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From Claudio Oben Comes “The Portrait”
August 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

Claudio Oben Claudio Oben[/caption] Fans may know him more as a talented actor and Claudio Oben’s  stock may soar even higher when his talents as producer go public with the world premiere of “The Portrait,” on September 5th in Largo, Md. Ahead of the premiere, the multi-talented , hardworking actor, and producer found time to answer a few questions from PAV on his latest film ,and perspectives on the African movie industry. Your latest movie “The Portrait” is set for its world premiere in the days ahead, can you tell us about this latest production “THE PORTRAIT” is a story about learning to love, appreciating our partners and the little things they do for us. What message did you seek to send to your audience with The Portrait?  The message I wanted to pass across with this film was for us to remember that we don’t know what tomorrow holds so, lets hold on tight to those we love, other than live with regret. Can you walk us through the cast of the film? Yes we have a very concentrated cast with the lead actress being Berlinda Nahbila who played Lucy, Kyle Burgess who played Jason Anthony, Debbie Hartner who played Jessie Anthony, and finally Winstina Taylor who played Dr. Taylor. 11750648_10207029929725046_1345309253277514036_nWhat were some of the challenges that you face in the production of The Portrait?  The main challenges producing “THE PORTRAIT” was mainly funding because being an independent filmmaker gets challenging getting locations, paying the actors and the entire management of the film. Claudio Oben is better known as an actor, how did you transition into production?  It was a fun transition for me because I have always been fascinated about how the craft of filmmaking goes. So that alone fuelled my obsession to get into production.   What is your overall take on movies produced by Africans, the talent is there, the market is there but people feel there is something still missing, you are a professional in the setting, what is still missing?  In a few words, what is missing in the industry this far is support and financing.  Support in the sense that we can do all the films but if we don’t the basic support from the community, them the question is why are we making these films. And for the financial aspect, making these films are becoming more expensive so the financial support from sponsors and potential executive producers so we can make these films the way the public wants to see them.   As you become more established in the movies what lessons have you learned and what advice do you have for aspiring actors and actresses seeking to make a break through? Make every scene you are offered or you have to play your first and your last because you never know who is watching or who will catch interest in you craft. And never ever let anyone tell you, you can’t do it. Any additional information on the world premiere, where to get tickets and any other side events that would accompany the event? 10972_10202538264688934_6067543207882278629_n The event will be filled of fun I guarantee you. We will have various performances to say the least, from super talented artist in the DMV area. For the rest you will have to come attend to see for yourself. What next for Claudio Oben after The Portrait?  Two things: “CAPTIVE” the series and “WHO KILLED MARY JANE?” Good luck Sir and thanks for the interview It was great talking with you and hope to see you at the premiere.   The link to purchase the tickets is below:]]>

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Thomas Mapfumo, Zimbabwe's Cultural Advocate In Exile
May 29, 2015 | 0 Comments

