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Kenyan band takes Afro-pop music worldwide
June 10, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Ilya Gridneff*

In this photo taken Wednesday, April 6, 2016, members of the Kenyan music group Sauti Sol, from left to right, Bien-Aime Baraza, Savara Mudigi, and Willis Austin Chimano, perform at an event in Nairobi, Kenya. Not many musicians can boast they’ve made President Barack Obama get up and groove to their tunes but Kenyan band Sauti Sol did just that with their mix of Afro-pop, soul and R&B, which has won a number of international awards. (Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

In this photo taken Wednesday, April 6, 2016, members of the Kenyan music group Sauti Sol, from left to right, Bien-Aime Baraza, Savara Mudigi, and Willis Austin Chimano, perform at an event in Nairobi, Kenya. Not many musicians can boast they’ve made President Barack Obama get up and groove to their tunes but Kenyan band Sauti Sol did just that with their mix of Afro-pop, soul and R&B, which has won a number of international awards. (Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

NAIROBI, Kenya — Not many musicians can boast they’ve made U.S. President Barack Obama get up and groove to their tunes. But Kenya’s Afro-pop band, Sauti Sol, did just that.

Obama, whose father hails from a village in western Kenya, put his heritage on full display at a state dinner in Kenya last July when he boogied down to the traditional Lipala dance that the band revived with their hit song “Sura Yako.”

“Singing and dancing with the world’s most powerful man was incredible,” said Bien-Aime Baraza, a vocalist for the four-man band. “He really was feeling us. It was wonderful for Kenya.”

A savvy mix of catchy tunes, appealing looks and social media promotion has brought success to Sauti Sol, Swahili for voices in the sun. The band has worked to make traditional East African music cool again, said Rand Pearson, who runs Nairobi’s hip monthly, UP Magazine.

“I first remember seeing Sauti Sol in a dingy Nairobi club 10 years ago. My first impression was that finally there it was, a modern pop version of Kenyan music,” he said, crediting the band’s growth internationally to “visionary management, styling and its ever-evolving musical talent.”

Sauti Sol’s have won a number of international awards including the All African Music Awards Best African Group in 2015 and MTV’s Best African Act.

Pop music is big in Africa, where there are more than 200 million in the 15-to-24 year age group. It is also big business. The entertainment and media industries of Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya together will grow to be worth $24 billion in 2018, according to a 2014 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The band recently toured Kenya and performed in South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique.

In November last year Sauti Sol launched their latest album “Live and Die in Afrika” free on their website, the first Kenyan album to be released online. The demand was so high that the site crashed and soon it was offered on the website of Safaricom, East Africa’s biggest mobile-phone operator with more than 25 million subscribers.

“This is testament to the fact that an increasing number of users in this market are using high speed data connectivity to access a whole new world of entertainment,” said Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom,

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta booked the band for his inauguration in 2013. “He definitely likes our music. We’ve even played at his last private birthday party,” said Savara Mudigi, drummer, vocalist and producer for the band.

The band, whose members grew up in modest conditions in Nairobi, are now gaining fame across the continent. Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama invited Sauti Sol to play at the West African country’s national holiday in March.

Social media is one of the main driving forces propelling Sauti Sol to African and worldwide audiences, according to band manager Marek Fuchs.

“Cheaper handsets and data plans have allowed the fans to be continuously in touch with the group and we strive to give them a dynamic and interactive story to follow every day,” he said.

Sauti Sol has a dedicated social media team who, along with the band members themselves, run campaigns on Twitter and Facebook, competitions on Instagram, instrument tutorials, Q&As and behind-the-scenes snippets on Snapchat and YouTube.

“We also have to adjust our strategy to fit the local context, language and time zones. It is a balancing act between posting for our traditional Kenyan base, our pan-African and worldwide fan base in different time zones,” he said.

Willis Austin Chimano, a vocalist, said this strategy is new for Africa.

“You’ve got to get with the times. More and more Africans are online, on their phones, using social media and that’s where we are,” he said.

Despite their international successes Sauti Sol remain with their feet firmly on Kenyan soil. The band members say their latest album is an ode to loving and loathing the good and bad of Kenya and the continent.

 

*Source AP/Washington Post

 

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The rising stars of a $31 billion industry
May 24, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Nosmot Gbadamosi*

160513163452-fashion-cities-africa-8-exlarge-169African fashion has always been known for its daring use of color, from acid oranges to luminous blues. When Michelle Obama wore a top by Nigerian designer Maki Oh during her Africa tour in 2013, it was assumed the world’s eyes were finally on the continent as a serious contender for fashion’s emerging markets.

