February 23rd, 2010
Behind the Rainbow

If you’re in the US tonight and you’re close to a TV, watch Egyptian filmmaker Jihan Al-Tahri’s documentary film, “Behind the Rainbow” (trailer above), about  the years between the South African ANC’s unbanning in 1990, the taking of political power and its December 2007 conference when the disastrous Thabo Mbeki was unseated by Jacob Zuma …[ read more ]

February 22nd, 2010
Black History Month

I love the work of David Rees.…[ read more ]

February 22nd, 2010
Because He’s American

The Obama administration announced last week its nomination of Anthony Lake to serve as the new head of UNICEF. Current Executive Director Ann Veneman, a Bush appointee, announced she would not seek a second term in an e-mail to all UNICEF staff in late December 2009. Publicly, Veneman declined to give a reason for her …[ read more ]

February 22nd, 2010
Playground Politics

From Funny or Die, the new HBO sketch comedy series. HT: Adam Esrig…[ read more ]

First world hipster bloggers and music websites (with foreign correspondents' not far behind) are besides themselves about South African performers, Die Antwoord. Linking to them. Talking about their style. Good for them and Die Antwoord. But even boosters for the Die Antwoord, like Richard Poplak,have to concede this: "... what their lyrics mean — or what they stand for precisely — no one in Brooklyn or Paris or São Paulo can say." Which is why I like this piece of of writing, below, by Cape Town writer Rustum Kozain, about Die Antwoord's music and style. While I wouldn't say that what Die Antwoord does is necessarily blackface, I think some of its problematic aspects need to be discussed.…[ read more ]

Apparently Jennifer Hudson had to lose 60 pounds to star as Winnie Mandela in a planned biopic. Mandela was a leading figure in South African politics in the late 20th century and who was married to former South African president throughout his 27-year imprisonment. They divorced five years after Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Winnie …[ read more ]

February 17th, 2010
Abraham Lincoln and Fela Kuti


Some critics went after Bill T Jones for his musical portrayal of the king of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti, on Broadway. Here, in the link below, Mr Jones responds–indirectly–to criticisms of “Fela!,” during a discussion with Bill Moyers about the life of the American President, Abraham Lincoln. Jones created a dance-theater work celebrating the bicentennial of …[ read more ]

February 17th, 2010
U.S. Senators in Africa

Dick Durbin of Illinois and Sherrod Brown of Ohio are on a week-long trip to Tanzania, Congo, Ethiopia and Sudan. On their agenda: global health, peace keeping, water and sanitation, refugee camps and economic development. Let’s hope they don’t publish a diary or, God forbid, dance.…[ read more ]

February 16th, 2010
Bring on Summer

While its freezing in New York City (including a snow storm last week that shut down the city) and my time is taken up by job talks and teaching, my friends in Cape Town talk about going to the beach. The video is “Tops Off” by DJ Sdunkero featuring Kaspero. These guys are from Nelspruit. …[ read more ]

February 16th, 2010
The Poor White Problem

It’s become common for foreign journalists going to South Africa to find poor whites and contrast these with the wealth of the small, black “middle” class.  Poor whites don’t even make up 5% of the poor. Contrast that to more than 60% of blacks. But that’s not a story. And if you pointed that obvious …[ read more ]

February 15th, 2010
Video: Akon’s “Africa”


The R&B singer, Akon has released his own 2010 World Cup song with the original title “Africa.”  (Akon is the second R&B or rap singer–the other is K’Naan–to release a World Cup related song.) Keri Hilson, in zebra top (it’s African remember) joins Akon.  The sight in the video of some world class footballers kicking balls that turn …[ read more ]

February 15th, 2010
Postmodernism on Ice

So it turns out that tonight at the Winter Olympics in the pairs figure skating finals, Germany will be presented by, Robin Szolkowy, whose father is Tanzanian (his mother is German), and his Ukranian-born partner, Aliona Savchenko. They will perform a routine choreographed to the music of the film, “Out of Africa,” which in turn …[ read more ]

February 15th, 2010
The Meanings of Sara Baartman

My friend, Gabeba Baderoon, is organizing a one-day colloquium on “The Meanings of Saartje (Sara) Baartman,” scheduled for March 1st at Pennsylvania State University in State College, PA. The meeting will focus on Baartman (aka the “Hottentot Venus”) “… as Khoi woman, international icon, and the inspiration for visual artists and playwrights.” Speakers will include …[ read more ]

The music video for “My Sweetie,” the Nigerian-American rapper’s remake of an old West African standard.…[ read more ]

February 12th, 2010
The Vice TV Guide to Liberia

The hipsters at Vice.TV produce original video reporting–which sways between brilliant and annoying. They’ve also become more important now that CNN has signed a deal with them to put Vice content on CNN’s platforms. About being brilliant or annoying or both at the same time, go check out their most recent “report” on Liberia which you …[ read more ]

