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Italian writer Igiaba Scego rewrites the Black Mediterranean
"Igiaba Scego is one of the most prominent voices of a new cohort of Black writers in Italy. Scego was born in Rome in 1974 to parents from Somalia; her father served as a high-ranking official in the Somali government before the 1969 Siad Barre coup d’etat. A prolific novelist, journalist, social commentator, and activist, Scego has won numerous awards for her writings on African-Italian identities and the legacies of Italian colonialism. Her newest book, Adua, released in Italy by Giunti this September, represents a welcome intervention into the diversity of Black experiences in Italy. Indeed, Adua can be read as an exploration of what Jacqueline Nassy Brown has termed “diaspora’s counter/parts”–relations among the African diaspora that are based not solely on affinity and sameness, but also on differences and antagonism.

Adua is told through two voices and over three historical moments, which Scego describes as “Italian colonialism, Somalia in the 1970s, and our current moment, when the Mediterranean has been transformed into an open-air tomb for migrants.” Zoppe is a polyglot Somali, descended from a family of soothsayers, who works as an interpreter in the 1930s under Italian fascism. In many ways an embodiment of the tragic maxim “translator as traitor,” Zoppe is torn between his struggle for survival and his deep sense of ethical obligation toward family and nation. A survivor of brutal racist attacks while in Rome, Zoppe’s translation work also affords him a terrifying window into the impending and bloody Italian re-invasion of Ethiopia.

Adua, Zoppe’s daughter and the book’s namesake, was born in Somalia but left for Rome at the age of seventeen. She is known as a “Vecchia Lira” (Old Lira), the irreverent term used by younger immigrants to describe women of the Somali diaspora who arrived in Italy during the 1970s. Adua’s young husband is a recent Somali refugee who came to Italy via Lampedusa escaping civil war; she calls him “Titanic” in reference to the precarious boat on which he arrived, and the two share an ambiguous relationship that oscillates from the maternal to the hostile.

Young Adua dreamed of becoming a movie starlet like Marilyn Monroe–her romantic images of Italy were shaped by the films she watched as a child in a theater built by the fascists. Yet after decades in Italy, she only has one title to her name: a humiliating and degrading erotic movie exploiting Italian stereotypes of Black female sexuality. Adua’s own tragic tale is belied by her triumphal name, bestowed by her father to represent the first African anti-imperialist victory.

Adua is deeply and thoroughly researched, a process Scego describes in the “Historical Note” after the epilogue. It is also a captivating read: the novel is sweeping in its geographical and temporal scope, yet Scego nonetheless renders her complex protagonists richly and lovingly. Adua makes two critical contributions. First, she centers Italian colonial history (particularly Italian colonization and occupation in East Africa) and its reverberations in the present through the lens of lived experience–the layers of intimacy and violence that characterize imperial entanglement. Contrary to the rabid rhetoric of ethno-nationalism, xenophobia, and border securitization in Italy today (seen in the aggressive taunts launched against the likes of Mario Balotelli that “there are no Black Italians”), Scego’s book underscores that “Africans” are not foreign Others intruding into bounded Italian space; rather, these intertwined histories predate Italy’s “official” transformation into a country of immigration during the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

And second, Scego dispels the notion that there is any sort of unitary Blackness in Italy. Her characters are colonial subjects and aspiring freedom fighters, migrants and refugees of multiple backgrounds and generations–in other words, Afro-Italians of many stripes and political valences. Scego has taken us beyond the all-too common invocation of subjects “trapped between two worlds,” instead portraying a range of experiences that–while still structured by racism, misogyny, and other axes of power–can do justice to the changing face of Italy today."
igiabascego  2015  italy  mediterranean  colonialism  race  africa  racism  misogyny  power  blackness 
22 days ago by robertogreco
Episode 58: The Neoliberal Optimism Industry de Citations Needed Podcast
"We're told the world is getting better all the time. In January, The New York Times' Nick Kristof explained "Why 2017 Was the Best Year in Human History." The same month, Harvard professor and Bill Gates' favorite optimist Steven Pinker lamented (in a special edition of Time magazine guest edited by - who else? - Bill Gates) the “bad habits of media... bring out the worst in human cognition”. By focusing so much on negative things, the theory goes, we are tricked into thinking things are getting worse when, in reality, it's actually the opposite.

For the TEDtalk set, that the world is awesome and still improving is self-evidently true - just look at the data. But how true is this popular axiom? How accurate is the portrayal that the world is improving we so often seen in sexy, hockey stick graphs of upward growth and rapidly declining poverty? And how, exactly, are the powers that be "measuring" improvements in society?

On this episode, we take a look at the ideological project of telling us everything's going swimmingly, how those in power cook the books and spin data to make their case for maintaining the status quo, and how The Neoliberal Optimism Industry is, at its core, an anti-intellectual enterprise designed to lull us into complacency and political impotence.

Our guest is Dr. Jason Hickel."
jasonhickel  2018  stevenpinker  billgates  neoliberalism  capitalism  ideology  politics  economics  globalsouth  development  colonialism  colonization  china  africa  lies  data  poverty  inequality  trends  climatechange  globalwarming  climatereparations  nicholaskristof  thomasfriedman  society  gamingthenumbers  self-justification  us  europe  policy  vox  race  racism  intelligence  worldbank  imf 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Raising Free People | Raising Aware People #LRC2018 - YouTube
"What are your experiments with the intersection of Unschooling / Self Directed Education and Social Justice. And your understanding of this intersection. While, hey are inextricably linked, the practice of unschooling as social justice and raising aware people isn't widely understood, spoken about or shared.

So at Learning Reimagined 2018, we hosted an interactive panel discussion as an introduction to the relationship and practice of the two, with the hope that this will help participants and now viewers to think around these issues and to then discuss and share further in their communities and here with us online so we can learn too.

The panel consisted of a mix of young unschoolers and featured speakers (Akilah Richards, Bayo Akomolafe, Teresa Graham Brett) at Learning Reimagined 2018."

[from the Learning Reimagined 2018: Unschooling As Decolonisation conference conference: https://www.growingminds.co.za/learning-reimagined-conference-2018/ ]
unschooling  education  socialjustice  self-directed  self-directedlearning  akilahrichards  bavoakomolafe  teresagrahambrett  liberation  justice  zakiyyaismail  deschooling  learning  politics  southafrica  us  difference  scaffolding  parenting  poc  howwelearn  decolonization  2018  race  racism  inclusivity  conferences  lrc2018  bias  inclusion  community  privilege  kaameelchicktay  elitism  schools  schooling  indigeneity  class  classism  humanism  language  english  africa  colonization  agilelearningcenters  agilelearning 
january 2019 by robertogreco
How One Man Was Sold Into Libya’s Modern-Day Slave Trade
"Slavery is thriving in Libya, where thousands of black Africans hoping to get to Europe instead find themselves bought and sold, forced to work for nothing, and facing torture at the hands of their owners."
slavery  libya  africa  nigeria  2018  monicamark  europe  migration 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Overgrowth - e-flux
"Architects and urban practitioners, toiling daily at the coalface of economic expansion, are complicit in the perpetuation of growth. Yet they are also in a unique position to contribute towards a move away from it. As the drivers of growth begin to reveal their inadequacies for sustaining life, we must imagine alternative societal structures that do not incentivize unsustainable resource and energy use, and do not perpetuate inequality. Working on the frontline of capitalism, it is through architecture and urban practice that alternative values, systems, and logics can be manifest in built form and inherited by generations to come.

Editors
Nick Axel
Matthew Dalziel
Phineas Harper
Nikolaus Hirsch
Cecilie Sachs Olsen
Maria Smith

Overgrowth is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and the Oslo Architecture Triennale within the context of its 2019 edition."

[See also: https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221902/editorial/ ]

[including:

Ateya Khorakiwala: "Architecture's Scaffolds"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221616/architecture-s-scaffolds/
The metaphor of grassroots is apt here. Bamboo is a grass, a rhizomatic plant system that easily tends towards becoming an invasive species in its capacity to spread without seed and fruit. Given the new incursions of the global sustainability regime into third world forests to procure a material aestheticized as eco-friendly, what would it take for the state to render this ubiquitous material into a value added and replicable commodity? On one hand, scaffolding offers the site of forming and performing the subjectivity of the unskilled laborer—if not in making the scaffolding, then certainly in using it. Bamboo poles for scaffolding remain raw commodities, without scope for much value addition; a saturated marketplace where it can only be replaced by steel as building projects increase in complexity. On the other hand, bamboo produces both the cottage industry out of a forest-dwelling subject, on the margins of the state, occupying space into which this market can expand.

Bamboo is a material in flux—what it signifies is not transferable from one scale to another, or from one time to another. In that sense, bamboo challenges how we see the history of materials. In addition to its foundational architectural function as scaffolding, it acts as a metaphorical scaffolding as well: it signifies whatever its wielders might want it to, be it tradition, poverty, sustainability, or a new form of eco-chic luxury. Bamboo acts more as a scaffolding for meaning than a material with physical properties of flexibility and strength. Scaffolding, both materially and metaphorically, is a site of politics; a space that opens up and disappears, one that requires much skill in making.

Edgar Pieterse: "Incorporation and Expulsion"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221603/incorporation-and-expulsion/
However, what is even more important is that these radically localized processes will very quickly demand spatial, planning, and design literacy among urban households and their associations. The public pedagogic work involved in nurturing such literacies, always amidst action, requires a further institutional layer that connects intermediary organizations with grassroots formations. For example, NGOs and applied urban research centers with knowledge from different sites (within a city and across the global South) can provide support to foster these organizational literacies without diminishing the autonomy and leadership of grassroots movements. Intermediary organizations are also well placed to mediate between grassroots associations, public officers, private sector interests, and whoever else impinge on the functioning of a neighborhood. Thinking with the example of Lighthouse suggests that we can think of forms of collective economic practice that connect with the urban imperatives of securing household wellbeing whilst expanding various categories of opportunity. The transformative potential is staggering when one considers the speed with which digital money systems and productive efficiencies have taken off across East Africa during the past five years or so.

There is unprecedented opportunity today to delink the imperatives of just urban planning from conventional tropes about economic modernization that tend to produce acontextual technocracy. We should, therefore, focus our creative energies on defining new forms of collective life, economy, wellbeing, invention, and care. This may even prove a worthwhile approach to re-signify “growth.” Beyond narrow economism there is a vast canvas to populate with alternative meanings: signifiers linked to practices that bring us back to the beauty of discovery, learning, questioning, debate, dissensus, experimentation, strategic consensus, and most importantly, the courage to do and feel things differently.

Ingerid Helsing Almaas: "No app for that"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221609/no-app-for-that/
Conventionally, urban growth is seen in terms of different geometries of expansion. Recent decades have also focused on making existing cities denser, but even this is thought of as a process of addition, inscribed in the conventional idea of growth as a linear process of investments and profits. But the slow process of becoming and disappearance is also a form of growth. Growth as slow and diverse accretion and shedding, layering, gradual loss or restoration; cyclical rather than linear or expansive. Processes driven by opportunity and vision, but also by irritation, by lack, by disappointment. In a city, you see these cyclical processes of accretion and disruption everywhere. We just haven’t worked out how to make them work for us. Instead, we go on expecting stability and predictability; a city with a final, finished form.

Peter Buchanan: "Reweaving Webs of Relationships"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221630/reweaving-webs-of-relationships/

Helena Mattsson and Catharina Gabrielsson: "Pockets and Folds"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221607/pockets-and-folds/
Moments of deregulations are moments when an ideology of incessant growth takes over all sectors of life and politics. Returning to those moments allows us to inquire into other ways of organizing life and architecture while remaining within the sphere of the possible. Through acts of remembrance, we have the opportunity to rewrite the present through the past whereby the pockets and folds of non-markets established in the earlier welfare state come into view as worlds of a new becoming. These pockets carry the potential for new political imaginaries where ideas of degrowth reorganize the very essence of the architectural assemblage and its social impacts. These landscapes of possibilities are constructed through desires of collective spending—dépense—rather than through the grotesque ideas of the wooden brain.

Angelos Varvarousis and Penny Koutrolikou: "Degrowth and the City"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221623/degrowth-and-the-city/
The idea of city of degrowth does not attempt to homogenize, but rather focus on inclusiveness. Heterogeneity and plurality are not contrary to the values of equity, living together and effective sharing of the resources. Difference and plurality are inherent and essential for cities and therefore diverse spatial and social articulations are intrinsic in the production of a city of degrowth. They are also vital for the way such an idea of a city could be governed; possibly through local institutions and assemblies that try to combine forms of direct and delegative democracy.
]
growth  degrowth  architecture  overgrowth  2018  nickaxel  matthewdalziel  phineasharper  nikolaushirsch  ceciliesachsolsen  mariasmith  ateyakhorakiwala  edgarpieterse  ingeridhelsingalmaas  peterbuchanan  helenamattsson  catharinagabrielsson  angelosvarvarousis  pennykoutrolikou  2019  anthropocene  population  sustainability  humans  civilization  economics  policy  capitalism  karlmarx  neoliberalism  systemsthinking  cities  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  urbanization  ecology  consumption  materialism  consumerism  oslo  bymelding  stability  change  predictability  design  africa  southafrica  postcolonialism  ethiopia  nigeria  housing  kenya  collectivism  dissensus  experimentation  future  learning  questioning  debate  discovery  wellbeing  intervention  care  technocracy  modernization  local  grassroots  materials  multiliteracies  ngos  autonomy  shigeruban  mumbai  bamboo  burkinafaso  patrickkeré  vikramadityaprakash  lecorbusier  pierrejeanneret  modernism  shivdattsharma  chandigarh  india  history  charlescorrea  scaffolding 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Is "Show Don't Tell" a Universal Truth or a Colonial Relic? | Literary Hub
"In his essay “The Storyteller” (1936), cultural critic Walter Benjamin mourns the death of oral and communal storytelling, taken over in modern history by the novel, the “birthplace of the solitary reader,” and information technology with a rise in capitalism. Yet, what Benjamin posits as the organic evolution of oral, communal practices of storytelling into modern modes of storytelling, consumed by a reader in “privacy,” is in fact, the understanding of a Western history of storytelling as a universal one. As Maggie Awadalla and Paul March-Russell suggest in the introduction to their anthology The Postcolonial Short Story (2012), many non-Western countries did not transition “organically” from oral to written storytelling with a rise in capitalism. For many formerly or currently colonized spaces like South Asia, Africa, Caribbean, American South and Native America, there has always existed a rich, vibrant tradition of oral storytelling, one that was marginalized, often violently, through an imposition of an allegedly modern, white Western language and culture. In their study, Postcolonial Studies: The Key Concepts (1998), Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin defend “orality” not as a cultural precondition that morphed into a more advanced written culture, but orality as a counterpart to writing, where both co-exist, complement and transform each other constantly. This coexistence of oral and written modes of storytelling continues to thrive in postcolonial spaces, including those of Asia and Africa.

In her now-canonical essay “Characteristics of Negro Expression” (1934), Zora Neale Hurston makes a strong case for the use of vernacular—especially dialect and rhythm—in Black writing. In his story collection, Creole Folktales (1988) and equally canonical co-authored essay, “In Praise of Creoleness” (1989), Patrick Chamoiseau offers a manifesto for Caribbean storytelling that aims to free itself of French colonial gaze by transforming Martinican-French literature through a militant use of Creole. And while not through cultural theories or essays, contemporary writers like Salman Rushdie, Vikram Chandra, Roxane Gay, Junot Díaz, and Edwidge Danticat, among others, bring a strong, self-conscious vernacular in their stories. Their fiction questions not only an allegedly mainstream Euro-American storytelling marked by narrative brevity and an economy of words, as lauded by Edgar Allan Poe, John Barth and Francine Prose in their critical writing, but also the dominance of visuality in many fiction writing workshops with their show-don’t-tell credo, bolstered by our cinematic and digital age with its preference for images over sounds."



"James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Sandra Cisneros, Gish Jen, Tiphanie Yanique, ZZ Packer, Rajesh Parameswaran—the list of contemporary writing affirming oral and aural alternatives over a sight-based focus of storytelling is long. And I haven’t even gotten started with poetry-in-color, including an aesthetic legacy of rhythm in writing spawned by Papa Césaire and the Négritude movement. What I’ve explored above is a brief sampler on a multifaceted use of orality that challenges the boundaries of a more standard Euro-American literary English with its emphasis on brevity, clarity, and good grammar. In playing persistently with language, sounds and syntax, multiethnic fiction does not shy away from “writing in scenes,” however, it does dethrone the reign of eyesight to stress the importance of other senses in fiction, and hearing in particular.

That said, the use of vernacular or dialect is far from unique to non-Western writers writing within or outside the West. Time and again, major writers across the world have challenged the status quo of a hegemonic language by using the vernacular in different ways. I’m thinking here of Shakespeare and Louis-Ferdinand Celine’s linguistic innovation within English and French respectively, and of pioneering poets like Kabir who used the vernacular in Bhakti poetry to challenge the rule of Sanskrit in medieval South Asian literature.

And yet, the examples of multiethnic fiction I’ve shared above have all been published in the last couple of decades, following complex literary and historic changes that include mid-20th century’s wave of decolonization that swept the “third world,” the Civil Rights Movement in the US, the institutionalization of Ethnic Studies in the American Academy, and the literary canon wars that followed. This recent, layered, global history has led to a higher visibility of non-white, non-Western voices in the Western metropolitan publication scenes of New York, London and Paris. The content within contemporary multiethnic fiction often talks of identity, home and displacement; they ask questions like who has power and voice and who gets marginalized or silenced, these ideas fleshed out obsessively in stories through plot, theme, form, language, or a combination.

Orality within fiction that is deliberately engaging with power dynamics between the West and non-West—as evident in the title of Rushdie’s story collection East, West—thus becomes more than just a stylistic device or virtuosity with craft. The shift in sensory focus within multiethnic fiction from images to sounds holds a mirror to our contemporary, complex literary history, guiding the reader further to ways in which these stories maybe constructed, read, or deconstructed. Orality here becomes a political stance, an ideological move reminding the reader over and again that what we consume as universal in story craft, literary history, or aesthetic taste is anything but universal."
orality  oraltradition  visual  via:vruba  2018  storytelling  walterbenjamin  culture  tradition  namratapoddar  globalsouth  maggieawadalla  paulmarch-russell  billashcroft  garethgriffiths  helentiffin  vernacular  zoranealehurston  creole  creoleness  folktales  writing  salmanrushdie  vikramchandra  junotdíaz  edwidgedanticat  edgarallanpoe  johnbarth  fancineprose  criticalwriting  howwewrite  literacy  multiliteracies  dialect  rhythm  patrickchamoiseau  caribbean  africa  asia  colonialism  english  alicewalker  imperialism  gishjen  jamesbaldwin  tonimorrison  tiphanieyanique  zzpacker  showdon'ttell  sandracisneros  roxanegay  ajeshparameswaran  négritude  papacésaire  haiti  aural  oral  sight  brevity  clarity  grammar  fiction  aimécésaire  martinique  léopoldsédarsenghor  léondamas  postcolonialism  louis-ferdinandceline  latinamerica  indigenous  canon 
november 2018 by robertogreco
GRADA KILOMBA: DECOLONIZING KNOWLEDGE - Voice Republic
"In this lecture performance Grada Kilomba explores forms of Decolonizing Knowledge using printed work, writing exercises, performative narrative, and visual art, as forms of alternative knowledge production. Kilomba raises questions concerning the concepts of knowledge, race and gender: “What is acknowledged as knowledge? Whose knowledge is this? Who is acknowledged to produce knowledge?” This project exposes not only the violence of classic knowledge production, but also how this violence is performed in academic, cultural and artistic spaces, which determine both who can speak and what we can speak about.To touch this colonial wound, she creates a hybrid space where the boundaries between the academic and the artistic languages confine, transforming the configurations of knowledge and power. Using a collage of her literary and visual work, Grada Kilomba initiates a dialogue of multiple narratives who speak, interrupt, and appropriate the ‘normal’ and continuous coloniality in which we reside. The audience is invited to participate, and to re-imagine the concept of knowledge anew, by opening new spaces for decolonial thinking."

[See also: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grada_Kilomba ]
gradakilomba  performance  decolonization  speaking  listening  2015  knowledge  narrative  art  knowledgeproduction  unschooling  deschooling  colonialism  academia  highered  highereducation  storytelling  bellhooks  participation  participatory  theory  thinking  howwethink  africa  slavery  frantzfanon  audrelorde  knowing  portugal 
october 2018 by robertogreco
At MoMA, Bodys Isek Kingelez Finally Gets the Retrospective He Deserves - Artsy
"Due to Kingelez’s “lack of known art historical precedents,” Suzuki writes in the catalogue, “[the work] evades the genealogy that we love to document and trace.” While there are no artists known to have made anything quite like Kingelez did, however, there is also no shortage of associations with the visual culture of Kinshasa, the capital of what is now the DRC. “I draw my ideas from Africa,” Kingelez once said. And as indicated in catalogue texts by Suzuki, British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye, and Chika Okeke-Agulu, a Nigerian artist and art historian at Princeton University, Kingelez must be understood in the postcolonial context of the history and culture of Kinshasa."

[https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/3889
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB4jgBx16vY
https://news.artnet.com/exhibitions/bodys-isek-kingelez-1308167

“Without a model, you are nowhere. A nation that can’t make models is a nation that doesn’t understand things, a nation that doesn’t live." –Bodys Isek Kingelez]
bodysisekkingelez  congo  utopia  art  architecture  cities  models  modelmaking  classideas  africa  zaire  jeanpigozzi  okwuienwezor  sarahsuzuki  drc  democraticrepublicofthecongo  uban  urbanism  sculpture  davidadjaye  chikaokeke-agulu  chérisamba  moké  kinshasa 
august 2018 by robertogreco
If you have a meeting in Ethiopia, you better doublecheck the time
"Because Ethiopia is close to the Equator, daylight is pretty consistent throughout the year. So many Ethiopians use a 12-hour clock, with one cycle of 1 to 12 — from dawn to dusk — and the other cycle from dusk to dawn.

