AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

So much of the discord and paralysis in the pro-rights movement in Ethiopia and the Diaspora comes down to one factor: ethnicity. Politics related to Ethiopia has become so heavily “ethnicized” that we have a difficult time distinguishing between ideology and identity. Conversations about change cease to center on shared concern (like justice, human rights …[ read more ]

What is more surprising than a mix of traditional Congolese music and European baroque music? What is more powerful than someone who makes another culture’s codes his own? “Coup Fatal” (currently on tour in Italy and Germany) is a collaboration between the Congolese baroque singer, Serge Kakudji, the Belgian choreographer, Alain Platel and the Belgian jazz …[ read more ]

In her famous tract on literature and trauma, Cathy Caruth writes: “If Freud turns to literature to describe traumatic experience, it is because literature, like psychoanalysis, is interested in the complex relation between knowing and not knowing…” Lara Pawson’s In the Name of the People: Angola’s Forgotten Massacre (2014) is literary reportage that flirts with …[ read more ]

Three towering moko jumbies stroll up behind the stage, as if on cue, dressed in suits of glow-in-the-dark yellow and electric blue. The sun is setting on the second and final day of ChaleWote, Accra’s annual street art festival, but energies show no sign of fading as Burkinabe band Siaka Diarra (image immediately below) streams …[ read more ]

That time of the year is coming up again and the contested Dutch blackface figure Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) is still with us. Some tried to turn blackface into brownface (only in the Netherlands) while others are still trying to convince us that Black Pete sets a fine example for black people. In any case, anti-blackface protestors …[ read more ]

People, that story about Akon, the Senegalese-American R&B singer, performing in an air bubble to thousands of screaming Congolese in Goma, because he doesn’t want to get Ebola is false. The hip hop magazine The Source (or whoever started it), made that one up. In a classic case of how modern “journalism” works, that story has been …[ read more ]

October 6th, 2014
Kampala gets an Art Biennale

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Billed erroneously in a local Ugandan newspaper as Africa’s first contemporary art biennale, the Kampala Art Biennale opened on 1 August showing mostly paintings of 45 artists from 13 African countries. Its main exhibition venues were the historical Uganda Museum, as well as the Makerere Art Gallery, and Nommo Gallery. The biennale capitalized on marketing itself …[ read more ]

In Sesotho, the language of Lesotho, the words “Ba re e ne re…” mean “They say it was said…” Similar to once upon a time, this is how folktales begin in Sesotho. The words have another deeper meaning however, they represent the life and legacy of a phenomenal spirit called Liepollo Rantekoa. Liepollo was born …[ read more ]

October 3rd, 2014
Edition: Dakar

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In June of 2014, My Africa Is decided to dive into Dakar, Senegal, a rarely talked about city on the West Coast of Africa. (We focused on Lagos, Nigeria in Season One). Dakar not only boast an amazingly hospitable population being the home of the “Teranga”, but is a secret gem for european tourists, and …[ read more ]

October 3rd, 2014
Get Well Soon, Ashoka

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Today the American network NBC announced publicly that friend (and contributor) of Africa is a Country, Ashoka Mukpo, is the freelance journalist who has been diagnosed with Ebola and is being flown to the United States for treatment (read Ashoka’s thoughts on the root causes of the crisis here on Africa is a Country on September 23rd). As a …[ read more ]

Lodi Matsetela is a former copywriter cum a seasoned scriptwriter, director and a partner in Puo Pha Productions with Makgano Mamabolo. She has worked as a writer on many award-winning South African TV-series. She is the co-creator of the popular TV-series Society, and the director of the short film BFF (Best Friends Forever). Puo Pha Productions has worked …[ read more ]

This article by Lindokuhle Nkosi originally appears on the PASS website. She kindy agreed to let us publish it. Lindokuhle is one of two South Africans partaking in this year’s Invisble Borders project. She documents her encounters here.–Tseliso Monaheng. Jitsvinger is concerned with matters of identity. Language. Land. Becoming. Being. He delves deep into the …[ read more ]

The South African artist Brett Bailey’s installation, “Exhibit B”, was supposed to open on Tuesday, September 23, at The Vaults, a multi-disciplinary space located in underground sections of London’s Waterloo station. The Barbican had hired out the space for Exhibit B. As guests arrived for the opening of Bailey’s show, which featured black actors chained …[ read more ]

This July it was announced that Tim Noakes,who rose to prominence as a respected sports scientist as the University of Cape Town, is in talks with Derek Carstens, former First Rand Bank executive and now Karoo farmer, about improving the diets of farm workers. Noakes, who has a following in Cape Town, has recently gained …[ read more ]

‘Here in Burkina Faso, we put the dust under the carpet… but there are so many things to sweep!’ Interview with Smokey, burkinabè rapper and cofounder of the movement Le Balai Citoyen (The Civic Broom) In Burkina Faso, the president is Blaise Compaoré. And the Burkinabè have had plenty of time to get used to …[ read more ]

