Formerly, "This is Africa/fyeahAfrica".
(Profile Photo by J.D. Okhai Ojeikere)
I do not endorse any of the products or opinions shared on this site, nor do I claim any of the work posted here to be my own - except where stated. All posts originally made by me are credited. If no credit is given then the work is either my own/written by me or reblogged from another source.
A LITTLE ABOUT ME:
Afro-curator, womanist, media studies student, pop culture enthusiast, aspiring journalist, curious amateur photographer, social media guru.
Based in Cape Town, South Africa
From Lagos, Nigeria
Want to advertise through this blog? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
(since Oct. 21st 2012)
The bottom line is R&B has always been pretty big and popular, especially among black folks. So what has to have changed is that white people either let go of something or embraced something.
And so the question for me is more like “What happened in business or the corporate world with white people?” I’m trying to figure out, what are the big things that made a difference? The fact that R&B is having this moment, that just means that there are a lot more white people at R&B shows now; a lot more people buying tickets and looking for that music to give them something.
And if we’re talking about what is it about R&B, I think that it is pretty visceral. It’s music that is situated in the club but is rooted in gospel. Gospel plus club music? That’s like a death stare. You can’t really fuck with that. If you hear a gospel run, something is wrong with you if you don’t have a reaction to that. If you don’t go “ooh” on some level. So I think that’s what some people have gotten real about. It’s like “OK, this is actually really, really amazing. I’m letting go.”
Before I think R&B was seen as basic or not advanced, not deep, you know? As someone who’s been singing this music since I was a kid in my bedroom, it was never about a trend for me. So I know who was embracing it at different times. And I can see what’s changed now. If you go to a Solange show, it’s one of the most diverse audiences. If you go to a Little Dragon show, it’s like this is actually really cool, wide-ranging audience. I’m trying not to think too much about it. I’ve been thinking about this just because I’m a nerd and an academic, but I don’t encourage other people to think too much about it because it doesn’t necessarily make sense [laughs]. I’m just like “Oh, now it’s here! OK, great! Awesome.”
Some pretty powerful commentary from Ethiopian-American singer Kelela answering a question posed by Billboard magazine correspondent Matt Fry on why she believes that the past few years has seen a rise in R&B musicians experimenting with electronic sounds - especially on the internet.
Her commentary on the racial aspect to music - both from a historical and cultural perspective, as well as behind-the-scenes and on the commercial side of the industry, is incredibly important in understanding the intricate dynamics of popular music and how racial politics often plays a pivotal role in the transformation, appropriation and commercialization of cultural commodities.
(Side note: did you know Kelela went to American University in D.C. where she majored in international studies with a focus on development in Africa?)
OF THE 36 lower houses of parliament worldwide that have reached the 30% threshold considered necessary for women to have an impact on decision-making, 11 are African. At the end of 2012, one-fifth of sub-Saharan MPs on average were female, according to figures of the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union. That may not sound a lot, but marks an increase of seven percentage points on 2002, and puts the continent on a par with the global mean. By comparison, women MPs make up 23% of Britain’s House of Commons, and 18% of America’s Congress.
In many cases, the gains are because of quota systems, which are increasingly popular. Last year Senegal’s parliament saw the fastest advance in female representation globally after it enforced a parity law. Women make up almost half of it. In September Aminata Touré was appointed as Senegal’s prime minister.
South Africa is not far behind, ranking eighth in the world, with women taking 42% of Parliament’s seats, almost double the rate in 1994 when the ruling African National Congress (ANC) created a voluntary party quota, allocating 30% of posts to women. And they run some of the country’s grandest ministries, such as home, defence and foreign affairs. The central bank governor is a woman, too.
Women will also vie for South Africa’s presidency in next year’s election. Most prominent is Helen Zille, head of the liberal Democratic Alliance, the main opposition. Mamphela Ramphele, founder of a new party called Agang, is also set to run. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a former wife of President Jacob Zuma, has been urged to bid for the ANC leadership when he goes; she has been minister of foreign and then home affairs and now chairs the African Union’s executive commission. Liberia and Malawi have elected women to be their presidents.
