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hiphop

 

love hip

The man who created the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame in the 1990s is resurrecting it on 125th Street. James “JT” Thompson is scheduled to open offices and classrooms for the Hip Hop Hall of Fame Museumin Harlem next month and plans to announce the site of the actual museum at an awards ceremony being held this spring.

“I think this is a big step for the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame in establishing itself in the cultural fabric of New York City,” Thompson said, though he wouldn't elaborate on where exactly the offices and classrooms would be until their formal opening. Thompson, who was born in Bed-Stuy and grew up in Hollis and Harlem, held the first awards ceremony to induct hall of famers at the Victoria Theater in Harlem from 1995 to 1997. The venue for this spring's event is yet to be announced.

But after the high profile murders of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., the show, which was aired on BET and showcased hip-hop artists and raised money for the museum, was cancelled. “All advertisers left hip-hop at that point,” he said. “It was a struggle because we didn’t know what was going to happen and the show was the main driving force to raise money for the museum.”

When it opens next month, the museum’s offices and classroom will host an educational program for young adults. The first course will be on fashion and give students a chance to learn about the industry and design techniques to develop their own products and brands.

hiphallFuture classes will include broadcasting, coding, production and business, Thompson said. “Hip-hop really cares,” he said. “People don’t realize that people in hip-hop have been giving back to the community for years.”

When the museum and Hall of Fame building opens later this year it will have a restaurant, sports bar, concert lounge, TV studios, and a retail shop. Proceeds from the annual award show will keep the museum and its educational component going, he added.

Thompson expects the facility to host 400,000 visitors and another 300,000 for live events each year.

Original Source: https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160108/central-harlem/hip-hop-hall-of-fame-museum-coming-harlem

ghana casketFor a country that takes its funerals rites as serious as its football matches, Azonto music and Kente cloth, it is little surprise that “fantasy coffins” have assumed a booming business, augmenting the farewell ceremonies of loved ones. Most people in the country believe in life after death. As a result of this, they try everything possible within and at times, above their means, to grant dead people an elaborate and extravagant funeral. The aim is to ensure that the dead person is sympathetic towards them. But some people living along the country’s coastal line, specifically, the Gas, have added an­other form of touch to funerals in the country. This is in the form of “fantasy coffins” known in the lo­cal dialect as ‘abebuu adekai’. These coffins often symbolize the dead person’s profession and come in a variety of shapes, ranging from animals, insects, fruits, tools etc.

History

In European cultures, less prominence is attached to funerals. In some part, dead people are cremated or buried in simple pine boxes. But among the Ga folks in Ghana, aside the funfair associated with burials, coffins are a lot fancier and meant to the deceased. Such demand of extravagant coffins was usually the request of dead traditional rulers, clans’ heads, fetish priests and priestesses as well as the very influential in society. The genesis of these coffins is widely attributed to Seth Kane Kwei. But some historical sources debunk this and trace its roots to one Ataa Oko from La, who is said to have begun making these customized coffins and palanquins for departed chiefs in the early 1950s. It was Kane Kwei who subsequently joined the trade and succeeded in popularizing the branded coffins.

The coffins were traditionally envisioned to represent the lives and livelihoods of those tucked in its belly — for example, a design of fish or crab for the fishermen or fishmongers, cocoa pods for the farmer, a hammer for a carpenter, etc. Since the advent of these coffins, the number of artists associated with the trade has been on the increase. One of the artists located at the epicenter of this trade is Daniel Mensah, who is a beneficiary of the tutelage of Paa Joe, the first apprentice of Kane Kwei.

Story of Daniel Mensah


Over the last 14 years, Daniel Mensah has been making these coffins after he spent fifteen years with Paa Joe, one of the earliest Kane Kwei. Born in 1968 in Accra, he has participated both in Ghana and in some Popularly known as ‘Hello’studio “Hello Design Coffin the very site where Kane Kwei. “This is the home of coffins,” proudly of his work and its beyond. Boasting a legion both locals and foreigners, with excitement, how, as a at the brilliant works being and his apprentices. “Any time they were working, and admired Paa Joe and his entrusted me in his custody me this art when I grow up. school but started off with unfortunately passed away earliest apprentices of in Teshie, a suburb of in various art exhibitions some European film projects. Hello’, he opened his own Coffin Works” in Teshie at Kwei first began the art. coffins,” he speaks rather its impact in the country and of customers, including Daniel Mensah recounts child, he used to marvel being churned out by Paa Joe working, I sat on the bench his boys. My father later custody and told him to teach up. So I didn’t really attend this profession. My father not long after but because my mother was aware of his wish, the necessary traditions were performed and I began my work with Paa Joe in 1984.”

