Two weeks ago the results of the World Press Awards were announced. The prize winners included a number of striking images about and by Africans. Most of the attention has focused on the Malian, Malick Sidibe, who won first prize in the arts and entertainment category for a spread that appeared in The New York …[ read more ]

March 1st, 2010
God was Afrikaans

Satirist Evita Bezuidenhout breaking down the declining significance of the famous war between the Zulus and the Boers in mid-19th century “as God was looking the other way.”  The Boer victory became part of the founding myths of Apartheid and of Afrikaner identity. Apparently now it was only propaganda; it never existed. Via …[ read more ]

March 1st, 2010
Facebook and Apartheid

This piece on nostalgia for the old South Africa among some whites–including among young people born after legal Apartheid ended in 1994–on social network site, Facebook, is genius. It is in Afrikaans. …[ read more ]

Eritrea is a virtual prison state, but South Africa has the largest recorded prison population in Africa. Oh, first prize worldwide is–surprise–the United States. …[ read more ]

CNN has a story on why despite South Africa’s progressive laws, lesbians and gays are still under attack there. The basic moral of the piece is that if you’re middle class, you can form your own safe, comfortable communities even if other middle class people want to discriminate against you. If you’re working …[ read more ]

February 26th, 2010
Conflict of Interest

Foreign Policy’s website has this story: “David M. Crane, the former U.N. war crimes prosecutor for the Special Court in Sierra Leone, and his chief investigator, Alan A. White, indicted former Liberian warlord and president Charles Taylor in 2003. Three months ago, their new firm CW Group International offered to sell legal services to the …[ read more ]

February 26th, 2010
Video: The Media and Obama

I was one of the principal organizers of this “conversation” between journalists and commentators Gary Younge and Ian Buruma last Friday night at The New School in Manhattan. (I make a small cameo at the start of question time, by the way.) There were no direct references to Africa throughout the meeting, but it is …[ read more ]

February 26th, 2010
Main Street (Johannesburg) TV

I am still not sure how I feel about Main Street Life, which is both a kind of video diary and a blog about a residential redevelopment in downtown Johannesburg called Main Street Life. Hotels, apartments, shops, galleries. We get to see how the place changes through the eyes of a middle class young man, …[ read more ]

February 25th, 2010
Player President

If Die Antwoord can, Jacob Zuma can too. The South African President gets into character by updating his wardrobe and has a new single with some nice beats. He also gets some help from his man Julius Malema. (I have replaced an image of the Zuma character with the video from the show.) …[ read more ]

DJ Mujava’s ‘Mugwanti/Sgwejegweje’ remixed in Germany. Via Ghetto Bassquake.…[ read more ]

February 23rd, 2010
Among the Savages

I asked journalist, filmmaker and photographer Pablo Mediavilla Costa, also one of my students at The New School, to give some perspective on the Spanish reality TV series, ‘Perdidos en la tribu’ (‘Lost in the tribe’) filmed, among others, in Namibia among the San (referred to by the derogatory Bushman in the series) and the …[ read more ]

China threw a birthday bash for Life President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. The Washington Post…[ read more ]

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 ]

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