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.
Nants ingonyama bagithi baba! It's been nearly two decades since that glorious savanna sunrise, and once again The Lion King is at the top of the box office. It's a good chance to revisit what made the original the capstone of the Disney Renaissance, starting with the music. Not the gaudy show tunes or the Elton John ballads, but the soaring, elegiac score by Hans Zimmer which, despite winning an Oscar, never saw a full release outside of an unofficial bootleg. Luckily, it's unabridged and high-quality, allowing one to lay Zimmer's haunting, pulse-pounding, joyful tracks alongside the original video (part 2, 3, 4), revealing the subtle leitmotifs and careful matching of music and action. In addition, South African collaborator Lebo M wove traditional Zulu chorals into the score, providing veiled commentary on scenes like this; his work was later expanded into a full album, the Broadway stage show, and projects closer to his heart. Speaking of expanded works, there were inevitable sequels -- all of which you can experience with The Lion King: Full Circle (download guide), a fan-made, three-hour supercut of the original film and its two follow-ups. Want more? Look... harder... [more inside]
I am sorry that Wangari Maathai, inspiring Nobel Peace Prize winner famous for tree-planting programme, has died.
Reel African is a new video-streaming site showing licensed African productions, films, series and documentaries, including The XYZ Show, the African Spitting Image. Also some MTV. Free to watch, with adverts inserted in the content. Promo trailer. Variety write-up. Via.
There are plenty of fund managers who want to be rock stars. Now, there is a rock star who fancies himself as a fund manager. Bob Geldof, the singer and campaigner for aid to Africa, is seeking to raise $1bn from institutional investors for a private equity venture on the continent. The pitch he is making represents a remarkable shift into African business for a man more often associated with his relentless advocacy for debt relief and aid to Africa. (Text Via FT) Till date he has raised $200m. Some are confused. Others are snarking. The Guardian's interview by an Ethiopian born writer with [more inside]
The Tribes of Darkest Austria - or: if Africans ruled Anthropology. (slyt)
In 2005, Manuel Bravo, 35, walked to a stairwell of the Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Center carrying a bedsheet. He hung himself. The note he left indicated that he had done it so that his son, Antonio Bravo, 13, could remain in the United Kingdom to be educated. The pair were to be deported back to war-torn Angola the next day, where they alleged that they had been victims of abuse by the ruling party. Now, Antonio is 19, training to be an electrician, speaking in Yorkshire dialect, no longer speaks his native Porteguese, and will be deported back to Angola if his humanitarian visa is not extended. "My family, they're English," he said, referring to the Beaumonts (his adoptive family). "Britain, that's my culture." [more inside]
Why Africa is leaving Europe behind: Africans are relishing something of a reversal in roles. The former colonial powers in Europe are wrestling with debt crises, austerity budgets, rising unemployment and social turmoil. By contrast much of sub-Saharan Africa can point to robust growth, better balanced books and rising capital inflows. There is an opportunity in this novel scenario: for Africa to assert itself on the global stage, and for European countries to take advantage of their historic footprint in Africa by stimulating commercial expansion to their south. But it is far from clear either side will grasp it. Recently.