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.

 

At the Penn Relays, It’s A Jamaican Thing

April 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

College Women's relay race at the Penn Relays

College Women’s relay race at the Penn Relays

After 51 years of consistent excellence at the Penn Relays, the largest relay competition in the world, it’s really no surprise that Jamaican teams are perennial winners. At the 121st running of the relays this past week at the University of Pennsylvania, teams from Jamaica’s high schools and colleges were winners in the majority of the sprint categories, sometimes taking the top 2, 3, or 4 spots. And even though Team USA got the better of the Jamaicans at most of the USA vs the World Relays, with Justin Gatlin and co. winning big in the 4×100, it was evident that they don’t call Jamaica “the sprint factory” for nothing. If it wasn’t a U Tech team winning the college 4×100 it was Calabar at the front for the high schools. The girls schools and colleges dominated too, with Edwin Allen and the U Tech women sprinting for top honors. So what is it, is sprinting just a Jamaican thing now? What is behind the prolific output of the “sprint factory?” According to some athletes and coaches we spoke to, it comes down to hard work, determination, intense competitiveness, and strong national support. « Read the rest of this entry »

The Divine Comedy: African Artists explore Dante’s Epic at the Museum of African Art

April 11, 2015 § Leave a comment

Aida Muluneh, part of The 99 Series. Photo courtesy the artist

Aida Muluneh, part of The 99 Series. Photo courtesy the artist

What do you envisage when you think of heaven and hell? Most people’s imagination of the afterlife is tied to something written in a novel or depicted on screen. At the Smithsonian’s Museum of African Art until August 2nd you can see a refreshing new take on Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, collected and curated by noted art critic Simon Njami, and featuring a host of contemporary African Artists from the continent and the Diaspora. Divided into themes of Heaven, Purgatory and Hell, the exhibition takes up all three floors of the museum, with art also displayed on the entry pavilion and

Wangechi Mutu, "The Storm has finally made it out of me"

Wangechi Mutu, “The Storm has finally made it out of me”

the stairwells. Forty women and men that include both established and emerging artists have their work displayed here, and it ranges from paintings to textiles to sculpture to collage to photography and video. Well known names like Kenya’s Wangechi Mutu and the UK’s Yinka Shonibare share the space with up and comers like Angola’s Edson Chagas, who was one of the breakout stars at the Venice Biennale in 2013. On Wednesday at the opening of the exhibition, Ethiopian photographer Aida Muluneh (Howard University alum), Egyptian artist Moataz Nasr, Senegalese painter Pélagie Gbaguidi and Benin’s Dmitri Fagbohoun were part of a discussion panel led by the guest curator Simon Njami.

Moataz Nasr, Aida Muluneh and Simon Njami at the opening of The Divine Comedy Exhibition

Moataz Nasr, Aida Muluneh and Simon Njami at the opening of The Divine Comedy Exhibition

(Nasr was later kind and accommodating enough to grant us an interview for Afrofusion TV’s upcoming web series.)

Students and artists alike are invited to submit an original poem inspired by three of the works from the exhibition, by Abdoulai Konaté of Mali, Wangechi Mutu, and Edson Chagas. For more information about submitting work to the contest, go their website. The deadline for submission is April 17. Bless.

%d bloggers like this: