guiana and Surinam (Bush Negroes or Maroons) are a unique, and little-known group of peoples (Boni or Aluku, Saramaca, Ndyuka) who escaped from Dutch plantations in the early 1700's, who battled for independence which was recognized through various treaties -- notably by the Treaty of Albina which France and the Netherlands signed in 1860 (I can't find any info on the net), and who still live an African-type life largely based around the Maroni River between French Guiana and Suriname, as citizens of either one country or the other. Their language is Sranan Tongo (a mixture of African Languages, English, Dutch, Portuguese and Hebrew -- also known as Taki-Taki -- click for a listen). Historical and scholarly works are scarce, but they exist (In English but mostly in Dutch or French). Some pictures of typical houses. Symbolic Woodwork. More art. Images of the people of French Guyana. Images of various canoes in French Guiana. More photos of the Maroni River. Amazonie Francaise.
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]