The first official trailer for The Nairobians, a forthcoming television series from award-winning Kenyan director David “Tosh” Gitanga, has started making the rounds online. Gitonga’s debut film, Nairobi Half Life, a crime drama about a young actor from the upcountry trying to make it big in the capital, was Kenya’s first ever Oscar submission, and, according to its producers, the most successful theatrical release for a local film in Kenya.
“We keep saying crime is wrong, but are we really looking at why there is crime?” Gitonga said in a 2012 interview with CNN. With his next project, Gitonga re-visits the theme of crime in Nairobi. Though there isn’t much information available about the forthcoming crime drama’s premise, its gritty and fast-paced trailer offers an enticing look at the 26-part series which delves into the seedy underbelly of Nairobi’s organised crime syndicates and the world of illegal ivory trading.
The Nairobians is set to feature an ensemble cast of Kenyan actors, including Daniel Weke, Brenda Wairimu, Paul Ogolo and Antony Ndung’u (who previously worked with Gitonga in Nairobi Half Life). No official date has been announced for the series.
Jennifer Sefa-Boakye for okayafrica, ablog dedicated to bringing you the latest from Africa‘s New Wave.
The work of South African costumer and puppet maker Macdonald Mfolo caught our eye after a recent interview with Another Africa highlighted the large scale puppets he created as part of the collaborative fashion and photography exhibition NOT x Chris Saunders. The cross-cultural project fuses the work of South African artisans and designers together with that of Jenny Lai, a New York-based experimental womenswear designer, and Chris Saunders, a photojournalist living and working in Johannesburg. The exhibition puts a spotlight on the social and cultural climates that creatives from New York and South Africa find themselves inhabiting while showcasing the viability of global collaborations in this digital age.
Mfolo, who is based in the Orange Farm township and picked up his puppet-making skills a few years ago as part of the production crew on the Pale Ya Rona Carnival, primarily works as a costume designer for the Pantsula dance group Real Action Pantsula. His full-bodied puppets are put together using papier-mâché and re-purposed materials such as discarded cement bags salvaged from construction sites and plastic bottles from a nearby recycling depot. Mfolo’s collaboration with Lai takes the vibrant Pantsula aesthetic and blends it with Lai’s avant-garde apparel for a surreal visual experience captured through Saunders’ lens and channeled through the movements of South African performance artist Manthe Ribane, who wears the puppet suits.
Though his puppet-making work currently exists only within the sphere of performance, Mfolo’s goals are and always have been community-oriented. “I want to create a skills college,” he told Another Africa. “I think skills development needs to be more emphasised in South Africa. We export a lot of things instead of creating them here.” In 2005, he established Farmland Production, a free workshop-based initiative that aims to empower local women and youth by teaching basic sewing skills that would help the community to become more self-sufficient. In addition to this, Mfolo’s organisation produces uniforms for local schools, and spearheads talent showcases and dance competitions. Read the full interview to learn more about the emerging designer.
In the wake of the recently passed “anti-gay” law by the Nigerian government and President Goodluck Jonathan, there has been much speculation online as to how Fela Kuti, my father, would react. So let us get this clear, and I will also express my own views on the matter.
My father would not support this law. He would know why the law was passed: as a way of distracting the population from the main problems we face today – poverty, lack of electricity and services, corruption, mismanagement, and so on and so forth.
That being said, Fela may have had some reservations about homosexuality itself. Who is to say? No one can speak for him. But Fela would not have had any reservations about upholding and protecting basic human rights. The right to choose your own sexuality and sexual behavior – as long as it is between consenting adults – is one such human right.
It’s a difficult topic for a lot of people in Nigeria to understand as it’s a very new issue that has never been quite public. Our culture and traditions and certain religious values make it more difficult for many to accept or understand, and it will take some time for those people to learn to respect the fundamental human rights of others to express themselves freely. People have said that being gay is “un-African” – I’m not an expert on our history, but I don’t know of any [instance] where the topic is mentioned in our history (I am not referring to Christian orthodoxy that was brought by non-African missionaries).
The gay community in Nigeria will have to be patient and realise acceptance of homosexuality is a gradual process which will take a very long time – especially in the north of Nigeria. But they must slowly put their case forward. They will need a lot of diplomatic support, and they will have to fight the law. They might definitely lose, but they will just have to keep on fighting for their fundamental right to live. There is no other choice.
We have to keep talking about the issue of gay rights, but it’s the government’s responsibility to take the lead to defend people’s fundamental rights. Citizens must have the right to be who they want to be.
Femi Kuti for okayafrica, ablog dedicated to bringing you the latest from Africa‘s New Wave.
Earlier this month Egyptian songstress Maryam Saleh’s Nouh Al Hamam landed a new Tunisian-based recording effort on our radar: Sawtuha(Arabic for “her voice”), a compilation of female artists from Libya, Tunisia and Egypt who are exercising their rights to freedom of expression. The full album features Sudanese-American hip-hop scholar Oddisee, the production hand ofOlof Dreijer (one half of the Knife), and remixes from French producer Blackjoy and Austrian beatsmith Brenk.
Sawtuha, released by German label Jakarta Records,takes the listener on a journey through French pop, Arabic infused hip-hop and accordion-heavy production.
On the Oddisee-produced languid ballad Figurine, Nawel Ben Kraiem‘s vocals nod towards classical French influences (she sounds like a cross between Edith Piaf and Barbara), and yet they’re layered with enrapturing Tunisian melodies. Olof Dreijer’s distorted beats and pitched-down vocals provide a backdrop to Medusa‘s flow on the head-nodding Naheb N3ch Hayati.
A protest against “corruption, despotism, patronisation and narrow-mindedness”, Sawtuha is purposeful fresh air. As Jakarta Records explains: “Sawtuha, the album that is the product of [a] two-week session, is a vital encouraging testament of rebellion against the repression of democratic rights, gender inequality, and lack of inclusion”.
Stream the full compilation below.
Remi for okayafrica, ablog dedicated to bringing you the latest from Africa‘s New Wave.
Music producer Apple Juice Kid and musician Pierce Freelon of the Beat Making Lab recently flew to Ethiopia to work with the IntraHealth global health organisation in an effort to use “hip-hop as a medium to spread awareness about health issues”. Beat Making Lab is an organisation that champions cultural exchange and provides beat-making equipment and training to youth around the world.
In the first of six episodes being filmed in Ethiopia, they get to know a 21-year-old singer and aspiring beatmaker by the name of Gelila.
The latest episode involves a new student who takes on the Lab’s challenge of penning lyrics about health issues in Ethiopia.