Thomas Mapfumo performs on stage during Live 8, Africa Calling, in 2005. Matt Cardy/Getty Images Thomas Mapfumo performs on stage during Live 8, Africa Calling, in 2005.
Matt Cardy/Getty Images[/caption] As Bob Marley is to Jamaicans or Fela Kuti is to Nigerians, Thomas Mapfumo is to Zimbabweans. The bandleader is a superstar in his home country, both for his masterful blending of traditional sounds with world music and for his powerful political messages. Mapfumo has been a tireless critic of the colonial government of former Southern Rhodesia, as well as the dictatorship that presently rules Zimbabwe. Music critic Banning Eyre has written a new biography of Mapfumo and compiled an album of his music, both titled Lion Songs: Thomas Mapfumo And The Music That Made Zimbabwe. Eyre recently joined NPR’s Robert Siegel to discuss Mapfumo’s music and his career of moving people — both on the dance floor and in their political views. “He is a singer and a bandleader,” Eyre says, “but also an activist: a social critic who has kept in his heart the interests of poor people and rural people and people who become the victims of governments, whether it’s the white, racist Rhodesian regime or the corrupt regime of Robert Mugabe. He’s a politician in the sense that he has really moved the politics of the country forward. But really, at a deeper level, he’s an advocate of culture.” One element that stands out in Mapfumo’s music is the way he uses a traditional thumb piano called the mbira, which Eyre explains is believed to have the ability to contact the spirits of ancestors. Mapfumo translates music traditionally played on thembira — a repertoire of songs thought to have been around since ancient times — to the electric guitar. “And so, when Mapfumo started putting that music on electric guitars in the 1970s and singing songs that were both bringing forward the culture but also attacking the regime and encouraging fighters,” Eyre says, “it was a really powerful package.” Other former British colonies in Africa saw black-majority governments take over once given independence, but in Southern Rhodesia, colonial whites declared their own independence and wanted to remain a white-ruled country. A 1977 song, “Pamuromo Chete (It’s Only Talk),” was Mapfumo’s response to a statement by the leader of the white government, Ian Smith.   “Smith had declared that there would never be a black-majority government, not in a thousand years, so Mapfumo was right there with his response: ‘You’re just talking, it’s only talk,'” Eyre says. “And he was right. Within a few months, Smith had to walk that back. And you can hear this kind of moral authority in [Mapfumo’s] voice in that song. This is the moment when he’s really discovering that he can harness traditional rhythms, melodies and attitudes and make it really sting.” Now living in exile in Oregon due to his outspoken criticism of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, Mapfumo yearns to go home, according to Eyre. “He still has this … sense of unfinished business: that he’s needed at home,” Eyre says. “He tries his best to record music and release it, but you never really lose that restlessness, that desire to get back.” *Source NPR]]>

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Nairobi’s Matatu Culture Makes it To Hollywood in Upcoming Netflix Series
May 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

nawakucarter-710x434From Tomb Raider being shot on Kenyan soil to Lupita Winning an Oscar to the ever constant Edi Gathegi, Kenyan talent and abilities can be ranked up their with the best if the potential is factored in. it so happens that Kenyan talent is only recognized after one makes it big anywhere else but not here In an upcoming series, Sense8, that will air on Netflix, a number of Kenyan talents have been. Not only that but actual shooting was also done locally, at least some of it. The definitive matatu culture is featured briefly in the trailer albeit in an understated manner. The synopsis:

Sense8 will tell the story of eight strangers from different cultures and parts of the world, who, in the aftermath of a tragic death, suddenly find themselves mentally and emotionally connected – an evolutionary leap of technological origin. While trying to figure why this happened and what it means for the future of mankind, a mysterious and powerful man named Jonas will try to bring the eight together, while another stranger called Mr. Whispers and his organization will attempt to hunt them down to capture or assassinate them. Each episode will focus on one character and their story.
The series will be available on Netflix by Jun 5th and of the Kenyan faces on it are, Biko Nyongesa, Chichi Seii who’ll reportedly play Capheus’ mother, Lwanda Jawar as Githu, the leader of Superpower, a vigilante gang, Paul Ogola as Jela, Peter King Mwania as a crime lord named Silas Kabaka.   *Source]]>

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Rapper Jay Z Wants To Invest In Nigerian Music Industry
May 7, 2015 | 0 Comments

jayzJay Z, one of the most financially successful Hip-Hop artists in the United States, unveiled this venture just a month after the launch of his new company Tidal, “the first music service with High Fidelity sound quality, High Definition music videos, and Curated Editorial, expertly crafted by music journalists.”


American rapper, record producer, and business mogul Shawn Corey Carter, known by his stage name Jay Z, is reportedly on the verge of expanding his business empire by investing in the Nigerian music industry.

Jay Z, one of the most financially successful Hip-Hop artists in the United States, unveiled this venture just a month after the launch of his new company Tidal, “the first music service with High Fidelity sound quality, High Definition music videos, and Curated Editorial, expertly crafted by music journalists.” Just a few weeks ago, Nigerian rapper Ice Prince of Chocolate City records shared photos of he and Jay Z via social media, hinting he’s in talks with Roc Nation. Mr. Carter has also sent his cousin, Brian ‘Bee-High’ Biggs, currently the director of mobile strategies at Roc Nation to Nigeria on a mission to scout for new talents for the company (Tidal). Biggs has also been seen with Don Jazzy, a Nigerian Multi award-winning record producer, singer-songwriter, musician, and CEO of the Mavin Records label at their studio headquarters in Lagos. *Source Sahara Reporters]]>

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Ethiopian cinema focuses on prostitution
March 7, 2015 | 0 Comments


Price of Love, in Amharic, has been nominated for Africa's top film award at the Fespaco festivalEthiopian scriptwriter and film director Hermon Hailay says she grew up close to prostitutes.

