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7​ Recent Books on African History for the History Nerd In You

These books by black authors cover a range of historical events, eras and figures that highlight the rich history of the continent.

There are a plethora of books out there proclaiming to truthfully capture the continent's rich history, but they aren't all worthy of our time. In fact, many of the ones we grew up reading in school textbooks fall into this category. These often one-dimensional narratives did little to capture African's multifaceted history and were mostly told from a European frame of reference.

Books like these, however, don't represent the fullness of African historical text that does exist. Throughout the 20th century, scholars like Senegal's Cheikh Anta Diop and Ghana's Kwame Arhin produced works that added perspective to the African historical landscape. In a more contemporary sense, there are historians from Africa and the diaspora who are furthering this work and—though still largely underrepresented—many of these scholars are women.

READ: 13 of Our Favorite Books On Black Resistance and Revolution

In the past decade, black authors have taken to writing history that expands viewpoints, adding layers of nuance and authenticity to the field and offering critical works that experiment with format and examine eras, events, and figures from the continent's historical past. These books which cover a range of topics like the historical role of media in Kenyan politics to the aftermath of the Marikana Massacre in South Africa, explore lesser-known histories and extend beyond typical narratives.

If you're interested in becoming more familiar with these stories, here are seven recent African history books to check out.



A Short History of Chinua Achebe's 'Things Fall Apart' by Dr Terri Ochiagha

"Things Fall Apart" is one of the seminal texts of African literature. It holds a unique place in the collective memory of many young people as it's one of the few books by an African author that is commonly taught as part of a Western curriculum. Sixty years after its debut, it is still being taught—in fact, it is the most read African novel of all time.

Despite its lasting significance and immense critical value, there hasn't been a recent analysis or historical take on the book that goes beyond the typical literary themes to highlight its unique role in the broader culture of African storytelling. This is where A Short History of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart by London-based scholar and author Terri Ochiagha comes in. The book, which is her second dealing with Achebe's work, offers a refreshing critical lens to reexamine the canonical novel and its role in both shaping and transforming African literature on an international scale—all in one notably straightforward and concise package. The brief survey is part of the Ohio Short Histories Collection, which publishes succinct guides, biographies and more on important topics in African history.

Magema Fuze: The Making of a Kholwa Intellectual by Hlonipha Mokoena

This fascinating micro-history tackles the lasting legacy of cultural imperialism in South Africa and what it meant for Zulu culture and identity. South African author Hlonipha Mokoena introduces unfamiliar readers to the forming of the "Kholwa intellectual" who were the first-generation Christian converts often caught in a bind between being fully assimilated into colonial culture and holding on to Zulu traditions.

She does this through the story of the Kholwa author and historian Magema Fuze who wrote he first book written in the Zulu language by a native speaker, Abantu Abamnyama Lapa Bavela Ngakona (1922) which was translated into English in 1979 (The Black People and Whence They Came). The seminal book was somewhat of a love letter to Zulu identity, which Fuze hoped would resonate deeply with his people.

"Writing as an aspirant historian, Magema Fuze's literary life represents a black intellectual tradition whose potential was not realised," reads part of a summary via Barnes & Noble. "Beyond his work as a printer and scribe it is worth adding another role, namely that Fuze was a popular historian, who attempted to write histories whose intimate resonances would not only appeal to his readers but also rouse their nationalistic sentiments.

The Predicament of Blackness: Postcolonial Ghana and the Implications of Race by Jemima Pierre

Described by the Chicago Press as "the first book to tackle the question of race in West Africa through its postcolonial manifestations," this book examines the implications of the concept of "blackness" on the continent, using Ghana as a cultural backdrop.

Jemima Pierre, a sociocultural anthropologist and associate professor at UCLA, employs a more global understanding of race relations in her assessment and examines what a system of global anti-blackness means for Africa. Her work intentionally challenges the idea of a homogenous black identity existing on the continent that makes issues of race less pronounced than other social matters. Pierre grapples with complex issues around a "racialized" Africa in an attempt to identify what it means to be black on the continent. In The Predicament of Blackness, she uses Ghana as a microcosm for larger phenomenons happening across Africa, covering a range of topics from the prevalence of skin bleaching to concepts of whiteness in the country originating from its colonial past.

Marikana: A View from the Mountain and a Case to Answer by Peter Alexander, Thapelo Lekgow, Botsang Mmope, Bongani Xezwi


The Marikana Massacre of 2012 is known as the most deadly use of force by South African Police Forces against civilians in the 21st century. The killings were in response to demands from unions and independent miners to have their pay increased to R12,500 a month. The violence led to a total of 34 deaths, while 78 others were injured.

