Look how far we’ve come

Some images from this quarter’s BBC Focus on Africa Magazine (April – June 2011) show the Red Ants, a private security company  in South Africa removing illegal occupants from the land around the FIFA World Cup stadiums in preparation for the tournament.

Looks familiar doesn’t it?

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“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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The cocacola-isation of “Waving Flag”

K’naan is one of my favourite artists. I have missed seeing him in concert twice, once in Detroit and another time in Uganda (K’naan if you’re listening, you need to go on tour again).  I think he is one of a minority of artists that speaks to the experiences of those of us that don’t ride escalades, choke bitches and brush our teeth with Jack Daniels. So I was really excited to hear that one of his songs had been chosen for the Coca Cola World Cup 2010 anthem (also because I cannot stand that Akon/Keri Hilson travesty, cannot stand it!)

That being said, I really enjoyed Waving flag in its original incarnation. The lyrics to the “Celebration mix” version of Waving Flag read like a tooth left in Coca Cola overnight (see what I did there?)

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