Kick off a new year with era-defining books, film, music, and blogs — curated by leading creatives from New York to Joburg.
Words Nana Ocran
Spoken word artist HKB FiNN, Film Africa co-directors Lindiwe Dovey and Namvula Rennie, online magazine founder Ono Bello, author Nadia Denton and gallery programme manager Stephanie Baptist; these tastemakers have produced a kaleidoscope of artists, exhibitions, albums and books to spark your creative interest and fill your downtime with inspiration.
By HKB FiNN
Poet, writer and Jazz musician HKB FiNN lives between London and Lagos. He’s performed in Jazz festivals in over 44 countries and is currently working on a new album entitled Night Runner. This seasoned traveller gives us his pick of the current crop of new global music. hkbfinn.com
Lionel Loueke Heritage
Benin born guitarist Lionel Loueke bridges cultures with his vibrant new album, Heritage, which radically infuses the world of Jazz with the vibrant melodies and rhythms of 21st century West Africa. Beautifully relaxing, the album features not only his first steel stringed guitar work but also has guest appearances from Jazz luminaries such as Robert Glasper, Gretchen Parlato and many more. Available on iTunes.
Fatoumata Diawara Fatou
Born in Cote d’Ivoire, raised in Paris and classically trained as an actress, talented Malian vocalist Fatoumata Diawara’s album Fatou is packed with classic Wassoulou music. Diawara skillfully covers a range of topics with a gentle verve that helps to make this album a perfect travel companion. Available on iTunes.
Karl Nova Delayed But Not Denied
Karl wows us with his latest album: Delayed But Not Denied. A devoted Christian, Karl’s brand of modern Hip Hop explores the life and trials of being a young Christian as well as celebrating the joys of life. With productions by Nigeria’s own Emmanuel Edwards and guest spots going to the legendary Femi Temowo and the beautiful Ayo-dele, Delayed will keep you bopping well into the night. Available on iTunes.
Bumi Thomas Feather Pearl
Nigerian raised Bumi is a creative force to be reckoned with. A talented singer-song writer with the voice of an angel, she is a rising star who’s taking her unique Afro-Jazz-Folk sound to the world and leaving no stone unturned. Her EP ‘Feather Pearl’ is out now.
Lwanda Gogwana Songbook Chapter 1
With ministerial zeal, this South African Jazz giant leaps into his first album with intense passion and conviction. His deft trumpet playing and engaging compositions seem to denote a much older and experienced performer but Gogwana has only just begun. Prepare to be enthralled, amazed and reminded of the singular power of African music in our modern times.
By Lindiwe Dovey & Namvula Rennie
Co-directors of London’s annual Film Africa festival, Lindiwe Dovey and Namvula Rennie give us the low down on what’s going on in the world of African film and video. filmafrica.org.uk
Jihan El-Tahri’s Cuba: An African Odyssey (2008) uses astounding archival footage and revealing interviews to tell the fascinating, little-known stories of Fidel and Che’s role in the African revolutions in the 1960s. This is a big fat cigar of a film. Rasselas Lakew and Davey Frankel’s fictional portrait of Ethiopian marathon champion Abebe Bikila – The Athlete (2010) – is also unmissable. Both films are available on Amazon.
If you find yourself in South Africa in July 2013, the Durban International Film Festival (cca.ukzn.ac.za) is a must, and is currently Africa’s leading film festival. Or, if you’re heading to Spain in October next year, check out the Cordoba African Film Festival in the heart of Andalusia. It’s the most exciting African film festival in Europe, and Cordoba’s crossroads of cultures makes a perfect home for the many dimensions of African Cinema.
There are now 800 Video-on-Demand platforms globally, and they are growing fast. However, it’s still very difficult to find any African films through these mainstream digital portals. This is all changing though, thanks to BuniTV, AfricaFilms.tv and the M-Net African Film Library, through which you can now watch classic and contemporary African films from the comfort of your lounge.
Books about film
Malian filmmaker, curator and professor Manthia Diawara has a new book out which is an enjoyable and highly readable overview of the state of African film today. African Film: New Forms of Aesthetics and Politics (Prestel) also comes with a DVD of interviews. And Betti Ellerson’s great blog – African Women in Cinema – africanwomenincinema.blogspot.co.uk – will keep you up to date with all the amazing things African women filmmakers are up to.
South African cinematographer Khulekani Zondi taught himself to shoot movies by watching YouTube videos. He reveals his remarkable talent in his first movie, Uhlanga (2012), directed by fellow South African Ndaba ka Ngwane. Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu, who stunned the world with her short African sci-fi film Pumzi (2010), has upcoming adaptations of Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death and Monica Arac de Nyeko’s Jambula Tree that promise to be great.
By Nadia Denton
Author Nadia Denton is currently writing her second book The Nigerian Filmmaker’s Guide to Success: A New Chapter in Nigerian Cinema. Here are her eclectic pick of books to add to your reading list. nadiadenton.com
London Life Lagos Living Bobo Omotayo
This is a witty and entertaining insight into contemporary Lagos life. Through a series of self-reflective vignettes, poems and illustrations, Omotayo ponders social pressures both external and self-imposed. One to have amongst your coffee table books. Available on Amazon.com.
Olympic DNA: Birth of the Fastest Humans Rachael R Irving
Have you ever wondered why the Jamaican athletic team runs so fast and how they’ve managed to outperform more developed and populous nations? This fully illustrated booklet explores the causal factors behind their skills, looking specifically at the transatlantic slave trade and how this caused a genetic adaptation that has produced some of the world’s fastest runners.
