AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

On Friday 2nd, Elnathan John and I met with Dr Jibrin Ibrahim for the second episode of our Naija Podcast series (here’s the first episode). In 45 minutes, we discussed three hot topics: the question of Fulani pastoralism and conflict in the North and Middle Belt; Boko Haram and finally the ongoing National Conference. For …[ read more ]

As I write this, I am eerily reminded that in Ethiopia, expressing your views can get you a first class ticket to prison. From April 25 to 26, 2014, nine Ethiopian bloggers and journalists were arrested. As we celebrated World Press Freedom Day on Saturday, they were being detained in Addis Ababa’s notorious central investigation …[ read more ]

Jean Francois Bayart uses the Cameroonian term “politics of the belly” to describe patron-client relations in West African politics. Politicians distribute goods – filling the bellies of clients – in return for political loyalty, obviating the need for democracy and instituting alternative and sometimes moral forms of accountability. “It’s our time to chop” likewise captures …[ read more ]

“Like so many (wildly varying) writers on Africa, Chimamanda Adichie gets the acacia tree sunset treatment. Whether Wilbur Smith or Wole Soyinka, Rider Haggard or Bessie Head, apparently you get the same cover imagery.” We’re obliged to Simon Stevens, a reader who put together the picture above and pointed out that whoever you are, wherever …[ read more ]

I came across this image taken by a press photographer in May 1990 after one of the first public meetings between the last white minority government and the liberation movement (led by the ANC), to negotiate a new political order. This was the ANC delegation to that meeting in Cape Town. The people in the image …[ read more ]

Having been hosted by the likes of DJ Ready D, Big Dre, Shameen, and Wanda, just to mention a few, Headwarmaz is now in the hands of the new generation of Cape Town hip hop in the form of Andiswa Mkosi and myself (Sabelo Mkhabela). I am a rapper in my own right but more …[ read more ]

Recent public commentary has celebrated the virtues of a competitive electoral market in South Africa. The common argument is that the emergence of new political formations on the electoral landscape provides space for increased competition to have a real and meaningful impact on the quality of governance. If followed to its logical conclusion, what this …[ read more ]

Like Musa Okwonga, I was not going to write about Jeremy Clarkson mumbling the n-word and feigning indignation at the slap on the wrist he received from the BBC over it. Much like the time he proudly announced he’d named his black Scottish terrier Didier Drogba, or any of the numerous other racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist, anti-worker, anti-immigrant, …[ read more ]

Like so many others I am glad to see more people around the world take up the issue of the school girls who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago from Chibok in the north east region of Nigeria. I am relieved to see people of different backgrounds, in my social media feeds join the …[ read more ]

Back To The City is a hip-hop and street fashion festival held in Johannesburg’s Newtown Precinct every year on April 27th, South Africa’s Freedom Day. The festival has seen unprecedented growth since its inception in 2006. From a free festival held on one stage under the M1 highway, Back To The City now boasts, among …[ read more ]

“in SEARCH of FREEDOM” is a monthly video journal filmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, offering a glimpse of my quest in the motherland with other afro-european artists such as Badi and Monique Mbeka Phoba. EDITION 01 : arriving in the capital Kinshasa and stunting on the road. EDITION 02 : greeting the (he)art …[ read more ]

Stories shift quickly in our 24-hour news cycle. The sensational tale of Rwanda’s gospel-singer-terrorist is no exception. Authorities have attempted to shape the narrative and control the headlines. For better or worse, Rwanda’s embrace of social media allows us to see how a most clickable story unfolds, and changes, over a few weeks. Kizito Mihigo has long …[ read more ]

Last week, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation held an election debate in Cape Town, in the Western Cape, on intergenerational justice. It would have been great if some terms, like intergenerational justice, had been framed more definitively beforehand. I imagine many people take the term to be a call for a moderation of economic …[ read more ]

With no Volume to his name, it seemed almost impossible to imagine South Africa-based self-proclaimed poet/emcee Tumi Molekane as a solo artist. He had released two albums before forming a band: A dream led to this and Tao of Tumi, the latter which, if memory serves right, had an accompanying anthology. Yet it’s the years between 2002 …[ read more ]

Remember Vogue Italia’s Rebranding Africa issue? (Elliot Ross got jealous and denigrated Ban Ki Moon’s cover model shot in an epic post.) Seriously, though, it looks like the editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani, who came up with that brainchild, hadn’t yet been informed why the issue was a flop. Because since then, Vogue Italia has forwarded the …[ read more ]

