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13-Year-Old Ambassador of Hope

Austin Gutwein first became aware of the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS from a pen pal in Africa.“‘My pen pal [2006 video - 2:48]*...was the first one to open my eyes to the world outside of my own backyard,’ Austin says. One of the harsh realities that struck a chord with Austin was the fact that many kids become orphaned as a result of a parent contracting HIV. ‘I started to think about what it would be like if I lost my parents,’ says Austin. ‘I just felt called to help.’...On World AIDS Day [December 1] 2004, at age 10, Austin shot 2,057 free throws to represent the number of children who would be orphaned because of AIDS during that school day....Austin approached individuals in his community to sponsor his endeavor. That year [he] raised $3,000, which he gave to World Vision to be used to help eight orphans in Africa.” Three years later his non-profit, Hoops of Hope, raised $100,000 [2007 video - 2:32] which was used to build a residential school in Zambia for those orphaned -- and many infected -- by HIV/AIDS. Next year's goal -- to build a hospital. [more inside]
posted by ericb on Nov 30, 2007 - 18 comments

I've stolen all my wives

Wife thief - the Wodaabe of Nigeria are one of the world's few remaining Nomadic peoples, retaining age-old customs and ways. Physical beauty and charm are highly prized, qualities much in evidence at the annual Gerewol ceremonies. After donning elaborate makeup and clothing, men engage in stylized dance and preening to win the favor of a desired woman - often one who is already married. [more inside]
posted by madamjujujive on Nov 26, 2007 - 20 comments

Dancing "rave style": from beginner to geriatric, you're covered

How to dance at a rave. People dancing to house music. The Detroit Jit vs. Chicago Juke. The history of the Detroit Jit on popular dance show The Scene from the 80's. 80's legends the Funkateers doing their thing to Wordy Rappinghood. Compare them to the New York City Breakers. [more inside]
posted by Unicorn on the cob on Nov 19, 2007 - 69 comments

Batá drum and dance of the Yoruba, Nigeria, West Africa

Learn about the powerful, complex Batá drumming and dance tradition of the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Check these 6-to-8 year old Batá drummers laying down the groove. Then theres the Egungun action going on over in Ibadan, to the accompaniment of Batá drums, of course. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Nov 8, 2007 - 8 comments

pet hyenas

The Hyena Men, seen a couple of years ago and now updated: Pieter Hugo's gallery of photographs of people with hyenas and baboons as pets in Abuja, Nigeria.Text. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Nov 3, 2007 - 12 comments

Healing power

A day in the life of Abdullah Ibrahim, South-African composer and performer who creates hypnotic and softly singing grooves. To me, his recent piano trios are the highlights of his work, because they are both swinging and soulful. But his compositions do not sound bad in a big band setting -(or in an arrangement for guitar). His music is quiet and meditative but powerful, and has sometimes been used as a banner for freedom and equality. Now he likes to withdraw once in a while to the smallest scenes (french commentary with some english underneath), putting strong emphasis on necessary simplicity. Written portrait.
posted by nicolin on Nov 1, 2007 - 5 comments

formal and contemporary

The Young Gallery has an exceptional collection of photographs by both renowned and recently discovered photographers. The feast of visuals includes elegantly haunting images of African wildlife by Nick Brandt, Night Views of cities by Floriane de Lassée, salad vegetables by Viktor Polson, nudes and portraits by Patrick Demarchelier and images of Tibet, Mongolians and Tibetans by Richard Gere.
posted by nickyskye on Oct 27, 2007 - 8 comments

Voodoo Funk - 11 African funk mp3 mixes

Voodoo Funk - 11 African funk mixes from a vinyl archaeologist in Guinea
posted by algreer on Oct 17, 2007 - 23 comments

"Everything is determination. I know with time things will be okay."

Kingsley's crossing: the excruciating journey of a man seeking a better life. [more inside]
posted by rom1 on Oct 15, 2007 - 12 comments

Papa Kourand: Roots of Konono No. 1

The full-on, amped-up sanza sounds of Konono No. 1 have been celebrated here at MeFi not once but twice, and they are indeed wonderful. Björk's been working with them a bit lately, too. But let's go back a few decades, and take a listen to the unplugged version of this type of music: mesdames et messiurs, Papa Kourand, the grand old man of the sanza! [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Oct 10, 2007 - 11 comments

African Time

There is time, and there is "African time". The Ivory Coast is fighting chronic lateness with a contest that offered a $60,000 villa as its grand prize. The winner, legal adviser Narcisse Aka, is known by his colleagues as "Mr. White Man's Time" and said that his punctuality makes him feel like "an extra-terrestrial."
posted by stbalbach on Oct 9, 2007 - 54 comments

A horse is a horse... Unless of course...

