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Archive for the ‘Art & Culture’ Category

Ubuntu International Project: redefining African fashion?

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In this world, there are two kinds of people: those who see how far we’ve come and those who are fixated by how far we still have to travel.

At the Ubuntu International Project showcase at Vauxhall Fashion Scout,  I was unfortunately one of the latter. The show got off to a turbulent start, running close to an hour late and then frustrations growing as people jostled for seats. By the time the lights came down and Nelson Mandela’s voice rang out, defining the ‘ubuntu’ concept: “I am what I am because of who we all are,” my expectations were high but my patience was low.

The show got off to a good start with Clinton Lotter‘s collection of dogtooth shift dresses, fitted jackets, pencil skirts and finger gloves in black and forest greens. Fashion for sinister ladies-who-lunch. But soon I was more bemused than blown away. Jewellery by Frankli Wild was by turn both fascinating and – from the third row – somewhat reminiscent of a crafts project: all golf balls, copper wire and brightly coloured stones. By the end, I concluded that the show would have probably been be better appreciated with my eyes closed as I couldn’t fault the music but had no shortage of criticique for the designs. Read the rest of this entry »


Sound bite: The Brother Moves On – Boogly Woogly

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The brother moves on

One of my bugbears is the term ‘world music’. This all-encompassing genre, into which all music not in English and made in the global south, falls.

It’s a meaningless throwaway term that ignores that all music is inspired by other music. Cameroonian jazz saxophonist, Manu Dibango, has been sampled by everyone from Michael Jackson to Will Smith. Indie rockers, Vampire Weekend, borrow liberally from the electronic guitar riffs of Congolese music and on and on.

So I love this newly discovered South African act, The Brother Moves On, for being musical shape-shifters. Part musician, part shaman, their influences are diverse: rooted in South African music, yet spanning, Latin, electronic, dance, folk and even spoken word. In this TEDx Soweto video, it’s hard to tell at times whether singer, Mr Gold, is performing or actually evoking spirits.

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Written by Eliza

January 14, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Fixer – political theatre at Oval House

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A tale brilliantly told, Fixer is a play set in an unnamed town in northern Nigeria, situated close to an oil pipeline, which belongs to an unnamed consortium and travels up from the Delta region in the south and out of the country. In protest or simply for more self-interested reasons, a militant group called The Boys are starting fires along the pipeline and stirring Western media interest in the consortium’s activities.

Both journalists and corporate communication consultants are despatched to the area and need a fixer – someone who can broker a relationship with The Boys. They find Chuks, a man who knows everybody, apparently fears nothing and will do anything to make a buck for his family. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Eliza

July 4, 2011 at 6:09 am

Tuesday night troubadours – Wanlov at Rich Mix

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When only five of 15 musicians can play a gig because the others have had their visas declined for a festival that bills itself as helping you “discover the world and cross borders through music,” there’s a sad irony to it all. But one man’s border control is another man’s laissez passer.

On Tuesday 7 June, Ghanaian musician Wanlov the Kubolor took to the stage at the Rich Mix. Once the third act in a three band show, now headlining. The other bands – Kenya’s Winyo and Belo from Haiti, we’re told, are stuck in Italy, unable to gain access to the UK.

So it’s left to the self-professed ‘African Gypsy’ to entertain the crowd – and did he ever. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Eliza

June 14, 2011 at 10:35 am

Tuesday night troubadours

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Playing Tuesday night at London’s Rich Mix, as part of the Institut Francais’ Mosaiques Festival are Ghana’s Wanlov the Kubolor, the self-proclaimed African Gypsy (and other half of the Fokn Bois),  Kenya’s Winyo and BélO from Haiti.

Review to follow 

Sound bites:

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Written by Eliza

June 6, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Photograph of the week – African members of Parliament

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Visiting the V&A over the weekend, the works of Zimbabwean artist, Kudzanai Chiurai, caught my eye. Familiar yet strange, the collection exhibited as The Parliament in London but called Dying to be Men at the Goodman Gallery exhibition in South Africa, is a satirical representation of a fictional African president and his cabinet.

The images marry African stereotypes of greed, voilence, superstition and corruption with the flamboyance of hip hop culture; all set against an opulent wallpaper background – another nod to the popular tradition of the staged portrait across much of Africa.

The above images are of the minister of enterprise and the minister of finance.

Figures and Fictions – Contemporary South African Photography, is showing at the V&A until 17 July 2011

Written by Eliza

May 15, 2011 at 11:24 pm

sound bite: Sona Jobarteh – Jarabi

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A multi-talented musician in her own right, Sona Jobarteh is also the granddaughter of Gambian Griot and kora player Amadu Bansang Jobarte. She’s accompanied by jazz guitarist Femi Temowo and percussionist Robert Fordjour.

Written by Eliza

May 6, 2011 at 6:36 pm