Most countries start the day at midnight. So 7:00 a.m. in East Africa Time, Ethiopia's time zone, is 1:00 in daylight hours in local Ethiopian time. At 7:00 p.m., East Africa Time, Ethiopians start over again, so it's 1:00 on their 12-hour clock."
time  ethiopia  africa  culture  protocol  standards  2015 
june 2018 by robertogreco
On the Blackness of the Panther – Member Feature Stories – Medium
"At least once a day, I think: “another world is possible.” There’s life yet in our dreams. The pan-African political project is still alive. The memory of whatever was good in the Bandung Conference or the Organization of African Unity still makes the heart race. Flashes of common cause among the Darker Nations can be illuminating and sustaining. But “Africa” as trope and trap, backdrop and background, interests me ever less.

I am more fascinated by Nairobi than by Africa, just as I am more intrigued by Milan than by Europe. The general is where solidarity begins, but the specific is where our lives come into proper view. I don’t want to hear “Africa” unless it’s a context in which someone would also say “Asia” or “Europe.” Ever notice how real Paris is? That’s how real I need Lagos to be. Folks can talk about Paris all day without once generalizing about Europe. I want to talk about Lagos, I don’t want to talk about Africa. I want to hear someone speaking Yoruba, Ewe, Tiv, or Lingala. “African” is not a language. I want to know if a plane is going to the Félix-Houphouët-Boigny International Airport. You can’t go to “Africa,” fam. Africa is almost twelve million square miles. I want to be particular about being particular about what we are talking about when we talk about Africa.

* * *

I grew up with black presidents, black generals, black kings, black heroes, both invented and real, black thieves too, black fools. It was Nigeria, biggest black nation on earth. I shared a city with Fela Kuti for seventeen years. Everyone was black! I’ve seen so many black people my retina’s black.

But, against the high gloss white of anti-black America, blackness visible is a relief and a riot. That is something you learn when you learn black. Marvel? Disney? Please. I won’t belabor the obvious. But black visibility, black enthusiasm (in a time of death), black spectatorship, and black skepticism: where we meet is where we meet.

Going on twenty six years now. I learned African and am mostly over it. But what is that obdurate and versatile substance formed by tremendous pressure? What is “vibranium”? Too simple to think of it as a metal, and tie it to resource curses. Could it be something less palpable, could it be a stand-in for blackness itself, blackness as an embodied riposte to anti-blackness, a quintessence of mystery, resilience, self-containedness, and irreducibility?

Escape! I would rather be in the wild. I would rather be in a civilization of my own making, bizarre, contrary, as vain as the whites, exterior to their logic. I’m always scoping the exits. Drapetomania, they called it, in Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race (1851), the irrepressible desire in certain slaves to run away.

* * *

Ten years pass and I still dream about that cat. The eyes slide open, an image enters. Where are you now, Mirabai? Euthanized years ago by the animal shelter? Or successfully adopted and now gracefully aging in some home in Brooklyn? With people, young or old, merciful and just? Dream cat, leaping up to meet me."
tejucole  2018  blackpanther  africa  culture  race  film  blackness  identity  cats  animals  knowledge  racism  zoos  capitalism  monarchism  rainermariarilke  switzerland  colonialism  tonimorrison  lagos  nigeria  immigration  edwardsnow  eusébiodasilvaferreira 
march 2018 by robertogreco
How Black Panther Asks Us to Examine Who We Are To One Another
"While interviews with Coogler reveal he based Wakanda on Lesotho, a small country surrounded on all sides by South Africa, it has become clear that most discussions about the film share a similar geography; its borders are dimensional rather than physical, existing in two universes at once. How does one simultaneously argue the joys of recognizing the Pan-African signifiers within Wakanda, as experienced by Africans watching the film, and the limits of Pan-Africanism in practice, as experienced by a diaspora longing for Africa? The beauty and tragedy of Wakanda, as well as our discourse, is that it exists in an intertidal zone: not always submerged in the fictional, as it owes much of its aesthetic to the Africa we know, but not entirely real either, as no such country exists on the African continent. The porosity and width of that border complicates an already complicated task, shedding light on the infinite points of reference possible for this film that go beyond subjective readings."



"How then does one criticize what is unquestionably the best Marvel movie to date by every conceivable metric known to film criticism? How best to explain that Black Panther can be a celebration of blackness, yes; a silencing of whiteness, yes; a meshing of African cultures and signifiers — all this! — while also feeling like an exercise in sustained forgetting? That the convenience of having a fake country within a real continent is the way we can take inspiration from the latter without dwelling on its losses, or the causes of them. Black Panther is an American film through and through, one heavily invested in white America’s political absence from its African narrative.

When Killmonger goads a museum curator early on in the film, calling out a history of looting, it is condemnation that falls squarely on Britain’s shoulders. Rarely must the audience think about the C.I.A.’s very real history in Africa. The fact that viewers were steered, at any point, into rooting for Martin Freeman, a British actor playing an American C.I.A. operative who attempts to purchase stolen resources from a white South African arms dealer, means that even a cinematic turducken of imperialist history gets a pass."



"Nonetheless, Black Panther is an undeniable joy to watch, even it if it is, at times, hard to experience. I can tell you that one of the most important things I saw, in a film set in Africa in 2018, wasn’t just the film’s lack of whiteness, but the almost complete absence of China, a country whose economic expansion throughout the continent has been singular and complicated. What’s more, for all of Killmonger’s liberation talk, Black Panther is also about the unrooted feelings of first-generation Americans, which for all intents and purposes Killmonger is. People, who despite knowing their origins, know that they will to some extent always be lost to them. Killmonger’s Wakandan-American rage and potential liberation comes from a uniquely complicated place, but we’ve yet to conjure a word for the pain of that proximity. Understandably, Black Panther only has room for so much politics, but it is important to acknowledge that it is in this selection that it reaches and abandons so many people. The film was never going to be everything to everyone — even if it meant everything to everyone. The film’s righteous anger is grounded in a real America with real problems, while its hopes lie in a fictional country distinctly removed from the reality of Africa.

***

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, Black Panther spent its opening weekend sold out five times a day out of a possible five showings. A question I repeatedly found myself asking is where Africans watching this film fit within the Afrofuturist possibility of Wakanda? How do you watch the dream of Africa, set within the real Africa, created by filmmakers in the diaspora, and then emerge to martial law? How hollow does Killmonger’s posturing and desire for a bloody uprising of the masses come across to a viewer living in the throes of one?

I know that when I leave my theater in Oakland, a disabled elder and real Black Panther will be on the verge of a no-fault eviction from her home. Five months will have passed since I watched the premiere of an Oakland-based web series about the racialized disaster of gentrification in the Bay Area at the Grand Lake Theater, the same place where Coogler made an appearance on the opening night of Black Panther. It is worth noting, that the word “capitalism” does not appear once in Black Panther, despite its focus on black liberation. Killmonger’s slash-and-burn approach to freedom, and T’Challa’s future coding boot camp for black American youth, both fail to address how oppression, particularly in the 21st century, is systemic."



"Analyzing the film’s antagonist is more complicated. Killmonger is written as pure rage, and it’s hard for a man written as pure rage, however justified, to be a good villain. What’s impressive about Black Panther is that it asks us to examine the grey area of that designator. Unfortunately, the Killmonger we see on screen is one who has read the Baldwin line “To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage,” and ignored Audre Lorde’s “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” The film is an ode to the exceptionalism of black American rage that, while singular, cannot speak for the majority of the diaspora. There is no precedent for worldwide liberation.

What’s more, Killmonger’s politics completely ignore the ways power structures overlap to oppress individuals. He is the type of man who would shoot down the concept of intersectionality if he met it in the streets. He kills his girlfriend. He brags about killing people of color in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as his own brothers and sisters in Africa. He is quick to assault an unarmed priestess who questions his orders. He delights in killing one of the Dora Milaje. In truth, I can only see him as a sympathetic victim if I squint hard enough at the past that made him instead of his actions on-screen."



"Black Panther may be a Disney product, but it would be foolish to see a film of this historical significance as intended solely for casual consumption. “This is not just a movie about a black superhero; it’s very much a black movie,” wrote journalist Jamil Smith for TIME. That blackness is global. Its very existence — Coogler’s singular execution of its $200 million budget — is a declaration of self-worth, an act of defiance aimed at an industry that has long undervalued black creatives on both sides of the camera. The film as a statement on black virtue should be celebrated, its examination of black possibility exalted, and its disparate philosophies parsed to the extent the viewer wishes.

The fact that my focus in this piece was less about the film as product and more about its politics is itself an accomplishment, a signifier of its exceptional quality. Every frame in Black Panther felt like a gift. A beautifully lit, well-moisturized, spectacularly choreographed gift. What I will remember about Black Panther’s opening weekend is the tragic relief of arguing the ideological calisthenics of a fictional African country instead of whether it is a shithole.

Black Panther’s audience hears the question “Who are you?” repeatedly over the course of two hours. The Queen-Mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) shouts at T’Challa, “Show him who you are!” when M’Baku has the upper hand at Warrior Falls. It is the question Killmonger, bound by Wakandan chains, begs the king’s council to ask him when they first meet him. Indeed, it is the line that ends the film, uttered by a young black boy in Oakland peering up at a king no longer in hiding. That we have spent the week that follows asking ourselves the same question is the film’s lasting gift. Not only reflecting on who we are, but who are we to each other. T’Challa never apologizes to Killmonger for what his father did, for everything that was taken from him, and it is the film’s most damning omission. There is no healing that can come without the voiced expression of empathy. And I hope those who navigate the waters of their identity can eventually be greeted at a lasting shore with just that."
rahawahaile  blackpanther  2018  film  africa  utopia  diaspora  us  geopolitics  capitalism 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Walter Rodney on Twitter: "Remember that Pan-Africanism, in its original essence, must be decolonial, anti-capitalist, and rooted in the long history of resistance of… https://t.co/XW5eJImTQt"
"Remember that Pan-Africanism, in its original essence, must be decolonial, anti-capitalist, and rooted in the long history of resistance of Africans. Pan-Aricanism must be deeply political in nature.

The goal of Pan-Africanism at its inception was to properly describe, analyze, and combat the oppresive structures of global white supremacy, colonization, and imperialism in Africa and throughout its Diaspora.

The goal of Pan-Africanism today must be to continue that tradition by honing in on the words, legacies, and praxes of those like Nkrumah, Sankara, Mandela, Lumumba, Malcolm X, and Walter Rodney, who took the ideals of Pan-Africanism and put them to practice.

Thus, in general terms, Pan-Africanism is no movement of confusing individualism and aesthetics with culture. It should not be individualistic at all!

"Pan-Africanism must be an internationalist, anti-imperialist and Socialist weapon." — Walter Rodney"
walterrodney  pan-africanism  patricelumumba  nelsonmandela  malcolmx  thomassankara  kwamenkrumah  individualism  colonialism  colonization  decolonization  imperialism  whitesupremacy  africa  diaspora  culture  resistance 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Forget Coates vs. West — We All Have a Duty to Confront the Full Reach of U.S. Empire
"What are the duties of radicals and progressives inside relatively wealthy countries to the world beyond our national borders?"



" Is it even possible to be a voice for transformational change without a clear position on the brutal wars and occupations waged with U.S. weapons?"



"Our movements simply cannot afford to stick to our various comfort zones or offload internationalism as someone else’s responsibility.

The unending misery in Haiti may be the most vivid illustration of how today’s crises are all interrelated. On the island, serial natural disasters, some linked to climate change, are being layered on top of illegitimate foreign debts and coupled with gross negligence by the international aid industry, as well as acute U.S.-lead efforts to destabilize and under-develop the country. These compounding forces have led tens of thousands of Haitians to migrate to the United States in recent years, where they come face-to-face with Trump’s anti-Black, anti-immigrant agenda. Many are now fleeing to Canada, where hundreds if not thousands could face deportation. We can’t pry these various cross-border crises apart, nor should we.

IN SHORT, THERE is no radicalism — Black or otherwise — that ends at the national boundaries of our countries, especially the wealthiest and most heavily armed nation on earth. From the worldwide reach of the financial sector to the rapidly expanding battlefield of U.S. Special Operations to the fact that carbon pollution respects no borders, the forces we are all up against are global. So, too, are the crises we face, from the rise of white supremacy, ethno-chauvinism, and authoritarian strongmen to the fact that more people are being forced from their homes than at any point since World War II. If our movements are to succeed, we will need both analysis and strategies that reflect these truths about our world.

Some argue for staying in our lane, and undoubtedly there is a place for deep expertise. The political reality, however, is that the U.S. government doesn’t stay in its lane and never has — it spends public dollars using its military and economic might to turn the world into a battlefield, and it does so in the name of all of U.S. citizens.

As a result, our movements simply cannot afford to stick to our various comfort zones or offload internationalism as someone else’s responsibility. To do so would be grossly negligent of our geopolitical power, our own agency, as well as our very real connections to people and places throughout the world. So when we build cross-sector alliances and cross-issue solidarity, those relationships cannot be confined to our own nations or even our own hemisphere — not in a world as interconnected as ours. We have to strive for them to be as global as the forces we are up against.

We know this can seem overwhelming at a time when so many domestic crises are coming to a head and so many of us are being pushed beyond the breaking point. But it is worth remembering that our movement ancestors formed international alliances and placed their struggles within a global narrative not out of a sense of guilt or obligation, but because they understood that it made them stronger and more likely to win at home — and that strength terrified their enemies.

Besides, the benefit of building a broad-based, multiracial social movement — which should surely be the end goal of all serious organizers and radical intellectuals — is that movements can have a division of labor, with different specialists focusing on different areas, united by broad agreement about overall vision and goals. That’s what a real movement looks like.

The good news is that grassroots internationalism has never been easier. From cellphones to social media, we have opportunities to speak with one another across borders that our predecessors couldn’t have dreamed of. Similarly, tools that allow migrant families to stay connected with loved ones in different countries can also become conduits for social movements to hear news that the corporate media ignores. We are able, for instance, to learn about the pro-democracy movements growing in strength across the continent of Africa, as well as efforts to stop extrajudicial killings in countries like Brazil. Many would not have known that Black African migrants are being enslaved in Libya if it had not been for these same tools. And had they not known they wouldn’t have been able to engage in acts of necessary solidarity.

So let’s leave narrow, nostalgic nationalism to Donald Trump and his delusional #MAGA supporters. The forces waging war on bodies and the planet are irreversibly global, and we are vastly stronger when we build global movements capable of confronting them at every turn."
cornelwest  ta-nehisicoates  2017  us  politics  global  international  jelanicobb  barackobama  imperialism  africa  malcolmx  haiti  naomiklein  opaltometi  climatechange  colonialism  immigration  refugees  activism  outrage  crises  donaldtrump  fascism  military  borders  naturaldisasters  isolationism  debt  finance  destabilization 
december 2017 by robertogreco
The Hit List – BLDGBLOG
"We might say with only slight exaggeration that the United States exists in its current state of economic and military well being due to a peripheral constellation of sites found all over the world. These far-flung locations—such as rare-earth mines, telecommunications hubs, and vaccine suppliers—are like geopolitical buttresses, as important for the internal operations of the United States as its own homeland security.

However, this overseas network is neither seamless nor even necessarily identifiable as such. Rather, it is aggressively and deliberately discontiguous, and rarely acknowledged in any detail. In a sense, it is a stealth geography, unaware of its own importance and too scattered ever to be interrupted at once.

That is what made the controversial release by Wikileaks, in December 2010, of a long list of key infrastructural sites deemed vital to the national security of the United States so interesting. The geographic constellation upon which the United States depends was suddenly laid bare, given names and locations, and exposed for all to see.

The particular diplomatic cable in question, originally sent by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to all overseas embassies in February 2009 and marked for eventual declassification only in January 2019, describes what it calls “critical foreign dependencies (critical infrastructure and key resources located abroad).” These “critical dependencies” are divided into eighteen sectors, including energy, agriculture, banking and finance, drinking water and water treatment systems, public health, nuclear reactors, and “critical manufacturing.” All of these locations, objects, or services, the cable explains, “if destroyed, disrupted or exploited, would likely have an immediate and deleterious effect on the United States.” Indeed, there is no back up: several sites are highlighted as “irreplaceable.”

Specific locations range from the Straits of Malacca to a “battery-grade” manganese mine in Gabon, Africa, and from the Southern Cross undersea cable landing in Suva, Fiji, to a Danish manufacturer of smallpox vaccine. The list also singles out the Nadym Gas Pipeline Junction in Russia as “the most critical gas facility in the world.”

The list was first assembled as a way to extend the so-called National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP)—which focuses on domestic locations—with what the State Department calls its Critical Foreign Dependencies Initiative (CFDI). The CFDI, still in a nascent stage—i.e. it consists, for now, in making lists—could potentially grow to include direct funding for overseas protection of these sites, effectively absorbing them into the oblique landscape of the United States.

Of course, the fear that someone might actually use this as a check list of vulnerable targets, either for military elimination or terrorist sabotage, seemed to dominate news coverage at the time of the cable’s release. While it is obvious that the cable could be taken advantage of for nefarious purposes—and that even articles such as this one only increase the likelihood of this someday occurring—it should also be clear that its release offers the public an overdue opportunity to discuss the spatial vulnerabilities of U.S. power and the geometry of globalization.

The sites described by the cable—Israeli ordnance manufacturers, Australian pharmaceutical corporations, Canadian hydroelectric dams, German rabies vaccine suppliers—form a geometry whose operators and employees are perhaps unaware that they define the outer limits of U.S. national security. Put another way, the flipside of a recognizable U.S. border is this unwitting constellation: a defensive perimeter or outsourced inside, whereby the contiguous nation-state becomes fragmented into a discontiguous network-state, its points never in direct physical contact. It is thus not a constitutional entity in any recognized sense, but a coordinated infrastructural ensemble that spans whole continents at a time.

But what is the political fate of this landscape; how does it transform our accepted notions of what constitutes state territory; what forms of governance are most appropriate for its protection; and under whose jurisdictional sovereignty should these sites then be held?

In identifying these outlying chinks in its armor, the United States has inadvertently made clear a spatial realization that the concept of the nation-state has changed so rapidly that nations themselves are having trouble keeping track of their own appendages.

Seen this way, it matters less what specific sites appear in the Wikileaks cable, and simply that these sites can be listed at all. A globally operating, planetary sovereign requires a new kind of geography: discontinuous, contingent, and nontraditionally vulnerable, hidden from public view until rare leaks such as these."

[via: https://twitter.com/jbushnell/status/933014185675513856 ]
geoffmanaugh  bldgblog  geography  2011  wikileaks  bighere  geopolitics  military  2010  us  gabon  africa  middleast  israel  canada  germany  landscape 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Akala on Twitter: "So this has trended again this week i'd like to add some further thoughts from practical work in the streets/prisons https://t.co/jyySfaGZdK"
"So this has trended again this week i'd like to add some further thoughts from practical work in the streets/prisons ["Akala on N word" https://twitter.com/Dan_Soff/status/922544678909640704 ]

[See also (another): Akala on the N word https://twitter.com/Dan_Soff/status/922736966210383872 ]

I am not judging anyone because as you all know I used to use nigga every 4th work practically but just wana highlight some things...

Lots of young black men in particular will claim that 'nigga' is now a term of endearment but they/we do not truly believe this.. example..

I do lots of writing workshops in prisons here (invariably filled with young black men) and I do a social experiment with them..

When they finish writing their raps about how many niggas they will shoot I don't judge them I just ask the following question/scenario

I tell them 'my mums white scottish, Glasgow/Belfast both more violent than London what would u think if I rapped about killing honkies?'

Without exception every young black man I've posed this question to has either laughed at the absurdity of said 'nah fam that's racist'

The inference is clear that we - like racists - value white life more than black life, no matter how we dress it up/deny it.

What's more if the biggest black rappers on earth started rapping about killing 'racist cracker cops' instead of other niggas we know result

Remember when Ice T made 'cop killer' and the US govt stepped in?

So while I obviously don't subscribe to the idea that music causes violence it's also a cop out to say culture is not massively important

And I am also a hypocrite because I still love my Mobb Deep, DMX, Lox etc so again no judgement but we have to be honest it's problematic

if you are black and having a convo with a brother trying to tell you nigga is positive ask him if his gran is a nigga he'll get offended

It's revealing that forms of black music made in Africa & the Caribbean do use the word at all unless consciously adopting a US influence

The Richard prior talk highlighted in this thread is brilliant on this. However we try2 dress it up nigga is intrinsically de-humanising

Obviously stopping from addressing eachother as such will not overthrow shit material conditions either but these are my thoughts.

I personally stopped using the word also because it made me uncomfortable having white kids shout it back to me at shows

The truth is no truly self respecting people promote and sell their own death, let alone to those that benefit from it most.

Those of us that are not black Americans and thus did not live through Jim Crow, spectacle lynchings etc can't really explain why we use it

Other than cos we like US rap music. The most oppressive decade in British racial history (80's) produced Lovers Rock and Rare Groove

The trench town of the 70's produced us Roots Reggae, Apartheid SA Hugh Masakela & Miriam, Nigeria gave us Fela

So it's not hardship but rather an admission of defeat and desperation imo. End of thread. Safe

Again not judging any1 I used to use it all the time and was a very naughty/violent/angry man at one time in my life, I get it.

