All Articles Tagged "Africa"
In the wake of the video of the “father” beating his daughters with an extension cord, I thought that we should have a serious dialog about the politics around twerking.
Some folks might object to using “serious” and “twerking” in the same sentence but the art of booty-shaking is very complex. And yes, I did call twerking an art. According to writer Cosmic Yoruba, who wrote this piece for This is Africa, the style of dance in which the booty is the main focus and movement is actually rooted to traditions dances found in black cultures across the black diaspora. Writes Yoruba, those dances includes the Columbia gouyad/gouye; Jamaican whinin’ and the very salacious Mapuoka (which is translated to mean: the dance of the behind) from the Ivory Coast. If you have never seen the Mapuoka in action, pause this column and watch this video compilation of the dance, right now! You don’t need an African heritage DNA test to see that there are some ancestral oneness between the ladies in this video and the Twerk Team.
But even with its roots being firmly planted in the diaspora, Yoruba writes that the various incarnations of the booty dance still has to fight against attacks that it is vulgar, ghetto and immoral. She writes;
“There is a long history of Black women being sexually exploited, objectified, and labelled sexually lascivious in the Americas during slavery, and the story of Sarah Baartman is familiar to many; she was the Khoikhoi woman who was taken from her home in Eastern Cape to be displayed in “freak shows” across Europe for her large bottom, and subjected to scientific dissection after her death. With such a history, it is perhaps not entirely surprising that many are still not comfortable with Black women shaking or displaying their bottoms. However, it is necessary to question that discomfort since women’s bodies belong to them, and how they choose to display or shake what belongs to them is for them to decide. It is necessary to challenge the dehumanising and objectifying gaze that will view women booty shaking as mere sexual objects, as well as the colonial gaze that labels African expressions as obscene”
I can not twerk like the girls in the YouTube videos but I do love to shake A$$. I do it around the house cooking or cleaning and when “my jawn” comes on the radio or at the club. I wiggle my tail whenever I hear good news. I think that one of the main reasons why I love Zumba is because there is a lot of hip twirling and A$$-shaking. In fact, my hip and A$$ shaking is so ferocious at times that I have been known to pop a few threads on my waist belt, sending small gold metal coins and beads flying across the Zumba room. Yes there is something second nature to my booty-shaking. And I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge ways in which my A$$-shaking could be sexual stimulating. Growing up being constantly made aware that I do not posses a black girl’s booty I spent a considerable amount of time denying myself the opportunity to feel confident about the bottom half of my body. However I am a little older, a little more forgiving and a little more comfortable in my skin. Therefore, when I back that thang up, it is much more an expression about how powerful and accepting I feel about myself than what sexual titillation someone else may receive or even perceive.
There are lots of reason for one to twerk. In fact, I would be so daring as to say that twerking is a rightful dance and just as respectable as ballet, Latin, jazz or any other dance classified as legitimate art-forms. I doubt that there will be touring companies of twerkers making it clap at Carnegie Hall anytime soon but Fela! did do exceptionally well on Broadway and it wasn’t just because of the music or the story. There is a certain skill to twerking. I mean, you can’t just come in, off the street, bend over and start P-poppin’ it. I mean, you sort of can but it takes practice. Even Miley Cyrus had to start somewhere. For those unaware, there is all sorts of muscles moving, coordination, the rolling of ankles and squats, which happens when you are trying to make your butt move. Have you ever tried to get down low, bounce one butt cheek (just one), stop and bounce the other butt cheek; stop and then bounce them both at one time? What about doing a hand stand while simultaneously jiggling your booty to the beat? Of course you haven’t, but once you finish reading this article you certainly will. Point is, there is a certain level of physical endurance one must have to be about propel and control mass through space. Likewise, there are certain rules, which govern proper postures and techniques and even opportunities for competing against an opponent. In a fairer world, twerking could be an athletic endeavor. But heck, we still live in a country, which still doesn’t recognize cheerleading as a sport.
