One to keep the weekend going just that little bit more…
One to keep the weekend going just that little bit more…
Every Friday, we’ll be posting a piece on the growing Afri-love idea. Here’s the first installment. Happy weekends all!
I believe that when people look into themselves and accept, love and respect what they find there, they will unlock the abundant energy that creates opportunities for success. In all areas of their lives. When I look inside myself, I know that my passion – the thing that inspires and motivates me most – is Africa. It defines who I am. I embrace and express this appreciation at every opportunity. Doing so has taught me more about myself and made me acknowledge the power of my potential.
To all those residing in the UK, the place to be this weekend is at Liverpool’s Africa Oyé festival. The annual celebration of African music and culture kicks off on Saturday. With a line-up of musical acts from the continent and the diaspora, arts, crafts and refreshments, it’s sure to be two days of good vibrations and Afri-love.
And it’s free!
Johannesburg's Apartheid Museum, is a must-visit if you're ever in town. The visitor is guided through 20th century South Africa in a series of 22 individual exhibition areas – each a different chapters of the apartheid story.
After my visit a few years ago, I was left with two particular impressions:
They've nailed it on the head: "a better world through creativity". Yes, I may be biased but I'm clearly not the only one who believes in the power of creativity to create a better future. Design Indaba, founded in 1995, has been acting upon this belief and demonstrating just how design, and creativity in general, can drive an economic revolution in South Africa. With their annual conference, an acclaimed international design event, they bring together creatives from all sectors – graphic design, advertising, film, music, fashion design, industrial design, architecture, craft, visual art, new media, publishing, broadcasting and performing arts.
South African-born Bessie Head spent most of her writing life in exile in Botswana, eventually becoming a citizen. The perpetual outsider (Bessie was born of a wealthy white woman and black servant in a time where interracial relationships were illegal), her works often deal with the different psychological dimensions of identity. Among her novels are A Question of Power, The Collector of Treasures and Maru.
Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje was the first Secretary-General of the ANC and one of the first black South Africans to have a book published in English. This book was Mhudi, published in 1930, a magnificent piece of historical fiction chronicling the creation of nationhood in the south of Africa.
A member of the Drum boys, whose dictum was “live fast, die young and have a good-looking corpse,” Can Themba‘s writing graphically depicts urban life in 1950s South Africa. He explores conflicts between the modern urban setting and the rural traditional one as well as telling of the effect of Apartheid policy on the aspirations of young, hopeful, educated blacks. Requiem for Sophiatown and The Will to Die are among his works. (Can Themba’s Drum days must have inspired Janet Jackson’s “Got Til It’s Gone” video)
More literary highlights on Lonely Planet.
Celebrating the start of the World Cup, it's SA week on Afri-love! Because the arts are such a powerful vehicle for instilling pride, inspiring and generally stirring emotion, we will be showcasing a slice of the flourishing creativity coming out of the host nation. Look forward to dedicated posts on fine art, literature, design, activist art and of course: music!
Above, Peter Sibanda's almost technicolour portraits of contemporary South Africans appear at once so bright and rosy yet have a surreal quality that hints at the transcient nature of that moment. See more of his work here
Above, the work of Vusi Khumalo who left South Africa in 1986 because of his ANC involvement and went to live in ANC camps in Zambia and Tanzania. It is in Tanzania where he properly started to explore his life-long hobby – art. Khumalo creates collages reconstructing the gritty reality of life in South African squatter camps. The small images here don't begin to do justice to the texture of the works! Read more here.
“Everything that we have been looking for has already found us. It is already waiting within us.”
— Michael Brown, South African author of The Presence Process
I discovered Simphiwe Dana a couple of years ago when I went to see her in concert in London. Her music, her vibe, really moved me. I had the wonderful opportunity to chat with her, on a cold Liverpool street after her show, earlier this year and she was incredibly wise and down to earth. With her composure and quiet beauty, one might mistake her for being timid but in her music and in her thoughts, she is truly a warrior! A champion of African pride and universal respect.
"I am a very cultured person … As [African people] we were made to feel inferior and a lot of African people stopped practicing their culture because it was seen as witchcraft or uncivilized. My music is inspired by African people and the love they have for song."
A true Afri-love spirit, check out Simphiwe waxing about The One Love Philosophy.
"We start by appreciating ourselves, then each other as part of ourselves, then we all truly flower."
Photos from Simphiwe Dana's myspace page apart from left bottom (by Lulu Kitololo) and right middle (found on Gorgeous Black Women).
This penetrating assertion on the Pilgrimages website caught my attention today and it couldn’t have been more timely. One of my reasons for creating this blog is to share my ongoing education on the continent I call home. Something somebody once said to me will always remain fresh in my mind. I was pursuing a course in African Studies at the time when a Kenyan lady, in Nairobi, asked me why I would take up such a course of study, being that I am an African. There was so much I wanted to say to her – so many questions in response! How much did she really know about the vast Africa herself? Especially in comparison to her knowledge about other parts of the world – distant parts that she may never even see firsthand. How much did she really know about her own history – and from whose mouth or textbook did she consume that information?
What that moment evokes is how easy it is to take for granted the things that are closest to you. And yet, it is those very things that are probably most valuable to you and most necessary for your well-being and growth. Obliviousness of this may indeed be a significant barrier to contentment and progress. This is a theory that I would like to explore: the connection between self-knowledge, self-love and self-improvement, in the context of being African.
As part of this Afri-love journey, one of the things to look out for on the blog is an investigation of the continent from perspectives other than those we get from our inherited assumptions or manipulated media. In turn, will be celebrating each country on the continent with an insight into the spirit of the nation (and we warmly welcome all insider knowledge and ideas!).
The Pilgrimages project resonates with these aims. Created by The Chinua Achebe Center for African Writers and Artists, the project will be celebrating Africa’s first World Cup by sending 13 African writers to 13 cities where they will each write a book of non-fiction that will be published worldwide. In true Afri-love spirit, Pilgrimages takes ownership of that powerful piece of education: the travel narrative:
“At a moment in time when the whole continent is more visible to its inhabitants and to the rest of the world than at any other since independence, Pilgrimages will reintroduce Africans to the literary world in the same form that so many outside writers have employed to create a distorted idea of us to the world.” (Pilgrimages website)
I’m sure Our Sister Killjoy would be proud.
Illustration: Pilgrimages participating cities. © Lulu Kitololo