Shukri: “Imagine a world in which the first question you would be asked is not ‘Where are you from?’ but ‘What have you read?’ Why should the borders of the nation state into which I was born forever dictate the boundaries of my being?” In 2006, the first photographs of the systematic torture at Abu …[ read more ]

September 30th, 2014
Transgender in Botswana

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“Pula, pula, na, na, ke tla gola leng.” The ethereal club banger “My Body” by Kat Kai Kol-Kes and her band Chasing Jakyb is an ode to the physical meeting of human body and rain. Kat is from Botswana, a country made up of 85 percent desert. Unsurprisingly, rain and water take on a mystical …[ read more ]

“You’ve got a car? It’s less than two hours from here” says a Rasta woman I’ve known for a total of ten minutes. In that time, she’s managed to convince me to travel with her to a town nearby (or was it me trying to convince her?) on a hunt for medicinal herbs. The ganja in …[ read more ]

The essayist T.O. Molefe (he is a contributor here too) has a new op-ed column up at nytimes.com. He writes about “South Africa’s War on Women.” The oped opens with a discussion of why South Africans appear so blase about gender violence. Molefe writes, “… crimes against black lesbians don’t register on the public’s radar amid the …[ read more ]

September 29th, 2014
Can an algorithm be racist?

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Can an algorithm be racist? Google’s translator (the new 2.0 version) works statistically. That Connectivist article (at the link) calls it “the great equalizer.” Unlike the first iteration that was based on the input of grammar rules and vocabulary lists, this one draws from a vast pool of actual texts to produce a softer, truer …[ read more ]

September 29th, 2014
It’s just like Africa!

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Linda de Mol is enormously popular in The Netherlands. She hosts tv game shows, even has her own talk show, speaks German fluently, and moreover, comes across as very approachable. (She also happens to be the sister of John de Mol, the co-founder of Endemol, the company that should be blamed for “Big Brother,” “Deal or …[ read more ]

September 29th, 2014
Make Ignorance History

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I wouldn’t be surprised if the two white South African students—Mark Burman and Ross Bartlett—who donned blackface and dressed up as “Venus and Sarena Williams” at a party at the University of Stellenbosch were sitting around a fire last week to celebrate the Heritage Day holiday. They might have even called their friends doing their gap year …[ read more ]

The second edition of the Hipster’s Don’t Dance 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. Wizkid – In My Bed Last time we did a chart we bemoaned the fact that Wizkid wasn’t releasing his 2nd Lp, …[ read more ]

Mos Def, now living in Cape Town and collaborating with Petite Noir, talking to Dazed Digital. I don’t think that there’s necessarily one sound of Africa. Consider the Blk Jks and The Brother Moves On, those that are into Marimba music and the whole devotional gospel sound like St Vincent and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. You’ll find similarities …[ read more ]

Both domestically and abroad, the issue of sexual harassment has been called a sickness in Egyptian society. Abroad what had previously been framed mostly as an annoyance for female tourists was thrust into the spotlight in 2011 following now infamous and violent attacks on both foreign journalists and local woman during the protests that led …[ read more ]

September 26th, 2014
Hip Hop And Religion

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Off the whim, I asked Kwanele Sosibo if he’d be interested in contributing to the series. He swung me this fascinating, unpublished piece about hip-hop and religion within a South African hip-hop context. Sosibo writes for the Mail and Guardian, and is one of the founding members of The Con–Tseliso Monaheng “You are dealing with heaven, while …[ read more ]

September 25th, 2014
Travelling while black

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It takes a while to blink the light out of my eyes. I’m sitting in the back of a songthaew headed for a bus to Bangkok from Chiang Mai when suddenly the world goes white before returning as an old Italian woman grinning at me from across a pile of backpacks as she admires the …[ read more ]

September 25th, 2014
‘The Italian Joseph Conrad’

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Described by the literary press as the “Italian Joseph Conrad” and “a 20th century Balzac”, Alessandro Spina–the pen name of Basili Shafik Khouzam–was a Syrian Maronite who was born in Benghazi in 1927 and died in Milan in 2013. Despite winning universal critical praise, Spina’s works were mostly ignored: nobody bought them, and nobody read …[ read more ]

September 25th, 2014
The Afropeans are Coming

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Over the next three days, a  group of artists, writers, filmmakers and cultural commentators will meet at Afropea Now!, a a symposium of film screenings, concerts, a workshop and an exhibition taking place at the cultural institution Stadtwerkstatt in Linz, Austria. I am the curator. Last week Africa is a Country asked me to get some of …[ read more ]

Taghreed Elsanhouri directed the first Sudanese film to be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, “All about Darfur,” in 2005. That same year the film also won the Chairperson’s Prize at the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF). Her other credits include ‘Sudanna al Habib’ (2012) and ‘Mother Unknown‘ (2009). This interview is the second …[ read more ]

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