Marikana: A View from the Mountain and a Case to Answer, which was published the same year, offers firsthand knowledge of the event, through ten interviews with surviving strikers. Many of the interviews were conducted at the very mountain where the miners would meet ahead of the protest. It also offers a retelling of the events from the strikers' perspective, giving voice to those directly impacted by the violence, as well as detailed maps and photos of the area and the event that tool place.

The book goes on to discuss the aftermath of the massacre and the grave outcome of state-backed violence against citizens, using it as a vehicle to discuss the intersections of race and class in post-apartheid South Africa. "The book is an attempt to provide a bottom-up account of the Marikana story, to correct an imbalance in many official and media accounts that privilege the viewpoints of governments and business, at the expense of workers," says Jane Duncan the Highway Africa Chair of Media and Information Society at the School of Journalism and Media Studies, Rhodes University of the book.

The Wife's Tale: A Personal History by Aida Edemariam

In this multi-generational account of the life of her 95-year-old grandmother Yetemegnu born in the northern city of Gondar in 1916, journalist Aida Edemariam highlights several shape-shifting moments in modern Ethiopian history and its rapid transformation from feudalism to monarchy to Marxist revolution to democracy, which occurred over the course of just one century, as stated in a synopsis from Harper Collins Publishers.

Edemariam uses this biographical memoir of her grandmother's life to reflect on the social and political shifts that have occurred in the country, and their human toll. Yetemegnu lived though several transformative events in Ethiopian history such as the Fascist Invasion and the rule of Emperor Haile Selassie. This uniquely human story, offers a "panoramic" view of history as well as an intimate look into how such events have impacted not only the growth of the nation but also the personal, everyday lives of Ethiopians. Told from the often overlooked perspective of a woman, the book also tackles the role of gender dynamics on individuals' experiences.

"The Wife's Tale introduces a woman both imperious and vulnerable; a mother, widow, and businesswoman whose deep faith and numerous travails never quashed her love of laughter, mischief and dancing," reads the book's summary. "A fighter whose life was shaped by direct contact with the volatile events that transformed her nation."

Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America by Sylviane A. Diouf

The story of the last slave ship to reach American soil is conveniently overlooked in the history of the transatlantic slave trade, but this book by Senegalese author Sylviane Diouf, brings this dark history to light. Landing in Alabama in the thick of night during the summer of 1860, the Ship Clotilda carried the last recorded group of enslaved Africans, who were trafficked from Benin and Nigeria into the United States completely unnoticed. This occurred nearly 50 years after slavery had supposedly been abolished, and was the result of a bet by a shipyard owner.

This book traces the group of enslaved Africans history, from their capture in West Africa to their lives as enslaved people alongside their American-born counterparts. The book also follows the group post-Emancipation, documenting the strong cultural ties that persisted despite their circumstances, and led many to purchase land and form their own settlement known as Africa Town, in which they spoke their own language and maintained traditional African laws.

This history is also explored in the posthumous New York Times Best Seller novel Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo by Zora Neale Hurston, written in 1927 and sourced from interviews with Cudjo Lewis, who was 86 at the time and was the last person to have survived the slave trade.

Digital Democracy, Analogue Politics: How the Internet Era is Transforming Kenya (African Arguments) by Nanjala Nyabola

This contemporary history book, documents Kenyan society's singular relationship with digital media and online activism. The country is considered one of the most connected and digitally advanced on the continent, with notably high numbers of Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp users.

The digital space has birthed several online social movements, thus allowing for many Kenyans to find political agency online. Many users, particularly those from traditionally marginalized communities, have utilized social media as a valuable tool to challenge the governmental and to fight against censorship. In Digital Democracy Kenyan author Nanjala Nyabola assesses digital media as a form of protest and what it means for the country's political future, examining social media trends like "hashtag activism" and the political consequences of "fake news."

"Incisive, deft, and innovative," says Brenda N. Sanya professor at Colgate University in a review of the book. "This book describes viral trends and critically expands the scholarship on Kenyan politics while bringing the social histories of marginalized Kenyans into sharper focus,"

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Nnedi Okorafor attends the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Nnedi Okorafor's 'Binti' Is Being Developed Into a TV Series at Hulu

The award-winning novella is coming to a screen near you.

Binti, the acclaimed book by award-winning Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okorafor, is being adapted into a TV series, set to premiere on Hulu. The Hollywood Reporter was the first to break the news.

