AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

September 17th, 2014
Africa is a Radio: Epsiode 5

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Africa is a Radio went on break last month along with Africa is a Country, so I’m just now able to get to posting July’s show here. This episode focuses on South African Hip Hop, both commercial and underground with a special report from Pretoria by Ts’eliso Mohaneng. Enjoy, and look out for September’s Episode …[ read more ]

Last week a building that was part of the complex that is the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, Nigeria (‘pastor': TB Joshua) collapsed. When the story was first reported on Friday, the death toll stood at 3 people.  Then yesterday, the South African President Jacob Zuma announced that “at least 67 South Africans were killed.” Nigerian …[ read more ]

Every now and then, its seems as if there is nothing new out there. Everything seems derivative, repetitive or just plain bland. As a filmmaker, I sometimes go through moments of extreme lack of inspiration; and even question my choice of career. And then an unexpected spark happens to light the way. Beats of the …[ read more ]

This is Africa is prone to tabloid headlines (they’ve been running tons of sex related posts lately), but Nigerian journalist Chiagozie Nwonwu‘s interview with Binyavanga Wainaina (writer, commentator, rights defender “a public figure, not D’Banj, but with enough people”) is worth all the sensationalism. In the interview, Binyavanga covers a lot of ground: Nigerians moving to Nairobi, …[ read more ]

“Should Scotland be an independent country?” That is the question Scots will be asked when they go to the polls on September 18th. The outcome of the vote will have a significant impact on the future of Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. More interestingly, this referendum is being closely watched in a …[ read more ]

September 13th, 2014
The Resurrection of Nat Nakasa

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“This is Simply a Personal Statement from Me to You” On August 18th I attended the memorial service for Nat Nakasa at the Broadway Presbyterian Church in Harlem.  What began as a somber event quickly turned joyous as we celebrated the South African writer and editor’s long overdue trip home. With isiZulu songs echoing off …[ read more ]

The Economist has a slavery problem, as Greg Grandin has recently called it. Grandin’s wonderful article is a response to a series of lamentable book reviews published by The Economist that deal with the topic of slavery: Grandin’s own The Empire of Necessity, and more recently Edward Baptist’s The Half Has NeverBeen Told. The list goes on, as Grandin reports. But, …[ read more ]

The South African RW Johnson has undergone a transformation of youthful radical to smug “anti-apartheid” liberal anti-communist and scholar of the French Left (think Tony Judt-lite), resulting in the final incarnation of a  pompous red-faced “liberal” colonial academic flinging reductionist tribal stereotypes into the public sphere. His intellectual credibility was forfeited a few years ago …[ read more ]

Earlier this week Sepp Blatter, defending FIFA’s decision to not rescind its decision to award Russia the World Cup in 2018, said “Boycotts in sport never has had any benefit.” Watch it here for yourself. As 101GreatGoals.com, a site not usually know for its progressive politics (they usually line up behind the worst aspects of …[ read more ]

September 8th, 2014
Prayer in the time of Ebola

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News of Ebola in West Africa immediately sent me back to the spring of 1974, when another highly contagious and deadly hemorrhagic virus known as Lassa fever swept through my hometown of Jos, Nigeria. All through that hot and dry season, people drove straight through my city with their car windows closed, even though they …[ read more ]

August 1st, 2014
We will be back tomorrow

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Starting this morning, we begin our annual month-long break from this site (we’ll still be active on social media–Facebook and on Twitter and Twitter again). We’ll be back after Labor Day (the Americans’ poor excuse for May Day) at the start of September.  In the meantime, this is a good time to revisit our greatest hits from …[ read more ]

We often hear political and business leaders and Africanists talk about the need to “tell the African story.” For us, “tell the African story” means nothing. In other words, it is a cliché of no value. We don’t know what it is supposed to mean. It may be that the idea of a definitive “African story” gains …[ read more ]

On Monday, a woman walked towards the giant Mandela statue at Nelson Mandela square in Sandton, Johannesburg and stripped naked until security guard came to remove her as demonstrated in the cellphone images that were captured and distributed on social media by bystanders. It is not clear who this woman is or why she did …[ read more ]

Last week, a classified ad appeared in a Colombian newspaper. It read, in the broken language of pay-per-word ads: A female surgeon doctor with college degree Internship in Clinic Inscription. 25-30 years old, of white skin. Needed, a personal interview Dr. Guarín, next July, 22nd, 10 A.m. Soon every news outlet in the country, as well …[ read more ]

Come Back Africa (dir. Lionel Rogosin), Mapantsula (dir. Oliver Schmitz) and Tsotsi (dir. Gavin Hood) mark three distinct eras in South African cinema. The oldest of the three, Come Back Africa, shot secretly in the late 1950s, shows the routine violence of the apartheid state. The viewer experiences the monotony of social exclusion through the …[ read more ]

