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6 Hot African Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

Ifeanyi Awachie sets out to uncover the world of African radio. Check out these 6 poppin' African podcasts.


As a college radio host, I had many friends who loved podcasts. They would geek out over This American Life, Radiolab and other shows steered by white male voices, linking me to episodes I “just had to hear.” Convinced by the hype, I would subscribe to these podcasts, only to delete them after months of trying and failing to concentrate through a full episode (with some exceptions). Listening to podcasts felt like work. I concluded that I just wasn’t a podcast person and felt less intelligent and hip as a result.

Then, the era of the black podcast began. Shows like For Colored Nerds, Call Your Girlfriend and Another Round started attracting mainstream buzz, and I was shocked to find that listening to podcasts could be fun. I searched for and subscribed to as many black podcasts as I could (including my absolute favorite, The Read). I devoured hours of conversation among black voices while cooking dinner, walking to work, at work. I realized that I loved podcasts. My inability to engage them before was tied to the fact that most podcasts were produced by and marketed to a demographic that didn’t include me.

Armed with this knowledge, I realized I didn’t have any African podcasts in rotation, and that there was probably a whole world of African radio that I hadn’t explored. I set out to find what African podcasts are poppin’ right now. Here are my results. (If you know of any you think I missed, please give them a shoutout in the comments.)

African Tech Round-Up

The South Africa-produced African Tech Round-Up is one of a number of podcasts covering tech innovation on the continent, but its high-quality production, wide fanbase and mix of expert knowledge, witty banter, and balanced debate sets it apart. This program was the one African podcast I had heard about before starting my search. The team, a mix of “media makers and entrepreneurs with a nose for technology, digital and innovation news,” offers weekly tech news served with critical thinking on everything from social media coverage of the Ugandan election, Facebook’s Free Basics project getting kicked out of India, and Kenya’s rocky relationship with Uber. Listen not only for African tech news, but smart tech talk, period. On producing African podcasts, host Andile Masuku says, “I spent part of my childhood in the Philippines, in the 90s, where I got called ‘chocolate boy’ by mean children, and struggled to 'feel normal' amidst flawed stereotypes reinforced by films like The Gods Must Be Crazy. The simple reason why I believe it's important to produce podcasts featuring African voices is because we simply can't trust non-Africans to accurately represent our interests on the world stage, or expect them to adequately articulate our values and convictions. This, I say not with a chip on my shoulder, but simply as a matter of fact.”

African Tech Round-Up on iTunes and Soundcloud

Not Your African Cliché

The four young Nigerian women behind Not Your African Cliché describe themselves as having “interesting opinions and a mutual disgust for ignorant comments about our continent.” Girl, same. The show aims to create a platform that fights Africa’s single story, and it does it well. There was a moment in “Episode 5: African Entrepreneurship” when one of the ladies questioned how many people actually wear Nigerian designer Deola Segoe. As an African fashion fan in diaspora, I know the names of hot Nigerian designers but not much about how everyday Nigerians actually interact with them. Eavesdropping on NYAC’s conversations, which sound like after-work chats between girlfriends, bring the country, and by extension, Africa, to life. It’s so satisfying to hear women who sound like my family and friends give their take on Afropolitanism, the origins of Nigerian names, things they’re currently reading and listening to, American culture-all things I find interesting and can relate to from my particular perspective as a Nigerian-American.

Listen to Not Your African Cliché on iTunes and Soundcloud

The Chicken & Jollof Rice Show

For those of you who, like me, wish Another Round would dedicate an episode or two to Heben Nigatu’s Ethiopian-American background and African pop culture, the Chicken & Jollof Rice Show is for you. CNJR Show’s four hosts foreground their first-generation African-American identities and wield them to provide unique perspectives on pop culture, social justice issues, and more in Africa and the United States. Discussing Beyonce’s “Formation” in a recent episode, one of the hosts described the Beyhive as posturing to send “the wrath of a thousand Yoruba warriors upon your household.” Poised at the intersection of black, African, and American experiences, the podcast’s specific cultural lens makes it even more relatable to me than other black, African, or American shows. As host @And1Grad says, “Africans, especially first-generation, need voices for the same reason African Americans need voices. We aren't a monolith either and we aren't really represented in this country in all avenues. I think our viewpoints on certain issues, as first-gen African-Americans, are pretty unique to [podcasts] and most mediums.” If you’re a first-gen kid, I think you’ll like CNJR, too.

