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African gods and goddesses drawn as ass-kicking Jack Kirby-style superheroes
01:19 pm


Jack Kirby
Marvel Comics

Oxóssi, a spirit associated with the hunt, forests, animals, and wealth
You don’t have to be anthropologist Clifford Geertz to make the connection that the superheroes developed in comic books in the middle of the last century function something like a new American mythology. The Greeks had Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, and Aphrodite; the Romans had Mars, Minerva, Janus, and Juno; and the Norse had Thor, Odin, Loki, and Frigg. In America we have Iron Man, Spider-Man, Flash Gordon, and the Silver Surfer (oh, and Thor too, right). Unlike Zeus and Minerva, our mythological heroes are currently drawing millions of people to multiplexes the world over, for whatever that’s worth. Mythology is breaking box office records!

A artist named Hugo Canuto has recently looked to his own African-influenced culture in Brazil to make a similar connection for figures from African mythology, depicting them as ass-kicking superheroes drawn in the style of the legendary Jack Kirby. Many deities of modern-day Afro-Brazilian religions find their roots in the mythologies of Nigeria and Benin, and these covers reflect that, using specifically local, that is to say Portuguese, spellings of the names.

For instance, the water deity Yemo̩ja is rendered here as Yemanjá, as she is known in Brazilian culture. Oshunmare, god of the rainbow, here pops up as Oxumaré. And Oya, a major Orisha governing death and rebirth, can be found here as Iansã, for that is what she is called on the western side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Avengers No. 4 (1963)
Last year Canuto reworked an iconic early cover of The Avengers to showcase the major Orishas, called Orixas in Portuguese, which are key elemental spirits of the Yoruba religion. So “The Orixas” is the umbrella category, like “The Avengers,” that houses all of the mythological figures that followed.

Interestingly, in the early 1990s, DC Comics had a line based on Yoruba mythology, called Orishas—it was also known as “Gods of Africa” and featured characters such as Eshu, Ogun, Erinle, and Oshunmare. Anybody out there a fan of that series? I don’t remember it.

You can purchase prints of Canuto’s covers on Facebook.

The Orixas

Yemanjá, major water deity, mother of all 14 Yoruba gods and goddesses
Much more after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Where Saying ‘I Love You’ Can Get You Put In Jail: Free Roger Mbédé

Most of us do it everyday without thinking. Tell that someone special we love them. But do it in Cameroon and you could end-up in gaol.

That’s what happened to Roger Jean-Claude Mbédé, who was sentenced to 3-years in prison in 2011 for sending another man an SMS that read:

“I’m very much in love w/u.”

Mbédé was detained by Cameroon’s Secretary of State for Defense (SED) on “suspicion of homosexuality.”

He was formally charged with “homosexuality and attempted homosexuality” on March 9th, 2011.

He was then tried and on April 28th, 2011, Mbédé was found guilty on both charges and sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment at Kondengui Central Prison.

His sentencing was condemned by Human Rights Watch, who described it as “a gross violation of Mbede’s rights to freedom of expression and equality.”

In prison “many suspects were tortured or otherwise treated poorly in custody until they gave confessions, which were then used as evidence against them.

In 2011, 14 people were prosecuted for homosexuality, 12 were convicted.

Roger’s 3-year conviction led to a campaign by Amnesty International and Rights activists, which saw Roger provisionally released on bail in July 2012, on health grounds. However, an appeals court upheld the 3-year sentence against Roger.

All Out is running a campaign to help release Roger from jail:

Roger still has to serve 2 more years in jail under horrible conditions, but Cameroon’s President Biya could free Roger from this sentence and end the anti-gay laws that jailed him in the first place. Biya has made statements that could indicate he’s evolving ont his issue and he knows that Cameroon’s reputation is at stake.

All Out have started a petition to President Biya, and Justice Laurent Esso which reads:


We call on you to free Roger Jean-Claude Mbédé, who was jailed for sending a text message, and to place a moratorium on Cameroon’s discriminatory anti-gay laws.

These laws deny basic human rights to many Cameronians like Roger and create an environment of hostility and fear. End the use of laws that make it a crime to love who you choose and encourage their permanent repeal.

If you want to help with getting Roger released from prison then please sign and share this petition. Thank you.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Shishani: Award-winning Soul artist releases video for her new LGBTI Equality anthem ‘Minority’

The excellent blog Spectra Speaks reports that award-winning African artist Shishani, has just released a video for her new LGBTI Equality anthem “Minority”.

