The Home Office, the UK government department responsible for immigration control, has initiated a program to test the DNA from of potential asylum seekers in an attempt to confirm their true nationalities. The initial program is a six-month pilot limited to claimants arriving from the Horn of Africa. The program, currently using forensic samples provided on a voluntary basis, could potentially expand to other nationalities if successful. The Home Office spokeswoman said ancestral DNA testing would not be used alone but would be combined with language analysis, investigative interviewing techniques and other recognized forensic disciplines, but many are decrying the "deeply flawed" program, from refugee support groups to scientists in the genetic forensics fields (via). [more inside]
Albinos often face mistrust and discrimination, perhaps because they tend to be portrayed as evil in popular culture. But in Tanzania and Burundi, weird delusions that albinos have magical powers mean that they are actually being hunted down, murdered and dismembered to harvest their supposedly magical body parts. One group of albino kids are trying to spread some sense by forming their own "magic" sports team.
Inside Somalia. Mike Thomson of the BBC makes a rare visit to the refugee camps in one of the most dangerous places on earth.
The Big Africa Cycle. Peter Gostelow is cycling from Dorset, England to Cape Town to raise funds for The Against Malaria Foundation. And it's not his first big adventure. [more inside]
The Circumcision v. HIV debate rages on. [previously and previously-er and previously-er still] The debate has been rekindled due to new findings. It is expected to be one of the main topics during the CDC's National HIV Prevention Conference this week, as the CDC is considering endorsing routine circumcision. The American Academy of Pediatrics is also considering revising their circumcision policy, thus making it covered under Medicaid. Naturally, there is a lot of criticism of the evidence. In related news, it appears that there is a modicum of the so-called 'Birthers' who believe Obama's citizenship can be proven by his penis.
Just in case you were wondering, yes, indeed, it is the people who dance to Zinli music in Benin who have the coolest, freshest dance moves on the planet. Once you get past the extended a cappella intro, and that delicious slow groove kicks in at the 3:26 minute mark, this video will treat you to some of the most undulating funky moves EVAR. Now, whether you wanna try some of these gyrations yourself, or whether you just dig a nice, slow, cooly percolating West African groove for listening, go here for more from singer Alekpehanhou the "Roi du Zinli Rénové". [more inside]
Welcome to District 9. Director Neill Blomkamp turns his sci-fi short "Alive in Joburg" into a full-length feature film - examining xenophobia in an allegory of Apartheid, set in a slum recalling District 6 of Cape Town in South Africa.
" Under the plan, every citizen, rich or poor, would be entitled to it starting at birth. There would be no poverty test, no conditions and, therefore, no social bureaucracy. And no one would be told what he or she is permitted to do with the money." Promising news from Spiegel Online about a Guaranteed minimum income project in Otjivero, Namibia. (via)
Me Le Se and Dance Medley - live clips of King Sunny Ade and his African Beats in Seattle last month just before being inducted into the AfroPop Hall of Fame. More clips from the show ... [more inside]
WIRED contributing editor Scott Carney interviewed an ocean-going hijacker for his story on the economics of Somali piracy. [more inside]
Trees Never Meet is the thoughtful blog of David, a historian of Africa. Though posting has slowed recently, the archives are fascinating. On fitting in; on killing animals as an ex-vegetarian; on Namibian legal history; on "anti-conquests"; on the types of people who have inhabited Namibia since the conquest; on Namibian politics. David also has a fantastic, well-written dream blog.
The Worst Date Ever is the new book by Jane Bussmann. She starts as a celebrity journalist in LA and ends up breaking a massive story about the political situation in Uganda from a scary bit of Africa. Ms. Bussmann also wrote the first internet sit-com: The Junkies (parts 1, 2, 3) , and had a hand in South Park, Brass Eye and Jam. The wonderful Sally Phillips directed the Edinburgh stage show that became the book and Chris Morris says it's "Genuinely confusing to rapists". [more inside]
"This week -- for the first time ever -- a searchable collection of thousands of rare photographs chronicling Europe’s colonization of East Africa becomes available to anyone with an Internet connection anywhere in the world, thanks to the efforts of staff at Northwestern University Library." (press release)
A preview version of a 20-minute film following Damon Albarn as he and other western musicians (including Franz Ferdinand and Fatboy Slim) travel to Mali, Nigeria and Congo as part of the Africa Express, a sprawling musical collective collaboration between Africans (including Toumani Diabate, Baaba Maal and Tony Allen) Americans and Europeans. The film includes a visit and concert at The Shrine for last year's Felabration. [more inside]
In the wake of the Resident 5 racism flap (previously), and with the final game released, one of it's chief detractors, N'Gai Croal, talks to its producer, Jun Takeuchi (Part 1, Part 2). Meanwhile industry magazine MVC takes a look at Africa as a games market.