Last year, a vlogger by the name of StrugglingToBeHeard recorded and uploaded a video called “Twerk for Mother’s Day,” which was to honor all the undervalued and marginalized mothers, “who bust their A$$ for a society that does not really respect their work.” In an interview about the video, the vlogger says
“We twerk for justice, liberation and solidarity because: justice, as defined by marginalized people, is different from the dominant ones in society and so our own acts of justice will be defined by ourselves. Liberation because we have been restricted, tied down and abused by the societies we’ve lived in for too long and we will liberate ourselves through acts of dance and loving oneself and owning our bodies. Solidarity because we know some people have to twerk to survive, some twerk for their emotional health, others form bonds of friendship through twerking, some can release energies that they’ve been forced to hold in for too long. So basically, when we say we are twerking for justice, liberation and solidarity, we are twerking for ourselves and our sisters. We are twerking to say F**K YOU to the politics of respectability that say you are only worthy if you do x, y, z when we have learned that in a white supremacist patriarchal capitalist society, we are worthless to the dominant groups even when we do do x, y, z. We twerk because we will not be tamed, shut up or told what to do. We twerk because we want to and we are tired of people telling us what to do with our own bodies.”
The video was re-uploaded anonymously onto the website World Star Hip Hop where it was then misappropriated as a joke. Watching that video last week of the two black girls being savagely beat with an extension cord by their father for daring to move their hips, bellies and bottoms once again reminded me of StrugglingToBeHeard’s message about just how little control women, particularly black women have over defining what is respectable. And as much as folks worry about the exploitation, which could occur from those young girls willfully shaking their behinds on video pales in comparison to the subjugation that occurs every time we deny girls and women a say in the context in which their bodies should be viewed. This is the conversation I wish this dad would have had with his daughter instead of beating and then humiliating them by uploading the evidence to YouTube.
On Thursday, March 21, Albert Chinualumogu Achebe, or Chinua Achebe, as he was known to book lovers worldwide, died in Boston. He was 82.
In 1958 Achebe published Things Fall Apart (Anchor), which charts the the rise and fall of Ibo farmer Okokonkwo set against the backdrop of rising 19th century British colonial rule and culture clashes in Nigeria. Today, Things Fall Apart has been translated into 45 languages and sold more than 10 million copies. The novel, and Achebe’s subsequent works transformed international publishing and the ways in which we viewed literature. True, there had been other Nigerian writers before Achebe including Amos Tutuola and Cyprian Ekwensi. But Things Fall Apart connected with readers in ways readers hadn’t experienced African narratives.
You can check out the rest of the moving tribute and more about Achebe on on Essence.
Welcome to the “Work It!” column, where we take a look at business innovation of every kind.
Being an innovator in your field can be as easy as K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple, Sis. A singular vision focuses your efforts on becoming the best at what you do, and reduces your chances of being sidetracked or scattered. Ory Okolloh’s rise from blogger activist to policy manager for Africa for Google is a perfect example of the difference having a vision can make on your career.
Watch Vision Work
Okolloh realized early on that her true passion was using technology to ensure African voices were heard.
In 2006, Okolloh co-founded Mzalendo.com (“patriot” in Swahili) to track the Kenyan Parliament. The country’s TV and print media took weeks or months to sort through legal developments in the country. Meanwhile, Okolloh’s blog meticulously tracked the actions of political leaders and kept records of parliamentary bills in real time.
During Kenya’s controversial 2007 presidential election, which was marked by outbreaks of violence, she co-founded another site Ushahidi (“Testimony”). This time she focused on helping citizen journalists report incidents of violence and peace efforts. Before the experts dubbed the process “activist mapping, ” Okolloh’s site leveraged web, mobile, e-mail, SMS, Twitter, and Google Maps to visualize what was happening on the ground.
Ushahidi evolved from a website into a nonprofit tech company developing software platforms for citizen journalist initiatives. The organization was called on to launch humanitarian efforts in the aftermath of earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, a wildfire outbreak in Russia, and snowstorms in Washington DC.
The Perks of Being An Expert
Okolloh’s success in online activism allowed her to move on from blogging to become a spokesperson for citizen journalism, youth activism, and technology in Africa. In a world where non-experts are championed, Okolloh is an anomaly.
The trend of the moment is to know a little something about everything. It’s true; non-experts are able to pull from a variety of sources to come up with creative solutions. However, the old-fashioned approach of focusing on what you’re good at still has its benefits.
Thoroughly understanding the space where you work allows you to recognize needs others wouldn’t. Working where your passion and strengths intersects, ensures that you enjoy what you do, and won’t mind putting in the extra work required to be the best.
“One of the best pieces of advice I received while I was at the university was to get paid to do what you love to do, so that’s my philosophy, and much of the time you find it’s not mutually exclusive and your natural talents is what you end up loving to do. But passion – you spend so much time working, ideally you want to love it.”
- Ory Okolloh, “Africa’s Most Successful Women: Ory Okolloh,” Forbes
A clear vision for your career begins with looking inside. Start thinking about what you love, and how you can use your strengths to pursue it.