Now, a new exhibition and book explore fashion and street style in four major African cities – Johannesburg, Casablanca, Lagos and Nairobi.
“I wanted to capture a sense of the breadth and scope of the African fashion Renaissance through the prism of these four cities,” says the book’s editor, Hannah Azieb Pool.
“Lagos, with its love of glamor, is turning into a real fashion powerhouse, Joburg has that edge that makes London look sleepy, Nairobi is super creative and Casablanca’s scene is small but distinctive.”
Fashion Cities Africa, which the book is named after, will be the first major exhibition of contemporary African fashion to be showcased in the U.K.
Sub-saharan Africa’s apparel and footwear market is reportedly worth $31 billion according to data byEuromonitor. Labels such as Nigeria’s Maki Oh – recently worn by Beyonce, Jewel By Lisa and Ikiré Jones are establishing themselves as international brands beyond the continent.
Kenya-based designers like Adele Dejak, Anthony Muli and Ami Doshi “are re-framing what it means to be an ‘African’ designer”, explains Pool. “They constantly make beautiful jewelry and accessories that challenge the notion that Africa ‘doesn’t do luxury'”, she adds.
160518130534-fashion-cities-africa-23-exlarge-169How do Africa’s trendsetters compete with the runways of Milan, New York and Paris? Annual events such as Lagos Fashion Week, launched in 2011, provide opportunities for burgeoning talents to present their work to larger markets says Adebayo Oke-Lawal.
He is the designer behind Orange Culture, an androgynous Lagos based street wear brand. Oke-Lawal’s self-funded debut at Lagos Fashion Week led to his nomination as one of 30 designers for the LVMH prize in 2014.
“Africa is making huge strides in being able to provide a sustainable offering to the fashion industry”, says Oke-Lawal. “People are more willing to support upcoming brands and designers — the Bank of Industry and NEPC for example. Manufacturing has also rapidly improved”, he adds, “textile factories are popping up.”
In South Africa, Tanzanian-born Anisa Mpungwe is behind womenswear label Loin Cloth & Ashes. She became the first black woman to win the Elle New Talent Award in 2008. “My views, conflicts and triumphs affect how I conceptualize my clothes. I am modern, liberal and outspoken in one hand but will still kneel when greeting my elders, a custom I never want to rub off. I see Loin Cloth & Ashes story in the same light,” says Mpugwe.

Unapologetic attitude

160513170529-fashion-cities-africa-11-exlarge-169Mpugwe believes the continent is “not afraid of patterns and colors, that’s the one thing that we do in our sleep, so we use it to be louder amongst our foreign friends”.
Describing Johannesburg’s street style, she says being politically aware about race and sexuality is key: “There is an unapologetic attitude and sense of pride in identity, whether condoned or not”.
For those thinking of getting clothes made in Africa, Pool has collated useful advice within the book on navigating its sprawling markets.
“Avoid Senegalese tailors in Abidjan. Things are rushed, and not well finished”, according to Nairobi writer Binyavanga Wainaina, “Lagos tailors are the best when you need simple [things] done well and fast – even in front of you. Carry photos and clear drawings of what you need”.
*CNN.‘Fashion Cities Africa’ by Hannah Azieb Pool (Intellect Press) is out now and the exhibition atBrighton Museum & Art Gallery in the U.K. runs through January 2017.
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P-Square crisis: Peter Okoye unveils new stage name, management
March 15, 2016 | 0 Comments

 

Peter Okoye

Peter Okoye

Confirming the breakup between Africa’s pop duo, P-Square, one-half of the talented entertainers, Peter Okoye of P-square has officially unveiled his new stage name as MrP and contact details of his new management.

Peter who now preferred to be called MrP, made the revelation about his change of name and management on his official Twitter account on Monday .

Recall that Peter recently performed in Dubai with the new stage name, Mr P.

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From Motivational Speaker to Author, Oliver Asaah hits the music circuit
March 9, 2016 | 0 Comments

-Debut Album launch set for March 26, 2016 in Bowie,MD

By Ajong Mbapndah L

12742656_10209051099663136_5689792197075527808_nBuilding on his motivational speaking and book writing prowess, Oliver Asaah is taking his creative genius a notch higher with the imminent launch of his debut album titled “Life is Not a Given.” Music has always been part of me says Oliver as he talks passionately about preparations for his album launch on March 2016 in Bowie,MD, books and post album projects

Mr. Oliver Asaah, we understand you are launching your maiden album later in March; can you introduce the album and its contents for us?

The album goes under the name Oliver T. Asaah (Minka Systems). Minka Systems is a band in the making. The title of the album is: “Life Is Not A Given”. The album is diversified in music genres and it has eight tracks plus three instrumentals with philosophical ideas and proverbs. The Minka Systems is part of my Triple Plate organization; Wealth Pool Industries. Minka Systems is the music arm, Minka Series is the writing arm and Minka Inspire is the speaking, training and coaching arm. I realized that in life, you never really get satisfaction until you do the things that are your strength and passion. That’s why I went back to my core talents (speaking, writing and music), after doing so many activities in life.

May be a story will drive the message home. I started my public speaking in secondary school as Master of Ceremony and others. In 1996, I was the Douala Chapter general secretary and also the National General Secretary of Seat of Wisdom Ex-students Association (SWESA). The college was celebrating its 30th anniversary that year and I was slotted to deliver a keynote at the symposium. The topic was: “How to meet SWESANS out of college”. A lot of ex-students were not active in SWESA. When I examined the topic, I realized that it could be interpreted in two ways: what can we do to meet SWESANS out of college or what does meeting SWESANS out of college means to us? I decided to choose the former interpretation to bring ideas on how to encourage and attract more SWESANs to participate in the association. If more SWESANs were engaging in the association, it would give more meaning to the latter interpretation.

