I’m going to level with you. This is a tough update to write. It’s an update that I’ve been almost writing for a week or so now. Finally going for it.
No news of complete disaster or anything that traumatic. Just a rough couple of month for both Humanitarian Notes and me (can you believe those two things might be linked?).
Durban was mostly a lot of fun and a lot of work. As expected. But it also was a really tough trip. Things did not come together as I had hoped. At all. And while previous projects also didn’t come together how I imagined, this past try was a particular struggle. The two biggest issues are money (doing a project in South Africa is much more expensive than previous locales) and money (there is less funding available from local sources in South Africa). I started to realize this early on, but I’m not one to give up quickly, so I met with more and more people, send out so many project proposals and generally did my best to overcome. Not a whole lot of luck though. So I’m back here in the States and figuring out the best way to proceed. There will be an update tackling that problem soon.
In addition to that frustration, the website was also hacked. And then I thought I fixed it. But I was wrong. So then I had to fix it again. It’s not quite back to normal, but it’s usable and I’m in control. So that was a nice bit of frustration as well. As a result, the Durban updates are gone, as are the pictures I took in South Africa (there weren’t many, so it’s not a huge loss). Ugh, right?
So it’s been a tough stretch. Also suffered a bit of heartbreak. And went to SXSW. And went to a yoga/meditation retreat. I’m back in Brooklyn now, the website is up and running, and I feel like these past couple months, while not the easiest, have put me in a good restarting point to think critically about the next steps. Updates will be coming regarding this, but I wanted to catch everyone up on the current situation.
There it is. Now we move forward!
Hearts and thoughts go out to everyone dealing with Sandy. I lucked out. In Brooklyn, but safe throughout. Still working on/waiting for life to normalize to some degree. Might be some time. Sounds like I might be able to leave Brooklyn tomorrow. Haven’t seen the island of Manhattan in a week, which would normally be delightful, but not the case right now. It’s weird being trapped in a place you love.
But onto Humanitarian Notes news…
I went to MaxFunCon East this year. Which was wonderful and fun and hilarious and lovely. Wonderful comedian, podcaster and human being Graham Clark taught a picture on beard painting. You can see the fruits of my labor below:
Right. So lots of fun…
But it gets better.
Graham also made a beard painting. As he’s known to do. A lovely lady named Anne wanted to buy said beard painting. Graham told her that if she gave money to some charity, the painting was her’s. I walked by at what can only be described as THE PERFECT MOMENT… Humanitarian Notes got a donation and Anne got a beard painting and I know that one of my favorite comedians/people contributed to the success of Humanitarian Notes. AMAZING!
Beard painting and satisfied donor:
I haven’t been posting much because I’ve had Stephanie helping on that end, which has been wonderful. Especially the most recent post… about the Africa Express… how cool is that? I know M3nsa was on some of it. And I know him. So that puts me only one step away from Sir Paul McCartney. Who I’d like to mention STILL has what I consider the best sweater of all time:
Dear friend and great supporter of HN, Osekre, is really kicking some ass with his band the Lucky Bastards. A new single is coming out and there’s a show happening in celebration here in NYC. I will be going. I think you should too. Osekre and team are really one of the most fun groups to see live… it’s happening at Joe’s Pub. Seriously, join me.
And to get you psyched, stream some of the fun that awaits:
A week-long train tour that began on September 3rd and ended on September 8th brought together a variety of live music performances featuring both African and Western based artists making stops in several major UK cities including Glasgow Bristol, and Manchester. Africa Express is a collaborative music project founded by Damon Albarn, the frontman of Blur and Gorrilaz who was inspired after his experiences in West Africa, particularly Mali (where he collaborated with Malian artists in 2002 to record Mali Music) and Nigeria. Artists from over 42 countries participated in the Africa Express tour which included bands such as The Temper Trap and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, British rap star Kano, and Ghanian rapper Manifest. The tour ended in Granary Square in King’s Cross London where Paul McCartney played a special set in support of the collaborative project.
When an eastern town in Mali was attacked on January 17th by armed rebel forces fighting for the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad or NMLA (a Toureg secessionist movement), it fueled the worst refugee crisis in the Southern Sahara.
After the initial attack, the fighting spread to the northern region of Mali prompting thousands of Toureg, Arab, Songhoi, and Peulh refugees to flee to neighboring countries such as Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Maurtania.
