The Venus Bushfires

venus bushfires

The Venus Bushfires is a collective of one and many, of which Helen Parker-Jayne Isibor is the only constant member. The Nigerian-born musician, who moved to the UK when she was seven years old, is also renowned for her unique hair styles and the Swiss-made, PANArt instrument she plays called the Hang®. For me, Isibor’s eccentric style is reminiscent of Björk and Bat For Lashes.

Isibor harnesses influences from avant-garde, psychedelic, tribal and meditative arts, drawing inspiration from 70’s musical pioneers such as Fela Kuti. Exploring the ethereal sounds of the Hang, the power of the talking drum and the quirks of children’s toys Isibor mixes visual and musical styles. When she visited BBC Africa in London, Kenyan presenter Sophie Ikenye asked her how she first came to play the Hang (see video of interview above). Isibor is also influenced by spoken word, poetry, the body as a percussive instrument, exploring simultaneous and delayed multi-modal sensory experiences, social commentary, creative arts therapy, politics and human rights activism.

She has created music for Sony PlayStation and Disney and her songs have featured on French TV and documentary films. In 2008 she orchestrated the world’s first ever ‘hang flash gig’ which was broadcast on Channel 4.

You can stream and buy her album The Venus Bushfires EP here. I found the track “Last Winter’s Sparrow” particularly memorable.

Follow The Venus Bushfires at her official website, Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts.

Teju Cole | Reading, Harvard Book Store

Every Day Is for the Thief

Teju Cole’s latest literary work.

Harvard Book Store will be welcoming PEN/Hemingway Award–winning author Teju Cole for a reading from his new book Every Day Is for the Thief. The reading will take place on Friday April 4th 2014 at 7PM.  The event is free.

The novella is about a young Nigerian living in New York City who goes home to Lagos for a short visit, finding a city both familiar and strange. In a city dense with story, the unnamed narrator moves through a mosaic of life, hoping to find inspiration for his own. He witnesses the “yahoo yahoo” diligently perpetrating email frauds from an Internet café, longs after a mysterious woman reading on a public bus who disembarks and disappears into a bookless crowd, and recalls the tragic fate of an eleven-year-old boy accused of stealing at a local market. Along the way, the man reconnects with old friends, a former girlfriend, and extended family, taps into the energies of Lagos life—creative, malevolent, ambiguous—and slowly begins to reconcile the profound changes that have taken place in his country and the truth about himself.

Teju Cole

Teju Cole, Illustration by Jillian Tamaki

Every Day Is for the Thief—originally published in Nigeria in 2007—is a wholly original work of fiction. This revised and updated edition is the first version of this unique book to be made available outside Africa.

Every Day Is for the Thief, by turns funny, mournful, and acerbic, offers a portrait of Nigeria in which anger, perhaps the most natural response to the often lamentable state of affairs there, is somehow muted and deflected by the author’s deep engagement with the country: a profoundly disenchanted love. Teju Cole is among the most gifted writers of his generation.

Salman Rushdie

[Teju Cole] casts a spell that’s hard to classify. . . . Open City earned its author comparisons to the German writer W. G. Sebald, whose work wanders and ruminates in a similar way. Every Day Is for the Thief includes photos that Mr. Cole took in Lagos, a Sebaldian touch that is likely to keep the comparisons coming.

The New York Times

Teju cole interview mag

Cole is in the March 2014 issue of Interview Magazine (print only)

Cole was recently interviewed by The New York Times for their Sunday Book Review series where he touched on what he is currently reading, his favourite novelists, reading experiences in his childhood, favourite overlooked writers, poets, art history books and works that made him laugh and cry. Still my favourite exchange is this one,

NYT: What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?

TJ: I have not read most of the big 19th-century novels that people consider “essential,” nor most of the 20th-century ones for that matter. But this does not embarrass me. There are many films to see, many friends to visit, many walks to take, many playlists to assemble and many favorite books to reread. Life’s too short for anxious score-keeping. Also, my grandmother is illiterate, and she’s one of the best people I know. Reading is a deep personal consolation for me, but other things console, too.

harvard book store

Photo credit: Harvard Book Store.

