News

R.I.P. Chinua Achebe

African literary titan Chinua Achebe sadly passed away today.


Beloved author and poet Chinua Achebe passed away earlier today due to complications from a “brief illness.” The influential author, best known for his masterly depiction of the clash between traditional African values and colonial Western influences, was 82 years old. Although his name has become synonymous with the title of his magnum opus Things Fall Apart --of obvious and special significance to fans of The Roots and their own opus of the same name--Achebe's catalog was deep and his contribution to English literature almost too wide to get your arms around. It’s a sad day not only for the continent and the diaspora but for the written word, period. We'll keep updating below with reactions.

 

He was the complete artist--complex nuanced vexing inventive and dauntingly furiously courageous.  For this writer from the African diaspora, he was a profound influence.  I remember the first time I read him--it was like an awakening. — Junot Diaz (via e-mail)

 

 

"I admired his honesty and uncompromising attitude towards bad leadership in Africa" — Femi Kuti (via e-mail)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a lovely quote from a commencement speech Dr. Achebe gave at The New School in 1991: "The power of creation is there in all its magnificence in the myths and legends of the world. I think the life of the world is worth your effort." — Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah

Interview

Angelique Kidjo Writes a Love Letter to 'Mother Nature'

We talk to the Beninese musical icon about assembling her new album on Zoom and the "bigger than COVID-19" threat that lies ahead!

The kind of infectious energy that lives within Angelique Kidjo can't be contained by Zoom. Her zest for life reaches out far beyond any screen, and burns stronger than the fastest internet connection.

"I can't wait until we're in person hugging again," she enthuses soon after joining our Zoom meeting to discuss her latest album Mother Nature. Having been on the receiving end of a hug from the four-time Grammy-winning singer, I know exactly what I'm missing out on. "Me too," I say, as I wrap my arms around my laptop, my face squishing the screen. "No, no," she retorts. "I don't want that. You keep it. I want the real deal," she chuckles, her full-bodied trademark laughter lovingly admonishing me.

The Benin-born musician is preparing to release Mother Nature, a collection of songs reflecting our one Earth, and cementing her status as an African musical icon. Collaborating with the likes of Yemi Alade, Mr Eazi, Burna Boy, Sampa the Great, Shungudzo and more, Kidjo's crossing through time and space, over age and country through Mother Nature's themes and stories. Each track is infused with a vigor that only she possesses — the kind that shares a significant message even as the listener is called to just dance or sing along.

Below, Angelique Kidjo reminisces about making the album, and chats us through her hopes and dreams for it!

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