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Culture and Arts

When books read by young black people don’t depict young black people, what is an enterprising black author and publisher to do? We ask Chimaechi Allan, founder of Kio Global.

Best-selling Black authors don’t come much bigger than Terry McMillan. Ahead of McMillan’s ‘Who Asked You?’ UK tour in March, Helen Tucker shares how her network, Women Talk, has scooped the first date to hold a conversation with Terry.

Nadia Denton talks about her career journey in film, the future of the industry in Africa and her forthcoming book, 'The Nigerian Filmmaker's Guide to Success: Beyond Nollywood'.
Sierra Leonean novelist Pede Hollist talks about the themes behind his acclaimed novel, So the Path Does not Die, which follows the story of Finaba Marah from her native Sierra Leone to the United States.
Image To counter the negative images of Africans, Philippe Sibelly has created a new photographic exhibition designed to show the normal face of Africa.


Philippe Sibelly is the creator of The Other Africa, a photographic project aiming at fighting the "deficit of image" suffered by the continent. The first African exhibition of the work in development started in Accra in March and Sibelly has been invited by the African Union to exhibit during their next summit in Malabo.

In this article, Philippe shares his story and explains what inspired him to start this project.

Afro-Pessimism Hiding the Good News

“Troops in Mauritania oust the government”, “Guinea turmoil threatens lucrative mining deal”, “Dumped computers cause toxic concerns in Ghana”, “ANC supporters warn of blood in the streets”, “The Niger Delta: The curse of the black gold”… another normal day in Africa, viewed from the Western Media. Africa suffers from a ‘deficit of image’: where Africans see the West mostly through Hollywood movies and we, in the West, only hear about Africa through depressing media headlines.

Image There is no denying that Africa faces many issues, but all the positives coming from the Continent are never reported on. This Afro-pessimism hides many encouraging news stories. African economies grow at rates far higher than in the West, boosted by high commodity prices. Many countries (France and the UK, the two main former colonial powers, the United States, but more importantly India and China) have a renewed interest in these lands.

In 2004, some Senegalese friends visiting the UK asked me why there was so much negativity and pessimism about Africa in the local media. As I grew up with this negativity I have always taken it for granted. I never questioned it: Africa simply is a dangerous place where you are not really supposed to go. It is always at war and its people die of famine or diseases. People even organised mega concerts to help the continent, singing “give them a chance”!

My Senegalese friends (definitely not malnourished) insisted I visit them in Dakar and my vision of Africa has been changed forever since. I discovered Africans living in a very similar way as mine: getting up early in the morning, defying rush hour traffic on their way to work and planning their weekend over dinner with their family.

My Senegalese friends (definitely not malnourished) insisted I visit them in Dakar and my vision of Africa has been changed forever since.


Having had the chance to travel to many other African countries after that, I realised they were not alone; they were not exceptional. All across the continent, African professionals live very similar lives to the Western middle classes. I decided to document this emerging African middle class and other aspects of this African 'normality' as the story of Africa I learnt from the Western media was not complete.

The Other Africa

Image There is no denying the continent faces many issues but none of the positives are ever reported. The continent suffers from a deficit of image: we see Africa through depressing news headlines, Africa sees the West through Hollywood productions (neither being an accurate reflection of the truth).

Not only does this misrepresentation restrain people from investing in Africa but it also encourages young African talent to leave the continent in search of the Western dream, often turning into a nightmare.

The West has been treating Africa in a post-colonial manner for the past 50 years, never really coming to terms with the fact Africa was independent. The former colonial powers (mostly France and the UK) have also used the most hypocritical of approaches, officially refusing to deal with newly independent countries where human rights were not respected but, at the same time, being involved in various murky deals over mining, oil or arms. The Aid 'trade' has also been a way for the West to keep Africa 'dependent'.

Not only does this misrepresentation restrain people from investing in Africa but it also encourages young African talent to leave the continent in search of the Western dream.


The Other Africa is a photographic project aiming at giving a new vision of the continent. The project is articulated around three main themes: portraits of African workers from the emerging middle class, cityscapes at night, and portraits of radio DJs.

My ultimate aim is to visit all 54 countries in Africa (including Somaliland), in order to create an exhaustive body of work following these three themes and to produce a photographic exhibition of 54 images.

I developed this project alone, with help from various sponsors and partners. The images are at the frontier between documentary and art photography and resolutely modern. The work evolves with each trip to Africa and as new photos from more countries are added to the document.

I have so far photographed in seven African countries: Algeria, Mauritania, Cape Verde, Senegal, Cameroon, Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe. I am planning to visit Ghana, Togo, Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia in 2011.