“I know them as young, beautiful women, mothers, sisters and friends,” she tells me at a popular cinema in the middle of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. “I always wanted to tell their story, because I know it well. As a kid, I did not see the shame in what they do.” At just 28, Ms Hermon has already written and directed three feature films, all tackling social issues like poverty and the perils of rural to urban migration. She was getting ready to travel to Burkina Faso for Africa’s biggest film festival Fespaco, where her latest film, Price of Love, has been nominated for the top prize. It follows the life of a young taxi driver who in the course of his job falls in love with a prostitute.

Hermon Hailay speaks about her latest film Price of Love

He is then forced to confront his past, having been raised by his mother, who also earned her living from prostitution. This is not uncommon in Ethiopia where prostitution is widespread, but is at times spoken of in low tones. Despite the country’s impressive and fast-growing economy, a large part of the population still lives on less than a dollar a day. Every evening, heavily made up “business ladies”, as they are called, line up on Addis Ababa’s streets in short skimpy dresses. “In the three movies I have done before, I had small roles of prostitutes and I always wanted to have a major role in one of them,” says Ms Hermon. “It’s of course a very controversial topic and people ask me why I include such roles in my movies but I think we have never told enough, and if we think prostitution is bad, we should change that by loving them, not shunning them – that is the message of my movie.” ‘Change a life’

Ethiopia is full of film lovers and most evenings you will see long queues at local cinema halls showing the latest Amharic language and Western releases.

[caption id="attachment_16940" align="alignright" width="300"]Cinemas showing the latest releases are popular in Addis Ababa Cinemas showing the latest releases are popular in Addis Ababa[/caption] “I have seen the trailer and it’s a movie I just can’t wait to watch because it’s not only based on reality but more importantly has a message in it,” says Arega Bekele, who runs a restaurant often frequented by people leaving a nearby cinema. Twenty-eight-year-old Meseret, who was in a cinema queue and had seen the trailer, agrees. “Out there, one of those beautiful young ladies will watch that movie and it will change her life forever,” she says. Across town at a restaurant frequented by middle-class Addis Ababans, I met three young people having their lunch who had seen Price of Love. They were more critical about the film, feeling it did not offer anything new. “This is just a regular story that has been told over and over again in Ethiopia,” says one of them, an office manager. “It’s of course a difficult issue to tackle here and many young girls are just getting into it because of the money they get,” she says. But while there may be critics, many agree that Ms Hermon deserves praise for bringing the Ethiopian film industry into the limelight. Price of Love was filmed by a crew of just eight people – all Ethiopians. Max Conil, a producer born and raised in the UK, was a consultant on the film and says their work ethic and dedication was exceptional. “It doesn’t matter if they win at Fespaco or not. This is already a big win not only for them but also Ethiopia’s film industry,” he says. Ms Hermon believes Ethiopian films can compete with the best in the continent and on the international scene. “Just look at our neighbours Kenya, beyond to Nigeria and South Africa, we have the culture, the stories and the people, we can be like them,” she says. *Source BBC]]>

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Angelique Kidjo Wins Her Second Grammy
February 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

“This Album Is Dedicated To The Women Of Africa”

By Farai Gundan*

  240x_mg_xcs1wji77p_244872593062_4361087174775The new year has been off to a great start for world-renowned singer, songwriter and activist, Angelique Kidjo. Ms. Kidjo who first won a Grammy back in 2008 for her eighth studio album ‘Djin Djin’ which included a star-studded list of guest artists ranging from Branford Marsalis, Ziggy Marley, Alicia Keys, Carlos Santana to Peter Gabriel, won the 2015 Crystal Award in a ceremony opening the 45th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on January 21st. Along with two other exceptional artists, Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli, Ms. Kidjo who was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2002, received the Crystal Awards for “not only being world famous artists but also concerned with humanitarian issues and committed to using their time and energy to make a difference,” said Hilde Schwab, Chairperson and Co-Founder, Schwab Foundation for Entrepreneurship. “I want to dedicate this crystal award to the women of my continent. They are the backbone of Africa. I cannot be who I am without them. To all the women of the world, what you do is priceless; it is not a matter of color, of language, of nationality,” said Ms. Kidjo receiving the 2015 Crystal Award.