Actually I would like to add to this thread with a couple points about blackness and violence, which I'm writing about a lot at the mo...

In both Britain & American popular culture and law enforcement the idea of 'black on black' violence has become a 'credible' idea...

The phrase suggests that whole other humans are violent for real material/historical/political reasons black ppl r violent cos black..

This idea is rooted in 19th century pseudo science but it has. it stopped some, even some self hating folks from asking basic questions like

When 'black on black' violence became a buzz word in U.K. media Northern Ireland was still a war zone and Glasgow more violent than London

Even from tridents own reports we see that vast majority of the 'black on black' shootings were by British Caribbeans or Jamaican nationals

So how did it make sense that British Ghanaians and Zimbabweans get included racial osmosis for something they not part of?

But if we admit that the problem was mostly British Caribbeans - including mixed race - more so than Africans obvious questions arise

Like how come the black group that's been in Britain the longest is doing by far the worst of all the black groups?

How come Jamaica is about 30x more violent than Ghana even though half of JA is Ghanaian in origin?

How come that outside of South Africa there is never usually a single African city in world top 50 for murder rate? (US usually has 3/4)

Additionally in a U.K. context violent working class youth gangs have been a constant for well over a century but if u know no history...

See: Hooligans Or Rebels by Humphries

The worst hoods in the UK have historically been in Glasgow, some having life expectancy as low as mid 50's until recently...

Accra by contrast has many many many challenges but kids stabbing eachother over iPhones and postcodes is not one of them.

But by focusing on visible black boys in London rather than what is a UK wide problem the state can pretend teenage violence was imported

explaining why so many American hoods are so much more violent than than African ones is not something eugenics explanations can help with

Black Americans literally 'less Black' (one drop rule) than continental Africans so by eugenics logic Accra should be worse than Chicago

And if the Nigerian civil war was 'black on black' why was the Japanese rape on Nanking not 'yellow on yellow'?

Lastly roughly as many Russians alone died fighting Nazis ('white on white' crime) as all Africans in all wars on the continent since WW2

It's almost as if the violence of humans racialised as black needs a proper human explanation. Mad I know.

In truth 'gansta' rap and 'niggerisation' helps obscure all this and makes black death an attractive commodity.

If working class youth violence has been a constant in British history for 150 years it's really no surprise what's happening today...

And given that roughy 80% of black Brits live in the poorest wards of the county and middle class Zimbabweans not going going jail/killing🤔

By Zimbabweans I mean Zim immigrants to U.K. who we all know are mostly middle class professionals.

None of this is 'excusing' the youngers just as understanding 'The Troubles' is not excusing any killers there, it's just understanding.

For Americans and others that don't know in London we had a whole police department dedicated to 'black on black' crime until recently

Many of their most high profile cases where mixed heritage men (like Mark Duggan) showing the UK state also likes US1drop rule.

And in Tottenham (where Mark was from) everyone knows organised crime is as much British Turks as BritCaribbean but hey 'black on black'

But anyway. Have a good evening all. 👍🏾"
akala  language  history  race  racism  crime  data  bias  music  nword  rap  hiphop  uk  us  jamaica  caribbean  africa  ghana  glasgow  chicago  cities  violence  gangs  zimbabwe  belfast 
october 2017 by robertogreco
The Great Africanstein Novel | by Namwali Serpell | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
"The title of Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s magisterial first novel, Kintu—first published in Kenya in 2014, then in the US this year by the Oakland-based press Transit Books—is a Luganda word. Luganda is a Bantu language spoken in Uganda; Bantu is a proto-language that just means people; there are languages derived from it all across the African continent. In Zambia, where I’m from, we spell this word chinthu. In both countries, it is pronounced chin-two and it means “thing.” In ancient Buganda mythology, however, Kintu is also the name of the first man, the equivalent to the Judeo-Christian Adam. The implications of this titular oxymoron—a word that means both “thing” and “man”—begin to unfold in the opening pages of Makumbi’s book.

There’s a knock at the door. A woman opens it to four local officials, who rouse her man, Kamu, from sleep and lead him outside for questioning. He assumes they’re there on behalf of a creditor but when they reach a marketplace, they bind his hands. Kamu protests: “Why are you tying me like a thief?” A mob swirls into being like a weather formation, the word thief flying “from here to there, first as a question then as a fact.” Kicks and blows begin to rain down on him, from both the elderly and the young. Arrivals to the scene ask, “‘Is it a thief?’ because Kamu had ceased to be human.” He tries to hold on to his humanity: “Kamu decided he was dreaming. He was Kamu Kintu, human. It was them, bantu. Humans. He would wake up any minute.” He does not.

The account of Kamu’s abrupt, arbitrary death on Monday, January 5, 2004, and the subsequent fate of his corpse in the bureaucratic torpor of Kampala’s morgue, recurs in short fragments at the start of each of the novel’s five sections, which tell the stories of other members of the scattered Kintu clan. First, we jump back three centuries to its first generation, headed by Kintu Kidda, a ppookino, or governor, of the Buddu province in the eighteenth-century Buganda Kingdom. In a moment of irritation, Kintu slaps his adopted son, a Rwandan, and the boy falls down dead. His men bury the body improperly: “the grave was narrow and shallow. They used a stick to measure Kalema’s length, but while the stick fit into the grave, Kalema did not. They crammed him in.” In their haste, the men do not even realize that they have buried the boy beside a burial shrub for dogs. The tragic repercussions of this desecration—“the curse was specific: mental illness, sudden death, and suicide”—ripple across the centuries through the lives of Kintu’s descendants.

Like Charles Dickens or Gabriel García Márquez, Makumbi ranges widely across time and social strata; her knowledge of Ugandan culture seems as precise as a historian’s. We meet Suubi Kintu, a young woman who grows up in a compound, perpetually on the brink of starvation, but is eventually integrated into a middle-class family. Kanani Kintu and his wife, Faisi, members of an evangelical group, the Awakened, bear a twin son and daughter with an uncomfortably close relationship. Isaac Newton Kintu, the product of rape and named for the last lesson his mother learned in school before she dropped out, gets trapped into marriage; when his wife dies, seemingly of AIDS, he anguishes over whether to learn his own HIV status. Miisi Kintu, a writer raised by colonial priests (the “white fathers”) and educated abroad, returns to a postcolonial Kampala still feeling the aftershocks of dictatorship and the bush war of the early Eighties, which killed some of his children. With its progression through generations and its cyclical returns to genetic inheritance—hay fever, twins, madness—Kintu’s structure feels epic.

Kintu continually diverts us from this straightforward path of a curse and its aftermath, however, as well as from our preconceptions about Africa. The polygamous eighteenth-century governor wants nothing more than to be with the woman he loves; the Awakened couple experience their enviably passionate sex life as a torment; the spiritual leader of a ritual cleansing is so “anglicized” that the assembled family members doubt his efficacy. Social class is defined neither by strict stratification nor by upward mobility, but by extreme volatility—economic fates rise and fall almost at random. Servant girls become educated women, sons of professors come to live in slums.

Makumbi’s depiction of local culture also bears little resemblance to standard notions of African “authenticity.” Her Uganda is an unabashed amalgam of Europe and Africa, in everything from cooking to spiritual possession to mental health to sexual mores. As Makumbi said in an interview:
We are both Europeanized and Ugandan. We speak both traditional languages and English. Someone goes to church, but then will go to the traditional healer. Someone is a scientist but will have an intense spiritual life. We have this saying in Uganda: “God help me, but I’m going to run as well.” We think two ways at once.

In the novel, Miisi conjures an image of African postcolonialism that captures this sensibility. He pictures the black torso of the continent but stripped of its limbs, which have been replaced with European ones. “We cannot go back to the operating table and ask for the African limbs,” he writes. “Africa must learn to walk on European legs and work with European arms. As time goes by, children will be born with evolved bodies.” Makumbi’s portmanteau for this Gothic image enacts the very grafting it describes: Africanstein.

Kintu cannot but be in some sense the story of a people, the Ganda, and a nation, Uganda. But its politics are personal. Idi Amin and the bush wars emerge in conversation, in acts of mourning. The ins and outs of the ancient Buganda Kingdom’s secessions and coups seem incidental to the personal tragedy of Kintu Kidda, his wives, and their children. Makumbi has said that she intentionally skipped the nation’s colonial history: “The almost complete lack of colonization was deliberate…. To me colonization was my grandfather’s quarrel.” So, without the usual lenses of class, culture, and colonialism—without “Queen and Country,” so to speak—how are we to read this “African” novel?"



"Oddly enough, despite all this generalizing and pigeonholing, African writers are rarely thought to speak to the universal—in the philosophical sense rather than the platitudinous one. But if, as Makumbi noted at an event in Brooklyn last June, the origin of the human species is probably East Africa, then why can’t Kampala be the center of a profoundly universal inquiry? As its two-faced title—man/thing—suggests, Kintu does in fact have a grand philosophical question in mind. The novel forces us to reckon over and again with what it means to be kintu, to be man, or human. This question plays out across certain boundaries: between men and women, between twins, between life and death, between “mankind” and “animalkind,” between good and evil, between human and supernatural worlds, between foreigners and family, and, of course, between humans and objects."



"Miisi completely loses his grip on reality and starts wearing a Western-style waistcoat and coat over his kanzu. In his dishevelment, he comes to resemble his ancestor with that strange thing/person name, Kintu. Miisi becomes a man “floating in two worlds.” Which two worlds? Boyhood and manhood, past and present, muntu and muzungu, Europe and Africa? “I know who I am,” Miisi tells his daughter, “We are not even Hamites. We are Bantu.” But she thinks, “He is now a different person.” In the end, he is riven by his divisions, “in the middle world between sanity and insanity.”

To survive being human, Kintu suggests, is to hold all these divisions together, gently, to “just be.” This argument about personhood is radical because it rejects a long philosophical tradition of considering “humanity” as a matter of self-containment and integrity, of what the human excludes. It is also radical because Makumbi centers this argument in Uganda. But what better place, with its arbitrarily sketched borders, its pliable myths and cultures, its originary status—cradle of the first human/thing—to stage an interrogation of personhood? As Makumbi has remarked in passing about living as an immigrant in the UK: “Out here you are Ugandan. At home you are just human.”"
jennifernansubugamakumbi  namwaliserpell  books  literature  kintu  kampala  ugnda  africaisnotacountry  2017  toread  universal  universalism  humans  humanism  objects  betweenness  seams  gender  supernatural  middleground  gray  grey  humanity  personhood  integrity  self-containment  borders  identity  myth  culture  sexuality  history  colonialism  postcolonialism  human  colonization  europe  decolonization  frankenstein  africanstein  africa  africans  twins  multispecies  morethanhuman  life  living  philosophy  divisions  interstitial  liminality  liminalspaces  liminalstates  between 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Coordenadas - Limbo Gurugú - 17/07/17, Coordenadas - RTVE.es A la Carta
"El juramento del Gurugú es la última novela del escritor ecuatoguineano Juan Tomás Ávila, sobre las personas migrantes que esperan allí el momento de entrar en Europa. Exiliado de Obiang en Barcelona, lo trae al programa Victor Guerrero. Y descubrimos el último trabajo de Verdcel, The plantes, Talaies i cims, con la presencia de su lider Alfons Olmo.

Escuchamos a The Drums, "Heart Basel"; Chojin ft. Barón, "Solo para adultos"; Stand up, "Something else"; Verdcel, "Foc Amic", "Optimistic"."

[via: https://twitter.com/DedalusAfrica/status/887611112774148096 ]
juantomásávila  2017  interviews  equatorialguinea  race  migration  gurugú  victorguerrero  alfonsolmo  refugees  europe  africa  futbol  soccer  football  writing  books  literature  music  literacy  libraries  guineaecuatorial 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Towards an Internet of Living Things – OpenExplorer Journal – Medium
"Conservation groups are using technology to understand and protect our planet in an entirely new way."

"The Internet of Things (IoT) was an idea that industry always loved. It was simple enough to predict: as computing and sensors become smaller and cheaper, they would be embedded into devices and products that interact with each other and their owners. Fast forward to 2017 and the IoT is in full bloom. Because of the stakes — that every device and machine in your life will be upgraded and harvested for data — companies wasted no time getting in on the action. There are smart thermostats, refrigerators, TVs, cars, and everything else you can imagine.

Industry was first, but they aren’t the only. Now conservationists are taking the lead.

The same chips, sensors (especially cameras) and networks being used to wire up our homes and factories are being deployed by scientists (both professional and amateur) to understand our natural world. It’s an Internet of Living Things. It isn’t just a future of efficiency and convenience. It’s enabling us to ask different questions and understand our world from an entirely new perspective. And just in time. As environmental challenges — everything from coral bleaching to African elephant poaching— continue to mount, this emerging network will serve as the planetary nervous system, giving insight into precisely what actions to take.

It’s a new era of conservation based on real-time data and monitoring. It changes our ecological relationship with the planet by changing the scales at which we can measure — we get both increased granularity, as well as adding a truly macro view of the entire planet. It also allows us to simultaneously (and unbiasedly) measuring the most important part of the equation: ourselves.

Specific and Real-Time

We have had population estimates of species for decades, but things are different now. Before the estimates came from academic fieldwork, and now we’re beginning to rely on vast networks of sensors to monitor and model those same populations in real-time. Take the recent example of Paul Allen’s Domain Awareness System (DAS) that covers broad swaths of West Africa. Here’s an excerpt from the Bloomberg feature:
For years, local rangers have protected wildlife with boots on the ground and sheer determination. Armed guards spend days and nights surrounding elephant herds and horned rhinos, while on the lookout for rogue trespassers.

Allen’s DAS uses technology to go the distance that humans cannot. It relies on three funnels of information: ranger radios, animal tracker tags, and a variety of environmental sensors such as camera traps and satellites. This being the product of the world’s 10th-richest software developer, it sends everything back to a centralized computer system, which projects specific threats onto a map of the monitored region, displayed on large screens in a closed circuit-like security room.

For instance, if a poacher were to break through a geofence sensor set up by a ranger in a highly-trafficked corridor, an icon of a rifle would flag the threat as well as any micro-chipped elephants and radio-carrying rangers in the vicinity.

[video]

These networks are being woven together in ecosystems all over the planet. Old cellphones being turned into rainforest monitoring devices. Drones surveying and processing the health of Koala populations in Australia. The conservation website MongaBay now has a section of their site dedicated to the fast-moving field, which they’ve dubbed WildTech. Professionals and amateurs are gathering in person at events like Make for the Planet and in online communities like Wildlabs.net. It’s game on.

The trend is building momentum because the early results have been so good, especially in terms of resolution. The organization WildMe is using a combination of citizen science (essentially human-powered environmental sensors) and artificial intelligence to identify and monitor individuals in wild populations. As in, meet Struddle the manta ray, number 1264_B201. He’s been sited ten times over the course of 10 years, mostly around the Maldives.

[image]

The combination of precision and pervasiveness means these are more than just passive data-collecting systems. They’re beyond academic, they’re actionable. We can estimate more accurately — there are 352,271 elephants estimated to remain in Africa — but we’re also reacting when something happens — a poacher broke a geofence 10 minutes ago.

The Big Picture

It’s not just finer detail, either. We’re also getting a better bigger picture than we’ve ever had before. We’re watching on a planetary scale.

Of course, advances in satellites are helping. Planet (the company) has been a major driving force. Over the past few years they’ve launched hundreds of small imaging satellites and have created an earth-imaging constellation that has ambitions of getting an image of every location on earth, every day. Like Google Earth, but near-real-time and the ability to search along the time horizon. An example of this in action, Planet was able to catch an illegal gold mining operation in the act in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest.

[image]

It’s not just satellites, it’s connectivity more broadly. Traditionally analog wildlife monitoring is going online. Ornithology gives us a good example of this. For the past century, the study of birds have relied on amateur networks of enthusiasts — the birders — to contribute data on migration and occurrence studies. (For research that spans long temporal time spans or broad geographic areas, citizen science is often the most effective method.) Now, thanks to the ubiquity of mobile phones, birding is digitized and centralized on platforms like eBird and iNaturalist. You can watch the real-time submissions and observations:

[image]

Sped up, we get the visual of species-specific migrations over the course of a year:

[animated GIF]

Human Activity

The network we’re building isn’t all glass, plastic and silicon. It’s people, too. In the case of the birders above, the human component is critical. They’re doing the legwork, getting into the field and pointing the cameras. They’re both the braun and the (collective) brain of the operation.

Keeping humans in the loop has it’s benefits. It’s allowing these networks to scale faster. Birders with smartphones and eBird can happen now, whereas a network of passive forest listening devices would take years to build (and would be much more expensive to maintain). It also makes these systems better adept at managing ethical and privacy concerns — people are involved in the decision making at all times. But the biggest benefit of keeping people in the loop, is that we can watch them—the humans—too. Because as much as we’re learning about species and ecosystems, we also need to understand how we ourselves are affected by engaging and perceiving the natural world.

We’re getting more precise measurements of species and ecosystems (a better small picture), as well as a better idea of how they’re all linked together (a better big picture). But we’re also getting an accurate sense of ourselves and our impact on and within these systems (a better whole picture).

We’re still at the beginning of measuring the human-nature boundary, but the early results suggests it will help the conservation agenda. A sub-genre of neuroscience called neurobiophilia has emerged to study the effects on nature on our brain function. (Hint: it’s great for your health and well-being.) National Geographic is sending some of their explorers into the field wired up with Fitbits and EEG machines. The emerging academic field of citizen science seems to be equally concerned with the effects of participation than it is with outcomes. So far, the science is indicating that engagement in the data collecting process has measurable effects on the community’s ability to manage different issues. The lesson here: not only is nature good for us, but we can evolve towards a healthier perspective. In a world approaching 9 billion people, this collective self-awareness will be critical.

What’s next

Just as fast as we’re building this network, we’re learning what it’s actually capable of doing. As we’re still laying out the foundation, the network is starting to come alive. The next chapter is applying machine learning to help make sense of the mountains of data that these systems are producing. Want to quickly survey the dispersion of arctic ponds? Here. Want to count and classify the number of fish you’re seeing with your underwater drone? We’re building that. In a broad sense, we’re “closing the loop” as Chris Anderson explained in an Edge.org interview:
If we could measure the world, how would we manage it differently? This is a question we’ve been asking ourselves in the digital realm since the birth of the Internet. Our digital lives — clicks, histories, and cookies — can now be measured beautifully. The feedback loop is complete; it’s called closing the loop. As you know, we can only manage what we can measure. We’re now measuring on-screen activity beautifully, but most of the world is not on screens.

As we get better and better at measuring the world — wearables, Internet of Things, cars, satellites, drones, sensors — we are going to be able to close the loop in industry, agriculture, and the environment. We’re going to start to find out what the consequences of our actions are and, presumably, we’ll take smarter actions as a result. This journey with the Internet that we started more than twenty years ago is now extending to the physical world. Every industry is going to have to ask the same questions: What do we want to measure? What do we do with that data? How can we manage things differently once we have that data? This notion of closing the loop everywhere is perhaps the biggest endeavor of … [more]
davidlang  internetofthings  nature  life  conservation  tracking  2017  data  maps  mapping  sensors  realtime  iot  computing  erth  systems  wildlife  australia  africa  maldives  geofencing  perú  birds  ornithology  birding  migration  geography  inaturalist  ebird  mobile  phones  crowdsourcing  citizenscience  science  classideas  biology 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Contemporary African Artists You Should Know | WideWalls
"Tracey Rose - The Self-Portraitist
El Anatsui - The Sewing Installation Master
Sokari Douglas Camp - The Art of the Ritual
Abdoulaye Konate - The Tapestry Artist
William Kentridge - A Rebel of Expressionism
Ibrahim el-Salahi - The Legend of African Modernism
Julie Mehretu - Creating Abstract Realities
Marlene Dumas - The Portraitist
Kudzanai Chiurai - The Zimbabwe Wonder
Faith47 - A South African Street Wonderer
Meschac Gaba - The Creator of the Museum of Contemporary African Art
Wangechi Mutu - Depicting Colonization and Gender Issues
Zanele Muholi - Supporting the African Queer Community
Ghada Amer - Questioning Femininity Stereotypes
Ato Malinda - The Prominent Performer"
art  artists  africa  traceyrose  elanatsui  atomalinda  ghadaamer  zanelemuholi  wangechimutu  meschacgaba  fait47  kudzanaichiurai  marlenedumas  juliemehretu  ibrahimel-salahi  williamkentridge  abdoulayeknate  sokaridouglascamp 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Earth Timelapse
[via: "Watch The Movements Of Every Refugee On Earth Since The Year 2000: The story we tell ourselves about the refugee crisis is very different from the reality."
https://www.fastcompany.com/40423720/watch-the-movements-of-every-refugee-on-earth-since-the-year-2000

"In 2016, more refugees arrived in Uganda–including nearly half a million people from South Sudan alone–than crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. While the numbers in Africa are increasing, the situation isn’t new: As the world continues to focus on the European refugee crisis, an equally large crisis has been unfolding in Africa.

A new visualization shows the flow of refugees around the world from 2000 to 2015, and makes the lesser-known story in Africa–and in places like Sri Lanka in 2006 or Colombia in 2007–as obvious as what has been happening more recently in Syria. Each yellow dot represents 17 refugees leaving a country, and each red dot represents refugees arriving somewhere else. (The full version of the map, too large to display here, represents every single refugee in the world with a dot.)

