Film

'Polyglot,' Web Series On Young Creatives Of Color, Teases Upcoming London Episode

For its third episode, web series 'Polyglot' will take viewers from Berlin to London, where artist Roger Jean Nsengiyumva struggles to get by


Filmmaker and actor Roger Jean Nsengiyumva stars in the latest episode of Polyglot (Photo: Ferhat Yunus Topraklar)

In the third episode of Polyglot, viewers will journey from the scripted web series' original locale of Berlin to another European metropolis. "My Own" centers on Roger Jean Nsengiyumva, an artist struggling with the challenges of living in the expensive, harsh city of London.

According to series creator and director Amelia Umuhire, Roger has a "somewhat special relationship" to Amanda (played by Umuhire’s sister, Amanda Mukasonga,) the Berlin-transplant rapper and poet highlighted in the series' first two episodes. UK rapper Afrikan Boy will also make a musical guest appearance.

"The episode follows Roger around town on his quest to kill the creeping feeling of loneliness and boredom after losing an important person in his life," Umuhire told Okayafrica via email. "I'm really excited because its a different city, a different character and a different visual and musical style. This was a very intuitive and incredibly tightly shot collaboration and the shooting experience translates in the feeling of the episodes. I want the viewers to experience a new side of Polyglot."

Polyglot, which was launched in April by the Rwandan-born, Berlin-based sisters, explores the multi-hyphenate identities of young creatives of color in Berlin.

“There is this one image of Germany, like you have white people speaking German, if you look at the TV landscape for example. Black people only appear as nurses, or cooks,” Umuhire told NPR Berlin. “You don’t get to know people, this big part of Germany and Berlin, because they are kind of marginalized in media.”

“If I were in a TV show, normally as me a black woman, I wouldn’t get to be this real, as this 3D, as deep as a character, you know,” Mukasonga added.

Did you miss the first and second episode of Polyglot? Check out the videos below to catch up and look for the premiere of episode 3 later this month on Okayafrica. Keep up with the series on Facebook and Instagram.

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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