Listen to Chicken & Jollof Rice Show on iTunes and Soundcloud

Talking Heads

The production of the Talking Heads podcast will remind you of NPR’s Snap Judgment. In episodes that weave music, sleek audio clips and sound effects, narration, and the guest’s words, the show, hosted by architect and award-winning author of Bom Boy, Yewande Omotoso, offers stories on the academics and intellectuals doing work in blogging, research, storytelling, and more on today’s African narratives. Part of a broader Cape Town-based “Pan-African knowledge sharing platform” of the same name, Talking Heads’ guests have included Sean Jacobs of Africa Is A Country, Dr. Lindiwe Dovey, a senior lecturer in African film and performance arts at SOAS – University of London, and Ory Okolloh, founder of non-profit software company Ushahidi. Tune in for beautifully executed snapshots of the complex issues the continent faces today through the particular lenses of compelling thinkers.

Listen to Talking Heads via their official website and Soundcloud

My Africa

For a show called "My Africa," this podcast might seem a little Nigeria-centric, but the program is gradually becoming a living archive of personal interviews with the continent’s biggest musicians, politicians, entrepreneurs, and others. My Africa gets up close and in-depth with African artists and Okayafrica favorites like Nigerian singer Brymo, rapper M.I (also known as Jude Abaga), Olamide and Seun Kuti. But those are just the episodes I bookmarked. The show adds diversity through interviews with Ghanaian singer and actress Efya, restaurateur Hamisha Daryani-Ahuja, and even Keith Richards, who the show calls (problematically, in my opinion) an “honorary Nigerian.” If you’re still waiting for Terry Gross to talk to your favorite African artists, subscribe to My Africa.

Listen to My Africa via their official website and iTunes

Badilisha Poetry

With poets like Nayyirah Waheed, Warsan Shire, and Ijeoma Umebinyuo being quoted left and right in stylish Instagram and Tumblr posts, what could be better than a podcast dedicated to African poetry? Badilisha Poetry is a project of the Badilisha Poetry X-Change, an online audio archive of over 350 Pan-African poets from over 24 different countries. The podcast consists of super short 5-10-minute episodes in which poets perform one of their poems. If you’re already up on your contemporary African poetry, the podcast provides the treat of hearing your favorite verse writers’ voices. If you’re sleeping on African poets, Badilisha will introduce you to critical names like Ghanaian-born poet and author Kwame Dawes, South African poet, playwright and scholar Koobus Moolman, and Nigerian spoken word artist and actress Titilope Sonuga, who performed at President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2015 inauguration (the first poet to do so in Nigeria). Coupled with gushing insights from host, South African performance poet, and writer Malika Ndlovu, each episode provides a daily dose of poetry that I can see myself starting my day with or sending to friends for inspiration. Sadly, Badilisha seems to no longer update the podcast, but recordings of African poets reading their work are still accessible on the website.

Listen to Badilisha on iTunes

Ifeanyi Awachie is a Nigerian-American writer, photographer and curator of Yale’s AFRICA SALON. She recently published the book “Summer in Igboland.” Follow her on Twitter at @ifeanyiawachie.

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Image courtesy of 'The Spread'

'The Spread' Is the Sex-Positive Kenyan Podcast Offering a Safe Space for Women and LGBTQIA+ Issues

'The Spread' is the podcast dedicated to "decolonizing" the way Africans talk about sex and sexuality, say it's creator Karen Kaz Lucas.

Karen Kaz Lucas is the revolutionary brainchild behind Africa's best-known sex positive podcast, The Spread. Three years in, the 52 podcast episodes, covering a range of diverse topics including: The Male-Female Pleasure Gap, Sex positive parenting, LGBTQIA+ issues, Kink, Reproductive Rights, and Porn vs. Reality, has listeners ranging from 6,000 to 21,000 and episode on SoundCloud.

Recently, The Spread had its first major event TheSpreadFest, a day-long event attracting over 600 people with diverse panels, workshops and more. It's been hailed as a truly safe and inclusive space for people of all sexual identities. Okayafrica contributor, Ciku Kimeria speaks to The Spread creator Kaz on her journey to decolonize sexuality, her motivation, and her hopes for the continent relating to matters of sex and sexuality.

Read the conversation below.