Award-winning acoustic soul artist, Shishani, has just released the music video for her latest single titled, “Minority”, a catchy, upbeat, acoustic track that calls for freedom and equality for all people despite perceived differences.

Shishani got her big break when she performed at the 2011 Namibian Annual Music Awards in the capital city of Windhoek, where it’s still illegal to be gay. And though, she says, she’s made no real attempts to hide her sexuality, she hasn’t come out as an “out lesbian artist” till now.

“I wanted people to get to know my music,” she says, “Sexuality doesn’t matter. It’s like pasta — asking if you prefer spaghetti or macaroni. It just doesn’t matter… I’m an artist first, before being a gay artist.”

Nambia is one of several African countries where Homosexuality is illegal, and “LGBTI people risk harassment and violence due to a strong culture of stigma in part reignited by religious leaders and government officials.”

As an African musician who identifies as being a part of the LGBTI community, the lyrics of “Minority” no doubt challenge the infamous meme “Homosexuality is unAfrican.” But, Shishan insists, her song is about much more than being gay.

“In Namibia, it also makes a difference what ethnicity you are. “Minority” argues for equal rights for all people regardless of their cultural backgrounds, economic status, sexuality, religion,” she says, “There is so much systemic discrimination against people, for so many reasons.”

The release of “Minority” is timely; January is the month in which outspoken Ugandan LGBT activist, David Kato was bludgeoned to death in an anti-gay attack three years ago, sparking an outcry from fellow African human rights activists. January is also the month in which people in the U.S.–perhaps even all over the world–celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a powerful civil rights leader and icon. His call for freedom and equality of all people has been taken up by activists all over the world, including Shishani, whose lyrics echo his principles of love and unity.

“Homophobia all over the world comes from the same place; colonialism, apartheid, racial segregation. All our struggles are connected.”

Read the interview with Shishani at Spectra Speaks.

Follow Spectra Speaks on Twitter. Shishani on Facebook.

With thanks to the wonderful June Millington

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Charlie Brooker on Invisible Children and ‘Kony 2012’

Just when you thought shit couldn’t get any more cynical, here comes Charlie Brooker to cast some withering scorn over the recent ‘Kony 2012’ meme propagated by the group Invisible Children (as broadcast on last night on Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock Live.) I could not think of anyone better than Brooker for this job:

“So, in summary, Invisible Children are expert propagandists with what seems to be a covert religious agenda, advocating military action in Africa while simultaneously recruiting an “army” of young people to join their cause (and their weird Fourth Estate youth camps) and to stand around posing like this [quasi-fascist looking picture], a bit like an army of child soldiers might.”

Take it away Charlie…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Trolling is his business: the world according to Dave Mustaine

So I was gonna sit here and write a long, rambling post about Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine and the amount of bullshit that’s been spewing out his tiny little mouth of late. You know, something about a guy with a shoulder length frizzy perm being anti-gay, something about a 100% no-homo-heterosexual dude feeling threatened by the sex lives of African women and other consenting adults. Maybe throw in a little reference to still smarting about Metallica here, or “small man syndrome” there, perhaps go off on a diatribe about the über-pseudo-macho world of heavy metal being just as “authentic” as that of drag queens, about how the biggest shit-talkers always reveal themselves to be the most immature, petulant little nerds desperate to live up to a false sense of masculine superiority in the end.

But I’m not going to waste my effort.

I mean, why should I bother? Mustaine is doing all that hard graft for me! Seriously. Here are a selection of quotes from recent interviews displaying the wisdom of Dave Mustaine:

Dave Mustaine on Bible prophecy:

Mustaine explained a biblical prophecy to LA Weekly. “Even if you don’t believe in God and you don’t believe in faith, you’ve got to understand, when Israel became a country again, that was a prophecy in the Bible that came true, and the Bible was written so many hundreds of years ago,” says Mustaine. Also, any of the stuff that it says in there about the end times — that stuff’s really happening right now. Look what’s happening over in the Middle East. It’s crazy.”

Dave Mustaine on Rick Santorum:

Earlier in the election, I was completely oblivious as to who Rick Santorum was, but when the dude went home to be with his daughter when she was sick, that was very commendable. Also, just watching how he hasn’t gotten into doing these horrible, horrible attack ads like Mitt Romney’s done against Newt Gingrich, and then the volume at which Newt has gone back at Romney… You know, I think Santorum has some presidential qualities, and I’m hoping that if it does come down to it, we’ll see a Republican in the White House… and that it’s Rick Santorum.

