“Africa is not a country” is an imaginative do away with your stereotypes-campaign that is carried out on social media by the African Students Association of New York’s Ithaca College. The idea basically is to have ethnically different people posing being wrapped into different African national flags, each being accompanied with a slogan that addresses a cliché perceived to be quite typical for ‘westerners’.
Just before christmas, The Guardian in its series “christmas ghost stories” has released a wonderful short story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, called “Ofodile” – read it here. It is, in short, about an either ever crying or sleeping male child and how his mother deals with him. I would say it is, as usually, an absolutely amazing piece of Adichies writing, however pretty terrifying and also somewhat disturbing. It is also very much open to interpretation, I think. One of the story’s most interesting aspects to me were the weird feelings and the thereby caused scratching of limbs and face that were imposed on anyone entering Ofodiles room – except for his sister in the end. Are these ‘ghosts’ the bad conscience, pouncing on the mother for giving her son sedatives that she declared as vitamins? And: did the father have notice of that?
On the lookout for a new calendar for 2014? Then this might be just for you: the beautiful Kenyan and Ugandan Arts diaries. While the Kenya arts diary exists since 2011 and is in its 4th edition now, the Ugandan version makes its debut this year. The aim of both projects is, amongst others, to offer an alternative to tourist tailored ‘african cultural products’. Support East African art and contemporary popular culture!
How to get ‘em?
Kenyan arts diary (160 pages, all-colour, more than 60 artists featured, 1.850 KES = about 15 €): “To order for your copy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call [+254] 0770 314554/ 0773 809556. Free delivery within Nairobi” (Source and more information on Kenyabuzz.com, Businessdailyafrica.com). The calendar is also on sale on local major book shops, galleries and art centers. Overseas Kenyan art lovers may also contact email@example.com for details (Source). They do also have a Facebook Page for the 2013 edition – the 2014 edition’s page was not yet on Facebook by the time of the post.
Ugandan arts diary (more than 50 artists featured, about 10 €): “Available in town [Kampala] at Aristoc, Kampala Road; 1000 Cups, Buganda Road; Cafe Kawa, Colville Street; Aristoc, Garden City; and Maridadi, Nakumatt Oasis. In Kamwokya at Afriart, Umoja, Good Glass, and Endiro, Kisementi. In Muyenga at Cafe Kawa. In Bugalobi at 49 Cheese & Wine. In Lubowa at the bookshop and craft shop in Quality Mall” (Source and more information on their Facebook page, DW.de or independent.co.ug.
This is a must-see and very inspiring as well as insightful TED-talk by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie. Amongst other references, she talks about her experiences of being an ‘African in the West’ and how she got confronted with the socially constructed concept of ‘being African’, though she had never thought of it before. Well, why would she have ever done that?
„I left Nigeria to go to university in the United States. I was 19. My American roommate was shocked by me. She asked where I had learned to speak English so well, and was confused when I said that Nigeria happened to have English as its official language. She asked if she could listen to what she called my “tribal music,” and was consequently very disappointed when I produced my tape of Mariah Carey [...]. She assumed that I did not know how to use a stove.”
Reference: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2009, July 23rd): The danger of a single story. Oxford: TEDglobal 2009.
Recommended readings by Adichie: Americanah (novel) & The Thing Around Your Neck (12 short stories).
Apart from the blurred line in between “not knowing better about” and “being dependent on”, the video quite nails it, I guess.