Video

Video: 'Recolonize' Africa In This Entrepreneurial Masterclass

'Recolonize' is the promo video for Cape Town's 2012 Constructus Creative Entrepreneurship Masterclass.

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‘Recolonize’ is the promo video for this year’s Constructus Creative Entrepreneurship Masterclass, which will be held next month in Cape Town. The text accompanying the video complains that ‘colonization’ has become ‘a one dimensional topic in Africa.’ The team aim to reignite the discussion with slick visuals and skilful appropriation of colonial-era symbols.

The promise of a 'provocative' 'futuristic-meets-historic clash' brought to mind  Spoek Mathambo's mad science, perhaps laced with a dash of Sun Ra’s afro-futurist subversion. Instead, for one minute and thirty seconds a figure dressed like the lovechild of Field Marshall Idi Amin and England’s Lord Kitchener calls on creatives from ‘Cape to Cairo’ to unite. Their purpose? A global takeover of the entertainment industry. Why? To entertain Westerners, because apparently ‘they are bored.’ For good measure, a number of ‘controversial’ buzzwords are thrown in, including ‘savages’, ‘empire’, ‘new world order’ and, of course, ‘recolonize.’

It takes little analytical finesse to realise that the video lacks substance. Recalling the African bodies circulated through Europe’s human zoos as entertainment for bored Victorians might have given them pause. Just a finger vaguely near the pulse of global culture would have indicated that the word ‘recolonize’ might not strike a chord in a year when ‘decolonize’ and ‘occupy’ have been in the mouths of protestors across the world.

But perhaps the words accompanying the video make the strongest case for overlooking it: ‘We got a great team together to create something iconic. We’re not quite sure what we’ve created . . .”

Indeed.

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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