Here’s some of what you’re seeing: In 2001, tens of thousands of refugees fled conflict in Afghanistan, while others fled civil war in Sudan (including the “Lost Boys,” orphans who in some cases were resettled in the U.S.). By 2003, the genocide in Darfur pushed even more people from Sudan. In 2006, war drove Lebanese citizens to Syria; Sri Lankans fleeing civil war went to India. In 2007, as conflict worsened in Colombia, refugees fled to nearby countries such as Venezuela. After leading demonstrations in Burma against dictatorial rule, Buddhist monks and others fled to Thailand. In 2008, a surge of Tibetan refugees fled to India, while Afghan, Iraqi, and Somali refugees continued to leave their home countries in large numbers. By 2009, Germany was taking in large numbers of refugees from countries such as Iraq. In 2010, another surge of refugees left Burma, while others left Cuba. By 2012, the civil war in Syria pushed huge numbers of refugees into countries such as Jordan. Ukrainian refugees began to flee unrest in 2013, and in greater numbers by 2014.

By 2015, the greatest number of refugees were coming from Syria, though mass movement from African countries such as South Sudan also continued–and because most of those refugees went to neighboring countries rather than Europe, the migration received less media attention. In 2015, the U.S. resettled 69,933 refugees; Uganda, with a population roughly eight times smaller, took in more than 100,000 people. Developing countries host nearly 90% of the world’s refugees.

“Often the debates we have in society start with emotion and extreme thoughts, like, ‘Oh, refugees are invading the U.S.,'” says Illah Nourbakhsh, director of the Community Robotics, Education, and Technology Empowerment (CREATE) Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, the lab that developed the technology used create the new visualization. “You can’t get past that–you can’t build common ground for people to actually talk about real issues and how to solve them.”

Showing people data in an animated, interactive visualization, he says, is “an interesting shortcut into your brain, where the visual evidence is more rhetorically compelling than any graph or chart that I show you. That visual evidence often moves you from somebody who’s questioning the data to somebody who can see the data. And now they want to talk about what to do about it.”

The lab began working on its Explorables project, a platform designed to help make sense of big data, four years ago. To make big data–with billions of data points, dozens of different fields of information, changing over time–easier to explore, the platform layers animations over maps.

The team has also used systems like Google Earth to explore big data, but even it can only display a few hundred markers, and it requires installation on computers. The researchers realized that they could use a graphics processor in someone’s computer directly, in the same way that a video game does. “What’s kind of cool is that the video game revolution has changed the computer’s architecture over the last decade,” he says. “So the computers have this amazing ability to very quickly render on the screen.” That technology is combined with an ability to display only the resolution needed for the data you’re zoomed in on, making it possible to share massive amounts of data."]
timelines  maps  mapping  refugees  migration  afghanistan  sudan  darfur  lebanon  syria  venezuela  colombia  burma  india  srilanka  southsudan  uganda  africa  europe  jordan  ukraine  cuba  tibet  somalia  thailand  germany  iraq 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Watch Full Episodes Online of Africa's Great Civilizations on PBS | Origins | Hour One
"Journey with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. to Kenya, Egypt and beyond as he discovers the origins of man, the formation of early human societies and the creation of significant cultural and scientific achievements on the African continent."
africa  henrylouisgatesjr  history  classideas  2017  pbs 
march 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger, Written in the night: The pain of living in the present world
"I WANT to say at least something about the pain existing in the world today. Consumerist ideology, which has become the most powerful and invasive on the planet, sets out to persuade us that pain is an accident, something that we can insure against. This is the logical basis for the ideology's pitilessness.

Everyone knows, of course, that pain is endemic to life, and wants to forget this or relativise it. All the variants of the myth of a Fall from the Golden Age, before pain existed, are an attempt to relativise the pain suffered on earth. So too is the invention of Hell, the adjacent kingdom of pain-as-punishment. Likewise the discovery of Sacrifice. And later, much later, the principle of Forgiveness. One could argue that philosophy began with the question: why pain?

Yet, when all this has been said, the present pain of living in the world is perhaps in some ways unprecedented.

I write in the night, although it is daytime. A day in early October 2002. For almost a week the sky above Paris has been blue. Each day the sunset is a little earlier and each day gloriously beautiful. Many fear that before the end of the month, US military forces will be launching the preventive war against Iraq, so that the US oil corporations can lay their hands on further and supposedly safer oil supplies. Others hope that this can be avoided. Between the announced decisions and the secret calculations, everything is kept unclear, since lies prepare the way for missiles. I write in a night of shame. By shame I do not mean individual guilt. Shame, as I'm coming to understand it, is a species feeling which, in the long run, corrodes the capacity for hope and prevents us looking far ahead. We look down at our feet, thinking only of the next small step.

People everywhere, under very different conditions, are asking themselves - where are we? The question is historical not geographical. What are we living through? Where are we being taken? What have we lost? How to continue without a plausible vision of the future? Why have we lost any view of what is beyond a lifetime?

The well-heeled experts answer. Globalisation. Postmodernism. Communications revolution. Economic liberalism. The terms are tautological and evasive. To the anguished question of where are we, the experts murmur: nowhere. Might it not be better to see and declare that we are living through the most tyrannical - because the most pervasive - chaos that has ever existed? It's not easy to grasp the nature of the tyranny for its power structure (ranging from the 200 largest multinational corporations to the Pentagon) is interlocking yet diffuse, dictatorial yet anonymous, ubiquitous yet placeless. It tyrannises from off shore - not only in terms of fiscal law, but in terms of any political control beyond its own. Its aim is to delocalise the entire world. Its ideo logical strategy, besides which Osama bin Laden's is a fairy tale, is to undermine the existent so that everything collapses into its special version of the virtual, from the realm of which (and this is the tyranny's credo) there will be a never-ending source of profit. It sounds stupid. Tyrannies are stupid. This one is destroying at every level the life of the planet on which it operates.

Ideology apart, its power is based on two threats. The first is intervention from the sky by the most heavily armed state in the world. One could call it Threat B52. The second is of ruthless indebtment, bankruptcy, and hence, given the present productive relations in the world, starvation. One could call it Threat Zero.

The shame begins with the contestation (which we all acknowledge somewhere but, out of powerlessness, dismiss) that much of the present suffering could be alleviated or avoided if certain realistic and relatively simple decisions were taken. There is a very direct relation today between the minutes of meetings and minutes of agony.

Does anyone deserve to be condemned to certain death simply because they don't have access to treatment which would cost less than $2 a day? This was a question posed by the director of the World Health Organisation last July. She was talking about the Aids epidemic in Africa and elsewhere from which an estimated 68 million people will die within the next 18 years. I'm talking about the pain of living in the present world.

Most analyses and prognoses about what is happening are understandably presented and studied within the framework of their separate disciplines: economics, politics, media studies, public health, ecology, national defence, criminology, education. In reality each of these separ ate fields is joined to another to make up the real terrain of what is being lived. It happens that in their lives people suffer from wrongs which are classified in separate categories, and suffer them simultaneously and inseparably.

A current example: some Kurds, who fled last week to Cherbourg, have been refused asylum by the French government and risk being repatriated to Turkey, are poor, politically undesirable, landless, exhausted, illegal and the clients of nobody. And they suffer each of these conditions at one and the same second. To take in what is happening, an interdisciplinary vision is necessary in order to connect the fields which are institutionally kept separate. And any such vision is bound to be (in the original sense of the word) political. The precondition for thinking politically on a global scale is to see the unity of the unnecessary suffering taking place. This is the starting point.

I WRITE in the night, but I see not only the tyranny. If that were so, I would probably not have the courage to continue. I see people sleeping, stirring, getting up to drink water, whispering their projects or their fears, making love, praying, cooking something whilst the rest of the family is asleep, in Baghdad and Chicago. (Yes, I see too the forever invincible Kurds, 4,000 of whom were gassed, with US compliance, by Saddam Hussein.) I see pastrycooks working in Tehran and the shepherds, thought of as bandits, sleeping beside their sheep in Sardinia, I see a man in the Friedrichshain quarter of Berlin sitting in his pyjamas with a bottle of beer reading Heidegger, and he has the hands of a proletarian, I see a small boat of illegal immigrants off the Spanish coast near Alicante, I see a mother in Mali - her name is Aya which means born on Friday - swaying her baby to sleep, I see the ruins of Kabul and a man going home, and I know that, despite the pain, the ingenuity of the survivors is undiminished, an ingenuity which scavenges and collects energy, and in the ceaseless cunning of this ingenuity, there is a spiritual value, something like the Holy Ghost. I am convinced of this in the night, although I don't know why.

The next step is to reject all the tyranny's discourse. Its terms are crap. In the interminably repetitive speeches, announcements, press conferences and threats, the recurrent terms are Democracy, Justice, Human Rights, Terrorism. Each word in the context signifies the opposite of what it was once meant to. Each has been trafficked, each has become a gang's code-word, stolen from humanity.

Democracy is a proposal (rarely realised) about decision-making; it has little to do with election campaigns. Its promise is that political decisions be made after, and in the light of, consultation with the governed. This is depend ent upon the governed being adequately informed about the issues in question, and upon the decision-makers having the capacity and will to listen and take account of what they have heard. Democracy should not be confused with the freedom of binary choices, the publication of opinion polls or the crowding of people into statistics. These are its pretence. Today the fundamental decisions, which effect the unnecessary pain increasingly suffered across the planet, have been and are taken unilaterally without any open consultation or participation. For instance, how many US citizens, if consulted, would have said specifically yes to Bush's withdrawal from the Kyoto agreement about the carbon dioxide greenhouse effect which is already provoking disastrous floods in many places, and threatens, within the next 25 years, far worse disasters? Despite all the media-managers of consent, I would suspect a minority.

It is a little more than a century ago that Dvořák composed his Symphony From the New World. He wrote it whilst directing a conservatory of music in New York, and the writing of it inspired him to compose, 18 months later, still in New York, his sublime Cello Concerto. In the symphony the horizons and rolling hills of his native Bohemia become the promises of the New World. Not grandiloquent but loud and continuing, for they correspond to the longings of those without power, of those who are wrongly called simple, of those the US Constitution addressed in 1787.

I know of no other work of art which expresses so directly and yet so toughly (Dvořák was the son of a peasant and his father dreamt of his becoming a butcher) the beliefs which inspired generation after generation of migrants who became US citizens.

For Dvořák the force of these beliefs was inseparable from a kind of tenderness, a respect for life such as can be found intimately among the governed (as distinct from governors) everywhere. And it was in this spirit that the symphony was publicly received when it was first performed at Carnegie Hall (16 December 1893).

Dvořák was asked what he thought about the future of American music and he recommended that US composers listen to the music of the Indians and blacks. The Symphony From the New World expressed a hopefulness without frontiers which, paradoxically, is welcoming because centered on an idea of home. A utopian paradox.

Today the power of the same country which inspired such hopes has fallen into the hands of a coterie of fanatical (wanting to limit everything except the power of capital), ignorant (recognising only the reality of their own fire-power), hypo critical (two measures for all ethical judgments, one … [more]
johnberger  2013  presence  present  consumerism  pain  ideology  worldhealthorganization  aids  africa  health  healthcare  priorities  power  powerlessness  kurds  turkey  iraq  war  tyranny  baghdad  saddamhussein  democracy  decisionmaking  participatory  participation  dvořák  us  military  freedom  economics  capitalism  language  euphemisms  media  resistance  words 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Chris Hadfield on Twitter: "With celebrity death and elections taking the media by the nose, it’s easy to forget that this year saw a great many positives. Let’s look."
[See also: "99 Reasons 2016 Was a Good Year: Our media feeds are echo chambers. And those echo chambers don’t just reflect our political beliefs; they reflect our feelings about human progress. Bad news is a bubble too."
https://medium.com/future-crunch/99-reasons-why-2016-has-been-a-great-year-for-humanity-8420debc2823#.tj7kowhpd

"With celebrity death and elections taking the media by the nose, it’s easy to forget that this year saw a great many positives. Let’s look.

1. The Colombian government and FARC rebels committed to a lasting peace, ending a war that killed or displaced over 7 million people.

2. Sri Lanka spent five years working to exile the world’s deadliest disease from their borders. As of 2016, they are malaria free.

3. The Giant Panda, arguably the world’s second cutest panda, has official been removed from the endangered species list.

4. @astro_timpeake became the first ESA astronaut from the UK, symbolizing a renewed British commitment to space exploration.

5. Tiger numbers around the world are on the rise for the first time in 100 years, with plans to double by 2022.

6. Juno, a piece of future history, successfully flew over 588 million miles and is now sending back unprecedented data from Jupiter.

7. The number of veterans in the US who are homeless has halved in the past half-decade, with a nearly 20% drop in 2016.

8. Malawi lowered its HIV rate by 67%, and in the past decade have seen a shift in public health that has saved over 250,000 lives.

9. Air travel continue to get safer, and 2016 saw the second fewest per capita deaths in aviation of any year on record.

10. India’s dogged commitment to reforestation saw a single day event planting more than 50 million trees, a world record.

11. Measles has been eradicated from the Americas. A 22 year vaccination campaign has led to the elimination of the historic virus.

12. After a century, Einstein’s theory of gravitational waves has been proven correct, in a ‘moon shot’ scientific achievement.

13. China has announced a firm date for the end of the ivory trade, as public opinion is becoming more staunchly environmentalist.

14. A solar powered airplane flew across the Pacific Ocean for the first time, highlighting a new era of energy possibilities.

15. Costa Rica’s entire electrical grid ran on renewable energy for over half the year, and their capacity continues to grow.

16. Israeli and US researchers believe they are on the brink of being able to cure radiation sickness, after successful tests this year.

17. The ozone layer has shown that through tackling a problem head on, the world can stem environmental disasters, together.

18. A new treatment for melanoma has seen a 40% survival rate, taking a huge step forward towards long-term cancer survivability.

19. An Ebola vaccine was developed by Canadian researchers with 100% efficacy. Humans eradicated horror, together.

20. British Columbia protected 85% of the world’s largest temperate rainforest, in a landmark environmental agreement.

21. 2016 saw the designation of more than 40 new marine sanctuaries in 20 countries, covering an area larger than the United States.

22. These marine reserves include Malaysia’s 13 year struggle to complete a million hectare park, completed this year.

23. This also includes the largest marine reserve in history, created in Antarctica via an unprecedented agreement by 24 nations.

24. Atmospheric acid pollution, once a gloomy reality, has been tackled to the point of being almost back to pre-industrial levels.

25. Major diseases are in decline. The US saw a 50% mortality drop in colon cancer; lower heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia.

26. Uruguay successfully fought tobacco companies to create a precedent for small countries looking to introduce health-focused legislation.

27. World hunger has reached its lowest point in 25 years, and with poverty levels dropping worldwide, seems likely to continue.

28. The A.U. made strides to become more unified, launching an all-Africa passport meant to allow for visa-free travel for all citizens.

29. Fossil fuel emissions flatlined in 2016, with the Paris agreement becoming the fastest UN treaty to become international law.

30. China announced a ban on new coal mines, with renewed targets to increase electrical capacity through renewables by 2020.

31. One third of Dutch prison cells are empty as the crime rate shrank by more than 25% in the last eight years, continuing to drop.

32. In August went to the high Arctic with some incredible young artists. They helped open my eyes to the promise of the next generation.

33. Science, economics, and environmentalism saw a reversal in the overfishing trends of the United States this year.

34. @BoyanSlat successfully tested his Ocean Cleanup prototype, and aims to clean up to 40% of ocean-borne plastics starting this year.

35. Israel now produces 55% of its freshwater, turning what is one of the driest countries on earth into an agricultural heartland.

36. The Italian government made it harder to waste food, creating laws that provided impetus to collect, share and donate excess meals.

37. People pouring ice on their head amusingly provided the ALS foundation with enough funding to isolate a genetic cause of the disease.

38. Manatees, arguably the most enjoyable animal to meet when swimming, are no longer endangered.

39. Grizzlies, arguable the least enjoyable animal to meet while swimming, no longer require federal protection in US national parks.

40. Global aid increased 7%, with money being designated to helping the world’s 65 million refugees doubling.

41. 2016 was the most charitable year in American history. China’s donations have increased more than ten times since a decade ago.

42. The Gates Foundation announced another 5 billion dollars towards eradicating poverty and disease in Africa.

43. Individual Canadians were so welcoming that the country set a world standard for how to privately sponsor and resettle refugees.

44. Teenage birth rates in the United States have never been lower, while at the same time graduation rates have never been higher.

45. SpaceX made history by landing a rocket upright after returning from space, potentially opening a new era of space exploration.

46. Finally - The Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years, giving hope to Maple Leafs fans everywhere. Happy New Year.

There are countless more examples, big and small. If you refocus on the things that are working, your year will be better than the last."
chrishadfield  optimism  2016  improvement  trends  humanity  earth  environment  economics  health  poverty  refugees  crime  news  imprisonment  incarceration  prisons  us  canada  india  reforestation  forests  vaccinations  measles  manatees  tigers  giantpandas  wildlife  animals  multispecies  endangeredanimals  change  progress  oceans  pollutions  peace  war  colombia  government  srilanka  space  science  pacificocean  china  energy  sustainability  costarica  electricity  reneableenergy  britishcolumbia  ebola  ozone  africa  uruguay  smoking  disease  healthcare  dementia  mortality  environmentalism  italy  italia  bears  grizzlybears  spacex  gatesfoundation  angusharvey 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Everyday Media Culture in Africa: Audiences and Users (Hardback) - Routledge
"African audiences and users are rapidly gaining in importance and increasingly targeted by global media companies, social media platforms and mobile phone operators. This is the first edited volume that addresses the everyday lived experiences of Africans in their interaction with different kinds of media: old and new, state and private, elite and popular, global and national, material and virtual. So far, the bulk of academic research on media and communication in Africa has studied media through the lens of media-state relations, thereby adopting liberal democracy as the normative ideal and examining the potential contribution of African media to development and democratization. Focusing instead on everyday media culture in a range of African countries, this volume contributes to the broader project of provincializing and decolonizing audience and internet studies."



"Table of Contents

Foreword
Paddy Scannell

1. Decolonizing and provincializing audience and internet studies: contextual approaches from African vantage points
Wendy Willems and Winston Mano

2. Media culture in Africa? A practice-ethnographic approach
Jo Helle Valle

3. ‘The African listener‘: state-controlled radio, subjectivity, and agency in colonial and post-colonial Zambia
Robert Heinze

4. Popular engagement with tabloid TV: a Zambian case study
Herman Wasserman and Loisa Mbatha

5. ‘Our own WikiLeaks’: popularity, moral panic and tabloid journalism in Zimbabwe
Admire Mare

6. Audience perceptions of radio stations and journalists in the Great Lakes region
Marie-Soleil Frère

7. Audience participation and BBC’s digital quest in Nigeria
Abdullahi Tasiu Abubakar

8. ‘Radio locked on @Citi973’: Twitter use by FM radio listeners in Ghana
Seyram Avle

9. Mixing with MXit when you're ‘mix’: mobile phones and identity in a small South African town
Alette Schoon and Larry Strelitz

10. Brokers of belonging: elders and intermediaries in Kinshasa’s mobile phone culture
Katrien Pype

11. Agency behind the veil: gender, digital media and being ‘ninja’ in Zanzibar
Thembi Mutch"
africa  media  books  everyday  culture  communication  2017  wendywillems  winstonmano  thembimutch  katrienpype  aletteschoon  larrystrelitz  seyramavle  marie-soleilfrère  abdullahitasiuabubakar  admiremare  hermanwasserman  loisambatha  robertheinze  johellevalle  paddyscannell  decolonization  audiences  radio  zambia  zimbabwe  nigeria  uganda  rwanda  ghana  southafrica  congo  drg  kinshasa  zanzibar  digital  twitter  bbc 
december 2016 by robertogreco
theMagunga Bookstore - theMagunga Bookstore
"theMagunga is a theatre of stories. We collect stories and put them up so you can dwell in them, revel in their beauty and share that beauty with the world. We publish stories in many forms, we review books and we partner with lit festivals. In the spirit of continuing to share beautifully written words, theMagunga decided to open this online bookstore, to promote the distribution and reading of Kenyan and African books.

It’s about spreading the word (literally) and also about convenience. Order online, from the website, and have the book delivered to you for FREE within the Nairobi CBD and its environs. Since we are passionate about stories as well as improving the reading culture in our society, we strive to provide the best possible deals on the books we stock.

So go check out our bookstore and get your read need satiated. It is, after all, what you know theMagunga does best.

Thank you for shopping with us."

[via: http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/bringing-african-books-back-home ]
bookstores  booksellers  magungawilliams  abigailarunga  davidmabiria  odouroduko  nairobi  kenya  africa 
november 2016 by robertogreco
How Dutch Wax Fabrics Became a Mainstay of African Fashion
"The Philadelphia Museum of Art examines the past and present of Vlisco fabrics, a symbol of our hyperconnected, postcolonial material world."
vlisco  africa  textiles  fabrics  waxfabrics  2016  fashion 
november 2016 by robertogreco
100 African Writers of SFF — Part One: Nairobi | Tor.com
"An African writer who makes mix tapes of game soundtracks. A Nairobi filmmaker with Nietzsche on his smart phone. A chess champion who loves Philip K Dick. An African SF poet who quotes the Beatniks… meet the new New Wave in Nairobi, Kenya. Part one of our series 100 African Writers of SFF.

About that title…

100: Because it’s easy to remember. More like 120 or 130 writers, but many I won’t get to meet. I’ll list as many as I can by location, by social scene. Because people, even writers, succeed in groups.

AFRICAN: Meaning mostly people with African citizenship in Africa, but I’m not going to be draconian. Writers like Nnedi Okorafor and Sofia Samatar are beacons to young Africans. They take an active role in African publishing projects—Nnedi with Lagos 2060 and AfroSF and Sofia with the Jalada Afrofuture(s) anthology, which she helped edit. “African” itself is a dubious concept. I will try to use more precise terms—nations, cities, and peoples.