C. Cleveland covers professional development topics and entrepreneurial rebels who blaze their own career paths. She explores these stories and more on The Red Read, Twitter (@CleveInTheCity) and Facebook (/MyReadIsRed).
We’re highlighting Pioneers in the Game every day here on Madame Noire. Click here to meet all of our salutes.
Now, not only will Yolo be a popular Twitter hashtag , it will also be Intel’s new smartphone brand launching in Africa.
The new Yolo smartphone was introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month and is being sold by Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom, which has around 65 percent of the market share in the country. The phone sells for about 10,999 Kenyan shillings (about $125). It has 500MB of data, a 3.5 –inch touch screen, and a five megapixel camera. It will also run on the Android operating system. Techweez has pictures of the new device.
Acer and Lava are also creating mobile devices so surely there will be more competition to follow. We reported recently on the first African-made mobile phone and tablet, The Way C, from Verone Mankou’s company VMK in the Republic of Congo.
Intel is increasingly enhancing its handset offerings, with a couple of new introductions internationally already. This changes the game for Intel, moving from the developed markets to emerging ones and may expand their product offerings beyond processors and into the high-volume, low-cost mobile phone market.
But for Africa, mobile has already been a big business, with functions designed to meet the needs of people on the continent, such as getting money to people far away and powering new businesses. “Today, Africa continues to develop mobile innovations that far outpace those of the United States, and these advances are building the continent’s new narrative: the world’s fastest-growing economies, a new consumer class, rising global influence, and rapid modernization,” writes The Daily Beast. “Africa’s mobile-phone technology is inspiring a generation of young entrepreneurs and leading some to wonder whether the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs may be in Silicon savannah.” An article in Africa Review, picked up from the blog writings of Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt, outlines the mobile needs across Africa.
But there’s still the matter of that name. You’ll recall that Drake wanted Walgreen’s and Macy’s to pay him for using the term. You’ll also recall that it was voted the most annoying word of 2012,.
Well, there won’t be any money coming Drake’s way since he didn’t trademark the phrase (a Florida restaurant took care of that) and he’s not even the first to use it in a song. (The Strokes, for instance, used it in 2006.) So it looks like the world can use the term YOLO as much as it wants. Let’s just hope the world doesn’t want to use it that much. Or if they do, they use it the way SNL did this weekend.
Shea Radiance, makers of a line of natural hair and body care products made with shea, has launched a month-long Indiegogo campaign in the hopes of raising $18,000 for training workshops during this year’s Global Shea Alliance Conference in Abuja, Nigeria.
The Global Shea Alliance Conference, now in its sixth year, is an annual gathering of people across the shea industry. Shea nut and shea butter are ingredients in some of the most popular personal care products on the market. This event, taking place between March 4 and March 6, brings together experts, investors, business owners, retailers, and others to discuss a variety of international issues impacting the industry.
According to a press release from the Global Shea Alliance, more than 15 million women across West Africa are part of the shea industry, whether it’s gathering nuts or making food, personal care products, or other items from the harvest. “Shea is critical to the livelihoods of millions of women in West Africa,” said Eugenia Akuete, president of the Global Shea Alliance, in a release statement.
Because the market for shea has gone international, this year’s conference theme is “Global Perspectives.” Corporations participating include The Body Shop, L’Oreal, and Burt’s Bees.
Shea Radiance first attended the conference in 2011.
“As a woman and the owner of a growing personal care brand, my interests were a little different from some of the larger companies who were in the business of buying and exporting shea nuts,” Funlayo Alabi, president and director of Shea Radiance, told us in an email. “Several of us smaller brands who worked closely with the local shea producers were concerned about the interests of the local producer.” Among the five “key priorities” of the Alliance that Alabi identifies are “rural women’s empowerment” and “rural communities development.”
With partners Dr. Georgia Duerst-Lahti from Duerst-Lahti Global and Marla Bosworth from Backporch Soaps, Shea Radiance is presenting a series of workshops at the Abuja event that will help entrepreneurs with business planning and creating better products using the various resources natural to the African landscape. The money Shea Radiance raises through the Indiegogo campaign will fund transportation, materials for use in the training, and other items. So far, they’ve raised nearly $1,800. There are 19 days left in the campaign.
“By offering our knowledge and expertise in creating natural based hair and body care products to small business owners in over 17 West African countries, our hope is that they in turn will buy the needed ingredients from the local shea producer in their region,” Alabi’s email continued. “The needs in rural Africa can be overwhelming. We are focusing our efforts on initiatives that can lift women out of poverty through economic opportunity.”
