Episode 71: Artist explains Haiti beyond superficial coverage of political violence and earthquakes

Haitian American artist, Sophis, says one can’t understand Haiti without going back to 1804, the year of independence.

Haitian American musical artist, Sophis, gives us some straight-talk insights into the historical context mainstream media often avoid when talking about his country of birth.

Haiti is a country with a rich history. It was the first Black nation to liberate itself from European rule, way back in 1804, when a slave revolt defeated Napoleon’s mighty French army and declared independence. That’s right — 80 years before the 1884 Berlin Conference, when European empires sat down and agreed to divide the African continent amongst themselves, Haiti had fought and defeated one of he greatest of them to become independent.

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Episode 69: Does Africa have the right to blame brain drain?

Stop brain drain.” Illustration by theps.net.

Whenever African leaders are asked why the continent lags behind in terms of development, they blame braid drain — the exodus of its most intelligent people. But are they right, or are they to blame for frustrating young people so much that they have to go looking of a dignified life elsewhere?

Our guest is Joseph Makokha, an engineer who  studies and conducts research on engineering design with the goal of understanding how to design Artificial Intelligence to augments humans on thinking tasks. He is currently helping the Turkish Ministry of Education develop an Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning curriculum for its schools. 

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Episode 68: Meet Wamkanganise naGaadza, Zimbabwean mbira maker, teacher, and cultural ambassador

Salani Wamkanganise naGaadza (center) with his wife Kelly Takunda Orphan playing mbira during a virtual live concert that was organized by the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester. Photo: Mosquito Media.

We speak with Salani Wamkanganise naGaadza, and Kelly Takunda Orphan, a husband and wife who are ambassadors of African music and culture. Salani, a Zimbabwean-born virtuoso, doesn’t just make music and teach people how to play mbira; he makes the instruments himself in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lives.

Since 2017, Salani has performed and recorded with various mbira ensembles and bands. In 2020, UNESCO inscribed the mbira to be on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and Salani was one of two featured cultural ambassadors during the filming of the project in Zimbabwe.

Continue reading “Episode 68: Meet Wamkanganise naGaadza, Zimbabwean mbira maker, teacher, and cultural ambassador”

Episode 66: This is what is wrong with (South) Africa

Former South African President Jacob Zuma’s jailing for contempt of court has led to riots that have killed 276 people. Photo: GovernmentZA.

In this episode, we look at how the politics of ethnicity holds Africa back. Why are poor Africans willing to kill or die for wealthy corrupt goons like former S. African President Jacob Zuma, whose jailing for contempt of court has led to riots that have killed 276 people? Can we simultaneously fight corruption and support tribal kingpins like Zuma?

Episode 65: Meet the Ghanaian sisters challenging Europe’s dominance in chocolate making

The Addison sisters, founders of Ghana’s pioneer bean-to-bar company ’57 Chocolate, enjoying their treats. Photo: 57chocolategh.com

We speak with the Addison sisters, Kimberly and Priscilla, who set out to challenge the stereotypical belief that premium chocolate can only be made in Europe. Five years ago, they founded ’57 Chocolate, a pioneer bean-to-bar chocolate company that uses beans grown within Ghana to create delicious treats.

Episode 64: White man raises $1 million by insulting Kenyans and their food

File:Fried Tilapia, Ugali, Sukuma Wiki and Kachumbari (From Kisumu).JPG
Ugali, with fried tilapia, sukuma wiki and kachumbari is a Kenyan delicacy, but don’t tell that to a Frenchman named Robin Reecht. Photo by Napendakukula.

We look at how Robin Reecht, a white Frenchman –who after being in Kenya for only three days–managed to come up with a start-up idea that raised $1 million to improve Kenya’s “not-so-good quality” food. Why is it so easy for white people who know nothing about Africa to raise millions in capital to start businesses in the continent?

In this episode, we also honor one of the most iconic patriarchs of post-colonial Africa, Kenneth Kaunda, the first president of Zambia, who died on June 17 at the age of 97.

Episode 62: Do Africans have the right to complain about Covid-19 vaccine hoarding?

President Kagame attends Mo Ibrahim Foundation Dinner in London ahead of the Foundation’s board meeting | London, 6 October 2018
Sudanese-born billionaire businessman Mo Ibrahim (L) with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda at Mo Ibrahim Foundation dinner in London. Photo: Paul Kagame

Of the 1.3 billion people in Africa, only about 7 million have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese-born billionaire, blames rich countries for hoarding vaccines. What if instead he redirected that $5 million prize he gives annually to African presidents for leaving office to areas like healthcare, where it’s desperately needed?

In this episode we also look at what happened to Konza, a smart city Kenya was supposed to begin building 13 years ago but is nowhere to bee seen.