AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

South Africa

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Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Music Revue, No.2: Dookoom Rises Up

Finally South African hip hop is spurring national debate, and it’s not Die Antwoord.  No it is Dookoom, the new Cape Town hip hop outfit fronted by local legend Isaac Mutant, which has caused a huge stir with its video “Larney Jou Poes” (roughly translated: Boss, your cunt.) Much has been written about the video, from

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Belonging–why South Africans refuse to let Africa in

Any African who has ever tried to visit South Africa will know that the country is not an easy entry destination. South African embassies across the continent are almost as difficult to access as those of the...

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

South Africans lack table manners and posture. That’s all.

South Africa TV will soon debut “Real Housewives of Johannesburg.” If that’s not enough, in other news, the country’s first School of Etiquette is now open in one of Johannesburg’s rich northern suburbs. The owner of the...

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

How do we talk about the memory of Apartheid

In 1966 the South African government declared District Six—a high-density, mostly coloured residential area intrinsic to the fabric of downtown Cape Town for at least a century and situated on prime land beneath Table Mountain —to be...

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

What’s the matter with … Stellenbosch University

One afternoon, during my final year of high school, I first found myself at Stellenbosch University (also known as University of Stellenbosch) on a tour of potential universities in the Western Cape, South Africa’s south-western province. Walking...

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Interview with Ishtiyaq Shukri on his new novel, “I See You”

Shukri: “Imagine a world in which the first question you would be asked is not ‘Where are you from?’ but ‘What have you read?’ Why should the borders of the nation state into which I was born...

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

The Fingo Festival Revolution in South Africa’s Eastern Cape

“You’ve got a car? It’s less than two hours from here” says a Rasta woman I’ve known for a total of ten minutes. In that time, she’s managed to convince me to travel with her to a town...

Monday, September 29th, 2014

T.O. Molefe on South Africa’s “War on Women”

The essayist T.O. Molefe (he is a contributor here too) has a new op-ed column up at nytimes.com. He writes about “South Africa’s War on Women.” The oped opens with a discussion of why South Africans appear so...

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Make Ignorance History

I wouldn’t be surprised if the two white South African students—Mark Burman and Ross Bartlett—who donned blackface and dressed up as “Venus and Sarena Williams” at a party at the University of Stellenbosch were sitting around a...

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Mos Def/Yasiin Bey: ‘I don’t think that there’s necessarily one sound of Africa’

Mos Def, now living in Cape Town and collaborating with Petite Noir, talking to Dazed Digital. I don’t think that there’s necessarily one sound of Africa. Consider the Blk Jks and The Brother Moves On, those that are...

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Africa is a Radio: Epsiode 5

Africa is a Radio went on break last month along with Africa is a Country, so I’m just now able to get to posting July’s show here. This episode focuses on South African Hip Hop, both commercial...

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

The Naked Woman on Nelson Mandela Square

On Monday, a woman walked towards the giant Mandela statue at Nelson Mandela square in Sandton, Johannesburg and stripped naked until security guard came to remove her as demonstrated in the cellphone images that were captured and...

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

The Redemption Trope in South African Cinema

Come Back Africa (dir. Lionel Rogosin), Mapantsula (dir. Oliver Schmitz) and Tsotsi (dir. Gavin Hood) mark three distinct eras in South African cinema. The oldest of the three, Come Back Africa, shot secretly in the late 1950s,...

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...

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

The winners and losers of the platinum strike in South Africa

On January 23 this year the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), a firebrand breakaway of the COSATU-affiliated National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), took an estimated 50,000 mineworkers to the plateaus of Rustenburg to demand a...

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

White Schools in postapartheid South Africa

It’s a little over two decades ago that South Africa’s Whites Only schools began to ‘welcome’ Black students (African, Coloured and Indian) students into their classrooms. Guided by the official principles of multiculturalism and equality, many a...

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...

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Watch’s Umlilo’s new music video “Magic Man” here first

You’ve seen the teaser, now see the video. Umlilo, is back with his fifth music video single, ‘Magic Man’ from his upcoming EP, ‘Aluta’. 

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Why Oscar Pistorius’ anxiety spectacle might matter more than we think

Guess what? Oscar Pistorius, the South African Paralympic champion who is tried for shooting and killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, turns out to be sane. He might still lose his temper, like the other day when VIP-ing...

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Obituary: Nadine Gordimer

My first introduction to Comrade Nadine was through her writing during my student activist days in the mid-1970s and later when I was serving five years on Robben Island as a political prisoner from 1979 to 1984....

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...

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

On being young, black and queer in South Africa

Umlilo (previously profiled on Africa is a Country here) continues to push societal boundaries, crushing the norms of sexuality and gender roles with ‘Magic Man’, a track from his latest album, which will be released in July...

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...

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Artist Mohau Modisakeng: Probing Subliminal Violence

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...

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Scenario Planning for White South Africa

Scenario planning is something of a cottage industry in South Africa and was particularly popular during the negotiations for democracy in the early 1990s. Careers were launched on the back of this industry, and speakers known for...

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Adam Sandler’s “Africa” (late night TV talk shows can’t get enough of it)

Just based on the trailer alone, it was safe to predict that “Blended,” the comedy starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore about two single parents who after a dismal first date, magically end up on vacation at the...

Friday, May 30th, 2014

“Miners Shot Down;” a haunting and emotional documentary

When Mzoxolo Magidiwana, a miner from Marikana in South Africa’s Northwest Province, traces his family lineage of miners at Lonmin Mines, he invokes in me memories of how I narrowly escaped becoming a miner, breaking the lineage...

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

The story of a South African “tribe”

In October 2013, former South African president Thabo Mbeki, speaking at the Bethesda Methodist Church in the north of Johannesburg, warned us of a resurgence of tribalism in South Africa. In January of this year, Mbeki once again had the...

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...

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