Thursday 18 January 2018
(AFP (eng) 11/09/17)
Pop star Davido gets the same reaction wherever he goes in Africa, whether it's in Guinea or Mozambique, Botswana, Kenya or Sierra Leone: teeming crowds and adoring fans. The 24-year-old icon is one of the favourites for best artist at this year's All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA), which take place in Lagos this weekend. AFRIMA -- sponsored by the African Union -- are the continent's equivalent of the American Grammy Awards, with interest reflecting the continent's rich seam of emerging talent. Davido and his Nigerian compatriot Wizkid, Tanzania's Diamond Platnumz, Sarkodie of Ghana and Ivory Coast's DJ Arafat are leading a musical revolution: Afrobeats. The genre was born in Nigeria but has spread across Africa as fast as the rhythm...
(AFP (eng) 11/07/17)
In 2010, a group of Kinshasa street musicians, several of them left paraplegic by childhood polio, caused a sensation in Europe. Calling themselves Staff Benda Bilili, the penurious band wowed audiences with Congolese rumba, combining pounding rhythms with scintillating melodies and solos. As unique as the group's tale of their rise from the streets was their gritty guitar sound -- all the work of a modest, self-taught Congolese luthier, Jean-Luther Misoko Nzalayala, who goes by the trade name of Socklo. Benda Bilili wielded instruments in eccentric shapes and exuberant colours, their frets, bridges and nuts made from scrap metal that had been cut and bent by Socklo's rudimentary tools, producing an exceptional timbre. "It was powerful, bright, full-bodied and yet...
(AFP (eng) 11/06/17)
Egypt has recovered 354 archaeological objects that were seized by authorities in the United Arab Emirates, the antiquities ministry in Cairo said. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed al-Qasimi, ruler of the emirate of Sharjah, had ordered the pieces returned to Egypt after police captured them, the ministry said Saturday. It did not provide any details on where or how the pieces were recovered, or from whom. Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany inspected the pieces at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo on Saturday, it said, adding that they would be placed on display in a "special exhibition". The recovered pieces include antiques from the Pharaonic era and some from Islamic times, it said. Among them are a pottery container carrying the name of...
(AFP (eng) 11/06/17)
In a constantly changing country where all eyes are fixed on the future, Nigerian artist Johnson Uwadinma is fixated by the past. "If you do not know where you are coming from, how then do you know where you are going to?" he asks. For his project, "Amnesia", he has stuck together hundreds of balls made from old crumpled up newspaper and painted in bright colours, like a mass of strange molecules. The piece -- symbolising the many unresolved crises Nigeria has faced over decades -- was on show last weekend at the contemporary art fair, "Art X Lagos". "The media constantly repeats the same stories about corruption, war, violence, deceit," said Uwadinma. "We never learn from our past." -...
(AFP (eng) 11/02/17)
Burundi's president, Pierre Nkurunziza, has introduced strict controls over the country's renowned drumming rituals, banning female drummers and limiting the sacred tradition to official events. "It is strictly forbidden to those of the female sex to beat drums. They can however carry out female folk dances accompanying the drums," read a decree seen by AFP Thursday, that was signed late last month. All groups seeking to perform "cultural shows" must from now on register with the ministry of culture and are not allowed to perform outside of official ceremonies without authorisation from the ministry. Burundi's ritual dance of the royal drums was in 2014 placed on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list, which describes it as "a spectacle combining powerful, synchronised...
(AFP (eng) 11/02/17)
Like the plot in an old-fashioned movie, cinemas in Africa are making a third-reel comeback after years of worrying decline. In many countries south of the Sahara, digital technology, strong investment and modern theatres are bringing about a major revival of movie-going, ending years of cinema closures. But this good news for film-lovers also comes with a drawback: the new cinema complexes tend to give precedence to Hollywood blockbusters rather than films made by African directors. In the 1980s, a wave of cinema closures began to unfurl across the continent as rundown picture palaces were turned into auto repair shops, supermarkets, restaurants and even churches. The survivors were a number of privately owned venues and cinemas inside international cultural centres...
(AFP (eng) 10/30/17)
In movie theatres, concert halls or out on the streets, culture in Egypt is faced with increasing curbs as the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi expands censorship, critics say. Hossam Fazulla of the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) said artists were being subjected to increasing limitations. "What the government is trying to do is... to create a model of an obedient citizen who is tame, who is very convenient for this regime," said Fazulla. The curbs have wiped out some art forms, especially street events, which were starting to flourish after the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak, he said. In the turmoil that followed, ex-army chief Sisi led the 2013...
