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Our Picks For The 2012 NY African Diaspora Film Festival

Our pick of five must-see films at the 2012 New York African Diaspora Film Festival (ADIFF).


The 20th annual NY African Diaspora Film Festival opens on Friday, 23rd November. Although the bulk of the selection deals with African-American and Caribbean experience, there are a number of intriguing offerings from the continent. Here's our list of five must-see films from this year's festival:

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Doctor Bello is the latest product of the much-feted marriage between Nollywood and Hollywood (the last offspring of this coupling was 2011’s Black Gold). From the looks of this trailer, director Tony Abulu weds a number of tropes from both industries. The film boasts the sort of improbable plot for which Nollywood is beloved (a cure for cancer in the Idanre Hills? who knew!) while the entire story set in motion by the need to save a blue-eyed child from death’s yawning maw: quintessential Hollywood.  Doctor Bello is being marketed as offering the Nigerian film industry ‘hope’ by helping its stars cross over, but don’t buy into the Hollywood-as-promised-land hype: Nollywood is the second largest employer in Nigeria, the third largest film industry in the world and has a subversive ‘indie’ scene all of its own. That said, I’m going to see it, if only to watch the inimitable Genevieve Nnaji on a big screen. Doctor Bello opens the festival this Friday 23rd November, and has its Nigerian premiere on Sunday 25th November at the Eko Convention Centre, VI, Lagos.

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The United States of Africa has been on our radar for a while. Filmmaker Yanick Letourneau follows Senegalese hip hop artist and activist Didier Awadi as he travels through Burkina Faso, France, Senegal, South Africa and the United States completing a string of collaborations with artists including Zulu BoyM1 of Dead Prez, and Smokey for his conceptual album Présidents d’Afrique. Check out our preview of the film and interview with the filmmaker here.

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If you haven’t seen Moussa Touré’s film Toubab Bi (1992), a comedy of post-colonial estrangement and a Paris porn shop, then treat yourself and watch it on the African Film Library website. Since then, Touré has made fifteen documentary films but La Pirogue (2011) is the Senegalese filmmaker’s latest feature: a sea epic that tells the story of 30 people making the journey from Dakar to Spain by boat. Contemporary artists including Isaac Julien and Berni Searle have made thoughtful work about migration across the perilous Strait, but it's the headlines that prevail in popular memory - Britain’s Nick Griffin telling the European Parliament to ‘sink several of those boats’, the 63 travellers left to die of hunger and thirst in 2011, and the anti-immigration prattle. Touré has said that his work addresses the dearth of realistic representations of migration to Europe, while the film was inspired by the question of why young people are leaving Dakar. The answers promise to be beautifully-shot and lyrical, if hard to swallow: ‘What’s there left to do here? We can’t even see the horizon anymore.”

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Strictly speaking, this film’s events take place in the Caribbean, but now that Haiti is officially part of the African Union it stands. Directed by Philippe Niang, Touissaint l'Ouverture is a two-part movie which dramatises the events of the Haitian revolution. The film has caused a sensation on the festival circuit winning a slew of awards at the 2012 Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival and the LA Pan African Film Festival. Starring Jimmy Jean-Louis alongside Aïssa Maïga (of Bamako fame) Touissaint is noteworthy not just for providing black actors starring roles in a costume drama (usually a remarkably white genre), but also for foregrounding the often-sidestepped Haitian Revolution, a carefully strategised revolt of enslaved people which established Haiti as the first independent black nation in the New World. Don’t miss this one: it plays on December 1st and 2nd.

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Promising ‘restoration’ and ‘redemption’, South African film Hopeville (dir. John Trengove) tells the story of recovering alcoholic Amos, who wants to repair his relationship with his son and society. The trailer suggests a quiet slow-burner, that is until the 20 second mark when any wishful comparison with father/son and pool-based film A Screaming Man dissipates (watch it on Netflix). One minute and 20 seconds in, and things are starting to turn around for Amos, although all the ‘One man’s courage’ stuff invites an unflattering comparison with The Pursuit of Happyness. But perhaps that’s just the trailer; let’s trust the good people at the Rose d’Or Festival who gave the television show on which the film is based awards for Best Drama and Mini Series.

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Introducing OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 List

Celebrating African Women Laying the Groundwork for the Future

It would not be hyperbole to consider the individuals we're honoring for OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 list as architects of the future.

This is to say that these women are building infrastructure, both literally and metaphorically, for future generations in Africa and in the Diaspora. And they are doing so intentionally, reaching back, laterally, and forward to bridge gaps and make sure the steps they built—and not without hard work, mines of microaggressions, and challenges—are sturdy enough for the next ascent.

In short, the women on this year's list are laying the groundwork for other women to follow. It's what late author and American novelist Toni Morrison would call your "real job."

"I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else."