Are Zebras black with white stripes, or white with black stripes? Find the answer to this, plus many other fun zebra facts and many great zebra pictures and photos for your desktop at the appropriately titled Fun Zebra Pictures & Facts website. [more inside]
posted by Effigy2000 on Oct 5, 2007 - 40 comments

The battle of the gentle giants

Giraffe mating battles can be brutal but they are generally gentle giants. Man's fascination with these exotic creatures can be tracked from 9,000 year old rock art to the quest for exotics that brought them to the courts of Medici-era Florence, Restoration Paris, and Imperial China, spawning much curiosity and fanciful illustration. Today, giraffe-o-philes can get up close and personal in Kenya's Giraffe Manor. [more inside]
posted by madamjujujive on Sep 30, 2007 - 32 comments

Outsourcing Permutations

Indian company to outsource its outsourcing. Outsourcing in Ghana, where the government takes English very seriously indeed. Finally, Native American outsourcing.
posted by StrikeTheViol on Sep 24, 2007 - 8 comments

Oliver Mtukudzi, pride of Zimbabwe

Let's pay a visit to Zimbabwe's Oliver Mtukudzi, or Tuku, as he's affectionately known to his fans. His voice has a touch of that sweet soul gravel reminiscent of Georgia's Otis Redding, or Jamaica's Toots Hibberts, but his mellow fingerpicking guitar style and relaxed, loping grooves are African all the way. His earlier stuff is certainly worth going back to as well! And, hey, it's unlikely you'll hear too many other pop stars who sing lines like "Call the mother of my childfren. I am hurt. I was injured while training the ox." [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Sep 16, 2007 - 11 comments

"Look East" looks over

China to withdraw support for the Mugabe regime. China's extensive and growing engagement in Africa will no longer include propping up the failed Zimbabwean regime. Recently on MeFi
posted by Abiezer on Sep 2, 2007 - 22 comments

Balafon! Balafon! Balafon!

The YouTubes have the African balafon you need. Alya Dioubate. Coulibaly Samadou. Kanazoé. Epizo Bangoura. Koeta Hakiri. Bala. Man and child. Danse Moderne Balafon!
posted by flapjax at midnite on Aug 17, 2007 - 14 comments

Acquittal in Joan Root murder trial

Joan Root, who spent most of her life in Kenya, was a noted naturalist and filmmaker (along with her (former) husband. She was murdered by gunmen at point-blank range in January, 2006 in her home on Lake Naivasha. Lake Naivasha is the only fresh water source in the Great Rift Valley, and has become increasingly endangered by pollution and overuse for irrigation, and Root spent considerable time fighting to protect it. Today, a Kenyan magistrate acquitted the four suspects in her murder, calling the testimony of 13 witnesses "defective".
posted by mkultra on Aug 10, 2007 - 11 comments

"the first person in America to huff his own shit"

The lengths some people will go to get high. Jenkem or jekem is a drug made from raw human sewage, apparently most prevalent in Africa. (Mildly NSFW.)
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim on Jul 30, 2007 - 54 comments

Voices of Africa

"Thanks to tremendous progress achieved by the General Packet Radio System (GPRS), the wireless communication protocol, it is now possible for Africans to send articles and images (still and moving) about events taking place in their countries without using a computer and without having internet connection. Under those circumstances, the bigger the number of people expressing their opinions through that technology, the stronger becomes democracy, and the more valuable is the contribution to good governance efforts in Africa" - Voices of Africa, Mobile stories and videos from Africa. Quote above from article Mobile Reporters in Africa.
posted by infini on Jul 27, 2007 - 11 comments

Four endangered gorillas found shot dead

Four endangered gorillas were found shot dead in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a conservation group announced today. For all the evil bastards that do this, there are many, many more good people fighting the good fight to help keep gorillas healthy. One, even has a blog.
posted by james_cpi on Jul 26, 2007 - 41 comments

"A Compound From Olive-pomace Oil Gets 80% Slowing Down Of HIV Spread"

In the past, various possible treatments and methods have been suspected of helping combat AIDS, which have later been proven correct. Other, less reputable treatments have also been claimed to work, the likes of which descend towards malpractice, pseudoscience and criminal negligence. But in a turnabout, the olive oil element of South Africa's controversial treatment, deemed to be "Africa's Solution", actually helps as well.
posted by duende on Jul 9, 2007 - 7 comments

Malawi man builds a windwill to power home

William Kamkwamba decided to build a windmill to power lights in his home: "For many years we had only paraffin candles to light my home at night. They are expensive, smoky, smelly and have to be purchased about 8 km from home."
posted by letitrain on Jul 5, 2007 - 31 comments

Historic maps and photos of Africa

Northwestern University hosts a fine collection of historic East African photographs, viewable as sample sets or in their original photo-albums (requires flash). But the real prize is their wonderful collection of 113 historic maps of Africa, which are zoomable to incredible detail, also 1, 2, 3. via
posted by Rumple on Jun 11, 2007 - 11 comments

