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robertogreco : congo   30

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
Close-Up on Alain Gomis's "Félicité" on Notebook | MUBI
"It has become something of a bitter joke to speak of “strong women” in film. Not because cinema has suddenly become flooded with portraits of a wide variety of women and we need not point out the lack of such roles anymore, but because the idea is so basic it’s almost dehumanizing to ask for. The underlying plea is: write a character that’s complex, contains multitudes, has or fights for their agency. Write a human, please. The idea also has become simplistically defined, where “strong” is reduced to physical strength or the ability to bear endless suffering. In this way, strong becomes defined by a status quo “masculine” norm: the formula enshrined since the likes of Odysseus, the epic hero getting it done on their own.

Where there’s room to grow a concept of strength, then, returns to the original call for complexity. What if strength wasn’t only measured in one’s individualistic capability—as everything from the American Dream to the base tenants of capitalism would lead us to believe—but rather in an ability to grow as humans outwards towards the world? Not to close ourselves off from it, but to have the bravery to interact with it? For me, this was the profound core of Alain Gomis’s latest film, Félicité.

Winner of the Berlinale Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize, Best Film at FESPACO, and setting a new record at the Africa Movie Academy Awards by taking home six statues, Félicité follows a nightclub singer of the same name (an unforgettable debut performance by Véronique Beya Mputu) in Kinshasa. Her life is one of a proud self-sufficiency, as she earns her living with the power of her incredible voice night after night in a small bar in the Congolese capital. When her son is in a horrific accident, however, Félicité’s way of being is sent into chaos: in short order, she has to raise the cash to pay for his operation. This leads to a tense societal procedural on the level of the Dardennes’, combined with elements of a city symphony dedicated to the vibrancy of Kinshasa, as Gomis shoots the street life with a doc-style realism.

While this plight could have been the crux of Gomis’s film, instead it becomes the bridge to Félicité’s growth. After her son returns home with an amputated leg, Félicité begins, slowly, to accept the company (and help) of her neighbor, Tabu (Papi Mpaka). Prone to the drink and a mediocre mechanic at best, Tabu offers a gentle kindness and acceptance of Félicité as she is. It’s this fact that he never demands her life be re-ordered around him that makes their relationship so unique.

Given so many narratives around single women are constructed on a search for a man, that Félicité’s narrative takes this turn might cause some to pause. Yet, Gomis’s story is not based societal expectations and pressures around marriage (indeed, Félicité and Tabu’s relationship is far from “conventional”), but rather a deep humanist impulse: to be with others. It’s not, then, that Félicité’s sole quest is to find a man, but instead that in living her life she crosses paths with someone who she chooses to be with.

It’s this element of choice that adds such depth to Félicité’s form of strength. Yes, her life in Kinshasa is in some ways a Sisyphean struggle to survive, but the film doesn’t wallow in her dire circumstances and instead celebrates the agency and beauty that exists all around her. (Gomis uses the stunning score by the Kasai All Stars and Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste to emphasize this.) Time and again, Félicité has proven she has the strength to do it alone, but Tabu’s presence shows this isn’t the only way—and to accept this alternate way of being requires the strength to be vulnerable.
No scene better highlights this than when Tabu offers to fix her perpetually malfunctioning fridge. With great theatrics, Tabu reveals his handiwork to Félicité and her son, relishing in his glory—though it’s short lived. The motor soon sputters and dies, and Félicité can’t contain her laughter, which Tabu and her son soon join in, too. It’s here that Gomis poetically states that Félicité relationship with Tabu isn’t one based in gendered expectations of “having a man around.” Instead, their love lies in such moments of laughter that recognizes the other as a human who can offer far more than material aid; someone who can offer that immeasurable quality of joyful tenderness that comes when you open up to another. And there’s no weakness in accepting that."
towatch  film  congo  kinshasa  drc  alaingomis  2017  vulnerability  strength  relationships  openness  gender  masculinity  individualism  capitalism  human  humanism  kindness  acceptance  society  convention 
december 2017 by robertogreco
A World Without People - The Atlantic
"For a number of reasons, natural and human, people have evacuated or otherwise abandoned many places around the world—large and small, old and new. Gathering images of deserted areas into a single photo essay, one can get a sense of what the world might look like if humans were to suddenly vanish from the planet. Collected here are recent scenes from abandoned construction projects, industrial disaster zones, blighted urban neighborhoods, towns where residents left to escape violence or natural disasters, derelict Olympic venues, ghost towns, and more."
landscape  photography  apocalypse  worldwithoutus  multispecies  riodejaneiro  brasil  brazil  us  nola  neworleans  alabama  germany  belarus  italy  italia  abandonment  china  bankok  thailand  decay  shengshan  athens  greece  lackawanna  pennsylvania  tianjin  russia  cyprus  nicosia  indonesia  maine  syria  namibia  drc  fukushima  congo  philippines  havana  cuba  vallejo  paris  libya  wales  england 
may 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
Join soulful rapper Baloji as he takes a Congolese road trip to the sounds of "Capture" - YouTube
"Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, musician Baloji waxes thoughtful on Congolese style, Apple and his country’s integral role in the global technology industry, and shares the first cut from his “64 Bits and Malachite” EP.
Read the full feature on NOWNESS: http://bit.ly/1UukL0h "

