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Okayafrica Welcomes Our New Associate Editor Antoinette Isama

Introducing new Associate Editor Antoinette Isama and Contributing Writer Abel Shifferaw.


Dear Readers,

Abiola here, you can call me Abi, CEO at Okayafrica. A lot has happened so far in 2016, including a few changes to our lineup. First off, we’re very excited to welcome Antoinette Isama to Okayafrica as our new Associate Editor.

Antoinette is a dynamic reporter and editor with an interest in the intersection of African youth culture, arts and the diaspora. Hailing from the Washington DC area, she recently graduated with a master’s degree specializing in interactive journalism and magazine writing from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Before joining Okayafrica, she was a visiting reporter at the Weekend Argus newspaper in Cape Town, South Africa. She will be based out of our Brooklyn offices, working with our team to take Okayafrica’s coverage to the next level. You can follow Antoinette's work here.

Antoinette arrives just in time for the departure of our long-time Content Manager Alyssa Klein who will be moving to Johannesburg to spearhead the launch of our South African offices alongside Okayafrica’s Brand Manager, Sanele Xolo. This is a return to SA for Alyssa who spent 2012 studying at the University of Cape Town. She will be taking on the role of Okayafrica’s South Africa Editor. Stay tuned for more info on the official launch of our South Africa office and the new South Africa edition.

We’ve also brought on man-about-town, Abel Shifferaw as a contributing writer. His provocative take on Kendrick’s use of “Negus” and Ethiopianness in pop-culture has already struck a nerve with readers, becoming one of the most read stories on our site. Read more of his work here. He’ll be taking-over for longtime contributor Patrice Peck who has left to focus on her awesome new tech startup Fussy.

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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