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Young Fathers & The Post-Colonial Condition: The Mercury Prize Winners Head To Malawi In Their Unapologetic New Video

Young Fathers bring their unapologetic take on racial identity and post-colonial relations to life in their Malawi-shot video for Old Rock n Roll


In September, Young Fathers touched down on the African continent for the second time in 2015 to headline Malawi’s Lake Of Stars festival in Mangochi. While there, the Scottish/Liberian/Nigerian trio shot a video for White Men Are Black Men Too's “Old Rock n Roll,” a jarring, unapologetic take on racial identity and post-colonial relations:

“I’m tired of playing the good black / I’m tired of having to hold back / I said I’m tired of playing the good black / I’m tired of wearing this hallmark for some evils that happened way back / I’m tired of blaming the white man / His indiscretion don’t betray him / A black man can play him / Some white men are black men too / Niggah to them / A gentleman to you”

The song’s self-directed video sees bandmembers Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and ‘G’ Hastings bring their haywire dance moves to Chipoka, a village in the Central Region of Malawi, where they’re joined by a group of young Malawians and incredible Gule Wamkulu dancers.

A press release explains the making and meaning behind the clip:

“Malawi is famous for being poor. It’s not famous for the psychedelic Gule Wamkulu dancers or the life spirit that emanates from the people. YFs took a camera there when they went to play the Lake of Stars Festival in September. It was always going to be a video for Old Rocknroll, the track on album White Men Are Black Men Too that links the USA to the UK to Africa, the old slave trade triangle, made audio.

Old Rocknroll seems like an angry song. It’s not angry, it’s desperate. A multi-layered attempt to come to terms with preconceptions - what’s expected from a black man in the west. The black man as a cypher for all that nasty shit encapsulated in MAC’s cartoons previously mentioned, but also for the assumptions made by those who expect anger. Spike Lee asked, why can’t I just be a film director? Why does the description always have to have ‘black’ tagged on to it?

What YFs are asking here, why can’t I just be a singer, a performer? Why do I need to be boxed and presented? Just to be, is the greatest freedom.”

In the press release, the group explain that they waited to share the "Old Rock n Roll" video until they had permission from Chipoka Village’s chief–who happens to be a woman.

When the video premiered via The Guardian today, the band shared a statement on “acceptance, cultural appropriation and the lineage of rock’n’roll” that also touches on the current refugee crisis. The message comes on the heels of Young Fathers’ run supporting 57-year-old British rocker Paul Weller:

“In the midst of this UK tour, while Britain First are trying to spawn all over the internet, while politicians and press fight to expectorate the most poisonous, anti-immigrant ignorance, we give you Old Rock’n’Roll, a journey across centuries, bringing it back to Africa, to Malawi, bringing the faces and sounds of humans, migrating, because they are captured or scared or hungry, as they always have done. And we’re saying, it’s alright. In the heart of the Congo, it’s alright.

In the heart of Essex, it’s alright. Don’t be afraid. This country can afford it. If we can afford bombs we can afford blankets and a welcome.

Old Rock’n’Roll. Not what you’ve been told.”

Watch Young Fathers' "Old Rock n Roll" video below. In related news, the Edinburgh trio make an appearance on our just-published roundup of the Top Songs of 2015.

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Seun Kuti at Felabration. Photo: OkayAfrica.

The 10 Best African Music Festivals

Here are ten of the best music festivals to experience across the African continent, including both established stages and newer productions.

African music, in all its genres and forms, has one of the largest congregations in the world, with millions of people both on the continent and in the diaspora celebrating their love and connection to their culture through sound. Despite the rapid digitization of our music consumption through the internet and streaming services, nothing will ever beat the experience of live music.

Music festivals have become a great inlet into the arts and cultures of the societies that host them, while offering great potential to local economies and countless business opportunities for African artists to grown their brands. Yet this pivotal part of the music experience on the continent is never really prioritized, despite the vast number of festival with diverse genres available all year round, all over Africa.

READ: Stormzy Will Headline South Africa's 'Rocking the Daisies' Festival 2020

Therefore, in no particular order, here are ten African music festivals to bookmark.

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Via Wikimedia

Censored For Supporting Palestinian Rights, 'Young Fathers' Now Invited Back to German Music Festival

The band was disinvited from the Ruhrtriennale festival after refusing to distance themselves from the "boycott, divestment and sanctions" movement, or BDS.

Last week in a vague and mealy mouthed statement, the Ruhrtriennale festival's Artistic Director Stefanie Carp announced that they would be canceling Young Father's concert because of the Scottish group's refusal to distance themselves from "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions," or BDS—a movement that advocates for the human rights of Palestinians.

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Photo courtesy of CSA Global.

In Conversation with Congolese NBA Player Emmanuel Mudiay: 'I want more African players in the NBA.'

The Utah Jazz player talks about being African in the NBA, supporting basketball in the DRC and how 'everybody knows about Burna Boy'.

Inspired by his basketball-playing older brothers, by second grade, Emmanuel Mudiay already knew that he wanted to play in the American National Basketball Association. Then in 2001 his family, fleeing the war in Democratic Republic of Congo, sought asylum in the United States.

In America, Mudiay saw basketball as a way for him to improve his situation. After impressive high school and college careers, he moved to China to play pro ball. Picked 7th overall in the 2015 NBA draft, the now 23-year-old guard has made a name for himself this season coming off the bench for the Utah Jazz.

Mudiay attests to the sport having changed not only his life but that of his siblings. Basketball gave them all a chance at a good education and the opportunity to dream without conditions. Now he wants to see other talented African players make it too.

We caught up with him to talk about his experience as an African player in the NBA, his hopes for basketball on the African continent and who he and his teammates jam out to in their locker rooms.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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University lecturer and activist Doctor Stella Nyanzi (L) reacts in court as she attends a trial to face charges for cyber-harassment and offensives communication, in Kampala, on April 10, 2017. (Photo by GAEL GRILHOT/AFP via Getty Images)

Jailed Ugandan Activist, Stella Nyanzi, Wins PEN Prize for Freedom of Expression

The outspoken activist, who is currently serving a prison sentence for a poem she wrote about the president's mother's vagina, won for her resistance "in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her."

Stella Nyanzi, the Ugandan academic, activist, and vocal critic of President Yoweri Museveni has been awarded the 2020 Oxfam Novib/PEN International award for freedom of expression, given to writers who "continue to work for freedom of expression in the face of persecution."

Nyanzi is currently serving a 15 month sentence for "cyber harassment" after she published a poem in which she wrote that she wished "the acidic pus flooding Esiteri's (the president's mother) vaginal canal had burn up your unborn fetus. Burn you up as badly as you have corroded all morality and professionalism out of our public institutions in Uganda."

According to the director of PEN International, Carles Torner, her unfiltered outspokenness around the issues facing her country is what earned her the award. "For her, writing is a permanent form of resistance in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her," said Torner at the award ceremony.

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