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”My work is predominantly recycled plastics on plastic melted with hot air gun,” says Mbongeni Buthelezi.  Originally, Buthelezi wanted to be a sculptor but another artist convinced him to try other art forms. Buthelezi decided on painting and drawing but found that he could not afford paints and canvasses so he had to improvise. Drawing inspiration from a Swiss artist who used plastic as his canvas, Buthelezi started using plastic materials to create his pieces. He perfected his techniques and became critically acclaimed for “painting” with plastic.

Artist Mbongeni Buthelezi

Source http://isthisafrica.com/plastic-art/

Google Doodle to commemorate Freedom Day in South Africa. 

On April 27, 1994 , the Republic of South Africa held the first general election in which all races were allowed to vote. The election marked the official end of apartheid in South Africa. Millions of people queued over a three-day period to cast their ballots for the first time in their lives.  Close to 20 million votes were counted and Nelson Mandela was elected the first black President of South Africa.

April 27 is now known as Freedom Day; it commemorates this first election while promoting democracy and celebrating freedom.

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One of our favorite TEDxEuston talks came from Trevor Ncube. His inspirational talk was entitled Embracing Life’s Challenges. In discussing his own life and the challenges he faced, Ncube reminds us not to underestimate the importance of good teachers’s role as people who believe in young people and raise their self esteem. He said, “[T]eachers can build or destroy…we all need someone who believes in us, we all need affirmation.”

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Lebohang Masango (aka King Nova) first performed this piece at the Word N’ Sound series. It won her the Queen of the Mic title. 

When asked why she wrote “The House That We Built,” this was her response:

“I remember being annoyed with my class-privileged friends saying that I ‘worry too much about poor people’ and that I wasn’t around when Apartheid happened. This poem was written in response to the overwhelming ignorance that prevails around the South African condition and, really, the lack of compassion shown by people who are not directly affected by the sort of issues that actually imprison the daily lives of others.

This poem is a house. And in building it, I hoped that the audience would understand that South Africa belongs to all who live in it and therefore, we are all responsible for what becomes of it in future. We can only move towards better when every citizen is willing to acknowledge the role played by themselves and their ancestors in the creation of our current situation.

That means: an end to Apartheid denialism and all the denialism around white and male privilege and also for People of Colour to love themselves again without subjecting themselves to a self-imposed white supremacist gaze.”

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Today marks nine years since the untimely passing of Brenda Fassie on May 9,2004. The South African afro-pop singer was dubbed the “Madonna of the Townships” by Time Magazine and affectionately known as MaBrr by her fans died after an apparent drug overdose led to cardiac arrest. Throughout her career as one of the most successful singers in South Africa’s history, the multi-platinum selling artist won numerous South African Music Awards and a Kora Award

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Intersexions  Episode 21: Close friends, Ella and Shado are unknowingly involved in a love triangle with their colleague Sambulo. How long can he keep this game up and at what expense?

The award-winning series, Intersexions, is back for a second season. Intersexions comprises of 26 independent but interrelated episodes “that examine how that which remains unsaid in love, relationships and sex may place us at greatest risk of HIV  infection.”  The concept is similar to that of Love Games Zambia and Shuga (Kenya) and it has been just as successful in South Africa.  In addition to the episode which airs on SABC 1 every Tuesday at 8pm, there are weekly radio programs to discuss the shows’ topics on 10 radio stations across the country and an interactive and informational portion of the website.

For more on Intersexions click here

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Tara Durotoye is convinced that consistency plus the grace of God have been the keys to her success. Durotoye is the founder and CEO of Nigeria’s House of Tara International, a makeup company she started  in her early twenties by going from door to door doing Bridal makeup.  Durotoye admits that when she started, she had no idea that House of Tara would grow to compete with International brands in Nigeria. In fact, she struggled to get financing in the beginning during the late 90s; ”a lot of banks were very reluctant to finance our business, because they did not understand the business model. It was a new business in Nigeria, so you see we were pioneering,” she says. Many banks did not want to take the risk with the concept, there were too many unanswered questions:

Why would she sell her own makeup brand when International ones existed?

Why would anyone want to buy her brand of makeup?

Why would people pay to have their makeup done when they could do it themselves?