Anyway, I delivered a landmark speech at that event. When it was time for questions and answers and observations from the big and diversified audience, Mr. Joseph Nkwokro Nojang of blessed of memory was second to take the floor and was in awe of the ideas in the speech. Then a setback came from Miss Gen Dube, the able principal of the college at the time. In her words which I remember like yesterday she stated: “Oliver, that was a great speech, but I am afraid the college students sitting there did not quite get your message; the level was a little too high for them”. I hit my chest and that remark shaped my future speaking engagements. Remember, I had just graduated from law school. After that day, I always size up my audience and that determines my choice of words and expressions in my speaking engagements.

So what genre of music have you worked on for the album and what are the messages you seem to send across?

I worked on several genres in this premier album. This is salsa, soul, makossa, zouk, Hiphop-rap and classic rock. Often people take life for granted and wait for their desires to happen to them; it is a fallacy and a fantasy. Your desires and aspirations must be carved into a dream and then laid out step by step into achievable goals using the SMARTER Goal concept.

Next, you design a strategy or a road map on how to accomplish them. Step out of your comfort zone and take massive action irrespective of all stumbling blocks that may belie your route to success. This is what COMFORT means to me: Come over Merely for Open Rapport Trail. ZONE (Zenith Offsets Needed Effort).

Your dream therefore must be so big you spend your entire life pursuing it. That is the only way not to assume that you have reached the zenith at any point in time and start resting on your laurels. The album therefore is filled with motivational ideas and strategies to advance in life, seek teamwork and that we are complementary to each other.

A few expressions we see in some of the promotional content, Minka systems, what does it mean?

12804793_10209252830106271_8475695087948101274_nMinka Systems is my musical band in the making. It is one of the three arms of the Wealth Pool Industries as mentioned earlier. The March 26 launch event is a red carpet event with lots of celebrities and VIPs coming from about 15 states, Canada and Europe.

And a little more about you, how did Oliver Asaah get into music?

My father, Asaah Fominka, later Nkemamin, had a big compound on top of the hill, in his gigantic fenced compound. He was a farmer rearing goats and sheep. Early in the morning he would make a sound and all the animals would assemble in the yard and he would give them salt before letting them off into the fields to feed. One fateful morning when I was about 6 years old, I was standing at the veranda as he performed the animal salt ritual. I sighted an airplane flying in the sky and imagined that passengers on board were singing a song and enjoying themselves. I instantly composed a song and started singing and dancing to my own composition. As the song reached its climax, I sang and danced all the more. As I nodded back and forth in my excitement, I did not notice a big ram approach. I assume the ram thought I was challenging him to knock horns so it came straight at me and knocked me off balance. I landed on my back among the animals. Dazed and confused, I thought it was my brother Columbus who had pushed me over. But on looking around, Columbus was nowhere in the vicinity. Rather it was my father who stood there having a good laugh.

I learned my lesson; but that didn’t stop me from singing and dancing. I just had to make sure there was no ram around to knock me off. That is to say music has always been in my blood. I took this same spirit to secondary school with competitions in which I excelled and earned multiple nicknames. I am thinking of writing a book on nicknames and their influence on people and society.

What were some of the challenges you faced in the production of this Album?

Like every new endeavor and industry you get involved, there is a lot to learn especially if you want to leave a mark. Learning the process of music production, finding the money; without a sponsor, it is tough. I am a music junkie and I am talented in multiple music genres so it becomes challenging to decide what genre to settle on. That’s why this premier album is so much diversified leaving my audience and fans to have a feel of the menu I offer and decipher which meal is most appetizing to them per my strengths. Nevertheless, I love salsa and really want to fill the gap left by my friend Pierre Tchana after his passing years ago. I will ex-ray the Lebialem culture and tradition and finally I tackle the business community with a new music application which brings success principles, strategies and motivation to the entrepreneurs in music form. I want all entrepreneurs to dance and feel their dreams, goals and aspirations to manifestation like never before.

We also understand that you are an author; can you tell us something about the books you have written?

Oh yes, writing is a passion and a talent for me. I have been writing since secondary school, but never really published until 2010. I have a great collection of poems not yet published. I coauthored my first book in 2010, with other authors: “The Arts and Science of Success”. It is a compendium of success strategies shared by multiple writers. My contribution in the book was the strategy I used to reprogram my subconscious mind which I decided to share to the benefit of anyone who dares to use it. This was a precursor to my first solo book, “The Broken Bond” published and launched in 2014.

The Broken Bond is an attempt to tame the beast ravishing relationships especially among Africans in the diaspora stemming from my personal experience from a broken relationship. The Broken Bond therefore is a true story. It is making news in readers’ circles and on amazon.com. It is a relationship handbook whether you are unmarried and vying for a relationship,( the dating curve) in the book will guide you; if you divorced and just want to live a single life, the chapter on individualism, Leave the Fetters Behind, Flowers of life and more will help you; if you are married and your marriage is suffering, chapters like letting go, 5 Cs of relationships, the 10 commandments of relationships, Flowers of life and more will help you; if you are married and want to take your marriage to another level, chapters like: what God put together, True thriller stories, Little Drops of Care, and more will help you or if you just want to motivate and inspire your life using a holistic approach, chapters on the subconscious mind, effective communication, and more will help you . If you want to learn about Lebialem marriage culture and more, chapters like: Atayo Syndrome, marriage contract in Nweh, Courting process, Nucleus of family and more will help you. I share some of the principles and strategies I personally use to do the things I do.

