It has become embedded in the Batswana people to name the offsprings and award names that reflect or depict the great work of God. Every Setswana name revolves around the deeds or aspirations and plans of the Almighty. When looking at the names (illustrated) you will learn that every one of the names reflects on the happiness, sadness and hope brought upon by God. Each name is a symbol to the parents of what they want to see from you or what your birth meant at that moment in time.

C,X,Q,V,J,Z (these alphabets do not exist in the Setswana vocabulary) U,H,Y( these alphabets do exist however we do not have names that begin with them).

Information provided by: Gaopalelwe Nke | Illustration Gifs by Thandiwe Tshabalala a.k.a CMYKaffir.

Writer Amira Ali Reviews Noaz Deshe’s ‘White Shadow’ and looks at the Representation of Africans in this Film.

Stories work with people, for people, and always stories work on people, affecting what people are able to see as real, as possible, and as worth doing or best avoided –Arthur Frank.

At the 57th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival, a group of us more inclined about the albino story attended the screening of White Shadow. A film by a Berlin-based Israeli director, Noaz Deshe; his debut, said to have been inspired by the ostracizing and albino killings prized by superstition in rural Tanzania.

The director was in Dar es Salaam on a film teaching assignment when he learned about Albino Witchcraft Murders, a Storyville documentary aired on BBC. The feature on “deep-rooted superstition, that leads to the belief that procuring the arm, legs, fingers, skin or hair of an albino person and brewing it into a potion will make them rich,” instantly appealed to the director leading to the production of a documentary-like with a fictional feature improvisation. It prompted the galvanization of a group of people who assisted in the production and quick research conducted in Berlin, with an urgency that resulted in an instant screenplay co-written with James Masson.

White Shadow is a story about Alias. The protagonist is an adolescent albino boy acted movingly and remarkably by an amateur, Hamisi Bazili. Alias, after witnessing the murder of his albino father by a group of men gets sent off by his mother from his rural home to find refuge in the city with her brother, Kosmos. Under his uncle’s care, a truck driver struggling to make ends meet, Alias quickly adapts to life in the city. Upon arrival, thrown into a culture of selling products on the streets of a big city, he discovers ways of earning a living in the urban milieu. In the city, wrestling with identity, hardship of a city life and the need for childhood comfort he often leaves the city to find ease with his albino community. Eventually realizing that the same rules of survival apply wherever he may be. 

A fiction film with a personal and impressionistic view of albinos in Tanzania, the story is premised around what the creator has gathered to be [his] objective verity. Dancing between fiction and non-fiction, the film is entrenched with graphic scenes of blood and gore presenting the African men as godless beasts; men in the lowest position humanely. Wrenched out by an aching and broken world, the scenes force an uncomfortable shifting in seat and shielding eyes from men mercilessly hacking a man’s body with a machete. A storyline that depicts forlorn humanity in rural Tanzania and extends the construct to implicate the city and a whole culture; bringing to the fore all the complexities with little nuances that give way to its understanding.

Most of the scenes are entrenched with adventures through a sinful city accompanied with images of a young generation inheriting the troubles and burdens of old tradition. Witchcraft and sorcery in the rural areas are put up against church priests. Much like when colonialism presented local beliefs as evil and uncouth, while religion emergent from the West is projected to save Africa from its sinful indigenous ways. Alongside is an episode of men and women in the city quarreling over the dead on whether to have a Muslim or Christian burial, the family obviously split between two religious practices. Thrown into the disarrayed event, to ensure a noisy and passionate farewell, is the hiring of a traditional mourner straight off the street.

A city projected to be at odds with itself, broken by perplexities, economics, sex and violence. And rural Tanzania framed as divided and shadowy while sorcery and the occult maintains a strong foothold. Underneath all the implications, while all scenarios lead to systemic injustice and economics – taking into account the witchdoctors, middlemen and the clients who pay for albino body parts– the story irresponsibly and insensitively places emphasis upon cultural and traditional aspects, with little to no historical and political context.

