Posts Tagged ‘africa’

Dope track from newcomer Afrocentric rapper, Trench Farda

Check it out.

Bob Marley documentary let down by its eurocentrism

I went to see ‘Marley’, the new and highly-publicised documentary about Robert Nesta Marley, at the Rio cinema in the heart of gentrified Dalston. While I enjoyed my green tea and organic chocolate bar (definitely a step up from pepsi and popcorn!), I found that being surrounded by trendy middle-class types only added to my sense of fear that the film was going to be annoyingly eurocentric and patronising.

But let’s start with the good parts. Doing justice to the legacy of Bob Marley in the space of two hours and 24 minutes is an impossible task. All things considered, the people behind the film did a pretty decent job. The archive and interview footage is nothing short of incredible. The production team must have gone to extraordinary lengths to get the level of access they got. The interviews with Rita Marley, Bunny Wailer, Lee Scratch Perry, Danny Sims and other important figures in Bob’s life are brilliant, and do a lot to explain how this giant of a man came to be who he was. For any fan of Bob Marley, the film is worth watching for the footage alone.

Unfortunately, the film is let down (as I knew it would be) by its eurocentric perspective. Let’s face it, the first feature-length documentary on Bob Marley should have been directed by somebody else. Kevin Macdonald is perfectly competent as a film director, but he is a western white liberal. The story of Bob Marley is the story of black suffering and strength inna Babylon; the story a great revolutionary activist; the story of a people stripped of their freedom, languages, religions and traditions, building a voice and a collective identity. In short, it is not a story that Kevin Macdonald is qualified to tell.

Bob was Africa-oriented. He considered that Africa represented the future for his people. And yet Africa is presented in the film as a continent of dictators and basketcase governments. The film gets a cheap laugh when Marley’s first visit to Africa – to give a concert in Gabon – is somewhat marred when the band realise that Gabon is “a dictatorship”. We see a picture of Gabon’s then president, Omar Bongo Ondimba, wearing a suit and looking slightly severe. Our collective prejudice requires no further information to confirm that this rarely-mentioned West African nation is yet another hopeless failure, its natural wealth squandered by incompetent, malevolent kleptocrats. This shallow treatment serves to strengthen the near-universal colonial prejudice that African people are not capable of governing themselves. No mention of the devastating impact of French colonialism; no mention of the oppressive neocolonial relations that sustain such a “dictatorship”. It all comes down to: Europeans are civilised; Africans are barbarians. It’s the narrative of the White Man’s Burden.

One of the most poignant moments of Bob Marley’s career was his performance at the Zimbabwe Independence celebrations in 1980, to which he was invited on the strength of his beautiful song, Zimbabwe, which became an anthem of the liberation movement (“Every man got the right to decide his own destiny / And in this judgement there is no partiality / So arm in arms, with arms, we’ll fight this little struggle / Cos that’s the only way we can overcome our little trouble.”). Covering this event, Macdonald can’t help but take a pop at the leader of Zimbabwe’s hard-fought liberation struggle, Robert Gabriel Mugabe. There are long, drawn-out shots of posters showing Mugabe’s face, the obvious subtext being: Zimbabwe is a crazy African dictatorship, because only in a crazy African dictatorship would you find pictures of the Prime Minister on a poster. Apparently it is too far a stretch of the imagination to think that people would ever willingly display affection and respect for a man who personified their decades-long fight against apartheid and white supremacy.

Mugabe is considered by millions of Africans as one of the great heroes of the African cause, but that didn’t stop the trendy liberals of Dalston from booing at the footage of him making a speech. Tellingly, they were quiet just a few seconds earlier during the footage of Ian Smith – the apartheid fascist Prime Minister of ‘Rhodesia’ – making a speech saying that black majority rule would not be allowed “even in a thousand years”. Bob Marley must be turning in his grave.

Incidentally, London now has a statue of well-known state terrorist Ronald Reagan. That’s the type of hero-worship us civilised westerners prefer.

Perhaps unsurprisingly – given that he is one of the film’s producers – Island Records founder Chris Blackwell is positively portrayed in the film. He is shown as being very sensible and wise; the voice of reason. When one of Bob’s former band members claims that the doctors wanted to amputate Bob’s leg in order to treat the melanoma that had developed in his foot, Blackwell sets straight this slightly outlandish claim (the doctors only wanted to amputate a toe). The comedic timing of this scene confirms Blackwell’s role as the wise old white man. We hear about Blackwell the visionary businessman who knew just the right polish to add to the Wailers’ sound to make it acceptable to audiences in Europe. Very little is made of the fact that Blackwell used his colour and class privilege to build a fantastically lucrative career off the back of black culture. Blackwell’s sponsoring of the Wailers’ first album is seen as an act of great benevolence, but the film-makers choose not to explore the fact that Blackwell only had the money in the first place because he comes from a wealthy white family that profited from slave labour. Perhaps such difficult sociological issues will be addressed in the sequel?!