Daniel Mensah drops his tools at this stage and opens up about these fantasy coffins which always tell a story. “If you can dream it, Hello Designs will surely craft it for you, he says.” Taking a break from his latest project, of designing a fish for a deceased fish monger, Daniel Mensah takes the Weekend Sun through the past, present and future of the coffin-carving craft. They are generally made from the wood of the local Wawa tree and normally takes between two to six weeks to produce, depending on the complexity of the construction. In his workshop are the very simplest of tools to aid in the making of the coffins without any form of sophisticated gadget or electrical appliance. He explains that these coffins are only produced on order. His first ever project when he got into this trade, was a lobster, a hen and a fish.COFFIN car

Since then, he hasn’t looked back and has produced six trainees and currently training an additional five. Mr Mensah proudly proclaims that he has no regrets since he took over this profession. “I don’t have any regrets getting into this profession because I’m happy doing this. I have not regretted at all because this has taken me to places out of the country. I also live quite comfortably and take good care of my aged mother, siblings, children and other beneficiaries. If you see some of my friends now, they don’t have a job to do. But this job is a great job, not all carpenters can do it. It’s great and I’m so happy with this,” he says brimming with smiles. Midway in the conversation, an ex military man, Dodzi Adzika, pops in to check the progress of his project. He tells us that the reason for the fish shaped coffin is to symbolize the profession of his late mother who was a fish monger. As Mensah, continues with the interview, he recounts how none of his over 300 works have been rejected by any of his clients.

He speaks about his memories before perfecting the art and narrates that a Police Officer shaped coffin gave him sleepless nights as he tried after several failures to craft that art to a final product which later became the cynosure of all eyes. With a supportive wife and four kids, Mr Mensah believes the future has even greater fortune lying in wait for him. This may be responsible for his decision to engage his eldest son who is now learning the trade. Depending on the urgency and nature of art work, one should be sure to part with between GH?1,500 and GH?3,000 before taking any of these coffins home. The booming funeral industry in the country makes coffin-carving a very attractive job for many young men who hitherto might have considered the option of pursuing farming, fishing, or the normal traditional carpentry.

Despite his modest surroundings of a two storey workshop still undergoing construction, some of his works are on display in various museums across the world. He takes us through some of his art works which includes, a canon camera, fire truck, a bic pen and other weird, bizarre but very splendid works. Bringing the interview to an end, he chipped in that he also prefers to bow out from the world in style just as he helps people do. And guess the design on his mind: “A chisel or hammer.”

http://thesunonlinegh.com/2015/07/how-ghanaians-celebrate-the-dead-with-branded-coffins/

 

 


ghanaAll over the world festivals, some centuries-old, serve important social, cultural, political, and religious functions. Traditional festivals recall a people’s past splendor, and tend to bring villages, towns, regions, and whole nations together in celebratory remembrance.  In Ghana, West Africa, durbars of chiefs and Queen Mothers processing indecorated palanquins and shaded by traditional umbrellas during the Akwasidae, symbolically recall the splendor of a once powerful Asante Kingdom.

Adae-Akwasidae is a religious festival celebrated by the Twi speaking Akans of Ghana who honor the dead once every 42 days. It is a sacred day when ancestral shrines are fed and Asante stools purified. The Asante stool represents the soul and unity of the Akan; the blackened stools are hand-carved "chairs" for past chiefs and kings. On this day, traditional rulers or chiefs of the Akan (especially the Asantes) perform religious rites and rituals for the invocation of the ancestral and other spirits. The climax of Adae-Akwasidae is a durbar where all the Asante chiefs are carried on decorated palanquins under traditional umbrellas and flanked by Asante warriors, meet their people in public tobe received and revered by them.

I planned my fourth trip to Ghana to coincide with Adae-Akwasidae and I was determined not to miss it.  After an exhausting international flight, I made my way by busfrom Accra through many small villages, towns, and an ever-changing landscape of hills and forested plateaus through thunder, lightening, and torrential rain to Kumasi, the second largest city in Ghana.