Tickets: This event is FREE.

Date: Friday April 4, 2014, 7PM

Where: Harvard Book Store, 1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Follow Teju Cole at his official Twitter (where you can read his Small Fates series) and website (where you can also find out more about his photography).

Toyin Odutola | On Inspiration & Identity


Toyin Odutola is one of my favourite artists. I first wrote about her here where I posted about her exhibition titled My Country Has No Name, an exhibition of pen ink drawings on paper, metallic marker drawings, ink on black board and lithographs. Together, the range of works represent Odutola’s practice which is grounded in an obsessively fine and meticulous application of line that has become the specified visual language through which she explores the human form. Odutola’s work is an extension of being Nigerian born and growing up in the conservative South’s Alabama. She is making a firm indent in the art fraternity with her crafted, multi-layered, textured black ballpoint pen illustrations. Represented by the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York, her growing popularity has also landed her a spot on the 2012 Forbes ‘Art & Style’ 30 under 30 list.

SouthXeast: Contemporary Southeastern Art is an exhibition featuring emerging and underrepresented mid-career artists from several southeastern states in the US. This is the fourth edition of this exhibition, which has been presented every three years at Florida Atlantic University since 2005. Co-curated by Rod Faulds, University Galleries director, and guest curator Sybille Canthal Welter, the exhibition results from a thorough review of hundreds of artists recommended by curators, critics, past “southXeast” artists and FAU art faculty. Figurative painter Toyin Odutola’s (Alabama) selected pen and ink drawings focus on identity, specifically the “sociopolitical concept of skin color.”

Odutola and musician/artist Solange Knowles took part in NOWNESS’ series created in conjunction with EDITION Hotels. In this episode entitled “Inspiration,” the pair unpack their shared appreciation for one another: Knowles’ first correspondence with Odutola was after she looked to track down the artist’s intricate, embossed pieces after a sold-out exhibition at New York’s Jack Shainman Gallery; she went on to commission an artwork which brought the two creatives closer,

I think the essence of collaboration is being able to lay yourself on the line…The best collaborations are not knowing what to expect; being completely open-minded and having a sense of vulnerability.

– Solange

The pair have a mutual muse in Africa, as reflected in Knowles’ most recent EP release, True—co-written with Dev Hynes—which gave rise to the Cape Town-filmed video to “Losing You,” and My Country Has No Name, the third solo show from Odutula.“It was months and months of creating, so it was really nice to have Solange’s voice in my head as I’m working,” explains Odutola of listening to her friend’s music. “Your message is something that really connected with me; I see myself in your work.”

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9·88 Films | Ultra-Short Filmmaking Challenge


Deadline: 9 April.

Influenced by the energy and intensity of the 100m sprint (a global event that captivates audiences in under 10 seconds.), 9·88 Films invites filmmakers of all levels of experience in Scotland, the UK, and across the Commonwealth to create films up to 10 seconds long, on any subject and using any form of moving image, and submit it online.

Three award winners, and a student winner, will be selected by an industry jury, to win great prizes and have their films showcased in Glasgow and beyond during the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Here are guidelines for submission of entries:

  • Entries must be no longer than 10 seconds.
  • All genres and forms of moving image are welcome.
  • Due to the online nature of 9.88 Films, the challenge is only open to entrants aged 18 and over.
  • Entries are invited from people living or born in a Commonwealth country.
  • Entry should be suitable for audiences of all ages.
  • Do not include a title card or credits. All shortlisted films will have a branded title and credits added at the start, based on your entry information.

Prizes include a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera (a Super 16 digital film camera), DaVinci Resolve (an advanced colour grading software), GoPro Hero3+ cameras and Adobe Premiere Elements 12.0 (easy-to-use video editing software). For more details about the prizes go here.