This project is visual and conceptual and its aim is to balance out the deficit of image suffered by Africa. I spend a long time researching and creating contacts before each trip to be able to photograph as quickly as possible once in Africa. 'Middle class' is a generic term quite difficult to define precisely but I take great care in choosing my models as I have to identify Africans enjoying lifestyles close to the ones of the European middle class i.e. work, family, holidays, etc.

A Different Image of Africa

Image Today others are turning to Africa. India and China are investing heavily in the continent in return for much needed commodities. These huge investments in infrastructure will, in turn, help the middle class to grow: better roads, better health, better education, better productivity.

The West only knows African extremes: wars, diseases and famine or the obscene wealth of a few. The Other Africa wants to concentrate on an African average (the middle class translates in French as the average class). All these changes will take time... generations; but the time has already come to promote this ‘other’ Africa.

The first African exhibition of the work in development will start on March 11 at the Alliance Française d'Accra with images of the first seven countries visited: Algeria, Mauritania, Senegal, Cape Verde, Sao Tome and Principe, Gabon and Cameroon.

I am hoping to see the exhibition tour in as many African countries as possible after that.

Philippe Sibelly was born in Marseille, France and moved to Sydney, Australia, in 1991 in search of adventure. After seven years, he moved to Dublin, Ireland in 1988, making the entire journey overland. In Ireland he completed a degree in photography at DLIADT (Dun Laoghaire Institute of Arts, Design and Technology). In 2004 I moved to London where I completed a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education) in Art and design to become a secondary art teacher. He has photographed in over 60 countries and now lives in South London with my Irish partner and two children. Visit the project's website (www.theotherafrica.eu) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/theotherafrica) for updates.
Image East Africa's art market lags behind its neighbours in West and South Africa. But some punchy corporate support, driven by people like Safaricom's Michael Joseph and CBA's Isaac Awuondo, could draw more attention to the fact that it could be an interesting investment proposition, says Rachel Keeler.


Kenya's burgeoning upper middle class has brought a lot of visible change to Nairobi in the past decade. A city that under former President Moi was best known for menacing vagrants and trash heaps the size of football fields is now relatively clean and refreshingly modern. Young professionals with cash to spare crowd out urban chic cafes and bars, send their kids to good schools and roll through the streets in sleek sedans. Nairobi's upper crust has a decidedly nouveau riche feel to it.

But one expected dimension is still missing: art. Unlike the newly rich in cities like Dubai and even Moscow, who have poured a fortune into modern art collections as a way to convey status and style, wealthy Kenyans do not appear all that concerned yet. Music and fashion, sure. Theatre, even. But anything abstract splashed across a canvas still does not command much respect or revenue. Part of the problem is that art is not an examined part of school children's curriculum here. And partly because of history and demography, East Africa lags behind its neighbours in West and South Africa, where art markets have flowered and evolved and cultivated connections with Europe over time.



Some people say this is beginning to change: "These are shifting times," says James Muriuki, curator at the Ramoma modern art museum in Parklands. Nairobi appeared to have an art awakening in the 1970s and 80s, driven by passionate expat Ruth Shaffner and her Watoto Gallery. But that movement died with Shaffner, raising questions about how truly endemic the interest ever was. Over the past several years however, galleries like Ramoma and the artist's colony Kuona Trust have been working on a revival and nurturing a number of aspiring contemporary artists. This second generation has matured and begun making art that people with money are ever so slowly beginning to notice.

Enter Safaricom

And now one of East Africa's largest corporate players is applying some of its financial and publicity power to the sector: Safaricom is about to launch a new modern art exhibition that will inhabit the ground floor of the new extension of Safaricom House – the "Safaricom Centre" – in Westlands. The exhibition will promote the work of 30 local artists to everyone who drops by.

The idea is that Safaricom does business with a lot of people, not to mention the hundreds of employees who work in these buildings. They will all get to see the art every day, along with new exhibits and performances as they rotate through the space in between company events. This art addresses critical things, like urban culture and politics – no lions or Masai warriors.

And now one of East Africa's largest corporate players is applying some of its financial and publicity power to the sector: Safaricom


So Safaricom figures it will take some systematic exposure for people to warm up to it. When they do, the company hopes they will buy it.

"We're hoping this space will give different people a cost-effective platform to showcase their work," says Zaheeda Suleman-Arain, Safaricom's publicity manager who is overseeing the new centre. ImageThe telecoms company is also hoping to instill an appreciation among the artists it works with for what it knows and does best: making money. "We want to see them take their art to the next level," says Wangari Muguru, Safaricom's head of marketing and communication, "to understand that you can't just be creative, you've got to live off it."