Continuing with her winning streak, last night at the 57th annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples SPLS -0.96% Center in Los Angeles, California, the revered musician who was born in Cotonou, Benin, won her second Grammy for her 2014 album ‘EVE’ in the ‘World Music’ category that included Brazilian bossa nova legend Sergio Mendes and sitar player and composer, Anoushka Shankar. Receiving her Grammy award during a pre-telecast ceremony, Ms. Kidjo the first woman to be listed on FORBES’ 40 Most Powerful Celebrities In Africa, said, “this album is dedicated to the women of Africa, to their beauty and resilience. Women of Africa, you rock! For me, music is a weapon of peace and today more than ever, as artists we have a role to play in the stability of this world.”

The 54 year-old artist, whose work with UNICEF focuses on girls’ education in partnership with her non-rofit organization, Batonga Foundation, has called for swifter action to contain the Ebola outbreak and advocated for increased efforts to improve the public healthcare system in West Africa in the wake of the epidemic.

*Source Forbes


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Nigeria: Jonathan Receives Long-Awaited Audit Report On Missing U.S.$20 Billion Oil Money, but Details Remain Secret
February 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

Photo: Leadership Lamido Sanusi

Photo: Leadership
Lamido Sanusi

President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday publicly received the report of the forensic audit carried out on the accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation [NNPC] from the accounting firm that conducted the investigation.

The report submission ceremony, held a day after a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN], Chukwuma Soludo, wrote a long, acerbic article accusing the managers of the Nigerian economy of misappropriating over N30trillion of public funds, including several billions in oil money.

“Now add the ‘missing’ $20 billion from the NNPC,” Mr. Soludo said. “You promised a forensic audit report ‘soon’, and more than a year later the Report itself is still ‘missing’. This is over N4 trillion, and we don’t know how much more has ‘missed’ since Sanusi cried out. How many trillions of naira were paid for oil subsidy (unappropriated?).”

Insiders in the administration had long told PREMIUM TIMES that the report was submitted months ago by auditors but that it was gathering dust in the cupboards of the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Auditor General of the Federation.

In what appeared a hurried response to Mr. Soludo’s allegations, President Jonathan suspended campaign activities Monday to receive the report from the auditors in the presence of journalists, in a move aides say was aimed at correcting the impression created by the former CBN governor that the administration was sitting on the document.

At the ceremony held at the Presidential Villa, Mr. Jonathan received the report from Uyi Akpata, the country senior partner for PriceWaterHouseCoopers, and then promised a comprehensive reform of the oil sector.

The President did not give any insight into the details of the report. He only said the document would be sent to the Auditor General of the Federation in the next one week.

He said it is at the Auditor-General’s end that details of the report would be made public saying “media will want to know the key findings vis-a-vis the senate findings and figures being bandied around in the newspaper, but Nigerians are interested”.

The President noted that as part of the recommendation made, the petroleum industry bill would correct the lapses in the oil and gas sector.

“Indeed you mentioned the issue of reform in the sector, everybody knows that the sector needs to be reformed,” he said. “By the time we go through the petroleum industry bill and pass it into law, most of this lapses will be corrected and the misconception will be properly addressed.”

Suppressing the Report

PREMIUM TIMES had on December 27 reported how the government plotted to suppress the report. The forensic audit was commissioned following allegation by the immediate past Governor of the CBN, Lamido Sanusi, that about $20 billion oil money was missing from the NNPC.

The Presidency had on March 12, 2014 announced, through a statement by the president’s spokesperson, Reuben Abati, that it had authorised the engagement of reputable international firms to carry out the forensic audit of the accounts of the NNPC.

The audit firm had earlier submitted an interim report which the President said he rejected as the subject matter of the probe needed to be completely dealt with.

The allegation that the huge amount had been stolen was raised in 2013 by a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, who is now the Emir of Kano.

Mr. Sanusi said as much as $49 billion was diverted by state oil company, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.

