Writing
Image via TONL

On Behalf of My Unborn Son: Thank You African Male Artists

African men's openness towards exploring different kinds of masculinity gives me hope for the future.

First things first: I'm not pregnant. But, like many people, I contemplate the world I'll be bringing my children into whenever they so choose to arrive. I don't know who or what their father will be. Ghanaian-Swedish? Haitian-Italian? American – who knows? What I do know for certain is that any son I have will be, at least, half black.

I've long struggled with the seeming paradox of the black imagination. One the one hand, our creative conscious imagines entire lifestyles into existence. We create global trends in fashion, music, dance, language, poetry and literature. Our minds are ground zero for creating entire cultures. But when it comes to ourselves, we seem to be unable to imagine being seen as whole human beings. I feel like even in our imaginations we don't dare to imagine ourselves truly respected and truly free because that freedom might threaten others. It's a problem I have in myself, it's a problem I'm not proud of.

So when I imagine the world my son will enter, I'm hesitant about bringing a son into a world that won't make room for the multitudes he will contain—that all of us contain. I worry that he won't know that he can be all the things he needs to be and be black.

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Music
Diaphra at Iwalewahaus, Photo by Ves_OFF

This Artist Is Making the Soundtrack Of The Portuguese Revival

Alexandre Francisco on the creative process and the importance of ancestry featured in his new project, EVMS.

In 2015, Bissau-Guinean and Angolan multimedia artist Alexandre Francisco released Diaphra's Blackbook of the Beats, a debut album that would sell out of physical copies. That album was received well by critics and listeners but never really saw a tour and Diaphra disappeared back into the beats just as quickly as he emerged.

Recently, the Portugal-based artist has resurfaced and he's given OkayAfrica an exclusive download of the B-sides to the sold out Blackbook. The project, called EVMS, is like the rebirth of Diaphra, the blank side of a well-worn page, and gives insight into the mind of the elusive artist.

The multimedia artist is now working on his new project: a series of live, interactive performances around the world called #FolhasBrancas (#WhitePages) culminating in an exhibition in 2020. OkayAfrica caught up with Francisco via Skype to chat about the project, his process and how a residency at the Iwalewahaus University of Bayreuth (and their archive of rare African art) made him want to create a new future.

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Photos

Respect Your Elders: My Father Returns to His Long-Lost Kenya—With His American Girlfriend

Our contributing writer speaks with her father on his trip to Kenya when he introduced his family to who would later become her mother.

Our series, ‘Respect Your Elders,’ gives our team here at Okayafrica the opportunity to discover the stories behind old photos of our parents and family members. In this edition, our contributing writer, Nereya Otieno, spoke with her father, James, to find out more about a photo her family shared with her. Her father is on the far left being greeted by family members once he returned from his first visit back to Kenya.

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