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'Stealing Africa' & Justin Timberlake's 'In Time': Duh²

What do "Stealing Time" a documentary about African resources (specifically Zambia's mines) and Justin Timberlake's Hollywood thriller have in common?


Maybe you've seen the Justin Timberlake film In Time. Maybe you haven't (probably better for you as it's a pretty bad film). However as we came across the documentary Stealing Africa from the Why Poverty series airing on BBC and PBS we couldn't help but see a connection between the two films. Directed by Christoffer Guldbrandsen and produced by Henrik VeileborgStealing Africa "investigates reports of widespread criminality by well-known multinational companies operating in Africa. Featuring interviews with heads of state, corporate insiders, and officials from the major global financial institutions, the nature and extent of the problem begins to emerge." You may be wondering what a crappy JT thriller could have in common with a documentary that explores economic development and capitalism in Zambia? Perhaps it's what I'll refer to as the "duh" of all things terrible and wrong with the world.

Watch Stealing Africa on PBS. See more from Why Poverty?.

For a quick synopsis, In Time basically tells the story of a future where people stop aging at 25, but are engineered to live only one more year. Currency becomes time, and the world is segregated into different time zones with the "rich" having decades to live, and the "poor" having barely minutes. In fact, when the film is in the poor time zones, we often see people "time out", and dead bodies scattered throughout the streets. Justin Timberlake plays someone from a poor time zone, who has been 25 for two years. A mysterious man from a richer time zone decides he's had enough and gives JT 100 years before he times out. He also lets him on the "big secret". Brace yourself for duh #1: The man tells JT: "You really don't know, do you? Everyone can't live forever. Where would we put them? Why do you think there are time zones? Why do you think taxes and prices go up the same day in the ghetto? The cost of living keeps rising to make sure people keep dying. How else could there be men with a million years while most live day to day? But the truth is... there's more than enough. No one has to die before their time." For some reason this comes as a huge shock to JT, who it seems has never considered the possibility that there was actually enough time (i.e. money, resources, etc) for everyone. This brings us to Stealing Africa.

The documentary is informative and investigates the age-old reality of how developing nations are flowing with natural resources, but retain little of the generated profit. The filmmakers don't give the impression that they're telling a story we haven't heard before, and sometimes the specifics can paint a more accurate picture and reveal a deeper injustice than has previously been conceptualized. So while there's a duh (#2): Western nations are stealing Africa's resources. It's a duh, that's somehow harder to digest. Honing in on Swiss company, Glencore, Guldbrandsen depicts the shady development of the company, and how through transfer pricing they manage to retain billions of dollars in profit without having to pay their fair tax in Zambia. The documentary is 55 minutes long, which makes it 25 minutes longer than "Kony 2012" the most-watched Youtube video about Africa — but seeing as this documentary doesn't rely on poverty porn and a sensationalization of 'misfortune in Africa' we figure the extra 25 minutes are worth it.

If In Time is trite because it relays a message that is seemingly obvious, like most thrillers it provides us with a portrait of our society, where the portrait is perhaps exaggerated in some ways but nonetheless a depiction of reality. What can we make of Stealing Africa, which documents a reality without the fiction? This leads me to conclude with duh #3: bad things happen every day, all day, everywhere. No matter how unjust these inequalities, regardless of how many people swore by seeing "Invisible Children" that we needed to save the Africans, most of us don't know how to extricate ourselves from these injustices. They might be simple, but they're deeply engrained and institutionalized across, through, and within borders. So, duh?

Check out Stealing Africa, streaming above, and at these links: US / UK / Canada /Netherlands

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Introducing OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 List

Celebrating African Women Laying the Groundwork for the Future

It would not be hyperbole to consider the individuals we're honoring for OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 list as architects of the future.

This is to say that these women are building infrastructure, both literally and metaphorically, for future generations in Africa and in the Diaspora. And they are doing so intentionally, reaching back, laterally, and forward to bridge gaps and make sure the steps they built—and not without hard work, mines of microaggressions, and challenges—are sturdy enough for the next ascent.

In short, the women on this year's list are laying the groundwork for other women to follow. It's what late author and American novelist Toni Morrison would call your "real job."

"I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else."

And that's what inspired us in the curation of this year's list. Our honorees use various mediums to get the job done—DJ's, fashion designers, historians, anthropologists, and even venture capitalists—but each with the mission to clear the road ahead for generations to come. Incredible African women like Eden Ghebreselassie, a marketing lead at ESPN who created a non-profit to fight energy poverty in Eritrea; or Baratang Miya, who is quite literally building technology clubs for disadvantaged youth in South Africa.