All prize winners will be awarded pre-feature screenings in cinemas including Glasgow Film Theatre, Filmhouse, and Dundee Contemporary Arts, with support from Cinema Arts Network. They’ll also receive a 12 month Shooting People membership. Every film that makes the shortlist will be part of a series of screenings in the UK and further afield, including:

  • The opportunity to be showcased in Channel 4’s short form strand The Shooting Gallery*.
  • Festival 2014 screenings (a games time celebration as part of the official cultural programme for Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games)
  • Glasgow Merchant City Festival 2014
  • Exposure to an international audience through the British Council

* subject to editorial approval and clearance.

For tips and tricks to help you get started, watch 9.88 Films’ video hints. Such as this one:

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African Metropolis | 6 Cities, 6 Tales

African metropolis

African Metropolis is a series of short fiction films that tell urban tales about life in major African metropolises, a unique partnership towards new African cinema. The films were made in six African cities – Abidjan, Cairo, Dakar, Johannesburg, Lagos and Nairobi. Kenya’s entry is Homecoming by Jim Chuchu. His film conveys a voyeur’s obsession with the girl next door, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, science fiction and fiction.

The films were developed over a period of one year with workshops held in Durban and Berlin. This film project is an initiative of Goethe-Institut South Africa and South African executive producer Steven Markovitz, with support from Guaranty Trust Bank plc and the Hubert Bals Fund of the International Film Festival Rotterdam.

In July 2013, African Metropolis premiered at the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), one of the most important film industry events on the continent.  Two years of intensive preparation lead up to the premieres: Based on 40 scripts submitted, the film makers were chosen from the six cities. A mentoring programme and workshops ensued, which started off at the Durban Talent Campus in July 2012. Rasha Salti, Head of international programming at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF),

If the African Metropolis Short Film Project is to be continued (…) an intriguing testimony of contemporary film making may emerge – a testimony of a continent that has served as a projection screen for rigid and superficial clichés for too long.

All six of the African Metropolis films get their European premiere at the 43rd edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR 2014) and their US premiere at the 29th Santa Barbara Film Festival. Homecoming will screen at the CinemAfrica Film Festival in Sweden (19 – 23 March). Read about all the entries in the project below.



Homecoming, Directed by Jim Chuchu, Nairobi, 2013 © Homecoming


Directed by Jim Chuchu
Language: English / Kiswahili
Subtitles: English

Fantasy, science fiction and infatuation fuse as an obsessed neighbour invents ever-stranger scenarios for wooing the girl of his dreams.

Nothing is what it seems as Max – a nerdy voyeur – turns fiction into truth and the mundane into the unexpected in his quest to get the attention of Alina – the girl next door. The city of Nairobi is threatened with imminent extinction, and now is his chance to save her and verbalise his unspoken desire. However, a mysterious stranger stands in the way of his happiness. Will Max overcome his fear and save the girl? Is Alina looking for a hero? A quirky, light-hearted look at obsession and the desire to be seen.

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Vote for ‘Yellow Fever’ ! | Afrinolly Short Film Competition

yellow fever

Yellow Fever, by Kenyan artist and filmmaker Ng’endo Mukii has been shortlisted for the Afrinolly short film competition! Yellow Fever won the Silver Hugo for Best Animated Short at the Chicago International Film Festival, Best Short at the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards, Best Student Film at the Underexposed Film Festival YC, and a Special Mention at the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen.


This is the first time it is available to watch online in full for free, ALL 7 minutes of rotoscoping, hand-drawn animation, pixilation and dancing! The film stands the chance to win, $5000 (3rd place) $10,000 (2nd place) and $25,000 (1st place).
Voting ends on Sunday 19th of January.

All you need to do is:
-click here
-Log in using your google+ or Facebook ID (the more the merrier!)
-Yellow Fever is in the Documentary category and you can vote there.

This is the first time Yellow Fever is available to watch online in full for free, ALL 7 minutes of rotoscoping, hand-drawn animation, pixilation, dancing, sweat and blood!!
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Kwani at 10 | Book and Art Party


Kwani Trust are celebrating their 10 year anniversary with a programme of special events. On Friday 29th November, Kwani? present a lecture titled Contemporary African Writing in the context of 50 years by renowned author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from 2.30pm – 4.00pm at the 844 Building, University of Nairobi (please note change of venue from Taifa Hall)
Free entry (by Pre-registration ONLY) Register here.

