Recent Posts

  • Africa in vibrant technicolor, Paul Sika talks to CNN

    Posted May 4, 2010 By in Art, Books/Magazines, Business, Featured, Film/Television With | 6 Comments

    One of  the most dynamic, engaging young creative talents coming out of the African continent recently is Ivorian photographer/creative director Paul Sika. After being introduced about a year ago by a mutual friend, I was impressed by his creative vision and passion. Paul’s use of color and juxtaposition of characters in his photo and video creations expose a new way of looking at contemporary African life, culture, and style. A true entrepreneur, Paul has put together an upcoming book titled “At The Heart Of Me …” featuring his intricate work and concepts. As I mentioned in my earlier post “Top 6 African business and culture trends to watch in 2010“, Paul Sika is one of the African creative class making an impact this year. For more about Paul Sika and his upcoming book, visit


    Trailer for the book “At The Heart Of Me …” by Paul Sika

    CNN Inside Africa’s Isha Sesay talks to Ivorian photographer Paul Sika about his vibrant images, filled with eye-catching colors.

    If you can’t see the videos above, go here to view

  • Bill Gates: Mobiles not PCs for global health in developing markets

    Posted April 28, 2010 By in Business, Charity, Events, Film/Television, General, Politics, Technology, Travel With | Comments Off on Bill Gates: Mobiles not PCs for global health in developing markets


    Microsoft Chairman and philanthropist Bill Gates recently sat down at UC Berkeley to discuss the need for personal computers versus cell phones in so-called developing markets.

  • Africa’s digital revolution (video)

    Posted April 26, 2010 By in Business, Film/Television, General, Technology With | Comments Off on Africa’s digital revolution (video)

    Radio Netherlands Worldwide features a short video on Africa’s digital revolution. The video, highlights the use of digital tools, online and mobile, by young Kenyans to bridge the learning and economic gap. A key observation when watching the video is the underlying shift from formal organized education to informal individual education as a result of Kenyan youth’s access to technological tools. Watch the feature below featuring Mark Kamau of Nairobits and John Karanja of Whive.

    Nairobi is buzzing! There is an energetic and innovative vibe in the city. A young generation has risen to take matters into their own hands.

    CNBC Africa: East Africa Business Report on Social Media from Moses Kemibaro on Vimeo

    If you can’t see the videos above go here to view

  • African youth and the African brand (presentation)

    Posted April 21, 2010 By in Business, Editor's Note, Fashion, Featured, Film/Television, General, Music, Technology, Travel With | 4 Comments

    A few weeks ago, I was honored to be invited to Harvard University to give a short talk and participate in the  Rebranding Africa through the Youth panel as part of their Africa Focus series. The panel was a lively, collaborative one with both panelists and attendees providing perspectives on the topic. As a follow-up, I’ve put together a slide deck of my prep notes and am sharing here. Hopefully, the presentation embedded below will allow those who couldn’t attend the event a chance to join in and continue the conversation here and elsewhere. Feel free to download and share the presentation. You can contact me here or on Twitter (@GKofiAnnan) for further info or to discuss. Thanks to the Harvard team, especially Essie Yamoah and Julia Mensah, for having me up.

    The youth and branding Africa

    If you can’t see the presentation above go here to view
  • 42 country, 100 exhibit Africa Pavilion unveiled for 2010 Shanghai World Expo

    Posted April 19, 2010 By in Business, Events, Film/Television, General, Music, Politics, Travel With | 4 Comments


    50 African nations and the African Union will present their interpretations of the “Better City, Better Life” theme in Shanghai, China at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo running May 1 to October 31. Along with a number of other countries, African governments and businesses will exhibit at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo in efforts to showcase tourism and trade potential. Of the 50 African nations exhibiting, 42 have joined forces to build the Joint-Africa Pavilion, a 22.6 thousand square meters (243,264.38 sq. ft) exhibit hall with individual country exhibition areas and over 100 exhibits from Africa. Located near a main entrance of the expo, construction for the Joint-Africa Pavilion began in August 2008, and is developed in part with investment money from a $100-million fund set up by the organizers of the expo for the over 100 participating developing countries participating. The remaining 8 African countries exhibiting, including South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria, will rent their own separate pavilions.

