Arts + Culture
Patoranking in Tolu Coker. Models in FordhamRowe, Studio 189, Eki Orleans and Taylor Goldenberyg. Photo by Rackz Media.

Alexander-Julian Gibbson Takes Us Behind the Scenes of Patoranking's New Music Video for 'Lenge Lenge'

The Nigerian-American stylist and content creator put together timeless looks for Patoranking and 27 women who represented Fela's Kalakuta Queens.

Patoranking has dropped a new single, "Lenge Lenge," where both the music video and the song itself give a nod to afrobeat legend Fela Kuti as well as his 27 wives—the Kalakuta Queens.

The visual, directed by Luke Biggins and Rebekah Bird, shows Patoranking epitomizing Fela in style and jest as beautiful black women, donning face paint inspired by the Queens, surround him and pose in fresh threads by designers from Africa and the diaspora. The minimal vibe of the video has the eyes focus solely on the fabulous looks.

Take a look below.


Patoranking - Lenge Lenge (Official Video) youtu.be

We caught up with Nigerian-American stylist and content creator Alexander-Julian Gibbson who was the stylist for the music video. He explains that Patoranking's team and himself collaborated to fuse what they think makes a contemporary African woman with traditional hair and makeup.

"I pulled 40 pounds of aso oke and traditional coral beads from my mom's personal collection," he shares with us.

Putting together looks Nigeria's Orange Culture, Yemzi and Jewel by Lisa, the UK's Tolu Coker and Eki Orleans, as well as New York's own Studio 189 and Mimmy Yeboah, his goal was to help bridge the divide between African designers and popular African music acts, as well as build a community of support between the two worlds.

Take a look at more of our conversation about his experience styling "Lenge Lenge" as well as behind-the-scenes images below.

Patoranking in Jewel by Lisa. Photo by Rackz Media.

Photo courtesy of Alexander-Julian Gibbson.

Antoinette Isama for OkayAfrica: Can you talk through how you were able to get involved in this project?

Alexander-Julian Gibbson: Someone from Patoranking's team reached out to me a while back to actually style his band for a performance. After half a day of negotiating, they scratched that job and invited me out to come and style his album cover the next day. I met Pato and his team and instantly gelled. A week later, after I made it back to New York they messaged me letting me know they now needed me to style him and 27 women for his music video and I got to work instantly.

Photo courtesy of Alexander-Julian Gibbson.

Model in Eki Orleans. Photo courtesy of Alexander-Julian Gibbson.

Model in Taylor Goldenberg (top) and Yemzi (bottom). Photo courtesy of Alexander-Julian Gibbson.

What about Fela's dynamic as well as the dynamic of his wives were you hoping to exude through the looks and the whole vibe of the music video?

The Kalakuta Queens were badass. They exuded confidence, strength, and beauty traits that I believe epitomize the African woman. And as they rightly are in society, African women were an influential part of Fela's legacy, and I was excited and honored to bring them to the forefront with this project.

Photo courtesy of Alexander-Julian Gibbson.

Photo courtesy of Alexander-Julian Gibbson.

We don't hear too much from the folks behind the camera who help bring the art (i.e. the music) of our favorite African artists to life through these concepts. How important is it for such collaborations to happen as African culture continues to be amplified on a global level?

I think we're all a part of the aesthetic. As African culture becomes more and more widespread it's important that the story is told in full. African culture is not only about music. It's about fashion, dance, art and so much more and as these artists become globally recognized they will inevitably become the poster children for our rich culture. With that being said, it's crucial to have a supportive team of creatives behind them to help make sure that as they wear their countries on their back, the history these countries hold is portrayed accurately and in color.

Music

Listen to Samthing Soweto’s Album ‘Isiphithiphithi’

Samthing Soweto's highly anticipated album is finally here.

One of the most anticipated albums of the year, Isiphithiphithi by Samthing Soweto is finally here.

The South African artist's project consists of 12 songs and features Makhafula Vilakazi, Shasha, Kabza De Small, DJ Maphorisa and Mlindo The Vocalist.

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Gallo Images/Getty Images

South African Telenovela 'The River' has Been Nominated for an International Emmy

This is the popular telenovela's first International Emmy nomination.

One of South Africa's beloved telenovelas, The River, has received its first ever International Emmy nomination in the category of "Best Telenovela", according to IOL. The River will go up against other telenovelas from Columbia, Argentina as well as Portugal. The 47th installment of the International Emmy Awards will take place on November 25th of this year and will be held at the Hilton in New York.

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Culture
Photo (c) John Liebenberg

'Stolen Moments' Uncovers the Namibian Music That Apartheid Tried to Erase

The photo exhibition, showing at the Brunei Gallery in London, highlights artists from Namibia's underground scene between 1950-1980, a time of immense musical suppression prior to its independence.