I also feel the portrayal of black Jamaicans in the film is somewhat one-sided and patronising. A few of the interviews don’t go past the level of showing ‘cool’, ‘colourful’, charismatic people who smoke a lot of high-grade ganja. I don’t think it’s done intentionally, but a middle-class white western audience is left with its prejudices intact. A different film-maker might have taken the perfect opportunity to highlight the deep understanding and experience of black Jamaicans and, in so doing, shatter some prejudices.

When you show certain images and footage without giving proper historical context, it strengthens prejudice. We see the leading politicians of the time, Michael Manley and Edward Seaga, both of whom are (basically) white. Then we see the black ‘enforcers’ using extreme violence against each other. No mention of the real issues within Jamaican politics. No mention of interesting facts like how the CIA trained and armed the JLP gangs. So our existing prejudices (that white people are ‘thinkers’ and black people are inherently violent) are confirmed. This sums up my overwhelming feeling about the film: that it serves to reinforce rather than challenge prejudice.

Overall I feel the film represents a missed opportunity and fails to present Bob as the deeply revolutionary figure that he was. I hope some time soon a solidly afrocentric director and producer will step forward and tell this particular story from a different perspective – for the enjoyment and inspiration of the downpressed masses of the world, rather than western university students. In the meantime, go see the film in spite of its faults – the footage makes it a very worthwhile experience.

Get Your Hands Off Africa – official video

Big love to Nana D for creating this video for “Get Your Hands Off Africa” (by Marcel Cartier, featuring Akala and Nana D, produced by Agent of Change).

Follow Akala on Twitter –!/akalamusic
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Check the Agent of Change Soundcloud for the download and more free high quality music.

Marcel Cartier ft Akala and Nana D – GET YOUR HANDS OFF AFRICA!

FREE DOWNLOAD: Marcel Cartier ft Akala and Nana D – Get Your Hands Off Africa (prod Agent of Change)

Check this brand new track by Marcel Cartier, featuring Akala and Nana D, and produced by Agent of Change. A Kwanzaa gift for y’all 🙂


[Marcel verse 1]

Those who do not move do not feel their chains
But the African people are aware of the pain
Aware of the game, invader deception
Black presidents who are White Man extensions
People from Cape to Cairo rebel
Cos fake independence and ongoing hell
Colonial ties still keep ’em chained
The richest continent’s getting robbed again
The IMF and World Bank criminal schemes
What about reparations? To me it seems
That every metropole from Amsterdam
To Paris and Brussels was built with the hands
Of African labour, a slave relation
Developing Europe at the expense of their nation
But Africans rebelled from the first conquest
Took back independence at last accomplished

[Nana D chorus]

You’d better get your hands off… AFRICA!
You’d better get your hands off… AFRICA!

[Marcel verse 2]

Look at Africom, the African Command
That’s the US and her puppets shaking each others’ hands
They went in for Libya, going for Uganda
When will we learn we can’t be sleeping any longer?
Still salivating over claiming Zimbabwe
The worst man alive to them is Robert Mugabe
But land should belong to the African masses
Not a small group of white settler bastards
My fellow Europeans wanna whine and groan
About losing what we stole, that is not our home
That is not our land, need to choose the side
Of the future of humanity, the old has expired
If you ever want peace then you better want justice
Most of the continent is far from accustomed
Sarkozy, Cameron and Africa’s son
Better know that their war can never ever be won

[Nana D chorus]

You’d better get your hands off… AFRICA!
You’d better get your hands off… AFRICA!

[Akala verse]

The mother continent where we all originate
Eugenics ain’t dead so it’s cool to eliminate humanity’s darker shade
Genocidal AIDS, ancient civilisations
Not a continent of slaves
In every step of the way the elites have helped pave the way
For all the madness that we’re seeing today
But that in no way excuses the centuries of rape
But if we’re gonna solve it it’s an issue we have to face
Because every brother ain’t a brother just because of their colour
Look at the hand that killed Patrice and Thomas and others
While millions murdered in the Congo it don’t make the news
But if a footballer’s wife should buy a pair of shoes
I’m supposed to give a fuck, apparently
I do not! The world’s a reflection of your block
And if you think a world that can profit from African death
And be totally cool
Thinks that you’re better cos you live here
You’re a fucking fool

[Nana D chorus]

You’d better get your hands off… AFRICA!
You’d better get your hands off… AFRICA!

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Tribute to Steve Biko

steve biko34 years ago today, leading anti-apartheid militant and black consciousness pioneer Steve Biko was killed by apartheid police in South Africa. In the intervening decades, political apartheid has ended and various gains have been made, but the struggle against racism, imperialism and white supremacy continues in Biko’s name.