[See also:
"In the stunning music video for “Capture,” Congolese-born Belgian rapper Baloji goes on a road trip through Kinshasa with the afrofuturistic performance art collective Kongo Astronauts. The end result is a breathtaking, futuristic ride through the artist’s birthplace."
http://www.okayafrica.com/news/african-sci-fi-2015-best-moments/

and
http://www.okayafrica.com/news/baloji-capture-64-bits-and-malachite-music-video/ ]
baloji  congo  drc  music  2015  technology 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Everything Is Yours, Everything Is Not Yours — Matter — Medium
"Claire, unlike me, was not a kid when we got asylum in the United States, so nobody sent her to school or took her in. Instead, she worked as a maid, cleaning 200 hotel rooms a week."



"Claire kept on her toughest, most skeptical face, because she knows more about the world than I do. I leapt up onto the set smiling, because I learned some really useful skills as a refugee — like, I always could read what people wanted me to do."



"Around town, some people treated me like an egg, the poor, fragile refugee girl. People wanted to help in the ways that they wanted to help. One day one of Mrs. Thomas’s friends picked me up at school in her convertible, handed me a pair of sunglasses, and said, “We’re going shopping today. Call me Auntie Wilma.” She became my godmother of shopping. We drove to Nordstrom’s."



"Claire always taught me everything is yours, everything is not yours. The world owes you nothing; nobody deserves more or less than the next person. Even as a refugee she always kept one dignified outfit — early on, a crisp white blouse, well-fitting flare jeans, short black boots; later, a brown suit — so she could present herself to anybody, anywhere, as a smart, enterprising young woman, period. She asked no pity, no permission. She was a fact of life, an equal. Nobody needed to know more.

At Hotchkiss, Claire’s attitude, along with my refugee skills, served me well: Whose behavior do I model to achieve in this place? Who has real power and who is bluffing? Where are the dangers and how do I escape? My ability to hack the system got me there, into those long halls filled with portraits of pale, square-jawed men. But it couldn’t protect me from my inner life. I was also alone for the first time, away from Claire and the Thomases. I was 20 and felt so old and so young. One day, in a philosophy seminar, I sat around a table with my fellow students, the boys in sports jackets, the girls in sweaters. It was a beautiful, crisp fall day. The professor gave us a thought experiment: You’re a ferry captain with two passengers. Your boat is sinking. One passenger is old and one is young. Who do you save?

With this, my veneer of decorum started to crack. Before I arrived on campus I asked the headmaster not to share my history. Nobody knew who I was. “Do you want to know what’s that really like?” I blurted out. “This is an abstract question to you?” Everybody stared.

A few weeks later, around that same seminar table — mahogany, with a view of the golf course — the professor asked us all to share the presentations we’d prepared on whether or not to send troops into a Black Hawk Down-like war scenario, like in Somalia. I cracked for real. “You have no idea, do you?” I yelled as one girl spoke. “You’ve never been in that scenario. What gives you a right to even talk? This is real. That’s me — and I have a name, and I’m alive and there are people out there who are dead, or they’re living but they’re checked out, and they hate the world because people in your country sat there and watched all of us getting slaughtered.” I ran out of class.

When I returned to fetch my bag, the professor asked me to meet him later in his office. He was in his mid-50s, with a salt-and-pepper beard, contained but kind. He told me that I needed to learn how to be a less emotional student. I did not agree. “I can’t be less emotional. It’s personal,” I said, all the while thinking that I didn’t survive all that horror to sip tea and join his club. I dropped the seminar and started therapy.

The following fall, at Yale, I tried again — psychology, history, and political science classes, to learn about the world abstractly. But those courses didn’t help me make sense of my life. I found them unnerving, intellectualized, and cold. So I built a private curriculum. My sophomore year I signed up for a class on the intense, inscrutable German writer W. G. Sebald because Sebald had written a book called On the Natural History of Destruction, and that sounded like my history. Sebald dropped into his books random-seeming photographs of libraries, eyes, animals, windows, and trees, as a way to try to capture the mass amnesia that fell over his country after the Second World War.

Ever since my freakout at Hotchkiss, I’d been on a mission to piece together who I was. I’d been looking at my hands — they were my mother’s hands. I’d been looking at my feet — my right foot in particular, it looked like my father’s foot. I knew I couldn’t understand myself through my American family or my classmates in their YALE sweatshirts and J. Crew skirts, even though I dressed like them. But I had so few concrete artifacts from my past — just a vinyl pencil case from South Africa and a photograph of myself at age four, dressed up for my aunt’s wedding, that I’d now hidden so deep that I could no longer find it. But Sebald offered a method, a technique for navigating out of the fog: He implied that if a person wades deep enough into memory, and pays close enough attention to the available clues, a narrative will emerge that makes moral and emotional sense.

