DYNAMIC AFRICA

African-based news, lifestyle & popular culture platform that brings you stories and information concerning Africa and the African diaspora. Set up in 2010, Dynamic Africa is a rich content-driven creative space with a Pan-African outlook established as an expressive platform for African experiences, African culture and African stories.


Dynamic Africa is a diverse multimedia platform, which curates global ideas, memes, attitudes and other phenomena that shape popular culture, with both a local and global African perspective.




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Posts tagged "diaspora"

Maipei’s debut album "Hey Hey" comes out September 23rd.

Listen to a live stream of it at NPR.

In case you weren’t already aware of how incredible Misty Copeland’s life and career as a ballerina has been, she’s written a children’s book, Firebird, partly inspired by her experiences.

The name of the book comes from one of her very first transformative role as a ballerina with the American Ballet Theatre. The book is also dedicated to her mentor, Raven Wilkinson, the first African-American ballerina to tour the country in the 1950s, and who was “pretty much chased out when they were touring the South by the KKK”.

In an interview with NPR, Copeland discusses the importance of the book, its relevance to her own life and how she wrote it for a specific audience - other young aspiring ballerina’s who, due to critiques about race, body type or other non-conforming ideals that are a part of the ballet world, have shied away from pursuing their dreams of dance.

One of the most striking parts of this interview is where Copeland opens up about racism (and perhaps Eugenics) in the ballet industry, and how critics and the media propagate this mindset, saying:

I don’t think every African-American or Latino have the same body type, but, yes, that’s been one of the excuses … saying that African-Americans are too muscular or just aren’t lean enough. Usually they say, “Oh, they have flat feet so they just don’t have the flexibility that it takes to create the line in a point shoe.”

When people meet me in person, they’re usually surprised at how petite I am because there’s just [an] idea that because I’m black I just look a certain way. …

They hear those words from critics — I’m “too bulky,” I’m “too busty” — and then they meet me in person and they say, “You look like a ballerina, I don’t understand.” And I think it’s just something maybe I will never escape from: those people who are narrow-minded. But my mission, my voice, my story, my message is not for them. I think it’s more important to think of the people I am influencing and helping to see a broader picture of what beauty is.

Not ignoring the fact that structural racism exists, Copeland still wants to drive hard a message of optimism and self-belief as these are, on a personal level, the characteristics that drove her to beat the odds and defy the negative stereotypes that stood in her way:

I think that especially young kids need to hear those words, because I think that if you say “maybe” or “it’s possible,” I think it’s very easy for them to interpret that as “no, it’s not.”

(image via NPR)

TRAILER: “Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace”.

New documentary investigates Wiley’s life and identity as it relates to his artwork and the Western hegemonic world of art in which he must navigate as a black African-American artist.

The film had its premiere in the US on PBS on September 5th so be sure to check your local listings to see when its on next. Don’t have PBS? US residents can try stream it online here.

NEW MUSIC: Mélat x Jansport J - “Move Me” EP.

It’s sometime between 1996 and 2006, you’re young, somewhere between being in love and one step away from heartbreak, but still somehow having the most carefree summer of your teenage life. That’s how Ethiopian-American singer Mélat's debut EP Move Me makes me feel.

Produced by Jansport J, Mélat gives us nine dreamy tracks with catchy R&B/neo-soul melodies and a voice that’s as golden as her sun-coloured hair.

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"Academic Diaspora" by Nicole Nomsa Moyo.

When Africans began going to Europe, America and other foreign countries to further their tertiary education, many were sent in the hopes that they’d come back and use those skills to contribute to the upliftment of their communities. Whilst some returned, others remained abroad for one reason or another - some because it made practical sense to do so, and others simply because the pull of their new home yielded more than the places they had left had ever offered them. Now, more than ever, as may African countries face critical brain drains, those who form part of the latter are often criticized for this decision. Zimbabwean-born architect Nicole Moyo, who studied abroad in Canada details her experiences as an adventure-hungry globetrotter and someone who is part of the African Academic Diaspora.

