Lifestyle Arts & Culture

If, as the summer holidays get into full gear, your endless ‘to-do’ lists draw on your good cheer, recall this Ovambo proverb that, “if you do not have patience you cannot make beer!” Whether you are travelling, or on terra firma, enjoy our latest sights and sounds inspired by the continent!

What We’re Listening (& Dancing) to…

The almost angelic vocals by non-conformist female Nigerian singer/songwriter Teni are so melodic. Many a bumper-to-bumper Uber ride home have been made bearable thanks to her hit songs such as Case as she lilts about unrequited love: “for my papa no be Dangote or Adeleke, we go dey ok…” Her  ballad Uyo Meyo displays her vocal range as she encourages listeners with words such as “everybody’s born a winner, if only you just believe,” as she sings in both English and the Ondo dialect of Yoruba.  

Describing her latest album as “a love letter to Africa,” global icon Beyoncé has pulled together a 27-song album entitled ‘The Gift,’ which she describes as a soundscape of the remake of the Disney classic, The Lion King.  The album has already gained six Emmy nominations and is tipped for more success, in a post-Black Panther era where Africans are claiming their rightful role in Hollywood. This topic was discussed by UK-Ghanaian Diaspora film producer, Jay Engmann in our recent interview with him.

The vocal artistry of the layered, choral harmonies in Spirit is matched by an explosion of colour, movement and the romance of typical African landscapes in the video. Indeed, in the spirit of the album, Beyoncé has created the opportunity for other artists to shine, having teamed up with an impressive list of collaborators, including a number of well-known contemporary African artists such as Shatta Wale, Saltiel, Tiwa Savage, Tekno, Busiswa, Wizkid, Yemi Alade, Mr Eazi, among others. Indeed, the continent’s music industry is teeming with talent and opportunity, as we discuss here. Currently, the queen of pop’s collaboration with Shatta Wale is on repeat!


What we’re Disappointed and Encouraged by…

The African proverb, “when a woman wakes, mountains move,” seems to be lost on Gabon’s centralist government under Ali Bongo. In the last few weeks, the promotion of women’s rights has been trodden underfoot with the scrapping of the country’s Women’s Affairs ministry, drawing in much civil society criticism. The government says it’s because there is a need to streamline ministries and vows to still honour women but from our vantage point in Libreville, we’re not so convinced. 

Numerous studies have shown that redressing the imbalance of gender inequality makes economic sense: strong female representation on boards ensures improved returns of over one third. Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) are leading the charge by committing to investing USD3bn by 2020 in companies which promote women’s empowerment. The specific criterion for potential investee companies under the 2x Challenge includes 51% female ownership, 30% or more female representation at C-Suite level, and products and services which ‘specifically or disproportionately benefit women’.

Still on the subject of power (!), we’ve been inspired by this read from the World Bank: Making Power Affordable for Africa and Viable for Its Utilities. The perennial conundrum for governments on the continent is how to incentivise investment in electricity supply while ensuring affordability for consumers. This report presents some possible solutions.


What’s on our Artistry & Art History List…

Over in the Diaspora, the Yossi Milo Gallery in New York which provides a space for an influential community of artists, is running an exhibition called ‘African Spirits’ from 11th July until 23rd August. It looks fascinating: not only is it showcasing celebrated African portrait photographers since the 1950s such as Cameroon’s Samuel Fosso, Mali’s Seydou Keita and Burkinabe Sanle Sory but through their works, it also zooms in on West African fashion and lifestyles through a stunning collection of portrait photographs over the decades. 

In London, British-born Ghanaian, Kobi Prempeh, CEO of the Fynn Group, is the co-curator of the Saatchi Gallery’s Sweet Harmony exhibition, a retrospection of rave culture in the 1980s and 1990s. The exhibition is content-rich, replete with audio-visual commentary, seen “through the voices and lenses of those who experienced it.” It’s running until 14 September. 

Burkina Faso has gained a listing on UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. The metallurgy works, some of which date back almost 3,000 years, are early examples of metal production and indicative of the skill of ancient Africa.

One of the jewels in the crown of Ghana's Year of Return is scheduled for the last week in July/early August. Panafest will see a number of cultural performances, ancestral rites and discussions on how members of the African Diaspora can unite with those still on the continent. The event runs from 24th July to 2nd August at various sites in Ghana's central region, from where most of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade departed some 400 years ago. Some visitors will include the US Congressional Black Caucus and the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who we look forward to meeting during their three-day visit to Ghana.



Nana Ampofo