Where does Oliver Asaah get his inspiration, to write his books, and now a musical album?

My inspiration started from my parents who are my role models. Interestingly, my father Nkemamin formerly Asaah Fominka and my mother Emerencia Agendia both of blessed memory did not go to school but knew the value of education and their characters exerted tremendous influence on me. I learned a lot from my parents growing up. The most important and memorable lesson from my father was and remains to never be envious, jealous of or belittle other people’s belongings; instead, to emulate and even do better than them.

Oliver Asaah with a copy of the Broken Bond.Copies of the book will be on sale at the album launch

Oliver Asaah with a copy of the Broken Bond.Copies of the book will be on sale at the album launch

Another very vital lesson, he gave me was and is to be accountable and always know that trust in someone or something does not exclude crosschecking to make sure all is well. One day, he handed me some money as part of my tuition when I was in Our Lady Seat of Wisdom. When I tried to shove the money into my pocket, he yelled at me so hard I nearly passed out. I had not counted the money in front of him to confirm the amount.   He advised me to always count money that is given to me right there in front of whoever gave to me to make sure the amount was accurate. I learned hard work, selflessness, and humility from my mother. I then sharpened the foundation I got from my parents with my own reading, listening, attending conferences, hosting events as MC for decades; everywhere I go, I set a goal for myself to bring back at least one new idea to add to my own portfolio.

When I was in Seat of Wisdom College, still in Form one, every day during evening studies, I read the dictionary for the first ten minutes. That exercise, took my vocabulary through the roof. My writing and speaking gave me the nickname: “Bombastic or Verbose”. At one time, I was always selected to give an intention or prayer in church every Sunday. I didn’t know why until a classmate of mine overheard Form five students gossiping my name after church. I was in Form three then. They were praising the way I framed the prayer and Richard, ran to me right away asking me: “Esoh”, (meaning Buddy), “do know why you are chosen to give an intention in church every Sunday?” “No”, I said, “The form five students use that to learn new words and expressions from your writing”, he concluded. We laughed over and sure that encouraged me to do more.

About the album launch itself, can you share some more details on the event, venue, cost of participation, guest appearances and what participants should expect?

This Premier Album Launch is a red carpet mega event. It is the most important event in my life all things considered. I believe in celebrating life unlike death. Everyone that could come to my funeral should show up at this event. Another story; about thirty years before my father died, he summoned all his son-in-laws to give his burial clothing rites. In Lebialem culture, when your father-in-law dies, you are obliged to give a blanket for his burial. His philosophy was that out of his 25 children, the majority were girls and he did see how useful those many blankets would be on his passing on. They gave the blankets; he summoned his friends, shared most of them among them and kept two for himself. That is a great example of celebrating life as opposed to death. There are so many celebrities and VIPs attending this great event. Beauty pageants, like Miss Africa USA, Miss Guinea North America, Miss Cameroon USA, as well numerous actors, actresses, film makers, artists, designers, entrepreneurs, and people of all works of life and cultures are confirmed attending.

The event takes place on March 26, 2016 at the West Bowie Event Center, 13711 Old Annapolis Road, Bowie, Maryland, 20720, USA. From 6 PM – 8 PM, Red Carpet and champagne time. 8PM – 3 AM, Show time. Free all you can eat buffet and beverages. There will be a cash bar with a professional Bar Tender to Mix and Brew all kinds of drinks like you would find a standard bar. I will perform with dancers and backup singers. Featuring artists are Roxana Tazifor, MC Chido and Jaajo Mbadi. The DJ is I MEDI run by Mr. Amstrong Ikoh Awani. The videographer is Mr. Ako Richie of Cyber Globus all the way from Dallas TX. We plan on Live streaming the event so people can watch it worldwide over the internet. We will make the link available by the event date on the Minka Systems facebook page, e-groups and so on.

The Regular admission fee is $25.00 and VIP will donate at the event. There are other great options like the early bird registration package available on Event Brite link where people can register in advance online and bring their receipts to the event. Here is the link:

What next for Oliver after the music album?

After the launch, Oliver Asaah and the Minka Systems is ready for bookings and tours, We perform at cultural and business conventions, anniversaries, birth days, weddings, graduations, and all kinds of events. We already have four bookings in May and June 2016. We will do events in cities in USA, Canada and Europe in 2016. We are doing concerts in Cameroon in December, 2016 starting in Menji, charity begins at home. We plan on doing East and West Africa tours in 2017. I am already working on the next album, I have 300 songs composed. I am currently working on 6 books and plan to publish one book in 2016. Starting March 26, 2016, the Wealth Pool Industries triple plate is open for business: Speaking, Writing and Music. We need your support because we cannot do this alone.

Good luck with the launch and thanks for granting the interview

The pleasure is mine and I hope you come with your media friends to join us at the event.

