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Nobel Peace Prize Nod to African and Arab Women


Today it was announced that two African women, both from Liberia, have been honored with the Nobel Peace Prize. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (above), the first female elected president in Africa, and the peace activist Leymah Gbowee (now based in Ghana) have accepted the prize on "behalf of the Liberian people." Not only was today's announcement a boost to Africa and gender equality (most of the previous winners have been men), it was also a nod to the Arab world. A third recipient of the award is Tawakul Karman, a 32 year old Yemeni woman whose arrest in January spurred widespread protests in Yemen.

Leymah Gbowee's win is an obvious choice as she is a force to be reckoned with. She's a badass when it comes to organizing and thinking outside of the box, or rather, closing up the box. Check her out on The Colbert Report talking about the sex strike she organized to end the civil war in Liberia. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's win comes a week before Liberians go to the polls to decide her re-election. Even though the Nobel Committee contends that her selection for the Prize had nothing to do with her re-election campaign, the award could still be viewed as an international endorsement of the President, whose popularity is waning at home where mass poverty is a pervasive issue.

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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