After the jump, we’ve included a video that illustrates what Shea Radiance would like to achieve.
Africa may have its first woman billionaire – Isabel dos Santos, the oldest daughter of Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos. And she has amassed a great deal of her wealth by investing. According to Forbes, Dos Santos, 40, “has been buying more shares of publicly traded companies in Portugal, including shares in a bank and a cable TV company.”
When the magazine calculated those investments combined with other assets Isabel dos Santos holds in at least one bank in Angola, her net worth surpasses the $1 billion mark.
Dos Santos started going into business early. She studied engineering at King’s College in London, where she lived with her mother, who is divorced from President dos Santos. Afterwards, she opened her first business in Luanda, Angola – a restaurant called Miami Beach – in 1997 at age 24, reports Forbes.
Obviously she has a keen eye for business. Last year, she reportedly increased her stake in ZON Multimedia, Portugal’s largest cable TV company, from 4.9 percent to 14.9 percent. Dos Santos, who sits on the boards of several companies in Angola and Portugal, also boosted her stake again through two of her shareholding companies, Kento and Jadeium. So she now owns 28.8 percent of ZON, worth a recent $385 million.
Dos Santos also owns 19.5 percent of Banco BPI, one of Portugal’s largest publicly traded banks. That investment is worth $465 million.
And it isn’t only overseas that dos Santos has investments. In oil- and diamond-rich Angola, she owns a 25 percent share of Banco BIC and that stake is worth a about $160 million. She is also a 25 percent shareholder in Unitel, one of the country’s two mobile phone companies. “That stake alone is worth $1 billion at a minimum, according to several telecom analysts,” says Forbes.
Her father has been president since 1979. The country gained independence from Portugal in 1975.
While she has reached this milestone, Forbes says there is no clear account of the origin of Isabel dos Santos’ fortune.
People always have a lot of shade to throw at former Destiny’s Child members not named Beyonce but there’s one that always seems to be working.
Michelle Williams is on her way back to the stage in yet another acting role. Playbill has confirmed that she’s been added to the national tour of the phenomenal musical, “Fela!”Williams will play the character of “Sandra” in the musical which will begin at the end of January in Washington, D.C., and play in 16 cities, ending in Oakland, CA.
Miss Michelle is no stranger to acting. After Destiny’s Child parted ways, she took on the lead role in Aida and also played Shug Avery in the national tour of The Color Purple. The acting stage has become more of a first home for her over the singing stage in the last few years.
In a statement, she said:
“I am thrilled to join the cast of Fela! This musical journey is one that I’ve wanted to be a part of since first seeing it on stage in 2008. The sounds, the passion and the politics of Fela Kuti have long intrigued me and speak to my heart. I am simply honored.”
That’s wonderful news for her! If Fela! comes to or close to your city, you should check it out. It’s so exciting and fun while telling the story of a revered man and they love audience participation. It is a wonderful experience.
The Material Girl is taking a serious stand on education in Malawi.
Pop superstar Madonna announced that her charity, Raising Malawi, built 10 schools in the country in 2012 and six of them are already in use. Initially, the schools were supposed to take 18 months to build, with the last one going up in June 2013, according to News24; however, with help from partners at the non-profit buildON, they are six months ahead of schedule. The four schools that aren’t already open will be ready to go by the first day of school in January, Madonna said.
With the opening of the schools, Raising Malawi noted that the schools would help an estimated 4,871 children receive an education. Malawi is listed as one of the world’s least developed countries and only a very small portion of boys and girls are able to go to school so this undoubtedly help in a tremendous way.
This huge project seems to make up for Madonna walking away from the creation of a $15 million girls academy in Malawi back in 2009 after Raising Malawi was accused of financial mismanagement. Madonna dismissed it by saying she decided not to continue with that project because she wanted to be able to reach thousands of children, not hundreds of girls.
If you’re wondering why Madonna seems so closely connected to Malawi, it is because two of her children – David and Mercy – were both adopted from there.
This is a huge undertaking so here’s hoping Raising Malawi and buildON continue to make it successful for the sake of the children.
A 26-year-old African entrepreneur and inventor has just debuted the first African-made smartphone and tablet computer.
First, Verone Mankou introduced the first African-designed tablet, The Way C, a few months ago. Now he has just surprised the tech world with the first African-designed smartphone.