 

 

 

 

 

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Opinion piece: Kenya and South Africa in the arts
November 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Ms Zukiswa Wanner*

hqdefaultA fair share of both of South Africa and Kenya’s taxes come from artists. Beyond artists themselves, there are also many people who may not be artists but are employed because of art be they curators, printers, publishers, instrumentalists and even weavers. As part of my research for the presentation, I talked to artists from both countries.

I realized that our problems are similar. In both countries, artists are taxed as full-time employees while unable to access the sort of perks that full-time employees like insurance or loans because they earn in an irregular manner. There is also a lack of appreciation and a constant need for ‘free’ stuff from artists as though artists don’t eat and don’t need a roof over their heads for some animal allegedly called ‘publicity.’

The good news is, despite this, the artists have not been dissuaded from creating. Between Kenya and South Africa, collaborations have, in fact, been happening. The main fields that artists in the two countries have been working together on are in literature, visual arts, music, performing arts, fashion and there seems to be room for working together in film, as I shall explain further. Our two national public relations companies, Brand SA and Brand Kenya have unfortunately not been as aware of it as they should be so that they can amplify the message to art lovers in both Kenya and South Africa from our two different countries.

Kenyan writers have participated in literary festivals in Durban, Franschhoek, and Open Book in Cape Town.  I suspect as Kenyans continue to write, this will continue happening. There is also a reciprocal relationship with Storymoja with South African writers coming through for the last three years through funding from the South African High Commission. Beyond attending literary festivals, Kenyans have participated in pan-African literary initiatives that are of South African origin. One that comes to mind is Short Story Day Africa (SSDA) which was first won by Kenya’s Okwiri Oduor who went on to win the Caine Prize with her winning SSDA story. This year, two Kenyans, Wairimu Muriithi and Florence Onyango are on the long list for SSDA while the judging panel of three includes Billy Kahora of Kwani.

In visual arts, Kenyan artists such as Michael Soi and Magdalene Odundo have previously done workshops or residencies in South Africa.  I recall a conversation with Ms. Odundo, who incidentally helped me shape the main character in my last novel London Cape Town Joburg, where she informed me that she had done some workshops in Durban and had also visited spaces like the Walters Gallery in Franschhoek.  South African artists have also been guests of Kenya and I am selfish enough to hope that one of my compatriots wins the residency that Kuona Trust is currently advertising for fellow Africans.

This year alone, Kenyan music fans have danced to South African musicians Simphiwe Dana, Jonathan Butler (yes. Contrary to what an opposition newspaper stated last week, he is not American but is in fact South African) and most recently Mi Casa. Prior to this, at least half the participants of Muthoni DQ’s Blankets & Wine have been South African participants.

South Africa has also been lucky to have Eric Wainaina as one of the headline acts for Africa Day celebrations previously. But, as one of the participants at the Dialogue mentioned, there is room for more collaboration in this particular field. Beyond once-off performances by artists in our respective countries, our musicians can have the type of musical collaborations that have been happening between South African and Nigerian musicians. The same participant also suggested that artists could also stay beyond their event dates and do workshops at the two Kenyan universities that offer music – Daystar and Kenyatta universities.

Last year, I was honoured to see Mshai Mwangola perform at a literary festival in South Africa. This was despite the fact that I have known Mshai in Kenya for a while and had never seen her perform. As we share some similar stories as Africans, one hopes we can see more Kenyan stories performed on South African stages and vice-versa, particularly now that the Kenyan National Theatre is available to artists again. Currently there is an initiative called LongStoryShort in South Africa where writers from all over the continent have written short stories that are performed by South African artists monthly to a non-paying public.

The performers have included Renate Stuurman, Hlubi Mboya and Lindiwe Mashikiza, among others. Curated by Yewande Omotoso and Kgauhelo Dube, this initiative has made literature accessible to an audience that may otherwise not know of all the writers included. While LongStoryShort currently doesn’t have any Kenyan writers, hopefully, they will have some next year.

In fashion, South Africa’s clothing chain store Mr Price, in partnership with Elle Magazine’s Rising Star Design Search engage home-grown talent to produce for their shops. If this chain is going to work for Kenya’s fashion industry, perhaps they can suggest that the owners of the local franchise to do the same with local designers. It does not do the Kenyan fashion industry any favours.

As mentioned before, there is room for work to be done in the world of film. Although Kenyan filmmakers have participated in South Africa’s Durban International Film Festival and the movie Nairobi Half Life won an award, more can be done. As I understand it, Kenya Film Commission (KFC) and South Africa’s National Film and Video Foundation signed an agreement to work together at the Cannes Film Festival over a year ago.

Unfortunately this is the sort of deal that many of my filmmaker friends in Kenya and South Africa do not seem to know anything about. I wonder whether there is any way that an initiative like this one could be publicized so that more filmmakers get to know about it.

.*Author is a South African journalist and novelist.This presentation was given during the Dialogue session that Brand SA hosted in Nairobi. The Dialogue was held under theme, Towards Agenda 2063: The Ties that Bind Us.