"Father of African film" passes on

Ousmane Sembene, Senegalese writer and filmmaker, has died.
posted by RogerB on Jun 11, 2007 - 16 comments

Last Days of the Hadzabe

"50,000 Years of Resilience May Not Save Tribe." A deal to provide a member of the UAE royal family with a personal Tanzanian playground may be the final nail in the coffin for the remaining 1,500 members of the ancient Hadzabe people and their unique language. Read a Westerner's account of living among the Hadzabe here.
posted by lalex on Jun 11, 2007 - 18 comments

The hounding of David Oluwale

David Oluwale arrived in Britain in 1949, one of many African immigrants. By the close of 1969, he was dead. Two years later, two police officers were charged with his murder, although they got away almost scot-free despite a massive amount of evidence against them. Although it caused a national scandal at the time, more because of police malpractice than racism, Oluwale's sad story has been forgotten since (apart from a play, written by Jeremy Sandford, a few years later). However, it deserves to be remembered not just because of a tragic and unnecessary death, but because it was the first recorded death of a British black person as a result of police racism. A new book, Nationality: Wog, The Hounding of David Oluwale is helping bring Oluwale's plight back into public consciousness. Via the BBC's Thinking Allowed.
posted by humblepigeon on Jun 6, 2007 - 8 comments

Ready or Not

Ready or Not. "South Africa is a great place to have a party, and people are incredibly generous of spirit. What we should be doing is trying to make the World Cup experience uniquely African: where the bus comes 10 minutes late but nobody gives a toss because they are having such a good time. Instead, the organisers seem to want to try to run the World Cup as efficiently as the Germans did. What a load of bull. The Germans could invade Poland in three days. We could not invade Swaziland in three months." Article in today's Observer about preparations in South Africa for the soccer World Cup in 2010.
posted by hydatius on Jun 3, 2007 - 17 comments

Gorilla warfare

A band of Congolese rebels is threatening to kill all of the Virunga mountain gorillas. Two-hundred Mai-Mai fighters attacked conservation posts in the violence-prone Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in response to government efforts to protect Virunga National Park from settling and poaching. Virunga is home to roughly half the world's 700 remaining mountain gorillas (and was the workplace of Diane Fossey). Last year, Mai-Mai fighters killed nearly half of the park's hippos, eating the meat and selling the teeth as ivory, and in January they killed and ate two silverbacks. The increased violence is part of a trend that has accompanied attempts to integrate the area's independent militias- mostly remnants of groups that fought in the Congo civil war, then refused to disband- into the national army, and some observers believe that the war, which already killed 4 million, may reignite.
posted by gsteff on May 25, 2007 - 55 comments

Geldof and Bono discuss progress on G8 pledges

Where's the money? [YouTube] In a short interview with the BBC, Bob Geldof and Bono discuss ongoing efforts to get G8 members to fulfil commitments made at the Gleneagles summit, their own credibility or lack of, and whether or not the current focus on climate change is taking attention away from the situation in Africa. This Guardian article has more details.
posted by teleskiving on May 16, 2007 - 39 comments

Awesome Tapes from Africa

Awesome Tapes from Africa (via)
posted by roll truck roll on May 15, 2007 - 40 comments

Interesting times

Parallel History Project on Cooperative Security "By far the most ambitious and integral project in the burgeoning field of cold war history"
posted by Abiezer on May 7, 2007 - 3 comments

Blood and oil

China's African oil safari turns bloody again. "Before dawn this morning At 0430 AM local time in Ogaden, the 'Dufaan' commando unit of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) conducted a military operation in the vicinity of Obala, 30km North-West of Degah-Bur in in Northern Ogaden." Sixty-five Ethiopians and nine Chinese were killed in an attack of an unprecedented scale. Another seven Chinese workers are being held by the ONLF. (BBCFocusAfrica interviews ONLF spokesman (.ram streaming audio))
posted by Abiezer on Apr 25, 2007 - 12 comments

Mary Uduru, roadside chef

Mary Uduru of Nigeria. Although we see lots of single-image representations of African poverty (usually in the form of a swollen-bellied child on the brink of starvation) it's rare to find a photo-essay like this one one, which brings us an intimate, informative and non-sensationalist view of the life of the working poor there.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Apr 11, 2007 - 22 comments

Ice Burn!