Even in less democratic countries female representation is on the march. After the genocide in 1994, Rwanda’s authoritarian president, Paul Kagame, engineered the election of the world’s highest proportion of women in a legislature. When a new parliament assembled in October, women had a world-record 64% of the seats. The president jokes that “women are almost taking over everything” and says that soon it will be the men who need help.
Botswana, by contrast, has dipped from 17% in 2003 (ranking it 54th in the world) to 8% (putting it 125th). Nigeria has increased its proportion up a shade from 5% to a still paltry 7%.
It takes time for female MPs to improve women’s lot. Despite law changes in South Africa, the World Economic Forum’s gender-gap report shows that women earn 35% less than men doing the same jobs.
In Rwanda a higher proportion of girls than boys enroll in primary and secondary education, but they perform worse, and the balance reverses in university, when household duties call daughters and wives away from their studies.
Despite the heading in this article, ‘Women Are Winning’, by the time one reads the last two paragraphs, one gets that feeling that despite gains in numbers when it comes to parliamentary and governmental roles for women, there’s is still so much to be done - and urgently so - when it comes to the progression and empowerment of girls and women, from all walks of life, throughout the African continent.
Are African women really winning? And where, or in/at what?
Somali pirate stories were seemingly all the rage 3 - 4 years ago, in what I thought would likely be the beginning of a deluge of pirate movies, all fashioned after the piracy stories the media fell in love with, but failed to properly vet.
Of the many films that were announced, the highest profile of the bunch to finally become a reality is Columbia Pictures’ Paul Greengrass-directed adaptation of the story of Richard Phillips - the captain of one of the ships captured by Somalis (the Maersk Alabama), later rescued by the U.S. Navy, with Tom Hanks starring.
Titled Captain Phillips, the film opens wide this weekend. I haven’t seen it yet, but I will. Not only am I a fan of the starring actor and the film’s director, I’m also obviously very curious to see how this particular film handles the “Somali Piracy Issue.”
Not that I’m expecting anything groundbreaking in terms of depictions, but from the handful of reactions I’ve read/heard from those who’ve seen it, Greengrass does attempt to make actor Barkhad Abdi’s Somali pirate leader (Abduwali Abdukhad Muse, who’s currently serving 30 years in an Indiana prison), 3-dimensional and complex. But it’s still ultimately the title character’s story, as played by Tom Hanks. And as I noted in a previous post, it would be great, for once, to have a story like this, of this caliber, be told strictly from Muse’s POV, giving the audience a well-rounded picture of his universe, his journey, his background, his family, etc, and what led him to become the man he is in the film.
The most popular view puts the number at more than 300 million, a diverse basket that includes all sorts: cattle-ranchers, road-side food vendors, taxi drivers, railway pensioners etc. But this view has its critics, and though they are not as often heard, they shout when they get the opportunity, saying things like: only five percent of African consumers qualify for the ‘middle-class’ tag.
If that position was valid, it would mean this class has suddenly shrunk from 300 million-plus all the way down to about 40 million or 50 million people (bearing in mind that even the exact population in Africa is debatable due to weak census data in many African countries).
But that is not even the most disconcerting view. Someone even say that there is basically no middle class consumer segment worthy of any serious analysis in Africa at all. However you choose to spin it, the fact remains that your target consumer base has now shrunk to zero. From 300 million to zero, now that is something.
For a start, Africa’s middle-class is exceptionally heterogeneous. It is that fact rather than the sheer number of middle class consumers or even the pace of growth in these numbers that can have the strongest effect on the economic role and business significance of Africa’s middle class.
The African Development Bank (AfDB), for instance, has fixed the range of income for middle class status in Africa between two dollars and 20 dollars. This complicates things for the analyst relying on income assessment to decipher what are complex sociological issues regarding ‘aspiration’, and economic issues relating to ‘purchasing power’, and how these differ from country to country in Africa and make a simple enumeration of the Middle Class technically problematic.
It can be forgotten that black westerners – while battling against issues of race – have levels of privilege over black people around the globe.
The excuse given for the casting of an English actor as Mandela – albeit one of African descent – was that there were a lack of actors who were a similar height to the 6ft 4ins Madiba. When a casting agent gives such a weak justification, one thinks it would have been wiser to have said nothing. And even if that was the case, what’s the explanation for casting Naomie Harris (also English) as Winnie? Or for Jennifer Hudson playing her in Winnie (set for release later this year). Looking at actors who have portrayed the Mandelas in recent film/television history, they tend to be either American or British, rather than African.
