Bio: Loves Africa. With all its complexities, its color and its noise. Her goal is to visit at least half of all African countries in this lifetime, north, east, south and west. Her work has appeared in O the Oprah Magazine, True Love, Move, Cleo, Cosmopolitan, House&Leisure, Clutchmagonline.com, Mimi Magazine and Marie Claire.
Posts by Luso Mnthali:
Kenny Kunene, the erstwhile South African nightlife impresario and so-called sushi king, recently appeared on a national television talk show with five of his 15 girlfriends to talk about “loving more than one person.” In her typical way, 3Talk anchor Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu asked no particularly hard-hitting questions about his chosen lifestyle. What she ended up doing was asking the women such nuanced gems such as “Do your parents know you’re here?” and “Do you all get along?”
I wanted to reach into that screen and fold the question back into her mouth and have her turn to Kenny and ask him if he’s proud of himself and if his family know and approve of what he’s become. Typically for the culture we live in, it’s the women who seemed to be made to look foolish about their choices. Understandably it’s a matter of degrees, both in terms of maturity and levels of education. They’re not educated yet in the ways of predatory, vampiric men (to borrow a phrase from the well-written opinion piece by Pumla Gqola) What Kunene and men like him seem invested in is the luring and exploitation of young women, with obvious physical charms and a willingness to entertain them sexually. They even recruit for him, and he calls them his “army”. Yes, an army.
What it is they’re fighting is unclear but he seems like a formidable opponent, and has an answer for every situation you place in front of him. He’s quite cunning and smart, and he has no shame. He says he has a big heart but it’s not so much about that part of his anatomy and its size, than the fact that he is sexually voracious. He, like many men of dubious means the world over, want to stage their virility and worth via the women on their arm. He would need fifteen or more arms, like some sort of lapsed deity, to be able to escort all the women he is currently sleeping with. What most in the media (who have reluctantly given him space) agree on is that he seeks attention and like some sort of an adolescent plays up to the most base parts of himself, and acts it all out for a crowd, whatever the size, and whether they want him there or not.
On the show, where he claimed he was “being honest” about his army of girlfriends/sex partners/accessories, no panelist even came close to berating him for the kind of lifestyle he leads. This in a country with HIV statistics that are not improving, and the killing, raping and battering of females is an every day event, be they 2 or 92 years old. It seems, judging from the panel of one psychologist, one columnist and one magazine editor, that our most educated and vocal citizens are helpless even in the face of outrageous misogyny. That they will not stand up to rich men like Kunene and deem him an undesirable, uncouth and wholly misguided miscreant. Instead we had the female talk show host pander to Kunene’s views, his “honesty” and basically direct the conversation to what he himself most wanted to talk about. He said that he used condoms and that “these girls” know that he is “clean”. The talk show host made the mistake of calling it an open relationship – it is not. Polyamory or the practice of an open relationship is when all partners are free to choose other lovers, besides their primary relationship. There doesn’t seem to be a primary relationship in the Kunene household, and he is basically in control. What he did say was if any one of the women were to pursue another relationship or liaison outside of his arrangement with her, she would be free to go. “If you feel you want to settle down with someone else who’s lied properly to you, tell me,” he said. He will not brook anyone sleeping with the women he “owns”.
One of the women’s stories—I forget whether it was Desiree, Claudia, Pam or Crystal—centered on how she’d been cheated on by her previous boyfriend, and how the experience had basically scarred her, and changed her trust in men. My question was this: So she got into a transactional sex deal with a man with many other women on his plate, to make that a better experience for her? Clearly in a country where women are not thought much of, it tends to be difficult for them to think much of themselves.
Kunene preys on women no older than 24 years old for the particularly galling fact that at this stage you’re a woman, but to be honest you’re still to fully develop. These are crucial years for personality and independence to be established, and he finds that women at this stage in their development are still rather impressionable. They haven’t had the wisdom of life experience, so that it’s easy to lure them with money and the type of lifestyle where they can imagine themselves becoming models, actresses, business women etc. In a country where many children are raising themselves and their siblings, the lure of a quick fix and a step towards the TV lifestyle that so many youth try to emulate, is a hard one to resist. But some of these young women didn’t all come from motherless or fatherless backgrounds. It’s part of the culture – the allure of glamour and easy money. Sex is easy, love is hard. So in some ways I don’t blame them. I blame the society for cheapening experience, for making the quick fix glamorous and the way to your goals, and fame, any sort of fame or infamy, the real purpose for existing. It is not a society where honest and hard work is often applauded. If the president himself abuses trust and has many women, what message does that send?
“In some ways I don’t blame them. I blame the society for cheapening experience, for making the quick fix glamorous and the way to your goals.”
A man like this is an irresponsible, disreputable menace and as much as I have hated to write this piece, and indeed it caused me a measure of emotional pain to even give him attention, I felt it was necessary to just call him out on his bullshit lifestyle, because that’s what it is. Make no mistake.