The three-part, science fiction novella will be adapted for screen under the studio Media Res. The script is being written by both Okorafor and writer Stacy Osei-Kuffour, who has previously written for Watchmen and The Morning Show amongst others.

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Here are 10 Recent Books from Black South African Women Writers That You Need to Read

These 10 books have both shifted and unearthed new narratives within South Africa's literary world.

A few years ago, we celebrated the eight most influential Black South African women writers during Women's Month. The list featured the likes of Miriam Tlali, the first Black woman to publish a novel during Apartheid, Sweet Medicine author Panashe Chigumadzi and beloved poet Lebogang Mashile. We now bring you our selection of ten literary gems by various Black South African women writers which have shifted and even unearthed new narratives in the South African body of literature.


This list is in no particular order.

​"Collective Amnesia" by Koleka Putuma, published 2017

It is unprecedented for a poetry book in South Africa to go into a ninth print run and yet, Collective Amnesia has managed to do just that. The collection of poems, which compellingly explores religion, womanhood, Blackness, queerness, traditionalism, trauma and everything in between, has also been translated into Danish, German and Spanish. The winner of the 2018 Luschei Prize for African Poetry, Collective Amnesia has also been adopted as reading material for students at various institutions of higher learning across the country. It is a truly phenomenal and unrivalled first work by Putuma.

"The Ones with Purpose" by Nozizwe Cynthia Jele, published 2018

Jele's book centers themes of loss, grief and trauma. After the main character's (Fikile) sister dies from breast cancer, it is now up to her to ensure that certain rituals are performed before the burial. The Ones with Purpose highlights a lot of what Black people refer to as "drama" following the death of a loved ones. It highlights how often Black people are often not given the opportunity to simply grieve their loss but must instead attend to family politics and fights over property and rights. It also speaks to how, despite the rift that loss inevitably brings to Black families especially, togetherness also results because of it.

"These Bones Will Rise Again" by Panashe Chigumadzi, published 2018

Drawing from Audre Lord's concept of a biomythography in Zami: A New Spelling of My Name as well as Alice Walker's essay In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens, Chigumadzi's These Bones Will Rise Again explores the history of Zimbabwe's spirit medium and liberation fighter Mbuya Nehanda during the Chimurenga, Zimbabwe pre- and post-colonization and the Mugabe-regime. The book also pays homage to her late grandmother. Chigumadzi's commitment to retelling lost narratives in Zimbabwe's complex history is a radical act in itself in a world that seeks to tell the country's stories through a lens that centers any and everyone else except Zimbabweans.

"Reclaiming the Soil: A Black Girl's Struggle to Find Her African Self" by Rosie Motene, published 2018

Just as Matlwa's debut novel Coconut explores the cultural confusion and identity crises that result in Black children raised in a White world, so too does Motene's book. In contrast, however, Reclaiming the Soil: A Black Girl's Struggle to Find Her African Self is instead a non-fictional and biographical account set during Apartheid South Africa. As a young Black girl, Motene is taken in by the Jewish family her mother works for. And while she is exposed to more opportunities than she would have had she remained with her Black parents, hers is a story of tremendous sacrifice and learning to rediscover herself in a world not meant for her.

"Period Pain" by Kopano Matlwa, published 2017

Matlwa's third novel Period Pain honestly pulls apart the late Nelson Mandela's idea of a rainbow nation and non-racialism. Through the central character Masechaba, the reader is shown the reality of a country still stuck in the clenches of racism and inequality. Xenophobia, crime and the literal death sentence that is the public health system are all issues Matlwa explores in the novel. It's both a visceral account of the country from the vantage point of a Black person without the privileges and comforts of a White person as well as a heartfelt story about how even the most broken continue to survive. It's the story of almost every Black person in South Africa and that that story is even told to begin with, and told honestly, is important.

"Always Another Country" by Sisonke Msimang, published 2017

Msimang's memoir details her political awakening while abroad as well as her return to a South Africa on the cusp of democracy. Hers is not an ordinary account of Apartheid South Africa and its aftermath but rather a window into yet another side—the lives of South Africans living in exile and more so, what happens when they eventually return home. Admittedly, it's an honest account of class and privilege. Msimang describes the tight-knit sense of community built between families who were in exile and acknowledges that many of them came back to South Africa with an education—something of which South Africans living in the country were systematically deprived. It is an important addition to the multitude of stories of Apartheid-era South Africa, the transition into democracy and the birth of the so-called "born-free" generation.