The Black British Filmmaker’s Guide to Success: Finance, Market and Distribute Your Film Nadia Denton
This book is a definitive and practical guide to producing independent films. The manual contains interviews with the UK’s forerunning Black British Filmmakers and industry experts. Find out how to raise funds for your project, write a bespoke marketing plan, choose the right festivals for your film and secure a distribution deal.
The Bluest Eye Toni Morrison
This perennially popular novel inadvertently challenges ideals of beauty. An African-American girl wishes for blue eyes in the hope that it will bring her a better life. It’s a classic, and a definite example of one of America’s finest writers at her best, and always a classic. Available on Amazon.com.
WEBSITES & BLOGS
By Ono Bello
Style Director Ono Bello is the founder of the new Nigerian online fashion, media news and entertainment magazine onobello.com. She gives us her pick of a range of websites and blogs.
Since 2009, this ambitious online media project has been steadily nurtured by journalist and publisher Austyn Ogannah. Providing fair, non-biased, fearless and authoritative news and advocacy for good governance, this website is nothing less than revolutionary in terms of Nigerian news portals.
If you simply can’t abide life without knowing what Rihanna, Tom Cruise, Victoria Beckham, Kanye, Kim, or any of the Kardashians have been up to, check out Zimbio for all the latest on who’s doing what, to who and where. Thirty million monthly readers means you’ll be part of a very well informed club.
Say ‘JaH-GooD-AH’ for Nigerian entertainment. This music and entertainment site is packed with news and videos, and also an online radio station for listeners to tap into the beats and rhythms of Nigerian Hip Hop, Gospel, old school and other African sounds.
Art and news hub
A beautifully curated blog that provides a central space for art, news, philosophy, technology, photography, new technology – you name it – coming out of all regions of Africa. Founded by Nairobi and Sydney-based Neva Mwiti, this is a great source of fresh and innovative information from all over the continent.
Calling all foodies. This online food and wine magazine from South Africa provides mainly southern African but also global perspectives on wines, recipes and books from the culinary world. It’s a refreshing site that will give you quite an appetite for stepping into the kitchen.
By Stephanie Baptist
Programme manager at London’s Tiwani Contemporary gallery, Stephanie Baptist gives her thoughts on five artistic choices from her eclectic creative palette. tiwani.co.uk
The Progress of Love exhibition
Running until 27 January 2013 at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Lagos (ccalagos.org), this exhibition explores the question of love through multiple events across various media. Featured artists include Jelili Atiku, Temitayo Ogunbiyi, Andrew Esiebo and Adaora Nwandu (Nigeria), Yinka Shonibare MBE (London), Zina Saro-Wiwa and Wura-Natasha Ogunji (USA), Zanele Muholi (South Africa) and Valérie Oka (Ivory Coast).
Odili Donald Odita
Fresh from exhibiting six site specific installations at Cape Town’s Stevenson Gallery this year, Nigerian born artist Odili Donald Odita continues to dazzle with his huge-scale, colourful and geometric-style murals which have been shown at arts venues in New York, Cincinnati, Arizona, Johannesburg, Switzerland and Venice.
Nathalie Mba Bikoro
Natalie Mba Bikoro is an artist who has graced the Tiwani gallery with her wonderful series of photographic etchings titled The Middle passage: Alice in Wonderland. She also uses performance art in which she appropriates images from archives, popular culture and her own photography to construct an altered visual narrative of time and location.
Marker 2013 exhibition
Art Dubai has invited CCA,Lagos founder and curator Bisi Silva to work with a selection of West African artists to exhibit the outcome of their various mediums in a curated section of the halls at Art Dubai’s gallery. The programme covers the theme of ‘cities in transition’.
Restless City Andrew Dosunmu
Photographer and filmmaker Andrew Dosunmu has created a great film, Restless City, which tells the story of an African immigrant living on the fringes of New York City, hustling through life, falling in love and keeping music as his passion. It showcased at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011 and also at London’s Film Africa festival this year.
Three wondrous coffee table books that anyone would be happy to receive as a gift.
Galembo’s fascination with the masquerade traditions of Africa and its diaspora began twenty five years ago with her first visit to Nigeria. Both traditional West African ceremonies and contemporary fancy dress and carnival feature in this 192-page coffee table book. Divided into chapters by country, the collection questions the survival and evolution of 21st Century masquerade traditions. £19.50 on Amazon, Published by Chris Boot, Chrisboot.com
Snap Judgments: New Positions in Contemporary African Photography
Featuring approximately 250 works by 30 artists from across the African continent, this book presents a range of individual artistic responses to the unprecedented changes taking place in the economic, social, and cultural spheres of African nations. Snap Judgments is divided into four main thematic groups –landscape; urban formations; the body and identity; and history and representation. This unmissable book is written and edited by Nigerian curator and art historian Okwui Enwezor, widely recognised as one of the world’s foremost experts on contemporary African art. $65.00 on Amazon, Published by ICP (International Center of Photography), ICP.org
Store Front, The Disappearing Face of New York
James T. Murray and Karla L. Murray.
Hundreds of images of unique 19th and 20th century retail graphics and neon signs are the face of New York’s retail landscape. But for how long? According to Jim and Karla Murray the influx of chain stores pose a serious threat to these humble institutions. Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York captures the neighborhood spirit, familiarity, comfort and warmth that New York’s shops once embodied. Almost all of the businesses are a reflection of New York’s early immigrant population, a mix of Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians, Poles, Eastern Europeans and later Hispanics and Chinese. Buy the book and preserve the memories.
$17.00 on Amazon.com, Published by Gingko Press, Gingkopress.com