Tag: South Africa

NBA Players Bring Joy of Reading and Freedom of Play to At-Risk Children in South Africa

NBA players interact with the children during the NBA Cares Court Dedication as part of the Basketball Without Boarders program on July 31, 2015 at the SOS Children's Village in Ennerdale, South Africa. (Getty Images)
NBA players interact with the children during the NBA Cares Court Dedication as part of the Basketball Without Boarders program on July 31, 2015 at the SOS Children’s Village in Ennerdale, South Africa. (Getty Images)

Last Friday, National Basketball Association players, legends and executives visited the Ennerdale location of SOS Children’s Villages (SOS), an organization that builds stable, loving families for orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children, as part of their ongoing commitment to support and strengthen communities in need.  This is the third consecutive year the NBA family has visited SOS, one of three organizations set to benefit from the first NBA Africa Game that took place this past weekend in Johannesburg, South Africa.

In celebration of the 13th annual Basketball without Borders (BWB) Africa and the NBA Africa Game, NBA players participated in a number of activities with local children, including playing soccer, drawing and dancing. The NBA family also took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate a renovated local library and new basketball court made possible by NBA Cares and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) Foundation.

“I think the most important thing is to give children an opportunity play, an opportunity to get an education, an opportunity for a better future. And I think this is a wonderful place for you kids to accomplish that,” said Pau Gasol of the Chicago Bulls to the children present at the event.

Present at the event were NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers), Luol Deng (Miami Heat), Pau Gasol (Chicago Bulls), Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzles) and other NBA players, coaches and executives.

 “Children don’t forget. Many of the youth we work with have been through trying and traumatic circumstances before finding their way to SOS,” said Siphiwe Maphanga, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages South Africa. “We are incredibly thankful for the NBA family’s unwavering commitment to support Ennerdale’s most vulnerable children. They are playing a pivotal role in the development of children who desperately need their support.”

For over 30 years, SOS Children’s Villages South Africa has supported children, families and communities through its family support and care programs, medical centers, and schools. The Ennerdale village, located south of Johannesburg, provides children the love and long-term support they need to shape their own futures. Since 2013, NBA players have visited this village as part of BWB Africa’s efforts to encourage positive social change throughout the African continent.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

It’s Official: Trevor Noah Will Succeed Jon Stewart as Host of Comedy Central’s “Daily Show”

Daily Show Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah, a South African comedian with a low profile in the United States, will inherit one of the most-watched pulpits in latenight TV: Jon Stewart’s desk on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show.”

The Viacom-owned outlet said the comic’s debut as host would be announced at a later date.

In choosing Noah, a 31-year-old of mixed-race parentage, Comedy Central is banking that following a tried-and-true formula will keep the program that is arguably the linchpin of its schedule top of mind among its core audience of young male viewers. Twice now, executives at the network have identified an up-and-coming talent, and we’re rewarded on both occasions with a higher profile for the show. Noah will be only the third host of the program, following an early stint by Craig Kilborn and Stewart’s well-chronicled reign.

Noah has “such a unique and powerful voice,” said Michele Ganeless, Comedy Central’s president, in an interview Monday morning. Executives feel he is “a gifted comedian and storyteller,” she added. “He was not a new face to us, but he will be to a lot of people.” Stewart himself was involved as an “adviser” in the selection process, she said.

Noah has the kind of experience that would seem to be de rigueur for a host of “The Daily Show,” which, under Stewart has not only made fun of headlines of the day, but also of the news outlets that deliver them. Noah has hosted numerous television shows, including his own latenight talk show in his native country, “Tonight With Trevor Noah.” And he is no stranger to analyzing controversial topics. Born in South African to a black South African mother and a white Swiss father, he once told an audience, “I was born a crime,” according to a 2013 report in the Wall Street Journal.

