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'Polyglot,' A New Web Series On Young Creatives Of Color In Berlin

Polyglot is a new web series from Rwandan-German filmmaker Amelia Umuhire that explores the daily lives of young creatives of color in Berlin


Amanda Mukasonga as Babiche Papaya in 'Polyglot'

Polyglot is a new scripted web series from Rwandan-German visual artist and self-taught filmmaker Amelia Umuhire that explores the multi-hyphenate identities of young creatives of color in Berlin. The show's first episode, which premiered in April, introduced viewers to Babiche Papaya, a rapper and poet played by Umuhire's sister, Amanda Mukasonga. Titled "The Bewerbungsgespräch" ("The Interview"), the five minute clip follows Papaya as she tries to find a home among other international Berliners.

With its intimate fly-on-the-wall cinematography, Umuhire plans for future episodes of the web series to focus on a rotating cast of young polyglots navigating daily life in the German capital. The show's recently-uploaded second episode, "Les Mals du Pays," returns to Babiche's world as she deals with the malaise of homesickness and the frustrations of maintaining a natural hair care routine. "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 told NPR Berlin of her role in the series.

The Rwanda-born Berlin-based sisters who grew up in a small town in West Germany are quintessential polyglots-- fluent in German, English, French, and Kinyarwanda. Growing up with multiple means of expressing themselves and their culture, Umuhire and Mukasonga look to challenge preconceived notions of Afro-European lives with the series. "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," they said. "You don't get to know people, this big part of Germany and Berlin, because they are kind of marginalized in media."

Watch episodes 1 and 2 below. Keep up with Polyglot on Facebook and Instagram.

Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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