Popular
Still taken from YouTube.

New York African Film Festival Celebrates 30th Anniversary

New York African Film Festival Celebrates 30th Anniversary

In celebration of this year's African Film Festival, here are 6 must-see films from their prestigious Shorts Programme.

Under the banner "Streaming Rivers: The Past into the Present," the New York African Film Festival(NYAFF) returns virtually this December with a spotlight on the cinema of two nations: Nigeria and the Sudan. Presented by Film at Lincoln Center (FLC) and African Film Festival (AFF), this year's regional NYAFF will screen six features and eight short films in the FLC Virtual Cinema, as the AFF celebrates its 30th anniversary.

The festival will transport audiences to the Sudan and Nigeria, two nations whose film industries were disrupted in their nascency — in Nigeria by an economic decline in the late 1970s and early 1980s and in Sudan by the dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir whose 30-year grip on the country was ended by the 2019 uprising. In recent years, Sudan's film industry has been revived by an emerging crop of filmmakers, who are also dedicated to restoring the works of the veterans on whose shoulders they stand. Nollywood can claim the mantle of being Africa's homegrown film industry, which has influenced filmmakers globally and provided the template for other nations to jump-start their own nascent motion picture businesses.

The festival's Shorts Programme boasts a number of varied and enthralling short films from across the continent and the world. According to the festival, "The Shorts Programme is composed of works by filmmakers who are challenging the notion of home, space and where in the world Africa is." Furthermore, "Taboo subjects are tackled within the realms of gender, sexuality, liberation, redefining the evolving phrase "tradition versus modernity" and from the point of view of younger generations."


Below are 6 short films that are a definite must-see and are part of the festival's Shorts Programme.


1. 'A Cemetery of Doves' (2019)

Still taken from YouTube.

This short film is about love, heartbreak and navigating the world as a queer individual. A teenager's declaration of love for an older man is met with rejection and he subsequently struggles with heartbreak and fear for his safety and future in a society which is intolerant of the LGBTQ community.

Country: Nigeria

Directed by: Adé Sultan Sangodoyin

Find more details about A Cemetery of Doves here.

2. 'Coffee Colored Children' (1988)

Still taken from YouTube.

This short film is an oldie but certainly a goodie. Coffee Colored Children is a lyrical and unsettling film which conveys the experience of children of mixed racial heritage. It certainly tackles the issue of identity and the experiences that come with that particular identity in an exquisite manner.

Country: Nigeria

Directed by: Ngozi Onwurah

Find more details about Coffee Colored Children here.

3. 'A Game' (2010)

Still taken from YouTube.

This short film was adapted from a short story written by Italian writer, Alberto Moravia. What initially begins as a playful and seemingly innocuous game, descends into a confrontation between a divorced single mother and her little daughter.

Countries: Egypt & Sudan

Directed by: Marwa Zein

Find more details about A Game here.

4. 'Love in Submission' (2019)

Still taken from YouTube.

Love in Submission has all the makings of an excellent suspense film. In the white-picket-fence suburbs of central New Jersey, two Muslim women who come from very different backgrounds and are meeting for the first time, discover they are already inextricably bound by an explosive secret.

Country: USA

Directed by: Lande Yoosuf

Find more details about Love in Submission here.

5. 'My Sister, Sara' (2020) 

Still taken from YouTube.

This short film highlights the work of Sarra Idris, a young woman and prominent grassroots activist, who kept the world informed during the Sudanese revolution of 2018/2019 which eventually led to the ousting of longtime dictator, Omar al-Bashir.

Country: USA

Directed by: Sarra Idris & Amin Elhassan

Find more details about My Sister, Sara here.

6. 'Troublemaker' (2019) 

Still taken from YouTube.

Troublemaker tells the story of a young boy who learns that all actions have consequences. Set in Eastern Nigeria, the coming-of-age film explores violence, masculinity and the effects that war has on multiple generations within a community.

