The first time I saw Rainha Nzinga of Matamba, I was walking across Luanda's Kinaxixi square with a friend. We stopped to admire the vast bronze tribute to the seventeenth-century Mbundu monarch, who not only fought Portuguese armies, but caused consternation among her own people and played a significant role in developing the Angolan slave trade. I was immediately impressed by the statue, although my friend, an Angolan journalist, was less so. 'In real life, you'd have seen her breasts,' he said, 'but they've been covered up to appease our modern sensibilities.'
He is Moroccan and French at the same time. He writes in French and nowadays looks at the social and cultural transformations in the countries of the Arab Spring. And expects the new France will adopt a different attitude relating to dictatorships.
With his two passports and the belief in the writer’s role of “criticizing, denunciating, and intervening”, Tahar Ben Jelloun was at Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation at the end of June for a conference in which his aim was “explaining the Arab Spring”.
And he answers that the production company that he is part of, Generation 80, was born under a very good star: “there is a crisis in the world, money is for some people ever more difficult to get, but technology is also more at hand for everybody. There are advantages in these days of bureaucracies and problems getting a foot in the door – you don’t need an investment of millions to work in this field and to make a film with a camcorder.”
He paid a visit to studios in the musseques (local neighbourhoods), he had talks with producers to give support for his Akwaaba Music, a digital platform dedicated to African music and pop culture, providing visibility for quality people in music who don’t have the structure needed to go far in the business. In the last 3 years, Lebrave has produced works with more than 70 artists from 15 African countries and has been working on the development of a global network covering the production of contents, digital distribution, marketing and licensing.
Yonamine is very spontaneous in his work: he thinks about pictures or objects, old photographs, cigarettes packs, or curious textures, then follows their trail to create, to subvert certain applications and to give them other semiotic readings, by reinventing the fragments of different memories in a register of composed intelligibility. Conflict and unpredictability abound in his work and it’s this not classifiable side that troubles, in a good way, who watches it. You can immediately feel the urgency, and this may come largely from living in Angola.
A particular cultural expression results from an expectation that a group has in relation to the culture and the world, but also in its hereditary burden, in what, in the English-speaking world, is well called heritage. Of course, because of tradition or expectation, many of these cultures and groups come into conflict. It may be productive, since it is assumed as a normal part of democracy. As there is negotiation between groups and cultural expressions, where the intervention in the city and political and social issues cannot be replaced by culture, we find ourselves in a rich and democratic situation. Cultural productions should translate that.
Isn't only about toppling the reigning dictators, but it is an enduring protest movement challenging, at the same time, both various dimensions of the internal social order, especially glaring inequalities in income distribution, and the international order, the place of Arab countries in the global economic order.
David Adjaye, one of the leading architects from his generation, living between London and New York, returned to Lisbon. 'Urban Africa - A Photographic Journey' was the reason why. This exhibition, recently launched at the Black Pavilion of Lisbon City Hall Museum, is a photographic tour but also a retrospective of memories from an architect who never left Africa.
Born in 1966, in Tanzania, from a family of diplomats, he was soon forced to understand the inevitability of travelling, the need to readapt and redefine oneself. Nevertheless, the nomad lifestyle didn’t break his strong relation with the African continent. His work confirms his deep relationship with its landscapes and its places. In Urban Africa (and also in this conversation) David shares his panoramic view of this vast territory and his – spoken – will to live there again.
Why am I not black. Or rather, how did I end up a Mozambican?
These questions about identity are normal. They come up more often when I’m not in Mozambique due to (I assume) lack of historical knowledge. But what does a Mozambican look like? Mozambique, as a nation, didn’t exist until 1975. It was then it was born, a carrier of other nations within its borders, of ethnicities as varied as Shangana, Makonde, descendants from Swahili and Arabs from the North, descendants from Goan, Pakistani, Portuguese, Ronga and so on. With that new country came a new nationality — Mozambican.
Mário Macilau is a photographer (of fragments) of reality. Macilau is a teller of stories and as he narrates he meditates through his images on the social, political and economic environment in his country and in the world, which he explores in its unfeigned naked and raw form. As he states himself, he does not stage or create the photographic moment. His images are instantaneous. He does not seek them, he finds them. Camera in hand, he approaches the countless anonymous people who appear in his work – it is the movement of contemporary man and his relationship with space that interest him.
Interview carried out by online chat, at various times and on various days, punctuated by continual breaks in the Internet connection that maps out the transatlantic and ex-colonial triangulation between Luanda, Angola – Kiluanji Kia Henda’s home, a city that I have never visited; São Paulo, Brazil – my temporary home and the place where I ﬁrst met Kiluanji, a place that is close to the origin of the series presented here; Lisbon, Portugal – my permanent home, source of the schedule drawn up by my computer and Kiluanji’s ex-temporary home.
Passando tempo no mercado, a Feira do Ponto da cidade de São Tomé, Olavo pintou várias séries de quadros com vendedoras. Falava com elas enquanto desenhava esboços, retratou-as na sua vida pública de trabalho. Na tela, as mulheres, cestos e bacias à cabeça, crianças nas costas, a luta diária: ganhar a vida, cuidar da família. O confronto com a vivência quotidiana das vendedoras sobrepôs-se ao seu impacto figurativo e os contornos das mulheres emanciparam-se para delinear os estreitos corredores do mercado. As mulheres moldaram-se nos trajectos repisados por elas todos os dias, e mais tarde os trajectos devolveram-se às mulheres na multiplicidade dos seus caminhos interiores, mais extensos e complexos.
While it is true that African art largely takes place in the Northern hemisphere, and while its major (political, financial, philosophical, aesthetic etc.) advances have taken place here, it is true that the African continent is increasingly asserting itself as an exceptional relational space for cultural agents.
To interpret what it means to be a traveller – in present day terms – is a multifaceted exercise, put in the spotlight even further by the geography and culture that define the point of departure and that of arrival. Human “latitude” is what you find between the distance travelled from the beginning to the end. For many, it’s an agent provocateur that creates a field of artistic and intellectual experimentation where the force of innocuous space takes us to all sorts of exchanges and the construction of new concepts.
The beard was long and white and the hair long too but flowing loose. The face was burnt by the sun and an enormous love for the Namibe desert, where he had spent his childhood . He had been enchanted by the dunes, which looked to him like mountains of gold glittering in the distance. Samuel Aço is the main force behind the Centro de Estudos do Deserto (Centre for Desert Studies). This is an association in the heart of Namibe, in southern Angola, delving into the secrets of one of the country's most inhospitable regions.