Shortly after the talk show aired, Kunene sent some recruitment tweets. The sickening thing is that people retweeted and responded as though this was some sort of legitimate and worthy opportunity.
The Recruitment: “Ladies pls send Ur close face,full body n bikini pics,age,what U do in life,where U stay(anywhere in da world) to; email@example.com,” tweeted Kunene.
Response: “GOT 52 EMAILS already…. thank U ladies I’ll respond in due course….this ARMY is gonna take over…” he later added.
Not entirely satisfied with his recent performance on TV, apparently one of his exes says he talks a good game, but he doesn’t actually know his way around the bedroom.
These are the women you need to read. This list of writers we feel you should get to know is by no means exhaustive, but is made up of authors we feel represent best the diversity of some
of the women of African descent who have taken up their pens and given us fresh perspectives.
This time around, it’s woman-centred. The women on this list have written about diverse subjects, from polygamy in Nigeria to crime in a community in the American South. They include poets, fiction writers and memoirists. Most have published books and we eagerly await the published work of others. We look at this list as an introduction to some emerging
voices and also a post that simply serves to give a grateful and loving nod to those whose work is already established.
We admit there is a bias towards the Anglophone writers, so if you know of Lusophone and Francophone writers we have not included, but should, do let us know in the c-section!
May you find many a kindred spirit among these writers. Happy reading!
my two cents.
In the interests of research, I had to endure some three minutes of Rick Ross’s Hold Me Back (Nigeria) video, filmed in Sura market in Obalende, an impoverished part of Lagos, and intended to draw parallel to the original version of the song.
Now, I have a very low tolerance for what I call the NBH affliction – that tendency to repetitively, easily and with much ebullience say the words “nigga” “bitch” and “ho”. Rick Ross’ level of NBH is so potent that three minutes into his six minute video I had to just breathe and stop. For real.
On balance, it appears Rick Ross’ new video is very much a creation of how he sees the world in general. The New Orleans version is by no means about any kind of glamour either. It’s about the ‘real’ New Orleans or how he sees Nola, to borrow the affectionate term for a place I’ve never been to.
When someone looks at a place, he is bringing his heart and his experience to it, for whatever reasons. Rick Ross did the same thing. His experience with the Africa we don’t want the world to see if we’re screaming ‘poverty porn!’ and whatever else, is something he actually experienced first hand, which says more for him than those who tend to be on the opposing side of things. Not to say that his experience even equals the kind of poverty porn peddled by the likes of George Clooney et al, but that he actually knows what it looks like from his own life and experiences in his own country. It’s not to excuse his own peddling of some of the images I saw, which were heart-wrenching. (Tossing money to kids??)
Not sure about this move by Bwana Ross, but at least he’s not coming from a vacuum.
Solange Knowles recently dropped her own made-in-Africa video for the lovely song Losing You. Which only made some ask why she magpied two different experiences from Africa. If the Rick Ross video feels too raw, the Solange video feels too soft. Except for the imported glamour or imported aspirational glamour of Les Sapeurs, that really is how townships in South Africa, in Cape Town in particular, can look. But the video feels softer, and without the glaring, staring edges that I’ve experienced when in Gugulethu.
Perhaps I’ve over-thought this, and not come to the realization that yes, even townships have soft edges. More fool me. And when we talk about poverty porn? Puh-lease. I might ruffle a few feathers when I declare that even South Africans participate in it right on their own doorstep. There are those whites who go to Mzoli’s in Gugs (affectionate name for Gugulethu) and will plead with a cameramen recording a stint for German TV that they “don’t usually” go there. So if you’re slumming it, what does that make what you’re doing? All those ‘township tours’ on offer in Soweto and in Cape Town’s townships. What are we, as foreigners, or people from Gauteng and other parts of the country, doing there jolling if we aren’t actually from and of the townships? We’re slumming it and being hipster cool about our knowledge of the hip, ‘business’ parts of the townships. And our friends who live there? We’ve never been to their homes, trust. And if we have, we were scared. Admit it. When my classmates in law school would talk about Soshanguve, Mabopane and Mamelodi my eyes glazed over. They might as well have been talking about different countries. And that is precisely what townships were meant to be. A person living in Higgovale is in a different country of circumstance from one living in Gugs, Philippi or Khayelitsha. They’re all Cape Town, but many different Cape Towns. And that is the problem with us Africans screaming blue murder when other people come take a look-see and make their art here, whatever the merits or lack thereof.