Fiction and Responsibility

It is said that the difference between truth and fiction is that fiction has to make sense. That fiction and non-fiction are only different techniques of storytelling. Further, I believe, fiction has the same social responsibility, duty of integrity and sensitivity that is expected from non-fiction.Thus, in narrating whole culture as disoriented and iniquitous, the enormity of the albino condition and witchcraft killing feels minimized in White Shadow. It is minimized by a shortfall of a feel for the place –lived cultural experience– and an absence of comprehension of historical and political consequence of a culture.

Subsequent to the viewing, during the Q&A, the director made it clear that he was more concerned about the artistic formation with an emphasis on creating strong lead characters. When asked how he feels about portraying such an account with no historical or political context, and what that may do to the foreign audience’s psyche who may already have a poor image of Africa. He made it clear again that he was more concerned with portraying strong lead characters.

If it is indeed merely a feature film, purely for entertainment purposes, even then it falls short of moral dereliction as it goes back and forth between reality and heavily de-saturated themes –flirting between fiction and non-fiction. In constructing and narrating such human tragedy, I believe a teller should be held answerable for the story it tells. Responsible for the character(s) it creates. Especially as it insensitively puts them up against each other’s culture while representing an entire culture as brutal and immoral, and under inspection for gruesome crimes. Typical of most African films and stories told by the West, while “even the most liberal filmmakers can’t resist. They’ve got a God-complex,” as stated, by Biyi Bandele.

In White Shadow, the hero is not a western man or woman but a fictionalized character emerging from a western idea. An idea that stresses on division as it puts an African in opposition to a fellow African, inimical to our interests. An idea that portrays us as merciless and leaves us in a quandary, as it places African indigenous belief systems as barbaric and immoral while belief systems emergent from the West are depicted as exemplar of civilization and ideal piety in a world of persistent savagery.

By no means am I attempting to avoid or turn a blind eye to the harrowing accounts and killings of the African albinos. That is not the point of this piece. But rather, I wonder whom this film is written for? Who it aspires to serve? How it aims to shift or bring an end to the atrocity? Who has the right to challenge and narrate particularities of a culture? How does the unverified and under-researched narrative change the world for better? A world that ought to educate and facilitate knowledge to the young and coming generation, I can’t help but wonder how our children will make sense of such a film and make the appropriate correlation between those things that have been used to define our existence and the actual.

In the end, White Shadow, while attempting to speak of an enormity is regrettably stymied by its western representation and gaze. Leaving brutal images implanted in the psyche and too many questions left unanswered. A world, yet again, left to grapple with compositions fixated on dark and savage images coming out of Africa, with no historical context to critically examine the circumstance further. An audience left shocked and hopelessly unsure with what to do next.

via dynamicafrica:


DYNAMIC AFRICANS: Senegal with Amy Sall.

Amy Sall is not a hired travel photographer, nor is she a photojournalist on assignment. Yet, her images of her recent trip to Senegal are far more moving, far more real, far richer and possess more authenticity than any embedded journalist could ever attempt to capture. The difference between Amy Sall and other photo amateurs or professionals? Her attachment to Senegal is personal. She’s a first-generation American, born and bred, but culturally, Senegal has never been far away. Additionally, she’s unburdened with the need or pressure to tell a specific kind of story. The narrative was a story to be told along the way, along her path of self-discovery.

For these reasons, and more, I fell in love with her posts on instagram as she visually documented her emotional visit to a place that isn’t quite home, but isn’t a foreign country as well. Through the story she creates with her images, Amy’s photo-documentation illustrates the need for Africans to tell their own stories through any and whatever medium is at their disposal.

Here’s my interview with Amy Sall as we discussed the emotional journey of her multicultural upbringing:

In about five sentences or less, briefly tell us a little about yourself. Who is Amy Sall? How would you introduce and define yourself to those who don’t know you?

