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Ex Africa semper aliquid novi

Kenya's Okwiri Oduor has won the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story, "My Father's Head." Many stories by other winners and nominees are available online. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Jul 18, 2014 - 6 comments

Ambassadors from Mars

The strange, tragic story of the Brothers Muse. The sideshow called them Eko and Iko, cannibal savages from Borneo, sheep-headed men, ambassadors from Mars, highlighting their signature white dreadlocks in every poster. In reality, they were George and Willie Muse, taken from their parents in 1899 in rural Roanoke, Virginia by bounty hunters working for sideshow producers fascinated by their albinism. [more inside]
posted by Gucky on May 29, 2014 - 7 comments

The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean

Over the course of nearly 20 centuries, millions of East Africans crossed the Indian Ocean and its several seas and adjoining bodies of water in their journey to distant lands, from Arabia and Iraq to India and Sri Lanka. Called Kaffir, Siddi, Habshi, or Zanji, these men, women and children from Sudan in the north to Mozambique in the south Africanized the Indian Ocean world and helped shape the societies they entered and made their own. Free or enslaved, soldiers, servants, sailors, merchants, mystics, musicians, commanders, nurses, or founders of dynasties, they contributed their cultures, talents, skills and labor to their new world, as millions of their descendants continue to do. Yet, their heroic odyssey remains little known. The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean World traces a truly unique and fascinating story of struggles and achievements across a variety of societies, cultures, religions, languages and times.
posted by infini on Feb 6, 2014 - 9 comments

"It's black, like me.": Black dolls and politics

Every so often, ethnic dolls make the news, like this recent piece on Nigeria's Taofick Okoya who started his own line of Nigerian dolls after giving up his search in frustration. Okoya sells between 6,000 and 9,000 of his "Queens of Africa" and "Naija Princesses" a month, and reckons he has 10-15 percent of a small but fast-growing market. But the history of dolls outside of 'mainstream culture' exemplified by blonde blue eyed Barbie has been rife with prejudice and stereotypes. As the African middle classes emerge, is this an opportunity that gives rise to domestic toy industries?
posted by infini on Jan 29, 2014 - 19 comments

Wanda Coleman RIP

The African-American poet died yesterday, at 67, after a long illness. [more inside]
posted by PinkMoose on Nov 23, 2013 - 16 comments

bonne écoute

Les disques africains collects, rips, and uploads out-of-print records (and their sleeves!) from the golden age of vinyl in francophone Africa. Don't miss la belle chanteuse Sali Sidibé, psychedelic grooves from Benin, or this incredible 35-minute oral-musical history of Bobo-Dioulasso. New posts appear, as if by some rare magic, every three to four days.
posted by theodolite on Aug 5, 2013 - 15 comments

The Lazy, Free-Thinking, Leisure Loving Japanese

How development leads to cultural change, and not the other way around. Korean economist Ha-Joon Chang shatters stereotypes, showing how common descriptions of the Germans, Koreans and Japanese right before their nations' intensive economic development mirrors current slurs against workers from African and Latin American countries today.
posted by blankdawn on Jul 3, 2013 - 9 comments

The Top 10 Fears of African Diaspora About Africa

They wash dishes in restaurants, clean toilets and look after elderly incontinent people in the West. That makes the majority of the 30 million who have emigrated from Africa. Some are much luckier, they work in subaltern management positions in corporate America or in public institution in Europe. Few are real stars, successful with high pay and social status. Regardless of their current fate, they all share one thing in common: most of them want to return to Africa. The recent medias’ drumbeat about “Africa is Rising” is making them restless and hopeful because most of them have quite a petty life in the West. They are constantly harassed by the state police, crushed by daily racism from their neighbors and strangers, economically and politically isolated, and with very little hope for a near-future improvement. Unfortunately their dream to return home is painfully held back by deep fears and unanswered questions. Here are the top 10 fears of the African diaspora about Africa, and also the top 10 questions most of them are confronted with.
posted by infini on Apr 28, 2013 - 20 comments

How African Feminism Changed the World

'Feminism' has often been seen as a Western concept, but African women are increasingly redefining it to suit their own purposes. This, in turn, is influencing the rest of the world.
posted by infini on Mar 18, 2013 - 21 comments

Rise of the Afropolitan

The stereotypes about Africa/Africans are too many to list here. They’re mostly negative, myopic depictions that focus on war, famine, abject poverty, disease, and corruption. In other oversimplifications, Africans are written up as model immigrants, overachieving geniuses, or displaced chiefs moonlighting as gas station attendants. Outside of these caricatures, many Africans are going to work and school, voting in their local elections, and spending way too much time on Facebook. And they’re over the ignorance that has collectively miscast them. In response, a swelling movement of young Africans are launching concerted efforts to wrest the image of Africa from entities and interests that don’t promote a balanced understanding of the continent.
posted by infini on Mar 3, 2013 - 69 comments

A Wild Cat x A Domestic Cat = A Hybrid Cat

A Serval x Domestic Cat = Savannah Cat
Where F=generations from wild. F1 through F3 are not recommended as pets. F4 are considered loyal and well-behaved, like dogs.