I think both these videos, at least to me, raise some questions about not just aesthetics, but also our interactions with our brothers and sisters not just across the ocean, but right here at home. When folk in the Diaspora choose to shoot videos in two of the powerhouses of Africa but lift elements of this Africa that we the privileged are not too keen on, what are we saying? Some articles have asked similar questions about the Rick Ross video, and I’m appreciative of them. Some commented on a possible lack of originality in the Solange Knowles one, while others just talked about the aesthetics of her Cape Town love affair. Either way, the soft focus and certain features of Solange’s video made me think ‘Cape Town but not really Cape Town’. The kids, the barber and the seated gogos (grannies) made me think oh there it is, the place I know. Her entourage were all hipster kids, and that’s fine too. The poverty in question? Well, it’s pretty much in evidence by location, but not a constant slamming in your face which Rick Ross does with his effort.
Obviously, I have no love for him, but oodles of love for her. I guess this makes me bourgie and girly in my sensibilities, or simply closed off to the realities of a country I’ve never been to. I still have Nollywood only in my head.
And yes, King Tha, I totally agree with you – when do we say when Africa is cool, why should those who aren’t born here tell us through their art? And what is it we’re buying, if we are?
So the African thing is only cool if a Foreigner does it.It's only cool when they sell it back to us? — King Tha! (@thandiswamazwai) October 2, 2012
So the African thing is only cool if a Foreigner does it.It's only cool when they sell it back to us?
— King Tha! (@thandiswamazwai) October 2, 2012
It is Nelson Rolihlala Mandela's 94th birthday today, and as the day winds down, and I can hear the white South Africans next door enjoying their dinner whilst sitting by their swimming pool, I have to wonder about his legacy.
Mandela is undoubtedly a great man, and has lived a life worthy of several movies, and a few have been made. Today I had to search for a number of books about the great man and what I have always known was once again made clear. Most of the books written about Mandela are by white people. Most of the people in South Africa who constantly talk about him so fondly are white people. He's like their god, or, as a BFF once said, “They've passed him for honorary white.” At least this has been my experience. I am not alone in thinking this. I think, almost like the Rev Martin Luther King, Mandela had a dream. He dreamed that his little great-grandchildren could live in a non-racial society, and he dreamed of a place that many could call the 'Rainbow Nation'. Yet it still remains a dream as racism is still rampant, black folk are still the poorest and live in horrid conditions. People do get along in pockets, but I struggle to find this Rainbow Nation concept, and I believe it still remains a fantasy not a fact. White folk seem to have been forgiven rather quickly, without doing the hard work necessary for true reconciliation. Without, sometimes, real remorse.
The number one trending topic on SA Twitter streets on his 94th birthday was #HowMandelaSoldUsOut. This was a response to the anonymously written article that appeared on a well-known South African news site. To be honest, a few history lessons would clear up the confusion, because some compromise had to be made. But there are people who feel Mandela's ANC sold the people down the river. And when we say people, we aint talkin white folk. Them folk been swimming, canoeing, kite-sailing, surfing and all manner of water sports for you to be thinking they made a deal with Neptune, Yemaya and all the water sprites of the world. They bought that water and are enjoying its benefits til this day. But meanwhile, back on dry land…
As I listen to the poolside laughter and chatter, and clinking of silverware against china next door, I have to wonder what it is about this country that makes it such a strange place to live in. Well, for one, Mandela's Rainbow Nation is a fallacy. The obsessions over race that the Apartheid regime had clash uncomfortably with the what is supposed to be a non-racial and non-sexist society. You can breathe in racism almost every day, especially in Cape Town. I was walking home from work today, as it was finally sunny and warm and this was the best exercise I was going to get.
Normally at this time of day the blacks and so-called coloureds are walking or running to catch the train home to the townships. All day they've been working for someone else for little pay, far from what could loosely be termed a home. I am usually one of the few black people going uphill. This should tell you about my neighbourhood. What upset me today, as it always does, was the white woman and her white dog getting out of her nice house in this burb to take her maid to the train station, or closer to home. The maid gave me such a look of contempt I wondered what it was about. I con
tinued on and saw my first jogger and his dog. He made it to the park and ran around there some more, while a homeless woman lay on a tattered blanket. Needless to say, she was not white, like most of the city's poor or homeless. I carried on up the road, looking at Table Mountain in the twilight. I passed a black security guard, guarding a complex I have only ever seen white people come in and out of. More joggers ensued. I recalled an African-American comedian saying how “white people are the jogginest folk” but immediately what came to mind was the difference in this neaighbourhood and my brother's neighbourhood in Joburg, where black people were the jogginest folk.
It's always been clear to me that Cape Town is the most segregated of South Africa's cities, and having lived in other parts of the country I can say this with some experience. But it is also here that I have made my home, and initially quietly observed that transformation in this country was slow. There are networks that some people have formed, that keep them in certain industries, and keep others out. White people themselves have been the first to admit this, because it's not a secret and they talk openly, airing their prejudices quite easily and without fear of censure. Which makes it both a fascinating and maddening place to live. Yes, the government is corrupt, and this does make running the place effectively that much harder, and harder for those on the receiving end of their non-delivery of services. We get it. It's not just white folk who have been nor are still messing up. But looking at who is deemed a saint or a sinner in this country often has less of the sting of truth and more of the taste of prejudice.