    The Joint African Pavilion consists of exhibitions provided by 42 African countries including Angola, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Zambia, and Sudan. The Pavilion embraces the theme of “The Great Ballad of Africa”. It aims to represent the cultural diversity, solidarity, and the rosy future of the African countries. Welcoming visitors at the entrance of the Pavilion is “Lucy”, a 3-and-a-half million year old fossil of a female hominid. She was discovered in Ethiopia in 1974.” – CCTV

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    Of the 191 countries participating in the World Expo in Shanghai, most are investing record amounts to build pavilions., Most world governments will be providing the bulk of investment, with heads of state promising to make special appearances. In an effort to solidify Shanghai as a global city, China itself is spending $4.2 billion on transforming the world’s fair to a blowout extravaganza, surpassing it’s recent efforts on producing the Beijing Olympics. “Compared with the Olympics, the expo will have a richer culture,” said Zhu Yonglei, deputy director-general of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination. “It will be more interesting.” An extimated 70 million visitors from the public and private sectors, civil society, international organizations and others will attend the Shanghai World Expo, making it the largest World Expo in history.

    More images of the Joint-Africa Pavilion available here and here.

    Video: Joint African Pavilion unveils design

    Video: South Africa at World Expo

    If you can’t see the videos above go here to view

  • African contemporary art having a global renaissance (videos)

    Posted April 15, 2010 By in Art, Books/Magazines, Business, Events, General, Travel With | 3 Comments

    CNN’s Inside Africa recently aired a series of features on the growing global demand for contemporary art. View the 3 parts of the feature below.

    Part 1

    Johannesburg Contemporary Art Fair
    The Johannesburg Art Fair recently showcased the works of 400 African contemporary artists, attracting more than 10,000 visitors. – CNN Inside Africa

    PART 2

    First US-based commercial art auction dedicated solely to contemporary African art
    Auction house Bonhams’ recent ‘Africa Now’ auction in New York was first commercial auction dedicated solely to contemporary African art in the United States

    Part 3

    Ghana’s ancient beads back in vogue
    A new generation of Ghanaians are rediscovering their heritage — and rediscovering the appeal of traditional beads – CNN Inside Africa

    If you can’t view the videos above go here to watch

  • ESPN channels Apartheid-era South Africa for 2010 FIFA World Cup ad

    Posted April 12, 2010 By in Business, Events, Film/Television, General, Politics, Sports, Travel With | Comments Off on ESPN channels Apartheid-era South Africa for 2010 FIFA World Cup ad

    For it’s part in the 2010 FIFA World Cup advertising wars, ESPN is channeling a major part of South Africa’s history:  Apartheid. The sports channel is starting it’s World Cup advertising with a Wieden + Kennedy created spot highlighting the importance of  football (soccer to Americans) at South Africa’s infamous Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. The commercial is part of a four-part series which will be rolled out over the course of the months before the World Cup start on June 11.

    Our goal with this spot is to educate people about the historical significance of the World Cup being played in South Africa. – ESPN Marketing Director Seth Ader

    Watch the commercial below and let me know what you think in the comments below.

    via Adrants

    If you can’t see the video above, go here.

  • Celebrity colonization of Africa (infographic)

    Posted April 9, 2010 By in Books/Magazines, Business, Charity, Film/Television, General, Politics, Travel With | 1 Comment

    Much has been said of celebrities taking an interest in Africa. Celebrities like Oprah, Madonna, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Danny Glover and, of course, Bono,  have pusued a wide range of Africa-related causes and initiatives to mixed response here and elsewhere in the media. For their March/April issue Mother Jones magazine has put together a fun interactive map outlining which American celebrities have been most involved in which African countries. The Mother Jones feature also contains a mini timeline of celebrity involvement in Africa. Click on the infographic below to access the full interactive map.


    Ego Trips: What can Africa do for you? (via Mother Jones)

    “My life changed, really, there.” —Bono

    “Totally changed my life.” —Alicia Keys

    “It’s changed my life.” —Country singer Michelle Wright

    “This trip has changed my life.” —NFL player Reggie Bush

    “One of those things which will sort of change your life.” —American Idol‘s Simon Cowell

    “It truly was a life-changing experience.” —The OC‘s Mischa Barton

    “It was truly a life-changing adventure!” —Disney teen star Selena Gomez

    * h/t @kenyanpundit *

  • NY African Film Festival opens, celebrates World Cup and independent Africa

    Posted April 7, 2010 By in Art, Business, Events, Film/Television, General, Music, Politics, Religion, Sports, Travel With | Comments Off on NY African Film Festival opens, celebrates World Cup and independent Africa


    The 17th annual New York African Film Festival (NYAFF) has opened on April 7th celebrating the 50th anniversary of 17 African nations’ independence from colonial rule as well as the freedom that the rise in technology has given African filmmakers to tell their own stories. Among the 13 features and 25 short films from emerging and veteran filmmakers from 18 countries are four soccer films in honor of the World Cup’s first games in Africa opening in June 2010, an animated short program, Focus Features’ Africa First short program and an environmental film.

