News Brief

Chinese Open New Railway from Djibouti to Ethiopia

The first electric transnational railway in Africa is now running from Djibouti City To Addis Ababa with backing from China.

Today, the first electric transnational railway in Africa went into operation from Djibouti City to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Government officials, diplomats, and socialites, were in attendance for the historic occasion. Also in attendance were Chinese investors, whose 14 billion dollar loan, funded the railway.


The newly functioning line will certainly be of benefit for Djibouti and its landlocked neighbor, as it will help optimize trade by cutting travel time between the two countries. The journey is a three to four days by truck, and just 12 hours via the new rail line.

“This line will change the social and economic landscape of our two countries,” said Ethiopia's prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn.

There are many advantages of the newly established rail for both countries, but perhaps even more for China, whose increasing presence in Africa, is helping rebuild infrastructure throughout the continent, but is also raising reasonable suspicion.

"Chinese-built and -financed projects include a two-year-old light-rail system in the Ethiopian capital; a $13 billion rail link between the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, and the port city of Mombasa that will open later this year; and an ambitious rail modernization project in Nigeria that includes an urban transit system for Lagos," reports the New York Times.

These investments mean that China will certainly hold leverage over African affairs. While some commend China for "taking a risk on Africa," while most Western countries have noticelbly retreated, I'm not so sure who's really at risk here, China or the African nations that are now heavily indebted to it.

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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