Pitchfork has a great piece–complete with some musical samples–by writer Dave Henshaw–on musical developments in Ghana (no one plays high life anymore), Cote d’Ivoire (“Ivoirian rhythms are so twitchy that crunk would have come like a tranquilizer on this dance-hungry, hyper-rhythmic nation”) and Nigeria (its music should travel easily to the West). Read it here. …[ read more ]

Next week–on Thursday, February 18th–art historians and curators Chika Okeke-Agulu and Okwui Enwezor launch their new book, “Contemporary African Art Since 1980,” at the Museum of Contemporary Diaspora Arts on Hanson Place in Fort Greene. (It’s in my neighborhood, but I can’t make it as I teach; I would like to hear reports of the …[ read more ]

February 12th, 2010
The Nine Lives of Jacob Zuma


Jacob Zuma’s been in the news a lot lately about his personal life. If you forgot, Zuma has three wives, and 20 children by a number of women. Recently it also emerged that he cheated on his wives–again–with the daughter of the boss of South African football, who had a son by Zuma last October. …[ read more ]

February 11th, 2010
Songs for Nelson Mandela


Brenda Fassie’s “Black President” is still the standard-bearer for Mandela tribute songs. Fassie did this one while Mandela was still in prison in the late 1980s. She also claimed they were related. But that’s another story. There’s a few others that come close. Santana (featuring Wayne Shorter), “Mandela” (live version). Check the poster of Mandela …[ read more ]

The German shoe and sportswear company, Puma, sponsors at least 12 African national football teams–five of which qualified for the 2010 World Cup. To commemorate the World Cup year (and because it is good PR and to sell shirts), Puma commissioned artist Kehinde Wiley to create four new works of arts inspired by the footbal …[ read more ]

February 11th, 2010
Good luck, Mr Jonathan


I could not resist the pun on the new Nigerian President’s name. Al-Jazeera English this week showed gruesome footage of Nigerian soldiers and police executing innocent people in broad daylight. The footage was taken last year when the Nigerian government claimed that it had defeated the Islamist rebel group, Boko Haram.  (I can only imagine what …[ read more ]

February 11th, 2010
Free Nelson Mandela

Twenty years ago today Nelson Mandela walked free from a South African jail. He had served a 27 year long prison sentence at the head of a mass movement opposed to Apartheid  I still remember that day like it was yesterday. I was watching it with my family. The long wait, the useless commentary of …[ read more ]

February 10th, 2010
Nigerian Internet Speak

What’s LWKM? Laugh wan kill me. The blog, Naijaslangs, has already collected 82 Nigerian internet slang words compiled here. (The list grows every day.) …[ read more ]

The trailer for the documentary, “Kinshasa Symphony,” about the Kimbanguist Symphony Orchestra and Chior. The orchestra, named for a Congolese resistance leader, is based in Kinshasa, Congo’s capital. The film, co-directed by Claus Wischmann and Martin Baer, premieres next week at the Berlin Film Festival. I have been following the bands exploits online since the first …[ read more ]

February 8th, 2010
Staying Alive in Johannesburg

Part 1, above, of the Dutch TV documentary film, “Staying Alivein Joburg.” The film is limited in its focus–its primarily a walk through inner city Johannesburg ahead of the 2010 World Cup. We get no sense of life in the city’s richer, and whiter, northern suburbs. But it is definitely a must see and a thousand times …[ read more ]

February 8th, 2010
French Africa

Stephen Smith, the former African editor of Le Monde, writes in the London Review of Books (a publication not known for its sober coverage of Africa) that “Francafrique”–the corrupt French-African alliance with its strongmen (like the life president of Congo Brazzaville, Denis Sassou Nguesso, writing shotgun with Nicolas Sarkozy in the picture above), arm sales …[ read more ]

February 8th, 2010
Pit Helmets and Khakis

What is (American) National Down Syndrome Society saying with this advertisement that has been running in major print magazines to promote its work? That everyone can live out their dream to act like colonial colonial explorers complete with pit helmet? And even if the intention was to appropriate or invert problematic histories by featuring a …[ read more ]

The Wall Street Journal…[ read more ]

February 8th, 2010
Photography by Kader Attia

The most recent work of the French-Algerian photographer.…[ read more ]

February 7th, 2010
Photography by Pete Muller

Video profile of US photographer Pete Muller who talks about a trip to northern Uganda, and some of the thought process behind his pictures. He was interviewed by the Washington DC based journalist Nico Colomband. Links to Muller’s photography and new blog from Southern Sudan.…[ read more ]

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