Stories about our continent and our experience are often distorted (if not totally untold) – and it's to be expected when the agents telling the tales are far removed. My Africa Is is a documentary series that aims to show a more complete narrative. Starting this autumn, the crew will embark on a 13 city, 10 country tour of our continent, spending time with young people who want to share the exciting things they're doing to improve their communities.
Africa- and Diaspora-related events spanning Kenya, the UK and Switzerland. What's happening where you are this month?
Kultura Film Club – Nights of Ethnographic Films
City: London, UK
Venue: Passing Clouds
This week's installment of the Film Club features two short films about rhythm, negotiating identities, dance and belonging, including Temporary Sanity by Dan Brunn. The film tells about Jamaica’s dance music culture in New York and especially about the versatile disc jockey Skerrit Bwoy. Originally from St. Johns, Antigua, the youngster migrated to Bronx, New York in the mid 1990’s. Clubbing at a very young age, and hanging out on Creston Avenue, it did not take him long to fit into the fast pace life of the city. Skerrit Bwoy burst on the international dancehall scene this year, with his sound system Ghetto Life that he has molded into becoming an award winning sound that was crowned as 2005 – 2006 “Bronx Sound of The Year.”
A short but exciting month, here are just a few Africa- and Diaspora-related events in Canada, Kenya, the UK and the US. What's happening where you are this month?
African American History Month
Across the US
Kenya's largest literary festival is back from today until Sunday. This year's Storymoja Hay Festival has some super special guests including Booker Prize winner, Nigerian poet and novelist, Ben Okri and Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet Yusef Komunyakaa, among several others.
Celebrating writing, ideas and contemporary culture through a series of workshops, live discussions and presentations at Nairobi's Railway Grounds.
Below: last year's event featured UK poet, Benjamin Zephaniah:
Enter the festival's Twitter competition: Tweet using hash tag #IWillBe and tag at least one other person and @hayfestke in your tweets. There will be a Thursday winner who will win a season pass, a Friday winner who will also win a season pass and a Sunday winner picked by our celebrity judge – to be revealed soon- who will win, wait for it, a Samsung Galaxy S Series Smartphone.
Images copyright Storymoja. See more from last year's festival on Flickr.
As Nakumatt malls pop up all over the place in Nairobi, large impersonal retailers in Western countries are hitting hard times. People in these countries are demanding experiences that: make communities vibrant; are architecturally harmonious with their surroundings; are small business friendly and; offer localised rather than one-size-fits-all solutions.
The late bird catches a break
Do we have to follow the same path that these countries have travelled to reach similar conclusions, decades from now? Can we learn from the experiences of the West and avoid this fate?
During my trip to Kenya in April, I finally properly visited Tribe. A luxury boutique hotel, it refreshingly pays homage to the continent on which it sits. When you walk into most luxury hotels in Nairobi, you wouldn't be blamed for thinking you had stepped right in to New York or London. It almost seems to imply that anything of value must not display any "Africanness." Except perhaps through a little painting of a safari landscape, tucked away in some hallway. With Tribe, Africa is on display in every direction that you look and it's beautiful!
"Tribe takes hospitality back to its essence. Back to the nomadic days when any weary traveller was greeted with warmth, invited to feast and exchange stories, and rest in the comforts of home … a very comfortable home."
And to prove again that being true to yourself brings due reward, Condé Nast Traveller (US & UK) recently selected Tribe for The Hot List 2010, as one of the Hottest Hotels in the World!
This year's installment of the Kwani Litfest kicks off in Nairobi this Sunday. Perfectly timed to coincide with Jamhuri Day, Kenya's Independence Day.
The exciting Samosa Festival begins tomorrow in Nairobi, aiming to showcase the beauty of diversity.
Their website states:
"SAMOSA Festival is a biennial festival of cross cultural interaction in Kenya, showcasing the best in African, Eastern and Western cultures in the region, and celebrating race, cultural and ethnic difference. We believe that art, music, dance and poetry are some of the easiest and most expansive ways for humanity to embrace diversity. The SAMOSA Festival will be mashing up the nyatiti with the sitar, putting together Rangoli with bottle tops and tile chips; having Zulu and Indian dancers stamp their feet to the same rhythm; and poets sketch with words, as artists weave with pens; asking "What does it mean to be Kenyan in Kenya?" We will be showing Kenya why "Different is Exciting."
Check out the variety of events throughout the week. I'd love to hear about it!
The anticipated Maker Faire Africa takes place this Friday and Saturday in Nairobi, Kenya.
The programme sounds exciting with Solar Makers, Crafting Peace and Business 101 workshops, along with Show & Tell sessions, live matching as well as an exhibit and unconference that run throughout both of the days. The ethos of the event is captured well in the following excerpt from the program:
"The spirit of Making is all about breaking things apart to better undertand them (and build something even more useful), so that’s what we want you to do with our faire: make it what you need."
Can't make it to Nairobi this week? You can still help Match a Maker and give inventors an opportunity to take their work to the next level.
Be sure to check out this interview with the Maker Faire Africa founder, Emeka Okafor. Maker Faire Africa aims to question: “How do we regain our creativity? How do we redefine what we mean by a society that is advanced?”
Indeed that's the kind of interrogation Afri-love exists to champion: how do we use our unique gifts to chart our own paths, appropriate to our unique needs and aspirations?