AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

Africa is a Country has written plenty in the past on problematic advertising, particularly that which rides on racial and sexist stereotypes, and tropes about the African continent. Invariably, the common thread that runs through many of these ads—especially the ones that ostensibly promote a social cause, like SAB’s victim-blaming‘You Decide’ billboard or Woolworths’ black labourers-white …[ read more ]

July 13th, 2014
Christmas Day*

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UPDATED: So there you have it. After 120 minutes and a great goal by Mario Goetze (whose name will now be part of German lore like Gert Muller and Andreas Brehme), Germany are World champions. It’s been a magical month. But it is also basically the last time (till the next World Cup in four years) …[ read more ]

Last year, while on a visit to LA, Sean met artists Carolyn Castaño and Gary Dauphin at a friend’s house in Echo Park. Of course, conversation veered to futbol. Sean had known about their work for a while (Back in the day, Gary–who also reps for Haiti–was one of the key figures at Africana.com–a sort …[ read more ]

July 13th, 2014
The Final Report

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Today the 2014 World Cup in Brazil ends. It was a fun ride, and I don’t think that anyone will disagree that this has been an unforgettable month of international sport, politics, and drama both on and off the field. The video below is my attempt at showing another side of Rio de Janeiro and a few …[ read more ]

Did Cameroon’s police really quiz national soccer team captain Samuel Eto’o and seize his passport in connection with a government investigation into the terrible performance of the Indomitable Lions at the World Cup? After brouhaha of claims and denials in recent days, the answer seems to be another question: who knows? But Far less ambiguous …[ read more ]

Inyambo Imenda is the birth name of producer Nyambz (or Nyambo). He went to high school in the proverbial ‘middle of nowhere’ — a small town called Harrismith in South Africa’s Free State Province where him and a rapper friend started making music. “There wasn’t any hip-hop scene; nobody was making beats,” he says of the place. Necessity, …[ read more ]

On the Ock YouTube channel, two young men introduce themselves and say “they’re going to the hood” to play pranks. These pranks consist of things like fake farting on people, stealing peoples’ phones to check the time, stealing people’s gas, or just yesterday, “Selling Guns In The Hood Prank!” Combined, the videos have been viewed close to a …[ read more ]

In Chicago literary scholar Lauren Berlant’s formulation, cruel optimism describes an object of desire that is, in her words, “actually an obstacle to your flourishing.” This optimism becomes cruel, she explains, “when the object that draws your attachment actively impedes the aim that brought you to it initially.” One example she gives, drawing upon the …[ read more ]

July 9th, 2014
Shooting Lagos

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In February of 2013, I made a hurried decision to head to Lagos, in an attempt to shoot a pilot season for My Africa Is,  an ongoing web documentary series, that aims to dispute the one dimensional portrayal of the African continent. We had been seeking funding for quite some time, and it just wasn’t …[ read more ]

Umlilo (previously profiled on Africa is a Country here) continues to push societal boundaries, crushing the norms of sexuality and gender roles with ‘Magic Man’, a track from his latest album, which will be released in July 2014. Watch the making of the music video and hear his thoughts on circus troops, being an outcast …[ read more ]

My Word! Redesigning Buckingham Palace, is a one-man play, written by Sylvia Vollenhoven and performed by co-writer and actor, Basil Appollis. It is based on the life and work of the writer, Richard Rive, who grew up in District Six and wrote about the community and it’s characters such as Mary Bruintjies, who ran a …[ read more ]

July 8th, 2014
Dreadlocked Rapunzel

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Lately, there’s been some good rumbling about the dearth of stories that include characters of color (a New York Times critique, a “Top 10 Guide” in The Guardian, 30 Classics on The Griot) . As a father with a young daughter who’s been asking those difficult questions about her place in the world and how she sees herself …[ read more ]

BE.BOP (Black Europe & Body Politics) presents yet another important edition titled Spiritual Revolutions & “The Scramble for Africa” this year. For those not familiar with this groundbreaking project, BE.BOP is a curatorial project, in co-production with Ballhaus Naunynstrasse, that includes exhibitions, presentations, screenings and roundtables by artists (amongst others) from the Black European Diaspora. This …[ read more ]

We published “Neymar and the Disappearing Donkey” (to coincide with the World Cup in Brazil) on June 17th. The story included a list of race-colors from a 1976 study done in Brazil. On June 22 the big-time news agency AP published a “story” which basically consisted of the list. That story’s been repeated /shared / …[ read more ]

At this year’s edition of Roskilde Festival outside Copenhagen in Denmark, guests were invited to join a group of brave, self-declared, male Imperialists from Denmark on an African Expedition, circa 1814. The themed festival camp entitled Afrika-Expeditionen was set up by a group Danish of experts in various scientific fields, such as (French) Security, Medicine, Ethnography, …[ read more ]