An Asian Leopard Cat x A Domestic Cat = A Bengal Cat
Named after the Leopard Cat’s species, P. bengalensis, not the distant Tiger relative

A Bengal Cat x Oriental Shorthair = A Serengeti Cat
Looks like a small Serval, but no Serval bloodline, fully domesticated. See also the Toyger and the Cheetoh [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan on Feb 16, 2013 - 62 comments

World Bank Owes People of African Heritage Apology

"Claims of institutional racism against black people have dogged the World Bank for decades. The current president has a real opportunity to end the scourge." [more inside]
posted by infini on Dec 16, 2012 - 10 comments

Snappy dressing

The top 10 African fashion blogs
posted by infini on Aug 29, 2012 - 4 comments

The 3 African Samurai

Heavily influenced by samurai films from film makers such as Akira Kurosawa, French/Burkinabe filmmaker Cédric Ido produced a short award winning film, Hasaki Ya Suda (The Three Black Samurai) set in the future. Its synopsis reads: It is 2100. In the world engulfed in chaos and war whose residents are consumed by terrible hunger, the last fertile land became the subject of fierce battles. Three warriors: noble Wurubenba (Jacky Ido), Shandaru (Cedric Ido), who wants to avenge his father’s death, and Kapkaru (Min Man Ma) craving for power, will face one another in a fight for life and death. Watch the full 25-minute Hasaki Ya Suda short film (available only with French subtitles at the moment) or the 1 minute teaser. Interview with Cedric in English.
posted by infini on Apr 23, 2012 - 7 comments

Africa in India

The African Presence in India: A Photo Essay : The questions we pose here are simply these: Who are the African people of India? What is their significance in the annals of history? Precisely what have they done and what are they doing now? These are extremely serious questions that warrant serious and fundamental answers. This series of articles, "The African Presence in India: An Historical Overview," is designed to provide some of those answers.
posted by infini on Jul 30, 2011 - 14 comments

Cannabis culture

Cannabis Culture
posted by twoleftfeet on Apr 3, 2011 - 59 comments

The bizarre, sad tale of Togo's fake national team

Since the attack on the Togolese national team in Angola (previously), soccer in Togo has descended into a freefall. In a strange turn of events, a fake national team recently represented the country in a tournament in Bahrain. The soccer loving people of Togo were outraged when the truth about the situation came out.
posted by reenum on Oct 8, 2010 - 4 comments

Alert the BNP

The remains of a man from Africa who lived and died in 13th-century England have been unearthed in Ipswich. Analysis of the skeleton shows that the individual originated in what is now Tunisia, but lived for at least a decade in England. This is not the only surprising recent information regarding African presence in pre-modern England. A paternally linked gene known from Mali, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau has been present in the male lineage of a Yorkshire family for at least 250 years, and may reach back to the time of the Roman occupation. [more inside]
posted by Countess Elena on May 4, 2010 - 46 comments

Ronnie of Botswana, on guitar

OK. Alright. That's it. Ronnie of Botswana is my new favorite guitarist.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Mar 19, 2010 - 67 comments

What... is the Airspeed Velocity of an Avian Carrier?

For thousands of years they were the worlds' fastest means of communication. Count Rothschild benefited financially when knew of Napoleon's defeat long before any other persons in England, thanks to a swift personal message. One critical message traveled 20 miles in 20 minutes and this speedy delivery saved 150 British troops from disaster by less than five minutes. But in 1851, German-born Paul Julius Reuter opened an office in the City of London which transmitted stock market quotations between London and Paris via the new Dover-Calais cable, and the days of pigeon post as a means of quick and reliable message transfer passed with the implementation of wire-based communications. Reuter had previously used pigeons to fly stock prices between Aachen and Brussels, a service that operated for a year until a gap in the telegraph link was closed. One of the last large-scale use of carrier pigeons ended in 2002, when India retired its Police Pigeon Service, opting for email and telephone to access remote areas. Contrary to appearances, this was not the end of the pigeon post. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Sep 8, 2009 - 48 comments