I arrived at the palace grounds very early on Sunday, the following morning, bursting with excited anticipation.  As I strolled near the entrance to the palace grounds, small groups of older men and women, wearing traditional blue and white cloth, some with white handkerchiefs in hand, stood outside the main gate in sometimes, serious and animated conversation interspersed with bursts of occasional laughter. Young boys were either sweeping the grounds or playing football.  Off in the distance, I heard the sound of sirens and soon thereafter, I noticed two men on motorcycles dressed in military uniform escorting a black Rolls Royce. I later learned that that was the Asantehene’s official car, en-route to a site nearby to participate in ancestral propitiating ceremonies, before the day’s event could begin.

A group of elderly women, in whose midst I stood, mentioned to me that it could take several hours before the Asantehene returned to the Palace, marking the beginning ofthe festival. The morning heat began to rapidly intensify as the crowds thickened at the palace grounds. The main gates were now open and everyone moved in slowly. I eased my way into a sea of men, women, and children filled with joy and excitement.

I sat and waited for what seemed like hours for the Asantehene’s arrival. The Amanhene (paramount chiefs) and other divisional and sub-chiefs from all over Asanteland slowly arrived, one-by-one, wearing the exquisite traditional adinkra cloth draped across the left shoulder in the traditional toga style, with printed symbols in a myriad of designs, complemented by handsome and brightly decorated open leather traditional sandals. In observing the crowd, I noticed that the Asantes (actually Ghanaiansas a whole) are very humble and proud people, with a very strong ethnic identity, evident by their graceful walk and erect posture. The Kete (sometimes referred to as Adowa) drummers sauntered in and they too patiently awaited the arrival of the Asantehen.

ghana 2Then in the distance, I heard the horn blowers announcing the arrival of the Asantehene. I felt the exhilaration escalating and suddenly the crowd began to split in two in a fashion reminiscent of the biblical parting of the Red Sea.  The pomp and pageantry of the Asante Kingdom were unfolding in all their splendor in front of me, as Adae-Akwasidae was about to begin!  Colorful traditional umbrellas and canopies resplendent in crimson with gold trimmings, constituent designs of adinkra symbols, and fringes bordering the perimeter, slowly advanced, one-by-one, and each seemed to be dancing forward in procession. It was a magnificent panorama of hornblowers, praise singers, dancers, master drummers, and men dressed in traditional warrior attire carrying ancient muskets and wearing leopard-skin head covering, reminiscent of the 17th century Asante Kingdom. They graciously led the way for the Asantehene Otumfuo Nana Tutu II.

He arrived draped in the traditional kente cloth and adorned with gold, and other ornaments. He was led to his royal stool, and there he sat in utter seriousness and humility, under a traditional umbrella, nodding occasionally to questions asked of him. An attendant with a fan stood at his rear and seemed to sense instinctively when he needed cooling. Flanked on both sides by other attendants, they would raise his heavily gold-adorned hands to greet a long procession of supplicants and well wishers. Other attendants, four on both sides of him, carried his solid gold scepter and other staffs of office. Never had I experienced anything of this enormity; the beauty, power, and splendor of the occasion were astounding.

The Asantehene had received what seemed like hundreds of people, many of whom were chiefs and foreign visitors and dignitaries. One-by-one men en-route to salutehim were first formally announced, twice, then each proceeded through a short walkway to meet him. If dressed in traditional cloth (worn in a toga style with one shoulder bare), they re-arranged their attire so that they would be completely bare-shouldered at the moment of greeting the King.  Each bowed toward the King, extended verbal greetings, ifappropriate, and walked backward until out of his view. These gestures are a sign of respect, humility, and submission to someone of a higher station. Eventually, after 3 or 4 hours had passed, the festivities came to their formal end, and it was time for the King to take his leave. As they bade goodbye to him, the crowd became ecstatic and re-electrified.

I sat watching the crowd disperse and found myself drawn to the hypnotic sounds of the Adowa drummers energetically playing. Adowa (also known as Kete), originally from the Asante region, is an unmistakable drum-and-dance routine originally performmed at funerals (but now performed at many other solemn celebrations). It is based on the movements of the antelope and has eight forms borrowed from other dances like Kete, Denesewu and others.

ghI looked in the direction of the drummers and saw a man, barefoot, wearing traditional cloth dancing gracefully, drawing the attention of the crowd. He made gracefulhand movements and foot placements, controlled spins and bows, and whole body turns complemented by graceful and dignified walking movements, all of which had particular meanings known to those well-schooled in this art form. With courtliness, grace, and dignity, he danced in homage to the ancestors, the Asantehene and chiefs, and the citizensthere assembled.