WRITERS: Will include filmmakers, poets and comics artists. Not all of them have published frequently. Some have only published themselves, but given the lack of publisher opportunities, I think that’s enterprising. They’re still writers.

SFF: Stands for science fiction and fantasy. I use the term in its broadest sense to include generic SF and fantasy, horror, alternative histories, speculative fiction, slipstream, variations on Kafka, fables, nonsense and more.

Some of the most powerful African writing has elements that would be fantastical in the West, but which are everyday in traditional cultures. I use two distinct terms to describe some of the works by these writers—“traditional belief realism” as distinct from “traditional belief fantasy.” The first category includes Tail Of The Blue Bird by Nii Parkes and Kintu by Nansubuga Makumbi. Traditional belief fantasy is actually the older genre, exampled by The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola or Forest of a Thousand Demons by D.O. Fagunwa.

However, many of these new writers bear the same relation to oral literature that (in a different context), Bob Dylan bore to folk music. Family stories are a springboard to something original, that mashes together any language or material that helps these writers express themselves.

What may be special to Nairobi—and perhaps to countries like Nigeria as well—is the way in which monotheistic, traditional, and scientific belief systems hover in proximity to each other, often without a sense of contradiction."
africa  sciencefiction  scifi  lists  literature  nairobi  kenya  toread  2016 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Wells Fargo - Watch Out! Documentary -
"Well folks, here it is: our radio documentary on Wells Fargo, the best band you’ve never heard of. In this 30 minute piece, Pat Mesiti-Miller takes you along for a crazy ride through the chaotic and (honestly) fascinating story of a band who refused to quit in the face of seemingly insurmountable social and political odds. Lots of bands have touted themselves as being groundbreaking or revolutionaries but we think it’s time you meet one who actually were. Suffice to say, this thing gets crazy and features everything from accounts of police brutality to a meteoric career rise to Jimi Hendrix riffs, so buckle up and clear your calendar for the next half hour because you aren’t going to want to miss a second of this."

[See also: https://www.hoodline.com/2016/06/event-spotlight-listen-to-1960s-zimbabwean-soul-music-at-vinyl-this-thursday ]

[via: https://twitter.com/ztsamudzi/status/747848014203543552 ]
music  zimbabwe  patmesiti-miller  welssfargo  1970s  africa 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Six Implications of Brexit, Through the Eyes of a Foreign Resident – Zainab Usman
"1. An Anti-Establishment Vote by the Marginalised

The Brexit vote is a political backlash against the ‘establishment’, a catch all phrase for politicians, the media, economic institutions, or those with power. The way I see it, and as many analysts and economists have pointed out, this backlash is a political response to the progressive decline in material wellbeing of the middle class, from Thatcher’s reforms in the 1980s and exacerbated by the 2008 financial crisis, a phenomenon neither seriously acknowledged nor addressed. There are so many grievances by working class and blue collar workers, displaced by steady loss of competitiveness and deindustrialisation of British manufacturing and the aftermath of the financial crisis. Since 2010, the austerity policies of massive cuts in social welfare and gross underinvestment in public services have pushed many in the working class to economic precarity while the financial institutions in the thick of it all were bailed out by the government with tax-payer funds, and rewarded their top executives with hefty bonuses. The average worker saw a 8% decline in real wages between 2008 and 2013, according to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). Not to exaggerate, but there is a rise in food banks, an indication of rising food poverty in the world’s fifth largest economy.

Amidst all this, what I’ve always found astonishing is the dearth of critical commentary to articulate the grievances of this disadvantaged demographic in the public sphere especially in the British media. It is generally pro-establishment, including the so-called left-leaning press. Watching and following political commentaries, I’m often astonished at the sameness of views of most commentators, while critical voices are often savaged by the press, and thereby marginalised. Look no further at how both UK Independence Party (UKIP)’s Nigel Farage and Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn on the far-right and far-left respectively, both propelled to power by vibrant grassroots movements are usually savaged daily in the press, and portrayed as loony, sloppy, and unsophisticated. In the run up to the referendum, there were few insights into the lives of everyday people who would be making this momentous decision, with the exception of this short documentary by The Guardian, released a day before the vote.

The referendum thus presented an opportunity for these marginalised, maligned and angry voices to speak, and this was their decision. For many, it was a vote against a ‘technocracy’ in Brussels, in Westminster, which formulated economic policies that they felt rightly or wrongly did not favour them but did an already advantaged ‘elite’. With the Brexit vote, I hope more politicians, journalists, and the commentariat will now be more open to actually listening to what the people are saying and are feeling, without being derisory

2. Britain: Beset by Class, Economic and Regional Disparities

Brexit and the lively debates which preceded it have unearthed and reinforced deep divisions in the U.K. The deeply ingrained and institutionalised class divisions across all spheres of British life in business, politics, the media, academia and the arts, never cease to amaze me. Even top chefs and top actors are Oxbridge educated or Eton alumni, as these reports by the Social Mobility and Child Welfare Commission in 2014, and by the Sutton Trust in 2016 revealed. Of course private education is inherently not bad, but it is the limited scope for social mobility and the hegemony of ideas that this represents that I find discomforting.

Numerous reports have been published since 2008 about rising economic inequalities, graduate unemployment, housing crisis, a strain on public services etc., leaving many behind, and reinforcing the privilege of elite Oxbridge, Public School (i.e. private school) and personal networks who sit atop all spheres. I’m neither ideological nor a huge fan of the Left, but it is the limited scope for social mobility across all strata in British public life, especially in the media and the arts, that I worry about. Most of the big newspapers (the Times, Daily Mail, Telegraph, Mirror, the Financial Times etc) are right of centre or very right wing (but not quite far right).

No wonder, there was a surge of support for the far-right and far-left movements during the general elections in 2015, and afterwards in Nigel Farage’s UKIP, Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party (SNP) and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, most of which were actually grassroots movements. Regionally, areas with higher unemployment, closed industries, preferred to Leave, including surprise surprise, the highly diverse Birmingham. While more prosperous and cosmopolitan areas such as London and Manchester preferred to Remain in the EU. Scotland, which is under the political control of the left-wing SNP overwhelmingly voted to Remain as illustrated below.

3. ‘Project Hate’s’ Victory Will Embolden Other Far-Right Movements



4. Scapegoating Foreigners and Minorities



5. Implications for Africa and the Commonwealth



6. Whither the International Liberal Order?"
brexit  2016  politics  policy  marginalization  economics  media  establisment  elitism  technocracy  class  geography  classism  zainabusman  inequality  poverty  precarity  derision  unemployment  housing  privilege  grassroots  stability  donaldtrump  nativism  racism  immigration  scapegoating  africa  commonwealth  neoliberalism  xenophobia  jocox  markets 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Maru-a-Pula School
"Maru-a-Pula (MaP) is a world-class school rooted in Botswana. Our purpose is to nurture servant leaders who are deeply committed to helping their communities. Founded in 1972, MaP is a co-ed, independent day & boarding secondary school with a reputation as one of Africa’s premier academic institutions.

Located on a beautiful campus in the capital city of Gaborone, MaP offers rigorous preparation for the Cambridge IGCSE, AS and A-Level examinations, preparing students for entry to highly selective universities worldwide."
schools  botswana  africa  via:steelemaley  education  boardingschools 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Africa Has Always Been Sci-Fi | Literary Hub
"As Afrofuturism has begun to migrate back to the motherland in earnest, the same relative dearth continues to plague theorists and writers. Even Mark Bould, whose introduction to Paradoxa’s issue on African science fiction offers a comprehensive if nebulous syllabus, implies that it is nascent: “If African sf has not arrived, it is certainly approaching fast.” The appearance of a deluge—a trend, a fad—is in effect a trickle. Is this just what happens when you cross blackness with futurity? As Dery asks of African Americans, “Can a community whose past has been deliberately rubbed out, and whose energies have subsequently been consumed by the search for legible traces of its history, imagine possible futures?” Or is this lack specific to African literature, where energies might seem to be better directed toward, say, political critique of corruption, poverty, disease, and unemployment?

Nnedi Okorafor, born in the United States to Nigerian immigrants, both bridges this breach and fills it. She appears on lists of black sci-fi on either side of the Atlantic. And while she says that she has “issues with [the label] Afrofuturism,” she is one of the most prolific black writers of speculative fiction out there, and has set several of her fantasy and science fiction novels on the continent. Okorafor, in other words, is Afropolitan and African American: she insists that her “flavor of sci-fi is evenly Naijamerican (note: ‘Naija’ is slang for Nigeria or Nigerian).” Yet in an essay on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America website, Okorafor herself bemoans the scant canon:
Here’s my list of “African SF.” It’s really short … How do I define African SF? I don’t. I know it when I see it … The main fact is that this list DOES exist. Africans ARE writing their own science fiction, contrary to what some may think. But the fact is that Africans need to also write more of it.

When building a canon, the question of inclusion becomes paramount. If the African v. African American debate seems unduly academic or divisive, just imagine when the question of race comes in: what does it mean, as Okorafor notes, that the first major African science fiction film, District 9, was directed by a white South African? In another essay, “Is Africa Ready for Science Fiction?,” Okorafor cites two experts—a Nollywood director and a scholar of African fiction—who both essentially say no. Though she is more optimistic on the question, Okorafor explains: “In Africa, science fiction is still perceived as not being real literature. It is not serious writing.… African audiences don’t feel that science fiction is really concerned with what’s real, what’s present. It’s not tangible.”

But to take the intangible, the unreal, the absent and make of them a world is precisely the mandate of science fiction. In his remarkable ur-Afrofuturist film Space is the Place (1974), Sun Ra, adorned in Egyptian regalia, travels to Oakland, CA to recruit black folk to colonize the planet Saturn. Like some kind of intergalactic Marcus Garvey, he wants to “set up a colony for black people … bring them here through transmolecularization … or teleport the whole planet here … through music.” He tells dissipated hipsters at the local youth center: “I’m not real. I’m just like you. You don’t exist in this society. If you did, your people wouldn’t be seeking equal rights. You’re not real. If you were, you’d have some status among the nations of the world. So we’re both myths. I do not come to you as a reality. I come to you as the myth. Because that’s what black people are, myths.” Afrofuturism’s insight is to elide the African diaspora with outer space as loci of blackness, roiling vats of inky, rich, infinite potential. The etymology of utopia, after all, is ou + topos, or not + place. Introducing himself to a wino, Sun Ra cryptically declaims: “I am everything and nothing.”"
nnediokorafor  afrofuturism  scifi  sciencefiction  africa  2016  afropolitan  dieantwoord  southafrica  sunra  samueldelany  lagos  markdery  nigeria  district9  speculativefiction 
april 2016 by robertogreco
The Other Valleys
"We live in a bubble, baby.
A bubble’s not reality.
You gotta look outside…

–Eiffel 65

Reading the same sources of information and speaking to the same kinds of people day in and day out results in a rather skewed perspective of life.

That’s what the Other Valleys hopes to change in its own way. Published by Anjali Ramachandran, the goal is to look outside of the comfort zone to bring in news, thoughts and work that are not heard about as often as they probably should be. With a focus on emerging markets, due to onboard the next billion people online by 2020, the Other Valleys is about the multiple pockets of the world outside of Silicon Valley that harbour incredible entrepreneurial businesses and creative projects, and is especially keen on featuring projects by women - current VC investment into female-founded startups is extremely low, and we believe that visibility helps.

Originally started as a weekly newsletter in 2014, this version of Other Valleys hopes to reach even more people, as it continues to showcase global sources of inspiration.

FAQs

Can I submit my project or startup to be featured in the Other Valleys?
Yes - absolutely, as long as it is based in or catering to the emerging markets (broadly Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Far East and the Asia-Pacific region). It could be a technology company, an incubator/accelerator, a creative project, competition or something at the intersection of these. It is more likely to get featured if it has an unusual take on an existing problem. If you'd like to submit a project for consideration, please go here.

Can I submit my book for review?
Yes, though the same rules apply as above! This is an example of a book that suits the audience of this publication, for guidance.

I'd like to sign up to the Other Valleys newsletter - where can I do that? Is there an archive?
That's awesome - please head here to sign up, and the archive is here.

I'd like to follow this blog on Twitter - is that possible?
Glad you asked! Follow us: @othervalleys

I’d like to sponsor or advertise on this blog – who do I contact and can I get details?
Contact anjali AT othervalleys DOT net

I have another question - how can I contact you?
As above: anjali AT othervalleys DOT net"
anjaliramachandran  othervalleys  emergingmarkets  siliconvalley  women  gender  visibility  africa  latinamerica  middleeast  fareast  asia  asia-pacific  technology 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Inside Makoko: danger and ingenuity in the world's biggest floating slum | Cities | The Guardian
"Makoko is the perfect nightmare for the Lagos government – a slum in full view, spread out beneath the most travelled bridge in west Africa’s megalopolis. Yet this city on stilts, whose residents live under the constant threat of eviction, has much to teach"
makoko  lagos  nigeria  toluogunlesi  slums  cities  urban  urbanism  eviction  africa 
march 2016 by robertogreco
More phones, few banks and years of instability are transforming Somalia to a cashless society - Quartz
"In recent years, the lack of retail banking in Somalia and fears of continued unrest—Al-Shabaab continues to occasionally stage attacks throughout the country—have made the service vital to Somalia’s reconstruction. Hormuud holds the cash, acting in essence like a bank.

“The main reason why the service was adopted is because the banking systems in the country are very limited,” said Yusuf. “It’s also because it is much risk carrying cash here since the country is still politically unstable and recovering from more than two decades of chaos and civil war.”

Hormuud says it designed the software for EVC Plus with the help of Kenya’s Safaricom, a partner of British multinational telecoms company Vodafone. EVC Plus works like Safaricom’s mobile money transfer service M-PESA, which has brought banking services to millions since its introduction in 2007.

Unlike M-Pesa, which works in local currency, Hormuud’s money transfer system uses US dollars, the country’s preferred currency of trade, even though the Somali shilling is still in circulation. Users can transfer up to $3,000 a day throughout southern and central Somalia. The mobile platform Zaad, launched in 2009 by communications company Telesom in the self-declared independent northern region of Somaliland, has seen similar success.

EVC Plus allows users to purchase cellphone airtime for themselves or family members, pay water and electricity bills, and transfer money. It’s also designed so that users can set up automated payments, SMS reminders and financial reports without an internet connection.

Almost every merchant in Mogadishu, even hawkers on the street, accepts payment by cellphone using EVC Plus.

“It’s not safe to carry cash money here,” said Dhublawe Ibrahim Aden, 25, a hawker who sells shoes and clothes. “If someone has to buy my shoes and bungles [necklaces] then he has to pay me through my cellphone. I don’t accept cash money from clients.”

The service still has risks: al-Shabaab threatened companies supporting the technology in 2014, and Oxfam says that the platforms could benefit from greater regulation and training in order to allay concerns that they are being used to funnel money to terrorist groups.

But there’s no doubt that the service has been vital for the otherwise struggling economy, said Halima Aden, a member of the Somali Economic Forum, an independent organization that supports the country’s economic and financial development.

“People are doing business without any fear of losing cash to militants or conmen,” Aden said. “The country’s telecommunications sector has undergone a rapid rise, fueled by intense competition amongst the numerous telecommunication firms that dominate the country.”"
somalia  mobile  phones  cash  money  2016  economics  africa 
march 2016 by robertogreco
25 New Books by African Writers You Should Read | Literary Hub
"There has never been a better time than right now to be a reader of African literature, especially in the United States (historically, an underdeveloped nation in this regard). Of course, we’re still playing catch-up; many of these books have already been published in South Africa, Nigeria, or the UK, or in their original language. But that just means that old classics are becoming suddenly available alongside emerging new voices. So if you’re looking for something to read, and you want it to have the word “African” attached to it, here are my top 25 suggestions for the first six months of the new year. All dates are for U.S. publications. Chain bookstores won’t carry most of these, so you might have to do something as laborious and difficult as click a link–or ask your local bookstore to place a special order–but the one thing you can’t do, any longer, is complain you have nothing to read. You have your orders; go forth and read."
aaronbady  books  toread  booklists  africa  2016  leilaaboulela  taharbenjelloun  petinagappah  zakesmda  tendaihuchu  jowhorile  boubacarborisdiop  aigonibarrett  mahtemshiferraw  chrisabani  alainmabanckou  helenoyeyemi  rolandrugero  abdelilahhamdouchi  julianeokotbitek  gabrielokara  karinaszczurek  mickmulgrew  imraancoovadia  masandentshanga  mariendiaye  elnathanjohn  basmaabdelaziz  fouadlaroui  yaagyasi  dmaderibigbe  gbengaadesina  kayombochingonyi  safiaelhillo  chielozonaeze  lydianyachirokasese  ngwatilomawiyoo  hopewabuke 
february 2016 by robertogreco
'Mobile reading revolution' takes off in developing world | Books | The Guardian
"Unesco study reports huge growth in adults and children reading books on phones in Africa and the Indian subcontinent"



"Unesco is pointing to a "mobile reading revolution" in developing countries after a year-long study found that adults and children are increasingly reading multiple books and stories on their phones.

Nearly 5,000 people in seven countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe – took part in the research, the largest study of its kind to date, which found that 62% of respondents are reading more, now they can read on their mobile phones. One in three said they read to children from their mobile phones, and 90% of respondents said they would be spending more time reading on their mobile phones in the next year.

The study, says Unesco in its report, found that "people read more when they read on mobile devices, that they enjoy reading more, and that people commonly read books and stories to children from mobile devices".

"The study shows that mobile reading represents a promising, if still underutilised, pathway to text," says the report, for which Unesco partnered with Worldreader – a global not-for-profit organisation that works to bring digital books to readers around the world – and Nokia. "It is not hyperbole to suggest that if every person on the planet understood that his or her mobile phone could be transformed – easily and cheaply – into a library brimming with books, access to text would cease to be such a daunting hurdle to literacy."

The report's author Mark West said that the key conclusion from the study was that "mobile devices can help people develop, sustain and enhance their literacy skills".

"This is important because literacy opens the door to life-changing opportunities and benefits," said West.

Reasons given by respondents for reading on mobiles were convenience, affordability and lack of access to books. In Zimbabwe, for example, Unesco said the cost of reading a book on a mobile was between 5 and 6 cents, while a paperback bestseller would cost around $12 (£7); in Nigeria, a mobile book would cost around 1 or 2 cents, based on a mobile broadband rate of $13 per 500 MB of data, while a child's book would cost between $1 and $5.

Unesco pointed to data from the UN, which shows that of the seven billion people on earth, more than six billion now have access to a working mobile phone. "Collectively, mobile devices are the most ubiquitous information and communication technology in history," says Unesco. "More to the point, they are plentiful in places where books are scarce."

The most popular genre for readers was romance, the survey found, with the "romance" icon on Worldreader Mobile receiving 17% of all 730,787 clicks during the research period. Nineteen of the top 40 books read during the study period were romance novels, with Ravinder Singh's Can Love Happen Twice? the most popular book, followed by the Mills & Boon title The Price of Royal Duty in second, and the Bible in third.

Kwame Nkrumah's The Great African and Nnedi Okorafor's The Girl with the Magic Hands were also among the most read books between April and June 2013, with the most popular search terms over the period "sex", "Bible" and "biology". Chinua Achebe came in fourth, with "Things fall apart", ahead of "love" in fifth. Religion was the second most popular genre, said Unesco.

The survey also found that mobile reading is a "huge tool of empowerment for women", said Worldreader's Nadja Borovac. While 77% of mobile readers in developing countries are male, women spend an average of 207 minutes per month reading on their mobile phones, compared to men's 33 minutes. Unesco's report points out that in sub-Saharan Africa, a woman is 23% less likely to own a mobile phone than a man, with the gap widening in the case of data-enabled phones. "Men use mobiles for reading most, but the most active readers are women," said Borovac.

Almost two-thirds (60%) of respondents cited lack of content as the primary barrier to mobile reading, and a third said they were keen to read to their children from their mobiles if there were more child-friendly material available.

One respondent, Charles, a teacher in Zimbabwe, said he reads to his class from his mobile, and cited lack of printed content as his main reason for turning to his phone. "We live in a remote area where there are no libraries, and the books I have in my own small library are the ones which I have already read. So this is now giving me a chance to choose from a variety of fiction titles," he said.

Borovac said that mobile reading was "not a future phenomenon, but something which is happening today".

"It can really change people's lives," she said. "We work in countries where there is a serious shortage of books but where cell phones are plentiful ... We are hoping people will realise the potential of mobile reading [as a result of the report], and that governments and partners will get behind not only us but other organisations using mobile technology to help provide learning and books, and help improve literacy skills.""
mobile  reading  2014  africa  asia  india  ehtiopia  ghana  kenya  nigeria  pakistan  zimbabwe  unesco  ebooks  publishing 
january 2016 by robertogreco
New wave of African sci-fi will inspire innovation - SciDev.Net
"• Science fiction allows people to see how science and society interact
• Films and novels already explore pressing problems such as water scarcity
• African sci-fi could help catalyse new models of sustainable growth"

[via: "Leery of European attempts to annex afrofuturism to design, but @afrocyberpunk good here on sf & African innovation: http://www.scidev.net/global/innovation/opinion/wave-african-sci-fi-inspire-innovation.html …"
https://twitter.com/justinpickard/status/682820661622865922 ]
sciencefiction  scifi  innovation  africa  2015  speculativefiction  jonathandotse 
january 2016 by robertogreco
The Niles: coverage of Sudanese and South Sudanese affairs
"The Niles is a bi-lingual website offering independent, balanced coverage of Sudanese and South Sudanese current and cultural affairs as well as a platform for the coaching and professional development of journalists in Sudan and South Sudan. Working with around fifty journalists from throughout Sudan and South Sudan, Media in Cooperation and Transition (MiCT) helps advance reporters’ skills in relaying the stories that shape people’s lives.