Country: Nigeria

Directed by: Olive Nwosu

Find more details about Troublemaker here.

Music
Image courtesy of the artist.

Vigro Deep’s Experimental Strain of Amapiano Is Boundless

A look at the South African producer's inventive amapiano style in his latest albums, Far Away From Home and My House My Rules.

In a recent clip posted on Pharrell William's Instagram and Twitter feeds, the American star producer and musician shares kind words about his experience at Chanel’s Senegal-hosted fashion show backed by the sounds of Vigro Deep’s “Africa Rise,” an unlikely, boundary-crossing amapiano hit by the 21-year-old South African-born producer/DJ.

Since his thrilling emergence in 2018, Vigro Deep has remained imaginative. His unique use of the log drum — characterised by its thundering, rolling effect, and the pause-and-trickling bass of earlier hits like “Black Power” and “Untold Stories,” caught the masses' attention. While he became a household name for this distinctive and easily recognized sound between then and 2020’s Rise Of A Baby Boy, Vigro has since revamped it and created a mosaic by pairing contemporary electro and techno elements and sensibilities with amapiano. He started toying with this composite style on the last installment of his Baby Boy album series, Baby Boy 4, which came out in May 2021.

Far Away From Home

In an interview published in August 2021, the inventive, Pitori-hailing producer was reluctant to describe his sound as just amapiano. “I’ll say it’s more like electro-house music,” he revealed. “You know, I’m making music for the world, not just for Africa, not just for South Africa. I’m making music out of the box, that’s why I’m very creative when I make my music. I make motion tracks where there’s a whole lot of things in there.”

One of the first few instances where Vigro fully exhibited the compositions that he had been working on was in London on August 27th, 2021. During his Keep Hush and Bone Soda Carnival Special live set, he premiered tracks that would end up on his double album, Far Away From Home, which arrived in the last days of November that same year. The title of the project implied Vigro’s intentions of steering away from his usual sound and South Africa. The artwork is also a testament to this notion; a boarding pass, passport, bank cards, and banknotes, are displayed from inside an aircraft. Outside the window you can see the UK flag and London Bridge—where Vigro has his eyes set on.

Far Away From Home’s pre-released lead single, “I Am Vigro Deep” also offered a sneak peek of what was to come. Dark, hollow, and thunderous instrumentation underpin a vigorous poem that wonders what would happen if Vigro Deep went deep. The lines, “If I go deep / Will people pray for my downfall /Or just wait to see / If I go bleak?” instantly stand out. Going deep for Vigro meant going against the grain or what had become a norm, stylistically, to mainstream Amapiano in 2021. “If I go deep/ Will people realise that I just do beats / And I don't speak? / If I go deep / Will people know that, I'm just Vigro deep?” Uncredited and euphoric vocal/vox samples that he says he got from Skrillex, who has since become his acquaintance/collaborator, fuel the album along with heavy bass-driven percussions.

While countless recent amapiano songs and projects are filled with collaborations between vocalists and co-producers, Vigro opted for minimalism. He is the sole contributor on most of the tracks, the majority of them being instrumentals — which in a way is reminiscent of his and the genre’s past. Though rooted in ‘piano, Far Away From Home is forward-looking and Europe-facing, all but one of the vocals and song titles are in English.

“My dream is to get to Spain. [With] the sound that I do, I think of Ibiza type [of places and festivals], Tomorrowland. That’s what I’m looking for, that’s what I’m looking at, that’s what I’m currently working at,” he told CNN, in their January 2022 released mini-documentary on amapiano.

Vigro’s dream would crystallize months later. In July 2022, “Africa Rise,” “Some Attitude,” and “I Am Vigro Deep” blasted through gigantic speakers in Ibiza during a Boiler Room show, where the internationally acclaimed duo, Major League DJz, UK-based DJs Charisse C and Ade Smilez rendered sets. LuuDadeejay, who works closely with the twins, is the project’s sole co-producer on the track “Number,” while Vigro’s frequent collaborators, DJ Bucks, Yashna, and Neo Ndawo make vocal appearances on “In The Dark” and “Fire & Ice,” respectively. Much like his adored, unreleased but leaked remake of Bring Me The Horizon’s “Can You Feel My Heart,” Vigro also put his peculiar spin on Amaarae’s viral track “SAD GIRLZ LUV MONEY,” which he says were both supposed to be on Far Away From Home.