With that sort of willingness to discuss sensitive topics head-on, Noah would appear to fit the bill being written under Kent Alterman, the network’s president of original programming. In the recent past, Comedy Central has sought people able to articulate a unique world view. The network has found success with programs featuring comedienne Amy Schumer as well as Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, a duo who star in the program “Broad City.”

Continue reading “It’s Official: Trevor Noah Will Succeed Jon Stewart as Host of Comedy Central’s “Daily Show””

Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson Design Teddy Bears to Raise Money for Operation Bobbi Bear

Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson Design Teddy Bears for Operation Bobbi Bear

Alicia KeysJanet Jackson, and a whole list of celebrities have partnered up to participate in Operation Bobbi Bear, an organization that helps sexually abused children in South Africa. They have each designed a unique stuffed bear, courtesy of Build-A-Bear, that will be auctioned off Dec. 8 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Sotheby’s New York.

The Life Ball Charity has teamed up with “Arms Around the Children” for this special benefit, with funds going towards Operation Bobbi Brown. By providing aid to sexually abused children in Africa, they are hoping to minimize the risk of HIV/AIDS infections in youth.

Bruno Mars, Bill ClintonEva Longoria and designers like Karl LagerfeldVersaceRoberto Cavalli and Vivienne Westwood are also among those who’ve created their own special bear for the cause. If you can’t attend the auction, you can see and bid on the bears online at bobbibearauction.com.

article by Dorkys Ramos via bet.com

Chadwick Boseman to Star in Thriller “Message From the King”

Chadwick Boseman

Before he suits up to play Marvel’s Black PantherChadwick Boseman will star as a man seeking vengeance in the Ink Factory and EOne thriller “Message From the King.”

Fabrice Du Welz is set to direct from a script by Stephen Cornwell and Oliver Butcher. The movie follows a man from South Africa who comes to Los Angeles to avenge the death of his sister.

Boseman’s star has been on a fast rise after he logged starring roles in the Jackie Robinson biopic “42” and played music legend James Brown this year in “Get On Up.” His lead role in Marvel’s upcoming “Black Panther” will further boost his profile.  Boseman will next be seen in “Gods of Egypt.”

article by Justin Kroll via Variety.com

OPERA: South African Isango Ensemble Reimagines Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” at New Victory Theater

Pauline Malefane, foreground, of the Isango Ensemble in a reimagining of Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute” at the New Victory Theater. (EMON HASSAN FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Less glockenspiel, more drumming! A very different sort of “The Magic Flute” took the stage at the New Victory Theater on Sunday afternoon in front of an attentive and appreciative family audience. This two-hour adaptation of Mozart’s fairy tale opera was presented under the Xhosa title “Impempe Yomlingo” by the South African Isango Ensemble, a company that recruits performers from townships in the Cape Town area and presents classics from the Western canon in an updated, African context.

But perhaps “updated” isn’t quite the right word: In the program notes, the show’s director, Mark Dornford-May, relates a myth from the Tsonga tradition about the andlati birds that live high in the mountains and cause terrifying storms and lightning. Only a hero brave enough to seek them out with a magic flute can appease them and avert destruction.

“The story may never have reached Mozart, but the similarities are fascinating nonetheless,” Mr. Dornford-May writes. “Who knows? Maybe one of the greatest pieces of European opera had its roots and inspiration in a South African folk tale.”

Certainly, few productions can match the colorful exuberance and pulsating energy of this “Flute,” or field as versatile a cast as this, in which every member sings, dances and drums. The bare set evokes a township square. The traditional orchestra is replaced by eight marimbas, supplemented by an array of percussion, including djembes, oil barrels, hand clapping and — standing in for Papageno’s glockenspiel — suspended water bottles of graduated pitches. Tamino’s flute is a trumpet, played with jazzy vigor by Mandisi Dyantyis, the ensemble’s co-music director and conductor.