Dave Mustaine on Afircan women:

There’s so many houses without a dad that it’s just terrible. I mean, you know how they used to say there should be a license to have a baby? Well, as far-fetched as that sounds, I really think that, if the parents aren’t going to stick together, they shouldn’t make that kind of commitment to life. I watch some of these shows from over in Africa, and you’ve got starving women with six kids. Well, how about, you know, put a plug in it? It’s like, you shouldn’t be having children if you can’t feed them.

Dave Mustaine on gay marriage:

Do you support gay marriage, or is that something you oppose?

Well, since I’m not gay, the answer to that would be no.

OK. What about for people who are gay?

Since I’m not gay, the answer to that would be no.

Would you support legislation to make marriage between a man and another man legal?

I’m Christian. The answer to that would be no.

All this is a real shame, because Megadeth were a fucking great band. It’s just too bad that if Dave Mustaine’s reputation ever recovers from being a “very conservative” über-douche who lets the TV make up his mind for him, he’s going down in the annals of history as the guy who wept for Metallica:


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Lagos Party: Two days in Nigeria with Africa’s biggest music stars

Dangerous Minds pal Rod Stanley, the editor of the mighty Dazed and Confused magazine, and photographer Chris Saunders recently made a trip to Nigeria and returned with a short film about the country’s vibrant musical scene:

At the end of last year, Dazed travelled to Lagos, Nigeria, for the third annual MTV Africa Music Awards, an event that had drawn performers from all over the continent, as well as a few international names such as Chuck D, Eve and Rick Ross. The real stars for me on this trip though were all the African performers that we spoke to, photographed and partied with while we were there – people like Uganda’s party boys Radio & Weasel, Nigeria’s first lady of R&B Sasha, Angola’s colourful kuduro crew Cabo Snoop, and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s fashion-mad Fally Ipupa.

Many of them told stories of how a lack of a royalty system and widespread music piracy are hampering the development of their music industry, and how they see themselves as a pioneers laying the groundwork for the generation that will follow them. This short film introduces all of the above and more, with some of their music videos and the insanely hectic atmosphere of the city of Lagos itself.

Photo gallery at Dazed Digital.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Bastien Dubois’s Oscar-transcending animated short ‘Madagascar - A Journey Diary’

Although it’s a touch more interesting than most awards shows, we tend to treat the Oscars as little more than a gossip source, fashion show, or fun subject for betting pools.

With that said, there are gratifying aspects about the awards themselves, including the fact that French filmmaker Bastien Dubois‘s gorgeous and surreal Madagascar - Carnet de Voyage was nominated for Best Animated Short Film.

It lost, but that takes nothing away from this meditation on mortality on the intriguing African island nation. It’s a dizzying yet coherent display of what seems like a dozen different animation and mixed-media styles. Check it out.


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
‘Foli’: Excellent short film on rhythmic life in Baro village in Guinea
07:17 pm


African music

Dutch sibling filmmakers Thomas Roebers and Floris Leeuwenberg recently released Foli, an extremely well-crafted 11-minute short film that gives us an overview of the role of rhythm in the life of the rural Malinke village of Baro in central Guinea.

World-class djembe masters like Famoudou Konate hail from the area around Baro. Roebers and Leeuwenberg make this come alive through deft editing, killer sound, and their choice to not include any omniscient narration.


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Not just Berkeley & London: The international student movement is on fire!

Demonstration against the privatization of education, New Delhi, December 2, 2010

As our UK-based Dangerous Mind Paul Gallagher has noted, London students have taken the issue of educational democracy off the campuses into both the city’s freezing streets and the faces of lines of cops. Of course these have been paralleled by media coverage of a couple of years of anti-tuition hike protests at the University of California. But they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

Turns out the international student movement that’s been brewing is on the way to becoming the primary dynamic popular movement of our time. From Manila to Santiago to Jakarta to Marrakech to Milan to Prishtina, students have been hitting the capitals to protest the privatization, commodification and militarization of education and research. Their fight against the fee hikes, budget cuts and other politricks affecting access to education is already the most effective and wide-reaching youth movement you’ve ever seen. Period.

