March 18th, 2010
African Cities Win Prizes

The United Nations released its annual State of the World Cities report this week and three South African cities top the list: Three South African cities top the list of the most unequal cities in the world, when measured on income-based data gathered in a UN-HABITAT survey of cities in 109 countries from all regions. …[ read more ]

Residents of a shack settlement in Khayelitsha–that’s an area of cheap housing and squatter shacks about 20 miles from the Cape Town’s city center –“were provided communal toilets by the City of Cape Town on condition they built their own enclosures.” Basically a few communal toilets without walls. Serious. Several residents told a local newspaper …[ read more ]

I am a big fan of Athol Fugard, the brilliant South African playwright. I’ve made a point to see some of his plays–I saw John Kani and Winston Ntshona both in the “The Island” (in London) and “Sizwe Bansi is Dead” (in Brooklyn). And as we know Kani is very much a product of Fugard’s …[ read more ]

March 17th, 2010
Desmond Tutu Walks on Water

In my house Desmond Tutu can do little wrong. He’s up there with Nelson Mandela. (The latter complimented Tutu recently as “the voice of the voiceless”). Tutu restores our fight in decency and what’s right when on countless accusations he calls South Africa’s ruling class into line (like he did its previous white …[ read more ]

March 17th, 2010
All About Nicholas Kristof

I try not to post about either Nicholas Kristof or Jeffrey Gettleman, the Henry Morton Stanleys of their age.  But even I could not resist this video. In the clip, Kristof sets out to draw attention to the fact that women do all the hard, physical work in Congo (well Eastern Congo to be exact): …[ read more ]

I love the work of photographer Liz Johnson-Artur. Her shot of a smoke-blowing Linton Kwesi Johnston, is an all-time favorite). You may recognize her photographs in music magazines. But she is more than. Crucially, through her work she has documented the under-reported and often invisible black popular culture in Britain for at least two decades …[ read more ]

March 12th, 2010
Hamba Kahle, Fatima Meer


Fatima Meer, once a confidante of Nelson Mandela and a social movement activist for Durban’s poor, passed this Friday, March 12. In this video she talks about the present struggles of black and Indian traders in Durban’s downtown: Hamba Kahle Comrade Meer. What did she think about the present government, and the ruling ANC, when …[ read more ]

March 12th, 2010
Extreme Makeover

So Marthinus van Schalkwyk, the last leader of the racist National Party (that was the party who invented Apartheid and governed South Africa from 1948 till democracy came) is the favorite for the United Nations’ top climate post, as director of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, and to force industrial nations to hopefully …[ read more ]

March 12th, 2010
The Trumpet King

Jeremy of Naijablog forwarded me this Youtube video of two recorded songs by  Zeal Onyia, the master Nigerian trumpet player from the 1950s of whom Louis Armstrong on a visit to Nigeria in 1961 was to have asked:  “Who is that hip cat?” Here are two of Onyia’s highlife inflected compositions, “Money Trouble” and “Lumumba.”  …[ read more ]

March 12th, 2010
100 Artists

The Spier Contemporary 100, where 100 young South African artists were invited to exhibit their work (more information here) opens this Sunday, 14th March, at the Cape Town City Hall on Darling Street. If you’re around go see it. –Sean Jacobs…[ read more ]

Jeffrey Gettleman of the New York Times strikes again. Last month anger resounded across the blogosphere after a bizarre rant by Gettleman appeared in Foreign Policy. In the piece, “Africa’s Forever Wars: Why the continent’s conflicts never end,” the NYTimes East Africa bureau chief gave us his opinion on ending the ‘forever wars': “capture or …[ read more ]

The Roots, “How I Got Over” . — Sean Jacobs…[ read more ]

March 9th, 2010
Shaka Zulu

Video for the single “Fresh One” by Ghanaian dancehall-rap outfit, 4X4. These guys appear to recycle images from “Shaka Zulu,” an Apartheid TV drama series which invented history about the founder of the Zulus, Shaka. (Incidentally, the TV series was also a hit among African-Americans.)  And then there’s this refrain in the song: “The girl …[ read more ]

“25 Years of Witnessing Social Change in South Africa.” Cedric Nunn, South African photographer in conversation with Peter Lucas from the Tisch School of Photography and Imaging will speak about photography and human rights. Friday, March 12, 2010 14h00-15h30 Venue: NYU Museum Studies, seminar room, 240 Greene Street, 4th floor. Cedric Nunn was born in …[ read more ]

