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Soccer moms talk Africa and Oprah’s school

February 27th, 2007 | No Comments | Posted in Business, Charity, Film/Television, General, Politics, Travel

Mommycast HostsNot too long ago Oprah was not on my radar. I didn’t watch her show so I didn’t pay attention to anything she did. I usually associated Oprah with feel-good daytime talk shows. It wasn’t until recently that I realized the wand she wields over American culture in general. It’s still a mystery to me how she does this but who can deny the influence she has. The recent Mommycast podcast focusing on Africa is a clear example of Oprah’s influence over what I call the Twinset clan (next time you watch Oprah count the number of twinsets worn in the audience). The Twinset clan is that group of soccer mom types whose purse strings are coveted among marketers. Many are stay-at-home wives of American businessmen who manage the household and have access to endless disposable income. And when Oprah says Africa needs money, they say how much. After the airing of Monday’s “Building a Dream” special about Oprah’s South African girl’s school experience, the tremendously popular Mommycast show has dedicated a whole show, advertisers and all, to the topic of Children in Africa. What makes the particular show interesting is the focus on how African issues are understood in those suburban households. Listen to the show and tell me what you think.

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Hip-hop and democracy in Senegal’s elections

February 26th, 2007 | 3 Comments | Posted in Film/Television, General, Music, Politics, Travel

Democracy in Dakar - Nomadic WaxI’ve often asked if hip-hop can save Africa, and now we’re getting to see for ourselves. Senegal, one of Africa’s most stable democracies, is currently going through elections and as in the past hip-hop is playing a serious role. It’s interesting being an African living in the States and experiencing both African and African-American cultures simultaneously. My position has given me a unique vantage point to which to compare hip-hop’s beginnings and where it has reached both in the States and on the continent. African hip-hop still maintains the revolutionary nature of hip-hop’s beginnings while American hip-hop has grown into a beast of another nature. As American hip-hop has grown to be accepted in the mainstream it has become a music of materialism and shortsighted goals. The music and culture that brought many black Americans out of struggle and strife is threatening to take them right back to those hard times. Maybe this is a lesson for both African and American rappers. Maybe taking American rappers to see the role hip-hop plays in Africa’s youth’s lives, as VH1 did last Thursday, will allow them to see how powerful hip-hop is/was and get them looking at whether they’re using it to it’s full potential. Ben at Nomadic Wax has been documenting the Senegalese elections from a hip-hop perspective with amazing results. The question is though, how closely will African hip-hop youth follow the path of their American counterparts?

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Whitaker wins one for African film industry

February 26th, 2007 | No Comments | Posted in Business, Events, Film/Television, General, Politics, Travel

Foreest Whitaker wins OscarBy now you’ve all heard that Forest Whitaker won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. While this is another big boost for Black actors in general, it is more of a validation of African film. Before the awards I was speaking to my partner at the film commission about what the implications of a win like this will be. One thing he emphasized was how more African films will mean more roles for black actors. I think one thing that many people, especially Africans, overlook is the relationship between African-American progress and African progress. While we rarely expound on the connection, Whitaker’s win shows how African stories can provide unlimited opportunities for African-American actors and producers to create award-winning films. While many producers have looked primarily to South Africa and apartheid for strong African stories in the past, Whitaker’s win shows that there are more than enough stories to develop on the continent. That’s why Dreamgirls’ Danny Glover skipped the Oscars to attend the Pan African Film and Television Festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Now that the word is out, the goal must be to encourage more African screenplays (preferably from Africans themselves) and get African stories told by African people. While I’m glad Warner Bros. made the effort to make Blood Diamond, I think the studios can now see the benefit of telling African stories from an African’s perspective using African/African-American talent. And while “The Last King of Scotland” wasn’t a blockbuster at the theaters, at this point we see there is a large enough audience interested in seeing a African film that is given the budget both independent and blockbuster Western movies enjoy.
Update: The BBC reports about African reactions to the Oscars at the Fespaco film festival in Burkina Faso.

