AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

Author Archive

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Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Photography: Conversation with David Goldblatt about “Rise and Fall of Apartheid”

Almost fifteen years ago, I saw David Goldblatt’s photographs in Rotterdam, at the Netherlands Architecture Institute. They were small and unobtrusive, and I stood before them, very moved. Subsequently, as I learned the story of South Africa through literature, theory, history books, Goldblatt’s work—and later, other photographers’ work—was my real entry. In a way, I

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

A new film is all about DSK’s naked belly; Nafissatou Diallo as minor prop

Three years ago, New York was gripped by the legal battle between then-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the woman who accused him of rape—she turned out to be the maid, who had come in to clean his...

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Using #BringBackOurGirls to #GiveFirstLadiesSomethingToDo

When exactly did #BringBackOur Girls jump the shark and become less about 200+ kidnapped girls and the lack of regard their government has for their safety, but more about every B-lister, politician (and his wife) attempting to use the...

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Vogue Italia’s editor wants to help Africa like itself

Remember Vogue Italia’s Rebranding Africa issue? (Elliot Ross got jealous and denigrated Ban Ki Moon’s cover model shot in an epic post.) Seriously, though, it looks like the editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani, who came up with that brainchild,...

Monday, April 14th, 2014

The #BullshitFiles: This rich New York designer couple have never been to Africa, but can smell it

The stuff rich white people say sometimes. The New York Times’ Style section is more often than not full of arse-kissing puff pieces that do little besides illustrating the genealogies of privilege stretching between New York, Hollywood,...

Friday, March 14th, 2014

‘Only Black People in Africa Get AIDS’

Some sites are having WTF moments (The Daily Mail and the sites who cut and pasted the story--like Linda Ikeji) at the comments made by Rachel Dilley, a 48-year old single mother of two who told a...

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

*GASP* Daily Mail’s found out about Lupita’s Dark, Sexy past

Breaking News from the Daily Mail: Lupita Nyong’o can play a sexpot onscreen, and not just roles that call on her to look downtrodden and enslaved. In an article with a title that leaves little to the...

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Louis Vuitton’s ‘Out of Africa’ fantasy

Using locations in Africa as backdrops to sell clothes and bags is nothing new – especially bags and clothes that certain class of travellers and outdoorsy people like to call “gear”. As in “stuff necessary to show...

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Dencia’s One-Sided Beef with Lupita Nyong’o

Right before the Academy Awards, Camaroonian-born pop star and skin-lightener shill Dencia began tweeting a series of attack-mode responses to a supposed slight by Lupita Nyong’o.

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Enough of the liberal pieties on Sochi and gay rights

The Guardian‘s website decided to have a rainbow “G” in its title during the past few days in order to support LGBT rights, and to thumb its nose at Russia (a few other news broadcasters/outlets did, too),...

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Yoga? Heavyset and Black Women Need Not Apply

What is it with the appropriation of yoga by white women—and skinny white women in particular? It’s like they all idolise the spare body of the nut-brown yogi who practices in his cave retreat, but want to...

Monday, January 20th, 2014

What will people say?

How does one come out when a global audience believes it knows the terrain of one’s life story—all the fissures and intimacies that there are to know—already? How does one tell of that thing which one held...

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Delicious Skin Lightener

Skin lighteners in Africa have a long history – so the appearance of Whitenicious skin lightening cream isn’t that surprising. What’s new is that the model used in the advert (heavily photoshopped) not only has a “lighter”...

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

The Tenor from Abidjan

The Tenor from Abidjan follows Landry Assokoly, a young man from Côte d’Ivoire, as he follows his dream to become a famous opera singer. Landry’s hope is to study at a top-tier music academy, and ultimately, to be...

Friday, December 13th, 2013

The ‘Fake Interpreter’

A few days ago, when the story of the “fake interpreter” broke in the South African media, the ANC denied any knowledge of who he was and how he got to be on the podium, signing while...

Monday, December 9th, 2013

The photographer who showed Nelson Mandela to the world

In 1994, the ANC commissioned South African photographer George Hallett to document the electoral process and first democratic government. During the year in which Hallett covered the electoral process, his images of Mandela were published in newspapers around...

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

George Clooney’s Bullshit Politics

George Clooney profile in the December issue of Esquire is a checklist of all things that position him above the typical A-lister: not only does he have great cars, but he has carefully chosen three cars that...

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Katy Perry’s Roar

Been hearing this song nonstop on the radio on my drive to university. (Sean’s 7-year daughter has memorized the lyrics.) Today, while I was sweating it out at the YMCA, I saw the new “official” music video for...

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Strange Cargo: Jane Alexander at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Almost nine years ago, in July 2004, I made my way to the South African National Gallery in Cape Town, to see a show celebrating “A Decade of Democracy”. On the front of the museum’s dazzling white...

Monday, April 15th, 2013

What the post-racials are looking for in South Africa

April marks the springtime festival of fertility and harvest, Holi, which is celebrated throughout northern India. Because Holi is a yearly event that includes a large amount of revelry, without the obvious presence of the sacred, it’s...

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Apartheid in Manhattan: The International Center for Photography’s “Rise and Fall of Apartheid”

The International Center for Photography (ICP) is located in the heart of Manhattan, at the corner of West 43rd Street and the Avenue of the Americas. Nearby, Times Square’s mirages—brilliant expanses of neon fantasies, some spanning the...

Monday, February 25th, 2013

The line between caricaturing and relying on racist tropes in cartoonist Zapiro’s recent work

Ah, greasy, beak-nosed men with unsavoury, five-o-clock shadows darkening swarthy jawlines, proffering gifts and currying favours. Good to see that the illustrious history that connects the stereotyping of Jewish people and Indians (particularly Indians in Africa) is...

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

The Oscar Pistorius File

The case seems to be the only news out of South Africa nowadays. Nothing else matters. Even Usain Bolt was asked his opinion during what seemed like an interview to promote a brand on CNN. Bolt declared...

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Sports Illustrated does Namibia

Jezebel has already gone overboard commenting on and identifying the obvious misogyny and racial stereotyping in Sports Illustrated’s Seven Continents spread. They went through each photo, tagging them with gems such as:

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

David Goldblatt is interviewed (by African Lookbook)

Aaron Kohn’s African Lookbook interview with David Goldblatt covers a wide swath of subject matter—from childhood experiences, how he began working as a photographer after his father’s death, and why he was never cut out to be...

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Things we learn from VS Naipaul’s interview with The New Republic

It’s hard to be a Diasporic Indian sometimes. And Sir Vidiya in the news never helps. The New Republic’s book editor, one Isaac Chotiner, felt that V.S. Naipaul was the right person to seek out for commentary...

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Us and Them: Rape and Racism in India

A year ago, there was some minor hullabaloo created when African students in India were not permitted in some bars. But yeah, it remained a minor tempest. Most likely, prevalent attitudes towards Africans (and dark-skinned people in...

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Zulu Metrosexuals

Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot about “Black Dandies” and the presence of new academic identities in US institutions. But anyone hear about Zulu Metrosexuals, and the ways in which the Zulu—men in particular—have similarly used dress...

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

The end of “the colonial gaze”?

The weekend after Hurricane Sandy hit NYC, AIAC’s Sean Jacobs and I (we’re academics in our day jobs) attended Encounters with the African Archive, a symposium at New York University. The symposium coincided with the exhibition series Distance and...

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Zambia’s Gossip Girl

Even as a child, I knew Zambia was a media dictatorship. No one dared say too much that criticised the government; and anyway, where did we get our daily news? Two sources — a nationalised newspaper, and...

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