Throughout the 2000s, Zackie Achmat led what was probably the most recognizable multi-class, mass social movement in South Africa, outside of the wide support enjoyed by the ANC or its trade union ally. Though the Treatment Action Campaign openly clashed with the government led by then ANC President, Thabo Mbeki, and adopted a number of activist …[ read more ]

Two years ago, Abdoulaye Wade, after 12 of years in power as Senegal’s President, lost his post in an election against his former Prime Minister, Macky Sall. Wade decamped to the wealthy Versailles suburb in Paris (his wife is French and he lived there during exile from Senghor’s regime). Last week he returned to Senegal. …[ read more ]

Last week, Guardian lead writer Anne Perkins wondered about the discrepancy between media coverage of the South Korean ferry tragedy and the abduction of 200 girls from a girls’ school in Chibok, in Borno State, in northeastern Nigeria. She asked why there was so much coverage of the Korean children who died in a ferry …[ read more ]

A small group of Colombians expatriates who have been living for several years in Johannesburg and Cape Town organized the first all-Colombian film festival in South Africa: SUR. The festival’s name translates as ‘south’ in Spanish. According to their organizers, activist Marcela Guerrero and journalist Salym Fayad, this festival is an effort to show how much their native South …[ read more ]

April 30th, 2014
To discover Stuart Hall …

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To discover Hall is to discover the immense possibility of being different. I first encountered Stuart Hall: on the radio. After a crisp introduction from the BBC presenter, Stuart Hall’s velvet voice and articulated conviction filled the room. For 45 minutes I listened captivated as Hall recounted his childhood in Jamaica and his time as …[ read more ]

Victor Ehikhamenor’s images always work as a proliferation of forms. It’s the sort of proliferation that explodes in your face, making the shapes and objects something other than shapes and objects. Too much is happening, which is the imperative for this transaction—no space is left uncontained. These images and objects embody forms; to uncover any …[ read more ]

In January this year, President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Anti-Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act into law. According to a NOI Polls survey conducted in June 2013, 92% of Nigerians support the legislation, giving Nigeria the second-highest rate of non-acceptance of homosexuality out of 45 countries surveyed.  This apparent homophobia is at variance with Google analytics, …[ read more ]

What is most pleasing about Meleko Mokgosi’s work is also what many find elusive in contemporary artwork, the combination of both technical mastery and thought provoking concept. Even as I look at his works as images on a screen, removed from the objects themselves, the rich colors, skillful draftsmanship, and inventive use of space are …[ read more ]

Today we will be discussing the first oil war, which was fought in the 19th century, in the area that became Nigeria. All through the 19th century, palm oil was highly sought-after by the British, for use as an industrial lubricant for machinery. Remember that Britain was the world’s first industrialised nation, so they needed …[ read more ]

I remember it like it was yesterday. My older brother had just returned from his freshman year of secondary school and the loud engine of my father’s old Nissan Stanza pulling into the compound had sent us all rushing to welcome him. Amidst my parents chatter about his grades and how he’d lost weight, my …[ read more ]

A few days ago, The Economist explained why violence against women in South Africa is not as bad as we think. The magazine’s effort to set some inflated accounts of violence straight was stirred by (what else) the trial of the South African paralympic Oscar Pistorius who killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. While the trial itself …[ read more ]

On May 7th South Africans go to the polls to vote for national and provincial representatives (the majority party gets to pick the President and the Cabinet). In the lead up to the election, we’ll carry a few pieces. The series starts today, the 20th anniversary of the April 1994 elections–the country’s first democratic elections in …[ read more ]

April 25th, 2014
News from Nigeria

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I told my son that he would get his first sense of things as soon as we boarded the flight. Planes bound for Lagos, I told him, were filled with black people and not just in economy but in first and business class too. Lagos, capital of the Black Atlantic and megacity of nearly twenty …[ read more ]

“Portraits of Reconciliation,”–the photo-essay commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide–published recently in the New York Times, is a deeply disturbing piece of journalism.  Profoundly banal, the subtitle states, “20 years after the genocide in Rwanda, reconciliation still happens one encounter at a time.” Repetitive and reductive,  the narrative reduces violence to a set of meaningless …[ read more ]

It baffles us why politicians and public agencies–especially unpopular ones–think they can still control their images in the age of social media. Take the New York Police Department’s @NYPDNews account on Twitter to #MyNYPD campaign to solicit members of the public for photos they took with officers. Instead, Twitter users hijacked the hashtag with photos …[ read more ]

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