I read all of Sebald’s books — The Rings of Saturn, The Emigrants, Vertigo. Then I started rereading. I also made a practice each day of walking by Annette, a woman who stood in front of Graduate Hall with a bucket of flowers that she purchased in bunches at the grocery store and sold as singles for a tiny profit. She was a fighter. Almost nobody noticed her until she called out, “Hey, sugar, come buy some of my flowers.” She had nothing to do with most students’ impressive, Ivy League lives. But to me she was a clue, a link to a buried past, a reminder of my sister who used to sell anything — salt, meat — so that she could save enough money for us to try to escape our deadening refugee lives. I had so many questions. Why did I use the GPS map on my phone, even on campus, when I knew where I was going? Why did I obsessively collect buttons and beads? Why did I talk so much — was I afraid I’d disappear? After Annette, I turned down Hillhouse Avenue and took pictures of the roots and vines growing outside the Yale cemetery. Then I studied the patterns in the images to see if they matched the patterns of the veins in my hands.

Once back in my dorm room, I retreated to the nest of pillows I built on my bed and pulled out my worn copy of Austerlitz, Sebald’s novel about a middle-aged man, who, as an infant, was shipped out of Czechoslovakia by his Jewish parents on the kindertransport, though nobody ever told him this. I twisted my earbuds to listen to Austerlitz on audiobook as I read. When my fair, green-eyed boyfriend, Ian, returned from his day — political science, crew team — I said, “Listen to this! Everything is connected!” I’d been with Ian for two years. I loved him and clung to him, but he often joked that I was having a more intense relationship with Sebald than I was with him. And it was true, in a way: I did want Ian to care more about Sebald, to interrogate the details of his own life. For instance, Ian was constantly playing and twisting pieces of paper or anything small in his hands, a nervous tic. But he wasn’t inclined to assigning much meaning to this, he didn’t want to investigate why he behaved as he behaved.

“Clementine, you’re so weird,” Ian said, gently dismissing me.

Still, my own interrogations did not feel optional. Why did I drink only tea, never cold water? Why did I cringe when the sun turned red?"



"We walked another week or two, south toward Maputo, until immigration again picked us up and put us in a camp, this one surprisingly nice and run by Italians. I wanted to stay forever, but Claire felt staying in a good camp was even worse than staying in a bad one — what if we started to think this life was okay?"



"I didn’t talk about my past. I didn’t want to be that refugee girl, I didn’t want to open that box. When I was in eighth grade, my class took a trip to Washington, D.C. Our first day there we visited the battle field at Antietam. I learned that 23,000 people had died there in a single day. Twenty-three thousand people. In one day. I broke down. The next day we visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum, where a docent handed me an identity card. It had a picture of a bald German man with round glasses — Jacob Unger, a salesman who died in the Sobibor extermination camp. He had two children and taught Hebrew in the evenings. My whole defensive shell cracked. Nobody in my family talked about all the people we knew who had been killed. I couldn’t hold it all inside anymore. At the Vietnam Memorial, I sat down and sobbed. I felt ashamed of being a human. I felt mad at everything and everyone. I’d thought I was the only one carrying this around and now… all those names."



"I still often feel like the seven-year-old girl, waiting for water at the refugee camp in Burundi, trying to assert that I have a right to take up space. I scan every room for the exits, in case I need to run, and I read people’s faces and body language so I know how they’d like me to walk, talk, and gesture, what they’d like me to do. I know I am ridiculously privileged. I now have so much, and I used to be considered worthless, and nothing about who I am changed. I try to be grateful, proactive, and normal."



"People listen, and they don’t listen. They’re amazed and moved, and they look bored and proud of themselves, like they’re checking a box. I try to be relevant and not frightening. I totally freaked out watching The Hunger Games movie. Maybe you did, too? Some people pity me, and want to help me, and can’t stand the idea that I am not defeated and could help them as well. Others cast me as a martyr and a saint: You must be so strong, so brave. You must have learned so much. A few ask if I feel guilty for surviving. Uh, no. I did everything I could … [more]
2015  refugees  clemantinewamariya  elizabethweil  rwanda  burundi  zaire  drc  congo  southafrica  tanzania  malawi  mozambique 
june 2015 by robertogreco
e-flux journal 56th Venice Biennale – SUPERCOMMUNITY – Child as Material
"It’s curious how a specific seam of children’s literature from the 1970s shows a consciously pedagogical impetus on the part of the author in forming the child protagonist of a book, to make sure the reader realizes the character has agency. There are also places—inside of the book but also outside of the book—where, for example, a child protagonist gives a critique of the material and of his own role as witness, for instance declaring that it’s simply B-O-R-I-N-G. We laugh, dismiss it, and go on. A very loud critique; then, laughter. But this call is political. There is no moment of recognition, on our part, of his agency, his speech, his anything. Perhaps the child cannot be political or radical. In order to have politics and radicalism you don’t necessarily need an audience. But you do need an ear. Or you need something that heeds your call, right? And instead we laugh.

If we determine that the child is, in fact, radical material superseding the boundaries of its subjecthood, what are the limits of that radicality? Can the child as political material align with our own labyrinthine positions? How does the child as material cast into high relief our own desires for an agent to rupture specific social orders—from the child soldier to the matricidal teen, from the emo kid to the runaway train hopper? This child as radical material for the political may actually function at the basis of politics: the question of how to speak genuinely, to communicate. And yet, kids don’t acquire language in the way adults understand it until later.

