Friday 27 April 2018

X is....a piece of cake...only in Africa!

is for

Xalam with a track called Xaarit.  Xalam is a Senegalese band formed originally by a group of friends in 1969, called African Khalam Orchestra. Different musicians have joined and played at Xalam. Find out more about them here.

Xalat – a track by Ismael Lo. Ismael is a musician of Senegalase-Nigerian heritage.

And also Silver X, the stage name of Okuta Ceasar Malish Jeremiah, an award winning musician from South Sudan with a track called Duniya Karabu. 

And finally, here is diva Miriam Makeba with Baxabene Oxamu, a Xhosa number. The track has both the transliteration and translation in English. Enjoy!

Xhosa - since we are on the subject, let me take a mo and tell you that Xhosa is the language of the Xhosa people, who number about 19-20 million and live in South Africa mostly, but also in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Botswana. They are a clan descended from the Nguni peoples and the Southern-most of the Bantu migrations from central Africa. During the migrations they came into contact with the Khoisan peoples and have assimilated major Khoisan cultural influences. Xhosa is one of the click languages, a Khoisan borrowing. Read more about the Xhosa people here

And by the way, Xalam is a traditional musical instrument from West Africa, from Mali. A lute with upto 5 strings, played mostly by the griots or oral archivers. Nowadays replaced by the electric guitar. Talking about musical instruments, did you know Africa has its own version of Xylophones, and some historians think that it might have originated there? The most common one is called Marimba. And that invariably makes me think of this song.

Art X, Lagos - Okay, time to move on to the main topic of the day/letter. Art X is an art festival in Lagos, Nigeria. But before I launch into their activities, a little background on African art might be in order.

Vision of the Tomb, Ibrahim El Salahi. Source.
African contemporary art is stunning! Just as vibrant as its North American or European counterpart, but relatively under-appreciated still. One only has to look at the work of African artists, take Yinka Shonibare or Sokari Douglas Camp or Ibrahim El Salahi, to see instantly how rich it is. 

In the last few years, the market for African art has exploded internationally. Sotheby’s for example had their inaugural contemporary African art sale in 2017, where many of the pieces made or exceeded their expected value. Yinka Shonibare’s piece set a record. The second auction happened on 28th March, 2018, just as we started off with the A-Z. And this one set 14 auction records! Ben Enwonwu's Africa Dances sold for six times its initial estimate. Read more here.

African art is being showcased by galleries and museums abroad too – Paris and New York have had recent exhibitions. The affordability of African contemporary art doesn’t hurt either – it’s certainly a reason for the spike in interest.

But this be the thing, with all this amazing art around, you’d think there’d have developed a nicely buzzing market at home, within Africa, long before now. Nope, it hasn’t. Most artists have to go abroad still, exhibit in foreign markets if they want to make a living. But that is slowly changing. The Al Maadan Museum of Contemporary Art has opened in Marrakech this year with its inaugural offering titled Africa Is No Island, and there’s 1:54 Contemporary Art Fair happening there too. In 2017, Cape Town opened the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa.

West Africa has been hosting the Bienniale of Contemporary African Art in Dakar since 1992, known as the Dak’Art. There are similar Bienniales in Marrakech and Cairo also. East Africa, long considered the poor cousin of West and North, had its inaugural art auction in Nairobi late 2013. A book published in Kenya, Visual Voices, records the contemporary art scene in Kenya and it’s as rich-complex as anywhere else in Africa.  Though the collector base in Africa remains small still, it’s growing at a fast clip. As disposable incomes rise, African awareness of their own art as an investment as well as its aesthetics is increasing.

Art X, the annual Art Festival in Lagos is doing its own bit to change the art market in West Africa. Art X was set up by Tokoni Peterside in 2015, and has grown steadily since. The first year they drew only a handful of artists and visitors. Last year, there were more than 9000 visitors and award winning artists showcasing their works. The raison d’être for Art X, in Peterside’s own words –

It was such a shame to have not only a brain drain, but also a talent drain. The aim was to have, in the end, these artists widely known and reckoned with at home, supported at home, collected by Nigerian and African collectors at home.

It’s quite possible that, like the other sectors, the art scene in Africa too will claim its share of the sun within the next decade.

Read more about contemporary African scene here, here and here.

AfricanX - is a decade old trail running event held in South Africa, to be held this year in April. Leaving you with just a link.

From the Safaris

~ Thank you for watching! ~

Books n Stuff

Uanhenga Xitu (1924-2014) – is the Kinbundu name of Augustine Andre Mendes de Carvalho. He was a Lusophone writer from Angola. He trained as a nurse and while working as one, became clandestinely involved in the Angolan independence struggle, and was arrested in 1959 and deported to Cape Verde where he remained imprisoned from 1960 to 1972. Upon release he published a dozen ‘popular’ books from 1974 to 1997 and was subsequently honoured for his body of work. His literary style has drawn international interest. His books often deal with social and political themes in colonial and post-colonial Angola. Read more about him here and here.

Makhosazana Xaba (1957 - ) – is a South African poet, activist and short fiction writer.  She has a degree in creative writing and has published two collections of poems and one of short stories, which has won the SALA Nadine Gordimer Short Story Prize in 2013.  Her poetry is available in translations in Turkish, Mandarin and Italian. She has been widely anthologised and has herself edited poetry anthologies. Click the links to know more about her and her poetry here and here. And listen to her reading some of her powerful political poetry in the clip below:

Aaaaand this X here - the third radio-play by  the Ugandan-born Peter Nazareth, produced by the BBC African Series in 1965 while he was at University of Leeds. Inspired by Malcolm X's visit to Africa.

That's my X, told you – piece of cake! :) 

Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2018


  1. X marks the spot where you did an excellent post. Lots of good X words and X photos - the giraffes cooperated perfectly. Alas, the Elephants ignored your pose request. Clever. As for art X - I hope it gets more support in Africa to keep the talent.

    1. The baby elephants were meanies :) too busy playing amongst themselves to listen to me...but no complaints they gave me some other great memories.

  2. A truly delicious piece of cake. Thank you. Each of your posts has eXpanded my world.

    1. Ooh, Xpanded makes a cool X-word - must remember that for future ref, thanks!


  3. A detailed look at contemporary music, art, writing in Africa. I like the links to explore more and the embedded videos. Will check them out. What I liked most is the Vision of the Tomb, Ibrahim El Salahi.

    X-tacy of travel: An Ode To Wanderlust

    1. Glad you liked the links, thanks for visiting and yours.

  4. eXellent. The safari clip was eXtra special today and so was the reasing by Makhosazana Xaba

    1. Glad you enjoyed the clips. Your X-post was super!

  5. Hari OM
    You aXed the X-day!!! some great links and sounds and I adore the rhythm of the Xhosa language and music. YAM xx

    1. I love the sounds of Xhosa too! spoken and sung.

  6. Love, love, love how you used the animals Xing, Nila. Really beautiful.

    1. Those were totally random, really fortuitous shots! So glad you enjoyed the clip, thanks. X was the most difficult to put together, it always is :)