June 22, 2007
To all African sirens out there, starting today I’m running a fun contest that I dubbed African Beauty au Naturel. The contest will reward its winner the following gift cards: $25 Itunes, $25 Target and $25 Best Buy. As its name implies, the object of the contest is to crown the most beautiful African girl without make-up or artificial apparatus, yes totally “au naturel”, no cheating!! To participate, just send a couple of your most enchanting photos to the following email address along with a short bio of yourself (ie. name, where from, etc.): firstname.lastname@example.org (just remove the last m) . The winner will be announced here next week Wednesday. Although the contest is open to all, keep in mind that you can only use the gift cards in the US of A :-(. Bonne chance to all and thank you for participating!
It is also in the spirit of beauty that I offer this video of Nigerian artist 2 Face, in this popular song rightfully called “African Queen”. Good week-end to all!!!
Photo source: http://www.theportraitpainter.com
June 21, 2007
If it isn’t the week of features uh, here’s yet another rubric that I’m adding to “I’m An African in NY” because I thought it’d be fun. So the rubric is called An African Face in NY. I will be posting a pic and a short bio (an interview of sort) of Africans from all walks of life. This way you get to see that not all of us in NY are bootleggers, braid hair for instance. But yea I might have a bootleg dude once in a while (I said from all walks of life right?). So I’m planning on walking up to random people who look African (wtf does an African look like anyway) and ask them to feature. If they refuse I’ll take a photo of them anyway and run. Or I just might ask some of my friends to feature. In any case check out the first African face next week. In the meantime here’s an African face for you…yes that’s me, what’s your point you little bugger…
June 21, 2007
I’m starting this week a new rubric called Video of the Week where I’ll share with you my musical “coup de coeurs”, past as well as present. Today’s feature will be a video of the France based Congolese (Brazzaville) rap collective known as Bisso Na Bisso (meaning ‘between us’ in Lingala). The video is a parody of African government leaders concern with stuffing their pockets during their tenure rather the welfare of the people who put them in office. Bisso Na Bisso was banned from performing in their native country of Congo upon release of “Racines” (roots) their debut album in 1999. The title of the song (dans la peau d’un chef) can be translated as ‘in the shoes of an elected or appointed official’. And oh the song is in French 😉
June 20, 2007
At first I used to regard claims of Ivorian music being superior in entertainment value to Congolese music as absurd, but now…well I still do :-D. It’s just that more than ever before you West Africans out there truly believe the hype. When I speak of music I’m referring of course to Soukous and Coupé-Décalé (C-D), musical genres born in DR Congo and Cote D’Ivoire respectively. Although C-D is a lot younger than Soukous, it has grown in popularity as quickly as it took the Spurs to handle the Cavs (can you tell I’m a NBA fan:-D). Ok you get it, in just a few years it has spread like the plague, to the point where you can now hear shouts of “travaillement”, “pan pan saute-mouton”, “Saga-citer” – and other cries typical to a C-D tune – in Soukous songs. Despite its rise in popularity (there’s even a Coupé-Décalé work-out DVD out there!), I maintain that it is absurd to think that it is taking over from Soukous since the former heavily borrows in style from the latter. In fact you can often hear some Lingala phrases in C-D! I’m not hating though, it is very fun to dance although I must admit to my initial reluctance to catch the fever. Perhaps what makes C-D fun is the fact that there so many variants out there such as Décalé Chinois (Chinese Décalé), grippe aviaire (bird flu), Drogba-citer (after the Ivoirian footballer) etc. much more ways to express yourself than just Ndombolo for instance:-D. Today at almost every African party, it is a must for DJs to have a Soukous and a C-D play list. It’s just not an African party without those 2. Still, my loyalty remains with Soukous. Ok…maybe I’m a little biased being Congolese and all, but what do you think?
You can watch clips of Coupé-Décalé and Soukous here.
June 18, 2007
I mentioned last week that I was going to experience African cuisine every week-end this summer for fun. And so fun started this past Saturday when I made a stop at “Chez Vero” also known as “Akwaaba” which means “welcome” in the Agni dialect. The restaurant is a few blocks away from my place so no going out of my way here for food:-D. Akwaaba serves mostly Ivoirian food but other West African dishes are also available such as thiebou djeun. So after half a day of starving myself in anticipation of my trip to Akwaaba, the wait was finally over the minute I started devouring a dish of foutou banane and sauce graine. Aww good God, what a liberation:-D, this popular Ivorian meal was even more delicious than I recalled (from my days in Abidjan). The sauce is made from African palm nut pulp (Elaesis guineensis) with pieces of beef in it. Although it is consumed throughout tropical Africa, sauce graine is often said to have originated from the Cote D’Ivoire. In fact, I’d say the combo of sauce graine and foutou banane are the best things to happen to Cote D’Ivoire, after footballer Didier Drogba of course :-D. As for foutou banane, it’s made from mashed plantain and yams. Akwaaba restaurant (the sign reads Chez Vero:-/) is located on 116th street between Park and Madison avenue in Harlem. I’ll update the post with the exact address later. Stay tuned for next Sunday’s mystery destination ;-).
June 15, 2007
Jazz songstress Cassandra Wilson is holding her after-Summer Stage-party at the Shrine in Harlem tonight. Come hang out if you got nothing better to do. Shoot, there’s no cover charge so what you got to lose? :-). See you tonight, if not you all have a great week-end ;-). Below is a clip of Cassandra doing a cover of Bob Marley’s Redemption song.
June 15, 2007
So you’ve heard the buzz about the Vanity Fair July 07 issue about Africa guest edited by Bono, and you’ve seen the many covers of the issue graced by those celebrities most invested in the African cause. Fine, but were you curious enough to get a copy? I know I did and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Surprised because I don’t recall when I last purchased or even read Vanity Fair (is that bad :-/), therefore I didn’t know what to expect. So I grabbed the one featuring Don Cheadle and Iman (which I dubbed “The Don & The Diva” ) a couple of days ago at Virgin in Union Square. I noticed that there many more copies still available of the one with Brad Pitt and Archbishop Desmond Tutu compared to the other ones. In any case, the articles are very informative and discuss a lot of the issues affecting the African continent (HIV/AIDS, government corruption, Darfur etc.) as well as the positives (Literature, artists, rising personalities etc.), all of it presented with a lot of optimism and hope. Some of the pieces in the magazine also feature the work of African journalists which I thought was a nice touch. My favorite article written by a Sebastian Junger was about the involvement of China (purely for economic interest it seems) in Africa (their indirect involvement in Darfur by selling weapons to the Sudanese government in return for oil among other things), mind blowing that one. I urge each and everyone with an interest in ‘all things African’ to get their hands on one!