AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

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 ]

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 ]

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