AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

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There is one photograph (above) of the late Thabiso Sekgala’s that always reminds me of home. It is of lavender jacarandas lining a country road, paling a little from the brown dust and weak winter sun. The haze of purple is just past its prime, and the blossoms’ fresh hopes are waning. Squat one-or two room …[ read more ]

In the aftermath of the Kenyan 2007 presidential elections, political violence erupted, resulting in 1,200 deaths and the displacement of more than 600,000 people. In the end, three individuals stand accused of crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, and the journalist Joshua Arap Sang. Uhuru …[ read more ]

October 20th, 2014
The Future of The Gettleman

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After re-reading this article last night, I traveled to the end of the world and was happy to find that I am still writing insightful pieces such as the below, which was first published in the New York Times on October 19, 2029. The apocalypse has a silver lining, except it’s black and white – and …[ read more ]

Professor Thandika Mkandawire is a development economist with a sharp mind and an even sharper tongue – one of Africa’s finest.  Last week I moderated a discussion on health and governance in Africa at a conference in Cape Town in which he gave the keynote address.  He demonstrated why he is such a celebrated public …[ read more ]

I first met Ivor Wilks in 1976, when I appeared in his office doorway – a befuddled, nervous, and apprehensive undergraduate – with a rather vague and naïve idea about applying for an undergraduate research grant to study in Ghana. In retrospect, Ivor had no reason to take me seriously and probably every reason to brush …[ read more ]

Is it coincidental that the so-called Ebola humanitarian crisis—dubbed global complex emergency by the West—is unfolding on the upper Guinea coast the site of intense activities during the European slave trade? Is it coincidental that the upper Guinea Coast, or precisely the Mano River Basin, which include two Pan-African state projects, Sierra Leone and Liberia, …[ read more ]

After Africa Is A Country learned that the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) appointed former Spice girl turned fashion designer Victoria Beckham as a Goodwill Ambassador, our team decided to debate, “What does it take to take to become a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador?” Here’s what we came up with as a way to …[ read more ]

When the first case of Ebola reached U.S. soil last month, the world finally began to pay attention—but not in the right way.  In December 2013 the Ebola virus appeared for the first time in rural Guinea. No one imagined then that it would set-off the devastation that is sweeping across West Africa or the …[ read more ]

“Gitmo in Germany?” and “German Abu Ghraib” were two of the headlines across news wires in late September after photos and a video documenting the abuse of Algerian asylum seekers by security officers in an asylum center had circulated. The photo shows a guard standing next to an asylum seeker who is lying on the floor with his hands tied …[ read more ]

In 1966 the South African government declared District Six—a high-density, mostly coloured residential area intrinsic to the fabric of downtown Cape Town for at least a century and situated on prime land beneath Table Mountain —to be a white “Group Area.” The state promptly set about forcefully removing District Six’s “non-white” residents (eventually about 60,000 …[ read more ]

The Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (SAIH), the organization responsible for the brilliant Africa for Norway campaign, is back with their annual awards for the worst and best fundraising videos by international development organizations: …and, like last year, Africa is a Country is on the jury! Judging for the Rusty and Golden Radiator Awards will commence soon, however we need …[ read more ]

As member of the hip-hop quartet Ba4za, Hakeem Lesolang presided over one of the most fertile yet under-appreciated eras in South African hip-hop. Capcity Rapcity as it was referred to by the bundles of heads scattered across Mzansi, fed our collective appetites the fuzzy memories of yester-year hip-hop through a steady stream of boom-bap rap …[ read more ]

It is the 27th anniversary of the death of Thomas Sankara, and once again we mark the passing of one of the great leaders of the Twentieth Century. Sankara was a Marxist revolutionary in the last years of the Cold War, a Pan-Africanist when the Pan-African project was at its lowest ebb, a committed feminist long before …[ read more ]

DJ Lewis recently released a “Stop Ebola” song and video that reminds me of “Grippe Aviaire”, a song he released during the global Bird Flu pandemic some years ago: As I mentioned in my Cultural Anthropology contribution, “Grippe Aviaire” was more making fun of the disease, with a popular dance mocking the bird’s behavior more than trying to be educational …[ read more ]

The South African filmmaker and screenwriter Jahmil X.T. Qubeka, who made his feature film directorial debut with the stylish noir, “A Small Town Called Descent“. has over a decade long career spanning an entire spectrum of styles and genres. His documentary and feature film work has enjoyed screenings at various prestigious international film festivals i.a. …[ read more ]

For those interested in gender equality, women’s rights, and even women’s power, these are heady day on the African continent. In Tanzania, a Constitutional Assembly has sent forth a proposed new Constitution that would codify “equal citizenship rights” for women, including the right to own land, the ability to bestow citizenship on their children, equal …[ read more ]

