Links this week: ArtThrob, Togo protests, Zimbabwe cybersecurity, and more

Mary Sibande’s “In the midst of chaos, there is opportunity”, on display at the Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town. (ArtThrob)

In this week’s conversation with Amy Halliday, Amy mentioned a few contemporary art resources of potential interest to our followers:

  • ArtThrob is “South Africa’s leading contemporary visual arts publication.” It is because of ArtThrob’s generous Creative Commons license that this week’s blog post features the work of Mary Sibande (@marysibande), who will receive Smithsonian African Artist award in Washington D.C. this Friday.
  • Contemporary And (@ContemporaryAnd) is “a dynamic space for the reflection on and linking together of ideas, discourse and information on contemporary art practice from diverse African perspectives.” It was through the Contemporary And web site that I learned about the currently ongoing 5th Biennale de Lubumbashi (@Biennaledelshi) in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo (Oct. 7-Nov. 12, 2017).
  • Another great resource Amy mentioned was one of our favorite blogs covering politics, life, and culture: Africa is a Country (@africasacountry). Even if you miss their regular coverage, there’s a great “Weekend Special” series curated by Anankwa Dwamena (@Kwatrekwa) that catches you up every week.

Some other mentions and shoutouts from Amy during our conversation include: the new Zeitz MOCAA museum in Cape Town, South Africa, award-winning South African photographer and visual activist Zanele Muholi (@MuholiZanele), and Dak’Art, Bienniale De L’Art Africain Contemporain (@Dak_Artbiennale), held in Dakar, Senegal (the 13th edition will be held in May-June 2018).

For book recommendations, Amy pointed us all to Who’s afraid of contemporary art? by Jessica Cerasi and Kyung An and for at least the third time, we’ve got a recommendation to read Nnedi Okorafor (@Nnedi). If you’re not already reading her Binti series, get on it so you can be ready for the third installment in the Binti trilogy, Binti: The Night Masquerade, due out January 16, 2018.

ICYMI, listen to my chat with Amy here (starting at 2:34). In addition to teaching all of us about contemporary [African] art, she also shares her insights on the newly opened exhibition at UMCA, “5 Takes on African Art.”  Stay tuned for a future episode featuring a conversation with one of the curators, Kiara Hill.

Here’s the news roundup you heard in this week’s episode, as well as a few BONUS links:

  • There are protests in Togo, ongoing since August, calling for an end to dynastic rule. President Faure Gnassingbé is currently serving his third term in office after being reelected in 2015. His tenure immediately follows that of his father, Gnassingbé Eyadema. Together the two have ruled Togo for the last half century.
  • Also in The Monkey Cage, Chipo Dendere and I wrote a post on Friday about Zimbabwe’s new ministry of “Cyber Security, Threat Detection and Mitigation.” The government claims the ministry was created because of growing abuse of social media, including cyberbullying. But citizens and civil society organizations argue the real reason is to clamp down on social media users who criticize the government as the country’s economic instability grows. BONUS: See the Afrobarometer report by Stephen Ndoma on how most Zimbabwean citizens prioritize freedom over security when it comes to private communications.
  • There was an interesting piece by Charles Onyango-Obbo in Kenya’s Daily Nation this week on 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. It was the first time I learned that Maathai had made it her personal mission to reduce the font size and page margins in Kenyan government documents as a way to conserve resources, not just the costs of printing long government reports but also the paper and the trees cut down in the production of them.
  • I feel very lucky to have attended the sold-out screening of N.G.O. (Nothing Going On) at Congo In Harlem this weekend. Congolese filmmaker Arnold Aganze spoke with the audience afterward and I was particularly struck by his quote that “Colonialism was easier to fight than humanitarianism” — a riff on what he shared with an LSE blogger reviewing his film. N.G.O. is a great film and I think a powerful medium to teach about humanitarianism. It offers more than a realist depiction that one can get out of the academic articles already written on the topic and I attribute that to the sharp wit and humor of Aganze’s film. The film is available to screen by contacting Aganze. Here is the film’s trailer:

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