In 2009, MiCT started training local journalists ahead of the 2010 elections and the 2011 referendum on Southern Sudanese self-determination. Young journalists from both parts of Sudan come together in MiCT-organised workshops: Many of the northerners had never been to the south before, and vice versa.

These bonds of friendship counter the stereotypes which dominate local media and the resulting work produced by the journalists is published on a bi-lingual website. Work is translated into Arabic and English in order to cross language barriers. Stories are also syndicated by local newspapers. After South Sudan’s independence in 2011, Sudan Votes was renamed The Niles to reflect the waterway that is an integral link between both countries.

The Niles is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and managed by MiCT. The Niles publications neither reflect the views of the German Federal Foreign Office nor MiCT."
sudan  southsudan  africa 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Submergence
"Submergence is a novel by the writer J.M. Ledgard. In this site we want to add a few thoughts and images which circled around the book as it was being written – and afterwards. We hope you enjoy."




Submergence was written in various countries in Africa. Sections were scribbled into small, clothbound notebooks while the author waited to interview politicians and civil servants for his job as a political and war correspondent. An early draft was completed during a writing fellowship in Hobart. The final draft was finished in Mogadishu.

The aim of Submergence was, in a small way, to alter the reader’s perspective of the planet we inhabit. The aim was planetary writing.

"“In a room with no windows on the eastern coast of Africa, an Englishman, James More, is held captive by jihadist fighters. Posing as a water engineer to spy on al-Qaeda activity in the area, he now faces extreme privation, mock executions and forced marches through arid Somali badlands. Thousands of miles away on the Greenland Sea, Danielle Flinders, a biomathematician, prepares for a dive to the ocean floor to determine the extent and forms of life in the deep. Both are drawn back, in their thoughts, to the Christmas of the previous year, and to a French hotel on the Atlantic coast, where a chance encounter on the beach led to an intense and enduring romance, now stretching across continents. For James, a descendant of Thomas More, his mind escapes to utopias, and fragments of his life and learning before his incarceration, now haunting him. Danny is drawn back to mythical and scientific origins and to the ocean: immense and otherworldly, a comfort and a threat. Submergence is a love story, a meditation on mortality, and a vivid portrayal of man’s place on Earth. With it J.M. Ledgard proves himself a writer of large horizons and vast ambition.”"
jmledgard  tumblrs  submergence  somalia  africa  planetarywriting  writing  howwewrite 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Telling South Sudan’s Tales in a Language Not Its Own - The New York Times
"JUBA, South Sudan — WHEN dozens of people packed a hall in this capital city to celebrate the publication this year of the latest collection of short stories by Stella Gaitano, a South Sudanese commentator called her “our ambassador to the Arab world.” The audience included writers from Sudan, and when the book went on sale a few months later in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, the author received a glowing reception there as well.

“This is what Stella used to do back in college, bring people together,” said Omar Ushari, a former university colleague of Ms. Gaitano and a moderator of the Khartoum event.

In a relatively short time, Ms. Gaitano, 33, has built a distinguished reputation as a writer who brings to life the experiences of the South Sudanese, who have endured war and displacement as their fragile new country formed and then threatened to disintegrate. More than that, though, she does it in Arabic, a language of the country they broke away from.

“I love the Arabic language,” she said. “I am like writers who write in a language other than their own; I am no different.”

South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011, after a referendum that followed years of conflict with the north. Scores of indigenous languages are spoken here, but the lingua franca is Juba Arabic, a pidgin language. The elite who have studied abroad or with local missionaries generally also speak English, while Arabic is spoken by university-educated people who lived in the north, like Ms. Gaitano.

Her parents, members of the Latuka tribe, fled the town of Torit, in what is now South Sudan, in the late 1960s, as the flames of the first Sudanese civil war blazed. They took refuge in Khartoum, where Ms. Gaitano was born.

She learned several languages there, speaking Latuka at home, Juba Arabic with South Sudanese of other tribes and Sudanese Arabic in the larger Sudanese society. She learned classical Arabic in school, and studied pharmacology in college — in English.

“We were a creative generation that was forced to deal with several boundaries,” she said. “So we created gates into each cultural circle.”

She grew up in El-Haj Youssef, a poor neighborhood on the perimeter of Khartoum, as the third of seven children. Her interest in the stories of her grandmother, mother and other female relatives from the south kindled her imagination.

“The south, for me, was an imaginary place,” she said. “It was represented to me in the stories of those who went there and came back to Khartoum.”

HER early love of reading, which included the works of the Sudanese novelist Tayeb Salih and Arabic translations of works by Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende, inspired her to write.

“Writing is the legitimate child of reading,” she said.

At the University of Khartoum, she came into contact with writers, intellectuals and activists, and she began developing her literary niche. “I started writing about myself, my family and my people,” she said.

One afternoon, inspired by her grandmother, she wrote one of her first short stories, “A Lake the Size of a Papaya Fruit,” in just 30 minutes. “It was like a revelation,” she said.

It is the story of a girl and her grandmother in southern Sudan who are left to fend for themselves after the girl’s mother dies in labor, her father is killed by a wild buffalo and her grandfather is executed by the British colonial authorities. The story won a Sudanese literary prize in 2003.

“It was important for me that northern Sudanese realize that there was life, values and a people who held a different culture, who needed space to be recognized and respected,” Ms. Gaitano said.

In “Wilted Flowers,” Ms. Gaitano addressed the challenges faced by people who had fled murderous conflicts in southern Sudan, Darfur and the Nuba Mountains, and were living in shantytowns near Khartoum.

Struggling mothers, drunken fathers and pregnant teenagers living in poverty far from their homelands with little or no government assistance became the characters and setting of the story “Everything Here Boils.”

“I was trying to shed a light on these matters, and send a warning that ignoring people this way would make them feel that this is not their country,” she said. “But the message was understood too late.”

Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese exiles returned to the newly independent country with high hopes, but the paradise many thought they would find was chimerical.

“When we came to the south, we found ourselves discussing the same issues that we did in the north: racism, tribalism, corruption, nepotism and political failure,” Ms. Gaitano said.

In her latest story collection, “Homecoming,” Ms. Gaitano reflects on the hopes and disappointments of returning families.

The story “Escape From the Regular” centers on families reunited after independence; the clashes between local people and those from the diaspora; and the irony and power of a commonly used phrase that became both a lament and an excuse: “Don’t you know we were freedom fighters?”

“South Sudanese saw themselves in the mirror,” Ms. Gaitano said. “They did not think that their own brothers, who look like them, could do the same things that others did to them.”

Her husband, who works at the University of Khartoum, and their two children are Sudanese, but like others from the south, Ms. Gaitano lost her Sudanese citizenship with independence. She spends as much time with them as she can. She lives in Juba, and works as a pharmacist, even as her literary career continues to bloom.

CHOL DENG YONG, a professor of Arabic at Upper Nile University in South Sudan, describes Ms. Gaitano’s work as “narrational,” with “an economic use of words” that combines “classical Arabic, colloquial Sudanese Arabic and Juba Arabic.”

Ms. Gaitano said that some of her South Sudanese colleagues, many of whom write in English, have criticized her privately for writing in Arabic, a language they deem a “colonial tool.” English is an official language in South Sudan but Arabic is not, and its cultural future here is uncertain, making some among the Arabic-educated intelligentsia uneasy.

Victor Lugala, a South Sudanese writer who writes in English, offered some insights: “Stella may be the last generation of South Sudanese to write in Arabic,” he said. “Her publishers could promote her work better if her works are translated into English.”

He went on to compare Ms. Gaitano’s association with a language with that of the Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong’o. “Since Kenya’s Ngugi wa Thiong’o decided to write in his mother tongue, Kikuyu, he has had the burden of translating his own works into English,” Mr. Lugala said.

And regional publishers are starting to notice her.

“Without doubt, having read Stella’s short story ‘I Kill Myself and Rejoice,’ ” said Lucas Wafula, an editor for the East Africa Education Publishers, “she will gain great readership once readers get to interact with the themes in her stories.”

Ms. Gaitano said that she was working on improving her English writing and that her works were being translated. Yet she also hopes that Arabic will retain a place in her country.

“Language for me is the soul of the text,” she said. “I love the Arabic language, and I adore writing in it. It is the linguistic mold that I want to fill my personal stories and culture in, distinguished from that of Arabs.”"

[Story refreenced in article:
“I kill myself and rejoice!”
http://www.theniles.org/en/articles/small-arms/2575/ ]

[Other stories here: http://sudaneseonline.com/board/12/msg/Stella-Gaitano-Translated-into-English-By-Asha-El-Said-1449061495.htm ]
stellagaitano  southsudan  literature  language  languages  translation  africa  arabic  jubaarabic  tayebsalih  isabelallende  writing  reading  victorlugala  sudan  ngugiwathiong’o  kenya  storytelling  howwewrite  gabrielgarcíamárquez  ngũgĩwathiong'o  ngugi  ngũgĩ 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Taking Free Basics in Kenya for a spin. — Hacks/Hackers Africa — Medium
[via: https://twitter.com/janchip/status/669071409851707398 and https://twitter.com/whiteafrican/status/669017213572145152 ]

"I’ve been meaning to do this for a while. At my organisation, we believe in having user experience at the heart of consumer-facing technology. Also, I’ve heard many a Facebook exec counter the backlash with a valid question: how many advocates (for/against) have actually used Free Basics? So, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I dug out my Airtel Kenya SIM card (Airtel is the current sole partner) and took the app for a spin. (For the record, I’m testing out Free Basics on a Smartphone — a Samsung Galaxy S3 to be precise, will also test out on a feature phone in coming days)."



"Facebook have been saying that at least 50% of Free Basics users have crossed over to the open and paid-for Internet within 30 days of coming online for the first time. Having pushed a bit further on the stat recently, one of their Heads of Policy said that they stay on the paid Internet, though this isn’t part of the popular narrative on the conversion rates. Who else, other than Facebook, has access to these statistics? Giving the benefit of the doubt, say the statistic is actually true. What norms about what the Internet is, does Free Basics (un)willingly postulate? Facebook says that Free Basics doesn’t create a two-tiered Internet and refers to the above statistic. They also say that without such a program, more people are left offline, unable to realise the benefits of the Internet.

We all want as many people, if not all to be connected. But the idea of a ‘free’ Internet is a particularly nefarious one, leaving room for loopholes such as these, and actually creating various tiers to Internet access. This has been compared to tiered access to water and education. While some may say that some water or education is better than none, why is it that there are different forms to access? So some Internet is better than none at all (especially for the developing world). But, what constitutes ‘some Internet’? Who decides on what ‘some Internet’ is, and why are they the ones to decide?

There are many arguments packed into the zero-rating, net neutrality and Free Basics discussions, and it wouldn’t do justice to pack them into one article. I will try to tackle the various domains, from my perspective, in future posts.

Would love to conduct this exercise with first time Internet users. Currently thinking through the research design, to enable unearthing of insights on the Internet they aspire to access, versus versions such as Free Basics issued. For now, I welcome discussion and feedback on the above, and perhaps others to take Free Basics on a spin in their respective territories! After all, advocacy for a free(as in freedom), open and secure Internet will require evidence and not mere opinion."
freebasics  facebook  accessibility  internet  nanjirasambuli  2015  africa  access  online  web  kenya  smarthphones  mobile  connectivity  netneutrality 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Design Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa: Post-Western Perspectives
"Design Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa: Post-Western Perspectives is a forum for pioneering technologists, curators and scholars from Accra, Nairobi, Cape Town, London and New York to discuss developments in digital design – robotics, gaming and computer imaging - on the African continent.

We tend to think about our world’s future as being discovered in the high-tech laboratories of American scientific research institutes, or debated in elite business and political forums held in the Alps - but less often in the West, do we think about our future as being designed by local tech communities in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In what is being called a transformative Digital Revolution, the African continent now hosts one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the world (the East African ‘Silicon Savannah’), a Pan-African robotics network (AFRON), burgeoning space programmes and a proliferation of digital innovation hubs.

The symposium analyses two major forces shaping the 21st century – innovations in digital technology and the ‘rise of Africa’ – through the lens of material culture and its interpretation. It also marks the official launch of an international network ‘Design Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa’ lead by Cher Potter, developed through a core partnership between London College of Fashion and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Some of the questions that will be examined are:

• What challenges and opportunities do a ‘digital revolution’ combined with unprecedented city and population growth on the African continent present for designers today?

• How is the combination of computer coding and digital fabrication resulting in new typologies of design in Sub-Saharan Africa?

• What composite communities are organising themselves around these new digital models?

• Are gaming environments based on local history and folklore heralding a wider move from European/US-centric worldviews to local ones?

• How might technology open up new ways for reading and categorising objects, both ancient and contemporary?

• How might we describe and test the term ‘postwestern’ in the context of design and curating?

Speakers:

Cher Potter
Cher Potter is V&A/LCF Senior Research Fellow. Her research interests include contemporary design on the African continent, and ‘post western’ models of curating and research. Prior to joining the V&A, she curated the 2013 European Impakt Arts Festival which explored ‘post western’ futures; and lead global cultural research at WGSN, the world’s largest design and fashion trends bureau, coordinating research into design tendencies across 22 countries including 8 African capitals. She was recognized as one of twelve ‘Future Visionaries’ by the 2013 Wellcome Trust Visioneers series.

Jonathan Ledgard
Jonathan Ledgard is Director of the Afrotech Initiative at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology, Lausanne, established to help pioneer advanced technologies in Africa. He is a leading thinker on risk, nature, and technology in near future Africa and spent the last decade as the Africa correspondent for The Economist, reporting extensively on Africa's mobile phone revolution. A founder of The Economist's Baobab blog, covering politics, economics and culture on the continent of Africa, he continues to contribute to the paper as well as to The New Yorker and other journals.

Ayorkor Korsah
Dr Ayorkor Korsah is Head of the Computer Science Department at Ashesi University College and Co-founder of the African Robotics Network, a community of institutions, organisations and individuals engaged in robotics in Africa. She is also a member of the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute and a TED Global Fellow. Her research interests include design at the intersection of algorithm design, artificial intelligence, and robotics; educating technologists for development in Africa; exploring the potential for participatory design in Africa; information, computing, and communications as keys to sustainable global development.

Kristina Van Dyke
Kristina Van Dyke is an independent scholar and curator. She was Director of the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis from 2011 to 2015 and Curator for Collections and Research at the Menil Collection in Houston from 2005 to 2011. She curated the exhibition ‘Kota: Digital Excavations in African Art’ currently on display at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, which examines nearly 50 Kota guardian figures using a new digital database created by Belgian computer engineer Frederic Cloth to study and reveal the hidden histories of Kota reliquaries.

Wesley Kirinya
Wesley Kirinya is one of the first games developers in Africa and founder of Leti Arts gaming studio in Nairobi and Accra. As such, he operates within one of the world’s fastest growing tech and design hubs, the East African ‘Silicon Savanah’. He is pioneering the use of local African history in digital gaming environments, and developing a toolbox of African superheroes based on characters from African mythology – heralding a potentially wider move from European/US-centric worldviews to local ones.

Paula Callus
Paula Callus is a Senior Lecturer in Computer Animation at Bournemouth University and is completing her PhD at SOAS on Digital Animation in Sub-Saharan Africa. As an advocate for the role of Sub-Saharan animators within the broader history of ‘moving’ image, she has delivered papers on ‘Reading Animation through the eyes of anthropology’ at the Animation Studies Symposium 2010; ‘Locating Sub-Saharan African Animation within the ‘moving’ image’ at the Film and Television Screen Studies Conference 2013; and curated the Africa in Motion animation programme in Edinburgh.

Mugendi M’Rithaa
Mugendi M’Rithaa is Professor of Industrial Design at Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the President of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) - the world organisation for Industrial Design. His research interests include Participatory Design which incorporates the needs of end-users/clients; Universal/Inclusive Design; Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability; and design's potential in promoting equity and quality of life in Africa and beyond. He has coordinated workshops on ‘Designing a Prosperous Nation’ (Gaborone, 2004), and ‘Designing for New Realities’ (Helsinki, 2012).

Elvira Ose
Elvira Ose is Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, and curator of the Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art 2015. She was Curator International Art at Tate Modern (2011 – 2014). At Tate, she took a leading role in developing Tate’s holdings of art from Africa and its Diaspora and working closely with the Africa Acquisitions Committee. She was responsible for Across the Board (2012–2014), a two-year interdisciplinary project that took place in London, Accra, Douala and Lagos. She recently co-curated Ibrahim El-Salahi: A Visionary Modernist (2013).

Chairs:

David Pratten
Dr David Pratten is a Professor at the University of Oxford, specialising in the Social Anthropology of Africa. He was Director of the African Studies Centre from 2009-2013, one of the world’s leading centres for African Studies. His research interests include West African issues of youth, democracy and disorder; contemporary models of sociality, and colonial history. He is Co-Editor of ‘AFRICA: Journal of the International African Institute’ Cambridge University Press, which is the premier journal devoted to the study of African societies and culture.

Bill Sherman
Professor Bill Sherman is Head of Research at the Victoria and Albert Museum and Professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of York. He has published widely on the history of books and readers, the interface of word and image, and the relationship between knowledge and power. At the V&A, he is leading the development of the V&A Research Institute (VARI), which is testing new models for collaborative research that draws on history, theory and practice, and new ways of using collections to bring together the museum, the university and the creative industries.

Jane Harris
Dr Jane Harris is Associate Dean of Research at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London and Professor of Digital Design and Innovation. An advocate for the role that creative and transdisciplinary research in HE can play in the development and advance of design, science and industry, her own practice navigates physical material and technology interfaces. A recipient of the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts Fellowship (NESTA) her pioneering CGI work has been internationally exhibited and publications include the co-authored book Digital Visions for Fashion+Textiles: Made In Code. "
designfuturism  speculativedesign  adrica  via:anne  designfiction  africa  2015  cherpotter  jonathanledgard  ayorkorkorash  kristinavandyke  wesleykirinya  paulacallus  mugendim'rithaa  elviraose  davidpratten  billsherman  janeharris  future  speculativefiction  design  robotics  gaming  comuterimaging  digital 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Imperial Designs | The Unforgiving Minute
[via: https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/667000828113260544 ]

"[image]

Here’s an example: the Chand Baori Stepwell in Rajasthan, built in the 8th and 9th centuries. (You can watch a video about Chand Baori, and another about stepwells, based on an article by journalist Victoria Lautman.) Stepwells were a critical part of water management, particularly in western India and other dry areas of Asia, the earliest known stepwell forms date from around 600AD. The Mughal empire encouraged stepwell construction, but the administrators British empire decided that stepwells should be replaced with pumped and piped water systems modelled on those developed in the UK – a ‘superior’ system. It was of course also a system that moved from a communal and social model of water management to a centralised model of water management – and the British loved centralised management, because it’s easier to control.

[image]

Here’s another model of water management – the Playpump, which received a lot of media attention and donor support after it was proposed in 2005. The basic idea was that kids playing on the big roundabout would pump water up from the well for the whole village. This doesn’t seem very imperial at first sight: it looks like these kids are having fun, and the village is getting water. Unfortunately it was a massive failure because it flat out didn’t work, although the Playpumps organisation is still around; if you want to know more about that failure, read this article in the Guardian and this lessons learned from the Case Foundation, and listen to this Frontline radio show on PBS. TL;DR: the Playpump didn’t work because it was designed by outsiders who didn’t understand the communities: a classic case of design imperialism. There are lots of examples just like this, where the failure is easy to see but the imperialism is more difficult to spot.

About 5 years ago there was a big hoo-hah about an article called “Is Humanitarian Design the New Imperialism?” by Bruce Nussbaum. Nussbaum accused people and organisations working on design that would alleviate poverty as yet another imperial effort. This depends on defining “empire” as a power relationship – an unequal power relationship, where the centre holds the power (and resources) and the periphery will benefit from those resources only when the centre decides to give it to them. At the time, there was a lot of discussion around this idea, but that discussion has died now. That’s not because it’s no longer an issue: it’s because a new imperial model, more subtle than Nussbaum’s idea, has successfully taken root, and few people in the design world even realise it."



"Q&A:

During the talk I mentioned that I was planning to show video of robot dogs, but I didn’t because they freak me out. They don’t really freak me out – I think they’re astonishing feats of technology – but what they say about our attitudes towards warfare worries me. They’re being built by Boston Dynamics, who started out under military contracts from DARPA, have recently been acquired by Google X, and who post a ton of promo videos. Particularly funny is this supercut video of robots falling over.

One question raised the issue of whether our education system enables people to recognise the trap that they might be in, and give them the tools to make their own way. The short answer is no. The industrial model of education is not equipped for the 21st century, although I remain hopeful that the internet will also disrupt education as it has other sectors. At the same time I am sceptical of the impact of the most-hyped projects (such as the Khan Academy and the wide range of MOOCs) – it seems to me that we need something that learns from a wider range of educational approaches.

We also discussed whether there is an underlying philosophy to the invisible empire of the internet. I believe that there is, although it isn’t necessarily made explicit. One early artefact of this philosophy is A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace; one early analysis of aspects of it is The Californian Ideology. Evgeny Morozov is interesting on this topic, but with a pinch of salt, since in a relatively short time he has gone from incisive commentator to intellectual troll. It’s interesting that a few Silicon Valley big beasts are trained in philosophy, although to be honest this training doesn’t seem to be reflected in their actual philosophy."

