When the car exploded, the same two words occurred to him, and to the ticket taker, and to every other person who saw or heard the blast, which could be heard on the other side of Kano, Nigeria’s second largest city: Boko Haram. That neither they, nor practically anyone else in Nigeria, knew what Boko Haram was exactly or why it would want to bomb a bus station was beside the point. Officially, according to the Nigerian government, Boko Haram is a terrorist group. It began life as a separatist movement led by a northern Nigerian Muslim preacher, Mohammed Yusuf, who decried the country’s misrule. “Boko Haram” is a combination of the Hausa language and Arabic, understood to mean that Western, or un-Islamic, learning is forbidden. In 2009, after Yusuf was killed [BBC, The Guardian]—executed, it’s all but certain, by Nigerian police—his followers vowed revenge.[more inside]
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.
Meet Azawad, Africa’s Newest Country Azawad is an area about the size of Texas located in the northern half of Mali. On April 6 2012 National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), after they were able to force Mali forces out of the territory they now claim as an independent state. Whether they can remain an independent country is a question that time will tell. Also whether they will be a secular Berber, pro-Western nation or an Islamist Emirate is another question that has many watching the area. [more inside]
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]
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]
#1 African Music Website. Africa Hit offers an extensive and varied selection of great music videos from West Africa. [more inside]
The failure of biotech. "In June 1996, the University of California, Davis, began an unprecedented effort to help the West African nation of Mali, using the promising and controversial new tool of agricultural biotechnology... Eight years later, no help whatsoever has arrived... In the hopes that inspired the effort - and the missteps that stifled it - lies a drama larger than the sum of its parts, one that shows both the promise and pitfalls of the largest technological leap in American agriculture since the tractor: biotechnology." The start of a five-part series in the Sacramento Bee: long, but well worth it. (Via MonkeyFilter.)
A history of Malian pop music. Confused by the interlocking names and associations of the stars of West African music? This lively account by Lisa Denenmark should help (and a follow-up is promised). Via the indispensible Afropop Worldwide.
Eight hundred years ago, the Empire of Mali was the West African equivalent of Byzantium (succeeding Ghana's Rome), and its legendary founder was Sundiata. [more]