AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

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Shukri: “Imagine a world in which the first question you would be asked is not ‘Where are you from?’ but ‘What have you read?’ Why should the borders of the nation state into which I was born forever dictate the boundaries of my being?” In 2006, the first photographs of the systematic torture at Abu …[ read more ]

September 30th, 2014
Transgendered in Botswana

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“Pula, pula, na, na, ke tla gola leng.” The ethereal club banger “My Body” by Kat Kai Kol-Kes and her band Chasing Jakyb is an ode to the physical meeting of human body and rain. Kat is from Botswana, a country made up of 85 percent desert. Unsurprisingly, rain and water take on a mystical …[ read more ]

“You’ve got a car? It’s less than two hours from here” says a Rasta woman I’ve known for a total of ten minutes. In that time, she’s managed to convince me to travel with her to a town nearby (or was it me trying to convince her?) on a hunt for medicinal herbs. The ganja in …[ read more ]

The essayist T.O. Molefe (he is a contributor here too) has a new op-ed column up at nytimes.com. He writes about “South Africa’s War on Women.” The oped opens with a discussion of why South Africans appear so blase about gender violence. Molefe writes, “… crimes against black lesbians don’t register on the public’s radar amid the …[ read more ]

September 29th, 2014
Can an algorithm be racist?

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Can an algorithm be racist? Google’s translator (the new 2.0 version) works statistically. That Connectivist article (at the link) calls it “the great equalizer.” Unlike the first iteration that was based on the input of grammar rules and vocabulary lists, this one draws from a vast pool of actual texts to produce a softer, truer …[ read more ]

September 29th, 2014
It’s just like Africa!

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Linda de Mol is enormously popular in The Netherlands. She hosts tv game shows, even has her own talk show, speaks German fluently, and moreover, comes across as very approachable. (She also happens to be the sister of John de Mol, the co-founder of Endemol, the company that should be blamed for “Big Brother,” “Deal or …[ read more ]

September 29th, 2014
Make Ignorance History

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I wouldn’t be surprised if the two white South African students—Mark Burman and Ross Bartlett—who donned blackface and dressed up as “Venus and Sarena Williams” at a party at the University of Stellenbosch were sitting around a fire last week to celebrate the Heritage Day holiday. They might have even called their friends doing their gap year …[ read more ]

The second edition of the Hipster’s Don’t Dance monthly chart on Africa is a Country is here! Check it below, and be sure to visit the HDD blog regularly for all their great up-to-the-timeness out of London. Wizkid – In My Bed Last time we did a chart we bemoaned the fact that Wizkid wasn’t releasing his 2nd Lp, …[ read more ]

Mos Def, now living in Cape Town and collaborating with Petite Noir, talking to Dazed Digital. I don’t think that there’s necessarily one sound of Africa. Consider the Blk Jks and The Brother Moves On, those that are into Marimba music and the whole devotional gospel sound like St Vincent and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. You’ll find similarities …[ read more ]

Both domestically and abroad, the issue of sexual harassment has been called a sickness in Egyptian society. Abroad what had previously been framed mostly as an annoyance for female tourists was thrust into the spotlight in 2011 following now infamous and violent attacks on both foreign journalists and local woman during the protests that led …[ read more ]

September 26th, 2014
Hip Hop And Religion

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Off the whim, I asked Kwanele Sosibo if he’d be interested in contributing to the series. He swung me this fascinating, unpublished piece about hip-hop and religion within a South African hip-hop context. Sosibo writes for the Mail and Guardian, and is one of the founding members of The Con–Tseliso Monaheng “You are dealing with heaven, while …[ read more ]

September 25th, 2014
Travelling while black

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It takes a while to blink the light out of my eyes. I’m sitting in the back of a songthaew headed for a bus to Bangkok from Chiang Mai when suddenly the world goes white before returning as an old Italian woman grinning at me from across a pile of backpacks as she admires the …[ read more ]

September 25th, 2014
‘The Italian Joseph Conrad’

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Described by the literary press as the “Italian Joseph Conrad” and “a 20th century Balzac”, Alessandro Spina–the pen name of Basili Shafik Khouzam–was a Syrian Maronite who was born in Benghazi in 1927 and died in Milan in 2013. Despite winning universal critical praise, Spina’s works were mostly ignored: nobody bought them, and nobody read …[ read more ]

September 25th, 2014
The Afropeans are Coming

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Over the next three days, a  group of artists, writers, filmmakers and cultural commentators will meet at Afropea Now!, a a symposium of film screenings, concerts, a workshop and an exhibition taking place at the cultural institution Stadtwerkstatt in Linz, Austria. I am the curator. Last week Africa is a Country asked me to get some of …[ read more ]

Taghreed Elsanhouri directed the first Sudanese film to be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, “All about Darfur,” in 2005. That same year the film also won the Chairperson’s Prize at the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF). Her other credits include ‘Sudanna al Habib’ (2012) and ‘Mother Unknown‘ (2009). This interview is the second …[ read more ]

