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Fiction by Norwegian Women

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mika Kaurismaki's Mama Africa; Miriam Makeba

Photo- Martin Beck

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see the documentary Sing Your Song, which was about Harry Belafonte’s political activism over the years.  I was prepared not to like the film and to maintain my very lukewarm appreciation of Belafonte’s talent and his place as a social and political crusader.  I left the International House, where the film was presented, completely enamored of Belafonte and shocked at myself for knowing so little about his long, persistent, global fight for justice and all that this entails.

Belafonte, along with some other people, who you’ll learn about in the film below, was responsible for introducing South African Singer Miriam Makeba to American audiences.   Miriam Makeba and Winnie Mandela were the women who made South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle pertinent to me as a young girl and college student demanding that her college divest from companies doing business in South Africa.  Below is a link to Finnish filmmaker Mika Kaurismaki’s new documentary about  Mama Africa; Miriam Mekaba.  Have a look and a listen.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Serendipity … Taking Up the Story; Binyavanga Wainaina

*Photo-Playwright Mona R. Washington and our Maasai Visitor

My friend Mona and I went one winter Sunday afternoon in search of lamb shawarma, stuffed grape leaves and baba ghanoush. We were in the Overbrook neighborhood, of  Philadelphia,  headed to our beloved  Mediterra Grille when these two lovely, traditionally dressed Maasai men crossed, seemingly from nowhere, like a mirage, in front of the car we were in.  And we said simultaneously and incredulously, “Are those Maasai?”  We were instantaneously transported back to our own times in Kenya and our own memories with the Maasai people.

We followed those two gentlemen into the neighborhood coffeehouse and had a wonderful afternoon of tea and talk about Kenya.  I share this to introduce another Kenyan gem; writer   Binyavanga Wainaina, who represents this new generation of African writers, whose narratives aren’t focused on doom and groom or helping the outsider understand  the “African way.”    When I think of Wainaina, I think of him as a 21st century male version of Zora Neale Hurston.  His tells his own narrative placing himself and his culture front and center.   You might be familiar with Wainaina who wrote that deliciously infamous essay, How to Write About Africa:

Binyavanga Wainaina is the founding editor of the literary magazine Kwani? and won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2002. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, and National Geographic. He is the director of the Chinua Achebe Center for African Writers and Artists at Bard College. He divides his time between Nairobi, Kenya and upstate New York.

Here is a link to Wainaina reading from his new memoir  One Day I Will Write about This Place.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

CRED Magazine; Amplifying the Voice and Vision of Young Philly

January 2012 Issue

The Village of the Arts and Humanities is a local gem with a national reputation and it has been providing opportunities for young people to explore their concerns and interests through art and culture.  Hot off the press is its gorgeous publication CRED Magazine; Amplifying the Voice and Vision of Young Philly.
CRED is defined by the Village as “an arts and culture magazine that supports Philly’s young artists, designers, journalists, activists and entrepreneurs by providing them with opportunities to contribute and curate published content as well as advertise their business and services.” 
My 13 year-old son has a wonderful self-portrait he painted which is included in this new issue. The magazine is free and you can pick it up all around town.   Ten thousand copies have been printed.  Here is a link to a sample of the magazine:
and here  is a link to venues where you can pick up  your copy :