Karen Kaz LucasImage courtesy of 'The Spread'

What made you start The Spread podcast?

It was to address the key gaps in discussions around sex and sexuality and to create a safe space to discuss them. Younger people were either learning about sex from porn or on the flip side from a religious standpoint or the education system, where the focus is on the risks of engaging in sex (teen pregnancy, STIs etc). As such they were either getting information from a fear-based system, shame-based system or porn that has very little to do with real life sexual situations and intimacy. I wanted to create a safe space where people could talk about all issues related to sexuality but in an open, accepting and enlightening way. For me, this is an informal form of sex education that allows people to explore their sexuality from an unbiased perspective—no judgement, no shaming.

What's the reception been like so far?

The reception has been overwhelmingly positive. I had no idea that the podcast would grow and be as successful as it is now. People are hungry to meet similar people and have discussions without judgement. Of course, there are also people who react negatively to my work and say that this is a result of "Western influence." To those people, I say that they should know that the majority of my work is focused on decolonizing sexuality.

Great transition. I first saw the term "decolonizing sexuality" in your Instagram bio. What exactly does that mean?

Prior to Western intrusion, we already had our own sexual culture. I'm trying to remind people that certain things we embrace as "African" and defend when it comes to sex and sexuality, are elements that came to us through religion, Westernized education etc. The shame associated with sex and sexuality on the continent are remnants of Western teachings.

Prior to colonization many ethnic groups had religious healers who were neither considered male nor female but were gender fluid or intersex. There were ethnic groups that didn't base gender on anatomy but on energy. Gender fluidity on the continent was observed even more than you would find in the most liberal country right now. For some, you could physically have male features but possess female energy and live as a woman. Some people worshipped androgynous or intersex deities and believed that the perfect human being is both male and female. Certain tribes did not ascribe a gender to anyone until the age of puberty. In other communities, their priests were transgender, and they were the only ones who could conduct certain spiritual ceremonies. There is evidence that for several ethnic groups gay and lesbian relationships were not taboo. Unfortunately, a lot of this history has not been publicized or it is being revised as it does not fit in well with the idea that the continent is trying to now uphold as a patriarchal, heteronormative society. That is why the work of decolonizing sexuality is extremely important as we now have a generation that is open to questioning themselves. The generation of our parents lived in a time of oppressed and suppressed sexuality (among other things) as they themselves or their parents had suffered the colonial rape and pillage [both literally and metaphorically] of their lives. All they could carry was anger and fear. To survive they had to conform to what the oppressor enforced on them through religion, western education etc.

[Recently deceased] Kenyan writer and gay activist, Binyavanga Wainaina clearly outlines how it is only former British colonies that have anti-sodomy laws, which came during colonial times from the fear that British soldiers and colonial administrators would be corrupted by the natives while they were away from their wives. The law, the fears by the British government at the time, really are proof that some of the natives were already practicing sodomy.

Image courtesy of 'The Spread'

What for you is the link between sex positive work and women's empowerment?

The average person might think that the type of work I'm doing is frivolous, but the reality is that when a society believes they have any right over women's bodies, we see all the terrible things that happen to women: rape, rampant femicide, violence against women and more. Reclaiming your sexuality as a woman is about asserting your own authority over your body—declaring the right to fulfilling, consensual sex of your own liking, the right to having children, or not having children if you don't want to, postponing or terminating a pregnancy. Once we accept the policing of women's bodies, it's a slippery slope.

Feminism is about women having equal rights and opportunities as men, and that also extends to their sex lives. My body, my choice. For those who are always ready to bash feminism, seeing it as women somehow trying to take over, dominate men, oppress men etc. They should realize that the only reason feminism exists, is because we live in a patriarchal world. Women are at the bottom of the rung, oppressed in thousands of ways. All we are trying to do, is get the same rights that men take for granted. Of course, to the ones who hold power, it will feel like a loss of power.

This is the reason why the topics we cover span everything from women's sexual pleasure to gender-based violence to LGBTQIA+ rights to women's reproductive health. All these discussions must happen in tandem.

Let's talk about the state of affairs in Kenya around various key issues, starting with female reproductive rights.