Songs for Desert Refugees is a compilation of desert music from the world’s best Touareg groups from Mali, Niger, and Algeria. The goal of the compilation album is to raise funds for refugees in and around the rural communities of Aguel’hoc and Tessalit in north east Mali.
Proceeds from the sale of the album specifically benefit two NGOs, Tamoudre, an organization that works to benefit the lives of nomads around Tessalit in Northern Mali, and Etar, which helps support education projects and the preservation of the Tamashek culture. Learn more about both NGOs here http://www.tamoudre.org/ and http://www.associationetar.blogspot.com/.
Nigerian-German singer Nneka covers a wide range of music styles and African influences ranging from hip hop, soul, and reggae. She sings in both Igbo (her native Nigerian language) and English about the injustices of her country in the Niger Delta. Nneka’s music has been critically acclaimed and has won numerous awards including a MOBO Award in the UK for Best African Act.
Nneka is currently on tour and will be playing a show in NYC on October 18th at Joe’s Pub.
Last week, veteran Sierra Leone bubu musician Janka Nabay released his first album in the U.S. with his band The Bubu Gang, entitled “En Yay Sah.” Nabay left his war torn country and relocated to Brooklyn, New York where he formed his band featuring members of locally based indie groups such as Gang Gang Dance, Skeletons, and Saadi.
Janka Nabay emerged during the Sierra Leone Civil War and has been instrumental in modernizing and popularizing a genre of African indiginous music called bubu. Bubu is traditional folkoric music originating from Sierra Leone using bamboo flute and metal pipes instruments. Nabay transformed these sounds to create an electrified, techno style version that incorporates synths and percussion beats.
POST FROM STEPHANIE:
Thanks for the introduction Dan! Very excited to come onboard and join the Humanitarian Notes team : )
For my first post, I’d like to get the word out on a new dance craze that has emerged from West Africa, specifically from a fishing community in Ghana, and has become increasingly popular ever since.
“Azonto” is a non verbal, communicative style of dancing that involves rhythmic movements of the body’s hips and joints based on a person’s profession or occupation. These movements can also mimic everyday actions such as driving, washing, ironing, etc.
Check out these fun music videos below from a few Ghanian hip hop artists that incorporate the Azonto dance:
BBC News Clip:
Could Ghana’s new Azonto dance craze take over the world?
First, the obvious good news – New FOKN Bois video. And it’s very sweet. Get into it.
Less obvious, but super good news for Humanitarian Notes, we have a new blogger! I’ll keep blogging when I get a chance, but you can also expect to hear from Stephanie once a week or so. Why Stephanie? Well, she wanted to help out and this is definitely a realm that I can use some help in.
Stephanie and I first met at a class I was teaching about Contemporary African music. She had been looking into getting into some non-profit work, so this was a great opportunity. I’m sure she’ll be helping in a variety of other ways as well, but her first appearance will be in blog form. Hooray!
I like fashion. But I also care about the world and injustice and all that stuff. The problem with a lot of fashion is that it’s not particularly good to the people who made it or to the earth. Lately I’ve been doing research into trying to buy clothing that treats everyone (earth included) well.
Two finds from this search when it comes to shoes. Both of which I think are great.
For one thing there’s Ethletic. In the summer, I resort to white canvas sneakers nine out of ten times. For a while that was Converse. Then I moved on to PF Flyers (because they had a Bob Cousy shoe). But now that I’ve found Ethletic, I think I’m going to stick with it. While they’re in the same price range as every other sort of canvas sneaker, they are also Fairtrade, organic, natural, vegan, and made in factories where workers are paid fairly and treated with respect. And mine are really comfortable. Love ‘em.
Next up there’s Oliberte. While they don’t have the vegan cred (the shoes are leather, so that’s a little hard to swing), they partner with factories, suppliers, and farmers in Africa and focus on making sure everyone involved is treated fairly and respectfully, with good hiring practices, breaks, leave and other things that people are certainly not guaranteed in many jobs. They too stick with the organic model for all the components and take the environmental side of things very seriously. And from personal experience I can say that their customer service is excellent.
I’m delighted with these finds and hope that more clothing companies find success with this sort of practice. I’ll be keeping my eye out.