Interview with Reggae Artist Sister Carol

Sister Carol delivers the conscious message

Sister Carol sat down recently with Afrofusion TV to talk about her US tour with Black Uhuru’s Michael Rose, her music and acting career, her daughter’s foray into music, and the politics of reggae. We posted a short clip of her and Michael Rose chatting with us before their Washington, DC show on our blog. Here is the full interview with Sister Carol. Check it out. Bless…

African Elections on Film

Why is President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf still the only female head of state in the whole of Africa? The answer to that question stumps Sengbe Kona Khasu director of the documentary No More Selections, We Want Elections. His film featured recently at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland, as part of the New African Films Festival, sponsored by TransAfrica Forum and Afrikafe. That’s where Afrofusion caught up with Khasu and his father James E. Roberts, co-Executive Producer of the documentary.  The film chronicles the events leading up the momentous election of Johnson Sirleaf in 2005 but, that historic win notwithstanding, the filmmakers tried to focus the narrative on the process rather than on any one particular candidate. Indeed, most of the people interviewed in the film characterized the runoff election between Sirleaf and former football (soccer) star George Oppong Weah as one between political experience and immaturity. More important for them, and especially the filmmakers, was for Liberia to be able to come together after years of civil strife and hold peaceful, legitimate democratic elections, the first since the military coup of 1980. Still, according to Roberts, Liberia has a legacy of firsts in Africa that sometimes goes unacknowledged. He is proud not only of the film, but of the Liberian people’s resolve in sticking to the democratic process.

The New African Films Festival showed another election film,  Jarreth Merz’s An African Election, about the 2008 presidential elections in Ghana. In similar fashion, the focus of the film was more on the fragility of the democratic process than on any one particular candidate. Although the filmmakers seemed to spend a great deal of time with former President Jerry Rawlings as he campaigned for his party’s candidate Prof. John Ata-Mills, it provided a balanced, wholesome view of the nail-biter that ended with Ata-Mills as the victor. The re-election of Johnson Sirleaf has provided fodder for a sequel that Khasu is working on, and he will soon return to Liberia to complete filming. You can watch Khasu and his dad talk to Afrofusion about their film, and about women and politics in Africa after the jump. For more information on the film, including upcoming screenings, click here. The New African Films Festival continues this week. Bless…

Director Sengbe Kona Khasu discusses his film at the AFI after the screening
Executive Producer James E. Roberts and Director Kona Khasu take questions from TransAfrica Forum's Mwiza Munthali at the AFI following the film's screening

Fela! Cast Members Teach Howard University Dance Class

Do the cast members of the hit broadway musical Fela! ever get a breather? Even while on tour with the show, many of them take time out to do work in the community. US-based Life Giver Entertainment has been sponsoring a tour of master workshops and dance classes run by some of the cast members as they go from city to city. Having just left Washington, DC, the show is now on a week-long run in Atlanta, and they are heading to Connecticut next week. Afrofusion TV was able to catch two of the cast members as they ran a workshop at Howard University’s Dance Studio in Washington, DC. As djembe drummer Talu Green kept the rhythm going with his hands, Guinean dancer and instructor Ismael Kouyaté led the class through some basic West African dance steps and sequences. Talu Green, who travelled with the Broadway cast to Nigeria this past April 2011, explained to us the experience of performing for thousands of Nigerian fans at the shrine of Femi Kuti, Fela’s son and heir apparent. Read more on our blog Afrofusion Lounge.