"Khwezi: The Story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo" by Redi Tlhabi, published 2017

Redi Tlhabi's second non-fiction work tells the story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo, the woman who accused then President Jacob Zuma of rape back in 2005. "Khwezi" as she became known throughout the very public trial, was a symbol of the many women subjected to the abuse of men in positions of power. Similarly, she was treated as women like her are so often treated—ostracized by the community and forced to leave and start anew elsewhere. Tlhabi's account of Khwezi's life was a courageous one and one that tries to obtain justice despite the court's decisions. Although Khwezi died in October 2016, her memory continues to live on in the hearts of many South African women who refuse to be silenced by the dominant patriarchal structure. For that alone, this work is tremendously important.

"Intruders" by Mohale Mashigo, published 2018

When one thinks of African literature, stories of migration, colonization, loss, trauma, culture and traditions usually come to the fore. As a result, Afrofuturism or speculative fiction is a genre that is often sidelined and the stories therein left untold. Intruders is a collection of short stories by Mohale Mashigo that unearths these stories in a refreshing manner. From mermaids in Soweto, werewolves falling in love with vampires and a woman killing a man with her high-heeled shoes, Mashigo centers the proverbial "nobody" and pushes against the narrative that Africans can only tell certain kinds of stories but not others.

"Miss Behave" by Malebo Sephodi, published 2017

There is a reason why Sephodi's Miss Behave has resonated so strongly among women across the board. Drawing inspiration from Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's adage that "well-behaved women seldom make history", Miss Behave documents Sephodi's journey to smashing the stereotypes peddled by society in its relentless prescriptions of what women can and cannot be; can and cannot do. Naturally, she's labeled a "misbehaving" woman and hence the title of the book. Sephodi also explores themes of identity and gender issues while allowing women the opportunity to take charge of their own identities despite societal expectations. A book that wants women to discover their bad-ass selves and exercise agency over their lives? A must read.

"Rape: A South African Nightmare" by Professor Pumla Gqola, published 2015

This book is both brilliant in the way it unpacks the complex relationship that South Africa has with rape and distressing in the way this relationship is seen to unfold in reality. Rape is a scourge that South Africa has not been able to escape for years and the crisis only seems to be worsening. Written almost four years ago, Prof Gqola's profound analysis of rape and rape culture as well as autonomy, entitlement and consent is still as relevant today as it was back then—both a literary feat and a tragedy. There can be no single answer to why South Africa is and remains the rape capital of the world, but Rape: A South African Nightmare is by far one of the best attempts thus far.

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Twice As Tall World Tour. Flyer provided by Atlantic Records.

Burna Boy Announces 'Twice As Tall' World Tour Dates

The Nigerian star will be playing shows across North America and Europe this summer.

Burna Boy is hitting the road again.

Following the celebrated release of African Giant—which came with nominations at both the Grammys & BRIT Awards and a trophy for Best International Act at the BET Awards—the Nigerian star will be embarking on a long run of shows that will take him across North America and Europe.

The Twice As Tall World Tour will kick off in May in Atlanta, and will see Burna Boy playing concerts across the US, Canada, Norway, France, Portugal, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and more locations.

You can check out the full tour dates for Twice As Tall World Tour below and revisit Burna Boy's performance for Okay Acoustics.

Tickets are available now.

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Angelique Kidjo performs onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony at Microsoft Theater on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

'Take Africa Out of It and There's No Music for Y’all,' Angelique Kidjo on Success, ‘World Music’ & Championing New African Talent

OkayAfrica caught up with the legendary Beninese singer following her recent Grammy win and her feature on the collaborative electronic track 'Milambi.'

Last month, Angelique Kidjo won her fourth Grammy in the 'Best World Music' category. But it wasn't quite like every other year she had been nominated for the award. This time she shared the nomination with fellow African act Burna Boy, the first artist of the continent's current afropop scene to earn a nomination. While there's no question that Kidjo, who won for her 2019 album Celia, was beyond deserving (this was by no means a Kendrick-Macklemore scenario), Kidjo made the conscious decision to dedicate her award to Burna and urged viewers to pay attention to the wealth of new talent coming from the continent. "The new generation of artists coming from Africa are going to take you by storm and the time has come," said the artist.

Her vocal support for African talent isn't new though. As Kidjo notes, she gave a similarly memorable speech when she won four years ago for her album Sings, and she sounds fierce and impassioned as she speaks about it over the phone. After all, Kidjo has always been notably forward-looking in life and in music—experimentation doesn't scare her. Her latest work is on a futuristic, electronic project from Swiss DJ and producer Pablo Nouvelle and she expresses excitement about the novel methods in which African artists are creating and amplifying their music.

