AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

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 ]

Despite these types of troll-y click-bait articles being a dime a dozen each and every World Cup cycle, Jeff Winkler’s piece in the Guardian, “‘Soccer’ is a virus invading America,” deserves special condemnation for how off the mark it is despite its boilerplate ‘ironic not ironic’ facade. This is the kind of trope, built largely …[ read more ]

In 2002 when it debuted, I went to see ‘Amandla: a Revolution in Four-Part Harmony,’ American Lee Hirsch’s film about the role of music in the anti-apartheid struggle. Uplifting and solemn at the same time, I admit, I cried. But I also doubted that the music in the film was the only, or even most …[ read more ]

Those who are playing football there now are walking over dead bodies. Their euphoria and the deaths that occurred there during the hostel violence of the 1990s is a dichotomy that, even as the artist stands in his studio today, is too great to comprehend. He was a boy of about seven then, wandering around, …[ read more ]

June 25th, 2014
The American Ending

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There can be a logic to loss, but often it feels arbitrary. The ground beneath the losing party is unsteady, uncertain. To go by a number of recent pieces, American sports journalism wishes to fix football and steady the ground of loss. There is a longing for happy endings: an ending that is happy for …[ read more ]

It has been a relatively successful World Cup thus far for Africa, save a disappointing Cameroon. Nigeria, Algeria, and Ghana have all enjoyed crucial victories, edging them closer to a rare berth in the knockout round. Many of the European sides, too, have been carried by their players of African origin. The Ivory Coast’s golden …[ read more ]

“Raise your hand up if you’re a hip-hop head” said Lesego Rampolokeng, rallying a house full of poets at a gathering in Melville on a wet Sunday afternoon in 2013. I put mine up, as did a few audience members seated towards the back. The rest sat in the sparsely-occupied restaurant and gazed at the ones who …[ read more ]

With the increased attention on Brazil since the Cup started, I’ve noticed non-Brazilians trying to figure out what exactly is going on with Brazilian racial politics. I’ll tell you it’s not an easy task. It’s taken me months to grasp even an idea of what’s going on with race while learning the culture, the language, and the layout …[ read more ]

Most of Mozambique’s music stars and musical genres known abroad come from the south of the country and the capital Maputo. That’s why Wired for Sound—the mobile recording studio we wrote about previously—toured the central and northern regions of Mozambique to record some new sounds from young musicians, new and established bands, and more traditional choirs. What they …[ read more ]

I’ve stopped going to Fan Fests. I’m tired, I didn’t pace myself. A month is a long time, and new arrivals seem to come every day. World Cup tourists have an endless number of substitutions. They’re always feeling fresh for the party. The knock out stages start soon. Big European teams – former American colonizers …[ read more ]

June 23rd, 2014
Neymar e o burro em fuga

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No momento em que você lê este texto, é bem provável que toda pessoa do planeta já saiba quem é Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior. A imagem acima é de Neymar, 10 dias atrás. Neymar, há um ano: Esta é de três anos atrás: Este é o Neymar de cinco anos atrás: O pequeno Neymar …[ read more ]

Salma Yaqoob confronts Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith on poverty, austerity and the government’s labelling of those on benefits as “scroungers” | BBC Question Time, 12 June 2014: So glad that Yaqoob said this. Like so many, I’ve been disgusted by the vilification of poor people under the current British government, and the political impunity …[ read more ]

A four day national holiday that kicked off the cup ended on Monday, so the city has been attempting to return to somewhat of its normal routine. Brazilians have gone back to work, and over the past few days in Copacabana and Ipanema, we’ve seen a transition of fans, from a flood of Argentinians to …[ read more ]

Race in Brazil has never been simple. In the midst of the protests leading up to the current World Cup, all eyes turned to Brazilian soccer players as yet another object lesson in blackness, racism and Africanity in the former Portuguese colony. The polemical fallout under the banner “We are all monkeys,” which emerged from …[ read more ]

One late afternoon while milling about at the University of Cape Town’s main campus, I ran into Adam Haupt, the Associate Professor of Media Studies who’s authored books such as Static: Race and Representation in Post-Apartheid Music, Media and Film, and Stealing Empire: P2P, Intellectual Property and Hip-Hop Subversion. I had known of Adam (or Dr. Hip-Hop) through …[ read more ]

Halfway through my visit to the International Exhibition of this year’s ambitious edition of Dak’art: the 11th Biennale of Contemporary African Art, a tray of fragrant Thieboudienne, the classic Senegalese dish, was brought out into the courtyard of the Village de la Biennale, located in former television studios on the busy Route de Rufisque in …[ read more ]

We’re making the documentary film, FRAMED, because we recognize a lot of Americans want to do good in Africa, with the best of intentions, but the way they go about it often doesn’t play out well for Africans. In western pop culture, we’re still seeing images of Africans as helpless, hopeless and without any ideas …[ read more ]

The fate of World Cup draws has fostered an unlikely rivalry between Ghana and the United States. In 2006, Ghana dispatched the U.S. in Germany. Four years later, in South Africa, the Black Stars sunk American hearts in the first knockout round, courtesy of an extra-time goal from Asamoah Gyan. Passion runs so deep for Ghana’s …[ read more ]

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