The vocal performances were a testament to South Africa’s deep pool of singing talent. The notes were all there — Pauline Malefane courageously scaled the heights of the Queen of the Night’s arias; Mhlekazi Mosiea was a dignified Tamino; Ayanda Eleki, a proud, patriarchal Sarastro — even if there were times when they audibly strained the limits of the singers’ technique. But the cast offered portrayals with ample personality and charisma, among them Zolina Ngejane’s superfeisty Pamina and Zamile Gantana’s bon-vivant Papageno.

But this African “Flute” is, above all, a story of community, and the music, too, is at its most convincing where it draws on South Africa’s glorious choral tradition. If that means taking liberties with Mozart’s score, fine: Tamino’s taming of Monostatos and his posse of slaves suffers no injury by the infusion of a bit of calypso rhythm. The celebrations that greet Sarastro’s first appearance — complete with ululating women — are a jubilant riot.

The communal aspect also raises the stakes for the lovers’ trials, which are presented as a series of tribal initiation rites, with Tamino’s face painted white, like that of a tribal youngster embarking on a circumcision ritual. In traditional productions, this is often the part of the opera where the tension slackens, but in this post-apartheid setting, the young people’s quest for dignity, wisdom and reconciliation is shown to be of vital importance to everyone.

The Black Victorians: Astonishing Portraits Unseen for 120 Years on Exhibit in London Through November

Member of the African choir
Discovered … Member of the African Choir, London Stereoscopic Company, 1891. (Photograph: Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The African Choir were a group of young South African singers that toured Britain between 1891 and 1893. They were formed to raise funds for a Christian school in their home country and performed for Queen Victoria at Osborne House, a royal residence on the Isle of Wight. At some point during their stay, they visited the studio of the London Stereoscopic Company to have group and individual portraits made on plate-glass negatives. That long-lost series of photographs, unseen for 120 years, is the dramatic centrepiece of an illuminating new exhibition called Black Chronicles II.

“The portraits were last shown in the London Illustrated News in 1891,” says Renée Mussai, who has co-curated the show at London’s Rivington Place alongside Mark Sealy MBE, director of Autograph ABP, a foundation that focuses on black cultural identity often through the use of overlooked archives. “The Hulton Archive, where they came from, did not even know they existed until we uncovered them while excavating their archive as part of my PhD project.”

The London Stereoscopic Company specialised in carte de visites – small photographs printed on cards that were often traded by collectors or used by performers for publicity purposes – and, as their name suggests, they were all in stereo which, when seen through a special viewer, gave the illusion of a three-dimensional photograph.

The enlarged portraits of the African Choir, which line one wall of the exhibition, were made by Mike Spry, a specialist in printing from glass plates who was coaxed out of retirement to undertake the meticulous process in his garden shed. They are arresting both for the style and assurance of the sitters – some of the women look like they could be modelling for Vogue – and for the way they challenge the received narrative of the history of black people in Britain.

“Black Chronicles II is part of a wider ongoing project called The Missing Chapter,” says Mussai, “which uses the history of photography to illuminate the missing chapters in British history and culture, especially black history and culture. There is a widespread misconception that black experience in Britain begins with the arrival of the Empire Windrush and the first Jamaican immigrants in 1948, but, as this exhibition shows, there is an incredible archive of images of black people in Britain that goes right back to the invention of photography in the 1830s.”

Near the African choir shots, there is an equally striking portrait of Major Musa Bhai, a Ceylon-born Muslim who was converted to Christianity in colonial India. He accompanied the family of William Booth, founder of theSalvation Army, to England in 1888 as a high-profile advocate for the organisation. As Mussai notes, there “are several intertwining narratives – colonial, cultural and personal – embedded in these images, but what is often startling is how confident and self-contained many of the sitters are as they occupy the frame.”