Adae-Akwasidae left a permanent imprint on me. While the festival exquisitely honored the courage of the Asante’s ancestors, celebrated the lives they led, and extendedappreciation for making it possible for the living Asante to prosper, it deepened my ancestral connection and helped me find my source of power, identity, and dignity.

Once one of the most popular holiday destinations in the Caribbean, Haiti is now one of the region's least-visited destinations due to its political instability and a poor tourism infrastructure, ioltravel.com.au reports.

citadelle1One of the country's bright spots however is the imposing Citadelle Laferriere in the north of the country near the border with the Dominican Republic. The largest fortress in the Americas, it still draws visitors looking to explore. The ruined Sans-Souci Palace is at the start of the trail to the Citadel, where tourists can buy souvenirs, hire a guide or rent a horse for the 90-minute uphill trek to the summit of the 910 metre Bonnet a L'Eveque mountain.

Now considered a symbol of Haiti, the fortress was commissioned by Henri Christophe a year after the country gained independence from France in 1804. Christophe, a key leader during the Haitian slave rebellion, was also responsible for the Sans-Souci Palace, which was built in the same style as its namesake in Potsdam near Berlin but was destroyed by an earthquake in 1843.

Wooden huts and banana trees line the trail to the fortress and it is clear to see that the people here are significantly poorer and more subdued than other parts of the Caribbean. The Citadel offers many of the villagers a living, including Charles, who offers his services as a tour guide.

“I speak English,” says the 13-year-old. Charles names all the trees and plants in the area, as well as explaining why so much deforestation has taken place in Haiti. “Many of us live without electricity or gas so have to cook using wood fires,” he says.

Cap Haitien and the Atlantic coast where Christopher Columbus' ship Santa Maria sank in 1492 are visible from the gun battery of the fortress.

The Citadel with its four-metre thick walls was built between 1805 and 1816 by over 20 000 workers to keep the newly independent nation of Haiti safe from French attacks. Today, it still houses more than 200 cannons and 15 000 cannon balls.

Taxi driver Augustin Gilles warns that darkness is about to fall so it is time to drive the 17 kilometres back to Cap Haitien. The road is full of potholes and many Haitians travel at night without any lights on their cars.

The 43-year-old walked with his customers to the fortress and charged 80 dollars for the seven-hour round trip that also included a tour of the local villages.

“It's very safe here in the north,” he says.

Violence is much more prevalent in Port-au-Prince where much of the population continues to live in deplorable conditions four years after the devastating earthquake that shook the country.

Source: Repeating Islands

For the original report go to http://www.iol.co.za/travel/haiten-citadel-a-symbol-of-hope-1.1771138#.VE8F6UuWGAQ

Once one of the most popular holiday destinations in the Caribbean, Haiti is now one of the region's least-visited destinations due to its political instability and a poor tourism infrastructure, ioltravel.com.au reports.

citadelle1One of the country's bright spots however is the imposing Citadelle Laferriere in the north of the country near the border with the Dominican Republic. The largest fortress in the Americas, it still draws visitors looking to explore. The ruined Sans-Souci Palace is at the start of the trail to the Citadel, where tourists can buy souvenirs, hire a guide or rent a horse for the 90-minute uphill trek to the summit of the 910 metre Bonnet a L'Eveque mountain.

Now considered a symbol of Haiti, the fortress was commissioned by Henri Christophe a year after the country gained independence from France in 1804. Christophe, a key leader during the Haitian slave rebellion, was also responsible for the Sans-Souci Palace, which was built in the same style as its namesake in Potsdam near Berlin but was destroyed by an earthquake in 1843.

Wooden huts and banana trees line the trail to the fortress and it is clear to see that the people here are significantly poorer and more subdued than other parts of the Caribbean. The Citadel offers many of the villagers a living, including Charles, who offers his services as a tour guide.

“I speak English,” says the 13-year-old. Charles names all the trees and plants in the area, as well as explaining why so much deforestation has taken place in Haiti. “Many of us live without electricity or gas so have to cook using wood fires,” he says.

Cap Haitien and the Atlantic coast where Christopher Columbus' ship Santa Maria sank in 1492 are visible from the gun battery of the fortress.

The Citadel with its four-metre thick walls was built between 1805 and 1816 by over 20 000 workers to keep the newly independent nation of Haiti safe from French attacks. Today, it still houses more than 200 cannons and 15 000 cannon balls.

