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.
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]