There are the builds that aren't physically tangible—movements that inspire women to show up confidently in their skin, like Enam Asiama's quest to normalize plus-sized bodies and Frédérique (Freddie) Harrel's push for Black and African women to embrace the kink and curl of their hair.

And then there are those who use their words to build power, to take control of the narrative, and to usher in true inclusion and equity. Journalists, (sisters Nikki and Lola Ogunnaike), a novelist (Oyinkan Braithwaite), a media maven (Yolisa Phahle), and a number of historians (Nana Oforiatta Ayim, Leïla Sy) to name a few.

In a time of uncertainty in the world, there's assuredness in the mission to bring up our people. We know this moment of global challenge won't last. It is why we are moving forward to share this labor of love with you, our trusted and loyal audience. We hope that this list serves as a beacon for you during this moment—insurance that future generations will be alright. And we have our honorees to thank for securing that future.

EXPERIENCE 100 WOMEN 2020

The annual OkayAfrica 100 Women List is our effort to acknowledge and uplift African women, not only as a resource that has and will continue to enrich the world we live in, but as a group that deserves to be recognized, reinforced and treasured on a global scale. In the spirit of building infrastructure, this year's list will go beyond the month of March (Women's History Month in America) and close in September during Women's Month in South Africa.

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Burna Boy 'African Giant' money cover art by Sajjad.

The 20 Essential Burna Boy Songs

We comb through the Nigerian star's hit-filled discography to select 20 essential songs from the African Giant.

Since bursting onto the scene in 2012 with his chart-topping single, "Like to Party," and the subsequent release of his debut album, L.I.F.E - Leaving an Impact for eternity, Burna Boy has continued to prove time and again that he is a force to be reckoned with.

The African Giant has, over the years, built a remarkable musical identity around the ardent blend of dancehall, hip-hop, reggae, R&B, and afropop to create a game-changing genre he calls afro-fusion. The result has been top tier singles, phenomenal collaborations, and global stardom—with several accolades under his belt which include a Grammy nomination and African Giant earning a spot on many publications' best albums of 2019.

We thought to delve into his hit-filled discography to bring you The 20 Essential Burna Boy Songs.

This list is in no particular order.

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Image courtesy of Lula Ali Ismaïl

'Dhalinyaro' Is the Female Coming-of-Age Story Bringing Djibouti's Film Industry to Life

The must-watch film, from Lula Ali Ismaïl, paints a novel picture of Djibouti's capital city through the story of three friends.

If you're having a tough time recalling the last movie you watched from Djibouti, it's likely because you have never watched one before. With an almost non-existent film industry in the country, Lula Ali Ismaïl, tells a beautiful coming of age story of three young female Djiboutian teenagers at the cusp of womanhood. Dhalinyaro offers a never-before-seen view of Djibouti City as a stunning, dynamic city that blends modernity and tradition—a city in which the youth, like all youth everywhere, struggle to decide what their futures will look like. It's a beautiful story of friendship, family, dreams and love from a female filmmaker who wants to tell a "universal story of youth," but set in the country she loves—Djibouti.

The story revolves around the lives of three young friends from different socio-economic backgrounds, with completely varied attitudes towards life, but bound by a deep friendship. There is Asma, the conservative academic genius who dreams of going to medical school and hails from a modest family. Hibo, a rebellious, liberal, spoiled girl from a very wealthy family who learns to be a better friend as the film evolves and finally Deka. Deka is the binding force in the friendship, a brilliant though sometimes naïve teen who finds herself torn between her divorced mother's ambitions to give her a better life having saved up all her life for her to go to university abroad, and her own conviction that she wants to study and succeed in her own country.

Okayafrica contributor, Ciku Kimeria speaks to Ismaïl on her groundbreaking film, her hopes for the filmmaking industry and the universality of stories.

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Stogie T Enlists Nasty C, Boity, Nadia Nakai and More, for ‘The Empire of Sheep’ Deluxe Edition

Stream the deluxe version of Stogie T's EP 'The Empire of Sheep' featuring Nasty C, Boity, Nadia Nakai and more.

Stogie T just shared a deluxe version of his 2019 EP The Empire of Sheep titled EP The Empire of Sheep (Deluxe Unmasked). The project comes with three new songs. "All You Do Is Talk" features fellow South African rappers Nasty C, Boity and Nadia Nakai. New York lyricist appears on "Bad Luck" while one of Stogie T's favorite collaborators Ziyon appears on "The Making."

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