We caught up with Kidjo following her latest Grammy win and the release of her joint single with Nouvelle, "Milambi," to discuss her support of the new crop of talent emerging from the continent, fame, the controversy around the 'Best World Music' category, and remaining true to her identity in a Western-oriented music industry.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

The Grammys were a big moment. Why did you decide to dedicate your award to Burna Boy and acknowledge the new generation of up-and-coming African artists?

I'm always in contact with my continent. I go back on a regular basis, and that's where my source of inspiration is from. Throughout the years going back and forth, I've been seeing the entrepreneurship of the young generation coming up. When I started music—there was none of that. You just went to the studio, and you found people to help you do your music. Now you can be a self-producer. I have nephews and nieces, and I'll just say "Ok, what's new? Let me listen to the new stuff." And I just realized that the rest of the world has no clue about what's happening in Africa.

Four years ago, when I received my Grammy for the album Sings, I said "Brace yourself, because Africa is coming. You have to open your heart, your mind and ears to listen to what is going on and what is coming from the new generation of my contient"— I said that four years ago, and the time has come because [with artists like] Burna Boy, Wizkid, Davido, Yemi Alade and many more from Nigeria, and Sho Madjozi from South Africa—you have so much happening culturally in Africa. I have the feeling that sometimes people just completely turn their head away from Africa and I just wonder how one could possibly turn their head away from where they come from, because Africa is the cradle of humanity. Culture comes from there—there's no music on this planet that doesn't have Africa in it.

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Is this why you've chosen to work with a lot of younger artists from the continent like Yemi Alade most recently?

I'm so proud of this new generation of musicians that are using the technology to tell a positive story about Africa. It's no longer about our suffering. Everybody suffers. So, why should people be focusing only on our suffering and not seeing just the human beings that we are, and how joyful we are? Then suddenly, you realize that joy becomes political because if your society, your people are perceived as joyful, then a leader cannot complain anymore that something is wrong. Beyond all that, [I do it] to pay tribute to the entrepreneurship of the young generation. They aren't waiting on help from anybody. If you are famous in your country and on your continent, there's nothing that can stop you. You have billions of people that will love you, so why should the rest of the world look aside when you're passing by? They should pay attention.

That's why I use my platform to bring the attention of the media to this new generation coming. They don't want to be caught by surprise because I've been telling them to pay attention. If something happens, and they don't pay attention, at least I've done my work.

I do think it's really amazing how new artists have been able to gain traction and put their music out despite their not being a lot of support by African leaders for creative industries. Do you think that African governments, and the folks with money should invest more entertainment?

I think they should because we create jobs. People make money, and it's not only the artists. There's also the people helping them make videos, or cut tracks—music creates jobs.

I think we have to educate our leaders and our business people in Africa. Who can carry their brand better than us? Who are the best ambassadors of our cultures, our countries and our continent? It's us artists across different forms of art, from painters, to storytellers, to people in theatre and movies. Every form of art is about telling the story of ordinary people and the people that have come before us. How do you know about your own history, if not for the elderly people that tell you the story of who you are?

In order for us to tell our story, we need to have a voice. We need to say it through different mediums. Music is one of them. We shouldn't let anyone else tell our stories anymore. That time in history has passed. We have new narratives, we have proof of how entrepreneurial we are. Africans can make money in Africa and anywhere else. The world is open to us—the world is ours. No one can stop us.

So many African artists look to you as an inspiration and a model for longevity in the music industry. I'm wondering which artists served that role for you when you were first coming up.

There are many, many of them. I would say it started with traditional musicians because I was a very curious child. I come from that background of traditional musicians telling me stories through songs. [Growing up] my brothers were playing music, my father brought the instruments for them, and freed a room in a crowded house for them to rehearse. I heard every genre of music in the '60, '70s and '80s through them, but my role models start with traditional musicians, both male and female. [But at a certain point] I noticed that every album that would be brought home had just men on the covers. I was like, "Okay, so women don't sing? They can't do albums too?" Then you had Western women start coming in and I was like, "Okay, at least some women are making it through [in the industry]."

Then Miriam Makeba came and Aretha Franklin came. The day Aretha Franklin came, the singer of my brother's band—who had such a fucking ego, you couldn't even put it anywhere—said "there's no song I can't sing." [But] Aretha came and he couldn't sing. I'm like, "What? A woman is whooping your butt. I like that."