What if we never moved? And we all stayed in our own niches, remaining indigenous in the purist form? I wonder how many terms we would go our whole lives never having heard: “inter”, “multi”, “dimensional” – these words, to name a few, rely on an “other” or “outer” relationship to give them a purpose. These simple words describe myself, and yourself in the borderless world we live in today.

I never really understood Africa until I left it. I say ‘Africa’ because as I crossed the boarders towards the Western shores, my immigrant identity was greater in numbers. I, like countless young individuals, had left home and was on the pursuit of seeking my fortunes abroad. Well, my family has always been on the move – by the age of 19 I was fortunate enough to have visited 23 countries. I wanted more, I was curious to know what exactly was on the other side of the pond, what was this first-world business?

Now, I cannot speak for others, but to be honest I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Other than incredible, unpredictable and gratifying – ‘reverse cultural shock’ would be one way to describe my experience.

There are many advantages to academic Diaspora. This of course all depends on how motivated and dedicated you are to your own personal development. I have continuously learnt the limits are boundless. Individuals you meet from around the world I describe to be the most valuable asset to the development of your perspective on life as a whole. With an international degree you open yourself up to more opportunities, which I believe is needed in a world of unpredictable economies. South Africa for example, like many other counties is being built on an international working class. “If things don’t really work out here I can always go back home” – this is the option my parents have awarded me, however every person that leaves home has the responsibility to reward themselves. Freedom is a utopic expression, the liberation to do whatever you want, whenever you want to may seem ideal until you see people around you using it as a weapon against themselves.

The disadvantages are that you really are on your own. The networks of community and support you have back home are something you always long for. You are an immigrant in an environment where you have to integrate yourself into not forgetting that you have to work far harder than the nationals for who the jobs were created. As an international, my university fees were very expensive. Architecture was a degree that I could have also obtained at home for a tenth of the price so why leave? And why do so many people never return and share their abilities and the knowledge that, if leveraged correctly, becomes a priceless commodity and significant to the development of their home countries? Well I cannot answer that because each case is different. As for myself “When are you coming home?” is a question I hear far too often and an answer that becomes further diluted as I wonder how I will re-engage myself, how will I make a great and meaningful impact? The truth is really I don’t know.

At times I feel confused and guilty, but for no good reason. I am a citizen of the world, a woman on a mission. There is no fault in my journey and if anything I get butterflies in my stomach that feel like love because I know I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing: Loving myself so that I can purposefully love others. Limitations are not always easy and present themselves as challenges of faith. As women, we are constantly being reminded of what we cannot do, how we should look but not how we should think and do best. It is our responsibility to absorb and then have a voice to teach others about the “inter”, “multi”, and “dimensional” world we all belong to. I am no longer just a woman, or just an African. Through my education, international experience and multiculturalism as an individual, I am continuously advancing my value to become a useful and purpose-driven globalized citizen.

SuRu: A Nigerian Street Style Brand in California by Amira Ali.

“My sensibility and idea of pushing diversity is grounded within my Yoruba culture and living in the Bay Area. Nigeria is the most populace African country and rich in its diversity. And on the other hand, living in the Bay Area, I’m part of a melting pot. Both make up ‘my’ culture,” Baba Afolabi says.

Baba Afolabi, a Nigerian-born resident of Oakland, California, is the founder of SuRu, a premium apparel brand gaining popularity in the local pop-up fashion scene. Through the brand he introduces a self-made identity, contributing in a major way to the emerging local entrepreneurship and evolving arts, culture, and style in Oakland. More than a brand, in its origin, it is said that SuRu is geared to promote a (new) cultural phenomena, a way of life. A vision that speaks to identity, personality and character, while breaking down (self) imposed cultural boundaries built around notions of identity and community

In the contemporary world, as many local settings are characterized by cultural diversity we are pushed into ‘globality’. As migration is frequented we find, not just in the African context but also generally, more formations of new identities –creations of new culture based on new experiences. While owning up to the integrity and richness of their indigenous culture(s), Africans, more than ever, are refusing to a fixed and narrow idea of ‘African’ identity. To a greater extent, more are claiming identities that relate to their ways of living, beliefs and outlooks, shaped by their environment they inhabit.