Taxi driver Augustin Gilles warns that darkness is about to fall so it is time to drive the 17 kilometres back to Cap Haitien. The road is full of potholes and many Haitians travel at night without any lights on their cars.

The 43-year-old walked with his customers to the fortress and charged 80 dollars for the seven-hour round trip that also included a tour of the local villages.

“It's very safe here in the north,” he says.

Violence is much more prevalent in Port-au-Prince where much of the population continues to live in deplorable conditions four years after the devastating earthquake that shook the country.

Source: Repeating Islands

For the original report go to http://www.iol.co.za/travel/haiten-citadel-a-symbol-of-hope-1.1771138#.VE8F6UuWGAQ

arg_flagBlack Africans in Argentina

Have Afro-Argentines stopped being vanishing blacks, as Ebony Magazine called them back in 1973? Ebony editor Era Bell Thompson wrote, “What I found was not a viable, but a vanishing black people: relatively few in numbers, relatively free of racial discrimination and relatively content. Summarized by one gentleman, if there were more of us, perhaps it would be different."

But thirty-eight years later the attidute has changed. Descendants of slaves are starting to assert their identity. The Global post called it  'The reawakening of Afro-Argentine culture'. But that’s not easy in South America's whitest country. But restfull attidute has changes. Now, for the first time in a century and a half, Argentine descendants of African slaves are organizing and going public to assert their identity

“We've been exiled from the collective memory of Argentina,” said Juan Suaque, a seventh-generation descendant of Argentine slaves, in the Global post. “It's as if you pass someone in the street and you have to explain your whole life, what and who you are.”

At the beginning of the 1800s, black slaves were 30 percent of the population of Buenos Aires, and an absolute majority in some other provinces. The first president of Argentina had African ancestry, and so did the composer of the first tango. Even the word “tango,” like many other words common in the Argentine vocabulary, has an African root; so do many beloved foods, including the national vices of the asado barbecue and dulce de leche.

Below are some links and videos of the Afro-Argentines since they are part of the Black Diaspora, the history of Latin America and of course part of the history of Spain:

The must-read blog - AfroAmericanas
Organisation - Misibamba-Comunidad Afroargentina de Buenos Aires
Organisation - Disapora Africa de la Argentina

Source: AfroEurope.com

  •                                                          
  • chained_Slaves

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in numbers:

Embarkments 

Some 12.5million captives were taken from Africa to the Americas:   

- 5.7m from West Central Africa (modern Angola, both Congos and Gabon) and St. Helena

- 2m from Bight of Benin (modern Benin, Togo and Nigeria)

- 1.7m from Bight of Biafra (modern Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe)

- 1.3m from Gold Coast (modern Ghana)

- 756,000 from Senegambia (modern Senegal and The Gambia) and off-shore Atlantic

- 543,000 from South-east Africa and Indian Ocean islands

- 389,000 from Sierra Leone

- 337,000 from Windward Coast (modern Liberia and Ivory Coast)

A_slave_ship_2

Dispersals 

In total nearly 10.7m enslaved Africans were disembarked, most in the Americas:

  • Main Destinations:

- Brazil (5.5m)

- British Caribbean (2.8m)

- Spanish Americas (1.7m)

- French Caribbean (1.3m)

- Dutch Americas (514,000)

- Mainland North America (472,000)

- Danish West Indies (130,000)

Source Data: Estimates from The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database

cramped_slaves

Photo credit: (t) Uncyclopedia.wiki, (c) Rastasurvival, (b)Voice of Detroit

jamaica_sprint_athleteIn an interview with the Daily Mail, Olympic legend Michael Johnson says a ‘superior athletic gene’ in the descendants of West African slaves means black American and Caribbean sprinters will command the sport at the London Games.

The Olympic gold medallist and BBC commentator said: ‘Over the last few years, athletes of Afro- Caribbean and Afro-American descent have dominated athletics finals.

‘It’s a fact that hasn’t been discussed openly before. It’s a taboo subject in the States but it is what it is. Why shouldn’t we discuss it?’

Some scientists believe a combination of selective breeding by slave owners and appalling conditions meant that only the strongest slaves endured, creating a group predisposed to record-breaking athletic performance.
African slaves underwent a rigorous selection process and only the fittest were transported on ships.

