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 "east africa"

Pharrell’s GQ Masai-inspired Cover Sparks Outrage From Masai Community.

The British have a terrible history when it comes to cultural sensitivity. Looking at this world map, one can see that the vastness of the once-British Empire is not a display of greatness, but rather the markings of a former global system of oppression of brutality that has left its mark on our world today. Whilst far from the level of British imperialism, Pharrell Williams’ happy-go-lucky self doesn’t have an outstanding track record when it comes to cultural appropriation either. Perhaps that’s why this pairing featuring British GQ and Pharrell Williams isn’t altogether shocking.

Earlier this year, the singer, rapper, producer and ‘New Black’ spokesperson swapped his Vivienne Westwood mountie hat for a Native American war bonnet as he posed on the cover of Elle UK. How he and the entire Elle UK Magazine crew have managed to miss the countless articles and posts that have been published and circulated widely online against this form of cultural appropriation, I have no clue. But it seems like neither camp was aware, cared or showed any concern about their offensive actions until they were lambasted on social media.

Prior to the shoot, the Elle UK Magazine’s website posted a description of the editorial saying, “We persuaded Elle Style Award winner Pharrell to trade his Vivienne Westwood mountie hat for a Native American feather headdress in his best ever shoot.” Post-criticism, the message was later changed to read, “We persuaded [Pharrell] … to collaborate with us on his best ever shoot.” This weak attempts at a “cover-up”, if you can call it that, shows that Elle didn’t quite got the message. Not only were they fully aware of what Pharrell Williams was wearing from the get-go (they referred to the item by name), they neglected to concern themselves with the significance behind the item. Rather odd as fashion magazines are notorious for publishing well-researched in-depth articles about the designers behind the clothing featured in their magazines - especially on their covers.

Posing in yet another Western fashion-related magazine, this time British GQ, Pharrell’s multi-page spread sees him wearing arbitrary face paint and items of clothing associated with Masai people. Shot by lens duo Hunter & Gatti, the two said about the shoot, “all the inspiration concept of the shoot is related to the Masai tribe paintings. We brought a real Masai tribe just to make the ambient music around the shoot and inspire Pharrell.” If you’re wondering what this ‘tribe’ looked like or what the so-called ‘ambient music’ sounded like, GQ posted a video of the behind-the-scenes action on YouTube. But what’s really frightening in this case isn’t their overuse of the word ‘tribe’, it’s how they refer to the Masai people and culture as nothing more than items and props to be used at their disposal exposing the ways cultural appropriation rids a people of agency. That and how this cover makes Pharrell a repeat offender and serial cultural appropriator.

Whilst there has been outrage from members of both the Masai community and people leaving comments on Kenyan blogs concerning the commercial use of their culture, it is yet to receive the attention it deserves in mainstream media making a formal apology less likely in this case. What’s more, the specific use of Masai culture as a source of ‘inspiration’ speaks to the greater problem of companies that have been profiting from the image of the Masai, an already marginalized group in their home country, for decades.

In a BBC interview, Lemayian Ole kereto, an elder from the Masai community, expresses some key concerns with regards to the case against appropriation. Not only is cultural appropriation an act of suppression done primarily for commercial gain and usually enacted on already oppressed and marginalized groups, the use of “culture without consent” is never complimentary as it disregards the history, traditions and identities of those it depicts and affects the most. Ole kereto further adds that without prior consent from those representing the communities or culture in question, use of any facet of their culture falls directly into the real of cultural appropriation. If no body or agency exists that represents the majority or totality of the people in question, then companies should then refrain from this form of cultural ‘borrowing”. Ownership must be respected at all times.

Often, when discussing the issue of cultural appropriation, the question of whether or not it can be complimentary or not is sure to arise. The answer, quite simply, is no. Cultural appropriation has no benefits to those it affects. Cultural sensitivity and awareness are at the crux of addressing issues pertaining to cultural appropriation. When buying or making use of an item that is said to represent or belongs to a certain community, it is important to inform oneself of who is benefiting from this transaction. There is a possibility that cultural “borrowing” can benefit all parties involved. As Ole kereto says, “partnership attracts responsibility” which in turn creates effective awareness beyond commercial gain and profitability.

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Sundance Award-winning film Fishing Without Nets Opens to Limited Release In New York City This Friday.

Shot some 40 miles away from Puntland, Somalia, using Kenyans of Somali descent, Fishing WIthout Nets is the first feature from filmmaker Cutter Hodierne. The film follows Abdi, a struggling young Somali fisherman who turns to piracy as a way of supporting his family.