Afro-centric public school opening in Toronto

Despite a reputation as an effective multi-cultural city, Toronto continues to have difficulties successfully integrating its communities of African heritage. In response to significantly higher than average high school drop-out rates in those communities, some academics suggested the creation of "black-focused public schools" [PDF] as means of re-engaging black youth with education. Needless to say, this caused debate, controversy, and even anger, but the first afro-centric public elementary school will open this month.
posted by modernnomad on Sep 3, 2009 - 43 comments

glimpses of the African Rock n' Roll Years

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]
posted by nickyskye on Dec 30, 2008 - 9 comments

African art

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]
posted by nickyskye on Oct 25, 2008 - 5 comments

Take a look at the Nigerian film industry

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]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Aug 12, 2008 - 20 comments

There will also be a singing crocadile

In January of 2004, Disney shut down their Florida animation studio, part of their decision to move away from 2D, or cell-shaded, animation for good. Two years later, as part of the new deal with Pixar, John Lasseter and Ed Catmull were brought in as heads of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, and promptly declared that 2-D Animation would thrive again on their watch. For their first new project, the team wanted to show support for the still-struggling New Orleans, and simultaneously introduce Disney's first Black Princess in "The Frog Princess" (Or The Princess and the Frog, as it is now known), a fairy tale set in 1920's Jazz-era Louisiana, with Randy Newman providing a period-specific score. Much response to the project has been quite positive, but as with all things, the devil is in the details.
posted by Navelgazer on Jul 22, 2008 - 111 comments

Wolverphibian!

A new study has found that 12 species of African frog have retractable claws. All twelve species are members of the Artholeptidae family, and should not be confused with the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis). [more inside]
posted by never used baby shoes on May 29, 2008 - 14 comments

Congo Cookbook

The Congo Cookbook is a collection of recipes from Africa. (Easiest to view them all here.)
posted by Upton O'Good on Apr 13, 2008 - 17 comments

Sabar Toubab

Ashley Maher is a Canadian singer living in Santa Monica, but her music comes straight from Senegal. She also dances a mean sabar (YouTube link).
posted by mike3k on Mar 12, 2008 - 8 comments

Tales of marrying the devil

Did you ever hear the story / of Belinda O'McHugh / She was courted by the Devil / And she didn't know what to do / He came a courtin' ev'ry evenin' / So Belinda got to thinkin' / She would be the Devil's wife / It was better far than bein' / An old maid all her life
posted by Astro Zombie on Dec 26, 2007 - 4 comments

Caramel Crème Latte Like Me

Are Africans Black? The population of African immigrants in the United States is rapidly growing. Since 1990, about 50,000 Africans have come to the United States annually, more than in any of the peak years of the international slave trade, which was abolished in 1807. They add to the steady influx of black immigrants from other continents and the Caribbean, and those who have been in the United States for generations but who don't racially and culturally define themselves as African American. These blacks feel cramped by the narrowness of American racial politics, in which "blackness" has not just defined one's skin color but has served as a code word for African American.
Maybe Not. After all, Obama's mother is of white U.S. stock. His father is a black Kenyan. Other than color, Obama did not - does not - share a heritage with the majority of black Americans, who are descendants of plantation slaves.... when black Americans refer to Obama as "one of us," I do not know what they are talking about. In his new book, "The Audacity of Hope," Obama makes it clear that, while he has experienced some light versions of typical racial stereotypes, he cannot claim those problems as his own - nor has he lived the life of a black American.
posted by jfuller on Feb 18, 2007 - 161 comments

LiveCam of African watering hole

What's your favorite watering hole? Link to a real watering hole. In Africa. Live. With video and sound. And real animals. Best viewing times are dusk and dawn, Africa time (It's +8 hours from CST). Learn more about the feed here; click on "Nkorho Stream" in the upper left corner. Second link mentioned previously in a MeFi comment here. First link via; second link via.
posted by Doohickie on Nov 25, 2006 - 38 comments

African dust storms feed the Amazon

African dust storms [pic] have been suspected of causing fish-killing red tide in the Caribbean, but also of mitigating the effect of hurricanes. Now analysis of images from NASA's MODIS satellite have revealed the Bodélé, a region of the Sahara not far from Lake Chad, as the source of more than half the material that fertilises the Amazon rainforest.
posted by ernie on Nov 1, 2006 - 10 comments

Black & Proud

Niger Val Dub King of Scotland. One of 100 Great Black Britons. There were some surprises here for me. I didn't expect to find St. George the patron saint of England or Queen Victoria's grandmother here.
posted by tellurian on Nov 29, 2005 - 39 comments