This may be step one toward creating a real art market in a region where high-end appreciation has never been ingrained. In South Africa, many of the best private art collections are held by corporations, mirroring the trend in the industrialised world. Safaricom does not have any plans yet to establish a permanent collection, even though its current curator, Gonda Geets, is lobbying for this. But just the act of constructing an accessible space where art can be displayed for art's sake – not as meaningless decoration – grants the medium intrinsic value.

Going International

That value will hopefully translate into more local sales. Around 70% of Ramoma's current sales still come from expats and tourists. Piquing interest from Kenya's growing middle class would be a boon for the gallery. Muriuki also says East Africa is commanding more attention now from big-time curators and buyers in Europe. This is where the real money is. The shift dates back, he says, to the Africa Remix show put on by Simon Njami at London's Hayward Gallery in 2005. The mix featured work from across the continent, not just traditional stars from the west and south.

After spending 20 years in Kenya, artist and art dealer Ed Cross also recently moved back to London and took a stack of modern art with him. He now promotes work by edgy East African artists like Peterson Kamwathi, George Lilanga and Richard Onyango, whose fame and incomes are growing. Lilanga and Onyango have even found their way into the Pigozzi Collection, the largest private collection of contemporary African art in the world patched together by the Italian venture capitalist Jean Pigozzi and his French curator, André Magnin.

Tapping the European market has Imagebeen West Africa's secret to success for some time. But the region also has a much longer tradition of art making and loving, spawned by a less nomadic heritage and ties to France.

It may be decades before East Africa catches up. Galleries here need to learn how to package and market their artists. They must also figure out how to support themselves. Ramoma is in the midst of a significant restructuring as it hunts for new funding and focus.

A solid history of sales will also need to build up to make pricing art and promoting its prospective appreciation easier. Support from leading corporations like Safaricom will play a big role here. Especially because the Kenyan government has an endless string of other priorities that come before investing in the arts.

Bank Support

Although Safaricom hesitates to say others will follow its lead, many professionals in the region do look up to the company. And at least a few others have their own fascinations to tend. The Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) building in Nairobi is overflowing with contemporary African art thanks to the personal interest of the bank's managing director, Isaac Awuondo, also a board member at Kuona Trust. He has Jimnah Kimani's wild colours in the CBA lobby, Richard Kimathi abstracts in the board room, and more art at home than walls to put it on, literally: Awuondo is actually building a second home just to house his art collection, which at cost has hit KES5m and is likely worth many times that. Tony Wainaina, the energetic former TransCentury investment banker, is also on the board at Ramoma. The sleek new Sankara hotel in Westlands has hired curator Marc van Rampelburg to line its halls with East African pieces. And the Zeitz Foundation – the enviro-social vision of Puma head Jochen Zeitz – that recently launched in Kenya is rumored to be an arts supporter as well.

It may be decades before East Africa catches up. Galleries here need to learn how to package and market their artists.


Awoundo sees the market growing slowly. "Ultimately, it has to be tied to economics," he says. "Twenty years ago, when I was spending KES100,000 on a piece of art, people thought I was mad." That is what Awoundo spent on each of the 10 large works he owns by Peter Elungat. Similar pieces by the artist that sold a few years ago went for KES750,000. So the potential is there, and gaining momentum. But art here is still difficult even to value: The market is so disjointed and underdeveloped that it will be many years before East African art joins its western peers as an attractive investment or status symbol.



Case in point: In 2004, Coca-Cola Africa hired Camille Wekesa, a Kenyan muralist who now sits on Ramoma's board, to curate a collection for its UK office. Wekesa meticulously compiled 180 pieces that included work from Elungat and some of her other favourite Kenyan artists.

Then, a few years ago, Coke moved its headquarters to South Africa. Rather than take the collection with it, the company sold most of it off as individual pieces to its employees. Wekesa just shakes her head in disbelief. "To buy that same art is going to cost them six to seven times today," she says. But even Coke, cosmopolitan company that it is, did not see the collection as an investment, a cultural entity exceeding in both social and economic value the sum of its parts. Wekesa says the art to them and too many others is still "just like paint on the wall".

