On our Lists this week: David Whyte, Brooklyn’s Dirty Masquerade, and Little America

Memory: The Caribbean Carnival and J’ouvert street party is held in Brooklyn, New York City. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/AFP

Memory: The Caribbean Carnival and J’ouvert street party is held in Brooklyn, New York City. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/AFP

The Playlist

Little America directed by Yoza Mnyanda: So far, I have become comfortable with the idea of Mnyanda being a musician. I’m fully aware that she studied film making but logging on to YouTube to see that the documentary she’s been working on for almost a year is out made me leap. Little America, narrated by Darkie Fiction, looks at how South African artists use American gimmicks to sell their music — even Boity is doing this.

The film also looks at the small amount of airplay for artists who are making music that is authentic to the locale and why that is. I think the questions they’re asking are important and I’m not mad at the fact that they are the ones to do it. The film looks and sounds good. I would even go as far as daring all upcoming hip-hop artists to watch this and reflect on their work. My only question is: Who will listen right now? (ZH)

Brooklyn’s Dirty Masquerade by Vice: Among the more personable documentaries I have seen recently, this one is about a pre-dawn masquerade that forms part of the Caribbean Carnival. With roots going back to the days of chattel slavery, the J’ouvert street party, and the rest of the carnival, represents the expression of freedom.

The narrator works hard at being an active participant in all the preparational festivities and, by doing so, brings out textured stories from his subjects, stories about the beauty of subversion. (KS)

The Reading List

Consolations by David Whyte: I can’t believe I didn’t know about this man’s writing and I can’t believe I missed him when he was in South Africa earlier this year. This little book of small, everyday words is the best purchase I have made this year (R176 on Amazon) and I have a feeling I will be reading it forever.

It begins with a poetic three pages on the word “alone”, followed by the word “ambition” and the word “anger”. It’s an alphabetical bequeathing of universal wisdom. To quote him: “Poetry is language against which you have no defences.”

I’m done. (MB)

Urban Revolt: State Power and the Rise of People’s Movements in the Global South, Wits University Press: Recently, when I wrote an article in which people expressed their misgivings about poverty-eradicating charity events such as the Global Citizen Festival, I
was struck by something that activist Hassan Lorgat said: “None of the messaging is about resistance.”

After all, what is citizenship if one doesn’t resist for the right to be one. In a lot of ways, this is a book about the world and how resistance is a matter of survival rather than a choice.

Urban Revolt is edited by academics Luke Sinwell, Trevor Ngwane and Immanuel Ness. (KS)

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