Inexplicably absent in this year’s fashionable blogs’ and magazines’ year-end lists are videos by African artists, or those videos recorded somewhere in Africa. I’ve picked ten which I think stood out. South Africans Pieter Hugo and Michael Cleary directed and shot the video for Spoek Mathambo’s ‘Control’ in Langa, Cape Town. We took issue with aspects of it when it came out in February, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t striking:

Directed by Juliet Rios and Gabe Imlay, and choreographed by “Fela!” on Broadway assistant choreographer Maija Garcia, the video for Seun Kuti’s ‘Rise’ comes close to capturing his live performances. It was released in April:

Blitz The Ambassador calls his album Native Sun “a journey backwards, back through hip hop, the Caribbean soundsystem culture that preceded it, back to its African roots, with the final kora.” This historical journey and the return to his land of birth, Ghana, are reflected in the stream of archive material used when Blitz threw the full album on YouTube, also in April:

In May, Buraka Som Sistema released the video for their kuduro-infused ‘Hangover (BaBaBa)’. Directed by João Pedro Moreira and Carlos Afonso, the video uses images from the Portuguese band’s performance at the Festival Baía das Gatas in São Vicente, one of Cape Verde’s islands:


When Tumi shared his POWA mixtape in June, it came with a video directed by Teboho Mahlatsi. The school girls who go on a violent Clockwork Orange-like rampage are as angry as Tumi’s lyrics, with the end of the video leaving the viewer confused:

In July, Nneka came up with a first animated video for the title song of her album ‘Soul is Heavy’ (and got the hang of it because she released a second one just last month):

If you were to rely on the average South African music video (especially the kwaito-heavy ones from Johannesburg), you’d be forgiven for believing South African city life is all about heavy boozing, tuning and styling. Director Anne-Sophie Leens and Cape Town spaza crew Driemanskap showed us the flip-side of those cities in the video for ‘I Will Make It’, recorded in Gugulethu:

Still in July, J Majik and Wickaman cleverly used Josh Cole’s images of Rwandan and Burundian dancers in the streets of Kigali and Bujumbura. I wonder whether the dancers got to see the video themselves:

I hadn’t heard of Kommanda Obbs before August when he plugged the video for ‘Ts’epe’, recorded in Lesotho. Pheello Makosholo captures the country’s high mountain life in black and white unlike any Sotho music video I have seen before:

And finally, in October, X Plastaz released the video for ‘Africa’ with the island of Zanzibar and the streets of the Tanzanian crew’s home town Arusha as their stage. The scenery is efficient enough, but the one reason why I think it works is for their subtitling of the lyrics. Raps and lyrics by artists trying to stay true to their local audience in Swahili, Zulu, Lingala, Arabic or Wolof are often lost on the African diaspora so eager to connect with these songs and artists — an easy English or French YouTube translation will get the artists’ message out in a way no other social platform or expensive overseas touring can.

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