Incorporating elements of realism in a documentary-like fashion, the most important factor in the film is undoubtedly the dialog. It offers a multi-layered and contextual look into the world of Somali piracy from the Somali pirates themselves.

The short version of the film, which you can watch here, won the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

New Yorkers will be able to see the film at Cinema Village where a Q&A with director Cutter Hodierne will follow the 7pm screening on Friday, October 3rd, as well as the 7pm and 9pm screenings on Saturday, October 4th.

On Tuesday, October 28, the film will be available on Digital HD and VOD.

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All Africa, All the time.

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony.

As the top African producer of coffee, and seventh in the world, Ethiopia has a long-standing relationship with the consumption and use of coffee. Ethiopia is home to coffee arabica, a species of coffee indigenous to the country. Considered to be one of the better tasting coffees, it is believed that coffee arabica was the first coffee plant to cultivated and grown in the southwest of the country. It is said that the first instance of the effects of coffee being noticed came about when Ethiopian shepherds in the 9th observed the reaction of their herds after eating the fruit.

Today, one of the ways that Ethiopians (and Eritreans) continue to demonstrate their love of coffee and their historical relationship with the second most traded commodity in the world, after oil, is through what is known to outsiders as a traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony or Buna by Ethiopians. Often, this practice takes place in peoples homes and at Ethiopian restaurants which is where I first experienced a Buna, in Addis Ababa.

Conducted entirely by women, the Buna process involves the roasting, grinding and serving of coffee. Washed coffee beans are roasted in a pan, similar to the process of making popcorn. As the aroma of the coffee begins to fill the air, the preparer takes the roasting coffee and walks around letting the fresh scent of the coffee settle around the room.

Once roasted, the coffee is then put in what is called a Mukecha - a tool used for grinding. Another tool, called a zenezena, is used to crush the coffee in a pistil and mortar fashion. Some places will use modern coffee grinders to save time as it can be a slightly laborious and time-consuming task. After the coffee has been crushed, the fresh coffee powder is put into a jebena, a clay pot. Water is added and the mixture is boiled before being ready to be served in small usually white porcelain cups called cinis.

Each serving round of coffee has a name - the first being Abol, second is Huletegna and the third and final round is called Bereka.

Watch an Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony take place.

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All Africa, All the time.

NEW MUSIC: Victoria Kimani - Prokoto ft Diamond Platnumz & Ommy Dimpoz.

American-born Kenyan artist Victoria Kimani releases a brand new video for her single ‘Prokoto’. If you’re wondering why the song has a heavy West African sound to it, it’s because Victoria, who briefly lived in Nigeria during her teenage years, is signed to Nigerian record label Chocolate City.

The track features to other East African artists, MTV MAMA and BET Awards-nominated Diamond Platnumz and fellow Tanzanian Ommy Dimpoz.

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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Photo Series: “Diner en Blanc Kigali - 2014 Edition”.

On August 10th this year, Kigali’s scenic Acacia Gardens was a sea of crisp white as it played host to the city’s annual ‘Diner en Blanc’ event.

Currently in its third year, Rwanda became the first country in Africa to take part in this global event in 2012. Global Diner en Blanc events were put together to foster friendship, elegance and sense of community amongst those who attend. This year, as it seeks to be integrated into Rwanda’s broader tourism agenda, the event attracted over 500 people hailing from both African countries and other foreign states.

See more amazing photographs of the event here!

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Ni Nyampinga Brand Representatives interview Ms. Geraldine Fraser- Moleketi of AfDB.

The girls at Girl Hub Rwanda have been doing some amazing things - from publishing magazines to educate girls around the country, to providing training for young role models in communities across Rwanda.

On May 23rd, the Ni Nyampinga girls attended the one of the sessions titled “Gender Dividend: The economic benefits of investing in women”, as part of the African Development Bank Annual Meetings that took place in Kigali, Rwanda.

After the event, they interviewed Ms. Geraldine Fraser- Moleketi, former Director at UNDP and currently the Special Envoy for Gender at the African Development Bank. Ms. Fraser-Moleketi was interviewed on her role as an envoy and her hopes for women across the African continent.

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Producers of ‘Nairobi Half Life’ Bring to Life New Kenyan Drama ‘VEVE’.

Homegrown Kenyan political thriller ‘VEVE’ is an action-packed drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Recently screened at this year’s Durban International Film Festival, where it had its world premiere, VEVE is the latest film from the producers of one of Kenya’s most talked about films Nairobi Half Life.