The film, Diaries of a Dissident Poet, follows poet James Matthews around Cape Town, tracking him during a year, from his 83rd to 84th birthday. It opens with a small celebration of his 83rd at the District Six Homecoming Centre in (downtown Cape Town) and moves on to scenes of him in conversation or banter with …[ read more ]

Historically known for a relaxed pace of life, Mombasa on Kenya’s coast has also been a regional hub for business, trade and tourism. Its population is diverse; recent figures indicate the city is divided between Christians and Muslims (59% and 41%, respectively), with one-third of inhabitants also originating from outside of the region. Along with …[ read more ]

On January 23 this year the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), a firebrand breakaway of the COSATU-affiliated National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), took an estimated 50,000 mineworkers to the plateaus of Rustenburg to demand a R12,500 (about US$1,250) basic salary. For months – without pay, their families going hungry and their spirits waning …[ read more ]

It’s a little over two decades ago that South Africa’s Whites Only schools began to ‘welcome’ Black students (African, Coloured and Indian) students into their classrooms. Guided by the official principles of multiculturalism and equality, many a White teacher witnessed his or her classroom diversify. In response, many of them adopted the rhetoric of ‘color …[ read more ]

For the next four years, the world is celebrating the Centenary of World War I,  and once again Africa is not invited to the party. The story of Africans’ involvement in the Great War is unheard of outside of academia, and thus remains to be told: the tens of thousands of African lives lost at …[ read more ]

Last week the second Cape Town World Music Festival (CTWMF) took place, and warmed up a very cold and wet “Mother City” weekend. The notoriously lax Cape Town audience (myself included) got out from under our duvets to check out some of the best bands in South Africa, as well as some international acts, such as …[ read more ]

The current conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has once again brought to the forefront the suffering of the Palestinian people. It has reignited the debate on collective punishment they are made to endure as well as the unequal application of firepower by Israel.  After close to 20 days of Israeli air raids followed by a …[ read more ]

July 28th, 2014
Africa’s Last Colony

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Earlier this year I flew to the Algerian military town of Tindouf, as part of a Vice News crew, to help make a documentary and write an article about the struggle for an independent Western Sahara. Tindouf sits outside a network of five camps housing Sahrawi refugees from the war between Morocco and Polisario, the …[ read more ]

Africa is a Country is proud to present a new partnership with London-based DJ crew Hipster’s Don’t Dance. The British DJ duo with Trinidadian and Nigerian origins are doing an amazing job representing the Atlantic music world to the London massive with their regular parties, and reflecting back their London scene to the world with their outstanding blog, DJ …[ read more ]

Award-winning South African/Nigerian filmmaker Akin Omotoso is the director of the feature films “Man on Ground” and “God Is African“, the documentaries “Wole Soyinka – Child of the Forest,” “Gathering the Scattered Cousins” and the short “Jesus and the Giant” among other films and TV-productions. Omotoso is also an actor, with roles in Andrew Nicol’s Lord …[ read more ]

July 24th, 2014
Walking With Wole Soyinka

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Several times, I have met Professor Wole Soyinka without actually meeting him. It was either in a crowded reading room in Washington D.C. or at some event in Nigeria. As a photographer not as a writer, I really wanted to meet the man away from the usual crowd that surrounds him all the time. I …[ read more ]

You’ve seen the teaser, now see the video. Umlilo, is back with his fifth music video single, ‘Magic Man’ from his upcoming EP, ‘Aluta’.  Produced by Umlilo, ‘Magic Man’ is an electronic fusion of different sounds ranging from dark post-dub with afro-dancehall accents to a baroque synth pop accompanied by Umlilo’s powerful vocals. “Magic Man …[ read more ]

Guess what? Oscar Pistorius, the South African Paralympic champion who is tried for shooting and killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, turns out to be sane. He might still lose his temper, like the other day when VIP-ing it up in a fancy night club in Johannesburg or tweet ill-guided Bible verses, self-celebratory do-good pics or …[ read more ]

July 22nd, 2014
Ethiopian Dream

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Six years ago, as a young, inquisitive and idealistic undergraduate, I traveled to my country of birth, Ethiopia, on a quest to answer one of the toughest questions in political science: how does democracy develop in a poor country with a long-standing history of authoritarian rule? At the time Ethiopia had recently passed through a …[ read more ]

Soyinka turned 80 this year. We learn this in an interview a Nigerian newspaper did with his wife, Folake: “He cooks and he is quite good at it. He even cooked about two days ago. When the boys were really little, one day in California, he called us all to the kitchen and said he wanted …[ read more ]

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