I'm working very closely with two organizations working on women's reproductive rights and abortion rights. The problem in Kenya is that there is so much misinformation. I plan to release a video very soon on the topic. I only recently found out all public hospitals in Kenya provide post-abortal care. Even though, abortions are illegal except in certain circumstances, post-abortal care is available throughout the country. Lack of information makes women especially vulnerable to the influence of quacks, back-alley doctors, or police who threaten them with imprisonment if they don't pay exorbitant bribes. The Kenyan law is that you are not allowed to administer an abortion unless the health of the mother or child is in danger. Health also includes mental health. As such, people with severe depression or suicidal thoughts do legally qualify for abortions, but most people don't know this.

Image courtesy of 'The Spread'

What about on the issue of sexual violence against women and children?

Sexual violence against women and children isn't taken as seriously as it should be. Sensitivity training across police stations is still lacking. Rape is extremely underreported in the country as most people don't expect to be treated with discretion, sensitivity or any consideration once they do get into the system. I did a whole video series years back interviewing female rape survivors and their experiences highlight the challenges with our police system including the trivialization of the crime by police officers who consider rape almost routine, given how often this happens. The statistics are masking the issue, rape survivors don't know who to turn to and feel completely isolated. The issues of male sexual violence against men isn't even spoken about as the survivors fear further shunning and stigmatization from society. Kenya doesn't yet have the right structures—including mental health structures—to deal with the normalization of rape and sexual violence against women.

In 2015 three men gangraped a teenage girl as she was on her way home from her grandfather's funeral. After the attack, they dumped her in an open sewer, leaving her with a spinal injury that has confined her to a wheelchair. When the men were taken to the police station, their punishment was to cut the grass around the police station. The incident made it to the news, sparking international outrage, resulting in a signed petition and leading to protests in the country demanding #justiceforliz. As a result, the men were eventually sentenced to 15 years in prison. While we can celebrate this particular win, it also makes us reflect on all the other hundreds of thousands of cases, where the survivors remain silent or seek justice, but never get it.

What about LGBTQIA+ rights?

The definition I adhere to for this group is actually a longer, more confusing acronym, but also one I hope makes more people feel included. LGBTQQIAPPK, which is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual & transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, polyamourous, pansexual and kink.

We have some cause for celebration, but also a very long way to go. We were hopeful recently when the High Court reviewed the key law banning gay sex, but unfortunately, they chose to uphold it. Last year, we did have a small win when the courts deemed unlawful the use of forced anal exams to test whether two men had sex.

The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights commission of Kenya are doing a really great job in trying to get colonial era penal codes repealed. They are the legal team behind the court cases for the repeal of these laws. From a legal standpoint it's great, but from a social standpoint, it's still so sad that our binary understanding of gender is tied to what the colonizers forced on us. The worst argument is when people say that any deviation from the heteronormative narrative is "un-African." My question then is "Do you really know your history? Are you willing to educate yourself and to take off the yoke of colonialism and even consider the idea that what you consider normal is based on systems that came to you through oppression and repression?

For a country that is so progressive in many ways, this particular issue still remains an uphill battle.

Image courtesy of 'The Spread'

What about women's sexuality, sexual pleasure?

All the events we have are 95% women. Men are scared to admit they might not know it all. Society paints them to be macho and [makes them think] that they should somehow know it all, but they are scared to learn about their sexuality as they feel that it will take away from their masculinity. For women, it's empowering. Men are frightened about women learning and embracing their sexuality.

I want to be a part of this revolution, spearheading it on the continent.

Finally, tell us about The Spread Fest and your plans for it?

Our objective for the festival is to foster learning, inspiration and wonder—and to spark conversations that matter. The aim is to be more empathetic about our diversity, but also to leave people knowing more about sex and sexuality. This year we had 600 people in attendance, 5 panels, one workshop and it was a full day event. Next year, we plan to double everything.

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Deaan Vivier/Foto24/Gallo Images via Getty Images

Miss South Africa Wants Men to Write Love Letters to Women to Fight Against Gender-Based Violence

Unfortunately, there's nothing stopping abusive men from writing these love letters too.

South Africa's newly crowned Miss SA Zozibini "Zozi" Tunzi has launched a "HeForShe" campaign which aims to tackle the alarming rates of femicide and gender-based violence in the country. The campaign, which is in partnership with the South African arm of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), wants South African men to step up and join the collective fight against abuse. However, the campaign has been criticized by many because of the way in which it wants men to step—by writing love letters to women. The campaign has divided South Africans, particularly those on social media.

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