Film: Roger Ross Williams' 'God Loves Uganda'

Watch a clip + trailer for 'God Loves Uganda,' an important new film exploring the American evangelical right's involvement in the anti-gay movement of Uganda.

In general, we don't like to beat our readers over the head with repeated information, but sometimes a project comes along that is so important we can't help but make sure everyone gets the message - which is completely the case with new documentary film God Loves Uganda. Previously, Okayafrica mentioned the film as one of the can't miss films of this year's Sundance festival. Now that the fest has long since wrapped, we want to make sure you don't forget about this eyeopening work as it prepares to make the rounds in the United States at a number of venues over the next two months. In 2012, director Roger Ross Williams became the first African American to win an Academy Award in his category of Documentary Short for Music for Prudence, a film profiling the life and work of disabled Zimbabwean singer-songwriter Prudence Mabhena; God Loves Uganda is Ross Williams' feature length debut. In this short clip, the filmmakers interview one of Uganda's leading anti-homosexuality proponents in the wake of a protest taking place at the grave site of murdered Ugandan LGBT advocate, David Kato.

On a broad level, the film examines the rapidly-growing evangelist movement in America, and their continued interest (both cultural and economic) in spreading their theology throughout the world, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa. It's a fascinating look at both the violent anti-homosexuality movement in Uganda that's been highly publicized by the Western media, as well as the heavy involvement in that movement by America's conservative evangelical right that doesn't receive the same attention. In an interview with IndieWire, Ross Williams says he hopes audiences will come away from the film understanding "that Africa should not be a dumping ground for American conservative ideology. And, that when you unleash a message of hate and intolerance, no one is safe." The issues are complex, but we completely agree. Watch the trailer for God Loves Uganda, and check the festival dates for screenings below.


4/4 - 4/11 Palm Beach International Film Festival - Palm Beach, FL

4/3 - 4/14 Cleveland International Film Festival - Cleveland, OH

4/4 - 4/14 Dallas International Film Festival - Dallas, TX

4/25 - 4/28 Sundance London - London, UK

4/25 - 5/05 Hot Docs - Toronto, Canada

4/25 - 5/09 San Francisco International Film Festival - San Francisco, CA


6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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