Even without funding, Durotoye was not defeated. “Look within, you always have enough to start,” says Durotoye. That positive attitude helped her to think of creative ways to grow the business until they finally got funding.  She recalls that the story was inspirational but more importantly, they had the facts and figures to back it up. All of the previous questions were slowly being answered as House of Tara went from strength to strength each year. It did not happen overnight but  House of Tara has grown into a full-fledged beauty brand for African women with its own line of products, 11 branches across Nigeria and training schools for aspiring makeup artists. In addition, House of Tara allows young women to become distributors, over 15 years, they have recruited an estimated 3000 who have sold or are still selling the brand. This is Durotoye’s contribution to financially empowering young women.

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Nigerian Author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, on why we should all be feminists.

Adichie, was one of the speakers at TedxEuston. Adichie showed that her oral skills are just as sharp as her writing skills while discussing feminism, particularly in the context of Africa and Africans. Using anecdotes from her interactions with various people from waitresses and journalists to family and friends she describes how men and women experience the world different and why that should change.

She addressed and dismissed the notion that feminism is unAfrican. “An academic, a Nigerian woman, told me that feminism was not our culture, that feminism was unAfrican, and that I was calling myself a feminist because I had been corrupted by Western books,” said Adichie. She laughed as she told that story but her message was clear, that feminism matters and it is not just a cause for women.

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Zazi is a new campaign in South Africa geared towards young women. The Nguni word, Zazi, means “know yourself” and the campaign asks young women to know themselves and their values in order to anchor themselves and overcome the challenges they face. The campaign was developed by a variety of organizations: the South African National AIDS Council  (SANAC), SANAC Women’s Sector and the USAID/JHU HIV Communication programme (the people who brought you Intersexions) to name a few. The symbolic sign of the campaign is a green knot which represents strength and togetherness. The color green was chosen to represent a new-season, rebirth and new beginnings; a reminder that young women can always reinvent themselves and continue to fulfill their potential.

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”My work is predominantly recycled plastics on plastic melted with hot air gun,” says Mbongeni Buthelezi.  Originally, Buthelezi wanted to be a sculptor but another artist convinced him to try other art forms. Buthelezi decided on painting and drawing but found that he could not afford paints and canvasses so he had to improvise. Drawing inspiration from a Swiss artist who used plastic as his canvas, Buthelezi started using plastic materials to create his pieces. He perfected his techniques and became critically acclaimed for “painting” with plastic.

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Airtel Money advertisement in Malawi. 

by Zanele Mhlaba

I have always enjoyed reading. At boarding school in grade six, we would have competitions to see who could read the most books in the least amount of time.  Every week we were allowed to pick  a book from the school’s one room library which was filled with secondhand books from the UK and America. Maybe it was because cellphones were not as widely available then, but everyone read so much. At night after lights-out, the braver ones would go into the bathroom and read there while the rest of us would hope the light streaming in from outside would be enough to help us see the words on the pages of our books. What were we reading? Well, personally I could not get enough of Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High and the Baby Sitters Club. Even though there was never anything I could relate to, never any descriptions of places I had been to or people who looked like me, I loved those books. I could not get enough of them and I never wondered what authors in Zimbabwe were writing about or if they wrote at all. I get the feeling that if he knew me, Chinua Achebe would have scolded me for that.

I knew how important Things Fall Apart was before I ever laid eyes on it. I remember my mother mentioning Okonkwo as though he was an actual historical figure, as if he had been alive and died at some point. She is a historian, she talks about so many events and characters so this was not unusual. What made this different was that she was not alone; it seemed like everyone talked about Okonkwo and Chinua Achebe and Things Fall Apart. So, I knew they were important.

I was so excited when the announcement was made  that we would be reading Things Fall Apart in our 10th grade English class. Finally I would get to see what all the fuss was about. After reading The Canterbury Tales and Beowulf, I was counting on Things Fall Apart to put me out of my misery and be worth the hype.  Along with my excitement I also felt a tinge of pressure; I was the only African in the class so I knew people would expect me to have something to say because anytime Africa was mentioned, everyone would turn to me to confirm or deny whatever had just been said. My teacher wanted us to focus on themes of fate and destiny, she wanted to teach us about irony and discuss the imagery of this and that but my mind was elsewhere.  When I read this book it was a literary experience like one I had never had before. I was intrigued that 45 years after the book was first publish, I could identify with people, places and lifestyles for the first time ever. All I could think about was home — I thought of my gogo in her village and wondered if she could relate to the people of Umuofia, I thought of my father who had been schooled by missionaries in his village, and I thought about my own struggle with tradition, change and assimilation in America.  Things Fall Apart moved me. It was the first and only time in my primary and secondary education that an African author would be a mandatory reading assignment and it was indeed worth the hype.

