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Illustration by Malcolm Wope, courtesy of Netflix.

'Mama K's Team 4' Is the First Netflix Animated Original To Come Out of Africa

"I hope to introduce the world to four strong African girls who save the day in their own fun and crazy way," creator Malenga Mulendema says.

Netflix has announced its first animated original series from Africa—Mama K's Team 4.

Created by Zambian writer Malenga Mulendema, the series follows four teen girls living in the neo-futuristic African city of Lusaka, Zambia, where they get recruited by a retired secret agent who still strives to save the world. The series' illustrator is Cameroon's own Malcolm Wope, who was inspired by 90s R&B and hip hop girl groups.

Mama K's Team 4 is yet another addition to Netflix's growing slate of original animated programming designed for kids and families everywhere.

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Film
Photo by Liz Gomis and Aurélien Biette.

'Africa Riding' Is the Series Chronicling the Rise of Skateboarding, Cycling & Rollerblading Culture Among African Youth

We speak with director Liz Gomis on her documentary series that follows young Africans navigating their respective cities on wheels.

Youth culture is a major driving force behind a lot of the social change in African cities that is being amplified by the internet. Whether through music, visual art, performance, sports or fashion, the ideas and passions of the youth are at the heartbeat of a lot of the ingenuity that is engineered to improve lives around the continent. In Africa Riding, a new short documentary series by Liz Gomis and Aurélien Biette, we are invited to observe this heartbeat as it syncs up with the pace of movement in African cities through riding.

The documentary takes us on a ride along through the streets and walkways of Kampala, Accra, Kigali and Dakar as skateboarding, roller blading and cycling are slowly evolving the ways in which we conceptualize navigating our constantly expanding urban environments.

With each episode running under 8 minutes, the seven-part series profiles various characters who are at the forefront of this evolving culture of riding in cosmopolitan African cities, altering ineffective models of movement, as well as providing avenues of the youth to exercise their angst, one kick-push at the time. Produced in 2018 in Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal and Uganda, the series uses various vignettes of the lives of interesting young people actively encouraging riding culture to magnify the wider scope of communities based projects and initiatives that are positively shaping the lives of the youth in these cities through leisure, exercise and discipline.

Photo by Liz Gomis and Aurélien Biette.

We meet characters such as Marion Ayebale in Uganda, a 23-year-old cycling champion and bicycle messenger who tows us along her journey in a male dominated sport, pedaling her way to become a coach of the national team as well as earning a living as a messenger and debunking numerous myths about women riding. We follow Jackson Mubiru as he provides kids on the streets of Kampala with another options through the skate park in built in 2005 to introduce the sport to his community.

The series, which is now streaming for free via Arte TV, a French cultural channel, is a great insight into the contributions of urban youth culture in shaping contemporary African cities in a media landscape that really finds the space to maximize these stories of ingenuity and courage. To learn more about the project and how it can be quite a tasking process to produce such a project that offers a candid cross-section of a positive community based activity, we speak to Gomis—a French/Bissau-Guinean director and journalist to learn more about her attempt to magnify Africa's growing obsession with riding.

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Literature
Image courtesy of Doubleday.

Oyinkan Braithwaite's 'My Sister the Serial Killer' Is the Lagos-Set Novel Rocking the Crime Thriller Genre

We speak with the Nigerian author about the success of her debut novel, and breaking the boundaries of "African Lit."

"I have always been drawn to dark topics," says Oyinkan Braithwaite, the 30-year-old Nigerian author behind the critical darling of a novel My Sister, the Serial Killer.

Her declaration helps explain the subject and title of her debut novel, which tells the story of Ayoola, a young woman who has developed a not-so-healthy habit of murdering her boyfriends, leaving her older sister, the book's protagonist, Korede to clean up her mess. You may have noticed it's ubiquitous cover—which features a young black woman wearing a headwrap, casually looking on as a knife-wielding hand is reflected in her sunglasses—on your timeline or at your local store. The internationally-released, Nigerian-made novel sits confidently on retail shelves previously reserved for mass-market thrillers.

The dark and humorous, Lagos-set novel is extreme—but not just because of all the murdering that happens. It also examines the extreme nature of the many things that can push people to the edge. For the sisters, they are: intergenerational trauma, abuse, the prevalence of a culture that rewards beauty above all else, as well as having to battle with their own personal shortcomings—just to name a few.

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Arts + Culture
Tobi Kyeremateng. Photo by Gabriel Mokake.

'I See Theatre as Babylon': Tobi Kyeremateng Is the Producer Celebrating the Impact Black British Youth Have on London Culture

In our conversation with Tobi Kyeremateng, we learn about her upcoming BABYLON Season at the Bush Theatre and what it means to truly champion black and brown voices in creative spaces.

As a second generation person of African descent, the arts and its various creative mediums provide a safe space for the diaspora to come together to explore the nuances of dual heritage and the far removed, presumed career choice pressures of being a doctor or a lawyer. For cultural producer Tobi Kyeremateng, her life experiences living in this said duality have informed why she is the powerhouse she is in the UK's creative scene—where she focuses on theatre, poetry, festivals and film.

Born to a Ghanaian father and a Nigerian mother in South London, Kyeremateng was brought up on a strong soundtrack of Whitney Houston, Pentecostal church songs and afrobeat. After joining OvalHouse Theatre at 16 and reading the BAFTA award-winning random by Black British playwright debbie tucker green during college, these catalysts started her formative journey into producing for the stage. She has worked with The Roundhouse, Glastonbury Festival and collaborated with The Prince's Trust. Recently named on the The Stage 100, a list reflecting the most influential people working in the theatre and performing arts, Kyeremateng is also the founder of the Black Ticket Project—and program that provided free access to London shows for black young people and BAMworks, an initiative which connects minority ethnic producers across the UK.

The forthcoming BABYLON Season at the Bush Theatre in West London is a program the burgeoning producer co-created which encompasses a celebration of black and brown cultural innovators and a ground-breaking production which fuses live-streamed performances around the globe. The season opens at the venue from Feb. 4 to 9 with BABYLON Festival—a week-long takeover which celebrates the influence of black and brown people on London culture.

We speak with the BABYLON co-creator and executive producer on taking over the Bush Theatre, championing black voices and what to lookout for at the forthcoming festival.

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