Yet the hope for Mandela's country, a country which we have all yet to see in full effect, is there. Those who cannot abide the culture of sainthood surrounding the former president speak freely and openly, and there are many. Yet, societies as torn asunder as South Africa sometimes do need heroes, someone to look up to collectively, as someone who holds things together while the rest is falling apart. There is no one common culture that South Africans have, and it seems the cult of Mandela may very well be the one thing they all have in common.
This tweet today made me smile – writer Rebecca Davis, tweeting at @becsplanb said: Of course I love Mandela, for his vision of a non-racial society and letting us whites keep our swimming pools.
(Of course I love Mandela, for his vision of a non-racial society and letting us whites keep our swimming pools) — Rebecca Davis (@becsplanb) July 18, 2012
And if you really haven't let me turn you off all the self-congratulatory 67 minutes of do-gooding on Mandela Day (when it should be a more permanent fixture of service in your life) then I hope you enjoyed it and it that it will actually help someone.
Here's a Mandela video that retells his story via social media. Look out for the first sighting of uMam'Winnie
Happy Birthday Tata! (Yes, I adore him, despite what I've said. He fought for my right to live where I want to, hold my head high, hold opinions in this country and not be jailed for them. Ngiyabonga Tata.)
Miss Black France was recently crowned and it got me wondering – what was the point? Are we still at a point where we need to beg to be included in pageants that have been including representatives of black beauty for years now? What are side pageants such as Miss Black France offering that the bigger main competitions just aren’t? I’m of two minds about this. One is they might be necessary for a short while, but the other means presenting the atttude that black beauty is under threat in some societies. It doesn’t make for a convincing argument when you seek inclusion. Then again I don’t live in France.
Black women have in the past won the mainstream Miss France, but in some quarters it was not enough. They believed there were women who still remained unnoticed or ignored by that particular pageant. The Miss Black France organisers had the go ahead from the main Miss France owners, but some raised a few expertly threaded eyebrows. Was this a dangerous precedent that they were setting for the long of limb and pulchritudinous of face? Or is there some real merit to bringing back these sorts of pageants? I’m not so sure.
There still seems to be an aura of entitlement (ahem) surrounding these competitions but I’d like to think we’ve come a long way, and aren’t reverting back to those days of separate and unequal competitions. Well, it is beauty after all – there are no equals. But as far as taking note of black women, I think these pageants continue to do that, for what it’s worth.
Her mother is Rwandan and father is French.
The fourth black woman to win this title and current queen. Go Leila!
I remember watching this and thinking, now there goes a smart, strong, beautiful black woman. I can still hear the words of the ad for the next year’s pageant in her home country. The way she would say “rule the universe” always made my day. She was the second African descended woman, also from Trinidad and Tobago, to capture the title. The first was Janelle Commissiong in 1977.
The third woman of African descent to win this title. She went to my high school in Botswana. Of course, everyone says they knew her back when…
We’re really proud of this woman, who won it straight after Wendy Fitzwilliam. The 90s were good to black women.
In the year Oprah won Miss Black Tennessee year the Miss America pageant had not yet fully integrated. The first black Miss America was Vanessa Williams, crowned a good 12 years after Oprah had her turn in the segregated pageants of the South. Miss Black Tennessee, a scholarship pageant, still exists. Even though Vanessa had to relinquish her crown due to some nude photos suddenly rocking up to displace her win, a black woman, Suzette Charles, took over her reign. And from where we’re standing, Vanessa (and Oprah) just went from strength to strength. Scandal, what scandal?
She went to the Miss Universe pageant in 2011 and represented with her natural hair. I remember thinking now why don’t more black women, more beauty queens, just be themselves? She also talked about authenticity, which she had down pat.
The first black African Miss World. There had been two white South Africans to hold the title before her.
Her parentage is African-American mother and French father.