To state the sweepingly obvious, the global financial industry played a huge part in causing the worldwide educational crisis. And democratized education will be key to defending humanity against the most powerful wave of greed we’ve seen in a while. That makes the global struggle for free, emancipatory education the key struggle of our lifetimes.

You may think I’m overstating it. Hell, maybe I am. But just in case, do yourself a favor: keep an eye on this movement and support it in whatever way you see fit.


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Insane dust storm caught on film in Mali, West Africa
02:02 pm


Mother Nature
Dust storms

Apocalyptic footage of a sudden and violent dust storm encountered in Mali, West Africa by a National Geographic cameraman who was there to film elephants. This is an epic WIN for Mother Nature. Wow!!!

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Forget Hollywood & New York. The future of the music video is in Nairobi. Meet Jim Chuchu.

You read right. Jim Chuchu is one-third of the excellent Kenyan beat-pop group Just A Band, and this April he released what became Kenya’s first viral video, for their song “Ha-He.” It features the Shaft-esque character Makmende, named after playground slang for a tough guy, which itself is derived from Clint Eastwood’s “make my day” line as Dirty Harry from Sudden Impact.

But Chuchu is hardly a one-trick-pony. He’s brought his simple, wry, off-beat style to a bunch of ingenious videos by Just A Band (including the astonishing “Usinibore”) and loads of other Nairobi acts. Plus he’s built his own lighting components, which is DIY as hell.

Check out a few of the videos after the jump and you’ll understand why Chuchu has become the master visual chronicler of the sound of digital East Africa.

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Shangaan Electro and Jagwa: The Street Techno of Africa

Adventurous music folks have had their ears on electronic music trends in sub-Saharan Africa ever since the amplified likembe group Konono No. 1 emerged to Western attention from Kinshasa, in the Democratic Repbulic of Congo five years ago.

Now blogs like Generation Bass, Ghetto Bassquake, mudd up! and others are surfacing all kinds of DIY techno-fied genres from all over the continent. And the tempos seem to be getting as fast as the trend-spotting. As reported first by The Fader, Wills Glasspiegel of Outside Music has uncovered “Shangaan electro” music, a hectic digital blend of breakneck thump-beats, MIDI keyboards, sped-up alien samples and melodic vocals. It’s named after the population grouping from which the musicians come, the Shangaan of the northern Limpopo province of South Africa. It’s gotten enough attention to merit the anthology Shangaan Electro: New Wave Dance Music From South Africa on the UK’s Honest Jon’s label

Here’s Richard “Nozinja” Mthetwa, the godfather& top producer of the Shangaan electro genre, breaking it down:

More after the jump: Just behind Shangaan electro, the Tanzanian sound of Jagwa…

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Africa Rising: Grassroots-Tech and The Homemade Robot of Togo

Sidewalk wrought iron artisan James Mutahi works his homemade arc welder in Limuru, north of Nairobi, Kenya. Photo: Dominic Wanjihia. From Afrigadget.

Preparation for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa (which starts in a couple of days) has drawn the West’s attention to the continent as a premiere sports and entertainment venue. But let’s also recognize that African countries have been quietly building a new set of infrastructures based on mobile and web connectivity, grassroots-tech ingenuity and turbo-micro-entrepreneurship.

Kenyan-raised Erik Hersman’s White African and Afrigadget are just a couple of the many blogs raising awareness about Africa’s long-running tech revolution, as epitomized by events like Maker Faire Africa. The below, from JustGiving’s YouTube channel and featured in Afrigadget, teases out some of the more everyday implications:



As a side-note: You may have read about the survivalist trend in America that mostly involves stocking up a panic room with guns, gold and Twinkies. Many populations in Africa continue to survive and innovate through the kind of emergency situations—natural disasters, economic devastation, military dictatorships, etc.—that your friendly neighborhood doomsayer can’t comprehend.  


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
African Children Denounced As “Witches” By Christian Pastors
04:51 pm


witch children

Ugh, once again religion and superstition used to justify psychotic violence in Africa. Sad, sad story about children being accused of witchcraft by Christian ministers, who extort their parents for money to perform exorcisms. If they can’t pay up, look what happens… And what makes it even worse is that often the parents buy into it and harm their own children or abandon them.

EKET, Nigeria ?

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Progress in Darfur
12:12 am

Current Events



Some generally good news, for a change.

The United Nations military commander, General Martin Agwai, says that although the area will likely continue to see things like banditry and skirmishes of local violence, the ?

Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment