Literature

Listen to Panashe Chigumadzi’s Interview with The Cheeky Natives Podcast

Plenty of gems are dropped here.

Zimbabwean writer and author Panashe Chigumadzi recently sat down with the hosts of the literary podcast The Cheeky Natives to discuss her latest book These Bones Will Rise Again. The author and the hosts discussed a range of topics in relation to the book—the thinking behind the book, how it was commissioned, gender, race, Zimbabwe, Panashe learning her mother tongue Shona, and many other topics.


A few gems we picked up from the interview:On Ubuntu:

"We have many white scholars, especially in the post-94 period in South Afric who talk about Ubuntu. But we having Ubuntu without abantu. One that does not focus on the humanity of actual black people. It's more about a particular kind of project of saving whiteness on the onslaught of this revenge of black people. But a critique is that many of these white scholars cannot actually speak African languages. Imagine me doing French philosophy without having understood French."

She then spoke about the importance of her learning Shona before she could engage with her grandmother about specific topics.


On women not being allowed their complexity

"There's always this framing of women in public spaces doing what they not supposed to do, as prostitutes. As a woman, you can either become a mother of the nation who's all that is good within the nation or you are an evil stepmother of the nation, and the best way to think about is through Mugabe's two wives, which is Grace Mugabe and Sally Mugabe, who both are very complex figures. And you can see this even in South Africa; Winnie Mandela is not allowed her complexity. Nelson Mandela, of course, is allowed to be a complex figure, but dare Winnie have any sense of complexity, she must immediately be disposed. And we're happy for her to carry the liberation struggle, for her to continue the name of the ANC, but now that liberation has come she needs to go back and become the wife again."

On Zimbabwe

"I get really frustrated when people wanna talk about Mugabe's Zimbabwe. For example, many Zimbabweans get really frustrated about how the country has been narrativized. Particularly growing outside of Zimbabwe, I grew up at a time when Zimbabwe was a laughing stork; we couldN'T think about Zimbabwe outside of hyperinflation and outside of Mugabe. And I wanted to understand Zimbabwe outside of that."

There are plenty more gems to pick up in the interview as she goes on to discuss spirituality, her previous book Sweet Medicine, and many other topics with the specificity and intelligence we've grown to expect from her.

Listen to the whole interview below, and/or subscribe to The Cheeky Natives on Apple Podcasts here.

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The Best African Memes of 2018

Laugh with us into 2019 with OkayAfrica's best African memes of 2018.

Meme culture has become a mainstay on these internet streets. It's essentially an alternate form of communicating, of commentary and of simple laughter. 2018 had its fair share of highs and lows, and young Africans continue to utilize memes to celebrate or to cope with the nonsense.

To reflect on the African memes that broke the internet this year, we tapped contributors and African meme tastemakers to list the best African memes of 2018.

Laugh away below.

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The Black Women Who Made Big Strides in France in 2018

Yes, this was a bad year for many reasons, but we can still celebrate the black women who rose to prominence

Back in 2015, a group of Black women activists appeared in the French media: les afrofems. They were and still are, fighting against police brutality, for better inclusion in the media and to destroy harmful sexual stereotypes surrounding black women among other worthy goals. Since then, more influential Black women have gained a bigger representation in the media. And, even better, some of the afrofems activists, like Laura Nsafou and Amandine Gay, have made films and written books to bring more diversity to the entertainment industry.

2018 has, in many ways, been a year where black women made strides in France, at least in terms of culture. From winning Nobel prizes, to having best selling books and being on top of the charts, Black French women have showed that, no matter how much France wants to keep them under the radar, they're making moves. And, no matter the tragedies and terrible events that have shaped the year, it is something worth celebrating.

France's New Queen of Pop Music

We begin with Aya Nakamura, France's new queen of pop music. Her song Djadja was a summer hit. Everyone from Rihanna, to the French football team who successfully won their second world cup, sang it. Her sophomore album "Nakamura" has been certified gold in France and is still on top of the charts. She is the first French singer to have a number one album in the Netherlands since Edith Piaf in 1961. The last time a black woman was as visible in pop music was in 2004, with Lynsha's single "Hommes...Femmes".

Nakamura has received a huge backlash, mostly due to misogynoir—misogyny directed towards black women where race and gender both play roles. From a French presenter butchering her African first name despite the fact that he can easily pronounce words like "Aliagas", to online trolls calling her ugly and manly when a picture of her wearing no makeup surfaced, to people complaining that she is bringing down the quality of the entire French pop music industry, Nakamura responds to her critics gracefully. Her music is not groundbreaking but her album is full of catchy songs with lyrics using French slang she masters so well that she came up with her own words like "en catchana" (aka doggy style sex). And most importantly, many black girls and women can finally see someone like them in the media getting the success she deserves.

The Nobel Prize Winner

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Another Black French woman has broken records this year: the Guadeloupean writer Maryse Condé who won the Alternative Nobel Prize, a prize meant to replace the Nobel Prize in Literature, after the scandal that the Swedish Academy of Literature faced last year. Condé wrote her first novel at only 11 years old and has been prolific ever since. A former professor of French literature at Columbia University, she has published more than 20 books since the 1970s, exploring the complex relationships within the African diaspora. "Segu", her most famous novel, is about the impact of the slave trade and Abrahamic religion on the Bambara empire in Mali in the 19th century. Condé's work is radical and she remains committed to writing feminist texts exploring the link between gender, race and class, as well as exploring the impact of colonialism. Condé is a pillar of Caribbean literature and it's taken long enough for her work has been acknowledged by the Nobel prize committee.

The Children's Books Writers

From Comme un Million de Papillon Noir

And finally, 2018 has been the year where France's children's literature industry has finally understood how important, for the public, writers and publishers, being inclusive and diverse was. From Laura Nsafou's Comme un Million de Papillon Noir, a best selling book about a young black girl learning to love her natural hair which sold more than 6000 copies, to Neiba Je-sais-tout: Un Portable dans le Cartable, the second book of Madina Guissé published this year after a successful crowdfunding campaign, there are more and more children's and young adult books with non white protagonists. In France, there are still no stats about how diversity is doing, but in America, in 2017, only 7 percent of writers of children's literature were either Black, Latino or Native American.

There's still much to accomplish in France for the Black community to have better representation in the media, politics and all walks of life, but important strides have been accomplished this year, and it make me hopeful for what 2019 and the following years have in store.

News

J Hus Has Been Sentenced to Eight Months in Jail for Knife Possession

The rapper has been convicted following an arrest in June.

Gambian-Biritish grime rapper J Hus has been sentenced to eight months in prison for knife possesion, reports BBC News.

The artist, neé Momodou Jallow, was arrested in Stratford London in June when police pulled him over near a shopping center, claming that they smelled cannabis. Police officers asked Hus if he was carrying anything illegal, to which the rapper admitted that he had a 10cm folding knife in his possession. When asked why, he responded: "You know, it's Westfield."

Hus pleaded guilty at a hearing in October after initially pleading not guilty.

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