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How to Rap About Africa: Remembering When Binyavanga’s Iconic Essay Was Turned Into a Scathing Rap Song By Black Vulcanite

In 2016, the Namibian hip-hop crew Black Vulcanite turned Binyavanga's iconic essay into a scathing rap song 'How To Rap About Africa.'

One of Binyavanga Wainaina's most popular essays, 2005's How To Write About Africa, which was later turned into a book, is one of the most effective pieces about the stereotyping of Africa ever published.

In it, the author, who recently passed away, gave a tongue-in-cheek guide to writing about Africa for foreigners.

"Always use the word 'Africa' or 'Darkness' or 'Safari' in your title. Subtitles may include the words 'Zanzibar,' 'Masai,' 'Zulu,' 'Zambezi,' 'Congo,' 'Nile,' 'Big,' 'Sky,' 'Shadow,' 'Drum,' 'Sun' or 'Bygone.' Also useful are words such as 'Guerrillas,' 'Timeless,' 'Primordial' and 'Tribal.' Note that 'People' means Africans who are not black, while 'The People' means black Africans," he wrote, adding, a few lines later: "In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates."

Eleven years after Binyavanga's essay, three Namibian writers—rappers Mark Mushiva and AliThatDude and poet Okin who are collectively known as Black Vulcanite—took a leaf from the author's book in their song "How To Rap About Africa," a title that's an obvious nod to Binyavanga.

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amA picture taken on May 17, 2019 in Berlin shows a Stone Cross, a key 15th-century navigation landmark erected by Portuguese explorers, seen at the History Museum in Berlin. (Photo: TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Germany to Return Stolen 15th Century Stone Cross to Namibia

Germany's Culture Minister says the move is a "clear sign" that the country is committed to coming to terms with its colonial past.

In the latest development in the movement towards African art repatriation, the German government will return a 15th-century Portuguese stone cross that has been in its possession since the colonial era, back to its original home in Namibia.

The cross was a navigation landmark placed on the coastline of present-day Namibia in 1496, before it was taken in the late 17th century under German colonial rule, BBC Africa reports.

The Namibian government put out a request for its return back in 2017, and the request was formally approved today by the Berlin Museum. The cross is set to be returned in August, according to a statement from the museum.

READ: Taking Back Our History: Understanding African Art Repatriation

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Boity. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Watch Lioness, Boity and Nazizi’s Music Video For Their Empowering Trap Banger ‘Switch It Up’

"This track is based on women and female empowerment," says Boity.

Namibian and South African rising rappers Lioness and Boity appear alongside Kenyan veteran MC Nazizi on "Switch It Up." The trap banger is part of the ongoing Coke Studio initiative which brings together African artists from different countries to work on collaborations.

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Umlilo and Sean K. Photography by Jono Kay, Stuart Hendricks.

Watch Umlilo & Sean K's Video For ‘Emoyeni’

South Africa and Namibia connect on "Emoyeni."

In their collaborative song, "Emoyeni," Umlilo and Sean K sing about the changing of the seasons and it coming with a change in one's life.

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