AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

Cape Town

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Thursday, July 31st, 2014

James Matthews being James Matthews

The film, Diaries of a Dissident Poet, follows poet James Matthews around Cape Town, tracking him during a year, from his 83rd to 84th birthday. It opens with a small celebration of his 83rd at the District Six Homecoming Centre in (downtown Cape Town) and moves on to scenes of him in conversation or banter with

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

It may be time to drop the ‘world music’ label (and The Brother Moves On has something to say about it)

Last week the second Cape Town World Music Festival (CTWMF) took place, and warmed up a very cold and wet “Mother City” weekend. The notoriously lax Cape Town audience (myself included) got out from under our duvets to...

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

The film about the small businessman who took on the bread cartel

“Crumbs–Toppling the Bread Cartel” is the inside story of a Cape Town businessman, Imraahn Mukaddam’s fight for social justice and the personal cost of blowing the whistle on corporate greed.  To fill you in: in late 2006...

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Film Review: “The Good Man” and relegating good intentions to the dustbin

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...

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Buckingham Palace, Cape Town

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...

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Discovering Prophets Of Da City

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...

Monday, May 26th, 2014

The Fader goes to Cape Town

So I’ve been following the Sprite Obey You Collective video series on The Fader website. They have been profiling some young South Africans doing great things. I liked the idea. I saw the Okmaloomkat clip. I liked...

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

Kickin’ It With Christian Tiger School

I arrive in Braamfontein twenty minutes early, at 6pm, for a meeting with Sebastiano Zenasi (or Seb), Luc Vermeer, and their manager Aaron Peters. It’s the night of their album launch, their second since 2012’s Third Floor...

Monday, May 12th, 2014

The music that changed my life

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...

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Peter Clarke–In Memoriam

Peter Clarke. It is such sad news to hear of his passing quietly in the middle of the night on Sunday 13 April. His body is gone but his art remains - bearing witness, etched into memory....

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Jazz in Cape Town

In Cape Town jazz here is not just jazz. It’s a whole lot more. For one, it is a dance style that continues to be the predominant feature of successive generations of Cape Flats families. Almost similar...

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Weekend in Stellenbosch

On Sunday, walking past the Exclusive Books store, it was interesting to see Kees van der Waal’s new edited text, Winelands, Work and Wealth: Transformations in the Dwars Valley prominently displayed in the window. I found it...

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Can documentary film as a genre do justice to the astounding life of Fela Kuti?

Documentary films truncate an entire life into fleeting bursts of exuberance and somber moments. Any moments that exist in between, however significant they are, are left out completely or brushed over. In making a documentary, on any...

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Happy Africans

By 11am this morning Pharrell Williams' pop friendly and infectious "Happy" had racked up 138,948,968 views on Youtube and obviously making him and his record company a lot of money. If it's not enough that it is...

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

The everyday lives of African immigrants in South Africa

The experience of African immigrants living in South Africa has previously been portrayed through images of violence, deportation and police brutality. Local photographer, Sydelle Willow Smith, attempts to challenge these visual stereotypes in her exhibition Soft Walls...

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Elizabeth Barrett’s house on Harrington Street, Cape Town

I find Nicholas Eppel’s photographs of Elizabeth Barrett striking because it reveals the intimate details of the on-going, ordinary life of a woman in urban Cape Town. That she dedicated herself and her meagre resources to philanthropic...

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Cape Town’s Pretend Partnership

There have been only a few instances in my life where my reflex response to a situation has been to throw up. One of these occasions was last Monday night − and the impulse lasted almost three...

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Cape Town Gangster Films

In both print and film Cape Flats gangsta-chic is all the vogue now, popping up in publications and film festivals worldwide. Much of it makes spurious claims to authenticity and the inside track to the ‘great coloured psychosis...

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

We send our Tokoloshe to battle with those trying to make us forget the atrocities of Marikana

The Tokoloshe emerges from its secret lair. Like a thief in the night, it creates a mirror image of ourselves in some of the most contrary of places and then instantly vanishes. These living pictures (below) take...

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Born Free Films

In a few months, South Africa’s “born free generation” will cast their ballots in the country’s fifth democratic election for the first time. It’s been 20 years since the apartheid government lost power, and yet the country...

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Vintage Cru: Challenging the Status Quo in South Africa with Dance

In the South African entertainment hierarchy, dancers are not usually considered to be at the top of the pile. DJs, singers and soapie stars often command greater audiences. Yet there’s a dance group out there that’s changing...

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

That New York Times column about Cape Town

Let me be clear, because some responses suggest I was not in my recent column for the International New York Times: from just about every assessment, the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape are consistently...

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

New book opens a window to a little known era of South Africa’s jazz history

A new book, Keeping Time, celebrates the public emergence of an extraordinary visual and audio archive begun by Ian Bruce Huntley in Cape Town fifty years ago. In short it challenges a long-held belief that jazz in...

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Shameless Self Promotion: T.O. Molefe makes New York Times debut

The New York Times gave us Kristof, Friedman and Brooks. We gave them the Rt Hon T.O. Molefe. Africa is a Country's T.O. Molefe, one of two dozen new columnists, made his debut in The International New...

Monday, October 28th, 2013

The New South African Family Film

The South African family film, “Felix!,” premiered earlier this year at the Durban International Film Festival, before making the rounds on the international film festival circuit. It tells the story of a young boy, Felix Xaba, who...

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Cape Town hip-hop just got interesting again

It has often been said in hip-hop circles in Cape Town that the wildly successful Die Antwoord owe a lot of their success to the Cape Flats rappers that they hung out with just before dropping their...

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Introducing K. Sello Duiker’s novel ‘Thirteen Cents’ to US audiences

K. Sello Duiker’s short novel, Thirteen Cents is simultaneously gruesome, violent, deeply disturbing, whimsical, and beautiful. Ohio University Press has just released the post-apartheid novelist’s debut book in the US as part of its Modern African Writing...

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Remembering Sathima Bea Benjamin

“Hi Rashid, is it true?”, “Yes Matt she is on the other side.” With what feels like a physical blow to the body I try to make sense of it all. Barely a month earlier I was...

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

What are the “unintended consequences of Dutch colonialism”?

In their documentary installation piece "Empire: The unintended consequences of colonialism," filmmaker team Eline Jongsma and Kel O’Neill seek out the residue of centuries of Dutch imperialist projects, highlighting what they have referred to as the “humanity”...

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Who’s Been Sleeping in My House?

South African television is fascinating. Every evening, as part of an ongoing anthropological investigation into the workings of the South African national consciousness, I take my dinner with an episode of 7de Laan (7th Avenue), a popular Afrikaans soap...

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