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DRB LasGidi is a Nigerian musical group made up of 3 members, two rappers Fresh L (Ladi Ladinegan), TeeZee (Teni Zaccheaus) and singer Boj (Bolaji Odojukan). The group’s style incorporate’s Afrobeats, Hip-Hop and R&B.

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Mutsa Marau, 29, was born and raised in London, England. She has always remained connected to her African heritage and in 2011 she set out to Zambia for four months to implement an HIV prevention peer-to-peer project. “I wanted to create a platform on which people could stand and learn from each other, growth could happen and it could all be transparent, creative, fun, and educational,” she says. Marau wants to effect change at the grassroots level rather than being a “top-heavy charity providing aid.” While she supports international aid after disasters, Marau believes that the concept of aid must be reevaluated. ” I really don’t understand how something, like AID, that is without an exit strategy can be viewed as being helpful in the long-term. It’s not sustainable to just keep pumping money.” Meet Musta is a manifestation of a duty Marau felt to make a difference in the fight against HIV but to do so in a way that allows people to learn from each other as equals. She describes the journey as “humbling, revealing, overwhelming, fun, blessed and a process.” A process that has been well documented through Social Media; all in the name of transparency and accountability. We interviewed her to find out more about her “Catch Me I’m a Butterfly Project” in Mukuni, Zambia.

Read the interview HERE

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The award-winning series, Intersexions, is back for a second season. Intersexions comprises of 26 independent but interrelated episodes “that examine how that which remains unsaid in love, relationships and sex may place us at greatest risk of HIV  infection.”  The concept is similar to that of Love Games Zambia and Shuga (Kenya) and it has been just as success in South Africa.  In addition to the episode which airs on SABC 1 every Tuesday at 8pm, there are weekly radio programs to discuss the shows’ topics on 10 radio stations across the country and an interactive and informational portion of the website.

For more episodes and to read more, click here

www.isthisafrica.com

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The third installment of MTV’s Shuga premeries on Dec. 1 (World AIDS Day). Check out this trailer.

http://www.shuga.tv

Catch all of the episodes from Shuga 2 HERE

DIARY: My "AU at 50" Experience

Mazuba Kapambwe was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during the African Union 50th Anniversary summit. She shares her experience with us in a five-part series. Kapambwe is the co-founder of Zambian social media management and content generation firm, C1rca 1964. She blogs HERE

Part I: The more things change, the more they remain the same. 

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia has definitely changed a lot in the 6 years I have been away. For one thing, you now need an invitation letter to go there. I found out about that an hour before my plane was due to leave the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka, Zambia from the not-so-nice woman who was weighing my baggage and checking my passport.

“I don’t see a visa here. And where is your invitation letter?” She demanded.

As the airport employee next to her took my passport and spotted my last name; she asked if I was Ambassador Lazarous Kapambwe of the AU’s daughter and upon my confirmation, she demanded that the lady stamp my passport. The more things change, the more they stay the same in Africa, it seems. She even conveniently ignored my slightly overweight baggage. I almost asked her to escort me to the VIP lounge for good measure, but that would have been pushing my luck.

In the immigration office at Bole Airport in Addis, I was once again asked for my letter of invitation which I was required to present in order to be given a $20 visa, but I mentioned ‘my father works at the AU and here’s his business card” and no more questions were asked. The lesson: It’s always who you know or who you are in Africa.

Signs of the AU 50 anniversary celebrations were everywhere in Addis. From the ‘AU at 50’ theme of  ‘Selamta’ (The In Flight magazine of Ethiopian Airlines) to the  billboards on the streets of Bole that competed for attention alongside the ones featuring tributes to Ethiopia’s late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Flags from every African country adorned the streets, and security was tight with the presence of blue camouflaged -wearing soldiers everywhere who blocked off several roads.

Read Parts II and III here

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