Interestingly, the toughest journey was to Jamaica, the last stop on the slave trail. Taboo: Usain Bolt was born in Trelawny Parish, Jamaica, where British Olympic boss Lord Coe's plantation-owning ancestor George Hyde Park had 297 slaves. During one voyage in 1732, a staggering 96 per cent of slaves lost their lives – 170 boarded the ship and only six got off.

Jamaican geneticist Dr Rachael Irving said: ‘There was not much oxygen on slave ships so they had to use whatever they had to survive.’

Photo: Yohan Blake

Dr Herb Elliott, doctor to the Jamaican Olympic team, added: ‘Only the most aggressive and fiercest slaves ended up in Jamaica.’

Source: Afro-Europe

Read full story at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/

luxAs official sponsors and co-partner, AfricAvenir attended the 1st edition of the Luxor African Film Festival, held in Egypt from 21 to 28 February 21.

AfricAvenir is proud to be associated to this festival. We take our hats off to the organizers of this first edition of the festival and we wish the festival all the best of luck for future editions.  The festival successfully made its mark in the African Film Festival circus and can be congratulated for its overall achievements. The mission of the festival was a clear Pan-African one, and this was, without doubt, achieved. The Pan-African vision was omnipresent.

After being separated from the rest of the continent for decades, Egypt opened itself up to the rest of the continent and welcomed films from more than 25 African countries. Most filmmakers from the participating countries attended. Furthermore festival directors and programmers of Durban International Film Festival (South Africa), New York African Film Festival (USA), Festival Cine Africano Tarifa (Spain), International Images Film Festival for Women (Zimbabwe), Abu Dhabi Film Festival (United Arabic Emirates), Trois-Continentes Festival Nantes (France), International Mediterranean Film Festival for Short and Documentaries (Libya), Festival du Cinema Africain de Khouribga (Morocco), and African Perspectives (Namibia) honoured the festival and hence welcoming Luxor African Film Festival amongst its midst.

Egypt’s desire to reunite with Africa was expressed throughout the festival. Observing the attendance and the wide range of participating filmmakers, festival directors, programmers, and the composition of the jury, one can only say, that aim was achieved. Underlining this was the presence of the Minister of Culture, Mr. Shakir’ Abd Il-Hameed, the Governor of Luxor, Dr. Ezzat Sa’d, and nine African Ambassadors accredited to Egypt, who travelled from Cairo to attend the opening ceremony at the Luxor Temple.

The festival paid tribute to the Egyptian director Daoud Abdel-Sayed and Ethiopian director Haile Gerima, who both attended the festival and both received lifetime awards.

In the words of Haile Gerima, who received his lifetime achievement award at the closing ceremony held on Tuesday, 28 February, the festival fulfilled the dream of Egyptian president Gamal Abd al-Nasser to unite Egypt with the rest of the continent. Gerima had been waiting for this opening a lifetime and finally is seeing it being achieved. The festival certainly plays a pivotal role in this pan-African vision of Egypt newly found political energy. Haile_Gerima_Tribute_Award_Acceptance_Speech_XIX_Email

 

At the closing ceremony, attended by the Governour of Luxor, the following winners were announced:

For long feature and long documentary films:

-      Best Film: “Soul Boy” (2010, Kenya/Germany), directed by Hawa Essuman, awarded with the Greater Nile Award and the Golden Mask of Tutankhamun and a cash prize of 10.000,- USD

-      Special Jury Award: “Our Beloved Sudan” (2011, Sudan), directed by Taghreed El Sanhouri, awarded with the  Silver Mask of Tutankhamnun and a cash prize of 8.000,- USD

-      Best Artistic Contribution: “Born on the 25th of January” (2011, Egypt), directed by Ahmed Rashwan, awarded with the Bronze Mask of Tutankhamnun and a cash prize of 5.000,- USD

The jury for this category consisted of Abdelrahamane Sissako (Mauretania), Hend Sabri (Tunisia), and Mohamed Khan (Egypt).

 In the category short fiction and short documentary the awards went to the following:

-      Greater Nile Award for Best Short Film: “Short Life” (2010, Morocco), directed by Adil El Fadili, awarded with the Golden Mask of Tutankhamnun and a cash prize of 5.000,- USD

-      Jury Prize for Best Short Film: “The Cry of the Dove” (2010, Niger/France), directed by Sani Elhadji Magori, awarded with the Silver Mask of Tutankhamnun and a cash prize of 4.000,- USD

-      Prize for Best Artistic Contribution: “The Bottom of the Pit” (2011, Tunisia), directed by Moez Ben Hassen, awarded with the Bronze Mask of Tutankhamnun and a cash prize of 3.000,- USD

-      Special prizes for first short film went jointly to: “Living Skin” (2010, Egypt), directed by Fawzi Saleh, and to “The Cassava Metaphor” (2011, Cameroon), directed by Lionel Meta, which both were awarded a cash prize of 2000,- USD

The jury for the short film/documentary category consisted of Fanta Regina Nacro (Burkina Faso), Mustafa Al-Mesnaoui (Morocco), and Mama Keïta (Senegal).