Children are outside. They’re “other” in the classical Lacanian sense—sheathed in their alien status—they’re like the other. And that’s why there’s also a close relationship between the colonial project and the idea of children. The Amahuaca Indians that Cornell Capa photographs in Peru are often referred to as childlike. What is interesting in the question of the child as material is that, as a scholar, one usually never finds writing on how colonialism, in its many forms, relies on the production of children.

If you’re looking for the child’s political voice, you have to do a little searching. It’s an oblique voice. It’s a sideways voice. The child soldier, for instance, is a really old phenomenon that is about exploitation in every way possible. But you do find gaps even amongst child soldiers, in which some sort of resistance is expressed. In Liberia many child soldiers build fascinating mythologies around themselves. There was a young woman who went by the name of Black Diamond. She was invincible to bullets, and would often go into battles naked. She combined the logic of magic and the logic of a fantasy world. Which is not to say that she had a political voice in any sense of being free to express herself. But there are these moments where style choices would become mythological and cultural interventions. Another thing that happened in Liberia was that a lot of young boys would go into battle wearing wigs and wedding dresses. If you’re looking for political speech in children, it has to be approached in the same way cultural work is approached: you may not possess the means of production, but you can say something very important about the way the system functions."



"Take the family band, for instance—the Jackson 5, which we know were relatively coercive, or even The Shaggs, which were a little more awkward because the daughters are teenagers and the dad is making them play in a really bad band that is also kind of great. Moreover, Michael Jackson, as nestled amongst his family members, here could stand as the ultimate production of a child, as he was also well-known for having a very hard time moving past childhood. Michael was so uncanny as a child for being able to express adult feelings of longing without actually being an adult, and then when he became an adult he surrounded himself with children and whimsical amusement parks made for children. In her book The Argonauts Maggie Nelson briefly touches on the crystallization of Michael’s desire for suspension: “Michael doted on Bubbles. But Michael would also rotate the chimp out of service as it aged and replace it with a younger, newer Bubbles.” When Bubbles ceased to be a “child,” it was time for another. Could there be another family band somewhere, consisting entirely of retired Bubbles?

Is it possible that the family band is also a positive thing? Many kids spend their childhood in school studying. The family band creates less of a sense that there is a right way and a wrong way to do certain things; that a pedagogy can be forged on the road and amongst kin. There is always an element of captivity to the family band (on the tour bus; in the rehearsal schedule) just as when a kid is in school, but then there can also be an idea that getting it wrong or having some sort of actual imaginative play can be more scintillating. And you often see this difference being disciplined out of children, through education, or through literature.

In thinking about these grounds called the child, it seems that the child always exists for the adult. The adult gets to mold the child. Is it even possible to release the child from the mother mold? Both parents and children, original object and replicant, experience a sort of parallel Stockholm Syndrome: both identify with their captor, both want to be freed, and both imitate one another’s hostilities. Is “captivity” an offensive word to apply here, as it also refers to the nation-state and its nonsymbolic relationship to captives? Probably not. The West is obsessed with the axis of freedom and bondage. Everything is projected onto this axis in the most ridiculous way, with weird inversions happening at the poles. Children are often thought of as free, right? It’s completely arbitrary. How is it even possible that children are free?"
children  beatrizbalanta  benjgerdes  jenniferhayashida  christophermyers  briankuanwood  marywallingblackburn  emmanuelleguattari  colonialism  politics  performance  pageantry  congo  drc  zaire  neoliberalism  art  childsoldiers 
june 2015 by robertogreco
James & Other Apes
"While watching a nature program on primates I was struck by their facial similarity to our own. Humans are clearly different to animals, but the great apes inhabit that grey area between man and animal. I thought it would be interesting to try to photograph gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans using the aesthetic of the passport photograph- its ubiquitous style inferring the idea of identity.

I decided against photographing in zoos or using ‘animal actors’ but traveled to Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia to meet orphans of the bush meat trade and live pet trade."
animals  apes  gorillas  chimpanzees  bonobos  orangutans  jamesmollison  portraits  faces  photography  identity  multispecies  congo  indonesia  drc  cameroon 
may 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
6, 52: Continuity
"Pleistocene Park has been in the news, maybe off this Independent coverage. My hunch is that rewilding and de-extinction (and cautious geoengineering generally) are probably great ideas and we’ll come to regret that we didn’t do our scientific and political due diligence earlier. But that’s only a strong opinion weakly held, and what seems more interesting now is understanding how Pleistocene Park, as a flagship, plays in the media.

It’s telling, for example, that Jurassic Park is so often the introductory metaphor. A few months ago, this newsletter mentioned the Crescent Ridge Dawn Redwoods Preserve, another private rewilding project that’s more radical in at least five ways: (1) how close it is to people, (2) how far back in time it goes, (3) that it’s rewilding a species that was naturally locally extinct, (4) in terms of biomass turnover, and (5) how far along it is – already finding previously undocumented behavior. But Crescent Ridge is only charismatic megaflora, and Pleistocene Park just has to say “mammoth” to be news.

