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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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The Best African Memes of 2018

Laugh with us into 2019 with OkayAfrica's best African memes of 2018.

Meme culture has become a mainstay on these internet streets. It's essentially an alternate form of communicating, of commentary and of simple laughter. 2018 had its fair share of highs and lows, and young Africans continue to utilize memes to celebrate or to cope with the nonsense.

To reflect on the African memes that broke the internet this year, we tapped contributors and African meme tastemakers to list the best African memes of 2018.

Laugh away below.

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The Black Women Who Made Big Strides in France in 2018

Yes, this was a bad year for many reasons, but we can still celebrate the black women who rose to prominence

Back in 2015, a group of Black women activists appeared in the French media: les afrofems. They were and still are, fighting against police brutality, for better inclusion in the media and to destroy harmful sexual stereotypes surrounding black women among other worthy goals. Since then, more influential Black women have gained a bigger representation in the media. And, even better, some of the afrofems activists, like Laura Nsafou and Amandine Gay, have made films and written books to bring more diversity to the entertainment industry.

2018 has, in many ways, been a year where black women made strides in France, at least in terms of culture. From winning Nobel prizes, to having best selling books and being on top of the charts, Black French women have showed that, no matter how much France wants to keep them under the radar, they're making moves. And, no matter the tragedies and terrible events that have shaped the year, it is something worth celebrating.

France's New Queen of Pop Music

We begin with Aya Nakamura, France's new queen of pop music. Her song Djadja was a summer hit. Everyone from Rihanna, to the French football team who successfully won their second world cup, sang it. Her sophomore album "Nakamura" has been certified gold in France and is still on top of the charts. She is the first French singer to have a number one album in the Netherlands since Edith Piaf in 1961. The last time a black woman was as visible in pop music was in 2004, with Lynsha's single "Hommes...Femmes".

Nakamura has received a huge backlash, mostly due to misogynoir—misogyny directed towards black women where race and gender both play roles. From a French presenter butchering her African first name despite the fact that he can easily pronounce words like "Aliagas", to online trolls calling her ugly and manly when a picture of her wearing no makeup surfaced, to people complaining that she is bringing down the quality of the entire French pop music industry, Nakamura responds to her critics gracefully. Her music is not groundbreaking but her album is full of catchy songs with lyrics using French slang she masters so well that she came up with her own words like "en catchana" (aka doggy style sex). And most importantly, many black girls and women can finally see someone like them in the media getting the success she deserves.

The Nobel Prize Winner

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Another Black French woman has broken records this year: the Guadeloupean writer Maryse Condé who won the Alternative Nobel Prize, a prize meant to replace the Nobel Prize in Literature, after the scandal that the Swedish Academy of Literature faced last year. Condé wrote her first novel at only 11 years old and has been prolific ever since. A former professor of French literature at Columbia University, she has published more than 20 books since the 1970s, exploring the complex relationships within the African diaspora. "Segu", her most famous novel, is about the impact of the slave trade and Abrahamic religion on the Bambara empire in Mali in the 19th century. Condé's work is radical and she remains committed to writing feminist texts exploring the link between gender, race and class, as well as exploring the impact of colonialism. Condé is a pillar of Caribbean literature and it's taken long enough for her work has been acknowledged by the Nobel prize committee.

The Children's Books Writers

From Comme un Million de Papillon Noir

And finally, 2018 has been the year where France's children's literature industry has finally understood how important, for the public, writers and publishers, being inclusive and diverse was. From Laura Nsafou's Comme un Million de Papillon Noir, a best selling book about a young black girl learning to love her natural hair which sold more than 6000 copies, to Neiba Je-sais-tout: Un Portable dans le Cartable, the second book of Madina Guissé published this year after a successful crowdfunding campaign, there are more and more children's and young adult books with non white protagonists. In France, there are still no stats about how diversity is doing, but in America, in 2017, only 7 percent of writers of children's literature were either Black, Latino or Native American.

There's still much to accomplish in France for the Black community to have better representation in the media, politics and all walks of life, but important strides have been accomplished this year, and it make me hopeful for what 2019 and the following years have in store.

News

J Hus Has Been Sentenced to Eight Months in Jail for Knife Possession

The rapper has been convicted following an arrest in June.

Gambian-Biritish grime rapper J Hus has been sentenced to eight months in prison for knife possesion, reports BBC News.

The artist, neé Momodou Jallow, was arrested in Stratford London in June when police pulled him over near a shopping center, claming that they smelled cannabis. Police officers asked Hus if he was carrying anything illegal, to which the rapper admitted that he had a 10cm folding knife in his possession. When asked why, he responded: "You know, it's Westfield."

Hus pleaded guilty at a hearing in October after initially pleading not guilty.

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