News Brief

The Oscars Awarded Moonlight Best Picture, Confirming What We All Knew

Moonlight won the award for Best Picture at the 2017 Academy Awards.

Last night's Academy Awards show was by far the best in recent memory.


Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis won Oscars for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively—making 2017 the first time that two black actors have won in both categories.  Ali is the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar, and Davis is now the first black woman to have won an Emmy, Tony and Oscar for acting.

Perhaps the biggest moment of the night was Moonlight winning for Best Picture. For most of us, it was the obvious choice, but given how much white folks seem to love La La Land, it seemed highly possible that Moonlight might face an upset at its expense.

We were all preparing our op-eds and angry tweets as it was wrongly announced that La La Land had won. But to everyone's delight, it was all just a Steve Harvey-inspired mix-up. The Academy actually picked the right movie, Moonlight won, and we should all relish in this victory. It was about damn time.

Moonlight is a film for the ages—a triumph for black cinema, and we're glad that the Academy was finally on the same page as the rest of us in recognizing that. More of this please.

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Photo: Felipe Maia.

Making Music Between the Cracks In Senegal

Navigating mbalax, hip-hop, and afropop, Senegalese artists are sticking together to make their music heard.

Taking a stroll in Dakar is an overwhelming sonic experience. One of the busiest metropolises of West Africa, Senegal's capital is flooded by taxis with lousy tailpipes and drivers who are keen to honk every now and then while cruising long avenues by the seaside. All over the city, several minarets' speaker boxes remind the prayer times throughout the day, adding chants to daily people's chats in different languages and dialects.

At first, it may not seem too different from other big cities in Africa, but one kind of music sets a unique dakarois tone. Whether in a clothing store, having a thieboudienne for lunch or taking a cab, one's ears will be caught by mbalax music.

A new generation of artists wants to bring different sounds to the main stage of the Senegalese arts. They are the likes of the electro-fueled trio Guiss Guiss Bou Bess, the big afrobeat-ish band Sahad & The Nataal Patchwork and the experimentalist sound-maker Ibaaku. He's one of the founders of Kandang, a newly-born platform that aspires to build up a healthy environment that could develop the work of Senegalese musicians through concerts, workshops and promotion.

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