His writings remain essential reading. A few of his best-known quotes:

“The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed”

“It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die”

“Nothing can justify the arrogant assumption that a clique of foreigners has the right to decide on the lives of a majority”

“Whites must be made to realise they are only human, not superior. Blacks must be made to realise they are also human, not inferior”

“Being black is not a matter of pigmentation – being black is a reflection of a mental attitude”

Steel Pulse released the following tribute to Steve Biko on their classic 1979 album ‘Tribute to the Martyrs’.


The night Steve Biko died
I cried and I cried
The night Steve Biko died
I cried and I cried
Biko, O, Steve Biko died still in chains
Biko, O, Steve Biko died still in chains
Biko died in chains, moaned for you
Biko died in chains, moaned for you, yeh

Blame South African security
A no suicide he wasn’t insane
It was not for him to live in Rome, No
Still they wouldn’t leave him alone
They provoke him, they arrest him
They took him life away
but can’t take him soul
Then they drug and ill-treat him
Til they kill him
And they claim suicide

I’ll never forgive, I’ll always remember,
Not, not only not only I, no
But papa brothers sisters too, Yeh, yeh
Him spirit they can’t control
Him spirit they can’t man-trol
Cannot be bought nor sold
Freedom increases one-hundred fold.

The system
Something’s got to be done
Straight away
The system of weak-heart emontion
They’ve got to pay
The system of backra corruption
They’ve got to pay
The system is destroying my nation
The system kill him

O, O Jah Jah, O Jah Jah
Take them where life sweeter
Send a Moses to set them free
Pharoah’s army won’t let them be
From the beginning he knew
He’d meet his end
Yes my friend
They’ll keep on ruling, all hours Jah
Jah send
I’ll tell you again
Dem take him life – Dem take him soul
Him spirit they can’t control
Cannot be bought nor sold
Freedom increases one hundred fold

The system, the system, the system
Something’s got to done,
The system where black man
Get no recoginition
The system of colour partition
The system should be dumped from creation
The system kill him

O, O Jah Jah, O Jah Jah,
Take him where life sweeter
Send a Moses, send a Moses.
Pharoah’s army won’t let them be
Biko died in chains
Moans for you
Biko died in chains all are moaning
Moans for you
Steve Biko died still in chains
Steve Biko died still in chains
Still, still in chains
Still, still in chains

Long live the memory of Stephen Bantu Biko.

Banger from M1, Bonnot, General Levy and Paolo Fresu – ‘Real Revolutionaries’

Check out the official video to this absolute banger of a track from M1, Bonnot, General Levy and Paolo Fresu. Blazing Afrocentric lyrics built around the Bob Marley classic ‘Zimbabwe’.

M1 goes in! Check his lyrics:

Bob hit the nail
when he fell on his deathbed
the streets ran red
with blood, sweat and tears
It was too many years for liberation
colonization enslaved a whole nation
Cecil stole that called it Rhodesia
too many white folks catchin’ amnesia
How convenient! History is not an agreement
I guess it’s based on how you see it
Nas was wrong, Mugabe was right!
We gotta fight! Izwe Lethu i Afrika!
Afrika’s our Land
The future is in our hands
So here’s a list of demands
Reparations for what they stole
The People, the Land, the Diamonds, the Gold
Stop the bombing us
Neo-coons Uncle Tom-ing us
Sellin us your empty promises
Your Economist
Propagandizing what time it is
Fuck that digital shit
Back up off our nuts a lil’ bit
And let’s take it back to the futuristic
I’ll testify as a material witness
These muthafuckas is too sadistic
If you got some melanin
you can get with this
X – that, if you, hear this
That’s the bizness!!

Kwame Nkruma, Sekou Toure
Thomas Sankara
The leaders of tomorrow
The future Garveys
The future Lumumba
The future Bikos
The future heroes
Let’s celebrate a free Zimbabwe
We doin it our way
A national holiday
No more Imperialism, not today
Fuck the I.M.F., Fuck the World Bank
United States of Afrika
Do you think I’m dumb
I know where I’m from
the Continent
I ain’t claimin’ no block
you got me bent
I meant what I said
and said what I meant
Obama ain’t my president
That’s just white power
in a black face
This is about Liberation… not race!

Big Cakes – Brothers in Africa

Big respect to Big Cakes for this one. Not too many rappers right now are highlighting the struggles Africans are going through, as well as celebrating African history and culture, so it’s a lot that Big Cakes is willing to go against the flow and come with a positive and important message.

Incidentally, the track is by no means meant to alienate non-Africans – Cakes says clearly that he stands for unity, “black, blue, white, green – every colour”. However, Africa needs to be highlighted – it is widely ignored in our Eurocentric culture, and yet it is the continent that has suffered most from colonialism, slavery and white supremacy.

Once again, respect to Big Cakes.

Follow Big Cakes on Twitter, and buy the track on iTunes – we’ve got to support the music we want to hear!

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