I think some of that comes down to people fearing mammoths. There’s maybe a sense that we would be in competition, that in a few years they might be intimidating joggers in Yakutsk and trampling wheat fields in Irkutsk. In other words, that large wild animals should probably not exist.

– I had buffalo burger for brunch today. The bison were the largest North American animals to survive the climate change and hunting at the end of the last glacial maximum. There were something like 25,000,000 of them before the United States. In 1890, there were about 1,100. Now there are about 500,000, many of them more or less sustainably ranched.

– Via @annegalloway’s more-than-human lab’s tumblr, 3,200 toy tigers around space for 40,000."



"Tangentially: the nearest big city to Bisie is Goma, on the Rwandan border, between Lake Kivu and Mount Nyiragongo. @jw_rosen has just written two articles about Goma and the lake: After years of war, Goma, DRC, is open for business and (with lovely photographs by Jason Florio) Lake Kivu’s Great Gas Gamble. Rosen is wary of many of the traps that certain other Western journalists are stuck in like wasps in bottles when they try to talk about the region. The gorillas, for example. Or the old National Geographic angle that I remember someone parodying with a line like “Biknis and Uzis: Beautiful, Troubled Brazil is a Land of Contrasts at a Crossroads”. Rosen manages to show a picture of Goma that encompasses complexity without absurdly exoticizing it, that can show M23, Au Bon Pain, natural disasters, and kombucha without being like “See?! This place is weirder than your place!”

(There are a couple angles here that I’m saving for another time, but just because I want to, here are two Goma-related videos I enjoyed: a cover of Pharrell’s Happy and Lake Kivu – Bukavu to Goma.)"



"This morning I read about the Mediterranean drownings, and the unidentified bodies of people who die of dehydration while crossing the border into Arizona, and then rich countries’ hesitations about bringing in Syrian refugees. I see the camps, you know. In the satellite imagery. It’s not as important as listening to the people in them. But helps me relate in other ways. The big ones – Zaatari, Dadaab – are as big as cities. They are cities, cities on life support.

My grandfather’s family were Czech Jews who narrowly avoided the Holocaust. The wealthy nations wouldn’t give them visas. Everyone could see what Hitler was up to. But the US and others still had antisemitic – anti–virtually-everyone – immigration quotas. When it mattered, there were two places in the world that would let them in: China and Bolivia. They went to Bolivia, and as antisemitism became less fashionable toward the end of the war they got to come to America. I’m grateful for what continuity I have with them: the saved letters, the family traits in stories. When I see people dying to cross borders today, I see more continuity. Not same-ness, just continuity. I can’t see people as desperate as my ancestors were and pretend it’s completely different. Everyone in danger of their life deserves help. They don’t earn that responsibility from the rest of us. They just have it, by being a person.

“We’d love to take refugees, but gosh, how can we guarantee that among these starving people and enemies of oppressive states there isn’t anyone who might fractionally lessen our own sense of security?”

“We’d love to take refugees, but gosh, first we have to process them!”

“We’d love to take refugees, but gosh, there’s all this darn paperwork!”

The thing about geography, for me, is continuity. Everywhere is related in calculable ways to everywhere else. There are walls on the ground, but the numbers move smoothly through them. The numbers come from land grabs and military ballistics. We can use them as invisible but omnipresent reminders that you can get there from here.

When I was small, I was used to worldbuilding fiction where the writer had left some things undiscovered. Often this must have been a way to build an ethos of mystery, of romance, of potential, of nascence. Other times it was probably a practical way of leaving options open for the settings of later books in the series. It was very unfair that on the real globe, everything habitable was explored. It felt mean to give the reader a world without the potential for huge lost societies who might have figured out a lot of surprising stuff. “This is all you get.” Rude."
africa  euope  us  migration  immigration  refugees  2015  charlieloyd  borders  border  mexico  congo  drc  bisie  goma  mining  lakekivu  landsat  landsat9  rewilding  crescentridgedawnredwoodspreserve  de-extinction  mammoths  magaflora  magafauna  science  sustainability  terraforming  bison  biomass  pleistocenepark  geoengineering  anthropocene  humanism  personhood  compassion  continuity  geography  society  policy  politics  politicalgeography  safety  security  fear 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Kinshasa's traffic robots: 'I thought it was some kind of joke' - in pictures | Cities | The Guardian
"Gridlock has seized Kinshasa. Faced with rising car ownership and a lack of trust in police, city authorities have recruited solar-powered ‘robocops’ to control the DRC capital’s chaotic streets. For Panos Pictures photographer Brian Sokol, whose images are part of the Sony-backed #FutureofCities initiative, the project provides an insight into a more ‘positive’ side of a tumultuous country"



