TGIF! with the London African African Music Festival 2013 (September 13th – 22nd)

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The eclectic and critically acclaimed London African Music Festival returns for an 11th instalment, running from September 13th – 22nd, across 11 venues. 

From Congolese soul to Senegalese rap; from Somali poet to Cuban band; afrobeat, jazz, blues and more. Seriously, it's going to be a hectic 10 days!

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TGIF! The best of 2011: great music discoveries

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Staff Benda Bilili. I highly recommend the film, Benda Bilili – a documentary about the groups rise from poverty and obscurity to international success. It's proper feel-good.

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Part I of the Independence Day round-up: July

During this blog’s first year, I endeavored to celebrate the independence days of African countries through creating a dedicated post (you can browse them via this link). I’m not doing that this year but, as several of those celebrations take place in July and August, I thought I’d do a round-up of highlights. I hope you enjoy it. Stay tuned for part 2 – August celebrations – next week.

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Ghana – 1st July

Something for the pundits and technology geeks, something for the music-lovers and something for the fashionistas:
5 Reasons why Ghana is the next African App Powerhouse
Interview with lyrical genius M3NSA
Interview with Fashion Designer Naana B

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How does Africa inspire you? My 10 favourite interview responses to date

Over the last year, I've had the privilege to interview 21 passionate, talented and inspiring people whose vision and work embodies the Afri-love spirit. All of them reminded me of the value in doing what you love. I hope that they've given you encouragement, opened your eyes to new possibilities and that you've discovered new music, art and ideas in the process. My favourite question to ask is, "how does Africa inspire you?" It was a difficult decision but here are 10 of my favourite responses.

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"Africa is who I am and it's Africa that raised me – the rest of the world just barely touched me. So everything that flows out of me is Africa – whether its basic components look or do not look overtly or stereotypically African." 

— The Design Director of Ihsani Culture, Kenya-based

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Theme of the week: Diaspora (days, plays, must-reads & more)

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The theme of my week has been "Diaspora."* Here are a few reasons why:

Is a day enough?
Africa Day was on Wednesday and the theme for this year is "Africa and the Diaspora." The fact that so many people were not aware that it was even Africa Day, and that there were few visible/known celebrations of the event, led to a discussion about the point of World fill-in-the-gap-as-you-like Days in the first place! Follow the thread on the Afri-love Facebook page.

Lagos in inner-city London
On Friday, I took my self down to London to watch Little Baby Jesus, Arinze Kene's fantastic play. It's showing as part of London via Lagos, a festival celebrating British-Nigerian playwrighting. So far, Little Baby Jesus has been sold out every night so get your tickets quick. The writing, the cast, the direction, the vibe in Oval Theatre that night – all made for a truly wonderful evening. It was also a delight to see all the materials that I'd designed in situ and, how Oval got creative taking the African theme to the max. View some photos on Asilia's Facebook page. I'm now really looking forward to the next play in the festival, Fixer, by Lydia Adetunji.

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Light out of darkness
Ever-entertaining UK-based musician, M3NSA, shared with Afri-love in this week's interview. Amongst many things, he talked about why "the Dark Continent is actually the beaming light" and why he won't still be in the UK, 10 years from now. AND, M3NSA shared a couple of his fantastic No.1 Mango Street CDs with me to give away to 2 lucky readers. Find out how one can be yours here (competition closes this Wednesday 1st June).

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Multifarious identities
Minna, aka MsAfropolitan, gave me the heads up about the Afropolitan Friday Late, coming up at London's V&A museum on the 24th June: "A fun and celebratory evening of modern, iconic African aesthetics reflecting how Africans living across the continent (and beyond) view themselves and their cultural heritage."

Blog loving
And perhaps not fully in following with the theme but something that I was really honoured by and wanted to share nonetheless: I discovered that Afri-love was noted as one of "10 Africa blogs you'll love" by the popular Travelling Green blog. Check out the great blogs she listed, including Dar Sketches, the blog of Sarah Markes who I interviewed a few months ago.

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Must-read article for the week
"Egypt's Next Crisis" – a great New York Times article that explores the challenges of sustaining revolution, after the revolt. What was very interesting to me is how a lot of the issues relate to so many other African nations, even if we have not yet experienced so dramatic a political event. We would do well to learn from, be warned by and draw inspiration from the situation of our Egyptian comrades.

*Thinking about it, Diaspora is probably a strong theme for me every week, being that it is my present experience. So … what did you get up to on Africa Day?

Interview with lyrical genius M3nsa (plus CD giveaway)

M3NSA

I first saw M3NSA perform at a spoken word event in North London, several years ago, and thought this guy is good. Today, I can't get No.1 Mango Street off repeat (no exaggeration, ask my partner)! It's funny, it's funky, it's soulful, it's clever. An eclectic melting pot of Hip-hop, Afro beat, High-Life and soul, the album is an excellent showcase of African ingenuity and, reminds me just why I'm so happy to hail from our colourful continent. I am excited to share with you this interview the Mobo-nominated MC, producer and actor.* 

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TGIF! Ghana Independence Day

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I'm gonna need some help from my Ghanaian readers today. I posted about Ghana's Independence Day last July (marking the date the Republic was declared), and this Sunday marks the day that independence was declared, 53 years ago. My question is, which date do Ghanaians celebrate more? Or is it a case of different celebratory rituals for each occasion?

I've decided to contribute to the celebration with a round-up of a few of my favourite Ghana-related posts and a musical treat from the colourful Wanlov the Kubolor. Enjoy all and, happy happy Independence Day to my Ghanaian peeps!

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Interview with AfriPOP! editor and music marketeer Phiona Okumu

Phiona-Okumu

Phiona Okumu is one of those women whose energy is envious. She is constantly travelling, curating an eclectic collection of pop culture goodness and is a self-professed "quiet storm lover" and "digital hustler." If you ever need to know what's hot and happening, wherever you are, Phiona is your go-to girl. I managed to track this true Afropolitan down, to find out what drives her.

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