He later reviewed the amount to $20 billion, and called for investigations after writing to President Goodluck Jonathan.

A Senate probe into the allegation yielded no result. Mr. Sanusi was later fired by President Jonathan after he was accused of “financial recklessness”.

The government said no money was missing, but promised a forensic investigation of NNPC.

In April, the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, announced the appointment of the accounting firm, PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PwC), to conduct a detailed investigation into the accounts and activities of NNPC.

The minister said the investigation, under the supervision of the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, would take about 16 weeks.

That schedule meant at most by September 2014 ending, the report should have been ready. A two-month delay meant the report should have been ready by November.

But more than two months later, the government failed to release the report.

PREMIUM TIMES independently investigated the whereabouts of the report and its contents.

At each turn, relevant government offices denied having the report despite confirmation by senior officials of the finance ministry to this newspaper that the report had since been submitted by PriceWaterHouseCoopers.

The sources said the document was submitted to the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation. Our reporters contacted the offices of the Auditor-General and the Accountant- General repeatedly, pressing for the report, without success.

A spokesperson for the Auditor-General of the Federation, Florence Dibiase, said she was not aware of the report.

Also, Abba Dabo, the Director, Extra Ministerial Department, in the Office of the Auditor general of the Federation, denied knowledge of the report. Mr. Dabo said he should be in charge of such documents if they were available.

He said the role of the auditor-general’s office was in selecting PriceWaterHouseCoopers as the auditing firm, after which the matter reverted to the finance ministry.

Mr. Dabo said only the Auditor General, Samuel Ukura, could speak authoritatively on whether any such report was ready. Mr. Ukura could not be reached for comments at the time.

PREMIUM TIMES also contacted PriceWaterHouseCoopers, where an official said the firm would only be able to comment on a later date.

*Source allafrica

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Growing Up with Professor Ali Mazrui
December 15, 2014 | 0 Comments

Dr Willy Mutunga is Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya Dr Willy Mutunga is Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya[/caption] I have had a long association with the academic, author, documentary maker, and tree shaker, Professor Ali Mazrui, who died a little more than a month ago. I borrow the metaphor “Growing up with” from the title of renowned Professor Karim Hirji’s autobiography, Growing Up with Tanzania, to reflect on just a few inspiring encounters over the decades I have had with the intellectual giant of Africa. Mjomba Ali died in Binghamton, New York, on October 12, 2014. He was 81 years and 8 months old. I remember Mazrui particularly in context of debates at the University of East Africa in the 1960s and 1970s, which were as ideological as they were political. There were professors on the left and on the right with liberals in the middle. It was the era of the Cold War and this was reflected intellectually, ideologically, and politically at the university. The debates were among great African, regional, and global scholars such as Walter Rodney, Giovanni Arrighi, A. J. Temu, Justinian Rweyemamu, John Saul, Tamas Sczentes, Yash Tandon, Abdalla Bujra, Mahmood Mamdani, Karim Hirji, Issa Shivji, Dani Nabudere, Omwony Ojok, Henry Mapolu, Aki Sawyerr, Kwesi Botchwey, Marjorie Mbilinyi, Yash Pal Ghai, Dharam Ghai, John Samuel Mbiti, Okot p’Bitek, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Micere Mugo, Sol Piciotto, among many others. Dar es Salaam College of the University of East Africa became the liberation Mecca for many liberation movements: ANC, Frelimo, Swapo, Polisario, PLO, Black Power and Black Panthers, among others, with President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere providing the intellectual, ideological, and political umbrella that nurtured these great debates. Dar University was a great institution of higher learning to be in during the 1960s and the 1970s.  I regard myself as having been very fortunate to be a student there during that period. First encounter I first met Mjomba Ali in 1969 while a student at the Dar es Salaam University College. Then teaching at Makerere University, he was in Dar to attend a conference. In those days academic conferences took place on a regular basis under the auspices of the University of East Africa. I attended many of them when Mjomba Ali presented papers. Needless to say I saw and heard the great academic, scholar, wordsmith, intellectual, nationalist and pan-Africanist, and radical liberal at his brilliant best. In his modesty and humility Mjomba Ali was later to confide in me that he believed that he lost his debate against Walter Rodney which took place at Makerere University in 1970. Reflecting on these debates it is easy to understand why a radical liberal would have a following among the students. The ideological debates between the right and the left were at times brutal, dogmatic, and ruthlessly critical. Students who wanted to hear and reflect on arguments from both sides of the ideological divide must have found Mjomba Ali’s middle position attractive. And Mjomba Ali remained consistent in that position while some of the scholars moved from one extreme to the other. We seem to have come a full circle in the 20th century with the middle, social democracy, being the basis of historicising, problematising, and interrogating the still dominant paradigms of neo-liberalism and socialism. The search for a paradigm that will liberate the world continues in earnest. The clarion call, the revolutionary slogan and resolve, A luta Continua, remains relevant. Autobiography Shy aliProfessor Alamin Mazrui, Mjoba Ali’s nephew, and I had been keen to write Ali’s biography. We raised the issue with him. He did not want to say no to us, but upon reflection he was not very keen about the idea. He, however, did not disappoint because he suggested we could edit his great debates with scholars; that we proceeded to do in three volumes. I have always had this nagging feeling that Mjomba was never keen on the idea of an autobiography or biography. I should have figured out this when Alamin and I edited his debates! If you are a giant of a scholar who is constantly and continuously being debated, written on, critiqued, your story gets told permanently and indelibly.   As Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kenya it was my great pleasure and privilege to host Mjomba Ali and Professor Robert Martin a year ago at the Judiciary. Mjomba Ali spoke to the judges about law and politics under the 2010 Constitution of Kenya. This was a timely intervention, particularly for judges who still nursed the idea that “the law is the law is the law” under the said Constitution. The Constitution of Kenya is not a legal-centric document and it requires a multi-disciplinary approach to its interpretation and implementation. It is a Constitution that fundamentally subverts staunch positivism. As an African who believes in my protection by the spirits of our ancestors, as creations of God, I have no doubt the Spirit of Mjomba Ali will watch over us as we continue to grow with him. I am sure more debate about his work and greatness will continue on earth for many centuries to come. I pray he will debate Walter Rodney yet again when their paths cross, this time round with clearer results! May the Almighty Allah rest his soul in eternal peace! *Dr Willy Mutunga is Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya.  ]]>