Set in the Kenyan town of Maua in the north of the country, VEVE is crime thriller that follows the lives of several characters as they find themselves navigating a world of political intrigue, revenge, love and ambitious aspirations for success, all centered around VEVE - a local term for the plant stimulant known more commonly as ‘khat’.

Directed by Simon Mukali and written by Natasha Likimani, the film stars a range of local actors including Emo Rugene as leading man ‘Kenzo’, Lowry Odhiambo as ‘Amos’, a shrewd businessman, and Lizz Njagah as ‘Esther’, Amos’ dissatisfied wife.

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Kenyan Women Dominate 3000m Women’s Steeplechase Final and 10, 000m Race at Commonwealth Games.

It was a brilliant day for Kenyan athletics as the east African nation took home all three medals in the 3000m Women’s Steeplechase final at the current Games in Glasgow.

Coming in first at a time of 9:30.96 was runner Purity Cherotich Kirui, followed by fellow Kenyans Milcah Chemos Cheywa at 9:31.30 and
Joan Kipkemoi 9:33.34.

This win comes a day after another Kenyan clean sweep as Joyce Chepkirui led a Kenyan one, two, three in the Women’s gruelling 10,000m final, followed by Florence Kiplagat and Emily Chebet.

On day 10 of the 11 day event, Kenya is one of three African countries currently in the top ten of the overall medal standings chart.

With a total of 19 medals - 7 of them gold, Kenya sits in ninth position in-between South Africa and Nigeria.

Kenya have also won the Men’s 5000m, Women’s 800m, Women’s Marathon, Women’s 1500m, and the Men’s 3000m Steeplechase.

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"Iron Maiden" - Herieth Paul for Du Jour Magazine.

Tanzanian model Herieth Paul makes lame and sequins look badass in this shoot for Du Jour.

Photographed by Bjarne Jonasson, the Tina Chai-styled editorial has Paul looking like a chic tomboy femme with a sporty and slightly androgynous edge.

Herieth wears the likes of Lanvin, Dior, DKNY and Armani.

Summer’s in full swing with South Sudanese model Aluad Anei in her latest editorial for S Style magazine’s June 2014 issue, photographed by Rayan Ayahs and styled by Nadia Pizzimenti.

Grace Mahary for Ohne Titel resort 2015.

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All Africa, All the time.

South Sudanese model Ajak Deng and Jamaican model Jeneil Williams feature in the first ever resort collection lookbook for NYC-based label Tome.

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All Africa, All the time.

DOCUMENTARY: “Kaffir Culture” by Kannan Arunasalam.

In some parts of the world, the word ‘kaffir’, an Arabic term meaning ‘infidel’, is or was used as a derogatory racially offensive term in reference to black people. Used during the Arab slave trade, the it was later adopted by various European communities, such as the Dutch and Portuguese, to refer to the Africans they kidnapped and enslaved.

Through the enslavement of black people from the African continent to other parts of the world, the word found its way to Sri Lanka where it was used to describe the descendents of Africans brought there by Portuguese enslavers and British colonists from around the 16th century. But where in South Africa the world still carries a negative connotation even amongst black people, Sri Lankan kaffirs use the term boldly as a descriptor and a way of acknowledging their East African roots and heritage.

In this short documentary, filmmaker Kannan Arunasalam tells the story of a small group of Sri Lankan kaffirs, many of whom are mixed, and their struggle to keep their culture alive as their community shrinks.

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All Africa, All the time.

NYUMBANI DESIGNS AW14/15 LOOKBOOK - YELLOW SPACES.

Inspired by the beauty and colours of the Swahili coast of East Africa, Nyumbani Designs is a lifestyle, wooden jewelry and homeware range founded by Kerry Glanfield, a fashion production and development specialist from the Cayman Islands, in 2012. The label is a colourful amalgamation of her homes in the Caribbean, Mediterranean and East Africa.

As seen in their latest lookbook, Nyumbani Design’s jewellery range features hand-sculpted pieces made from different sections of wood, making each piece slightly different and unique in colour, ensuring that no two pieces are the same.

After forming a partnership with an environmental project, Trees for the Future, for every wooden piece sold a tree will be planted in Tanzania to restore and support the plantation of trees with rural communities in the developing world.

Nyumbani design’s name originates from the KiSwahili word for ‘home’ and has become a focal point for her design aesthetic.