I am a 23-year old, first generation Senegalese-American, born and bred in New York City, trying to navigate my life with my best foot forward, while staying true to my values. I think in all aspects of my life, there’s the inherent nexus of integrity, selflessness, and grit. What I do and who I am are intrinsically linked.

Currently, I’m a Masters Candidate in Human Rights at Columbia University, focusing on children’s rights and youth issues in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the past, I’ve worked within a few sectors of fashion where I’ve had experience at Vogue, written for Lurve Magazine, and worked for Rick Owens to name a few.

You’re first generation Senegalese-American, born and raised in the US. What was your experience growing up being a part of two very distinct cultures? 

It was interesting, but not easy, growing up between two cultures. It’s not the easiest experience to sift through because it’s quite layered and muddled with all sorts of intricacies. I can say that there were times where my “Africaness” and my “Americaness” had points of contention. I was born only a year after my parents came to the states, so I grew up in a very culturally Senegalese home. Everything in our home was inherently Senegalese, from the food, to the music, to how daily life was constructed.

However, once I stepped outside my home, I was confronted, daily, with the fact that even though I am, in the literal sense of the word, African-American, I did not fit in with the African-American kids. They saw me as other. They saw me as African. They saw me as a dark African. So, it was difficult to reconcile that tension between two cultures as a child. My being rejected by my classmates (and when you are a child, the approval of your peers means everything) led to the resentment and disavowal of my culture and dark skin.

My childhood in that regard was tricky, and it unfortunately caused some damage during my transition into adolescence. There eventually came a point when I just didn’t care about what people thought, and my parents had a heavy had in getting me to that point. Straddling the line between two cultures became easier, and eventually something I thought less about. The biggest relief was ridding the shame I felt toward my “Africanness” as a child. Being African is absolutely the most beautiful thing to me.

On your blog, you mention that you hadn’t been back to Senegal in ten years. What prompted your visit back home? What was the experience like?

What prompted me to go to Senegal was simply realizing that I no longer had the excuse not to go. The last time I was there, I was 13 or 14. The fact that I was approaching the ten-year mark of not being in Senegal was incredibly important and symbolic to me. I decided that I wouldn’t let another year pass without going to Senegal. The possibility of my grandmother’s dying without a chance to see them again started to weigh heavily on me.

Both my grandfathers died when I was younger. One of them I’ve only seen once, the other I’ve seen twice. I regret that I wasn’t able to get to know my grandfathers. The reasons for the 10- year gap vary, but I will attribute them to the unfortunate ills of migration. It wasn’t always easy for my parents to take my siblings and I to Senegal often. Those opportunities did not always present themselves. It’s a sad realization to know that you can’t go home and see your family as often as you would like to, for reasons beyond your control.

So I decided, now that I’m older, nothing was to stop me from going back home and seeing my family. I wanted to get closer to my family, especially with my grandmothers, and develop a real relationship. I wanted to deepen my sense of self and rediscover my roots. It was also important for me to make this trip so that I could see the socio-economic issues of the country with my own eyes, especially as they pertain to children and youth. Much of my graduate research is centered particularly on Senegal, so being on the ground was necessary for the work I’m doing academically, and aim to do professionally.

During your trip back to Senegal you visually documented your stay there by taking and sharing photos on instagram. Was this something you decided before travelling, or was it done on more of a whim? 

I definitely knew I wanted many photos to have as keepsakes, but there were many times where I didn’t bring a camera with me because I just wanted to truly feel Senegal and be immersed in it. When I did have my camera, all I was trying to do was simply capture the country in the truest way possible. I did not want to glamorize or romanticize Senegal. It is an incredibly beautiful, rich and vibrant country, with beautiful people, however there are very real problems that I felt were not to be excluded.  I wanted to share a holistic view of Senegal, from the colors of Gorée to the talibés begging in the streets.