Photo: Ethiopian Director Haile Gerima who received Lifetime Achievement Award

 

 

Congo_Kongo_Juju_Factory 

“Juju Factory” provides an adroit analysis of issues of immigration and integration.  The film brilliantly questions ideas of “authentic” representations of “Africaness,” introducing a complex cinematic language that shows how contemporary African film not only is diverse in its tendencies but also relates in diverse ways to different (trans-)national traditions and schools of thought.

Directed by Congolese filmmaker Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda, the film was the big event during the 2007 Fespaco - the Pan African Film Festival of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, where it had its world premiere. It has received four awards for best film in Austria (Innsbruck International Film Festival), in Tanzania (Zanzibar International Film Festival), in Kenya (Kenya International Film Festival) and in France (African Film Festival at Apt). Furthermore the film received also the Best Actress Award (Carole Karemera as Béatrice) in Italy (Festival Cinema Africano, Bari).

Noble Links

In December 2010, Mario Vargas Llosa, famous writer from Peru, received the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Only a month earlier, in November 2010, Vargas Llosa presented his newest book “El sueno del celta” to a Spanish speaking audience. It has been a bestseller in Spain and was the most popular title at the XXIV Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara. The book is a novelization of the life of Anglo-Irish diplomat-turned-Irish nationalist Sir Roger Casement (1864-1916). Sir Roger Casement became world famous for his exposure to and his first-hand accounts of the systematic tortures inflicted on the people of Congo by European commercial and colonial concerns at the time of King Leopold II of Belgium.

The book entitled “The dream of the Celt” is scheduled to appear in English in early 2012. Once the book will be available in English, it will again put Congo and its colonisation on the centre of debates around the world. I am saying this, since I do believe that Vargas Llosa’s Nobel Prize and the ever-controversial Casement could prove irresistible, especially to an English speaking audience. It also could once again show that colonisation, exploitation, and capitalism can go pretty well hand in hand. Something, the globalising Occupy Wallstreet Movement might put onto its agenda sooner or later too.

The novel naturally and purposefully invites comparison with Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”. But it also could and should draw attention on a film made a few years earlier, “Juju Factory”.

What is the film about and why does it relate to “The Dream of the Celt”?

africavenir.file.69861The people of Congo suffered under Belgian rule tremendously, beyond imagination. And as well as Casement, director Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda is tortured by this reality. But, other than Casement, Bakupa-Kanyinda suffers additionally and rightfully too from the projections on Black people and his acute awareness of the state of Africa.

The film, as Oliver Barlet put it, is a “meditation in accordance with Balafu Bakupa-Kanyinda's now well-identified obsessions and style: Africa's relation to power and creation”.

Deliberately fictional the film touches styles of documentary reporting in order to catch the echoes of the inhabitants talking about their neighborhood: "To each street its own people", one of them says. The film does its best to break the globalizing image of a mythical Africa.

 “Juju Factory” invites us to read a dense net of references and allusions, names and phantoms, memories and nightmares. With the help of the protagonist, the writer Congo Kongo, the filmmaker leads us through Matonge, the only European city area to have an African name, a district in the south of Brussels, renamed after a commercial district in Kinshasa.

With a repo man threatening to take away all his belongings, people back home in Congo Kongo depending on him to send money, and a need to express his own feelings about exil and about his roots, Congo Kongo agrees to write a book – supposedly a “travel guide” spiced up with ethnic exotic ingredients to introduce Matonge Village to white Europeans, promising a commercial success – for an allegedly African publishing house. So begins the conflict between Congo Kongo and Joseph Désiré, his dictatorial publisher, and African insisting to be Belgian, who goes so far as to ask the statue of king Leopold for advice for how to deal with this uppity writer.