Congotronics

Congotronics! Mawangu Mingiedi, 72, a musician and truck driver from Kinshasa, was simply trying to allow the music of his street band, Konono No. 1, be heard over the traffic and street noise, but when he fashioned home-made amplifiers out of junkyard parts he created something raw and distorted with a sound all its own (quicktime). (via MonkeySARS, where an MP3 awaits you)
posted by Robot Johnny on Nov 22, 2005 - 41 comments

Wonderfully bizarre nail fetish figures

The nkondi are the most powerful of the nkisi. They were used to identify and hunt down unknown wrongdoers such as thieves, and people who were believed to cause sickness or death by occult means. They were also used to punish people who swore false oaths and villages which broke treaties. To inspire the nkondi to action, it was both invoked and provoked. Invocations, in bloodthirsty language, encouraged it to punish the guilty party. It would also be provoked by having gunpowder exploded in front of it, and having nails hammered into it. These fantastic Congo nail fetish figures are just one small, wonderful part of the impressive collection of images you can view at the content-rich, gratifyingly obsessive Rand African Art, a site stuffed with nice large photos, lots of lovely, lovely links, and all sorts of intriguing nooks and crannies inviting exploration.
posted by taz on Nov 13, 2005 - 14 comments

Debt Relief

Debt relief cannot come too soon for Swaziland's King Mswati III who took an 18-year-old former Miss Teen Swaziland finalist as his 12th wife during the weekend, barely two weeks after marrying his 11th. Swaziland the smallest country in Africa ranked 137 on the UN's Human Development Report also has one of the world's highest AIDS rates with 40% of the adult population infected with HIV. Perhaps Bono, who recently complained that the corruption is just an excuse for inaction, will send some condoms as a wedding gift.
posted by three blind mice on Jun 13, 2005 - 31 comments

title.

blacks and whites agree: black people are scary! Scientists measured the amygdala response in white and african-american subjects when shown expressionless white and black faces. Interestingly, when paired with the words "African American" the response didn't register.
posted by delmoi on May 11, 2005 - 20 comments

African Hats and Hair

Hats Off! A Salute to African Headwear. 'Many African cultures throughout the continent have long considered the head the center of one's being--a source of individual and collective identity, power, intelligence and ability. Adorning the head as part of everyday attire or as a statement, therefore, is especially significant. '
Related :- African Loxo: photos of hairstyles from the Fifties (in French); mathematical patterns in African American hairstyles.
posted by plep on Oct 30, 2003 - 6 comments

Rap Not Music to Whitey's Ears

Rap Not Music to Whitey's Ears A group of alleged white extremists facing treason charges in South Africa has complained about being forced to listen to "black" music while on remand in prison.
posted by turbanhead on Aug 19, 2003 - 14 comments

Olaudah Equiano

Olaudah Equiano, or, Gustavus Vassa, the African. 'According to his famous autobiography, written in 1789, Olaudah Equiano (c.1745-1797) was born in what is now Nigeria. Kidnapped and sold into slavery in childhood, he was taken as a slave to the New World. As a slave to a captain in the Royal Navy, and later to a Quaker merchant, he eventually earned the price of his own freedom by careful trading and saving. As a seaman, he travelled the world, from the Mediterranean to the North Pole. Coming to London, he became involved in the movement to abolish the slave trade, an involvement which led to him writing and publishing The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa the African (1789) a strongly abolitionist autobiography ... '
Of interest :- Ignatius Sancho: African Man of Letters; Quobna Ottabah Cugoano: a Former Slave Speaks Out; American Slave Narratives ('From 1936 to 1938, over 2,300 former slaves from across the American South were interviewed by writers and journalists under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration'); Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938; Excerpts from Slave Narratives.
posted by plep on Jul 17, 2003 - 8 comments

African Aperture

African Aperture. 'A website promoting the very best photographers who focus on Africa and providing a 'gateway' to current and past issues, to interesting and notable websites, to features and articles, relating to the themes as listed above.' Check out the gallery of photos of African life; then check out the links page, which leads to sites such as African Ceremonies, Nandiphotos: See Uganda through New Eyes, and Mirella Ricciardi's photos of Africa and children. Quite a collection.
posted by plep on Jun 30, 2003 - 1 comment

What is art? Do you want fries with that?

For all those who spent hours in the darkness of Introduction to Western Art I staring at slides out of context perhaps you should take a look at African art. In the West, to a large degree, art hangs on walls or resides only in museums, but most "traditional" African art needs to be understood in context. Among my favorites are the linguist staffs of the Ashanti people of the Akan. These staffs are used to tell parables, but they also create a nexus between culture, politics and beauty.
posted by Bag Man on Feb 20, 2003 - 8 comments

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