August 13, 2006

andrew dosunmu watch::videos

andrew dosunmu-directed video
yousou n'dour "birima" [some shots in this video seem influenced by mark romanek's "got til it's gone" that itself was influenced by 60's/70's photography].
common "sixth sense"
patrice "soulstorm"
manic street preachers "let robeson sing"

July 22, 2006

africa::fashion::more

african mosaique: former ethiopian model anna getaneh's fashion line.
dakova: nigerian fashion designer david kolawole vaughan
wubet: handbags made using ethiopian woven fabrics and leather. mercato collection photographed by petra liebetanz

[via the always excellent mimi magazine]

July 15, 2006

transcultural r&b

of late i have been noticing a crop of african musicians who were born on the continent or have african parents but grew up in europe or the united states. most of them mine the neo-soul/classic r&b/jazzy funk vein, inspired by other trans-continental artists like sade and seal. you will not find this music in the "world" music section of your local music emporium, if at all. these artists go beyond that label, carrying forward the r&b musical tradition, while grounding their themes in the concerns of their homeland, particularly pride, dignity and a sense of joy. it also seems like a way to join the world they live in with the one of their roots, much like the r&b that deeply influenced me in the 70's and 80's allowed me to feel pride in being part of the larger world, through the beauty of this music of the african diaspora.

here is a sample (far from exhaustive i am sure, based on memory and recent sightings/readings):
shu: kenya/new york
miriam chemmoss: kenya/new york
eska mtungwazi: zimbabwe/england
mpho skeef: south africa/england
rhian benson: ghana/united kingdom/los angeles
victor sila: kenya/san francisco
dozie: nigeria/united kingdom/bay area

July 04, 2006

the story of the 21st century

"That is basically the next big challenge ... is making this interdependent world of ours on balance far more positive than negative ... and the extent to which we succeed in doing that will determine whether the 21st century is marred by terrorism of all kinds or whether it becomes the most peaceful and prosperous and interesting time the world has ever seen."
Former President Bill Clinton from "Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy"

recently, i have watched a bunch of movies from the african diaspora. "Orfeu Negro", - the greek myth re-told in the favelas of rio at carnaval time; "Tsotsi" - slum life in jo'burg, "U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha", - bizet's “carmen” remixed in cape town's townships; "DRUM" - the legendary south african magazine and its connection to sophiatown, the slum that many of its writers/subjects lived/worked; "Cidade de Deus/News From A Personal War" - dvd of that seminal film, and an accompanying documentary that shows although the film got the MTV-treatment, factually it is not so far away from reality.

i believe that the story of the 21st century is the growth of megacities comprised largely of places like manguiera, soweto, kibera, which if not integrated into the mainstream threaten to engulf everything around them in the insecurity and despair they breed. already in many third world cities, there are huge swaths of urban territory that are outside the “official” economy. the violence and lack of formal infrastructure keep out all but those who have no choice but live there and the cops who are supposed to keep those areas in check. alternatively, the rich are imprisoned behind high compound walls, security systems, and armored SUVs. america has its war on terror, the rest of the world lives with terror created by urban poverty.

these films have given me a nuanced glimpse into places i may never willingly set foot in where people live and die much like the rest of us. its just that we don’t have the guns and the squalor, and they have much better music.

update: my blog software is experiencing unexplained techincal difficulties with links. please stand by while i resolve the problem. normal linking should resume soon. asante