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Chinua Achebe, Ben Okri & Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Invade 'The Simpsons'

Nigerian literature invades 'The Simpsons' in a recent episode that references Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Ben Okri.


In a recent episode of the The Simpsons, Homer is charged with looking after a Nigerian princess named Kemi (voiced by Mother of George actress Yaya Alafia) while her father and Mr. Burns discuss a uranium deal. Beyond the obvious jabs at Nigerian 419 e-mail scams, one of which Moe falls for, the episode largely steers clear of negative stereotyping and focuses on Princess Kemi's introduction to life in Springfield.

As a token of Princess Kemi's gratitude to Moe for serving as her guide during a tour of Springfield (soundtracked by King Sunny Ade's "Eni Binu Wa") she gifts him with, as she describes it, some of Nigeria's "most beloved, albeit depressing literature." The four books selected by Kemi come from literary luminaries Ben Okri, Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and include Adichie's 2009 short story collection The Thing Around Your Neck, Okri's Booker Prize-winning The Famished Road, Achebe's seminal work Things Fall Apart and his essay collection Home and Exile.

For more essential writings from African authors, check out our list of reader recommendations we compiled in celebration of World Book Day in the UK and Ireland earlier this month. Watch Nigerian literature invade The Simpsons in "The Princess Guide" below.

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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