Towards the tail end of the body of work reverberates the cheekily-titled “Some Old Song.” The track borrows the melody of Joakin’s remix of “Camino Del Sol” by French-Belgian trio Antena — which was popular in South Africa in the 2000s and was famously interpolated on rapper Kwesta’s 2016 hit “Ngud.” Vigro’s take on the song gave it a creative and futuristic facelift, contrasting the common direct manipulation of the original. In another interview published on Oct 22, Vigro revealed that 70% of Far Away From Home was done in London. And that he wanted “to create something new, to target the European market.”

When asked in a recent podcast, if he felt that South Africans underappreciated Far Away From Home, Vigro quickly disagreed, detailing that his countrymen were not the primary audience for the effort because of how different it is. He acknowledges how the LP was better received outside of his home country, and that South Africans “got it later.” As he regularly tours Europe, it’s evident that his productions have traveled far away from home, as he initially intended.

Your 'Piano Is Not My 'Piano

In his December 2022-released album, My House My Rules, Vigro Deep welcomes listeners with an anthemic track that contains a computerized voice towards the end. In a bid to trance-induce or prequel what is to come, the voice defines what hypnosis is and describes some of its characteristics.

In many ways, the genre-melding offering follows in the direction of its predecessor with plentiful use of synths, arena-ready build-ups, mega breaks, and drops. These are again accompanied by minimum features and collaborations. Snenaah and M.J lend their vocals on “Ngizokulinda” and “Petori to Ibiza,” while Senjay and Mhaw Keys can be heard chanting on “Shukushuku” and “Desperado.” Freddy K, like LuuDadeejay on Far Away From Home, is the lone co-producer on “No Mercy.” The album’s artwork visually displays Vigro’s solitude (in both his art and sonic direction) as he appears sitting in isolation in the dark.

My House My Rules his first release since he’s been out of his deal with Kalawa Jazmee and Universal Music. The 17-track record was released via Rinse — the label division of the London radio station, Rinse FM, making him the first amapiano act to put out a full project with them. When asked where he sees himself in the next two years, by the station’s on-air host DJ Neptizzle, Vigro confidently shared his ceaseless ambition of performing at the Belgian-birthed dance music festival. “I really see myself playing in Tomorrowland with the new sound that I have,” he declared unwaveringly, in the April-2022-broadcasted interview.

Don't go out too far they said, you haven't got the power / You'll never make it back / You’ve got too much to lose they said, told them they were wrong, and I disappeared into the black,” sings an ethereal voice on the third track, “5am Set.” On a July ‘22 Instagram live, the virtuoso showed his creative process as he put the finishing touches on the song by adding an accompanying bassline and keys.

Throughout the project, Vigro’s vision remains outward. The second track “Gran Turismo,” is named after the popular car racing video game, while curtain closer “Desperado,” lifts its name from the Antonio Banderas 1995-released Western blockbuster, and also references the melody of “Alma de Guitarra,” which the movie star infamously debuts during the opening scene of the action-packed film. In the boldly-titled “Petori to Ibiza,” the masterful producer invites vocalist M.J to manifest and verbalise his aspiration of playing at the world’s most desired nightclub destination hotspot on wax. “Pitori to Ibiza, re tsena ka Sgida,” M.J expresses in the track's refrain.

Vigro often shares how an encounter with Skrillex in a London studio made him fine-tune his current style. “I explained to him where I wanted to go, and he understood and told me I had to change this and that. He told me that he knew what I wanted and that I should just be me. ‘If you wanna mix it with dubstep, do you, be you,’” he revealed.

