Friday Top Five – March 7th

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Friday top Five is a list of things the editor found interesting and eye catching this week. Feel free to comment below with thoughts on anything posted this week. During the week you see something you want on FT5? Please post it in the comments or email us at ProjectAfrica.NS@gmail.com

1. Urban: Diébédo Francis Kéré

From TED

“Diébédo Francis Kéré knew exactly what he wanted to do when he got his degree in architecture… He wanted to go home to Gando in Burkina Faso, to help his neighbors reap the benefit of his education. In this charming talk, Kéré shows off some of the beautiful structures he’s helped to build in his small village in the years since then, including an award-winning primary school made from clay by the entire community.”

2. Winner: Lupita Nyong’o

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Nothing I post here will be anything that hasn’t been posted already about Miss Nyong’o so for your perusal I have a lot of articles and issues to highlight that should be of interest especially since her popularity is still growing in light of her Oscar win for Patsey in 12 Years a Slave.

How do you say her name? There are quite a few posts about this; there’s even a post on Crushable. No qualms about them discussing this but Crushable? Really? And there were two articles on Africa is a Country, in case one was not enough. Though they bring up a few different points both heavily focus on criticizing members of the media for ‘butchering her name.’ What could have been a productive conversation on how media still display the other, came down to – in one case – (How to say Lupita Nyong’o)a series of youtube clips of people announcing her name as a guest on a tv show or as the subject of an award envelope and another repeats the sentiment (What we don’t talk about when we spend time learning about Lupita Nyong’o’s family and getting her name right).

Another common online discussion is oh how beautiful she is. One reason why I think it is worth talking about how pretty she is is because shes’s over 30 and looks better than me in my early twenties, that’s worth bringing up. There are two articles included here that are worth looking at though just to know the flipside of the conversation. The first being “The Fetishization of Luipta Nyong’o.”

Not too much has changed in regards to the black female body. Society still turns a blind eye to the raped black female body, but leers at the black female body on display. Whether it be in a Miley Cyrus music video, on the cover of King Magazine, or on a red carpet, black female bodies are still objects to be commodified. Designers have fallen all over themselves to drape their designs on Nyong’o’s black body. When commentators talk about her many red carpet looks, I find myself wondering: “Are they talking about how lovely the dress is, being held up by a black mannequin? Or are they talking about Lupita’s fascinating dark body and face?”

Admittedly, my cynicism can be dangerous. Instead of taking white people at their word, I’m being suspicious of their motives. Whites could genuinely find Nyong’o so gorgeous that they don’t know what to do with themselves: “I CAN’T!” They might find her beautiful without even consciously understanding their exotic motivations: “She’s just so. . . noble!” For all I know, they might not be trying to be provinganything when they loudly insist how stunning she is. This is 2014, why can’t I just be happy that another black woman has won an Academy Award? Young black girls of all shades are finally able to see themselves on screen! That, in itself, is really exciting!

The second was posted on Slate titled: “Hollywood, We Are Watching What You Do to Lupita Nyong’o. And What She Does to You.”

Lupita Nyong’o’s story is one of an elegance carefully cultivated. This is no sudden ascendancy to delicate silks and bold brocades, no tale of a girl plucked from obscurity or hardship, conferred the brass ring of Tinseltown by princely powers that be. It is, instead, a story of privilege—a privilege enjoyed by so many white actresses, which makes it then also a story of justice. It is what happens when a Kenyan politician entrusts his daughter’s postsecondary education to the Yale School of Drama, rather than insisting she study medicine or law or finance. When such a daughter is daring enough to pursue a life in pictures, within a family of professors, physicians, and politicians, the Academy Award is what happens.

This is not a reality well-known to American black girls with silver-screen ambitions. We watch our stateside actresses languish in Hollywood for decades, delivering pounds of flesh for bit parts: girlfriends in black films and girlfriends in white films and staid, put-upon wives in comedies, action films, biopics. And yes, even now, the occasional brave domestic, even now, the harrowingly tortured slave. We see them shed their apple-cheeked innocence all too quickly, becoming more vocal and more cynical about the dearth of complex and meaty work.

The last word is that Lupita has made a point to discuss beauty and the take away is what this means to her:

I want to take this opportunity to talk about beauty. Black beauty. Dark beauty. I received a letter from a girl and I’d like to share just a small part of it with you: “Dear Lupita,” it reads, “I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.” My heart bled a little when I read those words. I could never have guessed that my first job out of school would be so powerful in and of itself and that it would propel me to be such an image of hope in the same way that the women of The Color Purple were to me.  Read the rest here. 

