Since travelling into the Sahel region of Northern Western Africa (Mali, Niger, Libya, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania) in 1999, French photographer Arnaud Contreras has been documenting the intersection of music and youth culture in these areas, as well as the juxtaposition of where Western influences meet local cultures and traditions, something seen in the music of bands like Tinariwen that combine sounds of the electric guitar with their own Malian musical heritage.
All this happening against the background of areas that have become highly susceptible to threats of terrorism, human trafficking, migration of undocumented persons, and the pressures on cultural and natural heritages from tourism, governmental authorities and other infringing groups.
Humans of Accra, Ghana
Inspired by the now well-known photoblogger Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York, similarly named Humans of Accra is a brand new on-going project by Yaw Binew, a 19-year-old IT student at the Ghana Technology University College who merges his hobby of photography with social media and the love he has of Ghana’s capital city.
Although he doesn’t have a camera of his own, that doesn’t stop Yaw from taking to the streets in his spare time and capturing the people of Accra, engaging with them and sharing short stories of their lives. Despite his enthusiasm, it is not the easiest of missions. As Yaw says:
"My first day experience, I will never forget. I had the impression that it would be easy getting photos of people out there, but it wasn’t. I had a lot of people rejecting me because either they didn’t like the idea of being photographed by a stranger or they didn’t want to be on the internet for any reason. It really got to me but I had to psych myself up for the future because it is not everybody who will want the photo taken.
I have met many great people who have shared amazing stories and experiences with me. One was about a man who was homeless. Another favourite is the encounter I had with an old man who has been selling used clothes for over 18 years. It really humbled me I should say.
I hope I continue to meet great people who will keep sharing great stories with me.”
September: Highlighting African Photographers
In a recent interview, African entrepreneur, Tony Elumelu spoke about the rules of engagement for business in Africa emphasizing that Africa is open for business but not at any cost. “Africa’s economic history has been characterised by extractive industries and rent seeking practices that have not created development in any meaningful way. Africapitalism is simply saying there is a better and more ethical way to invest in Africa for a sustainable future.
I would like to see both African and international investors review their strategies for Africa. Yes, we are open for business but not at any cost. Our rules of engagement have changed,” he said.
Elumelu was one of the high profile African business leaders handpicked by the White House to meet with President Obama on his current three country Africa tour. Elumelu, who is the former Chairman of United Bank for Africa and Chairman of diversified investment group, Heirs Holdings recently invested USD300 million in Nigeria’s largest power plant, located in Ughelli, Delta State during the Nigerian government’s recent power privatization process.
Speaking on the motivations behind the group’s investment, he said,”Unlimited access to affordable power in any country is a game changer and will move the needle on the country’s development exponentially. It’s not just the fact that children will be able to do their homework, or that computers and phones can be powered in rural villages; it is also the impact that access to affordable power will have on the economic ecosystem. Prices will come down, entrepreneurs will expand and innovate, and jobs will be created as a result. This is Africapitalism at work.”
Speaking further on his investment in Nigeria’s power sector, Tony Elumelu said: “We played a transformative role in democratizing the banking sector at a time when no one was really paying much attention to Africa, Elumelu says. “We had a clear strategy, first mover advantage and an understanding of what the market needed and we are focused on doing the same for power. We are taking over an old government-run plant that desperately needs rehabilitation and doubling its output within our first two years of operations. By 2017, we will be generating 1000MW of electricity and Nigerians across the country will feel the impact of affordable and consistent power.”
"Over the past five centuries, New World Afrikans forged freedom, built community and a common sense of identity through developing distinct language patterns and methods of preserving history, building Afrikan-centered organizations and institutions like churches, schools, and self-help organizations, and resisting the dehumanizing oppression embedded in the Atlantic World system of global capitalism and white supremacy."
In my mind, my thesis for an in-class Final Exam for History 125a looked like that.
#WorldAIDSDay weekend Sunday viewing: Shuga: Staying Alive - Episode 1
Set in Kenya’s hustle and bustle capital city Nairobi, this MTV Base Africa original series follows the lives of several young Kenyan students as they navigate their way through all the highs and lows, the joys, insecurities and consequences, that come along with love, sex, relationships and the intense ambitions of talented youth trying to make it in the city.
Episode: 2, 3