I’d driven past Zomba Prison many times while living in Malawi. It was a place you definitely didn’t want to end up. I never imagined it would also be a place from which such fabulous music emerged!
In 2016, a group of inmates recorded an album that was nominated for a Grammy Award. I’ve loved discovering the music, the story and the memories from Zomba.
Ocean Sole is a Kenyan social enterprise that is turning washed up flip flops into beautiful art., providing a decent living for artists and supporting women in beach clean up efforts.
Across the continent, 34 countries have passed laws to ban single use plastic; many have implemented them. Of course, the picture and results are mixed but the extent of the bans and their success is inspiring.
On that journey from Gwanda to Mashaba in south western Zimbabwe, the baobabs dominated the landscape and the conversation. My colleagues teased me about my fascination with that ancient, strange tree. ‘What do you see in them?’, they asked, with bemused voices. I tried to explain how I’d fallen in love with these majestic, upside down trees with their giant trunks and branches like roots reaching the sky back when I lived in Malawi in the 1990s.
I discovered Sona Jobarteh on my travels with Khonsu. How is it that I’ve never found her incredible voice and presence before, especially when her heart is attached to one of my favourite instruments – the kora?
Let Fatoumata Diawara’s incredible voice take you to Timbuktu, a place of legend, history, culture and beauty – and pain – carved out of the desert in Mali, dating back to the 12th century.
I experienced music as a life force in West Africa. It was in every space and place, in the humblest of homes, the busiest of buses, wrapped around the twists and turns of market stalls, booming from kiosks, shops, schools, playgrounds. It was in the children’s play, the women’s cooking, the voices of girls hanging clothes, the old men on bikes.
For millennia, Africa has been inventing and exporting knowledge and technology that’s changed the world. Today, young Africans are leading a new wave of innovation, adapting and developing digital and creative solutions to tackle the impact of climate change, increase equity and deliver services more efficiently.
African coffee producers today are struggling to get a fair price for their products. Margaret Nyamumbo, a young ne Kenyan entrepreneur, is pioneering the use of technology to redress that balance by connecting consumers in the US with producers in Kenya.
Poetry has a long history in Africa. It’s part of the fabric of life, of storytelling, of music, resistance and the fight for justice. Today, a new generation of poets is using poetry to speak of identity.