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Jodi introduced the team to Songhoy Blues earlier this week and we have been listening non-stop all week.
3rd December 2017

GOOD news #41: Africa

– words by Amy 

From bamboo bicycles to Ghanaian educators, we’re kicking off a new series of themed GOOD Lists this week by taking the vast and varied continent of Africa as our inspiration, an idea kindled by Sabine’s recent journey to Tanzania with the charity Standing Voice.

Travel with us from the art-filled railway sheds of Lagos to meet amputees at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro; be dazzled by the dynamic photography of Hassan Hajjaj and dance with abandon to the jangling funk of Songhoy Blues. We wrap up this week’s list with one BIG question facing our beloved cultural institutions in the UK. Read on and discover, it’s the GOOD List.

Jodi’s GOOD News

My GOOD news this week comes via one of my favourite bands, Songhoy Blues. Songhoy Blues is a desert blues music group from Timbuktu, Mali. The band was formed in Bamako after they were forced to leave their homes during the Northern Malian civil conflict and imposition of Sharia law. I saw them perform live back in 2015 at Green Man Festival and they were incredible. It was just after they released their first album Music in Exile and every single person in the space was dancing. | Songhoy Blues’ new album Résistance is out now, you can buy it from their website.

Music in Exile. Debut album from Songhoy Blues.

Kevin’s GOOD News

My GOOD News this week comes from Lagos, Nigeria, where the city hosted its first ever art biennale this month, titled, Living on the Edge. Curated by Folakunle Oshun, artists and squatters worked together to transform an old railway shed into the site of the exhibition, to mirror the ever-growing gentrification of the city. | Read more about the inaugural Lagos Biennial.
Folakunle Oshun, the artistic director of the biennial. Photograph by Tom Saater for the Guardian.

Jess’ GOOD News

My good news comes from Zetteler friend, Kettie Mangena, who shared this film with the team last week. Ghana Bamboo Bikes is a community initiative that was developed by Bernice Dapaah. Her goal was to create a sustainable product, made from local, recyclable material that also tackles social issues in Kumasi, Ghana, where she lives. Her solution is a bicycle made of bamboo. For every bamboo plant they use, they plant 10 more, and to date, have created employment opportunities for 35 skilled and unskilled youth and women (25 bike builders and 10 farmers).

'Lying at the core of our working philosophy are the elements of transparency, teamwork and integrity which are woven into every fabric of our integrated operations. We are committed to turning dormant talents into useful assets, empowering the underserved toward positive optimism and stand at the vanguard of job creation.' | Find out more about Ghana Bamboo Bikes here.

Jess’ GOOD News

Katie’s GOOD News

Photographer Myles Loftin has used his visual talents to respond to the way that African-American men are perceived. Inspired by the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, Hooded is a multimedia project that attempts to humanise and decriminalise the social image of young black men, specifically those in hoods. Loftin photographs young men in neon hoodies in front of colourful backgrounds to question the negative association and replace it with a positive one. Of course, young men shouldn’t have to change the colour of their clothing to be viewed in a positive light, but through his beautiful imagery, Loftin is challenging the perception and starting a much needed, and avoided, conversation. | Watch Loftin talk eloquently about his work here.

Myles Loftin, Hooded

Amy’s GOOD News

I’m heading to Somerset House this week to catch the Hassan Hajjaj exhibition, La Caravane. The Moroccan photographer has blown up of late, for good reason. The colour and attitude and joy of his images reflect his nomadic lifestyle, travelling between Morocco and the UK since the age of 11. Check out the exhibition before January 7th - and while we’re on the subject of Africa, I subscribe to the Quartz Africa newsletter, it’s a pretty great round-up of news from the continent for those with an interest. | Subscribe to Quartz Africa here and find details of the Hassan Hajjaj exhibition here.
Joe Casely-Hayford 2012, Hassan Hajjaj

Dorothy’s GOOD News

One of my favourite people ever is doing incredible work with Teach for Ghana, the Ghanaian version of Teach First. They recruit highly motivated recent university graduates to teach in Ghana’s underserved communities, through a highly selective, two-year fellowship. My friend is there training the teachers in the rural region of the Volta, as well as working with the team who are based in Accra. She's really enjoying the work and noticing the impact the teachers are making to the communities they're working in. | You can read more about what Teach for Ghana do here.

India’s Good News

Mona Patel has led a group of eight amputees to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro! In her youth Patel was hit by a drunk driver and lost her leg, which prompted her to set up the San Antonio Amputee Foundation, a rehabilitation organisation for amputees. Now she’s climbed the highest free-standing mountain in the world, along with a diverse group of 8 others, in an incredible achievement. | Find out more about SAAF, the Kilimanjaro trip and how you can help fund their documentary on the expedition here.

Cloud Walkers Documentary Sizzle

Sabine’s GOOD News

My good news this week comes in the form of an issue which I've long grappled with. As a teenager I was proud of the brilliance of the British Museum and of the quality and global diversity of the artistic artefacts in the UK, until a friend pointed out that essentially, these exceptional cultural venues of ours are filled with historical items stolen or looted from all of the nations (a LOT of them) which we invaded and colonised. It's an uncomfortable notion - that we went about the earth taking what we pleased and now we present these collections as though they are great British history.

This week I felt the same pang of questioning arise as Emmanuel Macron visited West Africa and announced his intention that France should take stock of their historical pillaging and potentially give back the artistic works they have held in their possession for, in some cases, centuries. What a debate this will spark. I have no answers as to the long tail result of this discussion. The possibilities are endless and could have both positive and negative consequences. But the debate about the acknowledgement of how we obtained these pieces and what we're still doing with them is a welcome and necessary one as far as I'm concerned. If we acknowledge this, what else do we acknowledge? Do we apologise? What for? Let's go… | Read about Macron’s visit to West Africa and his call for the repatriation of indigenous artifacts here.

French president Emmanuel Macron in Burkina Faso on 29 November 2017. Photography by Ludovic Marin for Getty Images.
Emily's GOOD News

My news this week is photography series, by Afrofuturist Osborne Macharia, MagadiOsborne Macharia, based in Nairobi, takes the viewer on a fantastical journey and tells a story about of a group of former female circumcisers living in the salt plains of Lake Magadi who abandoned their former practice and took up fashion as an alternative livelihood.  

The official music video for ATIE, by Nairobi-based alternative music maker Blinky Bill's new song also features the Magadi characters.
Magadi series by Afrofuturist Osborne Macharia
We’re trialling themed GOOD List’s from now on, with ‘Social Good’ being the next topic up for the Zetteler hive mind. Got some suggestions? Think you’ve got a better story from Africa? Tweet us at @_zetteler_ and keep the conversation going.
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