News

The Caine Prize for African Writing


Since its inception in 2000, The Caine Prize for African Writing has been instrumental in ushering into the literary world emerging new voices from the continent. Nicknamed the ‘African Booker’, the £10,000 prize recognises excellence in short story writing. Previous recipients of the prestigious award include such luminaries as Sudan’s Leila Aboulela (2000) and Kenyan Binyavanga Wainaina (2002).

This year’s shortlist, announced in May, has been drawn up from 122 entries from 14 African countries. Bernardine Evaristo, the chair of the judging panel, described the five shortlisted stories as "truly diverse fiction from a truly diverse continent.” He added:

“This shortlist shows the range of African fiction beyond the more stereotypical narratives. These stories have an originality and facility with language that made them stand out. We’ve chosen a bravely provocative homosexual story set in Malawi; a Nigerian soldier fighting in the Burma Campaign of WW2; a hardboiled noir tale involving a disembodied leg; a drunk young Kenyan who outwits his irate employers; and the tension between Senegalese siblings over migration and family responsibility.”

Read the 2012 shorlisted stories: Rotimi Babatunde's "Bombay Republic," Billy Kahora's "Urban Zoning," Stanley Kenani's "Love On Trial," Melissa Tandiwe Myambo's "La Salle de Départ," and Constance Myburgh's "Hunter Emmanuel." The winner will be announced on the 2nd of July.

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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