Africa

iggy

iggy

Chakhala Village, Mchinji District, Malawi


So much of the news from Africa is depressing: famine, aids, wars, orphans, despots, you name it. It’s not just the mainstream media; I’ve been hit recently by a kind of “year-end giving blitz” when relief agencies scramble for your 2009 tax planning largesse. Lots of hungry kids with flies in their eyes. I’m told by my non-profit friends that this is because people only give to tragedy not joy.

I understand this. I don’t blame them, and I don’t think they overstate or outright lie just to raise money, at least as far as I can tell.

What’s lost in that reportage, and in mainstream imagery, is how crazy wonderful the people and place is. Since mid-July, I’ve spent a month in Africa, enmeshed in a couple of pretty serious issues but there’s a great deal of joy.

I don’t want to downplay the problems or fetishize smiling kids. But I get a little tired of how we often fetishize starving kids with flies in their eyes.

This video is just some videographic ballast. Continue reading Turning Around | Mr. Ignacious Mwambola

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The swan song for traditional media is as incessant as it is unquestioned. Don’t tell that to San Francisco’s Dave Eggers or Liberia’s Alfred Sirleaf. In radically different ways, under radically different conditions, they both open a space for the newspaper’s relevance in a landscape of navel-gazing corporate media non-stop blather-a-thon (oh, and blogs, let’s not forget blogorrhea).

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He was arrested on August 21 at a police checkpoint under Terrorism Act No 83 which allowed the government to detain any citizen for an indefinite period of time without trial and without the requirement to release any detainee’s name.

He was beaten repeatedly for 20 days until September 11th when, close to death, he was stripped naked and tossed into the back of a Land Rover and driven 1500km to a prison with hospital facilities.

He died on September 12.

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When Madonna’s black-with-dark-tinted-windows Land Cruisers came barreling down the dirt road towards the orphanage, the locals thought they were ready. They had printed up t-shirts with the “Adopt Me” slogan and an arrow pointed towards their face. They were ready to run down to the main road with their shirts on, line the road out to the orphanage, and wave at the cruisers as they sped past.

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Find a patch of brush. Light it on fire. Catch all the mice as they race to escape the flames. Toss them into boiling water. Wait. Scoop their wet-soaked scraggly carcass out of the water pot. Jam a dozen between two sticks. Run out to the road. Wait for a passing minibus. Sell for 150-250 Kwacha (USD$1.00-1.75)

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In 1988, on a trip to Uganda, we carried a polaroid and were able to take family shots, village shots, etc. and give them the photograph right then and there. I can’t seem to find a Polaroid these days. And while everyone seems to get a kick looking at the LCD screen on the back of my camera, it’s not the same.

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