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A Circle of Celebration, Forged in Africa
November 9, 2014 | 0 Comments

* [caption id="attachment_13953" align="alignleft" width="675"]Angelique Kidjo performing with Dominic James on guitar at Carnegie Hall. Credit Ruby Washington/The New York Times Angelique Kidjo performing with Dominic James on guitar at Carnegie Hall. Credit Ruby Washington/The New York Times[/caption]

One strong African woman honored another at Angélique Kidjo’s tribute concert for Miriam Makeba on Wednesday night at Carnegie Hall, where she was joined by Vusi Mahlasela from South Africa, Laura Mvulu from England and Ezra Koenig from the African-influenced New York City band Vampire Weekend. Whoopi Goldberg started the concert with praise for both Makeba, who died in 2008, and Ms. Kidjo.

Wearing brightly patterned dresses, singing with joyful vehemence and dancing with struts and twirls and shoulder shakes, Ms. Kidjo was respectful, yet far from solemn, in a concert drawn almost entirely from the Makeba repertory. It was the finale of Carnegie’s Ubuntu festival, marking 20 years since the end of apartheid in South Africa: a cause Makeba devoted herself to through decades of exile after South Africa revoked her passport in 1963.

It was by no means Ms. Kidjo’s first acknowledgment of Makeba as her role model. Ms. Kidjo is from Benin, in West Africa, and has lived in Paris and now Brooklyn. Like Makeba, she has drawn deeply on her African heritage while making global fusions; the concert included songs in six languages. She recorded a Makeba standard, the Tanzanian love song “Malaika,” for her 1991 album, “Logozo,” and sang it on Wednesday night.

Ms. Kidjo is a rawer, more brazen singer than Makeba; with bent notes and raspy peaks, she brings the West African roots of the blues into her songs. What she shares with Makeba is conviction and compassion as she seeks the universal sentiment in songs from particular places: a lullaby from Indonesia (“Suliram”), a song about working in South African mines (“The Retreat Song”), a topical message (“Soweto Blues”).