And while Elba and Harris will garner most of the attention, it’s telling that the director and writer of the film are both white English men. It seems that the movie is African in location only.
The ‘poor African’ stereotype is a particularly strong one. Those who do not fit within it become deeply sensitive to it. You do everything you can to defy, avoid, subvert or destroy it. It’s not that non-poor Africans are arrogant or in denial. It’s that there is more than one African. You can’t herd everyone under one label, and where existing labels do not fit, people will find or create new ones.
At times, however, the new labels we find and create push so far in the opposite direction that they lose touch with reality. The label ‘bourgeois’ is – to me – one such step too far. It is deeply, deeply problematic. Even worse, its growing acceptability in certain circles strikes right at the heart of something that is dangerously wrong about modern Ghana.
Partly in order to escape the trap of being labelled a poor African, some draw extra attention to their wealth and its trappings, using it not only as an identifier, but also as a way of differentiating themselves from the mass of poorer Africans. Wealth sets them apart. ‘Bourgeois’ becomes a clean, acceptable word. It sets them free.
That aside, the problem isn’t having wealth.
It is the lack of social conscience that comes with it.
In relation to what writer Kobby Graham says about defying, avoiding, subverting and destroying the ‘poor African’ stereotype, something I’ve noticed in recent years, which I find highly problematic in many ways, is how, in an effort to counter this heavily propagated racist and reductive stereotype, Africans (mostly in the diaspora), will go to great lengths to prove that a middle-to-rich upper class exists and that we too are developed (in the Western sense of the word), by showing photographs of large mansions, shopping malls, picturesque and structured urban landscapes, and so on. There are even blogs dedicated to this kind of one-dimensional mission, and I use the phrase ‘one-dimension’ as although these things do exist, they are often only a fraction of the total picture and are supported by rhetoric that demeans many facets of various African cultures, and almost erase the realities and lived experiences of many people throughout the continent.
Putting up a picture of a corrupt businessman’s mansion and accompanying it with comments such as, ‘see, we don’t all live in huts’, or showing other forms of luxurious living to counter the degradation of African cultures, traditions and experiences not only serves to further demean them, creating a separation between what Graham refers to as ‘bourgeois’ Africans and ‘poorer Africans’, but once again leaves us in danger of becoming fixated on proving ourselves to people who are often largely uninterested in our experiences and livelihoods (otherwise they probably would not subscribe to, or sustain, the level of ignorance that maintains stereotypes). Pandering to those who both create and maintain these stereotypes reveals and reinforces the power structures behind these types of rhetoric, a counter-productive way to address the reductive nature of stereotypes.
The very idea that we have to prove or enlighten the Western world about still speaks to the fact that many of us still see the Western world as the standard for what is considered advanced, developed, modern and dare I say it, ‘civilized’.
Definitely recommend reading the rest of Graham’s piece, Being Bourgeois (& Other Ghanaian Delusions).
Nelson Mandela’s release from 27 years of imprisonment and his subsequent election as president created a surge of pride and joy among black people everywhere. Unfortunately we did not truly understand what we were witnessing. These events came about as a result of forces unacknowledged in America and they also came with a very high price.
The name of the Angolan town Cuito Cuanavale  means little to all but a handful of Americans but it lies at the heart of the story of apartheid’s end. At Cuito Cuanavale in 1988 Cuban troops defeated the South African army and in so doing sealed apartheid’s fate.
It is important to know how apartheid ended, lest useless stories about a miraculously changed system and a peaceful grandfatherly figure confuse us and warp our consciousness. Mandela was freed because of armed struggle and not out of benevolence. He was also freed because the African National Congress miscalculated and made concessions which have since resulted in terrible poverty and powerlessness for black people in South Africa. By their own admission, some of his comrades  concede that they were unprepared for the determination of the white majority to hold the purse strings even as they gave up political power.
Now the masses of black South Africans are as poor as they were during the time of political terror. The Sharpeville massacre  of 1960 which galvanized the world against South Africa was repeated in 2012 when 34 striking miners were killed by police at Marikana. The Marikana massacre  made a mockery of the hope which millions of people had for the ANC and its political success.