The Indominable Lion

Samuel Eto'o is the official face of the 2010 World Cup. He is also the most impressive African footballer of the last decade.

Art by Charis Tsevis.

Private global TV broadcaster, CNN, just published a list of the eleven players who dominated and defined football in the 2000s. Samuel Eto’o of Inter Milan and Cameroon and probably the best footballer out of Africa, is the only continental player that made the list. That’s deserved. Eto’o, by the way, is also the official face of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The fill list from CNN.

Let’s look at Eto’s honors: His career is not over by mile, but already he has won three La Liga titles with Barcelona, two Copa del Rey cups (with Mallorca in 2002-03 and Barcelona 2008-09) and 2 UEFA Champions League titles with Barcelona. With the Cameroon men’s national team, he has won two African Cup of Nations (2000 and 2002) and an Olympic Gold Medal (2000). Individually, he has been African Player of the Year three times in the last decade, finished 3rd in the voting for FIFA World Player of the Year in 2005, made countless “team of the year” selections, and been top goalscorer at two African Cup of Nations tournaments. You get the point.

David Smith, The (UK) Guardian’s South African correspondent, recently attended a football match between South Africa’s two biggest clubs, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates (Nelson Mandela is a fan of the latter team; not of rugby). Smith’s verdict: He loves the fans (no fighting or hooligans), but he does not like the football: “… [I]t was fairly dire, with countless unforced errors, woeful finishing and a distinct lack of pace or purpose on a badly kept pitch … Chiefs hit the post with five seconds left and had to settle for a goalless draw. Both sides would struggle even in the English lower divisions, but often local derbies are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small …” He’d rather watch Stoke vs Wolves. Read or listen to his impressions.

Has anyone seen the new “documentary” film, “Fig Trees: A documentary about AIDS, Pills and Gertrude Stein” (2009) by Canadian director John Greyson? It’s about AIDS activism in South Africa (and Canada). Actors portraying South African AIDS activists (Simon Nkoli, Christopher Moraka, Gugu Dlamini and Nkosi Johnson) “… sing about their lives and their refusal to be immortalized as saints and martyrs”. Later, Zackie Achmat (leader of the Treatment Action Campaign, which was founded after Nkoli’s death of which Moraka and Dlamini were members) “… is too weak to attend the 2002 Barcelona International AIDS conference, and so sends his speech on video instead. This becomes sampled and transformed into an aria about his treatment strike.”

As you may have figured out my now, I don’t particularly like the idea behind “Invictus.” I finally saw it and had to prevent myself from walking out of the theater a few times for its historical inaccuracies, banal “rainbow” politics, and reducing South Africa’s political transition to being dependent on the outcome of a rugby march. Not surprisingly, most mainstream critics love the film in which Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman save South Africa and gets whites absolved for Apartheid by winning a rugby match.

A short video interview with BLK JKS , the Johannesburg rock group, about their new album, “After Robots.” (Interview by Afropop was uploaded last month).

Femi Kuti, Fela’s son and a musician in his own right, about the artist’s imperative to be political. Part 1 and part 2. The interviews were done in San Francisco. Femi Kuti is currently on tour in the U.S.

The Nigerian-German singer, Nneka, is like the Angelique Kidjo of hipsters. Liz at Rivvmixx reminds me that Nneka is about to collaborate with The Roots. Download her mixtape with J Period here.

Spike Lee doesn’t like Tyler Perry.

A nice short from Dutch TV station, Metropolis TV, of Kaleb Martin, a young Ethiopian Rasta who gives an introduction to his faith. Martin is a descendant of a Jamaican family who had moved to a small town 250 km outside the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on land given to them by Emperor Haile Selassie,

Finally, it is that time of the year when everyone releases some useless “The Best of …” lists. We care about some of them; the rest we send to the spam folder. Spin Earth, the web-based project of music magazine, “Spin,”(it relies on “300 cultural correspondents in 75 major cities spanning all continents”) has published its list of “the top documentaries” of 2009.  Two films about African music made the cut: “Fokofpolisiekar” about the  frikaans punk-rock group by the same name, and “Three Chords, Four Countries, One Revolution: Punk in Africa,” a film about punk music in Apartheid South Africa. I have not seen either of these and I understand the second film is not even completed. But here we go.

Further Reading