Ms. Kidjo supplemented her regular band, which easily commands a huge variety of African-diaspora styles, with three South African singers — Faith Kekana, Stella Khumalo and Zamo Mbutho — who had backed up Makeba. They brought the lush, precisely swooping harmonies of South African tradition, which were especially striking when they joined Ms. Kidjo for a cappella passages.

But Ms. Kidjo wasn’t reproducing the old Makeba sound; she was pushing it harder. “Pole Mze” — a Kenyan song praising that country’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta — had a gentle Afro-Cuban lilt in Makeba’s version; Ms. Kidjo’s band drove it all the way into salsa. Her guests picked up her enthusiasm — especially Mr. Mahlasela, a courageous songwriter during the apartheid era, with a jovial presence and a robust, soaring voice that rose to match Ms. Kidjo’s own power.

Carnegie Hall, however, wasn’t the right room for the concert. Although Ms. Kidjo’s drummer, Yayo Serka, played behind a plastic partition and used a light touch, the music’s danceable beats were blurred by the hall’s reverberation. But Ms. Kidjo didn’t let acoustics impede her. She sang her way through the audience and up into the balcony, illuminated by flashing cellphone cameras, and got the audience on its feet, singing along and dancing to join a song Ms. Kidjo wrote for both Makeba and the continent: “Afirika.”

*Source nytimes


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How Majid Michel And Beverly Naya Created Nollywood’s Best Kiss 2014
October 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

Brothers-keeperGhanaian actor, Majid Michel and Nigerian actress, Beverly Naya have emerged as the best kissers in Nollywood. The handsome actor and beautiful actress combined well enough to emerge joint winners in the Best Kiss in a movie category at the just-concluded 2014 Best of Nollywood awards. The awards ceremony, which held in Port Harcourt on Thursday, October 16, 2014, saw the two named winner for their passionate and intense kissing in a movie titled Forgetting June. To emerge winner of the category, Majid and Beverly beat the likes of Ini Edo, Blossom Chukwujekwu and Monalisa Chinda to win the award.Presenting the category, which many in the movie industry consider either unserious or unique, for this year were Empress Njamah and Chinedu Ikedieze at the awards ceremony. Directed by Ikechukwu Onyeka and starring Majid Michel, Beverly Naya, Mbong Amata and others, Forgetting June is a 2013 Nigerian romantic drama film. *Source Ghana Vibes]]>

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Comedy Gold: Who are the funniest people in Africa?
September 3, 2014 | 0 Comments

Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Florence Obondo and Allyssia Alleyne* [caption id="attachment_11593" align="alignleft" width="150"]Daniel "Churchill" Ndambuki is a popular Kenyan comic who brings joy and laughter into people's lives each week with his self-titled variety show. For all you comedy fans, he has chosen five emerging comics from the continent to keep an eye on -- they are going to be big! Daniel “Churchill” Ndambuki is a popular Kenyan comic who brings joy and laughter into people’s lives each week with his self-titled variety show. For all you comedy fans, he has chosen five emerging comics from the continent to keep an eye on — they are going to be big![/caption] Daniel Ndambuki might today be one of Kenya’s top comedians, having the crowd in stitches every time he performs, but things were quite different when he first took to the stage. In fact, Ndambuki’s debut performance was so bad that he had to be stopped straight away. “My first joke … they switched off the mic,” recalls Ndambuki, who is better known by his stage name “Churchill”. “It was too boring,” he admits laughingly, “even [to] myself. “We left the stage and we promised ourselves never to do comedy again, but I went back and with practice and a lot of encouragement, we just found ourselves getting addicted to the stage and that’s exactly what we are doing up until now.” ‘Next Chris Rock’ As the old saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And to Churchill’s credit, he did and today, thanks to his hard work and determination, he is at the helm of two of Kenya’s biggest comedy shows: Churchill Live and Churchill Raw. The first one is more of a magazine show, with several high-profile guests, whilst the latter serves as a platform for up-and-coming performers to showcase their talents. To find the best entertainers, Churchill auditions a group of comedians, and the cream of the crop goes on to perform before a live audience later that day. “There is nothing as exciting as being a pioneer for a big dream, not only for one country, but the whole continent and creating history and influencers — it’s the most amazing thing,” says Churchill. “With the talent that you see coming up on the stage every day, in the next five years you might be sure, it’s a matter of time before you see a Chris Rock or a Steve Harvey coming from the academy and that would be the dream,” he muses. Tips to tickle you [caption id="attachment_11594" align="alignright" width="150"]Basketmouth has quite the social media following, with over one million Facebook likes and over 550,000 Twitter followers. Stand-up is his speciality, but he uploads the occasional sketch to his YouTube too. Basketmouth has quite the social media following, with over one million Facebook likes and over 550,000 Twitter followers. Stand-up is his speciality, but he uploads the occasional sketch to his YouTube too.[/caption] But what does it take to succeed in the business of making people laugh? For Churchill, the secret lies with crafting jokes that everyone can relate to. “The most unique thing is being able to make a very intelligent person and the ordinary person get the joke at the same time otherwise you will lose,” he advises. “It is not easy,” he adds. “Humor is based on current issues and observation and just characters,” continues the seasoned comic, “so it’s a whole journey seven days a week; you have to keep on doing it, again and again. “Comedy is not easy, it’s really more like a calling. If someone has that talent, the best you can do as a parent is to encourage that person.”   More than just a comedian, Churchill is today focused on growing the next generation of comic talent in Kenya and beyond. CNN’s African Voices asked the seasoned comic to name some of his continent’s best comics to keep an eye on. Click through the gallery above to find out Churchill’s favorite African comedians and check out the video below to learn more about his story. *Source CNN]]>