The word SuRu comes from the Yoruba proverb surulere, meaning, “patience is rewarding”. During the founding process of the brand, while traveling through Japan, Afolabi discovered that the word SuRu in the Japanese language translates to mean: ‘to do’.  A different meaning though, joined with the Yoruba ‘patience’ the phrase ‘to-do-patience’ became the impetus behind SuRu.

The first time I came across the brand I experienced a fresh idea with a cosmopolitan flavor. In an intriguing fashion, the SuRu letters construct the Japanese characters in an Arabic calligraphy-like style, blending aesthetically with a Yoruba (Nigerian) idiom, all in one. An effortless sense of cultural diversity intermixed in a fashionably urbanized flair.

The SuRu buzz styled in its local setting can be felt in Oakland. For Oaklanders, where street styled garments are becoming the new cool, SuRu seems to fit comfortably. We recently caught-up with Afolabi to chat about the emergence of SuRu, his understanding of the word ‘diversity’, and his brand’s relationship with Africa.

We met at SuRu’s new pop-up shop in Uptown Oakland. A space full of vibrations made up with a young group of Ugandans, Sudanese, Haitians, Americans, and Nigerians. Investing their creative time in the brand while creating a new cultural movement and affecting contemporary American popular culture.

In the store azonto music is full on. Bikes and skateboards are parked to the side. Burritos are on the lunch menu. The store is full of colorful tees and sweatshirts with prints of giraffe meets football meets the world cup. Everything is displayed with an Afro-Japanese essence. There even is a (re) creation of the African continent, merged and sketched over the borders of Japan, dubbed ‘Japrican’.

“As SuRu was being introduced to the world it was no more than a dream to me,” Afolabi said, recalling how the SuRu dream was underway while he was visiting his longtime girlfriend in Japan. It was then, his relationship with a woman from another culture necessitated the act of understanding and being patient. The story of an African man and a Japanese woman, and their practice of a shared culture found expression in SuRu.

SuRu’s message is respectable in its civility booster in a multicultural society. Not to mention the promotion of inclusivity on racial and cultural identity, alongside its rebel-like nature towards self-imposed borders. An idea, perhaps, that translates fluidly with young Africans in the disapora and on the continent.

“It made sense, it’s not forced. It’s who I am and part of my daily lifestyle. I comfortably live a diverse lifestyle. An authentic daily activity, from the music I listen to, to the food I eat, and the type of clothes I wear,” Afolabi explains.

Currently, a central part of Oakland’s pop-ups, SuRu is outfitted for the long haul, poised to add to a larger storyline of Oakland’s “collapsed boundaries among subcultures” and the proclaimed budding arts, culture and food scene. Amidst the wary, SuRu is positively eager to contribute to Oakland’s creative-capital in a cutting edge way and shape the supposed “Oakland-as-Brooklyn” narrative. He also has plans to enter the African market and connect with its creative capital in the near future.

“At the moment, in Lagos, we are test producing on a very small scale short collared men’s dress shirts inspired by the Nigerian Muslim men’s dress culture,” said Baba. “However, my plan for the future is to establish a manufacturing plant and open storefronts in Africa. Though Lagos seems realistic in its familiarity, I don’t feel restricted; I will go anywhere in Africa with favorable business opportunities.”

To learn more, visit SuRu

 

Dynamic Africa Global Events Listing: Music.

Music events happening all around the world!