(AFP (eng) 10/30/17)
Paintings by top Egyptian artists shared wall space with hieroglyphs and Pharaonic relics at Cairo's Egyptian Museum this week in an exhibition highlighting ancient influences on contemporary art. Artists, intellectuals and ambassadors from around the world attended the Saturday night opening of "A night with Art at the Egyptian Museum", organised by the private Art D'Egypte organisation. The exhibition, at the museum on Cairo's iconic Tahrir square, will be open to the public until Tuesday. "We wanted to highlight the link between contemporary art and ancient Egyptian Pharaonic art," Art D'Egypte founder Nadine Abdel Ghaffar told AFP. The modern paintings included abstract portraits and other works by prominent contemporary Egyptian artists such as Adel El Siwi, Mohamed Abla, Ghada Amer,...
(AFP (eng) 10/27/17)
Ibrahim Aminu launched his first clothing line eight years ago when he designed a dress for his sister. Before he knew it, the orders began flooding in and House of Kaya became the first -- and so far only -- haute couture house in conservative, mainly Muslim northern Nigeria. Lagos Fashion and Design Week, the annual festival which runs until Saturday, is in full swing. Champagne corks are popping, beer is flowing and Aminu's collection stands out. On the catwalk, where designers from across Africa are showcasing their latest collections, there are see-through dresses and models parading without bras. Necklines are sometimes so plunging, they fall below the chest. It's impossible to imagine such a sight in Aminu's home state...
(AFP (eng) 10/26/17)
In Madagascar, ceremonies in which families exhume the remains of dead relatives, rewrap them in fresh cloth and dance with the corpses are a sacred ritual. But an outbreak of plague sweeping the Indian Ocean island nation has prompted warnings that the macabre spectacle, known as the turning of the bones or body turning, presents a serious risk of contamination. On a recent baking hot Saturday in Ambohijafy, a village outside the capital Antananarivo, a "turning" procession snaked through the streets in a fevered carnival atmosphere bound for the cemetery. For the community's few hundred residents, the time for "famadihana" -- the local name for the ceremony -- had arrived. The unique custom, originating among communities that live in Madagascar's...
(AFP (eng) 10/24/17)
Zekarias Mesfin spent months making a movie about his dangerous illegal migration from Ethiopia -- and when he arrived at the film's premiere, he was in a coffin carried by six white-gloved pallbearers. Not that Zekarias, 33, was dead. But he chose the dramatic entrance to show how close to death he came 12 years ago when he left his home in Ethiopia to journey across the deserts of Sudan and Egypt to try to get to Israel. "I was almost dead," Zekarias told AFP, following the Ethiopian premiere of the film last week at the national theatre in the capital Addis Ababa. "At the Israel border, I lost many, many friends, sisters, brothers." Zekarias could not have predicted where...
(AFP (eng) 10/20/17)
Visitors crowded through the doors Thursday as a museum to legendary fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent opened to the public in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh. The museum's management said 1,000 people thronged through its exhibition halls in the first three hours to get a glimpse of some of Saint Laurent's most iconic creations as they went on display in the city that inspired him. The opening comes just over a fortnight after another museum to the famed French couturier, who died in 2008, began working at the company's former headquarters in Paris. The Moroccan project -- housed in a modernist building of traditional rose-coloured ochre bricks -- was a last labour of love for Saint Laurent's former business and...
(AFP (eng) 10/18/17)
The sequel to Nelson Mandela's celebrated autobiography "Long Walk to Freedom" will be released on Thursday after his unfinished draft was completed by a South African writer, his foundation announced. Titled "Dare not Linger", the book tells of Mandela's five years as president after the end of apartheid and the first multi-race elections in South Africa in 1994. "Long Walk to Freedom", published shortly after the election, was a global best-seller, selling more than 14 million copies, and was turned into a film starring Idris Elba. Mandela wrote 10 chapters of his follow-up memoir by hand on loose paper and in files between 1998 and 2002, when he stopped working on it due to his age and hectic schedule. Mandla...
