Posts Tagged ‘africa’
I’m hooked on this street/party style blog from South Africa called “Skattie What Are You Wearing?” There are candid photos of hipsters, scenesters, and fashionistas galore. I laughed when I saw a friend who lives in Cape Town captured in a photo. It’s winter in South Africa, and these people look good.
Photos via Skattie What Are You Wearing?
I first heard about Spoek Mathambo because of his hot group Sweat.X. But I almost missed that he released an awesome solo album late last year; the hybrid sounds are teasing and unexpected and in your face and usually political.
Below is his song “Mshini Wam,” which is a contraction of the phrase “Umshini Wami” and means “Bring me my machine gun.”
“Every time you say ‘Africa is…’ the words crumble and break. From every generalization you must exclude at least five countries. And just as you think you have nailed down a certainty, a defining characteristic, you find the opposite is true in other places. Africa is full of surprises.”
I originally got a second passport — my grass green Nigerian booklet that I hear is now invalid — to be my identity badge on really crazy trips, like to Iran and Cuba. I did go to Cuba but ended up using my American passport, anyway. Even before I got it, I knew about the problems of traveling as a Nigerian. I was already used to the suspicious double glances at my name on my American passport by African — African! — customs agents. I was familiar with the half-jokes by new Ugandan and Kenyan friends about whether I was cooking up any e-mail schemes. But I’ve got pride in my ancestral homeland — which is why it hurts to see the way internet fraud has swallowed both the talented youth and the reputation of a country that is filled with brilliant minds with no place to stretch, and that is constantly hustling and heaving as it sways like a drunkard, one step away from falling into madness.
Vice has just released a very short documentary on Sakawa, the mix of mysticism and internet scamming that has given rise to a popular subculture mainly made up of clever young Ghanian men. As usual, Vice is more interested in the shock appeal of Sakawa — those crazy Africans painting their faces and dancing to drums! — than exploring why a generation of young Africans are turning to fraud as a livelihood in the face of political corruption and an overwhelming lack of employment opportunities. What’s more interesting, as Louis Chude-Sokeias writes in Fanzine, is the insanely high levels of creativity, technological savvy, organization, research, and planning involved in these scams that, if redirected, could make the Nigerian megacity of Lagos suddenly thriving within a day. What’s more interesting is “this younger generation [that] rolls with a swagger disdainful of global pity and deeply suspicious of ‘big man’ politics.” I can link you to the fascinating article, but first I need you to send me your bank info please. Too soon?
Africa and innovation are two words that, if you listened only to the popular narrative of the continent, don’t seem like they belong together. Much of the innovation and astounding creativity in design, art, media, and technology is happening seemingly (to us) in off the grid towns and villages — but luckily, we can see some of it on the internet, too. On AfriGadget, which I’ve been following for a long time, the most brilliant and unlikely inventions both practical and luxurious are featured from across the continent. And on African Digital Art, which I recently ran into, there is photography, art, design, film, and music from the whole of the African diaspora, including places like the island Guyana, which is where the photographer who took the above photo, Kwesi Abbensetts, is from.
The range of invention and self-sufficiency across this huge, diverse continent is kind of overwhelming. I want to one day take a trip to the annual Maker Faire Africa — being held this year in Cairo — and get in on this “celebration of African ingenuity.”