You’ve been blogging for quite some time now so you’re no stranger to sharing bits and pieces of your life online, something I enjoy doing myself. How important was it for you to share this part of your personal life online? How has the response been?

I like the idea that with the Internet, I can carve a space for myself, curate it however I please, engage in a dialogue, and maybe even teach someone something new. I had no expectations when I posted my photos on social media. I was surprised that they garnered the response that they did. People really took a liking to them. I know absolutely nothing about photography. A country as beautiful as Senegal makes it quite easy to photograph. It made me happy that people were appreciating and enjoying my journey, and were able to take part in it. They were discovering Senegal as I was rediscovering it, so it became this shared experience. 

This trip was personal, but it was one that so many can relate to. I am not the only person that has been away from their home country for so long. I am not the only person that hasn’t seen their aunts and uncles in years, or hasn’t hugged their grandmothers in a long time. As personal as this experience was, there were those who were able to connect to it on varying levels. That is what probably surprised me the most, because I didn’t think sharing my trip through these photos could have that effect. I realize that sharing them was much bigger than me, and it was much bigger than a series of Instagram posts. I am really humbled by that. I don’t care about having a large number of followers because I don’t seek validation through that kind of stuff, but I value when someone can take something positive away from what I have shared, whether on the Internet or in real life.

Would you ever consider compiling and publishing your photographs and experience into a photo-book of some sort?

Working on it!

That’s faboulous! Can’t wait ‘til it’s published. Lastly, what are three words you’d use to describe Senegal?

Vibrant, beautiful, home.

Thank you so much, Amy! 

All images via Amy Sall’s instagram.
Amy Sall’s site.

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All Africa, All the time.


Nadine Ijewere is a photographer out of London with an amazing talent for portraiture and fashion photography. She creates  beautiful environments for her work using from floral and cultural influences. I love it all.

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Dedicated to the Cultural Preservation of the African Aesthetic






Whats your swag level looking like? #AfricansinFrance #1914 #wwiafrica

Swag level at a all time high. Rice rations Marseille, France 1914

Whats your swag level looking like? #AfricansinFrance #1914 #wwiafrica


Swag level at a all time high. Rice rations Marseille, France 1914

easleyjennyd3 said: Hey, I really like your posts, You've got an awesome blog, Whats your handle, want to interview you?

Aww thank you so much! I don’t have a handle, should I get one? You can email me at Kathleen dot bomani at gmail dot com


Tanzanian artist Rehema Chachage (Dar es Salaam, 1987) creates video, sculptural, performance and image installations which explore the theme of gender, identity, voicelessness and alienation. She graduated in 2009 with a BFA from Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. Her artistic pieces make use of ritualization, subversion and tension, reflecting the four years she spent in South Africa as a ‘cultural foreigner’ and as a black female student in a predominantly white middle-class setting.

Mizizi/Nasaba explores the state of bereavement and the politics of gender in African society when it comes to inheritance. It consists of digital prints that document a relationship between a bereaved daughter and the text that was left behind by her deceased father—which is her only true inheritance since all material inheritance (according to beliefs in most African society) is ‘ideally’ left behind for the male subjects in the family. - Rehema Chacage on her work, pictured above.

For when you are feeling a bit unsure about the future. #onlyonMondaystho


The World War I in Africa Project Sheds Light On An Often Forgotten Part of History.

As a student of history for all my years of secondary education, I can’t say that I never learned about World War I, the events leading up to it as well as the aftermath it had on Europe and to some extent the United States. Perhaps we never delved into it in quite as much depth as we did World War II, but even then, I’d be hard-pressed to think of time where my history teacher (bless her soul) ever mentioned the impact that the First World War had on Africa and Africans. Such a truth wouldn’t concern me if the circumstances were different; if I wasn’t at a school in an African country, if I weren’t an African myself, if I wasn’t one of five black students in a history class of over 20, if I didn’t come from a country that was colonized by the British (who, as history goes, love war).