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Ailing Artist Lisa T receives Support from Cameroon Musicians In USA
November 1, 2015 | 1 Comments

Docta Washiwara on scene at the Lisa T solidarity concert Docta Washiwara on scene at the Lisa T solidarity concert[/caption] The Cameroon Musicians Association of USA (CAMUSA), threw its support behind ailing Makossa star Lisa T with a solidarity concert on October 30th that raised $2,250:00. Based on the current exchange rate, the sum of  cfa 1,314,178  was wired to Liza T whose deteriorating health had become a cause for concern. Backed by a live band, Nelly Luv, Adèle Clarice, Annie Vadivas, Sister Comfort, B-1, Alexis, Amisa Assima, Ngando Black le Bukan, Paco, Tof Gone, Fifi Ribana, Aristide, Aloys, Yenikah, Kobo, Pregnon, and Docta Washiwara were amongst the musicians who took turns to thrill the public with scintillating music at the Maison Africaine Lounge. “CAMUSA thought it wise to express solidarity with an accomplished artist like Lisa T in her challenging moments,” said Docta Washiwara the President of the group.  Docta Washiwara described the evening as a success and in a bid to ensure transparency, the contributions were tallied in full view.   [caption id="attachment_22035" align="alignright" width="300"]Talented singer Adele Clarice was part of the event Talented singer Adele Clarice was part of the event.[/caption] Asked why CAMUSA was organizing such an evening even when Samuel Eto’o is said to have volunteered to foot the medical bills of Liza T, Docta Washiwara said beyond the medical bills, Liza T needs support with feeding, lodging and other sundry expenses to help her get back in shape. The CAMUSA President also announced that the group was working on a common a project to release an album as its contribution in the fight against Boko Haram. In a facebook post two days after the event, Washiwara confirmed that the amount collected was effectively wired to Lisa T. Supporting CAMUSA in the solidarity event were PJM Productions whose promoter Marechal Tiano was the MC, and the Maison Africaine Lounge .        ]]>

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Arts and culture, an alternative to grow African economies
October 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Dasmani Laary*

  [caption id="attachment_21929" align="alignleft" width="480"]A woman poses in Brett Bailey's art installation A woman poses in Brett Bailey’s art installation[/caption] Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) governments have been urged to shift their focus from timber, cocoa and minerals exports, and introduce relevant polices and funding into arts and culture to rapidly expand their economies. “Giving meaning to the role of arts and culture manifested in traditional music, dance, clothing and drama can earn countries billions of dollars to spur growth and create jobs,” culture experts meeting in Ghana’s capital, Accra said. The stakeholders from Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Cote d’Ivoire are discussing the status of culture and arts sector in West Africa and the potential for growth and development under the EU-ECOWAS economic partnership agreement. The culture and creative arts industry is said to be the fastest growing sector of the world economy, with estimated growth rate of 7 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product. “This growth is accounted for by rapid techno-economic change in products manufacturing distribution and marketing and the increasing commercialising of intellectual property in the digital world,” director of the Centre for Cultural and African Studies of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Vesta Adu-Gyamfi said. “Member countries ought to strengthen exchanges and co-operation between cultural entrepreneurs and artistes from West Africa and Europe to promote trade between the two regions.” The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Culture Organisation (UNESCO) also reports that world trade of creative goods and services recorded $624 billion in 2011, more than doubling between the years 2002 and 2011. The growth in developing country exports of the sectors’ services averaged 12 per cent annually between 2002 and 2011, but analysts say West African governments pay lip service to that area and failed to exploit its economic benefits. “Culture is a powerful tool for poverty eradication, helping to meet the ambitious goal to reduce the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day to 3 per cent of the population by 2030,” UNESCO said in a statement to welcome participants from the West African sub region. “Governments have been paying lip service to the cultural sector, but it is very important they see the cultural sector the same way as they see agriculture, mining industry or crude oil and to come out with relevant policies,” team leader of ACP Cultures Plus Culture Policy project told The Africa Report. “If you are investing in the mines to get value out of it or crude oil or oil ore to get value, you should also similarly invest in the cultural sector to get value, so governments should come up with relevant policies as well as provide funding to grow the sector,” Chris Addy Nayo said. “Our culture is rich, very rich, more than some of these foreign products we tend consume,” he said, but the problem had been about the quality stemming from standardisation and packaging issues. “The same way governments invest in other products in the market, they must also respond to these challenges (faced by culture and arts) to ensure our culture and creative arts are packaged nicely to attract foreign taste and bring in the necessary income,” Nayo said. “Foreign cultures attract us not because they are better than ours but because they pay attention to these things.” ECOWAS members were called upon to support artistes with training and offer them opportunities to collaborate with international partner organisations to help quality, standardisation and packaging. Cultural and creative industries offer countries the opportunity to diversify, expand and strengthen national economies, thereby contributing to the reduction of social inequalities. The experts claimed that with over 1 billion people travelling around the world in 2012, the relationship between tourism and culture provides a unique opportunity to contribute to inclusive economic growth. *Source African Report
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Launch of an International Artists’ Coalition for the General History of Africa
October 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