And that's what inspired us in the curation of this year's list. Our honorees use various mediums to get the job done—DJ's, fashion designers, historians, anthropologists, and even venture capitalists—but each with the mission to clear the road ahead for generations to come. Incredible African women like Eden Ghebreselassie, a marketing lead at ESPN who created a non-profit to fight energy poverty in Eritrea; or Baratang Miya, who is quite literally building technology clubs for disadvantaged youth in South Africa.

There are the builds that aren't physically tangible—movements that inspire women to show up confidently in their skin, like Enam Asiama's quest to normalize plus-sized bodies and Frédérique (Freddie) Harrel's push for Black and African women to embrace the kink and curl of their hair.

And then there are those who use their words to build power, to take control of the narrative, and to usher in true inclusion and equity. Journalists, (sisters Nikki and Lola Ogunnaike), a novelist (Oyinkan Braithwaite), a media maven (Yolisa Phahle), and a number of historians (Nana Oforiatta Ayim, Leïla Sy) to name a few.

In a time of uncertainty in the world, there's assuredness in the mission to bring up our people. We know this moment of global challenge won't last. It is why we are moving forward to share this labor of love with you, our trusted and loyal audience. We hope that this list serves as a beacon for you during this moment—insurance that future generations will be alright. And we have our honorees to thank for securing that future.

EXPERIENCE 100 WOMEN 2020

The annual OkayAfrica 100 Women List is our effort to acknowledge and uplift African women, not only as a resource that has and will continue to enrich the world we live in, but as a group that deserves to be recognized, reinforced and treasured on a global scale. In the spirit of building infrastructure, this year's list will go beyond the month of March (Women's History Month in America) and close in September during Women's Month in South Africa.

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Burna Boy 'African Giant' money cover art by Sajjad.

The 20 Essential Burna Boy Songs

We comb through the Nigerian star's hit-filled discography to select 20 essential songs from the African Giant.

Since bursting onto the scene in 2012 with his chart-topping single, "Like to Party," and the subsequent release of his debut album, L.I.F.E - Leaving an Impact for eternity, Burna Boy has continued to prove time and again that he is a force to be reckoned with.

The African Giant has, over the years, built a remarkable musical identity around the ardent blend of dancehall, hip-hop, reggae, R&B, and afropop to create a game-changing genre he calls afro-fusion. The result has been top tier singles, phenomenal collaborations, and global stardom—with several accolades under his belt which include a Grammy nomination and African Giant earning a spot on many publications' best albums of 2019.

We thought to delve into his hit-filled discography to bring you The 20 Essential Burna Boy Songs.

This list is in no particular order.

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Image courtesy of Lula Ali Ismaïl

'Dhalinyaro' Is the Female Coming-of-Age Story Bringing Djibouti's Film Industry to Life

The must-watch film, from Lula Ali Ismaïl, paints a novel picture of Djibouti's capital city through the story of three friends.

If you're having a tough time recalling the last movie you watched from Djibouti, it's likely because you have never watched one before. With an almost non-existent film industry in the country, Lula Ali Ismaïl, tells a beautiful coming of age story of three young female Djiboutian teenagers at the cusp of womanhood. Dhalinyaro offers a never-before-seen view of Djibouti City as a stunning, dynamic city that blends modernity and tradition—a city in which the youth, like all youth everywhere, struggle to decide what their futures will look like. It's a beautiful story of friendship, family, dreams and love from a female filmmaker who wants to tell a "universal story of youth," but set in the country she loves—Djibouti.

The story revolves around the lives of three young friends from different socio-economic backgrounds, with completely varied attitudes towards life, but bound by a deep friendship. There is Asma, the conservative academic genius who dreams of going to medical school and hails from a modest family. Hibo, a rebellious, liberal, spoiled girl from a very wealthy family who learns to be a better friend as the film evolves and finally Deka. Deka is the binding force in the friendship, a brilliant though sometimes naïve teen who finds herself torn between her divorced mother's ambitions to give her a better life having saved up all her life for her to go to university abroad, and her own conviction that she wants to study and succeed in her own country.

Okayafrica contributor, Ciku Kimeria speaks to Ismaïl on her groundbreaking film, her hopes for the filmmaking industry and the universality of stories.

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Stogie T Enlists Nasty C, Boity, Nadia Nakai and More, for ‘The Empire of Sheep’ Deluxe Edition

Stream the deluxe version of Stogie T's EP 'The Empire of Sheep' featuring Nasty C, Boity, Nadia Nakai and more.

Stogie T just shared a deluxe version of his 2019 EP The Empire of Sheep titled EP The Empire of Sheep (Deluxe Unmasked). The project comes with three new songs. "All You Do Is Talk" features fellow South African rappers Nasty C, Boity and Nadia Nakai. New York lyricist appears on "Bad Luck" while one of Stogie T's favorite collaborators Ziyon appears on "The Making."

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