The special thing about these editions of Miss South Africa was that it was the first time a black woman had won the title in the mixed event. Before that, there was a Miss South Africa and a Miss Black South Africa. Confused? I know I was. What used to happen was that Miss South Africa was a segregated pageant, just like the population. It was Apartheid after all. Then came Nelson Mandela’s release, and it was just a short while to go until beauty pageant Apartheid couldn’t show its ugly face. So there went Amy Kleinhans, what South Africans call a Coloured woman, testing the waters as Miss South Africa in 1992. Not Miss Black South Africa, but queen of all she surveyed as Miss South Africa. Small steps. Finally ‘non-whites’ could also compete in the same pageant. You couldn’t just spring a whole dark face on the unsuspecting white population, so when Amy won the country could see what the reception of a not completely white Miss South Africa would be. Turns out she was accepted just fine, so the organisers decided it was time to make a big splash. It was then Jacqui Mofokeng’s turn in 1993. And then finally, the one everyone, black and white, still knows and loves – the 1994 freedom ringer queen: Basetsana Makgalamele (pictured left, now Kumalo). Miss South Africa still puzzles everyone from time to time (white women still win it more than any other group) but they finally got it right in at least conceding that black people are the majority and there should be a black Miss South Africa to represent the country. Now and then. At least there’s no more sending one white and one black representative to Miss World, where one is called Miss South Africa and the other is called Miss Africa South. Africa South, hell is that? I sat next to Miss South Africa 2004, Claudia Henkel, back when we were in law school. I also auctioned her off for charity there once. She was definitely no fun to walk around campus with, the differences in height were comical. But black and white could totally walk around campus, study, eat, talk together and compete in national beauty pageants. Well, she could, I couldn’t! Heavens no. But many young women, black, coloured and those of Asian descent in South Africa know that they have that chance, no matter what we ultimately think of beauty pageants. They are free to do so
Malawi’s president Bingu wa Mutharika (Christened Tryson Webster Thom when he was born) has died of a heart attack last week Thursday. Mutharika was in power for eight years, and was grooming his brother to succeed him. His vice-President, Joyce Banda, whom he expelled from the ruling party in 2010, went on to form another party, a fact which those in power at the time of his death wanted to cling to, in order to prevent her assuming the presidency.
After a brouhaha swirled over reports of his death, and it was greatly feared that a succession battle was taking place in the corridors of power, wisdom and the Constitution finally prevailed. We Malawians now have a female head of state, Her Excellency President Joyce Hilda Banda.
To say that I am so very proud to be Malawian right now…it’s a little overwhelming. Of course this is not the end of our troubles, but I hope she can restore faith in organs of state. I hope she surrounds herself with the right people, and does not succumb to the beguiling ways of power. On our continent, it is all too often that good leaders, or potentially good leaders, choose tangled paths. Madam President, here’s to a good tenure. May you lead with fortitude and grace, and may my beloved birthplace see a new dawn. Kwacha!
*Kwacha means dawn. It is our currency, and also sets a jubilant tone when said out loud, with a fist raised.
1. Fela Kuti: Coffin for Head of State
2. Third World: Jah Love.
Reggae has always been huge in Malawi, and Third World is gold. Malawi Gold! Dagga, sensimilia or weed is known as chamba in Malawi. Folk always want to talk about Malawi Gold with me…they should try Jah Love.
3. Lucky Dube: Together As One.
The patron saint of African reggae, Lucky Dube, has a special place in the hearts of many Malawians. RIP. You are missed. And yes, Bingu, RIP. Unfortunately, you won’t be too missed. I’m just stating facts here. (Video filmed in Cape Town. As per usual.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIReRYHd1cU&feature=related
4. Yvonne Chaka Chaka: From Me To You.
To say Malawians have a soft spot for South African music is an understatement. And of course women really represent in African music. Business and politics? We’re getting there.
5. Brenda Fassie: Black President.
An obligatory MaBrrr song on this list. If you know me, you know I adore this woman. Just as an aside, and not much to do with Malawi, really, but when I lived in Washington DC, I saw her boobs-baring performance at the Zanzibar club (yes the one the Time Magazine music special decided Africa was not ready for.) We’re always ready for a spot of boobs-baring. Just not in Malawi – a highly conservative, cover yourself from head to toe type of nation.
6. Spoek Mathambo: Stuck Together
A song about forever love, and has the word tombstones…just listen: “let me rest my bones, lay me down to sleep now.” In recent years, President Bingu liked to refer to Malawians as his children. Ah, well. We’re also, as a nation, stuck together. Bingu or no Bingu. From the old to the new. Let the past rest. Ah, geez. I just like this song, okay?
7. Led Zeppelin: Stairway to Heaven
Of course. As an African and a rock music enthusiast (often seen as a rare breed), how would we leave the gods of rock out? I think, Bingu, your stairway lies on the whisperin wind… DPP woyeeee! (A politicking phrase he has come to be known for)
8. Destiny’s Child: Independent Women
Both the band name and the song name are great. President Joyce Banda got rid of her first husband (I would have liked to say she kicked his ass to the curb, but she took her kids and left him – dignified woman), and is now coming back harder than ever as a President.
9. Sam Cooke: A Change Is Gonna Come
That most handsome of all of yesteryear’s singers, Sam Cooke. Classic. And always relevant.
10. Jimmy Cliff: Give The People What They Want
And what they want is for our roots woman to turn things around. And it’s the truth, woman.
11. The Very Best: Warm Heart of Africa.
Esau Mwamwaya is a Malawian with an international profile as a musician. With London-based DJ/production duo Radioclit, he formed The Very Best. Anyone who sings about loving the Warm Heart of Africa is a good egg in my book. And the indie rock outfit Vampire Weekend features.
