AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

Three years ago, New York was gripped by the legal battle between then-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the woman who accused him of rape—she turned out to be the maid, who had come in to clean his room at the exclusive Sofitel Hotel. Africa is a Country wrote a ton of analysis on the case …[ read more ]

I was sitting in the tube recently and browsing through one of those free morning papers that no one really reads when I stumbled on a new Heathrow Airport ad with the legend: “Only Heathrow takes Britain further.” The ad depicted a Eurocentric world map lacking national borders or state names. Not only is Britain placed …[ read more ]

The following is a guest post from Wolfram Lange, a Brazilian music aficionado based in Rio de Janeiro. A few months ago Sean and I were discussing the upsurge in interest in (Fela Kuti’s) afrobeat music in Brazil. When doing a little research for a post, I came across a great comprehensive mix on Wolfram’s Soundgoods blog. So, …[ read more ]

The platinum strike led by new trade union Association of Mining and Construction Workers Union (AMCU), is now over four months long, making it the longest strike in the history of South Africa. The majority of the country’s English language newspapers depict the strike as a result of the greedy and unethical leadership of AMCU …[ read more ]

Sometime last year, I attended an exhibition opening entitled “Dreams Close To Home” at the Two by Two Art Studio in Newtown, Johannesburg. It was the culmination of a self-initiated project by the artists Lisolomzi Pikoli (Fuzzy Slipperz, illustrator), Skhumbuzo Vabaza (Skubalisto, illustrator), and Karabo Mooki (Mooki Mooks, photographer) which saw them go across parts of South …[ read more ]

Sixty five years ago, Margaret Bourke-White traveled to South Africa, and spent some time in what are today known as the Worcester winelands, in the Western Cape. According to South African Tourism, still today “the largest wine growing area in South Africa, stretch from the Hex River Valley in the north to Villiersdorp in the …[ read more ]

The whole election seems to have been pretty dodgy. From the outside it looks like all major parties have tried to cook the electoral books with some intense rigging, and the consensus is that it’s by far the closest election Malawi has ever had. Of the candidates, we suspect Joyce Banda is the best of a …[ read more ]

I got the chance to be part of the Redbull Basscamp in Johannesburg during October 2013. For six days, a unique cross-section of hand picked South African musicians holed up in central Johannesburg for lectures from music industry heavyweights in the morning (Hugh Masekela stopped by), followed in the afternoon by studio sessions which would, at times, stretch …[ read more ]

When exactly did #BringBackOur Girls jump the shark and become less about 200+ kidnapped girls and the lack of regard their government has for their safety, but more about every B-lister, politician (and his wife) attempting to use the girls’ disappeared bodies in order to make themselves more visible? Was it when model Irina Shayk, that champion …[ read more ]

Influenced by the Mexican muralists of the 1930s and ‘40s, and also by the German Expressionists, the South African artist Peter Clarke (who passed away at the age of 85 on April 13, 2104)  built his reputation as a narrative artist with a distinctive, bold graphic style and is best known for his subtle depictions …[ read more ]

In 1808 forces loyal to the Fulani scholar Shehu Othman dan Fodiyo advanced on Bornu, one of the great Muslim empires of West Africa, rolling it right back to the swampy fringes of Lake Chad. The Mai of Bornu, the leader of the Muslims, fled into exile and the empire’s capital, Ngazargamu, fell to the …[ read more ]

Two weeks ago, Club Zen in downtown Johannesburg got packed to its rafters with hip-hop afficionados who came by the carloads to support Scrambles4Money, a South African battle rap circuit established in 2012. The auspicious Talk is Cheap event, now in its second installment, had Johannesburg’s Tumi Molekane and Atlanta’s Ness Lee as headliners. Tumi, a …[ read more ]

There are so many problems in Nigeria, true. But it bears reiterating that we’ve not even correctly identified the biggest one of them… Our biggest problem is not the fact that we are an artificial country. Asides Japan and Somalia, I can’t think of many other “real” country. Our biggest problem is not Islam. Brunei, …[ read more ]

May 19th, 2014
Nollywood in Paris

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The Nigerian Diaspora has always been the main vehicle of Nollywood’s expansion, namely in cities like London, New York and Toronto among other places. The city of Paris on the other hand, was not included in this and did not develop any special relationship with Nollywood. If Paris is undoubtedly an African culture hotspot, the attention …[ read more ]