This article was first published in Ratio Magazine – www.ratio-magazine.com

ImageThis year’s Lake of Stars festival in Malawi promises to be the biggest yet, hosting a line up of international artists from Malawi, the UK, South Africa, Kenya and the USA

Over 5,000 miles away, deep in the heart of Africa, are the paradise, palm-fringed shores of Lake Malawi. This is the setting for one of the most talked about events of the last few years: The Lake of Stars Festival. For three days Western and African artists gather at the award winning festival for a musical, social and cultural exchange unlike anything seen before. With a music policy ranging from Afropop, folk and reggae to beat boxers and the best international DJs, the festival has something for everyone. Over the past few years Andy Cato, Felix B of Basement Jaxx, DJ Yoda, Mikey from Bugz in the Attic, Annie Mac, Rodney P and Skitz, Ben Westbeech, The Petebox and Joe Driscoll have rubbed shoulders and jammed with some of the best and most exciting African and global artists around, from Wambali and Lucius Banda to the Black Missionaries and Blue Skies, Goldfish and Wapifa and Joseph Tembo.

This year’s Lake of Stars festival is going to be the biggest yet, hosting a line up of international artists from Malawi, the UK, South Africa, Kenya and the USA, all who will bring their own unique flair to the shores of Lake Malawi. The festival opened in 2004 and since then has gone from strength to strength and is now considered one of the top choices in international music events. Guests for 2008 include Mercury award nominated Seth Lakeman and Mary Anne Hobbs from BBC Radio 1.

An Incredible Adventure

Will Jameson, the festival’s founder, says, “It’s been an incredible adventure so far and one that has challenged at every turn. Everyone involved works incredibly hard and it’s all of this effort which has created the Lake of Stars.”

Lake of Stars is creating another important platform for the globalisation of music and integration of culture… as well as giving festival lovers from the UK the chance to head to one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Image“The idea has always been about uniting cultures, bring people together through music and to highlight Malawi, a country that not many people had really heard of a few years ago. It’s such an inspiring and beautiful place, and the people there are some of the friendliest you can hope to meet. I am really proud of what’s been achieved so far, and for Malawi Lake of Stars has become a part of the cultural calendar; people travel from all around this amazing country to go to the festival.”

For many incredibly talented Malawian and African musicians, the festival gives them the chance to express themselves on an international stage and get recognition for their awe inspiring live performances. Malawi is rich in musicians and music is an integral part of its culture. From sonorous live bands, mesmerising solo artists and raucous collectives taking over the main stage, a variety of DJs play a mixture of reggae to house, breaks to hip hop, jazz to disc, keeping the eclectic mix from ever standing still over three days and nights by the shimmering Lake Malawi. The festival should be in the diary of every music lover and person looking for a bit of adventure.

Supporting Malawi’s Economy

ImageIt also helps raise money for Malawian charity organisations and into the economy, creating an estimated £100,000 last year alone. Lake of Stars is creating another important platform for the globalisation of music and integration of culture, as well as giving festival lovers from the UK the chance to escape the dull and dismal weather and head to one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

All proceeds made from the festival in 2007 went directly to UNICEF. With 2008’s event on the horizon, Lake of Stars welcomes the world to join in as the festival aims to achieve a greater international dimension.

For more information, please check  www.lakeofstars.co.uk or contact  will@chibuku.com

ImageDIVERSE COLOURS 2008 is a unique art exhibition bringing outstanding contemporary works by artists originating from Africa and the Caribbean to London.

ReConnect Africa previews the forthcoming exhibition and speaks to Kwame Akuffo about the inspiration behind the show.

 A unique art exhibition that celebrates the diversity of the African and Caribbean cultural experiences opens in London this month. Bringing together stunning paintings and prints by contemporary artists including Glen Turner, Nicola Welcome, Robert Aryeetey, Kamala and Kweku Opoku, the exhibition will showcase works which, say the exhibitors, are naturally diverse yet grounded by the common historical legacies, ethnicities and tropical landscapes of Africa and the Caribbean.

DIVERSE COLOURS 2008 is the first collaboration between AFRIKart, run by Ghanaian Kwame Akuffo and Hibiscus, established by Kamini Corriette who grew up in Guyana. The art collectors are now aiming at bringing together regular exhibitions by outstanding artists from Africa, UK and Caribbean.

Diversity and Community

ImageAfrican and Caribbean societies are populated by a microcosm of the world’s population and cultures: Black African, Indian, Middle Eastern, Portuguese Northern European and Chinese. This heady concoction of peoples and cultures throws up an amazing brew of languages, cultures, belief systems and symbols of life which co-exist with a mix of schism, drama and dynamism but which remain intrinsically well-balanced.

It is this balance that inspired AFRIKart and Hibiscus to come together to showcase works from these areas; works which are naturally diverse but yet linked by a common thread of culture and experience.

Diverse Colours 2008 celebrates the different arts which have emerged from the divergent experiences of these societies, accentuating the positive outcomes of these experiences.