Inspired by the vision of complex and tormented souls that he meets at all crossings in Matonge, and since Matonge started in the tombs of the colonial expositions of the museum of Tervuren, Kongo conceives of the idea of writing a book that follows the paths of Congolese history and its many ghosts. Delving away too deep for his editor’s comfort, since he doesn’t write a tourist guide as requested but a narrative of different African stories from a migration background, Kongo Congo must try to keep his head above disaster and finish his book. Hints appear that the book Congo Kongo is writing is in fact the film we are watching. And as Joseph Désiré becomes increasingly rigid and demanding, insisting on a prettified advertisement about ethnic color in Belgium’s capital, Congo Kongo becomes increasingly haunted by thoughts of Patrice Lumumba and the history of European theft and pillage of the African continent.

Congo Kongo’s journey evokes images that need to be read. The face of Patrice Lumumba cross-fades beneath the surface; it appears alongside the rhymes of young rappers; it looks back from the wall of the writer's apartment, framed like a precious souvenir inspiring poetic and thoughtful writing. Then the montage switches to an extract from the documentary by Thomas Giefer “Mord im Kolonialstil”. We see Gerard Soete; the man who finished off the conglomerate’s dirty work. He laughs while holding two teeth in his hands, two teeth dislodged from Patrice Lumumba’s head. Finally, these transfers of remembrance lead to the whispered question: What have we made of ourselves?

"As long as the lion won't be able to tell, all hunting tales will be to the glory of the hunter" the film tells us, encouraging, yes, demanding from Africans, to start taking charge of one's own history, and to do so while believing in the human being, before one has become another Joseph Désiré, Congo Kongo’s publisher.

In the end, Congo Kongo writes a story from his soul about injustice, racism, and colonialism in the modern world. Despite the lure of money, bill collectors, and pressure from his editor, he manages to stay the course and complete his novel. Kongo, his community, and the cinema audience might discover how it is possible to stand upright with the terrible colonial past of Europe, Africa, and the world. "You are a man because the other is", Kongo writes in his notebook. 

The tokoloshe we are looking for, is in our fellow man, hiding in the then and now. It’s for us to see.

 Awards:

 - Best film Tyrol Awards, Innsbruck International Film Festival, Austria 2007

- Golden Dhow Award Best film, Zanzibar International Film Festival 2007

- Best film, Kenya International Film Festival 2007

- Best film, Festival de Cinema Africain d’Apt, France 2007

- Best Actress (Carole Karemera), Festival Cinema Africano, Italy

 Press:

“Avec “Juju Factory” Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinde offre un diamant du Congo aux cinéphiles du Continent.” (www.lefaso.net - Burkina Faso)

“The wealth of ideas, the humour, a deliberately crazy camera and tight interwoven editing, voluntarist dialogue and roaming at night… Juju Factory is a factory for manifestos, a Soleil Ô-type cry in which Le Damier would have spawn its offspring. Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda seems to be looking for the life-saving juju, this talisman supposed to protect us from monsters and which must be hiding somewhere out there, in the culture reread in the light of the present. It's for the tortured artists to take action, in the colorlessness of their interior exile, listening to their exile as immigrants or victims of exclusion. It's that crazy Balufu's pleasure to put us on track with this rich, diverse, operatic, scathing and torn film.” (Oliver Barlet, AfriCultures)

« A humourous and super-clever social commentary on ... exile and migration? Belgian colonialism? Racism in Europe? The psychology of the colonized? Of the decolonized? Of the comprador bourgeoisie? ... I think all these things.” (www.sketchythoughts.blogspot.com- USA)

“This film carries a heavy load of diasporic desires and above all fears. ... The concrete Belgian past which the film brings into view harks back to 1897 when 250 Congolese men and women were shipped to Belgium to feature in the colonial section of the Universal exhibition, but the film also recalls the murder of Lumumba. Psychologically and conceptually, the filmmaker displaces the diasporic ‘double consciousness’ and explores the multiplexity of attitudes and identifications of Congolese and Africans which he explicitly defines as ‘in exile’ in Belgium.” (Karel Arnaut – University Ghent, Mediating Matonge: Relocations of Belgian postcoloniality)

About the writer: Hans-Christian Mahnke works with Africavenir International, where he is chairperson of the Namibia division. With a Masters degree in Political Science, he is a founding member of Africavenir. In 2008 AfricAvenir was awarded the “Toussaint L’Ouverture“ medal, an annual prize given by the Executive Board of the UNESCO for individuals and organizations for their outstanding fight against racism, intolerance, and economic exploitation. For more information, visit www.Africavenir.org.