(AFP (eng) 10/13/17)
A fusion of Moroccan traditions and contemporary flair that inspired Yves Saint Laurent, a museum to the famed fashion designer is set to be unveiled Saturday in his beloved Marrakesh. Following three years of work, technicians carried out final checks in a minimalist exhibition hall at the venue in the city that helped shape Saint Laurent's imagination after he first arrived in the 1960s. Iconic creations -- from the black "Le Smoking" tuxedo to the Mondrian dress -- will go on display, with the museum hoping to attract 300,000 visitors in its first year after it opens its doors on October 19. "Marrakesh was a place of inspiration for Yves Saint Laurent," said director Bjorn Dahlstrom as he surveyed the...
(AFP (eng) 10/13/17)
Fela Kuti was known as "the King of Afrobeat". Krizbeatz calls himself "the King of AfroDance", the Nigerian music that has got millions dancing across Africa and the world. For Fela, as he is still known to fans, music was often a life-threatening fight against corrupt military dictatorships that ruled Nigeria in the 1970s and 1980s. For the talented Krizbeatz, a child of the capitalist and democratic 1990s, music is a game. But the self-assured 22-year-old music producer -- real name Chris Alvin Sunday -- still takes his inspiration from Fela when he's at his mixing desk. "I studied House Music in South Africa but I'm a Nigerian. Afrobeat is what I grew up listening to. Afrobeat is who I...
(AFP (eng) 10/12/17)
Nigerian pop star Davido was questioned twice by police over the suspicious death of his friend after two other members of his entourage died later in the same week. The incident triggered passionate reactions in Nigeria, where the 24-year-old singer, whose real name is David Adedeji Adeleke, is a generational star with 2.8 million followers on Twitter and five million on Instagram. Tagbo Umeike had a night of heavy drinking -- he had 40 shots of tequila, according to the police -- with his friends, including Davido, before his body was abandoned at Lagos Island General Hospital in the early hours of October 3. Umeike's girlfriend Caroline Danjuma, an actress in Nigeria's film industry Nollywood, accused Davido of abandoning his...
(Xinhuanet 10/11/17)
The Zambian government on Wednesday reassured stakeholders of its commitment to the growth of the film industry. Chief Government Spokesperson Kampamba Mulenga said the government will ensure that it works with all stakeholders in the implementation of a recently approved film policy, adding that the industry has in the past been neglected due to lack of a policy to guide its operations. The filming sector, she said, could not continue to be silent in the economic affairs of the country because of its huge potential to effectively contribute to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The spokesperson, who is also information and broadcasting minister, was speaking when she met a delegation from Ster-Kinekor, one of the local firms promoting the...
(AFP (eng) 10/10/17)
Three senators from Haiti pause in reflection in front of a statue of their country's independence hero Toussaint Louverture in Allada, southern Benin, where he had his roots. The West African and Caribbean countries, separated by thousands of kilometres (miles) and ocean, share the same history but also the same religion -- voodoo. Jean Renel Senatus, Jean-Marie Junior Salomon and Ronald Lareche came to Benin late last month on a research trip as part of Haiti's reforms of its 19th-century penal code. Part of the process is taking advice from countries where their ancestors lived before they were shipped abroad as slaves. Historically and culturally, "Haiti and Benin are two sides of the same coin," Senatus, a lawyer and president...
(AFP (eng) 10/10/17)
It has been buffeted by the pendulum swing of domestic politics and suffered looting that left it without some of its most precious items. But Ivory Coast's Museum of Civilisations is now back, and determined to recover its place as one of the richest museums of African art in the world -- a place of "incomparable wealth," as Senegal's late poet-president Leopold Sedar Senghor said in a 1971 visit. Looted four decades later during a political and military showdown, the museum shut its doors for a two-year refurbishment, reopening in July with redecorated rooms, modern lighting and a new conference centre, restaurant and garden.
(AFP (eng) 10/06/17)
In Mabor, a dusty and neglected corner of Luanda, the sound of a catchy beat rising means only one thing to the area's youngsters: time to dance the kizomba. The Angolan dance is gaining worldwide popularity and has a committed contingent of students in Mabor who are drawn to class by its romantic rhythms. "Stop! Boys stay still, only the girls move now. Like that, that's good!" said instructor Vitor Especao, wearing a bright purple shirt as he guided his pupils. The dancers followed his instructions closely, their bodies twisting in ever more suggestive ways, watched intently by a group of mesmerised small children. "It's what I really like about this dance -- the joy, the enthusiasm and the harmony,"...

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