Azonto – a dance craze for 2012?

First, happy new year everyone!

And now, let’s start looking at what may be worth paying attention for 2012. I will shortly write a detailed post looking at political trends that may be important this year, but in the meanwhile, here’s a cultural note.

The azonto dance is becoming hugely popular in Ghana (I first learnt about it a few weeks ago, when a Malawian high school friend staying there posted on Facebook the video below, and said it was the craze there). And it seems it’s also increasingly popular online. So will azonto take over the dance world in 2012?

What bugs Die Antwoord?

South African hip-hop band Die Antwoord, who have become hugely popular among hipsters all around world through their videos and aesthetics, have a new video: “Fok Julle Naaiers” (“Fuck all you”), from forthcoming album “Ten$ions”.
In this song their use of the word “faggot” has led to a costly divorce with Interscope label. But, as DJ Ninja explains in a video, this does not mean Die Antwoord are homophobic  – DJ Hi Tek who uses the work in the song is himself gay. See the video here, complete with an “interesting” show of to use the word “Simunye”.

In any case, “Fok Julle Naaiers” is quite a dark and creepy video, in which all kind of insects crawl on the members faces and even their mouth. The last question I have, is what exactly means the “Viva ANC” graffitti next to the drawing of a man with a huge penis… Any ideas?

FOK JULLE NAAIERS from Die Antwoord on Vimeo.

h/t Nosideup

Black History Month – “L’ébène est dans le noir” video

October, which is nearly over, is celebrated as Black History Month, in the United Kingdom, where I lived for a few years and learnt of this event.

To celebrate this, I am posting below a video-clip of Burkinabe MC Art Melody, which Tom Devriendt shared yesterday at AIAC. The song, titled “L’ébène est dans le noir” (The ebony is in the dark), starts with Sarkozy’s infamous quote about Africans “not having fully entered into history” and goes on to reflect on the situation of Africa, a result of their leaders corrupt actions. I found the video captivating, as it is made up of different representations of black and African people across time – through movies, documentaries and cartoons).

Enjoy the video and I hope you’ve had a good Black History Month (and if not there are a few days left to do so)!

Zambia’s presidential election – a reflection on the power of silence

Following the September 20th presidential and pegislative elections, Michael Sata (a.k.a. King Cobra) has become the new Zambian President (here’s his inauguration speech, delivered on Friday 23rd). Sata’s victory, standing on the opposition party ticket of the the Patriotic Front (PF), constituted a surprise to most observers (although not all) who had predicted that the incumbent Rupiah Banda of the MMD would benefit from the “uneven playing field” that characterises the country’s electoral process.

In reflecting on the reasons why the PF was able to ovecome the challenges that stood ahead of them, Jack Hogan writes on the African Arguments website:

One slogan more than any other has dominated Zambia’s 2011 elections, the PF’s ‘Don’t Kubeba!’, or  ‘Don’t Tell!’. It lies at the heart of the PF’s seemingly successful campaign to negate the benefits of incumbency enjoyed by the MMD. It appeared on posters, on the lips of cadres and at rallies. Dandy Krazy’s ‘Donch Kubeba’ (with appropriate shushing dance move) has been one of the most popular tunes heard out and about during the last two months. In essence, it encouraged voters to take the chitenge, maize meal, oil, or even bribes offered by the government, even attend the rallies, but not feel they couldn’t vote against them anyway. As a way of upholding the secrecy of the ballot, and running a campaign against an opponent with resources far in excess of your own, it is a risky, but clever strategy. Indeed, the EU Observer Mission stated that unequal access to resources meant a “level playing field” was distinctly lacking during campaigning. Despite this, it appears “Dont Kubeba!” paid off. (Emphasis added)

This strategy was not only extremely intelligent, but also contains an important reflection, in my view. These are times dominated by new Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs), from mobile phones to social networks. Tools we all (including myself) praise as a powerful way to bring social change, or at least help to create alternative narratives and mobilisation opportunities. More information, and the ability to share and communicate this, will help to bring political transformation. And yet, in the Zambian case it has been precisely the opposite strategy, one of silence, which has unleashed the power of the Zambian people in voting for a change of government (something possibilitated also by Banda’s acceptance of defeat, something that unfortunately cannot be taken for granted in other African cases). In an era of abundant information and a myriad of communication channels, it has been a strategy built deliberately on remaining silent, that has proved successful in bringing about political change. Something to relfect on, I think.

But before that, have a listen to “Donch Kubeba”, which is also a great song and a prime example of “kombi music” (it was my girlfriend who came up with this label, to refer to the music commonly heard on Southern Africa’s public transport system). Enjoy!

Sodade para el sábado – Saturday Sodade

Una de las grandes de la música africana, la cantante caboverdiana Cesária Évora (70) anunció ayer su retirada de los escenarios por problemas de salud.

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One of Africa’s music greatest, Cape Verdean singer Cesária Évora (70), announced yesterday she’s retiring from the stage due to health problems.

Hip-hop: soundtrack of the revolution

Kilifeu and Thiat, members of Senegalese hip-hop band "Keur Gui of Kaolack" (Source: Africanhiphop)

This is Lara Dotson-Renta in “Hip Hop & Diaspora: Connecting the Arab Spring” at the Arab Media & Society online journal (h/t Africa Is a Country):

From the outset, these [Arab protest] movements have been accompanied by a very strong musical component, from troubadours in Cairo’s Tahrir square to the adhans uniting in both faith and protest. Yet it has been hip-hop that has become the most iconic and widespread soundtrack of the Arab Spring and, interestingly, it is having the double effect of helping to mobilize activists in the countries directly impacted by the pro-democracy movements while also solidifying links between Arab diasporic communities in the West with those still residing in the ‘homeland.’

And in today’s news (from the BBC):

Prominent Senegalese rapper Omar Toure, who is a vocal critic of President Abdoulaye Wade, has been arrested. […]
The police did not give reasons for the arrest of Mr Toure, who is popularly known as Thiat.
He spoke at an opposition rally on Saturday to urge Mr Wade not to run for re-election next year.
Several opposition leaders joined his fans outside the main court in Dakar to demand his release, our reporter says.
They said the arrest was the latest sign of growing intimidation in Senegal in the build-up to elections.
Mr Toure is a member of the We’ve Had It band.
In January, he helped launch the Enough is Enough movement, which is galvanising youth to register for the elections.

Music break – ‘Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)’

So many (and many horrific) things going on around the world these days, it is hard to keep up. I have a couple of reflections on what is happening in North Africa, I hope to post in the next couple of days.
For the time being – a well deserved music break for all of you out there. This is so much of a break it has nothing to do with Africa, but it is such a beautiful song, and one inspired by a good cause – “Paul Farmer’s quest to transform global health policy through the work of his NGO Partners in Health in Haiti” (h/t UN Dispatch) – I hope you can forgive it.