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In Defense Of The Racist Cake and The Swedish Minister

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As the disturbing images of a white woman - Swedish Minister of Culture, Lena Adelsohn-Liljeroth - cutting into a cake in the shape of a grossly caricatured, African woman sped around the internets yesterday, cries of racism rang out.  The National Association of Afro-Swedes, along with activists all over the world, demanded for Adelsohn-Liljeroth's resignation. Generalized outrage ensued.

Meanwhile the Okayafrica offices were filled with  heated conversations about media depictions of race, artistic intentionality, diplomatic responsibility, and Tupac's hologram. Luckily, Africa Is A Country came through to break it all down for us. And we agree that the piece of performance art (see disturbing video above) could quite possibly be "a brilliant staging of structural racism and post-colonial existence." (For their full, insightful analysis, check here.)

By this morning Al Jazeera posted extensive interviews with Makode Linde, the artist of the cake. It's a wonder no one thought to interview him - and contextualize the piece - before the firestorm began. So much for not making assumptions based on appearance.

 

 

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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