Much of the extraordinary variety of traditional art from Africa comes from the countries in West and Central Africa, because of the availability of wood (often called exotic woods) and metal. Hamill Gallery has organized their excellent site to show the materials, including textiles, metals, beads used, as well as the names of the many tribes and categories, such as animals. The images are accompanied by information about the art. The Yale University Art Gallery also has a nice selection of African art with information. The Africa Image Library offers an archive of images, which give a little backdrop to the lives and environment of the artists and artisans in various parts of Africa. [more inside]
China, Africa see closer cooperation since Beijing Summit. Others see it a bit differently: 'We never pay,' he said, 'because once you pay you become their bitch; you will pay for ever and ever.' The phenomenon even has a name on the ground in the sub-Sahara: the Great Chinese Takeout. China, Africa and Oil: China's national oil companies are, in some cases, politically stronger than the government agencies charged with regulating them. previously
As reported in the Guardian the US has cut funding for condoms in Marie Stopes' African clinics. In 2007 MSI provided 129 million male and female condoms. Since 2001 with the Mexico City Policy commonly known as " The Global Gag" The Bush administration has blocked birth control access at every turn. It has tried to redefine Contraception as Abortion. [more inside]
Brutal or Amazing? - this is just one of many fine posts on the Photo Africa Blog, an excellent source of in-the-wild animal and nature photos and reports from bush field guides. Also see: Madikwe Lions.
Birth of an Ocean: The Evolution of Ethiopia's Afar Depression. "Formation of an ocean is a rare event, one few scientists have ever witnessed. Yet this geophysical nativity is unfolding today in one of the hottest and most inhospitable corners of the globe." [Via]
Think you've got problems caused by economic meltdown? "Yesterday I had a balance in my account of $2,000 (at old value that is 20 trillion dollars / $20,000,000,000,000.00). This account is dormant, untouched for months. This morning I find I owe the bank $500,000 in service fees for one month’s bank charges to hold my $2,000. This is no joke." This is life in Zimbabwe under hyperinflation. [more inside]
Up to now, no black cyclist has ever competed in the Tour de France. One man hopes to to change that. Last month Nicholas Leong, a Singaporean photographer and supporter of the Major Taylor Association (previously: 1, 2), travelled to Eldoret in Kenya, a place better known for producing world-class distance runners. There, he found two Kenyan cyclists and took them to France to tackle one of the Tour's most iconic climbs: Alpe d'Huez. [more inside]
The People of the Omo Valley, Ethiopia, use their faces and bodies as canvases, using natural elements at hand in an especially beautiful, natural fashion show. These photographs [flash] were taken by Hans Silvester, a German photographer who spent 10 months in the Omo Valley. [more inside]
The Economist issues a glowing report on efforts made by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first woman in Africa to become a democratically elected head of state, at the halfway mark through her presidency of Liberia. Already considered 'my hero' among the young, her determination, her resolve and her unstinting efforts to bring peace and economic development to her nation are an unexpectedly welcome counterpoint to the usual 'war, famine, disease, corruption' stories that tend to emerge from her continent.
Pieter Hugo photographs the Nigerian film industry, where a digital camera, 2 lights, nine days and $20k translates into a feature film. NSFW. [more inside]
China is making a concerted effort to colonize Africa with dire consequences for Africans. In protest to China's involvement in Darfur's genocide, Steven Spielberg has resigned as Artistic Director of the Beijing Olympics.
"Don’t stop. Keep right on going.... Go someplace you’ve heard about, where you can fish or hunt or collect rocks or just look up at the sky. Find out what’s at the end of some country road. Go see what’s over the next hill, and the one after that, and the one after that." In 1959 Airstream founder Wally Byam - taking his own advice to heart - led a convoy of 36 of his company's trailers - together with over 100 American adults, children and pets - on a journey from Cape town to Cairo. They stayed in remote villages, negotiated rough roads, saw upteen tribal dancers, met up with Haile Selassie and finally ended up at the pyramids of Cairo. Here is the original film account of the expedition (complete with its own theme song). Next year, on the 50th anniversary, there is a plan to do the trip again - this time there and back again. Wanna go?
The African Cookbook is a compilation of recipes from 9 countries in Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, Sudan and Tanzania & Zanzibar. As well as a handful of recipes each section has short chapters on how food is served in each country. For more recipes and information go to Try African Food.
Internet in Africa is more than just Nigerian spam. There are honest African bloggers who fight corrupt government and police to go where mainstream journalists dare not. Compare their blogging experience with your own. Imagine the government calling you over the phone at night and questioning about a particular post you just wrote.
Equatorial Guinea is more than your average headline-making, human rights-eschewing African nation. Likening the country’s uneasy street-silence to that of Pyongyang, deported journalist Peter Maass reveals an unparalleled culture of fear blanketed by an international media blackout. But for the Whitehouse, ExxonMobil and Teodoro Obiang—Equatorial Guinea’s torturous leader—the poverty, abuse and dead-quiet are business as usual.