ReConnect Africa caught up with Kwame Akuffo to find out more about DIVERSE COLOURS and to learn about what inspired him and Hibisicus’s founder Kamini (Kay) Corriette to put on this exhibition.

“My art odyssey was set off by a painting I saw hanging in the reception area of Labadi Beach Hotel in Accra, Ghana in the late 1990’s by the Ghanaian artist, Larry Otoo,” said Akuffo. “This was the day when the light was switched on in my mind about the great beauty of contemporary African art.”

“I created AFRIKart Gallerie a few years ago as a vehicle to promote outstanding contemporary art by artists of African origin. This was fuelled by the realisation that little space is provided for such art in the UK. Any interest is smothered by the preponderance of traditional arts and crafts – sculpture, woodworks prints etc. To a large extent, everything else is ghettoised and there are not many places to show good and great art of African and Caribbean origin”.

“Imagine a world without art…..”

A meeting with Corriette shaped the idea for the exhibition, he added. “Kay Corriette came from a similar perspective and was quite keen to promote great contemporary art of West Indian origin and started by putting together a small collection. Going to the AFRIKart exhibition (Inspirations and Confluence) in September 2007 in London rekindled the desire to do something about her passion for such work and making these available to be seen and to be bought.”

It was Corriette’s suggestion that AFRIKart and Hibiscus should work together to bring artworks from artists from African and Caribbean origin and to mount an exhibition to celebrate Black History month in October 2008. Discussions ensued with the Gallery at Willesden Library and, as Akuffo says, “the result is this exhibition - earlier than expected - but nevertheless an opportunity to do something.”

Kwame Akuffo is clear about the role art has in celebrating and connecting with culture.

“Art is a celebration of culture in all its forms. Imagine, for a moment, our nations without plays, crafts, paintings, dancers or musicians. What would we have known about the Benin Civilisation without its bronzes? What is Ashanti culture without the drums, kente and pageantry?”

Image “Think about how we would record our stories without the thousands of artists past and present,” he adds. “It would be a bleak vista — devoid of the colour, life and excitement that our artists bring to our nations and cultures. It is not just about expressing who we are, it is also about what we are - our arts and crafts are vital to our social well-being.

“New expressions of talent have marked each new development in our history. As we grow as people, our art grows with us; sometimes at a slow pace, at other times at an explosive pace. As the world has become smaller, we all learn from each other.

“Our multicultural backgrounds have brought a new flavour to our arts — melding and creating truly original voices. Materials and techniques have become commonplace, yet art from our subcontinents still maintain uniqueness. Whilst it is possible to identify art from, say, Nigeria or Ghana or the West Indies, it is also possible to identify the Tropical or such tropical origins of such art.

“Art provides an insight into our cultures; it provides meaning to our lives. It enables us to make observations about the past and present and lets us dream in visible forms. Art, in a nutshell, celebrates our cultures and civilisations from its basic forms to its most sophisticated levels. It keeps our imaginations active; it encourages us to express ourselves, it helps develop our self-esteem and pride, it teaches our children not only our stories but how they can become part of the story, and it creates a sense of community. Art is about yesterday, today, tomorrow and about the future.”

The Artists

DIVERSE COLOURS 2008 features works by Abushariaa, an outstanding Sudanese artist based in Nairobi; Robert Aryeetey, one of Ghana’s foremost painters, whose work was presented to the Queen on her last visit to Ghana; Bruce Chidovori, a talented Zimbabwe artist, who is largely self-taught and who is now working as a full time painter; Kamala, who pioneered one of the UK’s first graffiti community arts companies and is involved in several community arts projects and Kweku Opoku, a well-known graphic artist and designer. The show also features work by Nicola Welcome, originally from Guyana, and Kweku Kissiedu, a fine contemporary artist who works in watercolours and acrylics.

“Art provides an insight into our cultures; it provides meaning to our lives.”

The exhibition, which takes place at The Gallery in Willesden Green, at the heart of London’s Caribbean and African communities, will be ‘a month-long celebration’ of the experiences of the two communities. Those lucky enough to invest in the art on display will also be supporting a good cause as the exhibitors plan to make a donation to Akropong School for the Blind, a school for the disabled in Ghana, from the proceeds of sales made at the end of the exhibition.