12. Madonna: Holiday.
This song a hit in Malawi when it first came out. We didn’t know back then…
Also the late president died on the eve of a major holiday. Malawians comprise 80% Christians, so Easter weekend is super-important. I won’t even go into the whole prophesy thing, it irks me. Also, I didn’t realise Madonna’s choreography was so bad back then.
13. Queen: Radio Ga Ga
This always reminds me of Malawi. I remember my family visiting from Botswana in 1984 and there was not a day we didn’t hear this song. Radio is still the main news and entertainment provider in my country. Also, now you know how old I am.
14. El Presidente: Without You.
This video just cracks me up. Malawi’s main export is tobacco. I first heard this song in law school. The words are also interesting for our purposes. (‘For our purposes’ is an awful phrase I heard a lot in law school) I encourage everyone to read the Constitution of their country. And the band is called El Presidente. Dude! Our late president apparently wanted to smoke out us chickens, as he called the people of Malawi. We’ve come home to roost, so smoke that.
15. Blk Sonshine – Building. I love this song, this band. Masauko, one half of Blk Sonshine, is the son of Malawian nationalist the late Henry Chipembere. Peace to all who make Malawi great, and raise our flag. Please get back into the studio Neo and Masauko, you made beautiful music together. Keep building everyone!
Young, up and coming South African photographer Zanele Jamjam took us on a fashion tour of Long and Kloof Streets, the fabled ‘spine’ of Cape Town where the world walks, and you can watch the beautiful people from everywhere. Step into any boutique, gallery or cafe in this busy district and you’re sure to find something unique, colourful and inspiring. From designers who call Cape Town home, such as Michelene and Alexandra Hojer, to the now US-based Thulare Monareng, this street is a fashion lover’s delight and offers a glimpse into what makes the city so much fun.
Production and Fashion: Luso Mnthali
Photography and Maquillage: Zanele Jamjam
Models: Vimbiso and Dumisane
Shot on location in the Company’s Gardens, Hadeda Arts and Crafts, and iKhaya Lodge, Cape Town
By now you’ve probably seen the new Kony 2012 video from the Invisible Children organization (already headed towards at the 4 million mark within two days of being posted – the original movie came out in 2006) or if not seen #Kony2012 trending, along with #Uganda and #LRA, and wondered what in heck happened?
If not, brace yourselves, because this is one bumpy ride.
In a year that folk in the US should be concentrating on the polls, their economy, the rights of women (cue Sandra Fluke to center stage) and any manner of issues that can consume a society, they are now being asked to support a crazy activist campaign. Crazy in that once again Africans are being made to look like they need saving by yet another White person with a saviour-narcissist complex. And complex it truly is, as you will read in various of the posts that I will link to. It is too complex an issue for only the Invisible Children organization to be visible in its treatment, but it also owes the critical mass of attention it’s currently receiving to that organization.
Simply put: the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is a rebel group led by one Joseph Kony, who for over 25 years abducted boys in northern Uganda to become his soldiers, and girls to be sex slaves. At this point, you must know Kony is one hideous, hideous man. No question. And anybody would want to stop him. Yet the timing of this IC campaign is suspicious – why on earth does the IC lead saviour campaigner, former child soldier Jacob’s best friend in the whole world, not explain that Kony is no longer involved in Uganda, and that no one knows where he is? Why is the IC funding the Ugandan military, and how are we even going to sit here through the days of AFRICOM and pretend like the US government and its army are simply ‘advisers’? Why does this campaign look like only Americans can save Ugandans/Africans, when meanwhile Ugandans have been saving and helping themselves for many years? Completely nuts.
Crazy in that this hipster almost all-white movement’s axis point, the video that went viral in a day, comes at a crucial time in American politics. A time when the questions asked by some are why neo-colonialist assumptions about the rightness of aid and awareness are no longer finding easy answers. And as Africans we are asking ourselves why now? Before any of you get excited, or don’t, for whatever reason, there are some very real points to take into consideration. From a Ugandan’s perspective like Musa Okwonga’s (he has family ties to the region in question) to Solome Lemma’s take on this campaign, there are some very strong points to be made about why supporting the Kony2012 campaign is the wrong idea.
Like I said it’s all too complex, and I have my own opinions on the various branches of the story. But suffice to say that the crazy campaign that is Kony2012 is a reflection of white America’s ongoing internal battle: it wants to be seen as ‘the good guy’ always. The white saviour mentality is strong in this IC guy, and even his film exposes this. But that’s just my opinion, I really would like yours.
Let us know what you think.
The lyrics leave nothing to the imagination, but the imagination is blown thinking a woman who was beaten up by the man featured in the song would go back to him in any way. Looks like Rihanna’s done it in a provocative way too. Gone back to him, publicly, and suggestively – even if only in song.