Often referred to as “sope”, meaning something magical inhabited by powerful evil spirits, albinos have long been the victims of discrimination in Africa (scroll up). Although Tanzania recently nominated an albino MP, they are being killed and mutilated to support a growing trade.
From the Bookstalls of a Nigerian Market. Onitsha Market Literature consists of stories, plays, advice and moral discourses published primarily in the 1960s by local presses in the lively market town of Onitsha [in then-newly-independent Nigeria]... In the fresh and vigorous genre of Onitsha Market Literature, the commoner wrote pulp fiction and didactic handbooks for those who perused the bookstalls of Onitsha Market, one of Africa’s largest trading centers. Examples: How To Write And Reply Letters For Marriage, Engagement Letters, Love Letters And How To Know A Girl To Marry, Learn To Speak 360 Interesting Proverbs And Know Your True Brother, Struggle For Money [All full-text links are in pdf format, and some are quite large]. With links to additional resources.
There is something creepily colonialist in Madonna’s attitude to Africa. First we had the White Man’s Burden -– now we have the White Madonna’s Burden. More and more celebrities are treating Africa as a wide-eyed child that needs a Hollywood hug -– or as a wicked devil that needs a Hollywood hammering. [more inside]
Masseiana - Containing the three major works of Gerald Massey and his minor work commonly titled: The Lectures. Published here in their entirety, fully revised and amended, with additional material by the editor.
Given the history of the country and the fact that a huge number of South Africa's black citizens still live in conditions of desperate hardship, a film seeking to draw attention to white poverty in that nation might understandably raise some eyebrows or some suspicions. But Poor Whites - South Africa is worth a view. Perhaps things aren't always quite as, er, black and white as this South African TV spot would indicate. Meanwhile, ANC president Jacob Zuma, visiting poor whites at a shantytown yesterday expressed surprise at the level of poverty among white people. "You have shown me that it exists", he said to Solidarity officials who had invited him. [more inside]
- "Please don't beat me. I'm having my period." ~ Mama Wangari
- "It is being both black and gay [which is problematic]." ~ Zanele Muholi (Nehanda Nyakasikana) [NSFW]
- "Sisters at heart, these women are: from Kibera to Loresho." ~ WM
- "My vagina wants an Uzi" ~ Larissa Klazinga (Amanda Atwood)
- "You are from Kenya? So are you Kikuyu or Luo?" ~ Wangui
Then and Now presents works from 8 South African documentary photographers - each contributes 10 photos taken during apartheid and 10 made since the democratic elections of 1994. (On display at Duke University through July 27.) [more inside]
No-small-news-filter: House Votes to Continue and Expand President's Global Effort Against AIDS. [more inside]
Very recently the Kalenjin and Kisii peoples of Kenya's Olmelil valley began skirmishing over land disputes. Over 20 people have died so far. This type of inter-tribal unrest is nothing new in Eastern Africa. What makes this particular conflict most jarring to western eyes is that it's being fought with bows and arrows (Time Magazine Slideshow, a forum post with many large images inline, [coral cache of same]). You get the feeling that somewhere in Fresno, California Gary Brechter might be pretty wound-up at the moment...
One day in 1999, Alex Sabac el Cher, a retired German textile salesman opened his door to a historian who had a painting to show him and a few questions. Preußisches Liebesglück ("Prussian love bliss"), a 1890 painting of two lovebirds, an African officer of the German imperial army and his young red-headed bride, was perhaps an allegory of (color-)blind love, but also an actual moment of happiness in the Sabac el Cher family history, that started in 1836 with the gift of a young Nubian boy nicknamed August "Good morning" to an exiled princely murderer and became interwoven with German history. Bonus: First 10 minutes (in French) of a documentary about the Sabac el Cher.
Leaders and Representatives of 57 Islamic countries (one exception is Mr. M. of Pakistan) and other dignitaries (including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon are meeting in Dakar, Senegal from March 8th-14th (link to flash video) for the 11th summit of the organization of the Islamic Conference. The OIC "combine their efforts and speak with one voice to safeguard the interests and secure the progress and well-being of their peoples and of all Muslims in the world." Topics to be discussed at the summit also include brokering a peace deal between Chad and Sudan . Some of Dakar's residents1 (2, both in French) are not happy about the summit. [more inside]
Bob Geldof in Rwanda gives Bush his props.. Bob Geldof, who has worked tirelessly to ease the suffering in Africa, has praised President Bush on his policies and efforts in that country. The singer was annoyed that the press had mostly ignored the exuberant reception that Mr. Bush has consistently received during his five-nation tour this week
Soukous Radio is an online radio station that plays/streams this energizing, joyous, African fusion music, known for its bright guitar sound and rumba/salsa beat. The name, Soukous, is derived from the French word secouer, to shake. A popular, recent Soukous video by two Ivory Coast singers, DJ Eloh and DJ Mix, The Bobaraba (which means “big bottom” in the local Djoula language), celebrates booty shaking. [more inside]
witness the strangest customs of the red, white, brown, black and yellow races ... attend their startling rites, their mysterious practices ... all assembled for you
The Secret Museum of Mankind :: "Published in 1935, the Secret Museum is a mystery book. It has no author or credits, no copyright, no date, no page numbers, no index ... The tone of the commentary is dated, and uniformly racist in the extreme, often hilariously so. It reads like the patter of a carnival sideshow barker, from a time when the world was divided between "modern" Europeans and "savages" ... Presented here is the Secret Museum in its entirety, all 564 pages scanned and transcribed-- nothing is omitted or censored ... Treat it as entertainment instead of education (don't take it seriously and don't believe a word it says!), adjust for the blatant racial bias of the time, and enjoy."