Sara Forbes Bonetta. Brighton, 1862.
Sara Forbes Bonetta. Brighton, 1862. (Photograph: Courtesy of Paul Frecker collection/The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography)

Black Chronicles II is punctuated by several such surprising shots, some of well-known people but many of ordinary individuals caught up in the indiscriminate sweep of colonial and postcolonial history. Among the former is Sara Forbes Bonetta, perhaps the most celebrated black British Victorian, who was photographed by two pre-eminent portrait photographers, Camilla Silvy and Julia Margaret Cameron.

Captured aged five by slave raiders in west Africa, Forbes Bonetta was rescued by Captain Frederick E Forbes, then presented as a “gift” to Queen Victoria. Forbes, who rechristened the child after his ship, the Bonetta, later wrote of the proud moment when he realised that Forbes Bonetta “would be a present from the King of the Blacks to the Queen of the Whites.”

More haunting is the portrait of Dejazmatch Alamayou Tewodros, an Ethiopian prince who was orphaned at the age of seven, when his father died rather than surrender to the British troops that had surrounded his castle in what was then Abyssinia. Alamayou was brought to England by Sir Robert Napier and adopted by the intriguingly named explorer Captain Tristram Speedy. Alamayou died in England of pleurisy in 1879.

Continue reading “The Black Victorians: Astonishing Portraits Unseen for 120 Years on Exhibit in London Through November”

President Obama To Rename Africa Program For Nelson Mandela


WASHINGTON (AP) — A program designed to foster a new generation of young African leaders will be renamed after former South African President Nelson Mandela.

President Barack Obama, who has said he was one of the untold millions of people around the world who were inspired by Mandela’s life, is set to announce the name change at a town hall-style event Monday in Washington with several hundred young leaders from across sub-Saharan Africa.

The youngsters are participating in the inaugural Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, part of the broader Young African Leaders Initiative that Obama launched in 2010 to support a new generation of leadership there. The fellowship is being renamed as a tribute to Mandela, who died last December at age 95.

Obama announced the fellowship during a stop in South Africa last summer. It connects young African leaders to leadership training opportunities at top U.S. universities.

In remarks at Monday’s event, Obama also was announcing new public-private partnerships to create more programs for young African leaders, including four regional leadership centers across Africa, online classes and other resources, the White House said.

Mandela spent 27 years in jail under apartheid, South Africa’s former system of white minority rule, before eventually leading his country through a difficult transition to democracy. In 1994, he became the first democratically elected leader of a post-apartheid South Africa.

This week’s events with the next generation of young African leaders are a lead-in to the inaugural U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, being held Aug. 4-6 in Washington. About 50 African leaders are expected to attend what the White House says will be the largest gathering any U.S. president has held with African heads of state and government.

article by Associated Press via newsone.com

Rally in Times Square Tomorrow To Honor Nelson Mandela Day and Fight Extreme Poverty

46664 Concert: In Celebration Of Nelson Mandela's Life - Performance
Nelson Mandela (Photo: Getty Images)

Friday is Nelson Mandela Day, a day to celebrate the great humanitarian and former president of South Africa. And if you’re in the area, you totally ought to stop by Times Square in New York City and get in on the activist action taking place!

That’s because Global Citizen, Nelson Mandela’s grandson Kweku Mandela and tons of activists will be there to help put an end to extreme poverty. The get-together starts at 4, and at 4:15 they’ll start playing footage of Mandela on the giant billboards. You’ll also be able to watch the “Zero Poverty 2030” movie and you might even get a photo with Kweku Mandela. Plus, if you attend and are able to get 10 people to sign the Zero Poverty 2030 petition, you’ll receive 8 points on Global Citizen, which could help you get to the Global Citizen Festival this fall.

If you don’t live nearby or can’t make it for any other reasons, there are still ways you can take part. You could share a special #DayofAction video on Facebook (which, again, could help you get tickets to the Global Citizen Festival). You can also share on Twitter to help raise awareness.