In The Woods Festival

An independent music festival featuring some of the best up-and-coming artists in the UK. This year’s line up includes Laura Marling, Nao, Years & Years and Trudie Dawn Smith

August 29th - 30th
A secret location only disclosed to ticket holders, Kent

End Of The Road Festival

Highlighted acts we’d be excited for include Benjamin Clementine, Cold Specks and Tinariwen.

August 29th - 31st
Larmer Tree Gardens,

Salif Keita Acoustic Tour

Malian music legend Salif Keita will be embarking on a special acoustic of the United States that kicks off on August 30th at Chicago’s Africa Festival. See all the dates and venues here.

August 30th - September 21st
Various venues, USA

Fool’s Gold Presents: Day Off ‘14

Danny Brown, French Montana, ARAABMUZIK and more make up the line up for this Labor Day concert hosted by Fool’s Gold Recs.

September 1st
50 Kent, New York (Brooklyn)

BESTIVAL

Outkast, Busta Rhymes, Candi Staton, SBTRKT, Laura Mvula, MNEK, and many, many more.

September 4th - 7th
Robin Hill Country Park near Newport, Isle of Wight.

Mulatu Astatke at the Royal Festival Hall

An evening of the finest in Ethiopian jazz from the master of the genre himself. 

September 13th
Southbank Centre, London

Luke James at SOB’s

Don’t miss out on a chance to see the incredibly talented Luke James performing live in New York.

September 23rd
SOBs, New York

TribeOne Dinkoeng

From September 26th-28th, Africa’s Biggest Music Festival is going to take place in the town of Cullinan 30 km east of Pretoria in Gauteng Province. Get to see African and international acts, Fally Ipupa, Tiwa Savage, Khuli Chana, Wizkid and AKA, to Nicki Minaj, Kid Ink, and J. Cole.

September 26th - 28th
Cullinan, Gauteng

Rocking the Daisies

One of South Africa’s premiere music festivals, Rocking the Daisies is the unofficial official event of the summer. With headlining artists such as MGMT, the Rudimentals, Beatenberg, The Presets, Arno Carstens, and Taxi Violence, Rocking the Daisies this year boasts a number of stages with bands and artists from South Africa and the rest of the world.

October 2nd - 5th
Cloof Wine Estate, Darling

Deep in the Woods Music Festival

South Africa’s premiere deep house music festival is currently in its second year. Catch the likes of Craig Massiv, House Knights, Electronic Mafia and Ricardo Da Costa all in one place.

Meyers Farm, Alberton
October 4th - 5th

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NEW MUSIC: Kele Okereke  - “Doubt”.

Departing from his usual guitar-driven alternative rock style, Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke opts for a much heavier electronic dance sound for his new single Doubt.

His upcoming album Trick is due out October 13th.

Follow Dynamic Africa on SoundCloud for more music recommendations!

NEW MUSIC: Abe Says - “When I Wake Up”.

Abraham Popoola is a London-based creative whose upcoming film Kebab' sees him take on the role of both leading actor and director.

Currently working on his first EP, Popoola, who goes under the name ‘Abe Says’, has released this neo-soul electronic hip-hop track When I Wake Up - an unashamedly heartfelt romantic tune about an all-consuming lover, and I can’t stop listening to it.

If his name at all sounds familiar, you may have heard his voice and seen his face in this video from in Cecile Emeke’s Strolling' series.

Zara McFarlane - “Open Heart”.

I hate that I’m one of those people who is constantly in search of new music but takes forever when it comes to taking the time to listen to artists and musicians that come highly recommended by reputable sources.

Despite having seen the name “Zara McFarlane” appear for over a year on the various publications I look to for sound music recommendations, I never tapped into just what it was that resulted in McFarlane receiving nothing but positive news. My goodness was I foolish!

The British-Jamaican East London-based singer’s blend of lyrical jazz and her distinct vocals make for an absolutely magnetic and captivating sound.