October 14th, 2014
LagosPhoto is Five Years Old

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Four years ago I interviewed Azu Nwagbogu, director of Lagos-based African Artists’ Foundation and the annual photography festival LagosPhoto. At the time the interview appeared in Guernica, LagosPhoto had just finished its second year and Nwagbogu’s ambitions for photography in Africa’s most populous country were still developing. On the occasion of LagosPhoto’s five-year anniversary, I spoke …[ read more ]

Cultural Anthropology published a series of articles last week called “Ebola in Perspective,” curated by two experts on crisis in the Mano River region, Danny Hoffman and Mary Moran. The Hot Spots series is an attempt by the journal to provide deeper insight into international crises making headlines today. I contributed my own entry looking at the role …[ read more ]

October 13th, 2014
Africa is a Radio: Episode 6

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(photo via NBC news) Africa is a Radio episode 6 opens up with a transnational blend, combining remixes of Dotorado Pro’s “African Scream” with its sample source: DJ Sbu & Zahara’s “Lengoma.” From there we travel around the world -from Ferguson to Havana to Monrovia- touching on the sonic imprints of the contemporary news cycle. …[ read more ]

Despite an overall drastic decline in Israeli arms exports, trade with Africa had reached a four-year record, Haaretz reported on Tuesday. Interestingly, African countries spent $223 million on Israeli arms in 2013 compared to $107 million in 2012. The report that was given to Haaretz by the Israeli Defence Ministry doesn’t detail specific countries so …[ read more ]

Wherever I turn, there is Ebola. In the newspapers and magazines, on television and radio, and across the ubiquitous social media. Ebola. I sweat, shake, and cringe in mortal fear. Such an ugly word, fearsome in its primal sound, so African, so dark, so black. Since Africa is one country, beware of going to Africa, …[ read more ]

One afternoon, during my final year of high school, I first found myself at Stellenbosch University (also known as University of Stellenbosch) on a tour of potential universities in the Western Cape, South Africa’s south-western province. Walking around the various buildings on campus and after a quick stopover in the Neelsie, the university’s mall, I …[ read more ]

The Oktoberfest in Munich may be over, but a curious debate sparked by the annual Bavarian bierfest is lingering like a bad hangover. Is it racist to put up targets portraying black people for fairgoers to shoot at? Yes, in Germany this is treated as a question to be answered with yes or no. This …[ read more ]

Moussa Sene Absa is a Senegalese filmmaker, artist and songwriter. What is your first film memory? It happened during the school holidays the year I turned ten in 1968. As a reward for my good grades my uncle took me to the cinema to watch <The Lion from Saint Marc. At one point when a …[ read more ]

So much of the discord and paralysis in the pro-rights movement in Ethiopia and the Diaspora comes down to one factor: ethnicity. Politics related to Ethiopia has become so heavily “ethnicized” that we have a difficult time distinguishing between ideology and identity. Conversations about change cease to center on shared concern (like justice, human rights …[ read more ]

What is more surprising than a mix of traditional Congolese music and European baroque music? What is more powerful than someone who makes another culture’s codes his own? “Coup Fatal” (currently on tour in Italy and Germany) is a collaboration between the Congolese baroque singer, Serge Kakudji, the Belgian choreographer, Alain Platel and the Belgian jazz …[ read more ]

In her famous tract on literature and trauma, Cathy Caruth writes: “If Freud turns to literature to describe traumatic experience, it is because literature, like psychoanalysis, is interested in the complex relation between knowing and not knowing…” Lara Pawson’s In the Name of the People: Angola’s Forgotten Massacre (2014) is literary reportage that flirts with …[ read more ]

Three towering moko jumbies stroll up behind the stage, as if on cue, dressed in suits of glow-in-the-dark yellow and electric blue. The sun is setting on the second and final day of ChaleWote, Accra’s annual street art festival, but energies show no sign of fading as Burkinabe band Siaka Diarra (image immediately below) streams …[ read more ]

That time of the year is coming up again and the contested Dutch blackface figure Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) is still with us. Some tried to turn blackface into brownface (only in the Netherlands) while others are still trying to convince us that Black Pete sets a fine example for black people. In any case, anti-blackface protestors …[ read more ]

People, that story about Akon, the Senegalese-American R&B singer, performing in an air bubble to thousands of screaming Congolese in Goma, because he doesn’t want to get Ebola is false. The hip hop magazine The Source (or whoever started it), made that one up. In a classic case of how modern “journalism” works, that story has been …[ read more ]

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