What Global Citizen is doing on Nelson Mandela Day is a part of something bigger. They’re serious about ending extreme poverty by 2030, and we can all join in and help them. And creating a world without extreme poverty would be a great way to honor Nelson Mandela and continue his humanitarian mission. After all, Mandela himself said, “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”

article by Danica Davidson via act.mtv.com

Rwanda Makes Great Progress in Economic Growth, Life Expectancy 20 Years After Genocide

A young woman stands in a "reconciliation village" in Mybo, Rwanda. In these villages, many who killed their neighbors in the 1994 genocide now live side by side with relatives of the dead. (Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images / April 6, 2014)
A young woman stands in a “reconciliation village” in Mybo, Rwanda. In these villages, many who killed their neighbors in the 1994 genocide now live side by side with relatives of the dead. (Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images / April 6, 2014)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — In scattered villages on steep green hillsides, many who killed their neighbors in Rwanda’s genocide 20 years ago now live side by side with relatives of the dead.

Speech that creates ethnic divisions has been outlawed. Local tribunals called gacaca courts have allowed many offenders to be released from prison in return for confessions and expressions of remorse. And a generation of young people who grew up after the mass killings embody the hope of a new breed of Rwandans who identify not by ethnicity but by nationality.

Rwanda has made stunning progress since what was one of the 20th century’s greatest tragedies, when more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by Hutu extremists. Life expectancy has doubled since 1994 to more than 60 years. Economic growth consistently reaches 8% annually. And the number of deaths of children under age 5 has plummeted in the last two decades from 230 per 1,000 to 55.

In the years since the hundred days of bloodletting, in which as many as a million people were killed, the small Central African country has wowed donors and investors, though lately human rights advocates have criticized President Paul Kagame for displaying an increasingly authoritarian approach.

Kagame says that improved education and an end to poverty are the most effective ways to prevent a return of violence. The government spends a quarter of its budget on health and 17% on education, according to the World Bank.  The positive news out of Rwanda stands in sharp contrast to the results of the West’s vows that “never again” would the world stand by as the massacres that occurred in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia in the mid-1990s unfolded.

In 2002, the Rome statute was established, setting up the International Criminal Court to prosecute individuals on charges including genocide and crimes against humanity. And in 2005, a summit of world leaders adopted the doctrine of the “responsibility to protect,” which obliged the international community to step in when civilians are under attack and their governments fail to protect them.

But unfolding tragedies underscore United Nations failures to protect vulnerable populations when wars break out.  In the Central African Republic, sectarian killings of Muslims have been taking place for months and a proposed U.N. force substantial enough to halt the slaughter has yet to be deployed, even as most of the Muslim population is driven out of the country and its mosques burned.

Elsewhere in Africa, international intervention has shown mixed success. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, to which the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide fled, U.N. peacekeepers have been criticized for failing to prevent attacks on civilians by armed groups, although last November — with a new mandate to use force — they helped Congolese army forces defeat the Rwandan-backed rebel group M23. In South Sudan, U.N. peacekeepers failed to prevent an estimated 10,000 ethnic killings last December, although the death toll may have been worse without the U.N. presence.

The Rwandan genocide was set off April 7, 1994, when a plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira, both Hutus, was shot down near the Kigali airport. The source of the attack is disputed, with Kagame’s government saying that Hutu extremists in Habyarimana’s military assassinated him as an excuse to exterminate Tutsis.

Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front had invaded northern Rwanda in 1990 from Uganda in a bid to oust the Habyarimana government, but after nearly three years of civil war, a peace deal known as the Arusha accords was signed, calling for a power-sharing arrangement that was to lead to elections.  The downing of the plane undermined the peace deal and triggered the mass killing of Tutsis and some Hutus by Hutu extremists. Some of the perpetrators were radio hosts, who used their programs to call Tutsis “cockroaches” that should be exterminated.

Neighbors killed neighbors. Entire families were wiped out. Some were killed in Roman Catholic churches where they had sought refuge and several Catholic nuns and priests have been convicted as perpetrators.  The United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, deployed to implement the Arusha peace deal, did nothing to halt the bloody rampage, blaming a restrictive mandate. Western powers failed to intervene. Then-President Clinton has since apologized, acknowledging last year that as many as 300,000 lives could have been saved had the U.S. acted.

