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IDN-InDepthNews

 

EURASIA Focus

   

 

Acronym of the Year

   

UN INSIDER

Photo: Belkis Ayon, La consagracion II (The Consecration II), 1991, collograph. Collection of the Belkis Ayon Estate.

By A.D. McKenzie

LOS ANGELES | PARIS - When Cuban artist Belkis Ayón died in 1999, she was only 32 years old, but she left behind a body of work that belied her age, comprising huge and striking prints that had already received international critical acclaim.

Now, for the first time, a museum in the United States is hosting a solo retrospective of her work, with a view to making the public more aware of this singular artist who reflected Afro-Cuban traditions, the history of contemporary printmaking and the challenges that her country faced in the 1990s.

Photo: Nigerian-born, London-based writer Ben Okri will be one of the speakers at the Manchester Literature Festival

By A.D. McKenzie

PARIS – While many literature festivals have become predictable in their line-up of bestselling authors, some innovative events have added a social-issues factor to their sessions, raising awareness about everything from climate change to the need for more diversity in publishing.

The Manchester Literature Festival (MLF), taking place October 7-23 in northern England and celebrating its 11th anniversary, is one such event. This regional gathering of authors and book-lovers has increased its focus on global concerns since 2006, and its programme this year includes topics such as immigration, mental health and the urban experience.

Photo: James Baldwin taken Hyde Park, London by Allen Waren on 1 January 1969. Source; Wikimedia Commons

By A.D. McKenzie

PARIS – He wrote fiery novels and essays that decried injustice and racism, and now nearly 30 years after his death, Paris is hosting a conference dedicated to the “expatriate” African-American writer James Baldwin.

The May 26-28 event, titled “A Language to Dwell In”: James Baldwin, Paris, and International Visions, has attracted some 230 scholars and artists, who will examine Baldwin’s legacy and global impact.

“The most important thing for us is that this is about James Baldwin – about his life, his work and his impact on readers around the world,” says Alice Mikal Craven, a professor at the American University of Paris (AUP) and co-organiser of the conference with her colleague William Dow.

Papa Wemba, photographed in 2009. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

NEW YORK (IDN | GIN) – To some, he was the King of Congolese rumba – a sound that layered luscious Cuban rumba with African instruments and beats.

Papa Wemba, or Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, was rebellious, prolific, a style icon, at times notorious and always innovative.

“The world of popular music has lost a giant—a consummate musician, a shape-shifter who challenged norms and rewrote the rules of his nation’s music repeatedly over four decades, who spearheaded a fashion movement, and now has left us suddenly and far too young,” wrote ethnomusicologist Banning Eyre on the website Afropop.

African Poetry Prize

NEW YORK (IDN | GIN) – Beyonce’s pick for lyrics setting off her latest production, LEMONADE, was Warsan Shire, a poet of Somali-British parentage.

A 27-year-old born in Kenya to Somali parents, who published her first pamphlet Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth in 2011, Shire went on to win the inaugural Brunel University African Poetry Prize in 2013.

“I tried to change/Closed my mouth more/Tried to be softer, prettier – less awake” – uttered as Beyoncé spins under water, her eyes open as if in a trance – is adapted from “For Women Who Are Difficult To Love.”

Photo: Oumar Ly poses with his first camera at Fes­ti­val mon­dial des Arts Nègres held in Dakar, Senegal from 10-31 December 2010. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

NEW YORK (IDN | GIN) – The vast archives of two remarkable photographers from West Africa who passed this year will ensure that authentic images of African life will be their legacy to future generations. The images radically depart from the clichés of colonialism.

Malick Sidibé, whose pictures of Mali’s youth conveyed the high-spirited feeling of a country that has just gained its independence, passed away at 80 years of age. His black-and-white pictures influenced many of his contemporaries in Africa and beyond. Sidibé died of complications of diabetes, according to Associated Press reports.

Mali’s culture minister N’Diaye Ramatoulaye Diallo, expressed the nation’s grief. “It’s a great loss for Mali. He was part of our cultural heritage,” he told The Guardian. “The whole of Mali is in mourning.”

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