“But it brought the noise”

The team behind Okayplayer (including eternally-cooler-than-thou ?uestlove), recently launched Okayafrica, a website exploring Africa’s contemporary music scene. I’m already a fan.

With content on African artists, from internet darlings BLK JKS and Just a Band, to those you may not have heard of like Siji and Bajah and the Dry Eye Crew, I have high hopes that Okayafrica (bringing you true notes since 247,000 BC) is here to stay. They also feature blogs and writing, like this piece wrapping up the 2010 World Cup by Siddhartha Mitter.

In “the Month of Vuvuzelas” Mitter takes on the good, the ugly and the obnoxious of Africa’s first world cup.

Beyond football, the Cup’s effect on the rest of Africa will be incidental – another of those global Africa moments with benefits that are mostly symbolic. If anything, the World Cup may leave Africa more vulnerable, not less, to the simplifying gaze of well-meaning outsiders, such as Belgian photographer Jessica Hilltout, whose images of men and boys in various African countries playing soccer with improvised balls were being shown in a Johannesburg gallery. The photographs are artful, technically strong. Yet Hilltout’s artistic statement – “Africa is a world like no other. Unstructured, disorganised, carefree, monotonous. African people have simple needs and huge hearts. They accept their lot in life with a supreme calmness” – conveys the lazy condescension that afflicts so much of the continent’s treatment by its would-be foreign advocates.

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African movies, white protagonists

The Constant Gardener (2005), International murder mystery featuring Ralph Fiennes as naive husband and Rachel Weisz as the beautiful wife, murdered, but why? Show Weisz’s character, playing with children in Kibera slums, or insisting on having her baby in a Nairobi hospital to illustrate her essential goodness. Show benevolent white man with a shady past, working in Somalia’s aid camps to erase the black marks from his soul. Have Fiennes stalked and (spoiler!) murdered in the harsh, bleak wasteland of remotest Kenya and what do you have? Africa as beautiful backdrop, landscapes as metaphors against which the goodness and badness and essential humanity of rich, lily-white characters can be illustrated. Black Africans as complex characters with diverse motivations, interests, and histories? Try another movie son.

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We are young Kampalans. We like to go out and meet other like-minded, good-looking young people.

We like to dance, on rugby pitches or sweaty back rooms with a bottle in one hand and the other around someone’s waist.

We like to have well-lubricated conversations about religion, sex, politics and football, about the way things were and the way things should be.

We like to laugh.

We love to laugh but we are also here for each other when we have to cry.

We respect and value life, partly because we understand that not everyone thinks the same way. Not everyone has to live the way we say they should just because we think it’s the best way to live.

Kampala is our city, and we love it because we have always felt safe to be ourselves, regardless of whether it pisses off some religious fundamentalists.

Now we are hurt, we are scared, but we are not about to let some cartoon villain dictate through fear, the way we should feel and live in our home. This is our home.

This is our home

This is our home.