West Africa Archive

  • Idrissa Ouédraogo, whose simple, carefully observed movies about cultural change in Burkina Faso and elsewhere in Africa, brought him international acclaim and a top award at the Cannes International Film Festival, recently died. We share his first film, Yam Daabo (The Choice) about a family facing famine in the Sahel.

    Cinematic Cultural Change in West Africa with Idrissa Ouédraogo

    Idrissa Ouédraogo, whose simple, carefully observed movies about cultural change in Burkina Faso and elsewhere in Africa, brought him international acclaim and a top award at the Cannes International Film Festival, recently died. We share his first film, Yam Daabo (The Choice) about a family facing famine in the Sahel.

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  • Fela Kuti, Nigerian music legend, political insurrectionist and provocateur against the corporate and missionary sell-out of African wisdom and religion, ending up in jail and tortured...and loved by the African people. Here, Jamaican-born, Africa-based writer Lindsay Barrett puts us on Fela's life path, his wild and unstructured Afrobeat sound, the commune, the wives, and the push against the Nigerian military dictatorship.

    Fela Kuti, Revolutionary Insurrectionist, Talismanic Afrobeat Pioneer

    Fela Kuti, Nigerian music legend, political insurrectionist and provocateur against the corporate and missionary sell-out of African wisdom and religion, ending up in jail and tortured...and loved by the African people. Here, Jamaican-born, Africa-based writer Lindsay Barrett puts us on Fela's life path, his wild and unstructured Afrobeat sound, the commune, the wives, and the push against the Nigerian military dictatorship.

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  • Anansi, the trickster from the folktales of the Ashanti of West Africa, takes the shape of a spider who goes to the sky god to buy his stories to share with the world. Anansi's stories would become popular through the African diaspora all over the Caribbean and southern US. Here is an animated retelling called "A Story, A Story."

    Ashanti of Ghana: How Spider Obtained the Sky-God’s Stories

    Anansi, the trickster from the folktales of the Ashanti of West Africa, takes the shape of a spider who goes to the sky god to buy his stories to share with the world. Anansi's stories would become popular through the African diaspora all over the Caribbean and southern US. Here is an animated retelling called "A Story, A Story."

    Continue Reading...

  • Like several West African religions, Vodouisants believe in a supreme being called Bondyè, from bon "good" + dyè "God." Because Bondyè is unreachable, Vodouisants aim their prayers to lesser entities, the spirits known as Lwa (Loa), contacted and served through possession. In turn, the Lwa confer material blessings, physical well-being, protection, abundance.

    Haitian Vodou: Summoning the Spirits

    Like several West African religions, Vodouisants believe in a supreme being called Bondyè, from bon "good" + dyè "God." Because Bondyè is unreachable, Vodouisants aim their prayers to lesser entities, the spirits known as Lwa (Loa), contacted and served through possession. In turn, the Lwa confer material blessings, physical well-being, protection, abundance.

    Continue Reading...