I’ve now watched “Brother with Perfect Timing“–the 1987 documentary on Abdullah Ibrahim, directed by Chris Austin–several times. (Ibrahim, if you haven’t figured it out by now is one of the most influential jazz musicians of our time.). Everything I see the film, I see something new. Like in this clip which is of a live performance of the tune “Tuan Guru”with his band Ekaya in the mid-1980s at his New York City Club, Sweet Basil (used to be on 88 Seventh Avenue South, above Bleecker Street in Manhattan). Normally I concentrate on the music. This time I also listened closely to what Abdullah is saying. In the clip, the band’s playing is interspered with Abdullah telling the rich (if often violent) history of the Cape, focusing on the life of Tuan Guru, banished from Indonesia to the Cape as a political prisoner by the Dutch and who became a key figure in establishing Islam in South Africa. It’s then that Ibrahim makes a linkage between Tuan Guru and the origins of Afrikaans. It’s worth watching.
* BTW, I only know of one other documentary about Ibrahim by a German production company which revolves a trip he makes to South Africa to see old friends: “Abdullah Ibrahim a struggle for love“
Robert Sietsema on the Village Voice food blog, Fork in the Road (one of the only decent writers in the fast-aging free weekly) took one of the tunnels to New Jersey to find Kenyan food. Talk of ugali, managu and mandazi abounds.
HBO has announced it will broadcast the film about a “the fat lady detective,” Precious Ramotswe, set in rural Botswana in March this year. The film is based on the Scottish writer Alexander McCall Smith‘s popular novels and was originally made for the BBC. The cast includes American actors Jill Scott (the R&B singer) and Anika Noni Rose and the London-based Zimbabwean actor Lucian Msamati. The director Anthony Minghella died after the film was completed (the original idea was for that the film would be a pilot for a later TV series based on the McCall Smith novels). I have tried t read the novels, but did not get far. Hopefully, I’ll get into the film.
Here’s some links published on the film when it first came out: from The New York Times (be prepared for the weird descriptions of Botswana and Batswana in the middle part of the piece) and The Independent (more a piece of travel writing about Scott) and The Guardian.
“Don´t get too excited. Let me start by stating categorically that I am NOT gay. I am not a big fan of gay folks either. If anything, I try to avoid them the most I can. Once, during a trip to Norway, a homosexual man in his mid-thirties tried to make advances at me. I almost broke his jaw. However, in 2002, when the then-President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo signed the bill that forbade the same-sex marriage of Nigerians, I could not help but ask: What right does the President of the country have to tell his people who not to marry. The president did not give birth to them. And then, the same scenario was repeated in Kenya recently. The Kibaki-led administration announced a ban on same-sex marriages in the country, calling it illegal. The punishment for same-sex marriage in Nigeria is five years behind bars. For some reason, Africans want to be too sacred, and rather than our government solving the most pressing issues that affect Africa today- poverty, Health issues, Corruption, lack of accountability, ethnic clashes, and the sorts, our governments spend their time in parliament deliberating on laws that would make life harder and worse for the common man. In an Africa that is full of so many problems, if a man decides that he will find solace spending the rest of his life in the arms of another man, why disturb him? Why have our Parliamentarians forgotten the Universal rights of human beings to express themselves in whichever way they deem fit?”
The comments at the end of The Slog post make for interesting reading.
Cape Town historian Premesh Lalu‘s fascinating study The Death of Hintsa has just been published by HSRC Press in South Africa. Here’s the PR blurb:
“In 1996, as South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission was beginning its hearings, Nicholas Gcaleka, a healer diviner from the town of Butterworth in the Eastern Cape, set off on a journey to retrieve the skull of Hintsa, the Xhosa king. Hintsa had been killed by British troops on the banks of the Nqabarha River over a century and a half before and, it was widely believed, had been beheaded. From a variety of quarters including the South African press, academia and Xhosa traditional leadership, Gcaleka’s mission was mocked and derided. Following the tracks of Nicholas Gcaleka, author Lalu explores the reasons for the almost incessant laughter that accompanied Gcaleka’s journeys into the past. He suggests that the sources of derision can be found in the modes of evidence established by colonial power and the way they elide the work of the imagination. These forms and structures of knowledge in the discipline of history later sustained the discourse of apartheid. The Deaths of Hintsa argues for a postcolonial critique of apartheid and for new models for writing histories. It offers a reconceptualisation of the colonial archive and suggests a blurring of the distinction between history and historiography as a way to set to work on forging a history after apartheid.”
I can imagine the blood pressure of Republicans and conservatives here in the US at such news. Yet that’s just what South Africa did–without any fanfare–when its Judicial Service Commission recommended (it holds public hearings on court appointments) and then the country’s President, Kgalema Motlanthe, appointed the judge, Edwin Cameron, to its highest court, the Constitutional Court.
Last week I gave a live interview to Doug Henwood’s radio program (he runs the Left Business Observer and his program is broadcast every Thursday on New York City’s WBAI 99.5 FM and is rebroadcast on Saturdays on KPFA 94.1 FM in Berkeley) on my political impressions from a recent trip to South Africa, especially happenings within the ruling African National Congress. Doug’s a good interviewer. Some South African watchers may also recognize him from Patrick Bond’s Debate List. I come on about halfway through. It’s live. (You can almost hear my daughter come home from school at one point). You can also download it here to your iPod or iPhone if you want to listen to it offline later.