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Film: New York African Film Festival Kicks Off!

The 19th annual New York African Film Festival kicks off April 5th and runs through May 28th! Don't miss the opening reception Thursday, April 5th at The Greene Space in NYC. DJ Spooky will perform a live re-scoring of Ousmane Sembène's classic film, Borom Sarret, and OKA's very own Beatriz Leal Riesco will comment on this year's film selections.


The theme of this year's festival is "21st Century: The Homecoming." Over the course of two months a multitude of film screenings (across all genres), panel discussions, professional development workshops, visual and performing arts exhibitions, and in-school presentations for K-12 and university students will explore questions of "home" and "homeland." Okayafrica is excited to be co-presenting screenings of Mama Africa on April 11th, a documentary about legendary songstress Miriam Makeba, and Restless City (trailer above) on April 14th , a gorgeous narrative exploring the lives of African immigrants living in New York City (emphasis on gorgeous - the film looks amazing). More info is to come on OKA's screenings, in the meantime check out NYAFF's website for information on screenings and events.

Interview
Photo: Schure Media Group/Roc Nation

Interview: Buju Banton Is a Lyrical Purveyor of African Truth

A candid conversation with the Jamaican icon about his new album, Upside Down 2020, his influence on afrobeats, and the new generation of dancehall.

Devout fans of reggae music have been longing for new musical offerings from Mark Anthony Myrie, widely-known as the iconic reggae superstar Buju Banton. A shining son of Jamaican soil, with humble beginnings as one of 15 siblings in the close-knit community of Salt Lane, Kingston, the 46-year-old musician is now a legend in his own right.

Buju Banton has 12 albums under his belt, one Grammy Award win for Best Reggae Album, numerous classic hits and a 30-year domination of the industry. His larger-than-life persona, however, is more than just the string of accolades that follow in the shadows of his career. It is his dutiful, authentic style of Caribbean storytelling that has captured the minds and hearts of those who have joined him on this long career ride.

The current socio-economic climate of uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrusted onto the world, coupled with the intensified fight against racism throughout the diaspora, have taken centre stage within the last few months. Indubitably, this makes Buju—and by extension, his new album—a timely and familiar voice of reason in a revolution that has called for creative evolution.

With his highly-anticipated album, Upside Down 2020, the stage is set for Gargamel. The title of this latest discography feels nothing short of serendipitous, and with tracks such as "Memories" featuring John Legend and the follow-up dancehall single "Blessed," it's clear that this latest body of work is a rare gem that speaks truth to vision and celebrates our polylithic African heritage in its rich fullness and complexities.

Having had an exclusive listen to some other tracks on the album back in April, our candid one-on-one conversation with Buju Banton journeys through his inspiration, collaboration and direction for Upside Down 2020, African cultural linkages and the next generational wave of dancehall and reggae.

This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.

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