Diverse Colours runs from 14 April until 9 May at The Gallery at Willesden Green, Willesden Green Library Centre, 95 High Road, Willesden, London NW10 10SF. Admission is free. For information: Kwame Akuffo 07880 794751  kwameakuffo@btinternet.com   kcorriette@yahoo.co.uk.  www.afrikart-gallerie.com
The Gospel story re-told as a tale of corruption and redemption in contemporary Africa

Image In the state of Judea in southern Africa, violence, poverty and sectarianism are endemic. The neighbouring Alliance has invaded to restore ‘peace’ at gunpoint. Bloody street battles accompany the neighbouring dictatorship’s incursion into its weaker satellite. Promises of a transition to open democratic rule are accompanied by summary executions and brutal massacres.

So begins ‘Son of Man’, an extraordinary and powerful film that has already garnered rave reviews from film critics around the world. Set in contemporary Africa, ‘Son of Man’ re-tells the story of the Gospels, while revealing a tale of power, corruption, sacrifice and betrayal that draws parallels with many of today’s political realities.

‘Imaginative Re-telling of Christ’s Life’

‘Son of Man’ is the story of Jesus, told in episodes from the New Testament, and set in present-day Africa. In the film, as the civil war reaches a new level, a divine child is born to a lowly couple. As he grows and witnesses the inhumanity of the world he lives in, his angelic guardians offer him an escape to the heavens. He refuses. This is his world and he must try to save it from the work of evil men and from the darkness working through them. As an adult, he travels to the



‘More moving than The Last Temptation of Christ, and smarter than Mel Gibson's Passion’ Seattle Weekly


capital, gathering followers from the armed factions of rebels that crisscross the land. He demands that his followers give up their guns and confront their corrupt rulers with a vision of non-violent protest and solidarity. Inevitably, he attracts the attention of the Judean tribal leaders who have struck a power-sharing deal with the aloof Governor Pilate. The Son of Man must be brought down and destroyed.

Although the movie has relatively little spoken dialogue, the soundtrack features rousing and emotional South African music. Its cast includes trained opera singer Pauline Malefane, who plays Mary and Andile Kosi, who plays the adult Jesus. The movie was directed by Mark Dornford-May and based on an improvisational collaboration of the Dimpho Di Kopane Theater Company, a theatre and film company of around 30 actors and singers.

Innovative Distribution

ImageSon of Man’ has been launched in the UK by Spier Distribution – a new arm of South African feature film company Spier Films. Taking a different approach by “challenging the vertical integration of film distribution”, Spier has adopted a flat structure, building its reputation within the film market by focusing on the potential of new technology while rallying support of potential viewers.

This new method of distribution involves working the grass roots and reaching out to its audience directly, hence surpassing film executives that, the company says, “leave so many independent voices suppressed”.

Initially screened within the South African High Commission in November 2007, Spier Distribution previewed the film again in the Warwick Arts Centre to potential partners. Described by the Telegraph as ‘a vivid, thrilling, visually awe-inspiring piece of cinema”, the roll-out of this extraordinary film is set to coincide with the remembrance of Christ's Passion at Easter and will be available for screenings at a number of venues across the UK and Ireland. For further information about ‘Son of Man’: www.sonofmanmovie.com

Image‘It's 3000 km to Lake Malawi, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses....’, says Damo Jones.

Lake of Stars has teamed up with Dragoman Overland Adventure Travel to produce an exciting itinerary for the 2007 Lake of Stars Music Festival.

A first ever.... A road trip from Johannesburg to Lilongwe based around music - a festival on wheels. Two overland trucks, roll into the Lake of Stars Festival together; one for the bands and film crew and one for the punters. Rock up at a village, set up the stall and pump out the music. This fantastic adventure starts in Jo'burg 26th Sept and finishes in Lilongwe 12th October.

Two trucks - Rockin' and a rollin' across the Plains of Africa

21 days from Jo'burg to Lilongwe, via South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia. Think music, beaches, nightclubs, bars, wildlife, local villages, rhythm and culture. This is the Africa that the tourists miss (actually they wouldn't want to see it - not enough comfort), on a road trip of over 3000 km up the Indian Ocean to Malawi, the Warm Heart of Africa. 22 different languages, a thousand different rhythms (give or take one or two), a shed load of nightclubs and bars and, of course, the bands. Yes, for much of the way, we will be travelling with the bands, stopping en route at night in small settlements or large cities. Time to check out the local music scene and to join in.

The Lake of Stars Festival 2007

Image Starting with a gig in Johannesburg, we head up to the Lake of Stars Festival on the shores of the stunning Lake Malawi. Combining Western artists with acts from all over East and Southern Africa, the fourth lake of Stars Festival takes place in October. Since 2004, this unique festival has slowly been growing on the shores of Lake Malawi. The Lake of Stars Festival is a three day charity event that has already featured Felix B (Basement Jaxx), Groove Amanda's Andy Cato, Mikey General (Bugz in the Attic), DJ Yoda, Wamball Mkandawire and the Black Missionaries (a ten piece Malawian reggae group).