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Interview: The Cameroonian Soul King Looks Back
August 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

CLYDE MACFARLANE* ManuDibangoWhen Manu Dibango took to the stage at Womad Festival last month, one got the overwhelming feeling that he has enjoyed every moment of his career. Even after 80 years and counting, it was clear that the great Cameroonian saxophonist still loves music and has always loved music. Dibango first became famous with his 1972 hit ‘Soul Makossa’, a song which proved influential in opening up Europe and America to African music with its catchy, repeated chorus. “Mama-say, mama-sah, ma-ma-koo-sah,” he sang to the Womad crowd, greeted with whoops of appreciation. Dibango’s chant had previously been popularised by Michael Jackson’s plagiarism of it in ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Something’ − for which Dibango sued Jackson, a matter that was eventually settled out of court − and which had led to many other musical adaptations. At Womad, the set switched effortlessly between soulful ballads which saw the keyboardist transform the festival tent into a New Orleans gospel church − notes that went on forever, Dibango blowing off on a mad cadenza − and funky hits where the octogenarian jiggled his hips with playful nostalgia. As the guitarist played a few funk licks to whip up the energy, Dibango stepped back and nodded approvingly. “Same man, different band!” was how Dibango neatly summarised the performance afterwards as he spoke to Think Africa Press. “I started music by going to church. Then I went to Europe when I was 15. I’m 80 now, so that’s a long time to be performing. I was lucky at the beginning as it’s always a tough time starting out in music. Sometimes musicians get lucky, and that happened to me in 1972. Now there are different people around me. My music is the same, but with different musicians.” Dibango was keen to reflect on his time playing music and travelling in the 70s, evidently a hallowed period for him . “I have a lot of nostalgia for that time,” he said. “There were so many great musicians: James Brown, Sly Stone, Otis Reading, all those people. I spent a month in Jamaica when Bob Marley was alive, and I became the first African to record an album there − a collaboration with [the Jamaican rhythm section] Sly and Robbie called Gone Clear. “At that time those musicians were all popular in Europe,” he continued. “African music was popular in Africa. After ‘Soul Makossa’, Europeans realised there was a lot more to black music than African-American music. I opened the door for them − I had the keys without even knowing it, and this allowed people to go to Africa and find Fela Kuti and King Sunny Adé. They’d been playing for a while in Africa, but no one in Europe had heard of them. “When I started, I played everybody else’s music before playing my own thing. First you play other people’s music − what people want to hear − then you ask the crowd whether they want to hear something different. You have to be curious. If you’re not curious, you will not learn − that’s the same wherever you go in the world. If you’re keen to learn and mix with other people, then one day you’ll make a new musical baby.” *Source thinkafricapress  You can find out more about Manu Dibango here]]>

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