News Brief

Danai Gurira Wears African Labels & Talks Effects of Colonization in Harper’s Bazaar

'The Walking Dead' actress and 'Eclipsed' playwright Danai Gurira is absolutely radiant in the latest issue of Harper’s Bazaar.

Zimbabwe-raised actress, Danai Gurira, best known for her role as fierce Michonne on AMC hit The Walking Dead, is absolutely radiant in the latest issue of Harper’s Bazaar. She is also an accomplished playwright of Tony-nominated  Eclipsed currently on Broadway, starring Lupita Nyong’o and featuring an all black women cast, about the second Liberian civil war.


In the editorial—shot by David Urbanke and styled by Chrissy Rutherford—Gurira is decked out exclusively in her favorite African labels such as Washington Roberts, Kisua, Weruzo and Tsemaye Binitie. And she discusses how the enduring effect of colonization on the continent shaped her Zimbabwean identity.

Stepping out of colonization is a very tricky process. It’s not just all about, ‘Now we can vote.' It’s a multi-generation process of regaining an identity, but also accepting that your identity is not going to be what it was once before. It’s always going to involve the assault of colonization—it will always be a part of the fabric of who we are.

She’s been a champion of telling the stories of African women through her works Into the Continuum, The Convert and Familia, which have been well-received off Broadway. When asked her perspective on the need for more “minority stories on stage and screen,” Gurira responds:

I never consider myself a minority. I see people who look like me in Barbados, in Trinidad, in Haiti, in London, and in Brooklyn. So I don't know what the heck anyone means when they call me a 'minority.' There's something about that word to me. It just minimalizes people.

She adds that stories about people of color shouldn’t be reduced to being referred to as “minority stories,” posing these thoughtful questions:

If a story is telling a truth, then why shouldn't it affect everybody? I've been affected by [the work of] white men before. Why can't black women on stage tell stories that can affect white men in the audience?

All images for Harper's Bazaar; Photographer David Urbanke

All images for Harper's Bazaar; Photography by David Urbanke

All images for Harper's Bazaar; Photography by David Urbanke

Read the full Harper’s Bazaar editorial here.

Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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