March 8th, 2010
Africa at the Oscars

Apart from Charlize Theron and her dress, the very big continent of Africa was indirectly represented at the Academy Awards last night when the short film, “Music by Prudence” won for best documentary short. As you know by now, the whole thing has been dominated by one of the former producers (who throws around Ndebele …[ read more ]

March 8th, 2010
African Audience Data

InterMedia (, the global nonprofit research group, invites you to a live webcast Tuesday, March 9 at 9:30 AM EST to unveil AudienceScapes – an online knowledge resource about how citizens and policymakers use media, use communication technologies and share information in developing countries. … Register for the webcast (or sign up to attend if …[ read more ]

March 8th, 2010
The Public Archive

From Peter James Hudson at Vanderbilt University: With Samira Sheikh, my colleague in the History Department down here in Nashville, I’ve created a website, the Public Archive. We are hoping that for now, the Public Archive will serve as a resource for Haiti’s history; in the future, it will serve as a similar resource for …[ read more ]

A scene from the new HBO series, “How to Make it in America,” about a group of (mainly male) friends trying to make it in New York City (think a downscale “Entourage”). In this scene, one of the only female lead characters, Rachel, is talked out of quitting her job by her boss, …[ read more ]

I think we are at a bad place in South Africa, and especially when you contrast it with the Mandela era. Many of the things that we dreamt were possible seem to be getting more and more out of reach. We have the most unequal society in the world. We have far too many of …[ read more ]

March 7th, 2010
Madlib Goes to Africa

The Beat Konducta has a new music series: one-release-a-month for 2010. The latest instalment, out later this month, covers Africa: “This album bases itself on the obscure vinyl gems from the afro-beat, funk, psych-rock, garage-rock & soul movements of African countries as diverse as Zambia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Botswana and Ivory Coast.” I’ll get it.…[ read more ]

I love this guy’s music. And to think he’s actually from very white Ann Arbor.…[ read more ]

March 6th, 2010
The Third World Cup

I don’t think my man Vijay Prashad would mind me reposting his first in a series of World Cup posts put on Facebook:  “… Herein starts my backgrounder, on football, third worldism and history. This first one is on the historic FLN football team, which was formed by Algerian militants who were some of the best soccer …[ read more ]

March 5th, 2010
Can’t Rain Forever

People sleep on Kenya. Chief Boima has a link to Just a Band who has a great no-frills video–that comments on political violence in Kenya and police brutality–for this intoxicating song.…[ read more ]

March 5th, 2010
Zuma takes London


Jacob Zuma is on a state visit to the UK. Some elements of the British media, not known for tact, bring up his polygamy, rape charges (he was acquitted, I know) and the corruption allegations (it was squashed before the 2009 South African elections). That’s all fine, but some of them to make their point, …[ read more ]

Singer Nneka (who is a great talent but always nervous in interviews) rambles on a bit about her name and her father before talking about oil politics, the Niger Delta, the Ogoni and Ken Saro Wiwa. Timely of course given the constitutional crisis in the country. * Incidentally, this is from Youtube’s Causecast Channel, about …[ read more ]

March 4th, 2010
No Comment


K’Naan and Akon have now produced versions of their World Cup songs for Coco Cola and Pepsi respectively. The transformation is complete. First Akon’s “Africa.”  It is not clear where that song took place?  The edge of a game park? And there’s all the “African” elements are present: dry grass pitch, star players in Madiba shirts …[ read more ]

Comedian Chris Rock speaking about Fort Greene, my neighborhood in Brooklyn–now heavily gentrified–in a new feature-length documentary, “”A Walk Through Fort Greene,” about the black arts movement there from the mid 1980s through the 90s. Word of this film coincides with an exhibition on gentrification in Fort Greene at The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan …[ read more ]

Now they do it via social network games.…[ read more ]

March 3rd, 2010
Bling Bling

Brilliant viral campaign by the Aids and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa. As my friend Brett Davidson writes on his blog, the campaign–named Lords of the Bling–shows “… how much money Africa’s political leaders have spent on extravagant purchases, and then illustrating how much treatment for HIV and tuberculosis that same money could buy. They’ve …[ read more ]

March 3rd, 2010
Soweto to Johannesburg

The New York Times does some real reporting for a change in a story (last week) about a new 16-mile long bus rapid transit service which offers fast, affordable, dignified travel on bus lanes cleared of other vehicles between black Soweto and Johannesburg’s still very white northern suburbs.  The main users of the Brazilian made …[ read more ]

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