After three months of fighting, Kagame’s forces reached the capital, Kigali, and drove the Rwandan army and government-backed militias from power.

The rebel movement Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, which includes some of the perpetrators of the genocide, continues to operate in eastern Congo, launching cross-border raids. But Rwanda has faced international criticism for its backing of M23 rebels, accused of using child soldiers and carrying out atrocities. Rwanda has denied the accusations, but the U.S. froze military aid to the country in 2012 over its support for the group.

Kagame speaks scathingly about the U.N. peacekeeping mission in eastern Congo, the largest in the world. “You have a [U.N. peacekeeping] mission in Congo spending $1.5 billion every year for the past 12 years,” he said in an interview last year. “Nobody ever asks, ‘What do we get out of this?'”

For Kagame, lectures about human rights abuses are the West’s way of trying to exert control in Africa.

“For the past century, including the last 50 years of independence, Africa lost immense opportunities largely due to unbalanced relationships within the global community that were often predatory and even abusive in nature,” he said in a 2012 speech marking Rwanda’s 50th anniversary of independence. “Today, new ways of perpetuating the old order have emerged in a subtle manner, often disguised as the defense of human rights, free speech and international justice.”

Kagame frequently exhorts his fellow citizens to work hard, remember the genocide, but to move forward. He extols the virtue of Rwandan democracy and self-reliance.

Rwanda is ranked by the World Bank as one of the easiest places to do business in Africa. Though the most densely populated country in Africa, the nation of 11 million is self-sufficient in staple crops, according to the World Food Program, and acute malnutrition among children ages 6 months to 5 years is 3.6%.

Monthly work details, in which all citizens are required to participate in Saturday cleanups, have something of a Soviet feel to them — but the country is as neat as a pin.

“We must work hard because if we wait for others to develop our country, we will not make progress,” Kagame said last month. “Any external help must only come as an addition to our own efforts to better ourselves.”

article by Robyn Dixon via latimes.com

25 Year-Old Contest Winner Mandla Maseko To Become First Black African In Space

Mandla Maseko

According to The GuardianMandla Maseko (pictured) from Mabopane township near Pretoria will be blasted 62 miles into orbit in 2015 after winning space academy competition. Born and raised in a township, Maseko, who is a DJ, has spent his life at the mercy of the heavens. “Once it rains, the lights go out,” the 25-year-old said. “I do know the life of a candle.” But from this humblest of launchpads, Maseko is poised to defy the laws of physical and political gravity by becoming the first black African in space.

The DJ is among 23 young people who saw off 1 million other entrants from around the world to emerge victorious in the Lynx Apollo Space Academy competition. Their prize is to be blasted 62 miles into orbit aboard a Lynx mark II shuttle in 2015. “It’s crazy,” said Maseko, the son of a toolmaker and cleaning supervisor. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I’m envious of myself. “I’m not trying to make this a race thing but us blacks grew up dreaming to a certain stage. You dreamed of being a policeman or a lawyer but you knew you won’t get as far as pilot or astronaut. Then I went to space camp and I thought, I can actually be an astronaut.”

He will be the second South African in space following Mark Shuttleworth, a white entrepreneur and philanthropist who bought a seat on a Russian Soyuz capsule for £12m and spent eight days on board the international space station in 2002.  Maseko’s father, who grew up in such poverty that he got his first pair of shoes when he was 16, was determined that his children would never go hungry. Maseko and his four younger siblings were brought up in a simple brick house with access to electricity and running water. “I don’t remember going to bed without having eaten,” he said. “My dad provided for us. He is my hero, and then Nelson Mandela comes after.”

Continue reading “25 Year-Old Contest Winner Mandla Maseko To Become First Black African In Space”

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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