Interview with Viva Riva! director Djo Munga and actor Hoji Fortuna

It’s a delicate dance that some new African film directors have to do when aiming for worldwide success with their films. By success I speak in terms of both critical acclaim and sales. This issue came to my mind when I attended a special screening of the Congolese movie Viva Riva! at the AFI theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland early last month. The movie opened in New York and LA on June 10th, and in the UK and DC on June 24th. It has already won a number of awards, most recently an MTV Movie Award for Best African Film. It trounced the competition at the African Movie Awards – it took 6 – and

Angolan Actor Hoji Fortuna takes questions after Viva Riva's DC Opening

won Angolan actor Hoji Fortuna a best supporting actor award for his role as Angolan gangster Cesar in the film. Viva Riva! also won best feature Film at the 2011 Pan-African Film Festival in Los Angeles. It was during the question and answer session at the AFI with the film’s director Djo Munga that a woman in the audience took issue with the film’s scenes of sex and violence, that she felt would serve to reinforce stereotypical images of Africa. Read more on this on our blog Afrofusion Lounge.

Loide: Cool Notes from an Afrolusophone Chanteuse

When I think of Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde I invariably think of Eduardo Mondlane, Samora Machel and Amilcar Cabral. Phrases like A luta continua, and the heat of the revolutionary struggles in Portuguese controlled Africa come to mind. But on a late July night at the Bohemian Caverns in Washington, DC the cool, jazzy sounds of Loide’s music turned them into places of love and longing as she transported us back to where her roots lie. Loide was born in France with both Mozambican and Guinea-Bissau heritage, and then raised in California. That rich, diverse background filters through her music; she sings in Portuguese and English with influences ranging from Sarah Vaughn and Miriam Makeba,

Loide belts out Afrolusophone Jazz at Bohemian Caverns

to Sade and Cesaria Evora. On that night in July it was her first time being back at the historic jazz club since she recorded her Live at Bohemian Caverns CD there a few years ago. As Loide made her way through covers and original compositions, she exchanged lively banter with the audience in between the songs. That interaction is vital to her, an important part of her sets, she revealed to Afrofusion TV in an interview several days after her performance. And it partly explains her repeat choice this summer of cosy, intimate Bohemian Caverns. An attorney by trade, she lists both law and singing as her passions, while acknowledging that the day job takes precedence – for now. As much as we respect her service to people as an immigration lawyer, we’d love to see and hear more of what she gives out to audiences on any given night. Loide has her next gig scheduled at another of DC’s popular jazz clubs, Blues Alley in Georgetown in October; if you missed her performance at Bohemian Caverns you might want to catch this one. In the meantime check out a portion of the interview she gave Afrofusion TV, above. For more information on Loide, you can visit her music site. Loide’s music is also available on iTunes. Bless…

Reggae Guitarist Junior Marvin talks with Afrofusion TV

Junior Marvin at Africa Underground

Afrofusion TV caught up with Junior Marvin, former guitarist with Bob Marley and the Wailers, at the Smithsonian’s Africa Underground event at the National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC on May 20. Turns out he lives in the DC area, and comes out to “have fun,” as he put it, on occasion. His pal Lenny Kurlou was the live attraction – with his Reggae All Stars band – at the second edition of Africa Underground, and they brought the heat on an already warm day to the open air Haupt Garden on the grounds of the museum. Junior Marvin graciously granted us an interview (big ups to Papa Wabe for the hook-up), revealing his new solo effort that’s on the verge of release. He has also been touring as part of his band The Original Wailers, which he formed with Al Anderson in 2008. Check out the interview, and be sure to buy his album when it comes out; it’s called “Smoking to the Big M!” You can see a video clip and more photos of some of what went down at Africa Underground 2 on our blog Afrofusion Lounge. We’re honored to feature Junior Marvin on Afrofusion TV! Respect… Bless…

Interview with Carolina Moraes-Liu, Director of Ebony Goddess: Queen of Ile Aiye

If you’ve ever visited Brazil, chances are you haven’t been to Salvador da Bahia, especially if you’re a tourist. It is the largest black city outside of Africa, yet until recently standards of beauty have been decidedly European. Carolina Moraes-Liu, a Bahia native, noticed an attitudinal change amongst black women when she returned home after several years, and – being the true documentary filmmaker that she is – decided to investigate further. The result is Ebony Goddess: Queen of Ilê Aiyê, an ode to the beauty of black women, and a lively and realistic study of black identity and social change. The documentary follows three women competing to be Carnival Queen of the Ilê Aiyê, the Afro-Brazilian group that has been behind this positive shift in black consciousness and black female self-