Rihanna has gone to the edge and we think that for her, there’s no coming back. We know there are a number of women’s organizations and possibly abuse counselors who all want to get a piece of her right now, most likely to ask,“Why?” Why would you do this Robyn Rihanna Fenty? For the most part she is clearly not doing anti-abuse advocates any favors, as she seems to think that singing about wanting to once again sex her ex, her basher boy and confirmed woman-beater/comeback kid, is a good idea. Whatever is on her mind, or not, some of us are just plain tired with talking about how we hate that he was given all the fanfare at his Grammys comeback this year. All based on her history with him. And now here she is. If you ever wanted to find a person on whom not to model your life on young women, here she is.
I know I sound like Granny Hubbard-Mnthali but honestly, this is just beyond yonder, in the words of Jesse Jackson. Okay so say thanks to your ex tweeting you a Happy Birthday. We get it, you’re fine, you’re moving past what happened. Bully for you. But then this? You’re both giving it to us in the worst way, and we want you to go away. Seriously.
It’s not that Rihanna needs the fame or money, she’s got it. But what seems really sad and depraved is that she craves notoriety, in the way that a person used to being in the public eye, for better or worse, does. It’s not enough that she was beaten black and red by Chris Brown in 2009, and has since seemed to have forgive him – we are happy she can heal enough to do that. But she has to go one better in their apparent reconciliation (have you seen anything as juvenile as all these high-jinks? Wait. Don’t answer that.) But just after, or sometime before all that tweeting, these two lights of the world managed to concoct a musical project together.
A sort of birth of their somewhat depraved love-child. Enjoy the ‘Christening’. I’m too through. But if anyone wants more from these fun folk, and major essays and dissections on the pair of them, there are plenty of places to go.
No sooner had the announcement been made that the film adaptation of Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s award-winning novel Half Of A Yellow Sun was to star Thandie Newton, than a petition rang out. By now many people, mostly of Igbo or other Nigerian origin, have complained that the casting of Thandie Newton as the book’s Igbo female protagonist Olanna, is a slight they are not willing to suffer. The 2006 book tells the story of the Nigerian-Biafran War of 1967-1970, in which over a million people were killed or died of starvation. To be fair we do not know yet what role Thandie has accepted, but many are outraged that she could possibly be playing the role of Olanna.
The director, Nigerian novelist and playwright Biyi Bandele has a great cast locked into the film, including Nigerian Brit Chiwetel Ejiofor. Surely Bandele could have a say in who plays the Nigerian woman? Why did he not insist on a Nigerian actress if not an Igbo one?
As the petition’s originator, Ashley Akunna, said in the comments section on Clutch:
“This petition is about authenticity. Igbo people come in all complexions. However, the majority are dark brown in complexion. Thandie Newton is a wonderfully talented actress. However, I would be lying to you, if I said I know anyone in my village who looks like her. I have traveled all across Nigeria, from Abuja to Calabar, and Thandie Newton is not an accurate portrayal of what Igbo woman look like. Not in the slightest. Hollywood is known for giving preferential treatment to black female actors of a lighter hue. And that is definitely being displayed here with the casting of Thandie Newton. 365 days out of the year Africans are portrayed in media as some of the darkest people you will ever come across. However, when a role requires a beautiful Igbo actress, they want to cast a bi-racial woman who looks nothing like the people she is supposed to be playing. That is nonsense. Of course I would love an Igbo woman to have this part. But frankly any African woman who fits the description of what an AUTHENTIC IGBO WOMAN looks like will fit the bill. Don’t give me a watered down version of my ancestors and accept me to be happy. It is an insult to Igboland. FULL STOP.”
We clearly shouldn’t take crumbs and call it a three-course meal, as someone else commented.
Clearly the issue is a deep-seated one with us black women. We want to see media representations of ourselves – fair ones, not ones about us being beautiful or having full agency only when we’re fair, light-skinned or bi-racial. Which is basically how it’s worked out thus far. There are not many dark-skinned actresses outside of Nollywood that don’t get a raw deal. We were given a template by others, and we are expected to fully adhere to it. The shame. We have to be represented accurately, especially if the impetus for such representations is from ourselves!
Which is why I support the petition and hope that the production company for Chimamanda’s film strongly reconsiders Thandie Newton for the role, and puts in a Nigerian, darker-skinned actress if not an Igbo woman. I am sure this would be easy to do as there is a wealth of talent in Nigeria. We need to see other faces besides the well-known ones from the West. Cast someone well-known in Nigeria and trust me that movie will make bank like nobody’s business. Because Nigeria is the second-biggest film industry in the world (after India) it makes sense to take on the viable marketing scheme of a Nigerian face, rather than a British-Zimbabwean one, much as we adore Thandie.