    The festival runs from April 7 through the 13th at The Film Society of Lincoln Center and continues at Columbia University’s Institute for African Studies, 3ten Lounge, New Museum and the Brooklyn Academy of Music BAMcinématek with dates in April and May. Some films showing during the festival include The Absence, directed by Mama Keïta (Senegal/France), Eliane de Latour’s narrative film Beyond the Ocean, winner of the Jury Prize at the Festival des Cinéma du Monde 2009, and Wanuri Kahiu’s Pumzi, which I highlighted here before.

    Take a look at the full film schedule.

    On Saturday, April 10, a panel discussion will also be held where established and aspiring directors and producers will learn how to craft an attention-getting pitch and utilize social networking tools at “Getting Exposure: Securing the Buzz You Need for Your Film.” The panel takes place at The Film Society of Lincoln Center at 1:30 pm, and is part of  the film festivals “Independent Africa”.

    Panelists will include Jennifer Merin, film journalist with and founder of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists; Misani, culture writer for the Amsterdam News; Paul Burani, social media strategist; and Pam Pickens, digital marketing expert. The event, which is open to the public, will be moderated by veteran entertainment publicist and NYAFF’s public relations consultant Cheryl L. Duncan of Cheryl Duncan & Company Inc.

    For panel or film tickets, go to

  • Notes from Columbia U’s 2010 Africa Economic Forum

    Posted April 1, 2010 By in Art, Books/Magazines, Business, Events, Fashion, Film/Television, General, Politics, Sports, Technology, Travel With | Comments Off on Notes from Columbia U’s 2010 Africa Economic Forum

    2010-AEF-Logo-300x223Last week I attended Columbia University’s annual African Economic Forum (AEF). The two-day conference was a diverse and insightful one with discussions ranging from Branding Africa to the growing, sometimes controversial China-Africa relationship. The organizers put together a great program with much discussion during and in-between panels. While I couldn’t attend the full program, I was able to participate in some great discussions with attendees and panelists in the Africa Arena. I’ve provided my notes from the discussions I was able to attend below. My notes cover a mixture of discussion topics and perspectives from the esteemed panelists and attendees. Please keep in mind that the notes below are portions of the hour plus long discussions from my perspective as an attendee. If you have any insight into any of the topics in my notes please feel free to comment. For clarification on any of the points in my notes please shoot me an email.

    Panel: African Fashion Going Global
    Moderator: ZANDILE BLAY, Market Editor, Paper Magazine
    Panelists: OLUCHI, Supermodel and the Original Face of Africa; BUSIE MATSIKO, CEO and Co-Founder, Fashion Indie Media; AISHA OBUOBI, Designer & Founder, Christie Brown; MIMI PLANGE, Designer and Founder, Boudoir D’huîtres

    • Should Africans sell primarily to Africans?
    • African designers are more torn about designing Africa-inspired clothes vs. other western designers designing Africa-inspired clothes
    • Western designers are not limited or stigmatized when using African influences in designs
    • Should there be an African fashion capital? Some panelists say no
    • Is there a viable African consumer enough to support African fashion industry?
    • Designers don’t want to get pigeonholed as an ethnic designer; need room for growth
    • There is very limited support (i.e. factories, retail outlets) for African designers on the continent
    • Some panelists say African designers should focus on African consumers rather than targeting global consumers first
    • There is lack of business expertise among designers on the continent
    • Designers need to partner up with business professionals on the continent
    • Pricing African designs is tricky
    • Not too many Africans will pay high prices to support African designers
    • There are two types of African consumers: 1) those that travel and buy high-end western clothes 2) the locals who can’t afford couture and buy mass
    • It’s hard to produce on the continent particularly if you’re not doing mass production
    • Many African designers aspire to go to South Africa fashion week because it’s the top African continent fashion industry
    • Just like you don’t only have New Yorkers in New York Fashion week, South Africa’s Fashion Week has Africans from all over continent
    • African designers get inspiration from everywhere just like other designers
    • Some African designers are more drawn to cultural design than others


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