When Israeli activist Dafna Lichtamn got home from Mozambique two months ago, she had a layover in Addis Ababa airport. Walking around the main Ethiopian airport she suddenly ran into an old friend, Sadik Alsadik, an asylum seeker from Darfur who had spent the past five years in Israel. When Lichtman met him it was his …[ read more ]

Listening to Mauritanian singer Noura Mint Seymali’s newest album Tzenni is like enjoying a complex and meticulously prepared meal. Like an aromatic spice, her striking voice adds richness to each song, combining gorgeously with guitar, bass, drums and the ardine – a Mauritanian string instrument. Some of the songs are even named for types of …[ read more ]

The Amsterdam court ruling on Dutch blackface hero Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) yesterday quickly went viral. But what does the ruling really mean. In a nutshell: an Amsterdam judge did not forbid the figure of Black Pete, but ruled that Zwarte Piet “is a negative stereotype of black people and the city must rethink its involvement in holiday celebrations involving …[ read more ]

The Mexican writer Alma Guillermoprieto declared this World Cup “the best ever.” Few can disagree. A total of 136 goals were scored in 48 group matches and another 18 in the 8 matches of the last round.  Not everything is surprising: with the exception of Costa Rica, all the top seeds made it to the …[ read more ]

I’m shortening the name of Africa is a Country Radio. From now on (save for when I slip up) the show will be known as Africa is a Radio! This month’s show dives fully (rather than the toe dip of last month) into World Cup fever with a show that features 16 songs for the …[ read more ]

How do you tell a story about African liberation through the lens of an outsider? Concerning Violence: Nine Scenes from the Anti-Imperialistic Self-Defense, the 2014 documentary by Swedish filmmaker Göran Olsson, attempts to answer this question through presenting a sequence of episodes in the struggle for liberation in colonial Africa. Consisting exclusively of footage drawn from …[ read more ]

Islamic hymns emanated from street food carts on Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens, in observance of Ramadan. At Cafe Borbone, a non-descript Italian coffeehouse nearby, a middle-aged, working-class, almost all-male crowd gathered for Algeria’s maiden knockout round appearance, with not even a glass of water in sight, a far cry from the chic shisha bars …[ read more ]

Singing or rapping off key in an expensive or sometime low budget music video is now a cottage industry in the rabbit hole that makes up Youtube.   The African diaspora have not been spared. The pioneer of this subgenre was Bangs, the Sudanese-Australian rapper (see here for an “archive” of his exploits), then came the American …[ read more ]

Almost fifteen years ago, I saw David Goldblatt’s photographs in Rotterdam, at the Netherlands Architecture Institute. They were small and unobtrusive, and I stood before them, very moved. Subsequently, as I learned the story of South Africa through literature, theory, history books, Goldblatt’s work—and later, other photographers’ work—was my real entry. In a way, I …[ read more ]

Vivian Maier, the nanny turned street photographer, who has found fame posthumously, now a subject of the documentary ‘Finding Vivian Maier’ (trailer below), was a recluse in the exaggerated form.  With a recluse like the film director, Terrence Malick, it is at least known that he directed the Oscar winning film ‘Days of Heaven’ in …[ read more ]

I can’t recall when I first fell in love with hip-hop, but I do know that the first song I transcribed was Coolio’s ‘Gangster’s paradise.’ Transcribing lyrics in ‘songbooks’ was a big deal in the mid-nineties; it was shortly before I discovered that oohla.com existed, around the same time I was heavy into the culture …[ read more ]

July 1st, 2014
Dear Ann Coulter …

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Ann Coulter, an American columnist who makes Richard Littlejohn and Donald Rumsfeld look like easy-going lefties, has finally written about football, having “held off on writing about soccer for a decade — or about the length of the average soccer game – so as not to offend anyone” (Note to Ann: a soccer game is …[ read more ]

“What do you like about the guy?” asked a friend after I told them about an album listening session the rapper AKA had hosted a day earlier. “I don’t know, I don’t get the guy; and maybe I never will,” continued the friend emphatically. It felt like they should’ve added: “is there anything of artistic value …[ read more ]

Often the biographical genre puts the burden of accountability on the subject written about than it reveals about the writer. Bongani Madondo craftly debunks that in his sophomore project, I’m Not Your Weekend Special, a collection of essays penned about the siren Brenda Fassie. The book invites lesser-known individuals such as Mmabatho Selemela, to heralded …[ read more ]

Their stage act resembles an inside joke; they play tricks on the audience with a wry sense of humour which underlies the whole scenario. The guitarist will sommer play a lick off of a well-known song of theirs (‘76’ and ‘People of the light‘ come to mind) before bouncing right back into material from their …[ read more ]

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