In “Baobab Flowers,” African diaspora women challenge Education Inequality

June 2, 2016 § 1 Comment

BF Still

In the ever changing world of filmmaking, from the technologies used in its creation to the way we view the end product, a few things remain constant. For artists of color the world over, especially those of African descent, one of these is the importance of telling our own stories. Brazilian filmmaker Gabriela Watson obviously takes this very seriously; in her new documentary film Baobab Flowers, she tackles the problem of education inequality from an African Diaspora perspective by following two women high school teachers in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Philadelphia, USA. It is a film that seeks to show the endemic  problem of low quality education in underserved black communities worldwide by focusing on two unrelated women who are nonetheless similar in their approach to teaching and to their relationships with their students, and also in their struggle to overcome such abject inequality. « Read the rest of this entry »

African Arts and Fashion on Display in DC

May 26, 2016 § 2 Comments

AA Fashion Showcase_

AAFWDC Founder Uche Ibezue (l) with Maria, makeup artist.

When Uche Ibezue of Omak Designs started African Arts and Fashion Week DC, her idea was not simply to bring attention to the nation’s capital as a fashion force. Grabbing the attention of the fashion market, both national and global, was an abiding aspiration. Last week, the third annual AAFWDC featured a panel discussion and fashion showcase, and many of the burning issues regarding African fashion were raised.

A few years ago it was nice to see a number of celebrities wearing African print designs to red carpet events worldwide. Famous names like Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Solange Knowles and her sister Beyonce, Angela Simmons, and even Gwen Stefani were all spotted in gowns and complete sets that were made from African prints like Ankara and Kente. The popularity of those designs has since trickled down to the young ones, the rebellious youth that are always finding innovative ways of expressing themselves. In that vein, a young lady “broke the internet” when she created a stunningly beautiful African print gown, posted it on Instagram, and « Read the rest of this entry »

Bodoma Garifuna at the Afro-Latino Festival NYC 2015

July 28, 2015 § Leave a comment

Bodoma Garifuna perform their traditional Garifuna music and dance at the the Afro-Latino Festival NYC

Bodoma Garifuna performs their traditional Garifuna music and dance at the the Afro-Latino Festival NYC

It was the first time the Afro-Latino Festival NYC 2015 had been held over a three-day period, but it was just as well, because Harlem, the Bronx and Brooklyn were all a part of a joyous coming together of Latin Americans celebrating the diversity of Afrodescendente culture. Afrofusion TV made it to Brooklyn on the last day of the festival to capture some scenes for our upcoming segment on Afro-Latino identity, and we were pleased to find a group from Honduras called Bodoma Garifuna Culture Band on the billing. Our interest in the Garifuna goes beyond what we need for our African Diaspora series, though. I’ve always been interested in learning more about Garifuna, a group descended from West and Central Africans, Island Carib, and Arawak peoples that live mostly in the Central American coastal areas of Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and Nicaragua. Diaspora Garifuna communities can « Read the rest of this entry »

A Bunny Mack Retrospective: Sierra Leone’s Music Icon

July 15, 2015 § 2 Comments

"Let Me Love You" single cover

“Let Me Love You” single cover

Let’s just be honest: “Let Me Love You (My Sweetie)” by Bunny Mack has one of the funkiest bass lines ever laid down on a dance track. Composed by Bunny Mack (producer Akie Deen shares writing credits on the song as well), it was a continuation of a style of music he had developed with Deen, where he fused disco with calypso, African and funk grooves. “Let Me Love You (My Sweetie)” became one of the biggest African releases; it made the British pop charts in early 1980, reaching Number 76, and cracked the top 10 dance chart there, where it stayed for about 4 weeks. With its slamming bass line and infectious chorus, the melodic tune became a dance classic throughout the African diaspora, generating in the process a certain confusion about who sang it and which country it originated from. Play it for virtually anyone from the African diaspora, and the odds are that they have either partied to it, or played it themselves if they are DJs. When an African American friend asked me excitedly a few years back if I had heard “this new African song” as she put it, and sang “Let Me Love You,” I had to patiently inform her it’s old, but it’s a classic, and that’s why it seems new.

Bunny Mack with Akie Deen (Photo credit:Sewa News)

Bunny Mack with Sierra Leonean music producer Akie Deen

It has been a few decades now, but I do remember well when Bunny Mack was interviewed by a radio show host back in either late ’79 or early ’80s Sierra Leone. This was fascinating to me because I had never really considered Sierra Leone music in terms of solo artists. We had a bunch of semi-successful bands with decent hits, like Afro National, Sabanoh 75 and Supercombo, and each had solid musicians that were very talented in their own right. But the last really « Read the rest of this entry »

Examining the Intricacies of Afro-Latino Identity

July 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

Milena Carranza, Dash Harris and Gabriela Watson in discussion at Intersections of Afrolatinidad

Milena Carranza, Dash Harris and Gabriela Watson in discussion at Intersections of Afrolatinidad in Focus

Across cultures, darker people suffer most. Why?” That question, displayed on one of Andre 3000’s costumes from the Outkast Tour, may well have been tugging at the United Nations when they declared 2015-2024 the International Decade for People of African Descent. The resolution pledged that it would work harder to fully recognize the contributions of people of African descent to global society, to encourage and promote inclusiveness, and to vigorously combat racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia. As Afrofusion TV prepared a segment on Afro-Latinos as part of our African Diaspora series, we found that this group has had varied success in fighting some of the battles outlined in the UN resolution. Less than 4% of the more than 10 million enslaved Africans ended up in North America; the vast majority was brought to the Caribbean and Brazil. The study of Afro descendants in the Americas, their culture, and their struggle with identity led us to the work « Read the rest of this entry »

Defining the Future of African Writing at PEN World Voices Festival

May 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

Ngugi wa Thiong'O on a panel at the PEN World Voices Festival in New York City

Ngugi wa Thiong’O on a panel at the PEN World Voices Festival in New York City

What will the future of “African Literature” look like? Will there be a better defined space for literature written in African languages? Will there be more books by African Diaspora authors? A wider role, perhaps, for African women writers? These were the questions that came to Afrofusion TV at the PEN World Voices Festival in New York City last week. At the panels we attended, the topic of language kept coming up, with a number of writers discussing the viability and importance of writing in native African languages. I wanted to get the perspective of noted Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong’O, but I was also keen to speak to Senegalese author Boubacar Boris Diop, who teaches Wolof Literature, and is the author of one of the few books in modern times to be written in the Wolof language, Doomi Golo (2006). The festival this year chose Africa as its focus, and was co-curated by celebrated Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who delivered the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write closing night lecture. The intent, according to festival organizers, was to showcase a diverse group of writers from around the African continent and the diaspora; writers and poets from Congo-Brazzaville, « Read the rest of this entry »

Video Preview: Jamaican Dominance at the Penn Relays

May 10, 2015 § 1 Comment

I promised to release a preview clip of our visit to the 2015 Penn Relays that we attended last month at the University of Pennsylvania. Here is a short clip we threw together, featuring some of the fans, athletes, coaches and other supporters we were able to talk to at the event. Look out for the full segment later, which is part of an upcoming series on Afrofusion TV. Big up to Team Jamaica Bickle and Caribbean Food Delights for all they do to support Jamaican and other Caribbean athletes at the Penn Relays. Bless.

 

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