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NY African Film Festival: 10 Must-See Movies


In its 19th edition already, the African Film Festival comes back to NYC to screen at Lincoln Center an interesting series of the most contemporary African films. The show starts tonight with Mama Africa, an unforgettable portrait of Miriam Makeba co-presented by Okayafrica. To see the full festival schedule go here. To purchase tickets for the screenings at Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater go here.

Here is our list of movies not-to-miss in the following days!:

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1. Mama Africa by Mika Kaurismäki (2011)

An unforgettable portrait of Miriam Makeba (1932-2008), the world-famous South African artist and civil right activist, who devoted her life to promoting peace and justice and fighting racism around the planet. A figurehead of the Black African movement in exile, her music and daily practice incarnated the hopes and fears of Africa through the convulsive 20th century, so that she has come to be considered the voice and mother of the Continent. Buy tickets here.

2. Black Africa White Marble by Clemente Bicocchi (2011) U.S. Premier

A century after the mysterious death of pacifist explorer Pietro Savorgnan di Brazzà (1852-1905), Sassou Nguesso, the former president of Congo-Brazzaville, starts the negotiations to transfer his remains from a small cemetery in Algiers to a megalomaniacal mausoleum of white marble in the impoverished Brazzaville, the only capital in Africa that still bears the name of its European founder. Behind the politician’s altruistic intentions lies a fight for power over the country. Brazzà’s descendant Idana Pucci discovers the truth and then struggles with all her might to defend the ideals of her ancestor and to give back to King Makoko of the Batéké, the great African spiritual leader, his lost legitimacy. Buy tickets here.

3. Sderot, Last Exit by Osvalde Lewat (2011) U.S. Premier. Co-presented by Human Rights Film Festival

The new documentary by French-Cameroonian journalist and filmmaker Osvalde Lewat is a high-risk attempt to portray the contradictions that arise in the Sderot film school, two kilometers from the Gaza border in the south of Israel. Created with the scope of bringing peace through the ethical, ideological and artistic use of film language, the institution turns out instead to be a microcosm of the geo-political landscape, and the dangerously freighted daily interaction among Jews, Muslims, Christians, Palestinians, Israelis, left-wing radicals and ultranationalists. Buy tickets here.

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4. Elza /Le Bonheur d’Elza by Mariette Monpierre (2011)

A single mom in Paris, Bernadette tried to give everything to her daughters. Her eldest, Elza, completes her master's degree in mathematics summa cum laude and is the first college graduate of the family. But Elza ruins her mothers' happiness when she leaves against her wishes to return to Guadeloupe in search of a childhood memory and a father she distantly remembers. This feature directorial debut by director/writer Mariette Monpierre, offers an insider’s view of a lush island culture, capturing the beauty and contradictions of this family drama with passion and perseverance. Buy tickets here.

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5. How to Steal 2 Million by Chaelie Vundla (2011) U.S. Premier

This feature film debut by South African filmmaker Charlie Vundla is one of the most compelling thrillers of the year. When cold-blooded Jack goes back to the streets after spending five years in jail for robbery, he is resolved to change, leaving his criminal life behind. Things start to get complicated when he is rejected for a loan, and he soon finds himself involved in a heist with his old mate, now the husband of his ex-fiancé:  a dirty job worth 2 million Rand that will make him confront his true nature… Buy tickets here.

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6. Man on Ground by Akin Omotoso (2011) N.Y. Premier

A bold and exacting portrayal of rising xenophobia in South Africa, Omotoso casts the story of a young Nigerian man living in the African refugee tenements of Johannesburg who disappears against the background of animosity against immigrants flaring into violent rioting. In the span of a single night, his brother, on a short visit from London, tries to elucidate the mystery.

7. Relentless by Andy Amadi Okoroafor (2011) U.S. Premier

In this visually stunning film, a former peace-keeping soldier in Sierra Leone battles the scars of war upon his return to the throbbing megacity of Lagos. This haunting story is about loneliness, love and self-discovery. Buy tickets here.

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8. Restless City by Andrew Dosunmu (2011)

Direct from its acclaimed premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, director Andrew Dosunmu’s kinetic, gorgeously photographed debut feature tells the story of an Africa immigrant surviving on the fringes of New York City where music is his passion, life is a hustle, and falling in love is his greatest risk. Buy tickets here, or ENTER TO WIN tickets with Okayafrica here.

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9. Maami by Tunde Kelani (2011) N.Y. Premier

Kashimawo, national hero and superstar from the English football club Arsenal, comes back to his home country: Nigeria. He has to make the crucial decision of whether to join the national team in its lasts moments of preparation for the 2010 South African World Cup. During two days, he will have to confront his past in order to be at peace with himself and his country... Buy tickets here.

10. Playing Warriors by Rumbi Katedza (2011) U.S. Premier

This modern comedy from Zimbabwean female writer and filmmaker Rumbi Katedza, is a universal story of women’s struggles to balance the expectations of their elders with their own desires. The film received great reviews when first screened in Zimbabwe in November 2011, as a promising example of the country’s incipient film industry. Its success is largely attributable to its ability to engage both critics and indigenous audiences, through fresh dialogues and a cast of local celebrities, starting with Kudzai Sevenzo as the leading character, along with Nothando Lobengula, Prudence Katomene-Mbofana, Edmore Sandifolo, Tendai Musoni and John Pfumojena, as well as cameo appearances by well-known actors. Buy tickets here.

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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.

100 women 2020

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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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