Ad hominem attacks, discreditation and the increasingly shrill attempts to gather support against the rapid popularity of Dambisa Moyo's book "Dead Aid" [recently] are raising the question: Has the time come for 'aging western academics and rock stars' to retire gracefully from the scene? [more inside]
The exceptionally informative and well illustrated Galerie Ezakwantu has great pages on African tribal art, culture and history [due to partial nudity many links NSFW]: African Lip Plugs - Lip Plates; African Currency - African Slave Beads; Jewelry; African Scarification; Thrones and Stools; Shields; Combs; Musical Instruments; Fertility Dolls; Weapons; Zulu Basketry; Contemporary Art; Cups; Tribal Currency; Zulu Ricksha attire; Southern Africa Tribal Migrations; South African Kings and Chiefs. Also some interesting pages on anger about Robert Mugabe; the sale of the gallery owner's property; Cape Dutch Homesteads and blueberry recipes. [more inside]
chimurenga is an art and culture journal out of africa. they do internet radio, too. it's called the Pan African Space Station. and it bumps.
Dame Daphne Sheldrick runs an orphanage in Kenya. For elephants. The orphanage has been the focus of a report on 60 Minutes and a special called "The Elephant Diaries" on BBC1. At the orphanage, elephants are taught skills they will need to know in the wild, including how to play football.
The Merkel brothers are the grandsons of steam car makers and sons of an African art collector, and each have carried forward the love of collecting and an interest in cars from the previous generations. Henry Merkel is a recognized White expert, who continues to share knowledge of his family's productions and his knowledge of White steam cars has been published. Ben Merkel focused on collecting Checkered Cabs, and has has a love for peaceful rural junkyards. The youngest grandson of Walter White is Tom Merkel, and his love for collecting old cars outstrips his brothers by miles (print view). Somewhere in the Cuyama Valley, just outside of Los Padres National Forest land is his "car garden," which is also where the snowman that once adorned Santa Claus Lane now resides. His other love is 91+ year old cabin, which he indicates is "Santa Barbara's oldest cabin!" and a "Folk Art Magic Museum!" on the signs around the property, but which the Forest Service wants to tear down. [more inside]
Sidi or Siddi is a "community of the descendants of African slaves and seamen, the ancestors of the Sidis came to India and Pakistan through sea trade with East Africa and the Persian Gulf around the 12th century." The slave trade between India and Africa predates the more infamous transatlantic slave trade by at least six centuries. They have a rich history which included controlling the only fort never to fall against the efforts of the British, Dutch and the Mughals. They have now, however, fallen into hard times . [more inside]
Motownship, the combination of Cape Town township music, traditional African instruments and motown tunes, is the topic of this Radio 4 documentary. While purists - both of the African music and motown persuasion - may think this is just a gimmick, it is hard not to have a smile on your face when you listen to the tunes on Abavuki's album Africa Got Soul. What is even more amazing is the background of these musicians - kids who grew up in one of the most deprived townships in South Africa, Langa. To check out the band for yourself, see them playing at the legendary Mama Africa club, via youtube (this is not a motown tune from the album).
3D laser scanning offers a fly-through view of the Eighth Wonder of the World. Carved directly into volcanic bedrock, the churches of Lalibela were built during the Zagwe Dynasty (1137-1270). YouTube video of the church and local villagers.
Graffiti Project in Kenya Slums — more than a year after he took the original pictures, French photo artist JR has returned to Kibera, Kenya. He was reunited with the women who had accepted to be part of his WOMEN project at the end of 2007 (previously). 2000 square meters of Kibera slum rooftops have been covered with photos of their eyes and faces. Most of the women will have their own photos on their own rooftop and the material used is water resistant so that the photo itself will protect the fragile houses in the heavy rain season. They are on view from the railway line that passes above them, and will be visible for Google Earth. (via Africa.Visual_Media)
According to Senior Harvard AIDS Prevention Researcher Dr. Edward Green, condoms not only are not helping to prevent the AIDS crisis, but are actually making the problem worse.
