On our Lists this week: Africa is a Country, Philip Tabane, and Sho Madjozi


Africa is a Country: I’m a packaging fanatic and after seeing the new website, I’ve returned there daily to catch up on some missed content. It’s dressed in a stark and suitable new look. There’s an important piece about photography, titled “How not to photograph Nigerian women … again”, by Kathryn Mathers. She posits that a recent photo essay and article in The New York Times, featuring the Nigerian women who had been released by Islamist group Boko Haram was tone deaf and reliant on old tropes. (MB)


Huku by Sho Madjozi: Because I was raised by a Tsonga woman, I have a thing about Madjozi, but I’m not sure whether it’s a good or salty thing. What I can say is she has my attention and I constantly interrogate how I understand her work. Although I don’t speak Swahili, it’s clear from watching the video (and asking a handful of people) that Huku tells a story about a boy who can’t show his feelings for her — the sensitive but shallow skrr skrr boy in his sneaky and cultivated dishevelled style. Love the last part where she’s “Ach! Sho!” During the cold cuddle season, where vosho dance moves are exchanged for slow grinds, I’ll happily decline and stick to something fast-paced, light and fun like Huku. (ZH)

Garden (Say it Like That) by SZA: This is from the album Ctrl and has always been a favourite. But when SZA put her mother in the music video, it broadened its meaning. Before, song lyrics such as “Open your heart up/ Hoping they’ll never find out that you’re anyone else/ ‘Cause I love you just how you are/ Hope you never find out who I really am/ ‘Cause you’ll never love me” were applied only to a lover. Now the visuals have become something that can be applicable to a mother-daughter relationship. (ZH)

Silent Beauty by Philip Tabane: This beautiful 1989 album is an invitation into a timeless universe of the past and the future. It’s just one of the gifts that Tabane, who died last week, has left us — a trove of indigenous strings, drums and vocals in which I find new corners each time I listen to his music. (MB)

The Lists were compiled by Milisuthando Bongela, Kwanele Sosibo, and Zaza Hlalethwa

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