The Line-Up So Far?

Gilles Peterson (BBC Radio One / Worldwide), Annie Mac (BBC Radio One), Rob Da Bank (BBC Radio 1 / Bestival), along with: Joe Driscoll, Stuart Patterson and various local Malawian, South African and Mozambique acts. Not to mention, the Black Missionaries, The Wombats, Mulletover and Chibuku (not to be confused with International Shake-i-Shake).

Then there's Dirty Disco, Chew the Fat and Kid Blue, Bodytonic, Horse Meat Disco, Wax:On and so many more UK club nights involved.

What a hell of a line up; and that is just Malawi! We are going to gigs in Johannesburg and Lilongwe – well, hopefully, as it is still an overland trip. Things change, stuff happens, but the ideas are all there.

Day by Day – The Provisional Journey Plan

Just remember, this is Africa and while we know the place well and have run trips for over 40 years, you must remember that any journey here is about enjoying the here and now. Expect the unexpected and don't be too keen on following a rigid itinerary. This is a road trip and there are amazing days of travel;

Day 1:Arrive Jo’burg and settle into a small friendly hostel. Head out for the night for the first gig.

Day 2:Its 3000 km to Lake Malawi, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses.... and we are off to Maputo. Another country, another language and a big days drive. Overnight at Hotel

Day 3: A huge day's drive up the Indian Ocean to the awesome Morrungula beach. Overnight camping by the beach. Smell that seafood cooking.

Day 4: A day to relax. Beach, sand, lobsters, fish, check out the local villages, enjoy the Indian Ocean. Overnight camping by the beach.

Day 5: A short drive to the beautiful beach town on Vilankoulos. This is what dreams are made of, places like this. Overnight at Baobab Beach Camp.

Day 6: Another day to chill at Vilankoulous or to take an Arab dhow out to the Bazaruto Archipelago. Overnight at Baobab Beach Camp.

Days 7 and 8: On the road again heading through Mozambique, via the Beira and Tete corridor. Long days, camping or staying in local hotels, travelling across the interior of a country that few outsiders bother to visit. We will stop along the way to check out local life. Today we should meet up with the bands on the other truck and we will travel together through to the festival. Camping or local hotels

Day 9: Cross into Malawi and onto the city of Lilongwe for an evening of music with the bands. Camping.

Day 10: Drive up the stunning shores of Lake Malawi to Chincheche to the Lake of Stars Festival, and your first night at this amazing event. Campsite at the festival.

Days 11 and 12: The Festival, the Lake, the beach and the music; use your imagination. Campsite at the festival.

Day 13:We leave the music and bands behind and return to Lilongwe on our way to Zambia. Camping.

Days 14 - 16: South Luangwa National Park. We now embark on a 3-day stay in Zambia's best wildlife reserve. Elephant, lion, leopard, crocs, hippo, antelope, etc, etc, etc. Camping at Flat Dogs, we will have plenty of time for day and night safaris. We will also spend a day at the Kwasa village community to find out about rural life in this remote corner of Zambia.

Day 17: Head Back to Malawi and our last night in Africa at Lilongwe.

Day 18: Final day, get your stuff together and head to the airport.

The price for all this? …..£1000 for 18 days, including all land transport, accommodation, meals, ticket to Lake of Stars Festival, entrance to and game drives in, South Luangwa Nat. Park; visits to Kawasa Community project. Excluding flights, visas and personal spending. Flights from about £600 from the UK.

For the chance to be part of this remarkable journey, contact: www.dragoman.com or visit: www.dragoman.com/destinations/lakeofstars.php

ImageThe recent launch of the Ifa Lethu Foundation in the UK brought to London a display of unique works of art reflecting the turbulent period of South Africa’s struggle for democracy.

Since the establishment of its democracy in 1994, South Africa has worked hard to overcome its legacy of bitterness and division and to create a culture of healing and understanding among all South Africans. During the country’s era of struggle, many of its artistic treasures found their way out of the country. Ifa Lethu, a Tshwane based Foundation, was launched in 2005 with the support of the South African Ministry of Arts and Culture and with the aim of repatriating South African struggle era art and heritage into the country.

The Foundation’s vision is to locate, protect and promote an important part of country’s heritage by repatriating the art to South Africa. Ifa Lethu is appealing for the repatriation of South Africa’s heritage and through educational programmes, will make these collections available to South Africans before they are deposited with suitable identified repositories, galleries and museums. The launch of the Foundation in the UK took place in London alongside a display of paintings created during the struggle era.