Also on Friday, there will be a joint launch of Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor’s Dust and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah at the Marshall’s Service Workshop/ Warehouse from 8.00pm.


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Call for Submissions | Nollywood Free Zine



This November Film Africa is planning a series of film screenings and events to celebrate 21 years of Nollywood. They are compiling a free ‘zine that shares stories about, and insights into, the last 21 years of Nigerian video film. They are looking especially for texts discussing Nollywood consumption and production in the UK.



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J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere | Sartorial Moments and the Nearness of Yesterday


From left to right: Untitled (1970), Untitled (1972), Untitled (2006)
Credit: J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere

J. D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere: Sartorial Moments and the Nearness of Yesterday is the second in The Museum of African Diaspora‘s (MoAD) Curator’s Choice Series. Curated by Olabisi Silva, Director of the Contemporary Centre for Art, Lagos, Sartorial Moments portrays a people defining their place in history.

J. D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere understood fashion as a personal display of independence, and in the 50 photographs included in this exhibition, dating from 1955 to 2008, he captures traditional Nigerian dress and hairstyles alongside popular Western-style adaptations. Hair, as one of the main identifiers of time and place, became an especially important focus for the artist as he documented the changing body politic of his young nation.

In depicting the complexities of a new and free post-colonial Nigerian society, Ojeikere reveals the degree of influence that the West—particularly the United Kingdom and the United States—has had on the youth of Lagos as they continually negotiate between the old and the new, colonialism and post-colonialism.

About Ojeikere

Born in 1930 in the western part of Nigeria. In his young days Ojeikere incessantly writes the Ministry Of Information, asking them to hire him as an “assistant in the dark room”. His tenacity is rewarded when in 1961 the first television station is founded.

At the eve of the decolonisation he is contacted by the West African Publicity agency. Soon after that he opens his own studio “Foto Ojeikere”. In 1967 he becomes an active member of the Nigeria Art Council, an organisation in charge of organising a festival of visual and living arts.
Hairstyles is his most known collection, involving almost 1000 different hairstyles that give an image of the African woman. He finds these “sculptures for a day” on the street, at a marriage or at work.

With thanks to Fifty One

Exhibition run June 20, 2013 – October 13, 2013

Museum of the African Diaspora
685 Mission Street (at Third)
San Francisco, California 94105
phone: 415.358.7200
fax: 415.358.7252

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Africa International Film Festival 2013 | Call For Entries


The Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF), a platform that seeks to give expression to the players in the African film sector by recognizing and rewarding excellence in the industry, will hold its 3rd edition between the 10th and 17th of November 2013 in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.

To this end, guidelines for submission of film entries have been released and entires will close on July 30th, 2013.

The weeklong event is set to become Africa’s annual destination for fantastic film experience and celebration every November, comprising a top class film programme; talent development and technical training series aimed at raising local industry standards, business sessions and networking opportunities, as well as a unique Film and Equipment market that will encourage and grow content trade out of Africa and global partnerships.

Practitioners in the film industry who wish to enter for the various categories are required to follow entry guidelines and Download the entry form. Eligible films must have been produced after January 1, 2012 and preference will be given to films which are yet to be screened globally or in Africa.

Categories for entry include Feature, Short, Documentary and Animation, with monetary award prizes ranging from $3000 – $6000.



With its Inagural edition in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, The Africa International Film festival was founded in 2010 by Ms Chioma Ude.  Her passion for the industry grew more intense after her involvement in the production of the 2007 Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) UK Roadshow.

Ms Ude then went on to produce the 2008 Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) during which she instituted the philanthropic arm of the awards by conceiving the AMAA Charity Benefit. This novel initiative was designed to be an annual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) platform for industry practitioners and stakeholders to give back to society. Later, in 2009, Chioma was the local producer of the ION International Film Festival (IONIFF), a global touring festival originating from Hollywood, whose aim is to promote global awareness and peace through arts, culture and films.  The event was held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State in Nigeria.