Some had doubts about both; was the quality good? Were they really African-made when much of the construction happens in China, where it is cheaper to make such products?
Mankou’s company, VMK, is based in the Republic of Congo. And when he spoke at the third annual Tech4Africa conference in Johannesburg, South Africa last month, he stressed the importance for an African company to invest in the local smartphone and tablet markets. “Only Africans can know what Africa needs,” he said, as reported by Smart Planet. “Apple is huge in the U.S., Samsung is huge in Asia, and we want VMK to be huge in Africa.”
The Way-C, or “the light of the stars” in the local Lingala language, is a small tablet roughly the size of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, according to Smart Planet. And at $300, it comes in less than the iPad mini. The Android-based smartphone is called the Elikia (”Hope”) and features a 3.5-inch display, rear and forward facing cameras, 512MB of RAM, and a 650MHz processor. The contract-free phone is $170.
This is not the first time someone has claimed to invent the first African-made tablet. A Nigerian company previously announced the first tablet to be made in Africa, but this turned out not to be the case. “A few years ago, Africa’s ‘first’ tablet was found out to be an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) product available not only in Nigeria, but throughout the world sold under different names. Its claims of being African were shot down, and the company was regarded as just another merchant pushing foreign products on local consumers,“ the article says.
Mankou’s VMK is adamant that his products are African-made. The Elikia is engraved with the words “Designed in the Republic of Congo, assembled in China.” This, the website says, is “intentionally mirroring Apple’s ‘Designed by Apple in California.’” Apple, notoriously, manufactures its products in China.
Mankou has already branched out of Africa, not only selling in 11 African countries but in countries like Belgium, France, and India.
To visit Cape Verde some would say is to visit paradise. I’ve been writing for Madame Noire from this island nation for the past few months, having spent time here off and on for the past three years. I’ll be back in the States at some point during the spring of 2013, but I plan to return to continue teaching English.
The first thing to catch your eye might be the sun and surf, but there’s much more to the culture. Best of all, it’s not far from the States — about six hours from Boston. In fact, the flight itself isn’t the most daunting part of the trip. A quick Expedia search for tickets in March resulted in seats with a $2,700 price tag. Once you’re here (according to today’s exchange rate), $1 will get you about 83 Cape Verde Escudos.
Cape Verde is a Portuguese-speaking country located 300 miles off the west coast of Africa. It is actually made up of 10 islands, nine of them inhabitable each with its own flavor — even the local patois (Crioulo) is a little different island to island. There’s a mix of nature, including an active volcano (yes, it can blow at any moment). And the people are of mixed race origins — African (the Portuguese brought slaves from the West African coast) and European (mainly Portuguese).
The islands are Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia (uninhabited), São Nicolau, Sal, Boa Vista, Maio, Santiago, Fogo, and Brava. I haven’t visited all the islands, but here are the ones I have.
Boa Vista means “good view” in Portuguese — and the island lives up to its name. The country’s third largest island, it is a great place to unwind by the sea.
What to do: Enjoy one of the most beautiful beaches in the world — Santa Monica Beach. A stop in Deserto de Viana will bring you to a land of rocky red clay soil and isolation, like Mars. Another amazing must between late May and September is a late-night excursion to see thousands of turtles emerge from the ocean to lay eggs. Between March and April is the peak of whale breeding season. For sports enthusiasts, Cape Verde is one of the most important destinations in the world for windsurfing and kite-surfing.
Where to stay: Considered one of the best resorts on this resort-filled island is the 750-room Riu Karamboa. It is unlike any hotel found in Africa — or North America, for that matter. This all-inclusive has tons of activities — from traditional Cape Verde “funana” dance lessons to beach volleyball to great spa services (I had an absolutely fabulous deep-tissue massage) to a late night disco and live entertainment.
Maio is one of Cape Verde’s quietest islands, where many Italians take respite. Spend your days at the beach or walking around the centre of Vila do Maio. At night, dine at the various homey restaurants or listen to live music.
What to do: The beaches are beautiful with fine golden sand. Make sure to visit the small village of Morro to shop for local handicrafts. The Morrinho Salt Pit is also popular with tourists.
Where to Stay: There are tons of condos, some available to tourists for temporary stays. One of them is Stella Maris Village. Most of the studio apartments have a sea view. It’s a relatively new residence with a beautiful swimming pool that sits on the top of the ocean and private access to a small beach. And they all have small kitchens so you can grab some local fresh fish, cook it up yourself, and dine on your outdoor patio.