So, there have been strong men and women as musicians that have informed the music that I make today. The only way I could absorb it and make my own music, and become a role model to others today is because I am proud of my culture. I know where I come from, I'm not trying to copy anybody because everybody copied what we have. There wouldn't be any music in America without the input of enslaved people that came from Africa. The blues came from slaves. It doesn't matter how hard the slave owner wanted to dehumanize us—they even took the drum away from us. But we had many ways of celebrating culture. We had many ways of celebrating our humanity—singing was one of them. We sing our pain to lift it up. We sing our joy to share it with people. That's what African music is. The essence of what music is comes from that place. We've seen it all, we've been through hell, yet here we are prevailing still.

"I have to be able to sing my songs till I die."

You've always championed African culture and identity, whether it's through singing in Yoruba, or representing Benin through various endeavors. Did you at any point, ever face pressure from the industry to tone down your "Africanness" to appeal to certain audiences?

They have a saying in my country, that "the advisor is not the payer." [It's about] what you do with the advice people give you. I'm always listening, I'm always ready to sit and hear constructive criticism. But if you want to critique for the sake of criticizing me—I've heard some journalists say that I'm not African enough in France because my music sounds too Western. I said, "What is the music of the West then? Tell me." Take Africa out of it and there's no music for y'all.

For me, I respect everybody, particularly the differences because there lies the genius. We all don't think the same.

People said, "Why don't you show your titties?" I'm like, "Well, I don't feel like showing my titties because my titties ain't singing. My voice is not in my breasts." You've got to be somebody, and I am African. I come from a rich culture. Why should I change to look like what? What do you want me to look like? I've never ever allowed anyone to say to me, "You can't do this." I have fought some producers that try to change my music. I say, "If that's the case, you take the microphone, you sing, it's not mine, I'm out of here." You have to stand for something. If you are afraid of not making it, then you become a fool to somebody.

People will say what they want to say. If I want to dress differently, I do sometimes. When I received the NAACP award, I wore a suit. A well-tailored suit, and I kill it too in a suit. It's not what you wear, it's who you are.

I always say, if anyone wants to work with me, I'm open. The bridge I'm trying to build, everybody's welcome on it in the respect of each other's differences. My strength might be your weakness, and then I supply. My weakness might be your strength. It goes both ways. I don't have the answer to everything, but one thing I know is that if we stop bitching at each other and blaming people for all the things that aren't good in our life will be better off because when we start doing that, what do we do? We create fear, and fear is dangerous.

I wanted to ask you about the controversy surrounding the Best World Music category at the Grammys. Many believe that it doesn't truly encompass the diversity of music coming from the continent. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Don't underestimate the recording academy. They have been thinking about it way before this. It's a conversation that we're going to be engaging in. Africa is not a country, it's a continent. The Latin Grammy exists. We should have the African Grammys too, because it's a continent, because it's vast, it's huge. So, it's a conversation we started having because the academy is also realizing this, and they are, at least, having that conversation. Right now, if you look at the "French Grammys" coming up, there's not one person of African descent [represented]. Not one. They just completely ban what is called "world music" out of it and we're in the 21st century. So, I think criticizing is one thing, finding solutions is another.

Let's work with the recording academy and find out how we can help to come up with something that works for everybody. That's all I'm about. I'm always about solutions. The thing is that we also need to recognize that we cannot be discriminating when it comes to culture. If we don't speak to each other, and we're always blaming and pointing fingers, there's no conversation possible anymore. We should have an open discussion about this and be creative about it. That's all I say.

Speaking on shifting genres, you recently worked with Pablo Nouvelle on his new project Eliso, I saw it described as your "maiden venture into electronic music." What was that experience like for you?

I started with electronic music. If you ask David Byrne, he would tell you that my first album, Logozo was completely electric, but African electric. So for me, working on this album brings me back to the beginning and, I'm not done doing that. I'm going to do it more.

So, we can expect a lot more of this electronic sound that you've already been working on?

I'm not saying anything.

We can't have a hint?

No, nothing, because I always follow my inspiration. If my inspiration changes a little bit, I have to change [my direction].

You just go with whatever feels right?

I have to be able to sing my songs till I die. All my songs, if I can't sing them, with just my voice and a guitar, it means it's not good. When writing a song, less is more because if you add too much stuff, then you kill the song. You're overstating it. Do the minimal. If it feels good to you, and you can sing it in your sleep, wake up dancing to it, and you can feel it in every beat in your body, it's right.

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