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Djimon Housou to model Calvin Klein underwear

February 24th, 2007 | 2 Comments | Posted in Books/Magazines, Business, Events, Fashion, Film/Television, General

Djimon Hounsou in Beauty ShopI usually don’t blog on weekends (gotta spend time with the family) but it’s Oscar weekend and I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t report this breaking news. In the lead up to tomorrow’s Academy Awards, Calvin Klein Inc. has announced that it will feature Oscar-nominated Djimon Hounsou in its Fall 2007 Calvin Klein Underwear advertising campaign. While modeling is not new territory for Hounsou, becoming the face of Calvin Klein underwear at this point in his stellar career is worth noting. Seen as a true American brand, Calvin Klein’s underwear campaigns have often been seen as risqué and trendsetting. As many of you will remember Hounsou was discovered by fashion designer/photographer Thierry Mugler and spent several years modeling before he burst onto the international scene in Janet Jackson’s video “Love Will Never Do (Without You)”. The Fall 2007 Calvin Klein Underwear campaign, which will be shot in late March or early April and will appear internationally in more than 20 countries in global print and outdoor advertising in the fall. The campaign involving Hounsou will coincide with the 25th anniversary of Calvin Klein Underwear and the launch of a new product Calvin Klein Steel. Whether or not Hounsou wins the Best Supporting Actor Oscar tomorrow night in his Ozwald Boateng suit, we’re guaranteed to be seeing a lot more of him this year.

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This week in African Style 2/17 – 2/23/07

February 23rd, 2007 | 2 Comments | Posted in Business, Charity, Fashion, Film/Television, General, Music, Politics

• “Black Gold”, African coffee documentary, to air on PBS.

• African countries ready themselves for the roll out of One Laptop Per Child initiative.

• Africa tops Mideast as US crude oil source.

• Akon teams up with Verizon for TV campaign.

• PRODUCT RED – In the black?

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Madonna promotes children’s book in Malawi

February 22nd, 2007 | No Comments | Posted in Books/Magazines, Business, Charity, General, Travel

So it seems that Madonna’s children’s book “The English Roses: Too Good To Be True” was translated into Chichewa, the national language of Malawi. Madonna’s proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to Raising Malawi, an orphan-care initiative. Here’s some video of Madonna presenting the book to her adopted son’s countrymen. I especially like the part where she encourages them to read it because there will be a book report later. (via Ecorazzi)

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Jay-Z’s Rocawear South Africa ads

February 22nd, 2007 | 12 Comments | Posted in Business, Charity, Fashion, General, Music, Travel

Jay-Z Rocawear ad campaign AfricaWhatever happened to Jay-Z’s Water For Life campaign? I thought there was supposed to be a documentary airing on MTV. Always the business-MAN, Jay seemed to have squeezed in a new ad campaign for Rocawear while he was in South Africa. You can’t miss the campaign which is splashed all over the first 20 or so pages of Vibe’s new issue. Here are some scans from the campaign. More scans at Stylemix. Trend Alert: Animal print is in.

Jay-Z Rocawear ad campaign Africa 1

Jay-Z Rocawear ad campaign Africa 3

Jay-Z Rocawear ad campaign Africa 4

Jay-Z Rocawear ad campaign Africa 5

Jay-Z Rocawear ad campaign Africa 8

Jay-Z Rocawear ad campaign Africa 6

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Ghanians define foreign films

February 22nd, 2007 | 1 Comment | Posted in Film/Television, General

Ghanaian film postersNot too long ago Dazed & Confused magazine put together an exhibit of Ghanaian film posters. Besides the artistic value, these posters are a glimpse into how foreign movies translate to African communities. The collection is online at the magazine’s website.

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Reuters and Africa 2.0

February 22nd, 2007 | 1 Comment | Posted in Business, Events, Film/Television, General, Politics, Travel

The recent news of Reuters’ new Africa website which includes African bloggers is BIG. Not only because of the idea that there’s more than enough news coming out of Africa to fuel a separate site, but also because it’s a major boost for African voices. With the incorporation of Global Voices blog posts, Reuters dares to shine a light on the African people themselves. While diehard news buffs can still rely on sites like and CNN for news, Reuters introduces a opinionated human element to their stories. With bloggers taking over traditional media, this move is nothing new but for us Africans it’s a huge step. Many of us have complained for years about the one-sided image the media shows of us and have blamed everyone but ourselves (maybe rightfully so). Wherever the blame lies, we’ve got the mic now guys, what are we going to say.

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Malian director puts globalization on trial

February 21st, 2007 | No Comments | Posted in Business, Film/Television, General, Politics

Bamako movie premiereI made note earlier of the movie Bamako, but it certainly deserves more than a side-note. Co-produced by Danny Glover, the movie Bamako has been taking the film critics by storm. Directed by Mauritanian-Malian director Abderrahmane Sissako Bamako is a fictional story of a trial where ordinary Malians hold international financial institutions (World Bank, IMF) to account for what they see as the damage caused by neoliberal policies. I must admit I haven’t seen the movie but from what I’ve heard and a look at the trailer below, it’s a must see.

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