"The robots are made by Therese Izay’s company Women’s Tech, which designs and manufactures the robots. Izay hopes the idea will catch on in other cities across Africa and beyond"
drc  kinshasa  congo  africa  robots  traffic  2015  technology  thereseizay 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Pointe-Noire & Its Ironic 'Salon De Coiffure' Beauty [Op-Ed] Okayafrica.
"Robert Nzaou-Kissolo is a Congolese photographer currently based between Cape Town and Pointe-Noire, Republic of the Congo, who recently reached out to us with his ongoing project documenting Pointe-Noire street culture since 2014. In his “Salon de Coiffure” photo series, Nzaou-Kissolo focuses on the prevalence of hair salons in the suburbs of Pointe-Noire (every 100 meters he says), and the standards of beauty their hand-painted boards advertise. “The ‘Salon de Coiffure’ theme explores the beauty of the Congolese people contrasted with what they themselves perceive as beauty,” he said in an email. In the op-ed below, Nzaou-Kissolo elaborates on the irony he sees in Pointe-Noire’s “Salon de Coiffure” culture."
2015  congo  photography  africa  robertnzaou-kissolo  hairsalons  republicofthecongo  streetculture  signs  salons  beautysalons  beauty  culture 
february 2015 by robertogreco
29. You Will Learn the Meaning of Muzombo — Why 2015 Won’t Suck — Medium
"This December, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, chiefs from the Lega tribe, on their own initiative, came to Bukavu from their villages, hours away, to express their decision to set up new traditional laws not only against sexual violence and rape but also forbidding early marriage for girls, forced sororate or levirate marriages (when a young girl is married to the brother of her deceased husband), child labor and privileging boys’ education while keeping girls uneducated. They are setting those acts as taboos, locally known as “Muzombo,” which entitle any offender to the most severe punishment in the community. Any offense will be thoroughly investigated at the traditional level, and seriously punished.

The crisis of sexual violence in the Congo and the use of rape as a weapon of mass destruction, against which we have been fighting for the last 16 years, remains. But we are hopeful now that nations worldwide seem to be rising to the issue and deciding to engage. In June, the British government hosted a Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London. One hundred fifty nations represented by their ministers of foreign affairs took a stand against sexual violence with a unified resolution. Barack Obama signed an executive order to freeze the assets of all criminals and their accomplices who commit or have committed crimes in the Congo. Those diverse engagements, from the highest positioned leaders to the common citizen in the society, give us hope for the year 2015."
congo  drc  2015  muzombo  violence  denismukwege  sexualviolence  rape  women  girls  taboos  gender 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The Official Website of Virunga National Park - The Virunga Alliance
"Born of a Congolese commitment to the protection of Virunga National Park, the Virunga Alliance aims to foster peace and prosperity through the responsible economic development of natural resources for four million people who live within a day’s walk of the park’s borders.

A minimum of 30% of the park’s revenues is invested in community development projects. These projects are defined by the community and are based on the principle of free and informed consultation with civil society groups.

Virunga Alliance is the intersection of civil society, private sector and state institutions working together toward sustainable development goals in eastern Congo. Virunga Alliance will deliver large-scale opportunities to tens of thousands of Congolese men and women who are ready to rebuild the region and redefine the country’s future.

We propose a three-phase approach and identify four main sectors for development, including Energy, Tourism, Agro-Industry, Sustainable Fisheries, and Infrastructure."
virunga  parks  africa  congo  drc  sustainability  fisheries  agriculture  tourism  energy  infrastructure  economics  development 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Why Pygmies Aren't Scared By The 'Psycho' Theme : Goats and Soda : NPR
"In many ways, music and emotion almost seem interchangeable.

Scientists at McGill University and the University of Montreal got the rare opportunity to answer that question. Their findings, published Wednesday in Frontiers in Psychology, [“subjective and psychophysiological emotional responses to music” http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01341/abstract ] suggest that music isn't always a universal language.

Deep in the rain forest of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a group of Pygmies lives in near isolation from Western culture. The Mbenzele Pygmies don't have electricity, radios or cellphones. Many have never heard a note of Brahms or the beat of Beyonce.

On a trip to Congo, anthropologist Nathalie Fernando of the University of Montreal played 11 excerpts of Western songs to 40 Pygmies. Some songs, such as "Cantina," trigger positive feelings in Westerners. Others, like the Psycho theme or Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, trigger negative or sad feelings in Westerners.

But the Pygmies didn't hear the music that way.

The emotional cues in songs, which Westerners pick up on, didn't mean the same to the Pygmies: They didn't hear the shrieking strings of the Psycho theme as stressful or the minor chords in Wagner's Tristan as sad.

"The emotional response to this music was all over the map," says neuroscientist Stephen McAdams of McGill University, who co-authored the study with Fernando. "The idea of music being a universal language, I don't really buy it. Some aspects of the emotional response are very specific to that culture."

"All of their music is generally upbeat, playful," says McAdams. The culture just doesn't have sad songs, he says.

"In the West, we expect to have negative emotions sometimes. We even seek them sometimes," McAdams says. "When I'm feeling sad, and I really want to enhance it, I'll put on some sad music."

But in the Pygmy culture, sad feelings aren't accepted. "They generally try to get rid of negative emotions by singing happy music," McAdams says. "One of the main roles of music in their culture is to evacuate bad feelings."

The Mbenzele Pygmies are known for their rich, complex music. Everyone in the community is a musician, McAdams says. They sing, dance and play instruments, starting at a young age.

"How they think about music is very different from how Westerners think about music," Fernando said in an email to Goats and Soda. "The Pygmies do not use music to express emotions. It's not sentimental."

