Tag Archives: Africa

Shacks and Shanties: a temporary art project

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The “Shacks & Shanties” project is a South Side Chicago installation initiative organized by Faheem Majeed. Shacks were constructed as platforms for artistic performances and installations. I attended one such installation/performance, titled “Ghana Must Go” after the infamous plaid patterned tote bags that are so prevalent in West Africa. I talked to Faheem Wajeed as well as Abbéy Odunlami, the artist behind “Ghana Must Go”. We talked about community engagement, fashion, and appropriation.

 

The piece below was produced for “Reclaimed Soul” (hosted by Ayana Contreras). Reclaimed Soul airs Thursdays from 8-10pm on http://vocalo.org, and over the airwaves  on 89.5fm (NWindy) and 90.7fm (CHI).

This Friday, Shacks and Shanties is hosting a community open mic. See details below:

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Arise Up!

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Picture world renowned photographers flown into Nigeria, photo shoots featuring African supermodels all over the world.  I’m not talking about the now fabled All-Black Italian Vogue.
“Arise” is that magazine: published in London by THISDAY, it’s a survey of Contemporary African Fashion & Pop Culture.  A window into a world we don’t see in full color, glossy glory nearly enough. 

What I have seen of the magazine excites me; but there is a bit of controversy.  The magazine has been criticized because an African Lifestyle Magazine doesn’t aid the continent in its upliftment.  I disagree, if only because magazines give us something to dream about, views of a life we can all aspire to (if we so choose), or maybe even a degree of escapism.  All the better if those people look like us, and the aesthetic is one that we can relate to.  Arise Magazine, to me, serves to bring balance to the butter cookie-cutter world of fashion and lifestyle magazines.  I like gingerbread, myself.  

Also, some folks feel as though the cover price (something like $12 per issue in the US, and 59 British Pounds, or about $90 per year) is overly prohibitive, effectively pricing out many (including me, honestly).  But I can dream…

Here’s some KNOCKOUT sample images:

Supermodels Naomi Campbell, Alek Wek & Liya Kebebe dressed by Nigerian designers, Deola Sagoe, Fati Asibelua of MOMO Couture, Lanre DaSilva Ajayi of LDA.

Alek Wek In Deola Sagoe

Naomi

Naomi Campbell in Deola Sagoe

Liya

Liya in Deola Sagoe

for more about Arise, click here


Into Africa: 50 must reads for “Every African”…

…courtesy of afripopmag.com… lots of good stuff for a book nut like me.