[See also: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/nov/24/africa-charity-water-pumps-roundabouts
via: https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/667031543416623105 ]
designimperialism  design  via:tealtan  humanitariandesign  2015  africa  paulcurrion  control  colonialism  technology  technosolutionism  evgenymorozov  siliconvalley  philosophy  politics  mooc  moocs  doublebind  education  bostondynamics  googlex  darpa  robots  yuvalnoahharari  californianideology  wikihouse  globalconstructionset  3dprinting  disobedientobjects  anarchism  anarchy  legibility  internet  online  web  nezaralsayyad  smarthphones  mobile  phones  benedictevans  migration  refugees  fiveeyes  playpumps  water  chandbaori  trevorpaglen 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Senegalese Designer Selly Raby Kane's Timeless Looks & Futuristic Sounds From Dakar Okayafrica.
"The new Alien Cartoon soundtrack is a collaboration with Senegalese hip-hop mainstay Ibaaku. He mixes sounds of swarming insects and cartoon sound effects with triumphant synths. The result is complex, futuristic and earthy. Selly Raby Kane imagines that the explosive Alien Cartoon cosmos look and sound like a future Dakar."

[Direct link to SoundCloud playlist: https://soundcloud.com/i-man-2/sets/alien-cartoon ]
music  sellyrabykane  aliencartoon  ibaaku  insects  cartoons  2015  senegal  africa  synth 
october 2015 by robertogreco
SAIC - Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects: Kunlé Adeyemi
"Kunlé Adeyemi is an architect, urbanist, and designer. His recent work includes Makoko Floating School, an innovative, prototype, floating structure located on the lagoon in the heart of Nigeria's largest city, Lagos. This acclaimed project is part of an extensive research project, African Water Cities, being developed by NLÉ, an architecture, design, and urbanism practice founded by Adeyemi in 2010 with a focus on developing cities. NLÉ is currently developing a number of civic, research, and architectural projects in Africa—one of which is Chicoco Radio Media Center, the amphibious building in Delta city of Port Harcourt in Nigeria. Born and raised in Nigeria, Adeyemi studied architecture at the University of Lagos where he began his early practice, before joining the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in 2002. At OMA he led the design, development, and execution of several large prestigious projects in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. These include the Shenzhen Stock Exchange tower in China, Qatar National Library in Doha, and Prada Transformer in Seoul. He served as a member of the International Advisory Council for the World Design Capital 2014 and a juror for the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014. For the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial, on view October 3, 2015–January 3, 2016, Adeyemi has partnered with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to develop and build a functioning vendor kiosk for exhibition in Millennium Park. After the Biennial exhibition, the kiosk will be moved and installed permanently on the Chicago Lakefront."
architecture  kunléadeyemi  schooldesign  schools  makokofloatingschool  lagos  nigeria  africa  nlé  water  cities  urban  urbanism 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Failures of Our Global Imagination | Civicist
"The problem with first world problems, and why we need to shift the way we talk about global tech"



"It’s time to abandon the First World/Third World dichotomy. Whether or not this dichotomy was a helpful one at some point in the past, it’s no longer helpful now. The “Third World” has glittering skyscrapers and glowing smartphones, and the “First World” has decaying neighborhoods and entire swaths of the country without broadband. There are very real and important differences between rich and poor countries, and these dynamics play out at the level of international relations, all the way down to the mundane and often humiliating work of applying for visas. But this framing creates a divide that limits our capacity to understand the vast spectra of the way human beings live in the 21st century. I don’t yet have a better vocabulary for this, but I hope someone smarter than me can figure that out. For now, I do use the phrases “developing world,” “global south,” and “poor countries,” but I’d like to have a better framework. Any suggestions?

Remember the diversity of ways we use communications technology: that includes connecting with people we care about and depend on. In contrast to narratives about vanity, slacktivism, and luxury when it comes to tech in the middle-class West, so much of the conversation about technology in the global south focuses on information and practical communications, like around agricultural trends and educational material. This is good and important work. But highly pragmatic use cases are just part of the reason anyone has used communications technology. Informal markets from Asia to Africa are filled with music and movies, like a Bluetooth-powered Napster, and people are just as likely to send text messages and Facebook posts to check in with friends and loved ones as they are to access important healthcare information and market reports. These things can coexist.

Like a city, the internet and mobile phones provide for a vast diversity of human needs, which include the basic human need for companionship, support, and access to joy in the face of suffering. Fortunately, this part of the global imagination doesn’t require too much effort: Just think of how everyone you know uses technology, the number of apps, the different ways they laugh, smile, cry, and scowl at what they see behind those plates of glass.

Shifting the narrative is such a critical part of the motivation behind my work with global internet cultures, and the above are just a few ideas for how I think we can do that. But more important than trying to know everything about the world is establishing a culture of knowing that we don’t know. The assumption that we can parachute into a foreign culture with formal expertise and knowledge and make things better has never been acceptable, and it has led to a lot of unnecessary suffering, especially in colonized countries. The fact that people in marginalized parts of the world can now call out misguided attitudes and perceptions about them will go a long way, and those of us with access to media and policy can do well to amplify and extend these voices.

But it is also not possible to know every detail about other people’s lives. Attention is limited, as is time. We can learn everything we can about the day to day of rural Laos, but the conflict in Mali will seem completely opaque. Instead, it’s more important to know that we don’t know, know that we need to listen to those who have greater familiarity, and to know that there are ways to go further. Adopting an attitude of humility and curiosity can take us much farther than an attitude of assuredness and assumption. This seems to me like a good place to start—and if you have other and better ideas, I’d love to hear them."

[Also posted here: https://medium.com/@anxiaostudio/failures-of-our-global-imagination-8648b2336c2c ]
anxiaomina  firstworldproblems  internet  thirdworld  firstworld  diversity  slacktivism  vanity  luxury  technology  globalsouth  communication  asia  africa  latinamerica  mobile  phones  smartphones  selfies  advocacy  refugees  2015  privilege  narrative  empathy  thirdworldproblems 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The Other Refugee Crisis - The New York Times
"Dadaab may be the world’s largest, but there are many other examples of these temporary-but-permanent cities. In Pakistan, along the border with Afghanistan, the camps founded in 1979 for Afghan refugees are now a string of 79 permanent slums run by the United Nations and home to nearly a million people. Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Darfur have been living in a collection of 12 camps across the border in Chad since 2004, with no end in sight. Similar numbers and situations exist in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Thailand, Lebanon, Yemen, Jordan, Turkey and elsewhere, where people are living, and reproducing, in limbo. The numbers are growing not only because of a world in turmoil, but also because whole generations are growing up in camps.

Gaza is perhaps the best example of this. The eight original refugee camps have morphed into towns that, together, are now one of the most densely populated areas in the world, home to 1.7 million people. Separate from the U.N.H.C.R. and with a different mandate, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East was founded in 1949 for around 750,000 Arab Palestinians forced to flee their homes in 1948. But with no peace deal or return in sight, the agency looks after their five million descendants at a cost to the international community of over $1 billion a year. The agency was supposed to be an exception, but Gaza now looks like the rule. In Dadaab, the United Nations resettles around 2,000 refugees annually to Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States. But the birthrate in the camp of 1,000 a month will always outstrip that effort.

As refugee populations spiral higher, host nations usually move toward ever stricter encampment policies. Kenya is one of the strictest; last year the police rounded up thousands of refugees found outside designated camps and incarcerated them in the national stadium. Pakistan has threatened several times not to renew refugee status for Afghan refugees, and periodically attempts to force people back to Afghanistan. In Jordan, refugees have the right to move and work in theory, but authorities have reportedly issued no new work permits since 2014 and have begun coercive administrative measures to keep them in the camps.

To leave Dadaab, residents require a “movement pass,” just like under apartheid. Acquiring one usually involves a bribe. Thus, members of the third generation that is now beginning life in Dadaab may well spend their whole life in the camp. If they win one of the fiercely contested slots at secondary school, they could gain diplomas and degrees online or through the mail, but when there’s no viable path to a free future elsewhere, education in the closed camp is a cruel trick: There are no jobs except volunteer positions with the aid agencies that run the hospitals, schools and social programs, and these pay a fraction of what Kenyan staff members receive for doing the same job.

One might expect that in such circumstances, talent would curdle into bitterness, but the most striking thing about Dadaab is that the miserable conditions do not seem to have engendered radicalization. People are frustrated, but until now, the isolation of the camp and the United Nations mantras on rights and gender balance have fostered a subdued but tolerant society in which women are more emancipated than their sisters back in Somalia.

This is the ultimate contradiction of camp life: how to locate hope for the future in a desperate situation that appears permanent. People are trying. Life in Dadaab and all the other camps is a daily exercise in manufacturing hope. But for many, the fiction of temporariness no longer holds. And we are seeing the results of that realization washing up on Europe’s beaches.

Separate enclaves are beginning to appear in the rich world, too: slums such as “the Jungle” in Calais, where refugees and migrants wait to try to enter Britain illegally, or the detention centers that are now common in Europe, Australia and the United States where people must wait sometimes for years while their status is determined. In a world centered on nation-states, the full range of human rights is increasingly unavailable to those without citizenship. A whole gray population of second-class citizens has emerged, and their numbers are growing.

The proper and legal response should be to allow refugees and asylum seekers freedom of movement within their host nations and all the rights accorded to other citizens, including the right to travel abroad and seek work legally. But the tide of public opinion in most countries is moving in the opposite direction.

Of course rich nations should take more. But even if Europe and the United States stepped up and admitted much larger numbers than the paltry offers that have been suggested in recent weeks, it would still make only a small dent in the global refugee population.

Until our current wars die down, the world needs to adjust to the new reality of permanent refugee cities in legal limbo. Even if host nations wish to deny citizenship to long-staying refugees, it would make sense to allow the United Nations and refugees themselves to invest in infrastructure to reduce disease, provide employment and make these ramshackle slums more habitable. They could perhaps become autonomous open cities or international zones where those with United Nations documents were permitted to move and trade within the normal international visa regime. If camps were economically viable they might at least offer some pull to remain there. As one man told me as I was nearing the end of my time in Dadaab: “I belong nowhere. My country is the Republic of Refugee.”"
dabaad  kenya  somalia  citizenship  refugees  limbo  2015  geopolitics  impermanence  permanence  hope  hopelessness  calais  afghanistan  benrawlence  pakistan  darfur  un  unitednations  africa  unhcr  migration  palestine  refugeecamps  future  futures 
october 2015 by robertogreco
A cutting-edge street festival in an old slave town in Ghana shows how African art is evolving - Quartz
"“African art” as we know it, is changing. It no longer only defined by the djembe drum, wooden face masks, or a canvas painting of an African women carrying her child on her back with something else on her head—all of these mostly sold to the over-enthusiatic tourist who’s keen to get some “art from Africa.”
There’s a new kind of African aesthetic—pioneered by Africa’s young people—that is emerging. It is imaginative, edgy, and casts its reach beyond national borders, opening up a conversation with the rest of the world."
art  africa  ghana  2015 
september 2015 by robertogreco
How Nairobi Got Its Ad-Hoc Bus System on Google Maps | WIRED
"The idea to map the matatus began in 2012 when Sarah Williams and Jacqueline Klopp, two researchers working on land use projects in Nairobi, connected with Groupshot co-founder Adam White. “Adam and I started talking about the problem of working on sustainable transportation,” says Klopp, an associate research scholar at the Columbia Center for Sustainable Urban Development. “There were all these transportation projects going on, but there was no basic data about the existing transit system in Nairobi.”

The annals of the city government held some matatu data, but not much. Digital Matatus found records for about 75 percent of the routes, but they only included the start and end points, making it impossible to know how the buses navigated through the city. So armed with smartphones, ten university students spent four months riding the matatus, noting the name and location of each stop in a purpose-built app, which also used GPS to track the route. In dangerous neighborhoods, they followed behind the brightly painted buses in private cars.

By the end, the students recorded almost 3,000 stops on more than 130 routes. Next, all that data needed to be put in a usable format—specifically, a global standard called the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS), which is compatible with open-source software used to make routing apps like Google Maps. But GTFS, developed in 2005, is geared towards formal transit systems, ones with fixed times and schedules.

That’s when Digital Matatus connected with Google Maps. Along with the rest of the robust GTFS community, Google agreed to update the global standard to make room for flexible transit networks with constantly changing schedules, routes, and stops. Nairobi was a perfect test bed. “In our efforts to expand public transportation on Google Maps, it was a good place to go next because there were people eager and willing to work on it,” said Mara Harris, a Google rep."



"Launching the matatu routes in Google emphasizes the need to study the informal transit networks that shuttle masses of people around in sub-Saharan Africa, southeast Asia, and south Asia. “You’re saying this is part of the system,” said Klopp. And since the GTFS data structure and the Nairobi data are open source, Digital Matatus gives other groups in Mexico City, Manila, Dhaka, China, and elsewhere a plan to collect and disseminate data on their transit. The collaboration has already received requests from around the world to map their cities.

Digital Matatus has also started talks with four more cities in Africa—Kampala, Accra, Lusaka, and Maputo—to use the same methods to map their informal mass transit systems. “So many of our problems in developing cities where you have extreme poverty and awful environmental conditions—they’re always tied in some way to the transport sector,” said Cervero. “It’s very chaotic and unmanaged, so this is a huge first step towards enhancing those services.”

People in Nairobi still use the paper maps because the matatu routes have not changed since their release, and the ultimate goal is a formal transit system with set maps, times, and prices. But hopefully “formal” will still mean you enjoy your commute with twinkling disco balls and a good beat."
nairobi  googlemaps  buses  transportation  maps  mapping  publictransportation  africa  kenya  matutus 
september 2015 by robertogreco
How developing countries are paying a high price for the global mineral boom | Global development | The Guardian
"Soaring worldwide demand for the minerals used in electronic devices such as smartphones and laptops has left a legacy of social conflict and human rights violations across Asia, Latin America and Africa"
technology  inequality  minerals  mining  2015  economics  capitalism  humanrights  latinamerica  africa  asia  conflict  electronics 
august 2015 by robertogreco
How 50 reporters exposed the World Bank’s broken promises | International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
"At a military camp in a violence-stained region of Central America, a Honduran Army officer informed Sasha Chavkin that he knew the reporter’s itinerary – where Chavkin was going and the people he planned to interview. When Chavkin asked how he had acquired this information, the colonel said simply: “Yo soy un militar.” (“I am a military man.”)

In Kenya’s western highlands, rifle-toting officers from the Kenya Forest Service confronted Anthony Langat and Jacob Kushner as the Nairobi-based reporters tried to interview indigenous peoples who claimed forest rangers had burned them out of their homes. The officers questioned the reporters for nearly an hour, refusing to say whether they were under arrest.

Along the Gulf of Kutch, a manager for one of India’s largest coal-powered plants, flanked by security guards, confronted Barry Yeoman, a freelance magazine journalist: Who was he and what was he doing at the fishing settlement near the plant? When Yeoman tried to sidestep the questions, one of the guards said they already knew who he was: “Aren’t you with ICIJ?”

These kinds of encounters aren’t unusual when it comes to boots-in-the-mud foreign reporting. What’s different is that all these journalists were working together, on the same story, as a part of a reporting partnership involving more than 50 journalists led by ICIJ, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Their subject: How power plants, dams and other big projects bankrolled by the World Bank can harm people and the environment.

Over the course of a decade, the reporting team found, projects financed by the World Bank physically or economically displaced an estimated 3.4 million people. These vulnerable people, often among the poorest in their societies, were forced from their homes, lost land or other assets or saw their livelihoods damaged. During this period, the investigation found, the bank regularly failed to follow its own rules for protecting the people living in the path of development.

To show the human consequences of the bank’s investments, reporters from ICIJ, The Huffington Post and more than 20 other ICIJ media partners reported on the ground in 14 countries. They traveled to isolated villages and urban slums in the Balkans, Asia, Africa and Latin America. They entered areas bloodied by civil conflicts. And they asked tough questions in places where journalists are often watched, questioned and, in some instances, targeted for violence or arrest.

“What connects a lot of the work on the investigation is that people were reporting in places where the local authorities are heavily invested in controversial projects,” says Ben Hallman, an editor and reporter for HuffPost who traveled to the mountains of Peru as a part of the investigation. “These places tend to have weak rule of law, and essentially the system that exists is opposed to you getting out the story. There’s definitely a chilling effect.”

ICIJ is a non-profit news organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. We have a full-time staff of 11 in the U.S., Europe and Latin America and 190 member journalists in 65 countries who team with us on cross-border reporting collaborations.

At ICIJ, we operate on the principle that many stories are too big, too complicated and too global for a lone-wolf muckraker – or even a single news organization – to tackle.

That’s certainly the case with the reporting team’s World Bank Group investigation, which focuses on a sprawling organization with more than 10,000 employees and a PR operation that works hard to deflect negative coverage.

The World Bank Group is owned by 188 member countries, with the U.S. and a few other Western nations holding much of the voting power. It funnels money to governments and corporations with the goal, it says, of ending extreme poverty.

Its push to end poverty is complicated by the reality that dams and other game-changing projects can make things worse rather than better for people nearby. People forced to resettle because of big projects often end up poorer than before. Some face hunger and disease. Even when people aren’t evicted from their homes, projects can destroy or damage their livelihoods. A dam that changes a river flow, for example, can drastically reduce catches for fishing communities.

The World Bank’s “safeguard” rules are supposed to protect people whose lives are disrupted by its investments. Families pushed from their homes must be provided new homes. People whose ability to earn a living has been damaged must get help to restore or replace their livelihoods.

The bank often fails to enforce these rules. In some cases, the World Bank and its private-sector lending arm, the International Finance Corp., have financed governments or companies accused of human rights violations such as rape, murder and torture.

In Kenya, for example, indigenous people claim they have been burned out of their homes and evicted from ancestral forests by a World Bank-funded forest conservation program.

“I don’t understand why they chase us like this,” Selly Rotich, a mother of five, told Langat and Kushner in September as she sat outside her scorched home in Kenya’s Embobut Forest."
worldbank  development  kenya  india  honduras  sashachavkin  anthonylangat  jacobkushner  barryyeoman  journalism  balkans  latinamerica  asia  africa  investment  economics  policy  politics  finance 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Building Afromerica | The Economist
"America’s fastest-growing migrant group may challenge the country’s fraught race relations"
race  us  migration  immigration  africa  2015  demographics 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Infrastructure as a divination tool: Whispers from the grids in a Nigerian city - City - Volume 19, Issue 2-3
"In the Nigerian city of Jos, everyday life is shaped by interlacing rhythms of disconnection and reconnection. Petrol, electricity, water, etc., come and go, and in order to gain access inhabitants constantly try to discern the logics behind these fluctuations. However, the unpredictable infrastructure also becomes a system of signs through which residents try to understand issues beyond those immediately at hand. Signals, pipes, wires and roads link individuals to larger wholes, and the character of these connections informs and transforms experiences of the social world. Not only an object, but also a means of divination, infrastructure is a harbinger of truths about elusive and mutable social entities—neighbourhoods, cities, nations and beyond. Through the materiality of infrastructure, its flows and glitches carefully read by the inhabitants, an increasingly disjointed city emerges. Through new experiences of differentiated modes of connectedness—of no longer sharing the same roads, pipes, electricity lines, etc.—narratives are formed around lost common trajectories. By focusing on how wires, pipes and roads are turned into a divination system—how the inhabitants of Jos try to divine the city's infrastructure and possible ways forward, as well as how they try, through the infrastructure, to predict a city, a nation and a world beyond—this paper strives to find ways to grasp a thickness of urban becomings—a cityness on the move according to its own unique logic."
via:javierarbona  2015  nigeria  africa  cities  anthropology  urban  urbanism  materiality  divination  jos  erictrovalla  ulrikatrovalla 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Cristina Mittermeier (@cristinamittermeier) • Instagram
"Cristina Mittermeier Photography and pen are the tools I have chosen to illustrate the fragile place where indigenous cultures and nature intersect"

[See also: http://www.cristinamittermeier.com/
https://twitter.com/cmittermeier ]
cristinamittermeier  via:anne  anthropology  photography  nature  ethnography  culture  amazonrainfoest  arctic  indigenous  papuanewguinea  madagascar  africa  instagram  instragrams 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Into the Okavango 2015
"The Okavango Delta is one of the world’s last great wetland wildernesses. Although the Delta has been awarded UNESCO WHS Status its catchments in the highlands of Angola are still unprotected and largely unexplored. Starting in May a team of Ba’Yei, scientists, engineers and adventurers will journey a 1000 miles down the Cuito River, finding new species, exploring new ground, and taking the pulse of this mighty river that brings life-giving water to the Jewel of the Kalahari.

This site displays data which is uploaded daily, via satellite, by the expedition team. Data is also available through a public API, allowing anyone to remix, analyze or visualize the collected information."
okavango  africa  maps  dataviz  data  wildreness  angola  via:vruba 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Made in Africa III: The rise of African literary digital platforms
"In the latest Made in Africa series, Bwesigye bwa Mwesigire turns to online literary platforms to understand the African literary digital landscape."
literature  africa  publishing  digital  epublishing  bwesigyebwamwesigire  via:senongo  2015 
july 2015 by robertogreco
How to Write About Somalia | MAANDEEQ
"Always use the words ‘crisis,’ ‘instability,’ ‘conflict,’ ‘anarchy,’ or ‘terror’ in your title. Subtitles may include the words ‘refugee,’ ‘militant,’ ‘warlord,’ ‘failure,’ ‘collapse,’ ‘clan,’ ‘radical,’ ‘terrorist,’ ‘extremist,’ or ‘pirate.’ Also useful are words such as ’nomadic,’ ‘pastoral,’ and ‘tribal,’ as well as made-up verbs combined with these other words, like the ‘Somalization of the crisis.’

