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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.

Photos

This Is What Rotimi's 'Walk With Me' EP Listening Party Looked Like

The Nigerian singer held an intimate listening party on the eve of the release of his new EP, 'Walk With Me,' at Brooklyn's Okay Space.

Walk With Me, Rotimi's new and highly anticipated EP, dropped Friday—giving us a seven-track peek into who the singer and actor truly is sonically.

The night before, the Nigerian-American crooner gathered over 100 tastemakers and day-one supporters to Brooklyn's Okay Space—the shared gallery space between Okayplayer and OkayAfrica—for an intimate listening party celebrating the release, as well as his music video for "Love Riddim" which also dropped this week.

The night was simply a vibe—folks enjoyed libations and bites from The Suya Guy, with sounds by DJ Tunez. Rotimi opened the gathering up with a thoughtful prayer, with the music video reveal to follow. The singer then walked the audience through each track from Walk With Me, opening up about the creative process of how each track came to life.

Following, Rotimi engaged in an even more in-depth Q+A session with OkayAfrica's arts and culture editor, Antoinette Isama, where he touched on his experience touring with Wizkid back in 2011, his thoughts on the continued rise in popularity afrobeats is having in mainstream music, his hopes for the future and more. Tunez then ran the EP back when the party ensued, as the project is full of tracks that are worthy of being on repeat.

Listen to Walk With Me below, and be sure to take a look at photos from the listening party by Nerdscarf Photography.

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Film
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 16: Director Ladj Ly and Almamy Kanoute attend the photocall for "Les Miserables" during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival on May 16, 2019 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

How To Survive Cannes Film Festival As a Black Filmmaker

A film festival is intense by nature, but Cannes is a whirlwind.

Cannes Film Festival is one of the world's most prestigious gatherings bringing celebrities, filmmakers and actors claiming to celebrate the world's best film. Although the festival is way behind Sundance or the London Film Festival regarding diversity efforts, it remains the place to be if you're a filmmaker—especially a Black one.

I, myself, am a Black French filmmaker who was invited to Cannes as part of their scheme for young film lovers—3 Days in Cannes—open to anyone between the ages of 18 and 28. The scheme, which launched in 2018, requires young hopefuls to write a cover letter showing their passion for film. It ultimately gives young people the opportunity to discover the international selection of films showed at Cannes.

READ: Black Women Are the Future of French Cinema—When Will Cannes Catch Up?

Being in Cannes for the first time was a wonderful experience, but it can be tough to navigate as a Black filmmaker if you're not prepared for it. So, here are top tips.

1) Don't be a person of color—especially if you're Black (Just kidding. But still.)

Cannes is a beautiful, posh city in the south of France. It is part of the Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur, an administrative region where the far right party Rassemblement National (formally known as the National Front) hits record-breaking highs. Despite the fact that the festival is incredibly international, at times it can feel pretty racist, like a sunny, idyllic version of 1960s Alabama, where a party of more than one Black person gets routinely rejected from some clubs/bars/restaurants. On top of that, the staff and some of the security working at the festival can be incredibly aggressive and rude to you and in French. If you don't understand it, it's even more confusing.

To avoid it, try to stick to the official Cannes parties, or hang out in international hotels like the Miramar or the Radisson Blu Hotel—which are used to an international crowd. You can also stick to parties at the various country pavilions near the Film Market.

2) Stick to the African Pavilion

At the festival, most countries have their own pavilion. But because the festival believes Africa is a country, all 54 countries are gathered in one pavilion. This pavilion also includes the Caribbean, since Jamaica, as life would have it, is also an African country. In the African Pavilion, there was even talk on how to submit films if you're a filmmaker of Indian descent (despite the fact that India had its own pavilion).

You're not African? That's okay, no one cares. Pan-Africanism is still alive, I guess? Thankfully, out of the many pavilions, I did find the African Pavilion was the best one the most welcoming and whose schedule was the most open and clear. Because Cannes is such an exclusive festival, most of the parties and talks won't be communicated outside of those who are supposed to attend.

The African Pavilion, however, requires you to sign up to their newsletter. You then access their app where you can see the schedule, the talks to attend and the party they planned. The only downside is that they were understaffed, so some talks and events were cancelled last minute and with limited communication.

If you're a Black French filmmaker, speaking English is a must to get the most out of the pavilion. If you're an English-speaking filmmaker, try to make friends or meet people who speak French, as some of the talks/discussions might not have professional interpreters.

Also, go to the events organized by diversity in Cannes. Now, if you're a Black filmmaker who would rather not stay in the community for fear of being pigeonholed? Unless you're part of a talent scheme run by the festival...good luck getting others to support you.

3) Be ready to WAIT to see films and to party

On average, I waited 1 hour 40 minutes for each film I wanted to see in the official selection program. And I purposely chose not to see the famous ones like the Pedro Almodóvar or Quintin Tarantino's films. I also waited almost two hours to see a film from the Un certain regard selection and didn't get in—despite my pass. Now, Un certain regard has the most highly sought after films, even more so than the Competition, because they tend to select the best among indie international films. To get in for sure, you need a "Un certain regard" pass, so they need to invite you themselves. Even if you have a ticket at the counter, you might not get in unless you wait two hours (standing) or choose to attend the early screening or the late ones (and still, you should be ready to wait 1 hour for these).