"The function of aid is not to make us feel better about ourselves; it is to promote development, and if a well-informed African tells us that we are inadvertently having the opposite effect, we had better take heed".Time to stop aid for Africa? An argument against. [more inside]
"The Beydanes, also known as White Moors, are the ruling caste in Mauritania. They are Arab Berber tribesmen whose ancestors established control in the seventeenth century. The Haratin, also known as Black Moors, are the descendants of black West Africans conquered and enslaved by the Beydanes centuries ago." from the New Yorker story, A Slave in New York, about a former slave who escaped in 1978, came to live in America and now works with the American Anti-Slavery Group. [more inside]
Yet more AIDS woo in Africa. First, Thabo Mbeki's AIDS policy lead to an estimated 300 000 additional deaths in South Africa. Now, magic water peddler Jeremy Sherr proposes testing homeopathic remedies for AIDS with two groups, one group on ARV and one on homeopathy, as "Placebo treatment is considered unethical in AIDS" (note: archived link from here via here) . [more inside]
At nightfall youth gangs transform the streets of Kinshasa's townships into arenas of the fight. Although many of these boys and young men are trained in foreign fighting styles such as judo, jujitsu and karate, in the public clashes between the fighting groups, these boys and young men perform mukumbusu. This fighting style, inspired and based on the gorilla, was invented during the last decade of colonialism, and is an original mixture of a traditional Mongo wrestling practice, libanda, and Asian and Western fighting practices. An essay from Edinburgh University's Center of African Studies (PDF - or accessmylibrary link) [more inside]
General Laurent Nkunda is a Tutsi warlord in Katanga who was recently interviewed by the Huffington Post. The BBC believe he is nothing more than your standard African rebel with a long list of atrocities to his name. An opinion supported by the UN and some human rights groups. The War Nerd has come to his defense, however, suggesting that he's just angered the UN by refusing to disarm and allow the Hutu "refugees" from the Rwandan Genocide to terrorize the lands under his control. [more inside]
Two German kids attempt to head to Africa and elope, bringing one's sister with them. They're five and six.
Clips from the BBC documentary, The African Rock n' Roll Years - Part 1 l Part 2 l Part 3 l Part 4 l Part 5 l Part 6 - a six-part series mixing interviews with key artists, concert footage and news archives, the series examines and explains the "styles that make up the continent's music, and the political and social pressures that led to their development." BBC documentary details. Found in YouTube member, Duncanzibar's, good collection of mostly African music videos. [more inside]
British scientists discover hundreds of new species in a remote forest in Mozambique using Google Earth. The pictures are the best part.
Out of Africa. As award-winning Globe and Mail Africa correspondent Stephanie Nolen bids farewell to a place she's come to love, she reflects on how it has changed, and how it changed her. [more inside]
How to write about Africa. Binyavanga Wainaina is among a rising generation of African voices who bring a cautionary perspective to the morality and efficacy behind many Western initiatives to abolish poverty and speed development in Africa. An interview with Krista Tippet.
The Mau Mau rebellion against British rule in Kenya lasted from 1952 to 1960. Although there were atrocities on both sides, there has been a movement in Kenya to claim compensation from the British government for their actions. Obama's grandfather took part in the uprising (some have labelled him an "insurgent") and was captured and brutally tortured by the British. [more inside]
Inspired by the 88-artist exhibition Africa Remix, Juxtapoz magazine's most recent issue is almost entirely dedicated to contemporary African artists. Highlights include Pieter Hugo's Nollywood photo series, Diane Victor's Smoke Portraits, Abu Bakarr Mansarray's crazy machine sketches, Ransome Stanley's oil paintings, Mikhael Subotzky's prison photography, Wangechi Mutu's collages, Cheri Cherin's large-scale political canvases, and Jane Alexander's human/animal sculptures. [more inside]
Microsoft and Linux have been battling for dominance in Africa for some time now. In South Africa, Linux elicited the help of a former Microsoft executive, to which Windows countered with a massive free software giveaway. A more recent front has been in Nigeria, where Mandriva looked set to secure a government contract, until Microsoft allegedly paid $400,000 to have that contract dumped. Microsoft, for its part, has denied the allegations.
Covered in lava, Goma in the DRC, was destroyed by the Nyiragongo Volcano a few years back. Since then, the aid hub has seen a lot of turmoil. As Rebel General Laurent Nkunda of the CNDP nears Goma, 250,000 have fled the area and disease is rife.
Fela: Music is the Weapon is a documentary film from 1982 featuring a wealth of live concert footage (from his club in Lagos, "The Shrine") as well as interviews with the legendary Nigerian singer, bandleader and social critic. Here's part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. [more inside]
Tuaregian band, Tinariwen, are members of a nomadic tribe in the Northwest of Africa which still practises slavery.
In the field of humanitarian aid, personnel decisions are life and death business. The UN knows all too well the costs of poor oversight, but aid worker and blogger Michael Kleinman makes another observation, far more disturbing. In the multi-billion dollar humanitarian aid business, some lives are worth less than others, and not only among the populations served. [more inside]
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.