Ebony Goddess is out on DVD
esteem. Featuring colorful African-style costumes and Afro-Brazilian song and dance, the film still gives enough depth and meaning to all the social and racial challenges facing the city of Salvador da Bahia. It has been shown at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, and won the African Diaspora Award at the San Diego Black Film Festival last year. The documentary also won Best Short Documentary at San Diego’s Latino Film Festival. Moraes-Liu woke up bright and early on a late February day to do a Skype interview with Afrofusion, and she shared her experience working on the film in Bahia, her problems finding funding, and the strong spirit of the residents of the neighborhood of Curuzu, where most of the film was shot. Ebony Goddess is out on DVD, but you can still get to see it on a big screen; the film will be shown at the New York African Film Festival, at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, on April 7th and 9th 2011. It is also scheduled to come to DC later on in June, so keep a look out! Moraes-Liu is now working on a documentary about how traditional Brazilian societies are trying to preserve their ecosystem against encroaching urban development. For more information on the films of Carolina Moraes-Liu, visit her website here. Bless…

Africa Underground at the National Museum of African Art

The event was billed as Africa Underground; held on February 18, 2011 it sold out so quickly, to the point where it was rumored that scalpers tried to make a quick buck with their tickets on Craigslist. The organizers knew they had a successful show on their hands, and the video and photos are the proof!. The Afro-Brazilian theme was brought to life with drinks, dancing, partying, and art, featuring Zezeh Brazil Samba, Afrobeat music spun by DJs Adrian Loving and Munch, Brazilian cocktails, and mixed media art from Brazil’s Henrique Oliveira and South Africa’s Sandile Zulu. Guests were even invited to workshop and create their own art, led by museum curator Karen Milbourne. Afrofusion was there (of course) for those of you who couldn’t make it. We bring you this video so that you’ll know not to miss the next edition. It’s slated for May 20th, with a Jamaican/West African theme! Get your tickets EARLY! As you can see, a great time awaits. Check out the museum website here. Photos from the inaugural event below, plus more on our gallery page. Bless….

Sierra Leone designer invited to Arise Magazine Fashion Week 2011

Selita Ebanks in a dress by Sierra Leone's Madam Wokie's Couture

The very first Arise Magazine Fashion Week kicks off in Lagos, Nigeria next week, and runs from March 10-13. The show will feature the work of 50 top African designers that were selected by invitation only. Arise Magazine just released the schedule and, as expected, Nigerian designers dominate the list. African designers based outside the continent will also make a strong showing, with a few from the US, UK, Belgium, and France. But the panel of experts obviously didn’t just stick with established names like Nigeria’s Deola Sagoe and South Africa’s Black Coffee. Sierra Leone’s Madam Wokie’s Couture, who recently got Victoria’s Secret model Selita Ebanks to wear one of her designs, was one of a number of hot newcomers selected to showcase their collections. Continue reading Sierra Leone designer invited to Arise Magazine Fashion Week 2011

New African Films 2011 at the AFI Silver Theatre

The TransAfrica Forum and AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD present the New African Films Festival 2011. Featuring films from all over the continent, the festival runs from March 10th to the 15th. Of note: 2010 Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize Winner Une Homme Qui Crie (A Screaming Man) which is also in competition at FESPACO in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Also, 2010 Rotterdam Film Festival Lions Award-winner The Athlete (Atletu), an Ethiopian movie about 1960 Olympic Gold-winning legend Abebe Bikila.The Athlete is the opening night film (Thursday March 10, 7pm), and will feature a post-screening Q&A with co-director and actor Rasselas Lekew. A Screaming Man will be shown Saturday March 12 at 7pm and Sunday March 13 at 4:30pm. Films from Niger, Mozambique, the Congo, Nigeria, and Côte d’Ivoire are also screening. AFI member passes will be accepted at all films except the opening night film. You can view the full schedule here.