You need a pass AND a ticket to see the films from the official selection and walk the red carpet up to the Grand Théatre Debussy. For the ACID, Director's fortnight, Semaine de la critique, and the Official selection's films not shown on the red carpet, you just need a pass—and to be ready to queue for at least 45 minutes.

I wouldn't recommend getting the Cannes cinephile pass as it has a low priority. I saw people waiting 2 hours to see a film and not getting in, while people with professional Black passes arriving 10 minutes before the screening walking past them. Because the Cannes festival is for professionals, they have, unfortunately, priority over members of the public.

Now, with the parties at Cannes, word on the street is that they are not as legendary as they used to be. Even if you get invited to one, you still need to wait an hour. It's not because they are over capacity, but rather they feel the need to pretend that they are. Unless you're a VVIP. And if you're one, why are you reading my article?

Anyway, despite not being as glamorous as they used to be, they remain so exclusive that if your name is not on the list, you might need to sell your first born to attend.

Thankfully, you can avoid it by being smart. When I arrived in Cannes, I was dead set on going to parties to network. Since almost all of them are invite only, I went to the parties at the pavilions, like the UK one, the American one (which costs 20 euros because Americans are always about their money) and the African Pavilion—that were kind enough to facilitate networking by introducing me to fellow filmmakers. God knows how talking to strangers and building new relationships can be difficult, and they made it easier.

4) Make friends with distributors or people working for the Mayor's office

The whole point of the festival is to sell films. Tickets are sparse for most people, so some badge holders wear their Sunday Best and stand outside the grand theater, holding signs asking for tickets. It makes sense that distributors are incredibly powerful, since they have the power to buy and sell films internationally. They are given way too many tickets that should be given to people waiting for hours outside.

So, if you make friends with distributors, they will always have a handful of spare tickets, even for the big ones that everyone wants to see. They also have tickets for the big parties as well. Press badge holders also have priority since they are responsible for a film good or bad media coverage. So they have a handful of tickets too.

People working for the Mayor's office also have tickets because they work closely together since the festival brings so much revenue to the city. Make friends with them, as well as film students and you'll get tickets. Don't know where to find them? Social media is your friend.

There is also another way to get tickets to films: the staff. For example, I couldn't get tickets to see Mati Diop's Atlantiques. I walked to the ticket counter and saw a Black woman with a great hairstyle. My instinct KNEW I had to tag along. I asked her if she needed help. She was looking for the same tickets. We asked someone at the ticket office if they could help. They said they had nothing. But one of the staff members saw us and said she could try to help us. She came back with two tickets and that's how I got to see the film. I got lucky and was cunning. So be nice with the staff, they can help.

5) Be ready for anything

A film festival is intense by nature, but Cannes is a whirlwind. Since you're spending so much time waiting and walking from venues to venues, you won't have time to eat unless you bring food you've made before hand. You're not allowed to eat inside the theaters and if you walk the red carpet, you food is thrown out beforehand. You can try buying food and drinks in the morning and finish it by the time you walk the red carpet. I'd advise buying it at a supermarket like the pricey Monoprix. Or the nearby McDonald's. It's cheap, warm, almost always open and a great way to socialize! Young filmmakers, as well as those from Britain and the States will come to McDonald's to eat since it's one of the places they know best. Why not strike up a convo there?

Also, don't forget your power bank. Your phone will get out of battery for sure, especially if you post content on social media.

Finally, despite its reputation, the festival is incredibly badly organized. You will be told that your badge is not allowed to watch films at other selections, or you would be given the wrong directions and will be lost in the croisette on your way to see an obscure film.

Chill, be ready to walk and use Google Maps. And enjoy!

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Julie Adenuga: "There Are Young Artists In Nigeria Who Are Changing the World"

In an exclusive interview, the Beats 1 radio presenter opens up about her Nigerian heritage, documenting Homecoming in Lagos, and London being an important hub for afro-fusion sounds.

Julie Adenuga sits at the intersection of two continents.

As an affable tastemaker who transforms banal interviews into engaging conversations with some of the most famous artists in the world, Julie is leading the global dialogue on new music from her daily radio show, which broadcasts to over 100 countries.

The North London native of Nigerian descent hails from a musical family, her brothers are artists Skepta and JME, and has risen from the underground as a self-taught presenter on former pirate radio station Rinse FM to being one of three lead DJ's with her Beats 1 show on Apple Music.

A champion of homegrown talent in the UK and across the African diaspora, Julie is a purveyor of the afro-fusion genre, as is evident in her recent Homecoming documentary, which captured the fresh innovators from the Lagos music scene, and her DON't @ ME club nights, which has featured Ghetts, Lady Leshurr and The Compozers as residents.

Chosen as one of OkayAfrica's 100 Women celebrating extraordinary women from Africa and the diaspora, we speak with the presenter and broadcaster on owning her Nigerian identity, the responsibility of spreading afrobeats and why London is a key location for the genre.

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