It’s interesting how this works – you write a book, it is your IP, but through birth, it also belongs to the people you belong to and wrote about. The book is now the cultural heritage of the Igbo people. I wonder if the author takes no issue with who portrays one of her characters. Is this not part of the danger of a single story about Africans or black people that she herself warned of? We are multi-hued, let the contemporary portrayals of Africans finally reflect that.
Ogochukwu Nzewi, an Igbo woman living in South Africa, weighed in:
“There must have been prior engagement with her for her to be happy with the casting – it’s not something she’s hearing about now. Many factors contribute to make a movie, including financiers. She may have had to compromise, though unfavourable to many of us. It may be the excitement of having her novel made into a movie. There’s no rush for it to be made a movie. She should have had more editorial control, and put her foot down on casting. It should be as close to the novel as possible and not be compromised. Also, it’s the same old London movie mafia – where are the new faces? We have brilliant Nigerian actresses, even those living in London!”
“We don’t know who Thandie’s playing – but the question remains – how much can we compromise? We continue to have these voices, representing us. And they are not always close to our truths.”
Trevor Noah, the young South African comedian who has built his stock in trade on telling uncomfortable jokes about race, was great on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last week. If I want to tell someone I admire them, but then slap them afterwards, like he did, this would be my time to do it. He made us laugh, and he made us proud. He almost didn’t embarrass us. Almost. The second half of his set, though, made me cringe. I knew it would be problematic for some people. Trevor is what we here in the hyper-racialized society of post-Apartheid South Africa still call ‘Coloured’. Not mixed race, nor biracial, but Coloured. That good old moniker for black folks from a pre-Civil Rights America. Yet here we are, and this twenty-something comedian who looks like a lot of people in Cape Town, but usually recounts that he isn’t a Cape Coloured in many of his routines, has done something I’m extremely uncomfortable with. Trevor’s (read: socially dysfunctional construct) racial make-up is black South African mother and (white) Swiss father. So don’t call him out, he feels your pain as a black person anywhere. And as a Coloured person. And as a white person. He’s exempt, he’s everything.
He’s made fun of “black men’s credit ratings” in a year when the US is pretty much broke, and it’s not just the black man whose credit stinks. Maybe he was pandering to the mostly white audience, who knows? But when it comes to a man from Africa denying a whole group of people something they fought hard for, it’s time to call Trevor out. His stereotypes do hurt people.
Not only did he make fun of some African-American names, he also said they shouldn’t be called African-American, because they’re not African. Huh? Who died and made him President Of All Africans And Their Affairs? Is he the New Brother Leader? African-Americans elected to call themselves this, no-one was going to give it to them, and no-one should certainly take it away. Witness how white folk from South Africa were all over him after the performance, saying how proud he’d made them. Hmm. It stinks of something.
Making jokes about a group of black people, a comedic generalization that could look like a cheap stunt to some, is risky. Trevor, who was called out on Twitter the day after his performance by an African-American man, defended himself by tweeting: “Lmao. An American called me racist for speaking about some black Americans. I’m not racist some of my best parents are black!” See, can’t call him out he’s black and therefore has no prejudice in his routines, ncaw…!
It’s hard for comedians, they can’t use the material they used to use any more. It’s sort of dated, because those ‘Shaniqua/Dashiqua’ jokes were already told in the 90s, by African-Americans might I add. But that was when white people would laugh amongst themselves, or with their African friends. “Don’t you think that’s such a ridiculous name? What kind of name is that?” I would just smile, and walk away where I didn’t have to answer their slimy racism. It’s no laughing matter when it’s your children being named something you believe is close to an African name. Something that’s close to a name the same laughing white people’s ancestors changed, arbitrarily. This is what Trevor’s Twitter respondent says: “We don’t know where we’re from, like you.” I think Trevor touched a nerve there. The guy was hurt and this time an African was doing the hurting. Read the comments on the NBC website. When are we going to stop this? An audience full of white people, and we’re gonna make fun of each other? It’s too soon!
The 80s and 90s were filled with the quiet desperation of Africans at home and abroad having to watch people who looked like them, make disparaging comments and racist jokes about them. The horrible ooga booganess of it all, bone in nose included, made it difficult for Africans on American campuses to mix easily with other black students. I know it was about a certain kind of fear and misinformation, of not wanting to be associated with ‘those type of blacks’ and it came from both sides. No side was not guilty of prejudice, but it certainly had a linked history. This is our dirty linen: we were divided. But in many instances we crossed that divide, and tried to understand each other.
Names are difficult. There is a place in Botswana called Kanye. When everyone kept talking about Kanye West, I thought it was a new beautiful part of Kanye, Botswana, that I didn’t know about. I didn’t know Trevor wanted to be ‘the coolest black in the world’, but it didn’t sound like a compliment. Trevor, I wish you all the success in the world – but backhanded compliments aren’t really compliments. They’re just mean, namean?