Before its independence in 1990, a whole generation of Namibians were made to believe that their county had no real musical legacy. Popular productions by Namibian artists from previous eras were systematically concealed from the masses for nearly 30 years, under the apartheid regime—which extended to the country from South Africa following German colonization—depriving many Namibians of the opportunity to connect with their own musical heritage.

"Stolen Moments: Namibian Music Untold," a new exhibit currently showing at London's Brunei Museum at SOAS University of London, seeks to revive the musical Namibian musical traditions that the apartheid regime attempted to erase.

"Imagine you had never known about the musical riches of your country," said the exhibit's curator Aino Moongo in a statement of purpose on SOAS' site. "Your ears had been used to nothing but the dull sounds of country's former occupants and the blaring church and propaganda songs that were sold to you as your country's musical legacy. Until all at once, a magnitude of unknown sounds, melodies and songs appear. This sound, that roots your culture to the musical influences of jazz, blues and pop from around the world, is unique, yet familiar. It revives memories of bygone days, recites the history of your homeland and enables you for the first time to experience the emotions, joys and pains of your ancestors."

Photo (c) Dieter Hinrichs

The 'Stolen Moments" project began in 2010 in an effort to champion Namibia's unsung musical innovators. For the collection, Moongo and Assistant Curator, Siegrun Salmanian—along with a group of international scholars, artists, photographers and filmmakers—curated a large-scale photo exhibit that also features a 120-minute video projection, focusing on the dance styles of the era, along with listening stations, a sound installation that features "100-hours of interviews with musicians and contemporary witnesses," and displays of record covers and memorabilia from the period between 1950-1980.

The musicians highlighted, produced work that spanned a number of genres—a marker of the country's vast and eclectic underground scene. Artists like the saxophonist Leyden Naftali who led a band inspired by the sounds of ragtime, and the psychedelic rock and funk of the Ugly Creatures are explored through the exhibition, which also centers bands and artists such as The Dead Wood, The Rocking Kwela Boys, Children of Pluto and more.

"There are many reasons why you've never heard this music before," Moongo continues. "It was censored, suppressed, prohibited and made almost impossible to listen to. Its creators are either long gone or have given up on music making, by reasons of adversity, death and despair. And yet this beautiful music exists with a liveliness, as if it had never stopped playing. It is still in the minds of the few who can remember, with the ones who played it, and on those rare recordings that have survived in archives and record collections scattered around the globe. Allow me to share these stolen moments with you."

Photo (c) Dieter Hinrichs


Photo (c) John Liebenberg

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"Stolen Moments" is now showing at the Brunei Gallery in London and runs through Sept 21.

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Foul Language and Depictions of Rape Spur a Book Recall Campaign in Kenya

Kenya's Top Book seller pulls a South African book for youth due to foul language.

A main book supplier in Kenya, Text Book Centre, has announced that they would not stock a book due to its "vulgar and foul language." The book, Blood Ties, was written by South African author Zimkhitha Mlanzeli. The banning comes just after a video went viral in Kenya of a school child having a verbal outburst peppered with strong language. As reported by BBC, the removal was sparked by parents showing outrage after excerpts from the book were shared on twitter. These excerpts contained use of the f-word as well as a description of a rape scene.

As per their statement, the Text Book Centre claims they believe in "upholding high moral standards and raising generations of responsible citizens who are not only educated but ethical." The Kenyan publisher, StoryMoja, has defended the book in a statement of their own. They argue that the book is part of a new series showcasing books that deal with "contemporary societal issues" and that this particular book is a fictional story that grapples with the negative repercussions of peer pressure. "In actual fact, the book guides readers on the steps to take should they find themselves in a similar situation and underscores the sensitivity with which victims of sexual abuse should be treated." The statement also highlights the fact that the publishers had listed Blood Ties for readers in high school or above.


The discrepancy is that some schools have recommended the book as a reader – meaning for younger children aged 12 or 13 – though it has not been approved by the Kenyan Institute of Curricular Development (KICD), the entity in charge of managing texts used in schools. In a tweet, the KICD claimed that the book was not approved and that some teachers may be recommending texts without ensuring they were endorsed by the KICD. The dispute is sparking debate as to what should be taught in Kenyan schools.

As of late this morning, StoryMoja is in the process of recalling all copies of the book from stores and schools across Kenya. In a tweet they claim that it is because they have determined the language used in the book is the issue and not the subject matter.

Censorship is always a contested topic, just last month we reported on Nigerian authorities censoring a music video for "threatening security." Also, Kenya's censorship tactics have been in the global eye since a refusal to screen the film Rafiki for its homosexual heroines despite being lauded at international film festivals.

Here are some reactions from Kenyans on Twitter:





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