The evidence of material on African cities does not inspire confidence.  They are increasingly overcrowded with no clear plan for matching population growth to available facilities.  Sewage and garbage disposal are perennial problems. Laboring street children are everywhere. The hope some five decades ago when many countries gained freedom from their former colonial masters was …[ read more ]

I visited Rwanda roughly a year after the genocide. On July 22, 1995, I went to Ntarama, about an hour and a half by car from Kigali, on a dirt road going south toward the Burundi border. We arrived at a village church, made of brick and covered with iron sheets. Outside there was a …[ read more ]

In The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin frames the crux of his consideration of cultural and personal awareness: “It is the responsibility of free men to trust and to celebrate what is constant—birth, struggle, and death are constant, and so is love, though we may not think so—and to apprehend the nature of change” (Baldwin, …[ read more ]

Despite its much lauded, progressive marriage equality laws, South Africa can be a shit place for gay people, especially black lesbians living in poor neighborhoods, but then this also happens there: Olympian Caster Semenya has announced that she wants to spend the rest of her life with her girlfriend. The news of the engagement (and …[ read more ]

Vocativ, is what some trust for a news source in the United States. An American news-aggregator accessing the ‘deep web’ for information in a bid to report the world in slick packaging that uses dramatic music and oversized fonts to really DRIVE HOME A POINT. I get it. A bit like VICE. It is also …[ read more ]

The Cape Town suburb of Observatory is known for being a small bohemian enclave, providing low cost housing for students, artists and ‘free spirits’ of all sorts. Walk down Lower Main Road past the quaint mini-Victorian houses and sushi restaurants, and you’ll find all the familiar student-town tropes: aging hippies, overpriced vintage clothing, and laptop-ridden …[ read more ]

Everyone on the one hand is fundamentally capable of paying his dues. But no one pays their dues willingly. . . As long as you think there’s some way to get through life without paying your dues, you’re going to be bankrupt. . . And the very question now is precisely what we’ve got in …[ read more ]

Glenna Gordon is a freelance photographer based in Brooklyn. She takes evocative pictures of everyday life in Nigeria, showing a special interest in Northern Nigeria. In this interview, Glenna opens up on misconceptions of the north, what drives her as a photographer and storyteller, the ways in which she captures intimate moments and her most …[ read more ]

There have been growing calls for the balkanisation of Nigeria by various groups, so we want to look at what led to Yugoslavia. The South Slavs are a subgroup of the Slavic people. They inhabit the Balkan Peninsula, southern Pannonia and the eastern Alps. In language and customs, these peoples, Bosniaks, Bulgarians, Croats, Macedonians, Montenegrins, …[ read more ]

When Thamsanqa Jantjie first burst onto the international scene he caused a media frenzy. A fraudulent sign language interpreter who swindled his way into Mandela’s funeral and rubbed shoulders with world leaders in an event that was at the center of the world stage – newsroom high fives all round. Even more tantalizing were the …[ read more ]

On April 24, style icon and queen of neo-soul, Erykah Badu performed for King Mswati III–the absolute ruler of Swaziland since 1986 when, at 18, he succeeded his father King Sobhuza III–at his birthday party. When the word got out, Badu was met with criticism from two US-based human rights organisations on the democratic, but often …[ read more ]

May 9th, 2014
Whining white people*

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Can all the whining white people all over Twitter and Facebook please shut up? Just shut up. Stop talking about how stupid ANC voters are. Stop talking about how you’re convinced the EFF are going to kill you in your sleep. Stop calling people baboons. Stop behaving like Helen Zille is the true saviour of …[ read more ]

Just in time for the weekend, episode 2 of Africa is a Country Radio is here! (It went live first on Groovalizacion last week.) This month’s episode opens with a dedication to Suriname, and ends with an audio accompaniment to Sarah Ladipo Manyika’s blog post: “News from Nigeria.” There’s lot’s of fun stuff in between as well, check …[ read more ]

At first sight, the results for national and provincial elections in South Africa may suggest that little has changed. The ANC still got more than 60% of the national vote (despite its poor leadership); the largest parliamentary opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, did not significantly increase its share of the national vote (it is still very …[ read more ]

May 9th, 2014
Nigeria’s baby boom

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Yesterday, a statement was credited to Bob Diamond, former CEO of Barclays, who is attending the World Economic Jamboree in Abuja. Mr. Diamond is credited with saying that, “Nigeria is the place to be if you want manufacture diapers.” Mr. Diamond is right on that count. But, that statement is not just about diapers, neither …[ read more ]

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 ]

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