3. Design: World Design Capital Cape Town 2014

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A description of what this is is posted below. Please check out their website here. There is so much information available about what they have been up to and the wonderful projects that are involved with this bid.

Cape Town was designated World Design Capital 2014 at the International Design Alliance (IDA) Congress in October 2011 in Taipei. This prestigious designation is bestowed biennially by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID). World Design Capitals recognise the value of design thinking, and are dedicated to using design as tool for social, cultural and economic developm…See More
General Information

The central theme behind the city’s successful bid, “Live Design. Transform Life”, focused on the role that design can play in social transformation in the city. It sets the tone and will now form the foundation for the development of an inspiring programme of World Design Capital-themed events and projects. 

Under the overarching theme of “Live Design. Transform Life”, four themes have been developed to bring clarity and simplicity to the process of submission and curation of proposals – and later, to help to allocate content and to attract potential sponsors to the various platforms and WDC 2014 Signature Events. 

The themes are also designed to ignite the imagination of the public, and to contribute towards a greater understanding of the multi-faceted nature of design.

The themes are:

African Innovation. Global Conversation
African ideas that speak to the world.

Bridging The Divide
Design that reconnects our city and reconciles our communities.

Today For Tomorrow
Sustainable solutions for people and planet.

Beautiful Spaces. Beautiful Things
Inspiring architecture, interiors, food, fashion, jewellery, craft, art and creativity.

4. Focus: Africans in the Promised land?

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Recently there has been increassed conversation regarding the influx of African refugees into Israel. There are many opinions on this topic and for this week’s FT5 I present three articles.

first: “Down but not out: The saga of a Darfuri asylum seeker in Israel” by By  about Hassan Shakur and his life as a detainee at the Holot facility

Israelis soldiers found Shakur and took him to a detention center, then released him – an “illegal infiltrator” without papers, money or anywhere to go. Over the years, he has worked in various cities, including for two years in Tel Aviv. He has been hungry, beaten and cursed. He has also, he says, “met wonderful Israelis, who have offered me kindness and friendship.” “But why, do some of your officials call us ‘cancer,’” he said, referring to the May, 2012 demonstration at which MK Miri Regev (Likud) referred to the Africans as “a cancer in our body.” “Not everyone is a refugee, I agree. But some of us, like me, are. You could ask us, you could learn about us, check us out. I just need a place to be for a while, and if you let me work, I will contribute what I can, I will pay taxes, I will help others, and then I will go home when I can.”

second: Written by Daniella Cheslow, “Cooking Workshops Offer Israeli Foodies a Taste of African Cuisine.” A look at the intersention of Africans, Israelis, food and South Tel Aviv.

At June’s Kitchen Talks event, Shakur was paired up with another cook from Africa: Yamane Tesfai, an Eritrean who moved to Israel five years ago to escape his country’s universal draft. He was a cook back home—and he continues to cook for Eritrean weddings on the side. But because he arrived in Israel relatively early, he got a work permit that helped him get a foothold in Tel Aviv’s restaurants: He was first hired as a dishwasher at a branch of Tel Aviv’s Café Café coffee-shop chain. Then he took Hebrew lessons and moved onto the cold line. “I learned how to read the orders, I learned to make the food, to close the kitchen, and do the prep work,” he said. “I work 12 to 13 hours a day. I live well, I speak Hebrew, and I have a lot of friends from the kitchen.”

and third: “Who’s afraid of the African asylum seekers of South Tel Aviv?” by Simone Wilson, discussing fear and explaining the government’s plan to imprison those they can and kick out the rest.

For some in the community, that’s a shame. “I live with them here, and I don’t think they’re dangerous,” Israeli real-estate agent Meir Landis saidof the asylum seekers. After the strike, he said, “Now people understand — and the business owners know — how much we need them.” A Jewish-Ethiopian liquor-store owner working across from the Central Bus Station, who has lived in Israel for almost 30 years — and who wished to remain anonymous, due to racial tension in the area — argued that racism is fueling government policies on Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers. “There is crime here [in South Tel Aviv], but no different than the rest of Israel,” he said. “I think many people are scared of them just because they’re black. If they were French, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

5. Favorite: Where They Create – Stiaan Louw

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One of my personal favorite blogs is one called “Where They Create” and is a photoblog curated by Paul Barbera. He does a lot of traveling, runs into interesting people and photographs their workspace. Here is a link to South African Stiaan Louw’s fashion workshop. If you would like more info you can click on the link in the title or follow Louw on Pintrest!

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