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]
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]
Kenya has another election coming next year, the first under their new constitution, and since the last one in 2007 was followed by violence that left hundreds dead, and hundreds of thousands displaced (many of whom remain so today). [more inside]
This cover of Lady Gaga's "Telephone" (video) is performed by Slovenian vocal/a cappella group Perpetuum Jazzile. [more inside]
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]
Who Draws The Borders Of Culture?(NYTimes) Cultural border, as opposed to national borders, are funny things. One country can contain many (Coke vs. Soda. Vs. Pop, previously and previously-er). Cultural borders often appear as food and drink choices, like sweet tea, forms of alcohol, or BBQ sauce. [more inside]
Being an object of compassion is not the same thing as being the subject of a story. “I used to joke—and I want to emphasize this is a joke—that you could write that you’d wandered into some obscure backwater in Africa where people had three ears", tells a former NYT correspondent to the Boston Review. The expression white savior industrial complex, coined by Teju Cole in response to the Kony 2012 debâcle highlights the problem of reifying historical processes: it becomes something to be used and milked either as NGO "margins" or as fodder for disaster media. How many older people equate India with "endemic hunger" rather than "emerging power", and how many roads must Africa walk down before we stop calling them war-hungry savages? And is the objectifying discourse a cause or a symptom (or both) of the complex problem of even thinking about Africa?
Two days after a juvenile mountain gorilla was killed in a poacher's trap within Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park gorilla preserve, two other juvenile gorillas dismantled several traps. Bushmeat hunters set traps within the preserve for antelope and other game, but sometimes capture apes. Veronica Vesellio, the director of the Karisoke Research Center (a unit of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund), says "I don't know of any other reports in the world of juveniles destroying snares." [more inside]
Trading Places - photographer Steve Bloom's latest book focuses on the business people, shops, and signs of Nairobi. Take a panoramic walk down Kitengela Road in what is arguably the largest panoramic stitched together from hundreds of photos. In another clip, Bloom talks about his experiences taking the photos. (Via About:Blank)
Kindly enjoy these and look at your world differently. We live in a beautiful country people. Enjoy that.Mutua Matheka is a Kenyan photographer out to change perceptions of Nairobi and Kenya, for Kenyans and foreigners alike. (via)
I don't think you could find a better illustration of the grace, beauty and compelling power of African rhythm and sensibility than this 10 minute film.
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]
Tempero Brasileiro (mp3) is a collection of rare Brazilian tracks originally issued on 7″ vinyl. Compiled by Edson Carvalho, one of the top São Paulo crate diggers. [more inside]
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.
The Spear, a painting by South African artist Brett Murray is causing quite a stir. The painting is the subject of an attempted ban by the South African president, Jacob Zuma, according to the article and a general accusation of racism by the ANC leadership which has led at least one interesting response in the blogosphere.
Galleries of old photographs of camels in America, Australia, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, China, Mongolia and India, in war | camel breeds | How the Camel Got His Hump from Camel Tales, Folklore & Legends| baby camels and lots more at this one stop site all about Camels. Previously.
OkayAfrica keeps up to date with pop culture and news from across the continent. Africa In Your Earbuds gives DJs and musicians from across the diaspora the chance to curate a playlist or mixtape of their favorite African and African diaspora music. Chief Boima of Dutty Artz starts off Africa In Your Earbuds. [more inside]
Take the word AFRICA… without thinking, what images immediately come to mind? War? AIDS? Genocide? Or maybe the vision of a small child with a swollen belly, surrounded by flies? … Too many non-profits ask for your pity by depicting poor, helpless Africans. But like any stereotype, this portrayal has more exceptions than truth.
African Men and Hollywood Stereotypes. Call Me Hope Alex presents: Commando
Inside Africa. What about the digital frontier? How is the broadband download performance? How many mobile phones are there in Africa? And mobile subscriptions? How is Twitter doing in South Africa? And how many internet users are there in South Africa anyway? Yes, the other stuff like GDP growth rates, nation brand values and Sino-African trade are there too. And female entrepreneurship..