September 24th, 2014
Letter to Kenya

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Dear Kenya, My friends and family know I have been one of your biggest advocates and ambassadors. I love you. You are mine and I am yours. I chose to leave the bright lights of the west to come home and use my craft towards building our vision of our self and transform the world’s …[ read more ]

This past July, icon of Black American activism Assata Shakur’s autobiography was re-pressed by Zed Books in London. At times thought to be dormant, black American activism has seen a resurgence in recent weeks across the United States after the killing of Mike Brown by police, and the suppression of protests in Ferguson, Missouri. In a timely guest post, Kwesi Shaddai reflects on Shakur’s …[ read more ]

Shaki Kamara was a 15-year-old Liberian boy who lived in Monrovia’s notorious and misunderstood neighborhood of West Point. He was one of the casualties of the awful Ebola epidemic that’s gripping Liberia, but he didn’t die of the virus. Shaki was shot by Liberian security forces in an altercation with residents of the neighborhood after …[ read more ]

I was in Conakry when reports first surfaced of cases of the Ebola virus disease (Ebola) in the Forest Region of Guinea.  There had never been an Ebola outbreak outside of Central Africa before.  Initially, my colleagues and I were unconcerned about its ability to impact our lives. We joked about switching from handshakes to …[ read more ]

September 20th, 2014
‘This Ewe Boy’

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New video for ‘Hope,’ by Ghanaian rapper Abladzo Kwame, off his EP ‘This Ewe Boy.’…[ read more ]

Nelson Mandela speaks to the crowds in George Square, Glasgow, 1993. He received the Freedom of Glasgow bestowed on him 12 years previously, when Margaret Thatcher regarded him and the ANC as terrorists. Watch clips from his visit to Scotland here. Scotland (including Andy Murray) votes today in a referendum for its independence from the …[ read more ]

September 17th, 2014
Africa is a Radio: Epsiode #6

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Africa is a Radio went on break last month along with Africa is a Country, so I’m just now able to get to posting July’s show here. This episode focuses on South African Hip Hop, both commercial and underground with a special report from Pretoria by Ts’eliso Mohaneng. Enjoy, and look out for September’s Episode …[ read more ]

Last week a building that was part of the complex that is the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, Nigeria (‘pastor': TB Joshua) collapsed. When the story was first reported on Friday, the death toll stood at 3 people.  Then yesterday, the South African President Jacob Zuma announced that “at least 67 South Africans were killed.” Nigerian …[ read more ]

Every now and then, its seems as if there is nothing new out there. Everything seems derivative, repetitive or just plain bland. As a filmmaker, I sometimes go through moments of extreme lack of inspiration; and even question my choice of career. And then an unexpected spark happens to light the way. Beats of the …[ read more ]

This is Africa is prone to tabloid headlines (they’ve been running tons of sex related posts lately), but Nigerian journalist Chiagozie Nwonwu‘s interview with Binyavanga Wainaina (writer, commentator, rights defender “a public figure, not D’Banj, but with enough people”) is worth all the sensationalism. In the interview, Binyavanga covers a lot of ground: Nigerians moving to Nairobi, …[ read more ]

“Should Scotland be an independent country?” That is the question Scots will be asked when they go to the polls on September 18th. The outcome of the vote will have a significant impact on the future of Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. More interestingly, this referendum is being closely watched in a …[ read more ]

September 13th, 2014
The Resurrection of Nat Nakasa

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“This is Simply a Personal Statement from Me to You” On August 18th I attended the memorial service for Nat Nakasa at the Broadway Presbyterian Church in Harlem.  What began as a somber event quickly turned joyous as we celebrated the South African writer and editor’s long overdue trip home. With isiZulu songs echoing off …[ read more ]

The Economist has a slavery problem, as Greg Grandin has recently called it. Grandin’s wonderful article is a response to a series of lamentable book reviews published by The Economist that deal with the topic of slavery: Grandin’s own The Empire of Necessity, and more recently Edward Baptist’s The Half Has NeverBeen Told. The list goes on, as Grandin reports. But, …[ read more ]

The South African RW Johnson has undergone a transformation of youthful radical to smug “anti-apartheid” liberal anti-communist and scholar of the French Left (think Tony Judt-lite), resulting in the final incarnation of a  pompous red-faced “liberal” colonial academic flinging reductionist tribal stereotypes into the public sphere. His intellectual credibility was forfeited a few years ago …[ read more ]

Earlier this week Sepp Blatter, defending FIFA’s decision to not rescind its decision to award Russia the World Cup in 2018, said “Boycotts in sport never has had any benefit.” Watch it here for yourself. As 101GreatGoals.com, a site not usually know for its progressive politics (they usually line up behind the worst aspects of …[ read more ]

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