As hunter-gatherers, the Pygmies depend on the forest for their livelihood. "They feel they have an unwavering relationship with the forest," Fernando says. "Music is the vital force that links them to the forest, like an umbilical cord."

That's why songs must be upbeat, joyful, she says: "Positive energy is used to maintain relations with the spirits that live in the forest. So music should inspire positive energy."

The Pygmies use music — and positive energy — to help accomplish tasks and overcome problems, Fernando says. "There's music for each of the daily activities: hunting, fishing, gathering, mourning," Fernando writes. If there's a disagreement in the community, music is brought in to fix it.

So are Pygmies always in a good mood?

"They can cry, but not while singing," Fernando says. "They sing to pass through the tears.""
music  pygmies  2015  congo  drc  nathaliefernando  sound  psychology  anthropology  universality  culture  emotion  emotions 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Mobutu, Roi Du Zaire Le Maitre Du Jeu - YouTube
"Ce documentaire dresse un portrait de l'ancien dictateur de l'ex-Zaïre. C'est en 1965 que Mobutu prend le pouvoir par un coup d'Etat dans l'ex-Congo belge. Il n'hésite pas à collaborer avec la CIA pour assassiner son acolyte Patrice Lumumba et à faire régner la terreur pour devenir le "guide suprême". Il devient l'homme le plus riche du monde, accumulant richesses et résidences étrangères alors que la misère règne dans son pays rebaptisé le Zaïre. Dans les années quatre-vingt-dix, la maladie le gagne et il quitte le pouvoir apres une rebellion armée."
drc  zaire  history  congo  belgiancongo  africa  towatch  documentary  mobutuseseseko 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Texas in Africa: show me the data
"In other words, it's much more complicated than just the mineral trade. Which is why the argument that shutting down the mines will end all of this violence is fundamentally flawed. It is, quite frankly, based on incorrect assumptions and a lack of rigorously-analyzed evidence.

An all-encompassing focus on the mineral trade won't end violence in the eastern DRC. Assuming that it were even possible to track the Congo's minerals from source to market and that it would be possible shut down the militarized mineral trade (and, given the limits of technology and oversight, those are two mighty big assumptions), would the loss of income really force these armed groups to the negotiating table? These forces are already well-accustomed to terrorizing local populations to obtain the necessities of life. Would their behavior really change if they lost this income stream? I'm not sure. And, we must remember, there's the tiny problem of external financing of these armed groups (especially the FDLR) that the international community has until very recently completely ignored.

Then there's the lingering detail of the 1 million+ people who depend on the mineral trade for their livelihoods. Any program to shut down the mines have to take their employment into account. As Harrison Mitchell and Nicholas Garrett continue to point out, legitimizing the mineral trade is a far better idea than shutting it down.

I do not know a single scholar of the Congo who buys into the "cell phones cause rape" thesis. We all understand that the situation there is far too complex to be reduced by the activists to a simple resource war that could be solved if we just pressure Congress to stop the conflict mineral trade (How many of you are willing to give up your mobile phones to stand in solidarity with Congolese women? Keep in mind that there aren't any conflict-free cell phones.).

This doesn't mean that minerals don't matter. But the militarized mineral trade is a symptom of the disease of state failure, not the root cause of violence. Even setting aside all of the logistical issues with certification, controlling supply chains, taking physical control of the mines, developing the technology necessary to track minerals, finding livelihoods for newly unemployed miners, and creating a degree of consumer consciousness that's stronger than the desire for an iPhone, the violence won't end. It won't. There's no entity capable of stopping it.

Treating one symptom rarely cures a disease. We all want the people of the Congo to live productive, peaceful lives that are free from the constant threat of violence. We all agree that the eastern DRC is in many ways the linchpin for regional stability. But until there is serious security-sector reform, the Congolese government can actually control its territory, tax, and pay its soldiers, and the regional dynamics that drive much of the conflict over land, citizenship rights, and Rwanda's role in the region are settled, armed groups and civilians will continue to commit horrific acts of violence, simply because they can. "Doing something" about the mineral trade won't change that fact.

Policymakers would do well to focus less on oversimplified solutions to extraordinarily complex problems, and to instead turn their attention to giving the people of the DRC what they deserve and need: peace, public order, and a chance to make life better. That will require a long-term, sustained effort that doesn't pretend the peacekeepers only need to stay another six months or a year. It will require negotiating with unsavory non-state actors. It will require honest assessments of regional actors' territorial and sphere-of-influence ambitions. It will require the recognition of corruption in all its many varied forms, and of the need to directly target aid to its beneficiaries.

Above all else, it will require policies that are based on facts, not assumptions. The stakes are too high not to pursue policies that are data-driven and have a reasonable chance of success.

Then again, maybe it's easier to oversimplify things."
via:vruba  2009  lauraseay  congo  mining  violence  rape  economics  policy  politics  complexity  oversimplification 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Beat Making Lab
"Our mission is one of cultural exchange. We collaborate with cultural centers, connect youth to a global audience, and contribute equipment and training."

[via: http://pri.org/stories/2013-10-02/and-beat-making-lab-goes-ethiopia and
http://pri.org/stories/2013-10-09/what-happens-when-you-mix-culture-talent-health-and-passion-music ]


"What is Beat Making Lab?