Anthem of the Decades, by Mazisi Kunene.
Biko, by Donald Woods
Roots, by Alex Haley
Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith
Long Walk to Freedom, by Nelson Mandela
Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
Woman at Point Zero, by Nawal el Sadaawi
Purple Hibiscus + Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimimanda Adichi Ngozi
Our Sister Killjoy, by Ama Ata Aidoo
Head Above Water, by Buchi Emecheta
The Heart of Redness, by Zakes Mda
You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town/David’s Story/Playing in the Light, by Zoe Wicomb
Mother to Mother, by Sindiwe Magona
Unbowed, by Wangari Maathai
Decolonising the Mind, by Ngugi wa Thiong’o
Anthills of the Savannah, by Chinua Achebe
Hero of the Nation, by Henry Masauko Chipembere
Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
Distant View of a Minaret, by Alifa Rifaat
So Long a Letter, by Mariama Ba
A long way gone, by Ishmael Beah
Song for Night/Becoming Abigail, by Chris Abani
Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Desert Flower/Desert Dawn, by Waris Dirie
Born Under the Big Rain, by Fadumo Korn
When Rain Clouds Gather/Maru/A Question of Power, by Bessie Head
Women are Different, by Flora Nwapa
The Stone Virgins, by Yvonne Vera
Call me Woman, by Ellen Kuzwayo
And they didn’t Die, by Lauretta Ngcobo
Maru, b y   B e s s i e   H e a d
Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature, by Ngugi wa Thiong’o
Petals of blood, Weep not child, Ngungi wa Thiongo
Black Sunlight, by Dambudzo Merachera
My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, by Amos Tutola
Question of Power, by Bessie Head
Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neal Hurston
Ready For Revolution, by Kwame Ture
Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
The Making of Black Revolutionaries, by James Forman
Destruction of Black Civilization, by Chancellor Williams
The African Origin of Civilization, by Cheikh Anta Diop
The Isis Papers, by Francess Cress Welsing
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
Dreams From My Father, by Barack Obama
The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama
Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, by Barack Obama
The Souls of Black Folk, by W.E.B. Du Bois simply bcoz this century is about identity
O’ Mandingo!: The Only Black at a Dinner Party, by Eric Miyeni
Gerard Sekoto: I Am An African, by Chabani Manganyi
The Good Women of China, by Xinran just coz Africa and Asia share so much in common
Capitalist Nigger, by Chika Onyeani
African love stories, (edited) by Ama Ata Aido
Black skin, White masks, by Franz Fanon
Scatter the Ashes and Go, Hyenas, by Mongane Wally Serote
Black God of the Sun, by Ekow Eshun
Mavericks, (edited) by Lauren Beukes
Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
Indaba, My Children, by Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa
Development as freedom, by Amartya Sen
The Spirit of Intimacy, by Sobonfu E. Some
God’s Bit of Wood, The Money Order with White Genesis, by Ousmane Sembene
Zenzele: A letter for my Daughter, by J. Nozipho Maraire
The Bible
The Land Is Ours: The Political Legacy of Mangaliso Sobukwe, by S.E.M. Pheko
Subukwe and Apartheid, by Benjamin Pogrund
I Write what I like, Steve Biko
Blues People, by Amiri Baraka
Stolen Legacy, by George G. M. James
Democracy Matters, by Cornel West
Encyclopedia Africana, probably the greatest manuscript about the entire African Diaspora
Speak so You Can Speak Again: The life of Zora Neale Hurston, by Lucy Hurston


Into Africa: 1 Must Do

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mark your calendars for Ron and Sonia’s 5th Anniversary Party for Africa Hi-Fi, that afro-funk-highlife-house-shindig…. Saturday, July 11th at Sonotheque…

Sonotheque

1444 W. Chicago Ave.

AFRICA HI-FI SUPPORTS
NEXTAID , an LA based non-profit that uses music events to raise money for children in South Africa o
rphaned by the horrendous AIDS EPIDEMIC, and AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, working diligently to raise awareness and action against Human Rights Violations all over the world.


no room for pride

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Art from Immig-Art,  anonymously contributed immigration experiences as a group art project.  Immig-Art was founded by my friend, Kabuika Kamunga, a Congolese filmmaker and journalist based in Chicago.

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Africa Hi-Fi (back and in full effect!)

africahifi91606mark your calendars for Ron and Sonia’s ongoing afro-funk-highlife-house-shindig…. Saturday, April 11th at Sonotheque…

AFRICA HI-FI SUPPORTS
NEXTAID , an LA based non-profit that uses music events to raise money for children in South Africa o
rphaned by the horrendous AIDS EPIDEMIC, and AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, working diligently to raise awareness and action against Human Rights Violations all over the world.



Cult Movie of the Week: Shaft in Africa

I will start with the disclaimer: I am not really a blaxploitation film lover. I’m a lover of their funky romps-of-soundtracks. That said, I dig Shaft in Africa despite its more reserved soundtrack. Why? It’s titled Shaft…..in Africa! Not only Africa, but, specifically, Ethiopia… a country that holds a lot of romance for me because its people fought colonization (and won) in a time when Africa was being sliced up like hot apple pie.

