Breaking News from the Daily Mail: Lupita Nyong’o can play a sexpot onscreen, and not just roles that call on her to look downtrodden and enslaved. In an article with a title that leaves little to the imagination (“Before she was famous: Lingerie-clad Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o juggled two men in sexually-charged Kenyan soap opera”), The Mail Online reveals that Nyong’o, whose “exotic beauty and heart-wrenching portrayal of tormented slave Patsey in 12 Years a Slave catapulted her into stardom” is “hiding” the dark secret of her sexy past as a soap actor in “Shuga, a sexually-charged MTV Base Africa soap opera in which she juggled two men.” Call the Oscar Police!
Using locations in Africa as backdrops to sell clothes and bags is nothing new – especially bags and clothes that certain class of travellers and outdoorsy people like to call “gear”. As in “stuff necessary to show you’re ready for hardship.” Sometimes, though, the mythology referenced, re-ignited, and re-iterated in newly romaticised packaging is so…well, moronic that we have to do yet another post on the same old-same-old. And Louis Vuitton’s new campaign gets AIAC’s Out of Africa Fashion Campaign award for this quarter’s mash up of Discovery Channel fodder, Hemingway’s “Snows of Kilimanjaro”, Lawrence of Arabia, Out of Africa, and the opening scenes from The English Patient.
I’ve been reading Aimé Césaire’s Discourse on Colonialism. He puts it all plainly. In the flurry of theory, tangles of citational prose, and the demands for refereed this, that, and the other that ping throughout an academic’s daily grind, such clarity is bracing. And welcome. I’ll be assigning the whole text to my undergraduates next year.
The following is the full text of a letter written by David Larder to the Guardian newspaper last year, following the court settlement which saw the UK government pay out £2,670 to each of the 5,228 elderly Kenyans judged eligible for compensation for atrocities committed in the 1950s. The UK government still refuses to apologise for what it did in Kenya. That’s one reason David Larder’s letter is worth reading.
Ruud Gullit was more than a total footballer. It was not for no reason that the late Nelson Mandela praised him as ‘a source of tremendous inspiration for young people, not only in Holland or Europe, but throughout the world.’ More than a footballer, he was a musician (although not anywhere as accomplished in the latter field as he was the former). And more than a musician, he was a voice.
A grossly detestable subjection of one human being by another, slavery was a structural guarantor of white control of blacks in the Americas. It was to whites in that part of the world and other parts of the world including the Cape Colony in South Africa, what colonial subjugation and apartheid would later be to whites in the rest of Africa. There is no longer slavery in the Americas. However, white supremacy is still around, not only in the United States but also in many recently colonized societies. On what structural ropes then does white supremacy hang today? Even then, does it still need an institutional apparatus of dominance for its continuity?
Everyday Africa is an Instagram-based project aiming to document moments from daily life. It was founded in 2012 by the American photojournalist Peter DiCampo and writer Austin Merrill. Initially featuring the work of mostly American foreign correspondents, it now also includes the work of a number of African photographers, like Nana Kofi Acquah (featured before on Africa is a Country), Emeka Okereke and Andrew Esiebo. Chances are you’ve heard of it already as Everyday Africa has received a lot of positive press. Everyday Africa is definitely an important initiative in the north where one-dimensional, highly constructed images of Africans are the norm and so, a while back, I sent Peter some questions (a number of AIAC’ers pitched in too), which he answered. The exchange is below.