Zara is currently on tour in Europe and will be performing in Nantes, France, on August 31, before moving on to dates in England, France, Spain and Belgium.

Also recommended: “Move”, “Chiaroscuro" and "Police and Thieves”.

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Cecile Emeke’s ‘Strolling’ Series Documents and Gives A Voice to Diasporan Youth in the UK.

Armed with the objective of removing the veil of invisibility cast upon young black voices and faces, Strolling is a multimedia series created by filmmaker Cecile Emeke that sees her walking through the streets of London with other young black individuals discussing any and everything that concerns their daily realities. Strolling was birthed from Emeke’s everyday conversations with friends and acquaintances that often found her sentiments about issues relating to life as a young diasporan African in the UK being echoed, inspiring the filmmaker in her to document these interactions.

Whilst the series adopts a one-way casual form of dialogue, the importance of this project is not in any way diminished by the nature of the conversation. Rather, the messages embedded in these videos are all the more amplified by this form of broadcast, and the visual communicative platform allows the audiences to engage with the individuals without interrupting their agency or representation of themselves.

As Emeke says:

"Growing up in London I was not reflected anywhere, not fully. I think most of us tried to grasp on to images of African-American culture, and we tried to cling on to our identities from the Caribbean and Africa. We’d wave our Jamaica flags at carnival and watch reruns of fresh prince but ultimately nothing reflected us. We didn’t exist.

Part of the aim of erasure is to alienate you and therefore silence you. Strolling is the complete and utter rejection of this implicit call to silence and the self-destructive assimilation required for survival.”

In this video, Abraham strolls through Hackney with Emeke as he chats to her (and us) about everything from male feminists, patriarchy, crying, to “great” Britain, reparations for Africa, Palestine, Boko Haram, hair and more.

The full playlist is embedded above.

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"The challenge is that when you’re telling a story that is unorthodox and people aren’t so familiar with it, it’s hard to make it cool. And, you know, it’s taking a lot of us, a lot of work really trying to tell this African story.”

- Blitz the Ambassador saying some highly resonating words during a recent interview with NPR

Reminds me of this quote, “It’s bad enough … when a country gets colonized, but when the people do as well! That’s the end, really, that’s the end.”
― Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions.

Watch more from this Baldwin discussion.

Vintage cover photos of magazines that catered specifically to black women. 

Movie Mondays: “Burning An Illusion” - Dir. Menelik Shabazz (1981).

Pat is a single woman, employed, financially independent, carefree and living in her own flat in London, until she meets suave and smooth talking Del. The two start dating and it isn’t long before Del moves in with Pat.

At first, things seem rosy between the them, that is, until Del quits (or loses) his job. As newly unemployed Del becomes more complacent with his situation, fully relying and taking advantage of the care that Pat and her job provide for him, their relationship takes a quick downward spiral and it isn’t long before things heatedly escalate.

Burning An Illusion is a powerful and important film for so many reasons. Not only does it feature a black woman as the central character, Pat - played by Cassie McFarlane - is a woman with complexities that defy stereotypes of black women throughout the history of Western cinema. She’s both strong and sensitive, defiant and desperate, lovestruck and lonely.

The film also tackles a number of issues related to gender roles and expectations within the Afro-Caribbean British community, black consciousness, race, class and other socio-economic factors that personally affect the film’s many characters.

In making this film writer and director Menelik Shabazz, born in Barbados, became the second black filmmaker to produce a feature film in Britain. Shabazz is also the founder of the BFM (Black Filmmakers) Film Festival in England.

The film won the Grand Prix at the Amiens International Film Festival in France, and  actress Cassie McFarlane won the Evening Standard Award for “Most Promising New Actress”.

Burning an Illusion and director Menelik Shabazz were honoured with a Screen Nation Classic Film Award in October 2011.

The relationship between Pat and Del at times reminded me of the couple in Nothing But A Man.

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