AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

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October 31st, 2014
What next for Burkina Faso?

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At the moment of writing this post – October 31, late afternoon – the leader of Burkina Faso may be Gen. Honoré Traoré, the army chief of staff, who declared himself president yesterday. It may, instead, be Lt.-Col. Isaac Zida, second-in-command of the presidential security regiment, who has just announced the closure of the borders. …[ read more ]

The October edition of Hipster’s Don’t Dance’s 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. DJ Olu x Bance HKN records has been quiet of late but this debut single from DJ Olu’s up coming mixtape is something …[ read more ]

I never understood what Gil Scot Heron was talking about in his song  “New York is Killing Me” (from his last studio album I’m New Here) I understand now, it means that people so loved, admired and coveted his genius that they smothered him to death. The uniqueness that is the Harlem of yore- from …[ read more ]

A few weeks ago, at the North Eastern Workshop on Southern Africa in Burlington, Vermont, I got a chance to participate in a roundtable on Digital Southern African Studies with Africa Is a Country’s Sean Jacobs.  Sean asked me if I would be interested in starting a weekly series on digital African projects and I …[ read more ]

I have always held that the Nigerian god is far too kind. Kind to our political leaders in spite of their wickedness, kind to our religious leaders in spite of their hypocrisy, kind to our traditional leaders in spite of their complicity in all the mess we find ourselves in. And kind to foreigners. I …[ read more ]

Ça chauffe au Burkina, just like we knew it would. News came this morning that the National Assembly and the headquarters of the ruling party have gone up in flames, but it’s not a great surprise. A political crisis has been looming ever since it became apparent that President Blaise Compaoré (that’s him and his …[ read more ]

You all know that South Asians have this “thing” about light skin, right? I don’t need to go into too many details – the skin lighteners, the Bollywood films dominated by people who look like they came from, say, Northern Turkey? And even popular, multimillionaire actors like Shahrukh Khan have become shills for skin lightener …[ read more ]

In 1995 filmmaker and griot Dani Kouyaté won the Golden Stallion – The award for Best First Film at the pan-African film festival FESPACO – for his first feature Keïta! The Heritage of the Griot. He has since made three more feature films in addition to directing for TV and the stage as well as …[ read more ]

“I started become interested in this project, ‘Legendary’, back when I hung out in 42nd Street and Time Square in New York City. In the 42nd street area there was a place right across the street from the bus station on 42nd Street and 8th Avenue call Show World and it was the largest peep …[ read more ]

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it,” wrote Toni Morrison. Imagine a world with no Hobbits, no Aslan, no Dr. Who. These English mythologies, love them or hate them, are rampant, bold and provocative. There is a tendency for children’s books set …[ read more ]

Tuesday marked the start of a popular resistance campaign in Burkina Faso in opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow President Blaise Campaore to run for a third term. The term limit law, enacted in 2000, currently limits the president to two terms, and Campaore secured his second five-year mandate in 2010. Some have …[ read more ]

Lately I have been struggling with the idea (and the proliferation) of “social justice tours” in South Africa. If you don’t know what I am talking about, social justice tours are tours which take the tourist through low income, economically depressed or working class neighborhoods —mostly former townships—whilst teaching them and allowing them to “witness …[ read more ]

Brian Soko is not a happy man! Not only is he having to deal with the trauma of a daylight break-in at a cottage he’s renting while on a three-week work-related trip to Jozi, but the rappers he’s supposed to be having a studio session with the next day aren’t picking up their phones. I’ve …[ read more ]

Sometimes one can’t help but feel disheartened by the way we speak to each other in South Africa. Or rather, how people talk past each other, or about each other. Despite the fact that the peaceful transition to democracy in South Africa, often hailed as a “miracle,” was due to the ability of former enemies …[ read more ]

So Ebola’s in Manhattan. Now it’s touched my two homes. Thursday we heard that the virus had made it to Mali, which I’d figured it would. How could it not? One way or another, in the tightly bound region, it could only travel, and it did so inside the embattled body of a two-year old …[ read more ]

October 24th, 2014
The Brazilian Election, Race

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There’s a lot going on in the world these days, so you may not have been paying attention to Brazil. But the country has an extremely important election coming up this weekend – one that will decide amongst other things, who their president will be for the next four years. The reason this election is …[ read more ]

“The thing about Joburg,” observes rapper and producer Sam Turpin “it’s kind of on the scale of rich and poor.” Sam’s music explores themes of growing up in a changing South Africa. He’s constantly questioning, learning and adjusting according to the dictates of his environment – oftentimes one not receptive and trusting of white people …[ read more ]

‘Kushn’ is a chic, afro-futurist fashion and design store based in Cape Town. Owners Greer Valley and her husband, Themba Mntambo, started the company three years ago using leather and colourful woven cloth sourced from textile co-ops in Ethiopia and Ghana. The store’s name is a play on the kingdom of Kush – which was …[ read more ]

October 23rd, 2014
Canadian burden

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The “Of Africa” symposium begins at the Royal Ontario Museum tonight with a keynote by Binyavanga Wainana.  The gathering is an attempt by the museum to finally move beyond its vile and condemned 1989 exhibit “Into the heart of Africa.”  The display on entering that exhibit was a portrait of a British coloniser stabbing a Zulu …[ read more ]

Finally South African hip hop is spurring national debate, and it’s not Die Antwoord.  No it is Dookoom, the new Cape Town hip hop outfit fronted by local legend Isaac Mutant, which has caused a huge stir with its video “Larney Jou Poes” (roughly translated: Boss, your cunt.) Much has been written about the video, from …[ read more ]

I was home alone one Friday night around 2001 watching, as was tradition, one of the music shows which came on at SABC 1 during that period. It could’ve been Studio Mix during its dying years, or Basiq with Azania, or Castle Loud with Unathi and Stoan. The first video played after a Telkom ad. …[ read more ]

Dakar has long been hailed as a center of African visual arts since President Leopold Senghor hosted the World Festival of Negro Arts in 1966. More recently African Artists and art enthusiasts descend onto the city for the Dakar Biennale, a major exhibit of contemporary African art that happens every two years. In the lead …[ read more ]

October 22nd, 2014
Zambia turns 50

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Zambia, the country its young people fondly call “Zed,” is the next in a number of African countries to turn 50–they are the firstborns of the first wave of African countries to gain independence in the 1960s. Zambia’s turn came on 24 October 1964, a day chosen because it was United Nations Day. That kind …[ read more ]

Any African who has ever tried to visit South Africa will know that the country is not an easy entry destination. South African embassies across the continent are almost as difficult to access as those of the UK and the United States. They are characterised by long queues, inordinate amounts of paperwork, and officials who …[ read more ]

October 21st, 2014
Ali Mazrui and Me

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I am asked on a regular basis, on campus and off, a question I assume is posed to many scholars of Africa, especially non-African ones like me: “What made you decide to teach African history?” And whether I give the long or short answer, my reply always begins with explaining the pivotal role Ali Mazrui …[ read more ]

South Africa TV will soon debut “Real Housewives of Johannesburg.” If that’s not enough, in other news, the country’s first School of Etiquette is now open in one of Johannesburg’s rich northern suburbs. The owner of the Etiquette School, Courtney Carey, has been doing the media rounds. Much of the coverage, is not surprisingly, soft …[ read more ]

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 weak winter sun. The haze of purple is just past its prime, and the blossoms’ fresh hopes are waning. Perhaps there’s a frost on them. Squat …[ 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 ]

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