downloadAn international coalition involving artists in the promotion of the General History of Africa will be launched at UNESCO on 7 October (6 p.m., Room IX). The coalition will help young people use the unique instrument that the History represents in recounting the continent’s past from an African perspective. Participants at the launch will include the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, Cameroon’s Ambassadeur and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Lejeune Mbella Mbella, and Ray Lema, musician and spokesperson for the Coalition of Artists for the General History of Africa. The international coalition aims to mobilize artists from all fields of creativity and have them contribute to the promotion in the media, online and through their social networks, of the work carried out within the framework of the General History of Africa. The members of the coalition will sign a Declaration in which they will undertake to disseminate the teachings of this History among the general public, take part in UNESCO activities concerning the programme and favour cooperation among the fellow artists within the coalition. Launched in 1964, the General History of Africa project was established to disencumber the continent’s narrative from stereotyping linked to slavery and colonialism. Over the years, the project has enjoyed the contribution of some 350 experts from different disciplines: history, linguistics, anthropology, musicology, archaeology and more. Their work has been published in eight volumes to date. *Source APO/UNESCO]]>

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Ghana's anti-corruption blockbuster film draws crowds
October 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

Investigative reporter Anas Aremeyaw Anas remains incognito by covering his face in public Investigative reporter Anas Aremeyaw Anas remains incognito by covering his face in public[/caption]

It has all the ingredients of a Hollywood blockbuster but the tale of sex, money and corruption that is gripping Ghanaian cinema-goers is a three-hour documentary that purports to expose judicial corruption.

The film has led to arguably one of the biggest scandals in the country’s history and has shaken the foundations of the judiciary. Investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas made it after two years of undercover work in which he gathered 500 hours of raw footage. It appears to show judges and court workers taking bribes from litigants, as well as some demanding sex, to manipulate justice.

Free screenings

Allegations have been made against 34 judges, as well as dozens of other court officials, in evidence that was handed to President John Mahama and Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood. The chief justice launched an investigation into the 22 lower court judges, and is considering what to do about the 12 high court judges. Lawyers for 14 of the accused judges have denied the allegations and the High Court has dismissed their attempt to get the investigation suspended. The other accused judges have yet to comment in public. The film – Ghana in the eyes of God; Epic of Injustice – has been shown in the capital, Accra, and is now being screened for free across the country. [caption id="attachment_21203" align="alignright" width="624"]The screenings have filled auditoriums in the capital and it premieres in Kumasi on Friday The screenings have filled auditoriums in the capital and it premieres in Kumasi on Friday[/caption] Mr Anas has opted for public screenings rather than a television broadcast because media companies have been threatened with legal action if they do show it. But he wants as many people as possible to see the work as he told me he believes “justice is for the people, let them see what justice means in this country”.

Who is Anas Aremeyaw Anas?

  Anas Aremeyaw Anas is something of an enigma, as he is never seen in public without a disguise. His fans call him a modern-day folk hero or the “James Bond of journalism” for his work in exposing alleged corruption and malpractice in Ghana and beyond. In his 15 years of undercover journalism he has among other disguises, posed as a female investor in high heels, sunglasses and lipstick, and a janitor in a brothel. He has also secreted himself inside a fake rock placed at the side of the road with a peep hole for his eyes. In his work he has exposed a human trafficking racket, corruption in the police and malpractice in a food processing plant. He argues that “there is no point in doing journalism, if it does not lead progress in your society”. Before becoming a journalist, Mr Anas worked as a lawyer for two years. Unsurprisingly, the judges featured in the film are not keen for it to be shown, and a case has been filed to restrain cinemas and other venues from allowing their facilities to be used to screen the film. But this has so far been ignored.

Mocking laughter

Justice Paul Uuter Dery has filed a new suit at the Supreme Court seeking to stop the investigations into the judges. He wants the court to declare that the material gathered cannot be used, as Ghana’s constitution guarantees that evidence in a case relating to the removal of a judge should be heard in camera – in other words behind closed doors – and Mr Anas has already shown it in public. The documentary itself is taken from Mr Anas’s hours of secret filming, hence the shaky camera work and poor sound quality. _85629071_apesr9-_vp4mjk22nepfx9qtghtzc_lbe_kkzmzg1hggIt shows various judges talking to litigants, sometimes in a car and sometimes in what appears to be an office or a home setting. Money is seen changing hands and there are also scenes showing people having sex. What cannot be confirmed is whether the people being featured are being bribed or whether they were offered sex in exchange for a favour in court. When I saw it, the audience greeted much of what they saw with shouts of anger and mocking laughter, especially during the sex scenes. There were also long periods of silence as the viewers were digesting the implications of what they were seeing. As screenings of the film are set to continue and Ghanaians eager to see the film, this scandal is not going away. Given that some of the judges are fighting back using the courts, this could also be a long-running saga of courtroom gymnastics. Meanwhile Mr Anas is being feted by some as a national hero, his critics see him as a lawless citizen invading people’s privacy and unfairly tarnishing their reputation. *Source BBC]]>

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Award Winning Actor Kang Quintus x-rays health care travails of Undocumented immigrants in latest movie
September 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

