AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

Author Archive

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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 a nationalised television station, both of which were (and apparently continue to be) government mouthpieces. The ZNBC news

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Antjie Krog and the ‘magical power of literature’

South African poet and writer Antjie Krog recently gave a talk at the Open Book Festival in Cape Town, republished in The (UK) Guardian this week. Krog spoke alongside Njabulo Ndebele, who is seminal to discussions on...

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Project Runway’s Southern belle vision of Africa

The 10th season of the American ‘Project Runway’ fashion show closed with its usual grand catwalk finale. Gunnar Deatherage, one of the budding candidates, said that for his collection he “was inspired by aborigines and exotic tribes”....

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Village Portraits

Wim De Schamphelaere’s ‘Village Portraits’, often made out of more than 700 different shots, are printed on meters wide photographs and displayed at galleries in Europe. The photographer prides himself on returning to the (African) villages where...

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Aesthetics of the Phallus

Yesterday, Goodman Gallery emailed a press release to its huge recipient list, announcing a “joint settlement with ANC.” After closed meetings, conducted in “order to establish common ground and a basis for resolution” in which all...

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

#Hashtag Politics

Boima blogged here recently about UNICEF’s efforts to raise awareness about the drought in the Sahel; what he described as “a step in the right direction towards facilitating genuine empathy, and away from the sensationalistic portrayals that...

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

‘We found love in a hopeless place’

The central point of this song and music video by violinist Lindsey Stirling (the singer is one Alisha Popat) begins with an invocation of a familiar trope: Africa is a hopeless place. But African love springs eternal....

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Yuna

Malaysian singer-songwriter Yunalis Zarai sings here in the classic tradition of seafaring island people: the lyrics use the metaphors of water, swimming, and voyaging as an invitation to love. What is different about her words is that it...

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Brownface

Ashton Kutcher, known for his unusual savvy when it comes to investing in tech companies, and for actually being a presence in those spaces (attending conferences and personally meeting startup founders), must know that many of those...

Friday, May 4th, 2012

The Commonwealth Book Prize Shortlist

The Commonwealth Book Prize has just announced its shortlist. (Diarise: regional winners to be announced 22 May and overall winner on 8 June.) It promises to be a wonderful, wonderful collection of novels; and I’m excited to...

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

The 19th New York African Film Festival: ‘Black Africa, White Marble’

From the opening scenes of Black Africa, White Marble, we learn that Brazzaville, in Republic of Congo, is the only capital in Africa to still carry the name of a European. While Pietro Savorgnan di Brazza’s far...

Monday, April 9th, 2012

‘Restless City’ at the 19th New York African Film Festival

Towards the final scenes of Restless City, Jessye Norman’s solo soprano voice scales the great buildings and the conveyor belts of vehicles, between all of which a small red scooter navigates, carrying the slim bodies of Djibril...

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

George Clooney’s Sudan movie

Now that George Clooney got arrested (and got out on a nominal $100 fine) along with a few other campaigners while ‘raising awareness’ on war crimes in Sudan, people who should know better (like NAACP president, Ben...

Friday, March 16th, 2012

‘Maasai Cricket Warriors’

The Maasai bear the weight of being one of the original noble savage dream tribals that the British and the Germans salivated over (in India, the Sikhs play the role of the exotic, animal protein-loving warriors, whose...

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Sathima Bea Benjamin’s Windsong

In Toronto-based Dan Yon's documentary of Sathima “Bea” Benjamin, the Cape Town-born jazz singer, the narration moves back and forth between New York City, where Benjamin was a long-term resident, and Cape Town, where she began singing...

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Arise Fashion Week

Pillbox hats are back! What else, besides a nouvelle variation of the old-school “Turkish” headgear, is in style at Arise Magazine’s 2012 fashion week in Lagos? After a drive through Victoria Island to get there, passing massive...

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Shameless Self-Promotion

An essay I wrote for AIAC on David Goldblatt at the Jewish Museum in Manhattan (2010) is in the latest edition of SAVVY, a Journal for Critical Texts on Contemporary African Art based in Berlin.

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Lucy Liu’s Safari

At the moment when Africa is once again reduced to a cesspool of panga-slashing child soldiers and the abode of the world’s most dangerous man, a vanity piece on where Lucy Liu goes when she wants to...

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

The Little Book of Terror

It was Daisy Rockwell’s “New Hat,” a painting of Nigerian “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab that caught my eye. In her portrait, the young Umar tries on a new black woollen cap, one with the Nike swoosh jauntily...

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Cape Town Leather

Recently, one of the Rupert clan (brands: Cartier, Dunhill, Montblanc and Piaget, etcetera), Hanneli Rupert, opened a leather-goods outlet in South Africa, naming it “Okapi”. And the PR is charming, though not aimed at anyone who has...

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

A Cappella Slaves

Ever seen a poster for a touring boys’ choir from Zambia? The adverts show a collection of cute young boys, grinning from ear to ear. Just in case American audiences wouldn’t recognise that they are from Lion...

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Zambia’s Turn

Now, what with Zimbabwe in political and economic shambles, South Africa deemed too frightening to do the feel-good-post-apartheid tour, and Egypt and Tunisia in turmoil, where do Tina Brown (who asked her people to find the “Five...

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Michael Kors’s Safari: Part 2

Lord, these fashion designers and their obsession with the safari motif.

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

The excitement about ‘African fabric’

The Dutch fabrics manufacturing company Vlisco–the image is from the company’s new line “Delicate Shades“–says its “strategy is aimed at enabling well-to-do African women to experience the brand in all her facets … Developments take place at neck-breaking...

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

The Real Housewives of Atlanta Go To Africa

It’s too bad that America sees Atlanta, black women, and maybe even women in general through the lens of The ‘Real Hosewives’ franchise. When the first episodes of Atlanta aired, my upstate New York hairstylist gasped and...

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

What you should be reading

I wasn’t pleased with the selection of short stories listed for the Caine Prize this year. That list made African writing look bad. Truth be told, the problem associated with such collections is hardly applicable to the...

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Queering the Congo

War photography forces us to ask questions about the limits of cultivating empathy via looking, and the limits of seeing self in the other when the image before us intimates something so violently different from the life...

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Brokeback Iceberg

Everyone loves an African animal story. People get terribly upset when African animals are declared extinct (as was the Western Black rhino, last week), but when we see this video about saving the black rhinos, using helicopters,...

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Gimme Hope

This is the second in a video campaign to promote the work of American ngo Mama Hope. They work with local partners in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Uganda to fund the completion of schools, health clinics, children’s centers, clean...

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Media freedom in South Sudan

Oh dear. The new nation of South Sudan is already sprouting some early teething troubles about media freedom. Apparently, President Salva Kiir Mayardit (above) “handed over his beloved beautiful elder daughter,” one Adu Mayardit, to her husband...

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