Use the image of an elder wearing a tall koofiyad cap, traditional macawis sarong, and holding a stick. Alternatively, you may use the image of an underweight young man holding an AK-47. He may be on a boat or in a vehicle, these details are not important. But make sure you describe how he has been chewing qaat and what effect the stimulant has on promoting irrational and violent behaviour. Describe their teeth in detail.

If you must use a woman, you have two options. Either a close up with enough space for a young child strapped to the woman to be visible in the frame, or a more distant shot that shows a faceless group of women as an undifferentiated mass of cloth. In your writing, describe their veils and traditional garb, referring to their bright colours and exclaiming your surprise that they are not dressed entirely in black. Remark on their faces and how, despite their intense blackness, appear quite delicate and un-African to your eye.

Emphasize that the clan is the key to understanding this relatively simple, unsophisticated people, and that everything – from civil war to music preference – can be explained through this. Include a proverb of uncertain origin to emphasize this point. Always be specific about the person’s clan, like “the Hawiye man,” as it is more relevant than any actual name. They are all named Abdi or Mohamed anyway. The only exception to this is in nicknames, which you must elaborate upon, as they offer much insight into their tribal character and violent tendencies. Note that there are no individuals in Somali society, only the collective. It is thus unimportant and indeed unproductive to seek out a wide range of opinions when writing. Abdi “AK” and Mohamed “Crusoe” think how they look: alike.

Though hopelessly primitive, express your admiration for the nomad. Describe how, despite the harsh landscape, the specter of tribal violence, and backward cultural tendencies, he is noble and resilient. The nomad is always male, and always proud. Quote Sir Richard Burton’s observation about Somalis as a “nation of bards,” and detail their rich tradition of poetry. Describe their camels, and let your reader know you have tried camel milk, and if you are particularly daring, camel meat. It is tough, if not slightly bitter, like the nomad. Sympathize with how his way of life, untouched for hundreds of years, is threatened by the outside world. There is no need to mention Somali women, urban or rural, unless you are discussing their veils or their mutilated genitals.

Thoughtfully meditate on the ruins of colonial architecture in cities like Mogadishu, destroyed by the Somali when left to their own devices. Avoid depicting the darker aspects of colonial rule, and instead focus on more pleasant and romantic dimensions, like its Art Deco style villas and gelato. Describe the cosmopolitan nature of the colonial period and early independence years, and how women once wore bikinis on Liido beach before they adopted their large cloth tents. Bemoan modernity. How could the Somalians reject their timeless, tribal ways and attempt a modern nation-state? Disregard context and wonder whether the Somali adventure in politics was always destined to end in statelessness with these tribal nomads at the helm.

Remind your reader that despite this, there are some things in Somalia that work, that there is a Somalia you never see. They have cellphones, after all."

[Follow-up: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02w637z ]
safiaaidid  somalia  media  sterotypes  poverty  pirates  africa  journalism  2015  mainstreammedia 
july 2015 by robertogreco
DYNAMIC AFRICA — Presenting ‘Polyglot’: A Berlin-based Webseries...
"Presenting ‘Polyglot’: A Berlin-based Webseries That Centers On Urban Afro-German Experiences.

Created by Amelia Umuhire, a Rwandan-European self-taught filmmaker from Berlin and self-identifying Afro-European, Polyglot is fictional webseries based in the German capital that explores the diverse stories of politics, growing pains, love and the challenges of living in a city as complex as its inhabitants. Each episode centers on individuals who, through their equally complex hyphenated identities, represent these intricacies as they navigate the multi-layered worlds and spaces of their everyday Afro-European lives.

Filmed in an intimate and unconventional style that creates a reality that reflects these layers, with the help of cameraman Ferhat Yunus Topraklar, Polyglot is not only experimental in nature - it is a true work of heart. The first season, which stars Amine Ardhaoui, Axel Ibarroule, Amanda Mukasonga and Hiba Kahla - three young actors and artists living in Berlin, is currently being produced with no budget. It is instead being driven by passion - a love for film, diverse stories and humor.

Watch episode 1 “The Bewerbungsgespräch” with poet, rapper and actress Babiche Papaya on her quest to find an affordable ‘Altbau-Wohnung.’"

[“Afro-German Webseries ‘Polyglot’ Returns with Episode 2: “Le Mal du Pays”.”: http://dynamicafrica.tumblr.com/post/122754528103/afro-german-webseries-polyglot-returns-with

"Created, written, directed and edited by Amelia Umuhire, a Rwandan-European self-taught filmmaker from Berlin and self-identifying Afro-European, Polyglot is fictional webseries based in the German capital that explores the diverse stories of politics, growing pains, love and the challenges of living in a city as complex as its inhabitants. Each episode centers on individuals who, through their equally complex hyphenated identities, represent these intricacies as they navigate the multi-layered worlds and spaces of their everyday Afro-European lives.

Filmed in an intimate and unconventional style that creates a reality that reflects these layers, with the help of cameraman Ferhat Yunus Topraklar, Polyglot is not only experimental in nature - it is a true work of heart. The first season, which stars Amine Ardhaoui, Axel Ibarroule, Amanda Mukasonga and Hiba Kahla - three young actors and artists living in Berlin, is currently being produced with no budget. It is instead being driven by passion - a love for film, diverse stories and humor.

In episode one “The Bewerbungsgespräch”, which premiered on our blog in April, we briefly met poet, rapper and actress Babiche Papaya on her quest to find an affordable ‘Altbau-Wohnung.’ In the second episode, we follow the series’ central character, thus far, during one of those days when homesickness - a strange but all too relatable feeling for many who inhabit the space between two very different worlds - suddenly kicks in. Unable to afford a ticket back home, she opts to do her hair instead.

With familiar scenes of natural haircare, frustration at YouTube tutorials, headwraps and hair stores, the episode also explores the ever-present and ever-changing relationship with hair and the complexities of the relationships we form far away from home, as seen with her encounter and conversation with Mama Omar played by Anna Dushime, wherever that may be."'

[All “Polyglot” posts at Dynamic Africa:
http://dynamicafrica.tumblr.com/tagged/polyglot ]
ameliaumuhire  polyglot  germany  afro-european  africandiaspora  film  rwanda  africa 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Animated interactive of the history of the Atlantic slave trade.
"Usually, when we say “American slavery” or the “American slave trade,” we mean the American colonies or, later, the United States. But as we discussed in Episode 2 of Slate’s History of American Slavery Academy, relative to the entire slave trade, North America was a bit player. From the trade’s beginning in the 16th century to its conclusion in the 19th, slave merchants brought the vast majority of enslaved Africans to two places: the Caribbean and Brazil. Of the more than 10 million enslaved Africans to eventually reach the Western Hemisphere, just 388,747—less than 4 percent of the total—came to North America. This was dwarfed by the 1.3 million brought to Spanish Central America, the 4 million brought to British, French, Dutch, and Danish holdings in the Caribbean, and the 4.8 million brought to Brazil.

This interactive, designed and built by Slate’s Andrew Kahn, gives you a sense of the scale of the trans-Atlantic slave trade across time, as well as the flow of transport and eventual destinations. The dots—which represent individual slave ships—also correspond to the size of each voyage. The larger the dot, the more enslaved people on board. And if you pause the map and click on a dot, you’ll learn about the ship’s flag—was it British? Portuguese? French?—its origin point, its destination, and its history in the slave trade. The interactive animates more than 20,000 voyages cataloged in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database. (We excluded voyages for which there is incomplete or vague information in the database.) The graph at the bottom accumulates statistics based on the raw data used in the interactive and, again, only represents a portion of the actual slave trade—about one-half of the number of enslaved Africans who actually were transported away from the continent.

There are a few trends worth noting. As the first European states with a major presence in the New World, Portugal and Spain dominate the opening century of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, sending hundreds of thousands of enslaved people to their holdings in Central and South America and the Caribbean. The Portuguese role doesn’t wane and increases through the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, as Portugal brings millions of enslaved Africans to the Americas.

In the 1700s, however, Spanish transport diminishes and is replaced (and exceeded) by British, French, Dutch, and—by the end of the century—American activity. This hundred years—from approximately 1725 to 1825—is also the high-water mark of the slave trade, as Europeans send more than 7.2 million people to forced labor, disease, and death in the New World. For a time during this period, British transport even exceeds Portugal’s.

In the final decades of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Portugal reclaims its status as the leading slavers, sending 1.3 million people to the Western Hemisphere, and mostly to Brazil. Spain also returns as a leading nation in the slave trade, sending 400,000 to the West. The rest of the European nations, by contrast, have largely ended their roles in the trade.

By the conclusion of the trans-Atlantic slave trade at the end of the 19th century, Europeans had enslaved and transported more than 12.5 million Africans. At least 2 million, historians estimate, didn’t survive the journey. —Jamelle Bouie"
maps  mapping  animation  slavery  slavetade  history  africa  americas  us  brasil  brazil  caribbean  southamerica  northamerica  centralamerica  europe  andrewkahn  timelines 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Snapshot Serengeti
"Over the last 45 years, the University of Minnesota Lion Project has discovered a lot about lions – everything from why they have manes to why they live in groups. Now we’re turning our sights to understanding how an entire community of large animals interacts. We currently monitor 24 lion prides in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, using radio-tracking. To collect information about other species, we’ve set out a grid of 225 camera traps. With photographs from these cameras, we’re able to study how over 30 species are distributed across the landscape – and how they interact with lions and one another."

[via: http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/slide-show-secret-lives-of-the-serengeti
and http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-snapshot-serengeti-20150610-story.html

See also: http://e360.yale.edu/feature/camera_traps_emerge_as_key_tool_in_wildlife_research/2469/
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/03/pictures/130301-giant-armadillos-rare-science-animals-brazil/ ]
animals  cameras  photography  identification  crowdsourcing  africa  science  zooniverse  tanzania  serengeti 
june 2015 by robertogreco
allAfrica.com: Kenya: Somalia Objects to Border Wall
"A diplomatic tiff is brewing between Kenya and Somalia over the controversial proposed 440-mile perimeter border wall.

Somalia has termed the project an abuse of its territorial rights.

Kenya plans to build the wall as an effective measure to keep out terrorists along the border with Somalia.

Speaking to the state-owned Radio Muqdisho in the Somali capital on Wednesday, Interior minister Abdirizak Omar asked Kenya to withdraw the decision.

With claims of territorial violations by its neighbour, Omar said his government will not allow Kenya "to take an inch of Somalia land".

"In fact no country has the right to do so," he said.

A number of MPs made a similar call, urging Kenya to reconsider the plan.

Although Kenya downplays the imminent diplomatic fallout, Somalia says it "has a right to be heard".

Omar said his government does not believe the wall will be a solution to al Shabaab terror attacks.

"The wall will not stop al Shabaab attacks. It will rather open avenues for them to wreak havoc," he said.

Yesterday, an official at the Kenya Foreign Affairs ministry said Somalia has not lodged any formal complaints.

There are growing concerns among Somalis that the wall will further isolate the two countries.

Last month, during an interview with Voice of America, President Hassan Mohamud shared his position on the wall.

"We are fighting against an ideology, not fighters or soldiers that have bases. A separation wall cannot stop an ideology," he said.

On Monday, President Mohamud met Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi.

It is not clear whether the border was discussed.

On Monday, Somalia Parliamentary Commission for Foreign Affairs deputy chairman Mohamed Dalha said the wall violates the territorial integrity of his country."
borders  somalia  kenya  africa  2015  walls 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Mbongwana Star: Kala | NOWNESS
"​Confounding African musical traditions with the Democratic Republic of Congo supergroup

Mbongwana Star hail from Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s heaving capital, and the pulsating energy of “Kala” channels the nation’s rhapsodic heritage as the birthplace of kwasa kwasa rhythms and soukous dance music. 

The mercurial group’s origins can be traced back to world music stars Staff Benda Bilili, a 10-piece band of local street musicians who saw a stratospheric rise from early hardships with homelessness and polio to headlining London’s Royal Albert Hall in 2012. Following their split in 2013, the band’s Coco Ngambali and Theo Nsituvuidi called upon younger musicians, and Liam Farrell, aka Doctor L, an Irish producer known for collaborating with Afrobeat legend Tony Allen. 

Mbongwana translates as “change” and the band's disparate elements collide in a self-styled new genre: “space-afro punk-rock electro.” Ngambali and Nsituvuidi’s tongue-twisting vocals float above Doctor L’s post-punk distortion and relentless sounds of the townships."

[See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJCwfjl_sXc ]
congo  africa  drc  music  dance  kinshasa  kala  mbongwanastar  theonsituvuidi  cocongambali  staffbendabilili  liamfarrell  doctorl  tonyallen  afrobeat 
may 2015 by robertogreco
FreeManLooking (with tweets) · safferz · Storify
[Previously: “I am a homosexual, mum”
http://africasacountry.com/i-am-a-homosexual-mum/ ]

[…]

“"I am in your hands" a text I sent when defeated by my defenses. Because I loved him. Loved him. Releasing 2 love is very very hard.

It took doctors to tell me I was near death to let myself text him and say I love you, and i release myself to you. Gay love! God?!

How do you love when the ground shifts over your feet every minute?

How do you love when you can't hold hands in a hospital room?

how do you love with your parents, cousins friends, unable to digest?

How do you love as a gay man except by defiance always? defiance or self destruction?

Africans important 2 discuss these things, human people really are all first just about loving before food, human rights, procreation.

people think sexuality is about having sex. So, then why don't you all give up sexual love,a and passion?

so much of our world here is about quick borrowed intimacy..sharing a bed with a man and being free when when u do not fuck.

people call u in tears and leave wives to come to you not for sex but because who else will understand? and u hold them all night.

When Ruto opens his mouth or of of those fucking hate bishops, gays change routes coming home on public transportation.

gays try hard to not show themselves, but all of them live in fear always, u relax for a few months and some shit happens in the news...

when Ruto speaks and theca church people in the news, gays get evicted from apartments, get threatening text messages. EVERy time.

We find ourselves always protecting our straight people, loving them coz they r weak and brittle often. We can't shut off love, u see.

baldwin, was also just yet another black gay first born man saving his family first, putting his life 4 black people first, love: last.

So in the morning after he has cried and cried, you make coffee for him and give him support to put his straight face on and face Africa.

many gay African couples in the europe adopt and have children who r straight, & loved and still hide their families from people back home.

u hear stories how in primary school your own brother walked away in shame when you were beaten for being girly and u were five years old.

and that evening, ashamed and unable, you cracked jokes to make your brother feel okay, because u ra ashamed u shamed him.

Kenyan church can never invite Bishop Tutu 2 speak. He loves gays, straights, revolutionaries, feminists.

Why can't our churches march with women against violence in #idressasIwant - u can disagree and still show public support 4 women.

kenyan church r terrified of love and change and truth. They are there to police you to expect little, and pretend to expect much.

I have an essay to write about 3 homosexual men I helped humiliate in high school, I am deeply ashamed. Always.

Kenya will break! Break apart! If we open our hearts to being ourselves and to accepting that there is what we do not know.

Bishop Tutu the same product of the same Colonial missions. He just liberated himself t b 4 Africa, not to be a colonial sin collector.

Give credit 2 the man Tutu who can walk into the most dangerous township and preach love and tell them they have to love gay people 2.

When I went to SA, Tutu was a revelation. Just love love and freedom. I did not imagine such a thing could exist.

Enough!



me: fucking ego man V competitive, and I have had over the years had 2 fight myself 2 accommodate the Chimamanda jaggernaught.

Now. It is okay to have that fight inside you over that woman who is seemingly ruling the world. And u wanted 2 2.

Chimamanda and I agree on exactly nothing from the first day. And then she was like, then, this young young woman.

In our own relationship as writers, what has come to matter is..Chimamanda and I

Is that Chimamanda will have the confidence, each time, 2 go further than I will, for me, to ask me to take myself further.

In truth: I am theonw who is noisy conservative scared 2 try, and Chimamanda is the one writer who asks me to take my project further.

cozy work seems so experimental, people don't understand this thing. Real relevant honesty defines our friendship and working relationship.

Chimamands is the first human person who looked me in the eye and asked me, are you gay? That is what love looks like. Now I go to sleep.

when somebody does that 2 u, u have to step up and b the same kinda honest always with them and 4 them. That is a New Africa #chimamanda.

don't u feel that, that people see u, and choose not to see u?

So, Chimamanda is my big sister, & I am cool. and I am like older and got 2 Caine Prize before. Could give not a shit. Was neva like that.

people look around you, around you, and so few people get friend u look At u. Too painful and vulnerable

be true. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dlrXCYrNYI "

[continues]
binyavangawainaina  2015  africa  kenya  homeosexuality  defiance  resistance  love  southafrica  ninasimone  jamesbaldwin  sexuality  desmondtutu  identity  chimamandaadichie  chimamandangoziadichie  freedom  courage  bravery  acceptance  religion  christianity 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The Desert Blues
"In 2001, two unlikely friends created a music festival in Mali that drew the likes of Bono and Robert Plant.

Then radical Islam tore them apart."
mali  africa  music  joshuahammer  desertblues  islam  tinariwen  sambatouré  nouramintseymali  superonze  lo'jo  terakaft  khairaarby  religion  2015  mohamedalyansar  development  iyadagghali  mayeagmohamed  bamako  salifkeita  alifarkatouré 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Uganda’s Tarantino and his $200 action movies - BBC News
"A Ugandan film company that makes low-budget action movies in the slums has found a cult following online - one US fan liked their films so much, he abandoned New York to become an action movie star in Kampala."



"Isaac Nabwana, the film director and brains behind Ramon Productions, was not fazed by the unexpected arrival. "I asked him, why didn't he call me? He said: 'I am a friend, I had to reach you.' That's when I realised that he's a true friend," he says. Nabwana offered his visitor some tea, and they spoke for five hours.

"I thought I was going to meet someone like myself - a little crazy with a camera and some friends - and very quickly I realised this is the real deal," says Hofmanis.

He had arrived in "Wakaliwood", where over the past decade, self-taught film maker Nabwana has shot more than 40 low-budget action films. He is not sure how much each one costs to make, but guesses it might be around $200 (£130). "It is passion that really makes a movie here," Nabwana says.

The volunteer cast and crew source props wherever they can. The green screen is a piece of cloth bought at the market, draped over a wall. The camera crane is made from spare tractor parts - Dauda Bissaso, one of the regular actors, is a mechanic and builds all the heavy gear and weapons. "He's just a genius with a blowtorch, he makes everything," says Hofmanis. Another key member of the team is Bruce U, a Bruce Lee fan who choreographs the fight scenes and runs a kung fu school for the children of Wakaliga.

To recreate gunshot injuries, they use free condoms from the local health clinic, filled with fake blood - they burst quite realistically. They used to be filled with real animal blood, but when one of the actors got sick with brucellosis, a disease passed on from cows, they switched to food colouring.

Fake blood is needed in vast quantities because the films are violent - but in a cartoonish way, and quite unlike the real violence Nabwana witnessed growing up during Uganda's 1981-86 civil war. "I don't put that in my movies, what I saw in the past," he says. "I include comedy - there was no comedy in the violence which I witnessed."

His cinematic hero is Chuck Norris, although he also likes Rambo and The Expendables. Hofmanis, on the other hand, compares him to directors like Guillermo del Toro, Robert Rodriguez and Martin Scorsese - "in terms of creativity and what they're contributing to cinema"."



"Unable to find a distributor, Nabwana came up with an ingenious solution: the actors and crew work for nothing, but get to keep half the profits from any DVDs they sell. "We do man-to-man, door-to-door all over the country to sell them," he says. The films can sell for up to 3,000 shillings - about $1 - but the team only has a window of about a week before they are pirated. They sometimes wear full costume to maximise sales."

[See also:
http://wakaliwood.com/

“WAKALIWOOD : Home of Ramon Film Productions”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfvXLtZtLrQ

“Who Killed Captain Alex: Uganda's First Action Movie (English Subtitles & Video Joker) - Wakaliwood”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEoGrbKAyKE

“The New Wave of Ultra-Violent Ugandan DIY Action Cinema: Wakaliwood” (Vice)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sy0OOVTmsJI ]
isaacnabwana  uganda  film  filmmaking  2015  vibekevenema  africa  alanhofmanis  entertainment  kampala  ramonfilmproductions  wakaliga  wakaliwood  ramonproductions  lcproject  openstudioproject  classideas  projectideas 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Afritecture | Architecture | Hatje Cantz
"Africa’s economic boom is being accompanied by a rapid urban growth that is decidedly altering the continent. Approaches to an individual, ecological, and context-sensitive kind of architecture are evolving within these transformative processes. In these changing urban structures, numerous projects aim at making an impact on society. Thus, a large number of building schemes—most of them conceived with the help of the local population—are turning the city into an experimental field for design. Rural planning, on the other hand, is developing traditional local architectural techniques, vocabularies, and materials through technological and stylistic innovations. This opulent catalogue features essays by the architectural historian Andres Lepik and others, and presents around twenty outstanding examples of contemporary African architecture south of the Sahara. Alongside interviews with architects, developers, and sponsors, the book provides a comprehensive view of an original, lively architectural culture."
books  architecture  africa 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Rebuilding fisheries on a global scale - Africa Geographic
"A UK-based social enterprise helping to rebuild tropical fisheries and fight poverty in Africa has had its work recognised by the biggest award of its sector. Blue Ventures will receive the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, worth US$1.25 million, at a ceremony in Oxford on Thursday (16th April 2015) for its work supporting coastal communities on the Indian Ocean in Madagascar to manage their marine resources sustainably."
fishing  commercialfishing  sustainability  fisheries  africa  2015  blueventures 
may 2015 by robertogreco
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