Beat Making Lab is an electronic music studio small enough to fit in a backpack. We collaborate with communities all around the world; donating laptops, microphones and software to community centers and conducting two-week residencies with talented youth. We film workshops and shoot music videos as part of a weekly web-series with PBS Digital Studios. Our goals include cultural exchange, innovative collaboration, and social/entrepreneurial impact.

Beat Making Lab is an initiative of ARTVSM LLC, a production company that funds innovative projects merging the worlds of art and activism, “by any medium necessary”. Production funding for the Beat Making Lab web-series is provided, in part, by PBS Digital Studios."


Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo

In June 2012, we set up our first international lab in the Democratic Republic of Congo, partnering with Yole!Africa in Goma to train over 20 young people in music production and entrepreneurship. We reached thousands more through public performances and international media coverage as part of Yole’s annual SKIFF Festival (Salaam Kivu International Film Festival).

Each student trained in Goma was asked to help train others in their community, to ensure long-term impact. DJ Couler, a Beat Making Lab student and MC from Goma explained the process, “when the instructors return to the United States, for us that will not be the end. It will be more like a continuation, or even a beginning for us because we will be able to teach others how to create their own beats.”


Why Beat Making?

Music is a tool to build dialogue, amplify voice and strengthen solidarity. As hip-hop and electronic music have developed into global culture, there is a growing need for resources, education and software to help youth express themselves in these genres.

Beat Making Lab does not require students to be able to read standard music notation, or play a traditional instrument. The participants learn the techniques of beat making through composition, sampling, and songwriting on the most powerful instrument of the 21st century: a laptop.

The results are computer-based electronic dance music and hip-hop songs. This approach and pedagogy radically broadens the population that can be served through modern music education.


Our Story

Beat Making Lab started as an innovative course on music production and entrepreneurship taught in the Music Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, founded by producer/DJ Stephen Levitin (aka Apple Juice Kid) and Dr. Mark Katz (author of Groove Music: The Art and Culture of the Hip Hop DJ) in 2011. Professor/emcee Pierce Freelon joined Apple Juice Kid to co-teach the popular class in 2012, and was instrumental in transforming the curriculum for implementation in a community setting. Together, Freelon and Apple Juice Kid formed ARTVSM LLC, and initiated a grassroots campaign to crowd-source the funds to donate training and equipment to Yole!Africa. Their efforts culminated in a collaboration with PBS Digital Studios, which will be airing webisodes documenting Beat Making Labs in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Panama, Senegal, Fiji and Ethiopia, each Wednesday on the Beat Making Lab youtube channel.
music  beatmakinglab  sound  youth  projectideas  uncch  stephenlevitin  markkatz  congo  panamá  senegal  fiji  ethiopia  goma  collaboration  culturalexchange 
october 2013 by robertogreco
AP News: UN selects unarmed surveillance drone for Congo
"The United Nations has selected its first unarmed surveillance drone, an Italian-made plane that will be tried out by peacekeepers in eastern Congo.

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Thursday the world body's peacekeeping department chose an unmanned aerial vehicle produced by SELES ES, known as the Falco, which is "capable of carrying a range of payloads including several types of high-resolution sensors."

In January, the U.N. Security Council gave approval for the trial use of unarmed drones for eastern Congo. It's also given peacekeepers an unprecedented offensive mandate to attack rebels.

Nesirky said deployment of the medium-altitude, medium-endurance drone is planned in the coming weeks.

He said it will allow U.N. peacekeepers, especially in eastern Congo, "to monitor the movements of armed groups and protect the civilian population more efficiently.""
drones  droneproject  2013  via:vruba  congo  un 
august 2013 by robertogreco
What is social information? « Snarkmarket
"Wallace has already signaled that this is going to be a paragraph about repetition to exhaustion or even injury before he even does it. You could say he needs to keep clarifying & repeating these things because his sentences are so convoluted that otherwise you couldn’t follow them, but 1) his syntax is pretty clear 2) it’s not like he’s a freak about specifying everything… But it’s also just Wallace — who understands all of this, by the way, better than we do: communication, information, redundancy, efficiency, purity, the dangers of too much information, and especially the fear of being alone and the need to find connection with other human beings — creating a structure that allows him to ping his reader, saying “I am here”… and waiting for his reader to respond in kind, “I’m alive right now; I’m a person; look at me.” 
timcarmody  snarkmarket  davidfosterwallace  infinitejest  language  solitude  loneliness  human  need  information  redundancy  efficiency  purity  clarity  communication  infooverload  connectedness  connection  freemandyson  malcolmgladwell  devinfriedman  ycombinator  dailybooth  expression  jamesgleick  congo  kele  languages  words  pinging  drums  2011  northafrica  revolution  revolutions  media  raymondcarver  history  cannon  signaling 
february 2011 by robertogreco
In Congo, superstitions breed homeless children | csmonitor.com
"The number of street children in Congo's capital has swelled to around 20,000. Many have been shunned as 'witches.'"
children  africa  belief  religion  superstition  congo  street  cities 
november 2006 by robertogreco

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