Fast forward sixty years to this film. Shaft’s mission is to break up a human trafficking ring luring young Africans to Paris. Starring (former Ebony-Jet Fashion Fair model) Richard Roundtree and Vonetta McKee, Shaft in Africa (1973) also encompasses a love storyline between Shaft and Aleme. Lovely as McKee is in this film, amazing scenes of both Paris in the 70s and Ethiopia are enough reason to snatch up a copy of this film.

One of my favorite touches to this film is the Capoiera-styled fight scenes and the 007-outfitted wooden staff that Shaft uses when he goes undercover: the staff has a built-in camera and anything else he may need. It’s like James Bond, but he gets dirty…. and I like it.

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One note about the soundtrack: the theme song was recorded by the 4 Tops (“Are You Man Enough”) and the soundtrack was composed by Chicago’s own Johnny Pate. Pate was the arranger for most of the early work by the Impressions and the man who Curtis Mayfield relied on as a orchestrator/arranger for years. In fact in Rolling Stone’s 1972 review of the Superfly soundtrack, Bob Donat stated,

…equal credit of course goes to arranger – orchestrator and long-time Mayfield collaborator Johnny Pate, who’s written charts for Curtis and the Impressions since the “Gypsy Woman” days.”

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Sonari is Mixed

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This is an interview I conducted for Vocalo.org some time ago, in which a Black man (NPR’s Sonari Rhodes Glinton) concedes he is “mixed”: Half African and Half African-American.  At first listen, the categorization sounds almost comical, but consider his viewpoint: one major factor in Ethnicity is culture… and no one can argue that Africans and African-Americans aren’t culturally distinct.  Above is a picture of dear Sonari (many moons ago):

Listen to a few minutes of his story below:

Sonari is Mixed

On a similar topic, the culture clash (and level of misunderstanding) between Africans and African-Americans has always tripped me out (i.e. Fela Kuti was not swinging on vines).

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I discovered a blog recently that a very gracious African set up to address pervasive, negative stereotypes (plus, it’s really funny):

http://stuffafricanpeoplehate.com/

here’s a taste:

from “The Name Debacle”

Posted July 2, 2008 by stuffafricanshate

“Damn,” one of them said after hearing one of the names.

Behind me was a family dressed in traditional Nigerian garb that were hissing their teeth at what was becoming quite an uncomfortable and condescending situation.

“If that were a white person down there saying Juanita or DaShauna or Fredricka and laughing, black people would walk out in offense,” said one Nigerian woman behind me.

“Well, maybe he should have used an American name,” said another.

Pause.

I had to Zack Morris (step outside of) the situation and analyze what was happening.

Here on darkjive, there’s an earlier post in which Steve Walsh and I talk about the ad below, and why it “ruffles my feathers” (as opposed to “shakes my tailfeather” [okay. that was just silly]). Then, a Nigerian puts his two cents in.


Black Girl: Cult Movie of the Week

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(1966, Directed by Sembene Ousmane)

If you are unfamiliar with this movie, or Black Francophone film in general, change that…now.  Black Girl is the story of a beautiful Senegalese nanny named Diouana (played by Thérèse Mbissine Diop, see above), who joins Robert Fontaine (Monsieur) and Anne-Marie Jelinek (Madame) on their trip to the French Riviera, absolutely dizzy from her bosses’ promises of going to town some sunny afternoons and buying fine French things.  Growing up in the French colony of Senegal, she came to believe that everything French was, in fact, superior.  A much darker reality soon presents itself, however, when she realizes that her absolute truth was only spun to keep her in a position of yearning.  A poigniant tale of the scars of colonization that haunts like French Perfume.



Broadcasting Out of Africa

….Do Charities Hand Out Warped Perceptions?


In this Era of Service, dissing charities (especially those that aid Africa) is taboo.  I will be taboo, then.  In an audio clip calledOut of Africa,originally broadcast on Vocalo.org, Steve Walsh and I talk about why one particular ad for the One Laptop For Child Organization (below), in which a small African girl claims she’s from a place “you’ve never heard of”, “a continent You’d rather forget”….. ruffles my feathers.  ¿Y tú?