REJECTED Set for World Premiere on October 24th By Ajong Mbapndah L [caption id="attachment_20950" align="alignleft" width="300"]Kang Quintus Kang Quintus[/caption] Being an undocumented immigrant is often times  miserable, in the midst of that you are diagnosed with cancer and with no health insurance , how do you cope? Get the answers from REJECTED, the latest production from Quinsia Films and Award winning actor Kang Quintus. Set to premiere on October 24th, the movie offers insight into the untold stories and traumatic experiences that many illegal immigrants go through when it comes to health care in the USA. “This has been my most challenging project so far,” said Kang in an interview with PAV on the movie and the upcoming premiere. A lot of people will relate to the experiences as there originate from a real life story, says Kang, who assembled an international cast for the movie. The World Premiere of your latest movie REJECTED is set for October 24, what is this latest movie about? “REJECTED” is the story of KUM – an undocumented immigrant who is diagnosed with cancer in the most powerful nation on earth (USA). Undocumented with no social security and health insurance, he is rejected by the system and left to die. His struggle for survival takes him into a soul searching process which stirs up extraordinary capabilities in him that he never imagined. “REJECTED” is a movie that will serve as a voice for the voiceless. A voice for a lot of immigrants in this country who are going through similar situations. What message does REJECTED send and is it just another work of fiction or it ties it with daily realities people live today? 11930814_1481447215514171_6827624726183152583_o“REJECTED” is a story that a lot of people will relate to. It is a real life story but I added a little bit of fiction to it, to create some suspense and adapt it to the screen. A lot has been said and written about medical insurance in the USA but there is also the need to look at it from the angle of undocumented immigrants. What happens when you are undocumented and you get diagnosed with a deadly diseases? These people have no jobs or are probably doing underground jobs to survive. They barely struggle to provide for themselves or their families and most of them have no medical insurance or social security. When they are diagnosed with a deadly disease like cancer, what happens? This and many more would be answered in REJECTED. Can you introduce the cast of the Rejected for us? The main cast of REJECTED are: John Dumelo, Kang Quintus, Sahndra Fon Dufe, Donald Imm and Fatima M Cisse. So the cast is international, people from different nationalities and racial backgrounds, how important is this in helping movies like Rejected break into new markets? We wanted this movie to have a multinational cast because it is a story that everyone would relate to, be it; White, Black, Hispanic, Asian etc. REJECTED is an International movie with a diversified cast. Hopefully this will act as a springboard to help us break into new markets. How long did it take to complete the movie and what were some of the challenges that you faced? I must confess that this is my most challenging project so far. It took us about 4 months to complete the filming of “REJECTED”. When we picked up the script, we had a very huge vision for the movie but our resources were limited. We wanted “REJECTED” to match up with many International films or Hollywood films but our financial resources were limited.  It is all thanks to God and to a strong and dedicated team that we were able to complete the filming of “REJECTED”. The trailer we see looks exciting and there is no much difference between the trailer of REJECTED and Hollywood trailers. What strategy will you use in terms of promotion and marketing after the premiere? We have a very strong marketing plan for the film after the first official screening on Oct 24. Hopefully and by the grace of God “REJECTED” will be on Netflix and other distribution channels. On the world Premiere itself, any information on the venue, formalities and side attractions that fans would be treated to? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87S-FPK_Vo8 We are inviting everyone in the USA or CANADA to come have fun with us during the screening of “REJECTED” on October 24, 2015 at the AMC Magic Johnson Theatre in Largo, 800 Shoppers Way, Largo MD 20770. Red carpet will run from 6PM to 7:50PM and the viewing of the film will begin at 8PM. What next for Kang Quintus after Rejected? Any other projects for the rest of the year? We are just getting started. We have a lot in store for our fans and for the world. You will be the first to receive the press releases for our future projects as soon as they become available. Thanks you much for granting this interview Sir. No, thank you for giving me the opportunity. I am very humbled. Keep up the good work PAV and God bless the entire PAV team *Tickets for the premiere of Rejected are available online]]>

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Kenya: Lupita Nyong'o on Raising Children, Embracing Fashion and Being Kenyan
September 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

rtx17b4rThe ’12 Years a Slave’ actress – who has been single since splitting from rapper K’naan last year – has fond memories of her childhood in Kenya, but also loves her life in New York . The Oscar winning actress graces the Vogue cover for a second time for the October issue and talks to Vogue writer, Plum Sykes, about her recent trip to Kenya, family and fashion. Asked whether she’d prefer to raise her family in America or Africa, she said: “This is my conundrum. When I was back in Kenya this past week, I would be driving along with my mother and she would say, ‘That’s a nice school for children’ and look at me like…” However, the 32-year-old star won’t worry about making that decision until she finds the person she wants to have children with. She added in an interview with America’s Vogue magazine: “But I think that will all be determined when I have that moment. When I have that man.” For the time being, Lupita is content with her low-key life in Brooklyn. She said: “I live alone there. I lie quite low. I take the subway. I do yoga. I meditate.” However, she will always feel “a child of Kenya”. She added: “I definitely feel there’s a lot of America in me. “The idea that you can be self-made is very vibrant in America. You can do anything that you want to do. That spirit pushes you on. But it took me leaving Kenya to really appreciate the glory of the place. Ultimately, I will always be a child of Kenya.” *All Africa/Capital FM]]>

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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.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIiIc-y4hWs&feature=youtu.be 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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSNjrcltCRQ&feature=youtu.be   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: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-portrait-movie-premiere-tickets-17819328090?ref=estw]]>

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