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Africa: Food Security – Nurturing a New Culture of Contradictions

analysisA first-ever national seed dialogue in South Africa strengthens the push-back against the bulging muscles of corporate and state control over seed and food production. UFRIEDA HO reports. There are seven giant seed and agro-chemical companies in the world, millions of smallholder farmers locked into buying from this monopoly, and billions of us, dependent on the food farmers grow. It adds up to a skewed global food production system that's mirrored in South Africa. Local activists and a growing voice of small-scale farmers say the continued industrialisation and commercialisation of the seed system threatens bio-diversity, food security and indigenous knowledge. It also widens inequality gaps and leaves the world with damning contradictions of food surpluses and wastage alongside starvation and malnutrition. They are calling for a revision of the system, taking aim in particular at two pieces of legislations that govern plant breeders' rights and plant improvement tha..

What Kwanzaa means for black Americans

(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.) Frank Dobson, Vanderbilt University (THE CONVERSATION) On Dec. 26, millions throughout the world’s African community will start weeklong celebrations of Kwanzaa. There will be daily ceremonies with food, decorations and other cultural objects, such as the kinara, which holds seven candles. At many Kwanzaa ceremonies, there is also African drumming and dancing. It is a time of communal self-affirmation – when famous black heroes and heroines, as well as late family members – are celebrated. As a scholar who has written about racially motivated violence against blacks, directed black cultural centers on college campuses and sponsored numerous Kwanzaa celebrations, I understand the importance of this holiday. For the African-American community, Kwanzaa is not just any “black holiday.” It is a recognition that knowledge of black history is worthwhile. Maulana Karenga, a no..

AfroPunk Johannesburg puts the city on the map of global black culture

First headlining act Solange canceled her performance, inciting a social-media backlash. Then summer rain muddied the day and sent festivalgoers rushing for shelter. Yet AfroPunk Johannesburg pressed on, proving that it was more than a concert and now something closer to a movement, determined to include its new African followers. Over Dec. 30-31, AfroPunk’s inaugural festival in Johannesburg celebrated alternative Africa—and introduced the city to a global black culture. New fans. (EPA-EFE/Cornell Tukiri)Johannesburg is the fifth city to host AfroPunk, after Paris, London, Atlanta and its home base of New York. It was the first time the festival came to Africa, where a nascent alternative culture has created a digital community easily recognizable by an embrace of a form of Afro-Futurism. “The move to Johannesburg is a natural fit in line with AfroPunk’s desire to make connections throughout the diaspora, creating bonds between those with a shared mindset,” organizers said in a statem..

Blue Devil of the Week: Nurturing a Culture of Collaboration

Name: Ed Balleisen Title: Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies, Professor of History and Public Policy Years at Duke: 21 What he does: While a focus on interdisciplinary studies has been a part of Duke’s strategic direction for a few decades, Balleisen stresses the impulse to span areas of study in search of answers to complex questions is something that occurs organically at Duke. Go in any school or department, he says, and you’ll find teachers and students whose curiosity and focus on big problems often leads them beyond the boundaries of their particular field, and often into intellectual partnerships with others from other disciplines. It’s Balleisen’s job to nurture that part of campus culture. As the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies, a position he’s held since 2015, he’s helped guide the campus entities that have drawn on expertise from multiple schools and overseen the growth of the Bass Connections program, which teams students with faculty to pursue interdisci..

Textiles made for Africa

Udwebo leather bag. Picture: Supplied.Made for Africa, Egoli Textiles manufactures high-quality proudly South African textile designs, contemporary apparel, printed T-shirts and accessories inspired by traditional African textile techniques. Founded by Sinoneliso (Sino) Xaba, who has a qualification in textile design and printing, Egoli Textiles has been in the business for five years. Prior to opening her own African fashion studio, Xaba started by selling her textile fabrics, African fashion and accessories through flea markets, trade shows and exhibitions, locally and in Europe. Egoli textiles kimono. Picture: Supplied. She has since created a brand that is focused on sustainable fashion, ethical business practices and is conscious of skills development and training. Adding value to customers, being environmentally conscious and giving back to the youth through skills training is important for Egoli Textile Designs. “Everything we do at Egoli Textiles is to ensure that as a busines..

