African events in and around Göttingen

Besides big events like the Würzburg Africafestival, the biggest Africa festival in Europe, lots of smaller events devoted to African themes happen across Germany. Just in case you were asking yourself: yes, mostly in the summer months, for fairly obvious reasons. Mind you, this summer of 2019 has been so hot occasionally, we may have to reconsider the timing, or else our African guests will be climatically intimidated! Anyway, two events put Africa on the local map in Göttingen these past few days: the Afrikanisches Sommerfest at Uslar, and the Hit the Beat concert at the local Freie Waldorfschule.

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Celebrating Africa: The Africa Festival in Würzburg

End of May – time for the biggest celebration of Africa in Europe! For 31 years Würzburg has hosted the Africa Festival, a four-day festival of food, African clothes, fabrics, instruments and curios – and, of course, music. A smaller open-air stage for afternoon performances, and a big tent for the two evening concerts now attract some 80,000 visitors, many of whom stay on the nearby campsite which features the sound of various drum groups almost non-stop.

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Lake Malawi, or wha’eva

The Czech contribution to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest is by a band with the not-so-Czech-sounding name Lake Malawi. I saw lots of things in their video, as far as I followed it, except anything from Malawi, lake or otherwise. I guess it’s just a name … Wikip.: “the band’s name, is inspired by the song “Calgary” by [a band named – D.S.] Bon Iver, from their 2011 … album”.
And then? I go and check. A German website has more: singer Černý was inspired by the line “So it’s storming on the lake” from “Calgary”, and Lake Malawi was chosen because “it sounds like a far-off romantic place” (my trans.). That’s got to be the reasoning of a Eurovisionary!

New musical discovery: Smiles Mandla Makama

Just when I become too proud of my music collection (which is amazingly diverse and, well, just amazing!) and of my increasing knowledge of music, especially African music, I am humbled by a new discovery. Now, that’s a misnomer, because as a rule I have discovered that music in question just as much as Livingstone discovered the Falls that he had the nerve to name after an English queen who had never, nor would ever, set eyes on them. They, the Falls and Makame’s music had – always – already been there. A known fact as there can be one.

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Jo’burg Human Rights Day Music Festival – #StandUp4HumanRights

Back in Jo’burg, a town that is so rich in music, and a town that seems to have decided to accomodate me as best as she can, especially with music events. This time it was only a few hours after my touch down that Constitution Hill opened its gates for the music festival that accompanies the Human Rights Day activities here. I admire the fact that 21 March is celebrated here, a day that hardly anyone I know in Europe is even aware of, or would care about.

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R.I.P. Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi

On January 23 this year, I was reminded of how on this day a year earlier the great South African musician Hugh Masekela had passed on. I was there, last year, and went to the musical memorial in Soweto a few days after Bra Hugh’s passing. It was there that I saw Tuku live for the second time. Now on this 23 January, I went home from work listening in my car to “Tapera”, the last piece Bra Hugh and Tuku produced together. At home, I made some tea, sat down, opened my phone and a friend had texted me. Tuku had died. On the same day as Bra Hugh.

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Keyafer, the Banna and the Hamer and bull jumping

Thursday is market day in Keyafer, and what a relief! It is a much more natural environment than is the encounter of tourists and the Mursi in the few villages where they meet. Keyafer market is lively, colourful and very natural, and a great opportunity to see openly tribal folk interact with town’s people and so on. I loved walking around, buying a few things, and eventually I pulled out my mbira and had a lot of fun with a bunch of kids.

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Omo Valley

Ethiopia’s Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region along with the area around Lake Turkana in northern Keny arguably is one of the candidates for the cradle of humankind, as some major discoveries that have been made here suggest. Since it is also a region with an incredible diversity in tribal cultures, it has been referred to as a (live) museum of human cultures. I found traveling here truly exciting, though not free from major challenges. I don’t mean the usual challenges of logistics, food and health or such like, even though they are more pronounced here. Rather, traveling here has exposed me to significant questions concerning the role of tourism, and tourist-tribe members interaction in a region where ritual infanticide and the ritual whipping of women is practiced. I have written about this in a separate post. So here’s a first glance only.

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Zambia, once again

After some hiccups at Chirundu border, where two Zimbabwean officers were having themselves a time threatening Chimz because (unbeknownst to us) she had overstayed her visa, we made it to Siavonga, and to Herman the German’s Sandy Beach Lodge. You may have read about it before, and this time Thomas’ house was almost completely finished, and we could stay there for a few days.

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