Before Joy Adamson went to Africa, before Margaret Mead sailed to Samoa, before Dian Fossey was even born, a Kansas teenager named Osa Leighty married Martin Johnson. Whether dancing to jazz in Congorilla or meeting headhunters in Borneo, her life with Martin ultimately led to hours of pioneering documentary footage, books, movies and more. Her autobiography inspired a Kate Spade purse, a perfume and her marriage an entire line of clothing while her joie de vivre put her on the cover of a book on trailblazing women of history. Osa Johnson went on to become a character in a play, in a poem while her married life gave birth to a museum (or two). When Osa met Martin, she married adventure.
Meet Azawad, Africa’s Newest Country Azawad is an area about the size of Texas located in the northern half of Mali. On April 6 2012 National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), after they were able to force Mali forces out of the territory they now claim as an independent state. Whether they can remain an independent country is a question that time will tell. Also whether they will be a secular Berber, pro-Western nation or an Islamist Emirate is another question that has many watching the area. [more inside]
"Trade, not aid:" the interesting story of Good African Coffee. [slnyt]
"In Calabar they have over two hundred inches of rain a year. This night they proved it. Everybody got soaked. It's a wonder no one got electrocuted."
Seven intense minutes of Fela Kuti and The Africa '70 performing in a night club in Calabar, a small Nigerian port city, in 1971, filmed by Ginger Baker. Seven years later, in one of their last performances before The Africa '70 disbanded, they performed at the Berlin Jazz Festival: V.I.P. (Vagabonds In Power), Power Show, Pansa Pansa (part 2), Cross Examination of the African Colonial Soldier.
Since 2010, over 3,000 children throughout northern Uganda have come down with nodding disease, a degenerative neurological condition, reports CNN. [more inside]
"From Sachs to Kristof to Invisible Children to TED, the fastest growth industry in the US is the White Savior Industrial Complex." (Teju Cole, The Atlantic)
Although officially abolished in 1981, slavery still exists in Mauritania. CNN Special Report includes a twenty-two minute video and offers a look inside a country where an estimated 10 - 20% are still enslaved.
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]
Life Without Lights Energy Poverty Photography.
Richard Mosse's photography from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [Previously] [more inside]
The Pan African Space Station continues to arrive... I previously posted about Chimurenga's Pan African Space Station. Back then they were doing special events, but they opened up a world to innovative and experimental African musical artists. Now the Station has gone live and is broadcasting all night/all day! (Yes, that is a popup radio player...) [more inside]
American writer abducted in Somalia. A writer and travel journalist from Manhattan Beach, Calif. has been kidnapped by Somali pirates. [more inside]
You may have never heard of them, but they definitely have your email address. They are the Yahoo-Yahoo Boys; the young Nigerian men who cut wide swaths of cash by preying on the naiveté of moneyed Westerners vis a vis their dreaded 419 emails. ...But if you check your spam folder right now you might notice that it is slightly lighter these days. That's because it's been a tough week for Nigeria’s most infamous internet enthusiasts. Due to the week-long strike action that took place in response to the government’s decision to remove a national fuel subsidy, it has become increasingly difficult for the Yahoos to extract funds from their “clients”. [...] The Yahoos' disposition towards #OccupyNigeria is also worth paying attention to because 419 culture is essentially a street-level microcosm of the institutional corruption that has plagued Nigeria for the past forty years. And although the Yahoos are often blamed for distorting Nigeria’s image abroad, they've also become part of the cultural fabric.
A unique urban ecology prompts a new look at globalization. Japanese architect Naohiko Hino visited Guangzhou's 'Africatown' after being inspired by an article in Le Monde Diplomatique* and wrote his view on the unique model of globalization he saw in the heart of China's manufacturing powerhouse. [more inside]
Today is the 30th anniversary of Flt. Lt. Jerry Rawling's coup d'etat catapulting him into the crowded ranks of military dictators in Africa. Yet, Ghana chooses to celebrate this date and Rawlings' speech on this historic occasion has been shared and published, his words hearkened to (albeit) and his global standing only embellished by his [role]* as the African Union's envoy to Somalia. What manner of military dictatorship was this and what changes did the coup accomplish in democratic Ghana, today considered the fastest growing and stable Sub Saharan economy expected to be elevated to middle income status in the near future? [more inside]
When it comes to railways, the British are famous for their colonial legacy of one of the world's most extensive railway networks built across then British India but their lesser known and far grander vision was the Cape to Cairo railway network intended to stretch across the sea of colonial pink on the African continent. Left incomplete due to politics and geography, most of it is still almost as it was built in its day. [more inside]
South African fast food chain Nando's ran an amusing ad featuring Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe enjoying himself with a range of deceased despots, to the tune "Those were the days". The Zimbabwean "government" was not amused.
The ruins of Gede are the remains of a mysterious lost city on the Swahili Coast of Kenya, located deep within the Arabuko Sokoke forest. The mystery of Gede (Gedi) is that it does not appear in any Swahili, Portuguese, or Arab written records and present day research has not yet been able to fully account for what actually happened to the city. The inhabitants were of the Swahili, an ancient trading civilization that emerged along the eastern coasts of Africa ranging from Somalia to Mozambique. Archaeological excavations carried out between 1948 and 1958 have uncovered porcelain from China, an Indian lamp, Venetian beads, Spanish scissors, and other artefacts from all over the world, demonstrating the occupants were engaged in extensive and sophisticated international trade. Questions still remain as to what caused the downfall of Gede, but by the 17th century, the city was completely abandoned to the forest and forgotten until the 1920s. Today, a National Museum, Gede's sister cities from the period are part of the ethnography based archeological work of Dr Chapurukha M. Kusimba of Chicago's Field Museum, whose lifework has thrown light on the precolonial heritage of the Swahili peoples.
Built by the Shona (1100-1500 AD), the empire of Great Zimbabwe, one of Africa’s greatest civilizations like Egypt and Meroe, stood between present-day Zimbabwe, eastern Botswana and south-east Mozambique. The empire’s highly developed architecture overwhelmed discoverers. And much in the same manner as German anthropologist Doctor Frobenius ignorantly mistook the Kingdom of Ife in Nigeria for the lost kingdom of Atlantis in 1911, some Europeans blatantly refused to believe that Great Zimbabwe was built by Africans. Dawson Munjeri, former director of Great Zimbabwe, a World Heritage site, discusses the history of the exceptional Zimbabwe empire. [more inside]
Pain of being a Kenyan Somali Young medical student living in Nairobi talks about being from a minority under suspicion during a time of war. [more inside]
The California—based Oakland Institute released a report earlier this year that documents some of the problems caused by the acquisition of land by foreign firms, including Indian ones, in Ethiopia and other African countries. Putting this global trend of ‘land grab’ under the spotlight, the report highlights the social and environmental costs of this phenomenon that have been largely overlooked by the media. Outlook interviewed Anuradha Mittal, the India—born—and—educated founder and executive president of Oakland Institute, to find out why she thinks India ought to share part of the blame of causing “depravation and destitution” in Ethiopia. text via Outlook [more inside]
Can the human head itself function as a percussion instrument? Why, yes! Yes it can!
A new malaria vaccine has been shown effective in large-scale field trials. After decades of disappointment, researchers think they're finally on track to unleash the first practical vaccine against malaria, one of mankind's ancient scourges. In the world's first large field trial of an experimental malaria vaccine, several thousand young children who got three doses had about 55 percent less risk of getting the disease over a year than those who got a control vaccine against rabies or meningitis. [more inside]
35 days, 2822 miles through 9 states at a cost of $252.51 ($7.21 per day). George 'the Cyclist' Christensen spends a good part of each year bicycling through a different country and wild camping in places like Iceland, Turkey, China, the foot of Mt Fuji and around Lake Victoria; And writing about his travels on his blog from libraries and internet cafés. For the past eight years, too, he has also followed the Tour de France after first watching upwards of 70 films [in 12 days] at the Cannes Film Festival.
For the last few decades, discoveries at Blombos Cave near Capetown have been pushing back our timeframe for the earliest known periods of complex human thought. Henshilwood et al have now discovered a 100,000 year old ocher paint factory at the same site.