It’s clear that Vigro Deep is equally radical and intentional with his newest stylistic approach. He has willingly chosen to make Amapiano which leans towards the sonics of global electronic dance music because that’s the space he's been playing in and wants to pursue further. He is a well-traveled DJ/producer that soaks up the different sounds of the countries and places he frequents like the UK or the Netherlands. Vigro creates from an adventurous place of no restriction or consideration of what his peers are currently doing. He has pushed himself artistically to unfamiliar terrains, and exists in his own world but is kind enough to let listeners in from time to time. As YouTube user @nyati86 commented under one of his live-recorded DJ sets, “Vigro deserves a set at Tomorrowland and gigs in Ibiza… this is the bridge for Amapiano to the world.”

Music
(YouTube)

9 African Musicians to Watch in 2023

Featuring Nomfundo Moh, Natasha Chansa, Azawi, Oladapo, Maandy, Jay Bahd and many more.

2022 was a remarkable year for African music. The year was filled with many significant moments that marked the dominance of genres like afrobeats and amapiano on a global stage. From global-charting records to sold-out shows, African musicians are making their mark in the world.

As these acts push their way into the global mainstream, there’s a plethora of emerging artists showing up on the scene with novel and evolving sounds. These artists are brazen in their approach and confident in their style. In 2022, we saw artists like Asake and Black Sherif rise to fame, stamping their names in history.

We have put together a list of emerging African artists to look out for in 2023.

Keep reading...Show less
Music

The Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Ali Farka Touré, Ezra Collective x Fela Kuti, Dur-Dur Band Int. x Xabiib Sharaabi and DJ Black Low.

Every Friday, we highlight the top releases through our best music of the week column, Songs You Need to Hear. Here's our round-up of the best new tracks and music videos that came across our desks.

If you like these music lists, you can also check out our Best Songs of the Month columns following Nigerian, Ghanaian, East African and South African music.

Keep reading...Show less
Featured
Photo Credit: Stephen Aikins

Nadia Adongo Musah is Orchestrating Ghana’s Reinvention

OkayAfrica spoke with Nadia Adongo Musah at Jubilee House (Ghana’s presidential palace) last month to find out more about Ghana's rise over the last couple of years.

If you’ve been seeing Ghana in the headlines as a thriving celebrity hotspot and music festival mecca, you might want to thank the demure and self-assured Nadia Adongo Musah. She is Ghana’s Deputy Director of Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President, and she’s largely responsible for laying down the groundwork and executing the expansive strategy for Ghana’s impressive emergence on the global stage.

It all started in December of 2019 with the Year of Return, a year-long slate of activities marking the 400th anniversary of the first recorded enslaved Africans to reach the United States. The occasion was a success, but, alas, Covid-19 poked its ugly head and put the whole word at a standstill. It is now 2022 and the world is open for business again. And Ghana is proving its dominance on the African continent, with festivals Afro Nation, Afro Chella, and Vic Mensa and Chance’s Black Star Line. Add that to the slew of celebrity cameos—from Dave Chapelle to Erykah Badu to Burna Boy—and it’s definitely been one of the most exciting holiday seasons ever in Ghana.

OkayAfrica spoke with Musah at Jubilee House (Ghana’s presidential palace) last month to find out more about Ghana's rise over the last couple of years.

In the last few years, we have seen a rise of international attention in Ghana. What would you contribute this to?

It’s a direct result of work and activities curated by the Diaspora Affairs Office of the President... matched with the burgeoning desire of the diaspora across the Americas and the world to connect with Africa and the motherland. Some of the activities and achievements by the Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President include: Supporting and encouraging the use of fintech platforms with credible financial backgrounds, which allows remittances to be made easier for the Diaspora; curating the Full Circle Festival with Hollywood A-listers such as Boris Kudjoe, Bozoma St John, and other Diaspora influencers; and spearheading the Year of Return committee which ultimately saw record numbers of Diaspora tap into Ghana and Ghanaian culture. [There was] record levels of remittances, record levels of social media impressions, record levels of mainstream media spotlight, record levels of tourist engagements and more, altogether positively impact Ghana crossing over $1.8 billion dollars into the local economy.