“A Wonderful Initiative”

H.E. Lindiwe Mabuza, South Africa’s High Commissioner to the UK, opened the launch of what she described as a ‘wonderful initiative’ at South Africa House in the heart of London. Welcoming the CEO of the Foundation, Narissa Ramdhani, and its Chair, Dr. Ramphele Mamphela, the High Commissioner lent her support to the Foundation’s efforts to secure the homecoming of South Africa’s rich heritage.

“Nationhood is more than people,” she said. “A nation needs a culture, a heritage, arts and music to be given a soul. Ifa Lethu recognizes the value of the country’s struggle. Artifacts, documents, arts – all those that belong to South Africa remind us of the past. These treasures do not need to be made of gold and diamonds; even the humblest scrap of paper reminds us of who we were and who we are.”

Ifa Lethu aims to foster understanding among people and, through understanding, a process of healing will be enabled. The works of art, added the High Commissioner, will bring even more “pride in our culture and heritage; recapturing who we are and how the artist’s eyes saw us in our pain.”

Repatriating Heritage

ImageTaking the lead, High Commissioner Mabuza donated a charcoal drawing by one of South Africa’s greatest artists to Ifa Lethu’s CEO, Narissa Ramdhani. Ramdhani, who joined Ifa Lethu as its first CEO, has devoted almost a decade to supporting South Africa’s cultural heritage. Primarily an academic historian of African and International Affairs, her work at American institutions, such as the Universities of Connecticut and Yale where she devoted her energies to encouraging and promoting research on the South African liberation struggle, was followed on her return to South Africa with the task of repatriating materials for the African National Congress (ANC) from 33 countries.

Expressing her gratitude for the generosity shown to the Foundation, Narissa Ramdhani urged those in the UK to support the Ifa Lethu initiative.

“We have repatriated heritage art from many parts of the world and we appeal to the UK to join the growing list of countries that are repatriating our art,” she said.

Launching Ifa Lethu in the UK

ImageThe keynote speech at the launch was delivered by Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, the celebrated former activist and co-founder, along with Steve Biko, of the Black Consciousness Movement, a grass-roots anti-apartheid movement. Dr. Ramphele, a physician and anthropologist, was the first woman, and the first black South African, to hold the position of Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town. Today, in addition to her role as Chair of Ifa Lethu, she is the Chairperson of Circle Capital Ventures, a black empowerment company, and chairs the Global Commission on International Migration.

In her address, Dr. Ramphele spoke of the spiritual dimension of the Foundation’s mission. “Ifa Lethu is playing a role in the process of the reconstruction of the soul,” she said. “It is in this context that we are here in the UK for the first launch outside South Africa.”

Dr. Ramphele acknowledged the long-standing history between South Africa and the UK and the role played by thousands of Britons in support of the anti-apartheid struggle. “We have a shared heritage,” she said, “and the historic ties between our two countries run deep.”

‘Bringing Home the Diaspora of Our Heritage’

ImageIfa Lethu has repatriated a significant number of artworks from around the world and, Dr. Ramphele said, “We would like to invite you to join this global network of a healing movement of culture. We are hoping that you will help us to realise this.”
Dr. Ramphele cited some of the Foundation’s achievements to date, including over 195 pieces of art from countries such as the USA, Switzerland and Australia. In partnership with the private sector in South Africa, the Foundation has built a mobile heritage gallery to break down the barriers between those in urban and rural areas. The mobile museum will visit people around the country and will centre on schools in South Africa with the aim of inspiring young people to express themselves in creative ways.

“We are also partnering with the artists to be the narrators of their art and to travel around the countryside and tell their stories,” she said. The Foundation’s logo has been branded onto t-shirts and clothing to attract young people into the culture of art.

“Culture has always been a weapon in South Africa,” Dr. Ramphele said. “The struggle also used culture as a weapon of resistance. Now we must use culture, not as a weapon, but as a shared resource and to effect the healing we yearn for so much. Healing wounds that are 300 years old will take a long time.”

The Foundation’s goal is to create a living project dedicated to the nation’s healing process. In so doing, the Foundation, whose Board of Directors includes luminaries such as musician Hugh Masakela, will tell the stories of South Africans who were involved in the production of the country’s heritage from the missing era and promote an enlightened and democratic society by sharing the beliefs and dreams of South Africans of a past era with future generations.

To learn more about Ifa Lethu or to lend your support: www.ifalethu.org.za

The true and inspiring story of how singing has propelled a children’s choir from a South African township onto the world stage.

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