Poet And Activist Keorapetse Kgositsile, Who Celebrated Black Arts, Dead At 79

Activist and poet Keorapetse Kgositsile, also known as Bra Willie, died at the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Wednesday. He was 79. Kgositsile was battling a short illness at the hospital, South African outlet News24 reports. Family spokesperson Terry Fowler told the news site that Kgositsile had undergone surgery after suffering from circulatory problems. It is with great sadness that we have learnt of Prof. Keorapetse Kgositsile's passing. He was with us just the other day at Abantu Book Festival & his event -which was his last ever- was one of those the audience wished would never end. RIP National Poet Laureate. #NoSerenityHerepic.twitter.com/nGNCt4v3Yu — Abantu Book Festival (@Abantu_) January 3, 2018South African President Jacob Zuma honored the poet in a statement, per Times Live. “Today our country mourns the sad passing of one of the giants of our liberation struggle who was renowned for his accomplishment as well in the education‚ arts and culture se..

A new momentum in protecting Malian cultural heritage

Since October 2013, UNESCO has trained 4000 military workforces deployed in Mali. In 2016 and for the first time since the 2012 crisis, this awareness-raising activity expanded to the Malian armed forces and security forces to discuss and promote their role in the protection of cultural heritage and the integration of this issue in national intervention protocols and military strategies. To insure the sustainability of previous capacity building actions, UNESCO national office in Mali, organized a training workshop in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and MINUSMA on 25-27 October 2017 at à l’Ecole de Maintien de la Paix in Bamako. In addition to developing new modules, the training will expand to national security forces. The need to train and inform them remains a priority in order to protect cultural heritage from destruction, illicit excavation, looting but also smuggling during armed conflict. Thanks to the Government of Switzerland, which supports the implementation of th..

Travelogue: What to expect when moving from South Africa to London

Image Credits: Canva.com In October 2016, I moved from sunny South Africa to the wonderful winter that only the United Kingdom can be well known for! I joined my wonderful boyfriend (FYI – he is from SA too!) and adjusted to the change – and have never looked back! The next points will only be based on my experience in the UK thus far (for now!). The Cold Climate MythDon’t get me wrong, the blazing hot sun and warm temperatures certainly do wonders for a person! But, if your biggest concern that you have when emigrating is the weather, I am sure you can find an article about emigrating to the Bahamas in the summer somewhere on the web! Yes, it rains. Yes, it is overcast a lot of the time and yes, the temperature drops are quite drastic – but (and this is a big BUT) – Don’t be fooled by the image portrayed of the UK weather that you see on TV and in films. With that being said, the weather is easy to adapt to. The buildings are designed with insulation and almost everywhere you go ther..

Bengaluru's window to Africa

Over a dozen young African girls, flaunted their beauty and talent in the Miss Africa Bangalore beauty contest which was held in Banaswadi recently. Organised by One Team Africa, an organisation that aims to bring all Africans in Bengaluru together, the contest is the first of its kind in the city. Contestants, who were mostly students, walked the ramp with different attires including traditional wear, which showed the diversity of the African continent. Speaking about the objective behind this initiative, Deborah Mbathe, one of the organisers said, "Africa is mistaken to be a country. Seldom do people understand the fact that it is a continent with about 54 countries. Africans in Bangalore are from different nations with different traditions and culture. Hence, this is an effort to provide them an opportunity to get together, showcase their talents and represent their countries as well." Eleven contestants qualified for the final round after a number of challenges. The first one was c..

3 Hairstylists On Braids, Cultural Appropriation and Media's Erasure of Black Women

"When other cultures are respected and acknowledged for their traditions and we aren't, it becomes a deeper issue that needs to be spoken about."Bantu knots. Cornrows. Box braids. Whatever you've known them as, the vast family of braided hairstyles has been around far longer than beauty trends, hashtags and Kardashians. For some of us, braids bring back nostalgic memories of intimacy, family and self-identity through artistic expression. However, over the past few years, traditionally Black, braided hairstyles — specifically on other races — have hit a mainstream nerve, evoking an uncomfortable, ever-present question for those both within and outside the African Diaspora: Is this cultural appropriation? While the conversation isn't an easy one to have, it is necessary given the media's all-too-often problematic regard for (or neglect of) Black hair. "Braids started in Africa and can be traced back to Egypt as far as 3500 BC. Braiding is also a way to maintain our h..

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