"So take that to your next rain dance and STFU" vs. "YOU GO BACK TO AFRICA AND DO YOUR GAY VOODOO LIMBO TANGO AND WANGO DANCE AND JUMP AROUND AND PRANCE AND ALL OVER THE PLACE HALF NAKED..." Emails between a gay black man and a Native American army recruiter. Copy of the email exchange here. (Quote at the bottom format, so read from the last page up.)
posted by Snyder on Mar 26, 2007 - 73 comments

traditional music of Africa

Spend a blissful 59 minutes and 7 seconds traversing the continent of Africa through her traditional music. This excellent stream (featuring just the right amount of background info) from the folks at Afropop Worldwide [previously] features plenty of the kind of effortlessly rolling, lilting rhythmic vibes that make African traditional music some of the most sublime in the world. "So don't expect over-the-top ethnography, just relax and enjoy acoustic Africa."
posted by flapjax at midnite on Mar 19, 2007 - 11 comments

AIDS cured!

AIDS cured! with seven herbs and spices. Who knew? Sadly, its another example of anti-west superstitions, which isn't limited just to Africa.
posted by damn dirty ape on Mar 16, 2007 - 48 comments

An orchestra of clown horns!

Por Por: Squeeze-bulb horn music of Ghana[pdf].
posted by geos on Mar 16, 2007 - 8 comments

South African National Anthem

Nkosi Sikelel'iAfrica
Sounds the call to come together,(youtube)
And united we shall stand,(audio)
Let us live and strive for freedom, (wmp)
In South Africa our land. (scroll down for writer Sol Plaatje performing the first recorded version of the song.)
posted by serazin on Feb 27, 2007 - 7 comments

The darkest thing about Africa has always been our ignorance of it.

I'd like you to meet Africa. It's a continent. You probably don't hear about it a lot in the news. That's because there's only like a billion people who live there. Global Voices has some further background on one news organization's quest to inform the masses about this little-known land.
posted by panoptican on Feb 22, 2007 - 45 comments

Meanwhile in Africa...

You will be thoroughly beaten. Zimbabwe, in economic decline for years, may be accelerating towards collapse. Its inflation rate recently hit 1281%, the highest in the world, and a strike by public doctors that began six weeks ago has now spread to nurses, electrical workers and (today) teachers. Those that aren't allowed to strike, like police, are quitting. Last month, Zimbabwe's top judge warned that underfunding had (possibly intentionally) left its judiciary largely unable to function, the nation's electricity provider recently announced that it's broke, its sewage plants started breaking down and polluting urban water supplies, and international observers warned (based on satellite photos, since the government won't allow them in) that famine is looming. In the past, President Robert Mugabe's response to the growing destitution has been to forcibly evict poor urban slum residents into the countryside and bulldoze their homes, to prevent them from organizing politically and to make it difficult for rights organizations to monitor them. Now, he's canceling the 2008 presidential elections (for now, saying that they'll be held in 2010, in conjunction with parliamentary elections, to save money) and ordering security forces to jail and torture political activists. The situation may be approaching a breaking point.
posted by gsteff on Feb 5, 2007 - 48 comments

Tiger tiger burning bright

As two more villages are relocated to create reserves for Project Tiger in India, each family will be offered two hectares of land, a house and 100,000 rupees or approximately $2200. But is this a sustainable solution for anti poaching measures? At Ranthambhore tiger reserve in the backward district of Sawai Madhopur, poaching has been controlled but pressure on the park remains as long as the seven relocated villages are unable to find alternate sources of long term income and other resources. When seeking food and shelter, saving the tiger is the last thing on their minds. Witness the slaughtering of the rare gorilla in Congo for food recently until the rebels were convinced to stop. Local needs versus long term ecological preservation will continue to be issues unless alternate viable solutions can be found.
posted by infini on Jan 26, 2007 - 8 comments

Images from Africa

Gosu. Images from Africa
posted by taschenrechner on Jan 1, 2007 - 18 comments

Thumb drive drive

Inveneo is a non-profit bringing technology to the developing world. They've got several projects going in Africa to connect, train, and equip villages but their latest push is an interesting one: The Thumb Drive Drive. In the era of $50 2Gb USB drives, many of us probably have discarded 16-128Mb drives sitting around. Send them to Inveneo and they'll get used in places where broadband isn't an option and quick storage is necessary.
posted by mathowie on Dec 13, 2006 - 10 comments

Heli-Africa Photodiary

Heli-Africa - Wildlife photographer Michael Poliza's photo journal from a just completed 2 month helicopter tour from Hamburg to Cape Town. These are a few samples to potentially whet the appetite.
posted by peacay on Dec 2, 2006 - 8 comments

Heart of Darkness

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.
posted by four panels on Dec 1, 2006 - 23 comments

The Society for Leisure Lovers and Elegant Persons

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
posted by maryh on Nov 28, 2006 - 21 comments

This will end badly

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".
posted by Pastabagel on Nov 14, 2006 - 24 comments

Kira Salak

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.
posted by jason's_planet on Oct 17, 2006 - 21 comments

Your (DOLLAR) goes further

(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.
posted by forwebsites on Oct 13, 2006 - 36 comments

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