Nadia Adongo MusahPhoto Credit: Stephen Aikins

Can you speak more on how your office has made it easier for individuals in the diaspora to migrate to Ghana?

Until recently, Ghana had no National Migration Policy. However, the combined diaspora offices and partnering agencies with the leadership of our Diaspora Affairs Office are leading the development of a Diaspora Engagement Policy to support the global diaspora’s role in the development of Ghana. The diaspora engagement policy provides a clear systematic roadmap with policies like the Homeland Return Act; simplified processes around Dual Citizenship; social security and pension payments from host nations; diaspora reintegration; voting rights; investment benefits; mobilizing remittances; and more. All of these initiatives have helped drive significant interest and passion by the collective diaspora, and they know and realize that Ghana is one of the few nations actively creating pathways for residency, repatriation, and reintegration.

We are seeing an influx of African Americans moving to Africa. Are there any special initiatives tailored for them specifically?

For members of the diaspora in the Americas, one benefit is a pathway to residency, and for those passionate about a permanent move to Ghana, there are potential steps towards citizenship. This has been made available only to this group because of the works by the President to better engage descendants of Africans taken from our shores over 400 years ago. There are also many communities for the diaspora to collaborate with to help in the settling process. In addition to the events, programs, and festivities. Some of the key benefits include the ability to open a bank account, get a Ghana card, and even learn about the process of purchasing a home or setting up a business here in Ghana.

Nadia Adongo MusahPhoto Credit: Stephen Aikins

Lastly, 2022 was the first year post-Covid after The Year of Return. What can we expect to see from Ghana for this year and beyond?

The numbers looking to return to Ghana have already surpassed the numbers from the original Year of Return; so we expect the engagement to exceed those levels. Most organizers and programs hosted during the year of return have showcased strong tenure by being consistent each year and continuing to develop exciting and phenomenal events.

In addition to recurring events, there are many new incumbents bringing in new ideas, new projects, and new engagement platforms. An example of this is Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa launching the Black Star Line Festival at Independence Square. This is an example of the growing engagement where bigger venues are being curated to host record breaking numbers. During the Year of Return, the Black Star Independence Square was not used as a festival location but now it is host to some of the biggest concerts and festivals globally, such as the Global Citizen Festival. Even programs like Afrochella, Afro Nation, Little Havana, Taste of Ghana, and more are all taking place this year. What we can also expect are programs that go beyond the celebration and tourism; we can expect educational based initiatives as well such as the Diaspora Real Estate Summit around real estate and impact, Garden High Tea to commune people together around greenery and gardening, and the Presidential Diaspora Awards.

Nadia Adongo MusahPhoto Credit: Stephen Aikins

For more information on the Ghana’s Office of Diaspora Affairs, visit www.diasporaaffairs.gov.gh

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

The Powerhouse Behind Nigeria’s Biggest Streetwear Event

Street Souk has become Nigeria's most popular streetwear event. OkayAfrica spent time with the founder, Iretidayo “Ireti” Zaccheaus, while she prepared for the event.

Six African Filmmakers to Watch in 2023

From established names to ones we've yet to become acquainted with, directors from the continent and the diaspora have much to offer in the coming year.

Burna Boy, Uncle Waffles & More to Bring Life to Coachella Desert in 2023

The American music festival has released their highly-anticipated lineup for summer 2023.

Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa’s Vision Comes to Life at the Black Star Line Festival

With over 50,000 fans, the inaugural Black Star Line Festival music—held in Accra, Ghana—represented a full circle moment for the Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa.

popular.

Burna Boy, Wizkid, and More Bring Afro Nation To Sunny Miami

The globe's biggest Afrobeats festival continues to expand -- and now it's Miami's turn to turn up!