But all these things were and still are a part of who I am, and it is for these reasons – and so many more, that the World War I in Africa project is incredibly important learning for me. Even beyond the personal connection of history and heritage, the ignorance of many to the involvement of Africans in World War I and the integral roles the played speak to a much broader concern of the omission and reduction of black people and Africans in many important events in Western history.

It’s been 100 years since the First World War began. 100 years since the first shot fired by British troops occurred in what is today known as Togo, on August 7th, 1914. 100 years gone by and still, the world is yet to actively include and universally commemorate the lives of the estimated two million Africans who in some way contributed to the efforts of their colonial empires during this bitter war of the 1910s. World War I was indeed what its title refers to it as – a war that saw involvement on a global scale.

From the Gold Coast to German East Africa, Algeria to the southernmost tip of Africa, a new initiative is bringing to light the forgotten ways in which European politics brought the Great War to African homes. Through the efforts of World War I in Africa project, we are provided with a multimedia database that both highlights and archives the ways in which African lives were affected by a war they had no agency in. Because what happens in Africa should be told around the world.

World War I in Africa.

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And just as we have seen an unprecedented centralisation and concentration of capital globally, so we are seeing a similar process amongst development NGOs with ever larger global enterprises such as Oxfam, SCF, ActionAid, Care, World Vision, to name but a few, being formed with every larger volumes of funds. Many of these Northern aid agencies have now set up offices in Africa so as to be perceived as organisations of the South – as if geographic location changed anything. They now have the power to do deals directly with African governments and to speak on behalf of ‘civil society’. Backed with resources far exceeding those of local organisations, they are able to play the missionary role to a far greater extent than before. They offer no challenge to the neoliberal agenda – indeed, their income depends on not contesting that ideology. Instead, many of them collude with the multinationals by giving a ‘progressive’ cover to them through programmes of ‘corporate social responsibility’: for example, several Canadian NGOs have been given huge sums for social programmes such as building schools and health centres in areas where extractive industries are mining oil or other mineral resources while destroying the environment. Their silence on the role of these extractive industries is not hard to understand. If the missionaries of the past were part of the machinery of colonial domination, today’s missionaries are part of the machinery of exploitation by multinational corporations and finance capital. In that sense, then, I think the situation is worse than before.

Firoze Manji

Read more here:

It was the development NGOs, heavily funded by the aid agencies, that moved in to privatise social welfare, to provide the sweetener for neoliberalism, to occupy the mental universe by telling the neo-colonised that development, not emancipation, was what they needed, that the key task was ‘fighting poverty’ not fighting the looting that was the principle feature of neoliberalism. And in so doing, they play the vital service to capital of depoliticising poverty. For them the problem is ‘poverty’, not the political and economic processes that results in mass pauperisation. They perform this role much as the missionaries of the past did: by eliminating any reference to history. People are just poor. There is no question of explaining how they became poor. It is the ‘native condition’. In the past the native was uncivilised. Today, they are judged to be under-developed.


A rarity among rarities: a photo of a Senegalese tirailleur (sharpshooter) with woman and child in Marseille, France. 1914.
Find out more about World War I in Africa.


A rarity among rarities: a photo of a Senegalese tirailleur (sharpshooter) with woman and child in Marseille, France. 1914.

Find out more about World War I in Africa.

Remembering the East Africa campaign like it was


Among World War I campaigns, the East African one was the longest of all: as the armistice was being signed in Europe on November, 11th 1918, the last of the German forces were still fighting their British counterparts. Indeed the general who led them only surrendered two weeks later, on November, 25th 1918.

But who knows any of this, whether in America, in Europe or indeed in Africa? As the world commemorates the Centenary of the Great War, the African side of this story remains a footnote, despite huge losses of human lives and major consequences for the future of the African continent.