Oh, I say old chap--do you mind not going all "immigrant" on me, and spitting all over the place? Thank you very much. (how Britain proposes to solve the problem of integrating its migrant population)
Jewelers, engine parts manufacturers, and most of all, investors are watching as platinum hits an all time high, topping $1800 per ounce. An electic supply crisis in South Africa is to blame/thank for this unprecedented rise as mines are facing limits to the amount of electricity they can use. A mining analyst said it could eventually top $2000/oz.
The rock art of the Tassili culture is found throughout North African mountains, the Tassili n'Ajjer. The rock art of Europe is well known around the world. Lesser known but just as amazing and less well-understood is the rock art of North Africa. (prev.,prev.) This tradition is thought to have developed independently of European rock art although researchers agree about very little else about it. This art hearkens back to a time when the Sahara's climate was milder and more wet. This rock art has often been compared to the pre-Nguni San rock art of Southern Africa. There are of course people who believe that aliens did it. The more research that is done about this area and its archaeology, the more we may have to rethink our ideas about the Sahara. . Sadly enough, like many archaeological sites it is becoming endangered.
Reading the news, the violence in Kenya can feel distant. For Mission in Action/Nakuru Baby Orphanage, located in the heart of the Rift Valley, the violence is all to near, and extremely troubling. (the last link contains images that may be very disturbing) [more inside]
Barefootin'! Ron Hunter, men's basketball coach of IUPUI, decides to raise awareness for Samaritan's Feet, a charity that collects shoes for needy children, by coaching barefoot. Initially, he hoped to collect 40,000 pairs in honor of the 40th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr. - 110,000 pairs of shoes were collected by tip-off. [more inside]
The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), is the largest church in the world1. Completed in 1990 for about $300 million by President Félix Houphouët-Boigny - with profits skimmed from the slave labor best cocoa (chocolate) industry - in the small rural town of his birth, it sits today in the bush a vast empty palace of marble and crystal gawked at by the occasional backpacker. Among other trappings it has the only airport big enough in Africa to take the Concorde, a presidential palace with a lake stocked with scores of Sacred Caymans (crocodiles,) and a mansion next to the Basilica reserved exclusively for the Pope on visits from Rome (used once). The President enjoyed his complex for less than 3 years before dieing in 1993.
Teff, a native Ethiopian grain, has been cultivated there for at least 4,000 years. Its seeds are smaller than pinheads, and can be easily scattered. Many Ethiopians eat it two to three times a day in injera bread, porridge or, of course, alcohol (pages 3-4). The grain is gluten-free and is full of essential amino acids, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals. It has a short growing season and tolerance for marginal soils and drought or flood conditions, but its low comparative yield optimal sunlight conditions, and labor intensive harvest may limit the spread of the grain.
Serigne Saliou (article in French) Mbacké, the leader of the Mourides (academic link), a prominent Islamic brotherhood in Senegal (and Harlem, NY , died a week ago today. Arguably the most influential person in Senegal, he had been the the last living son of the Mouride founder Chiekh Amadou Bamba. Thousands of peoplehave traveled Touba, the Mouride capital, to pay their respects. [more inside]
#1 African Music Website. Africa Hit offers an extensive and varied selection of great music videos from West Africa. [more inside]
"It will no doubt be deemed a strange circumstance that an African negro should attempt to write a book, and that he should presume to offer his production to the enlightened people of Great Britain."
The Life and Adventures of Zamba, an African Negro King; and His Experience of Slavery in South Carolina. Written by Himself.
The Life and Adventures of Zamba, an African Negro King; and His Experience of Slavery in South Carolina. Written by Himself.
"The really disturbing thing about Lagos’s pickers and venders is that their lives have essentially nothing to do with ours. They scavenge an existence beyond the margins of macroeconomics. They are, in the harsh terms of globalization, superfluous." The Megacity, George Packer in Lagos.
Doris Lessing's Nobel Prize for Literature acceptance speech. "The storyteller is deep inside everyone of us. The story-maker is always with us. Let us suppose our world is attacked by war, by the horrors that we all of us easily imagine. Let us suppose floods wash through our cities, the seas rise . . . but the storyteller will be there, for it is our imaginations which shape us, keep us, create us - for good and for ill. It is our stories that will recreate us, when we are torn, hurt, even destroyed."