Africa

Africa Art Europe

‘Rubens To Dumas: Black Is Beautiful’ Exhibit Opens In Amsterdam

“Rubens To Dumas: Black Is Beautiful,” an exhibition of 135 paintings, drawings, and manuscripts focusing on the changing role of black people in Dutch art and culture over seven centuries, opened this weekend at De Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam.

The exhibit takes a look at the “fascination” many artists have had with black people, presenting works by Dutch and international artists, including Rembrandt, Rubens, and Dumas.

Reflecting the exaltation and victimization of blacks through the years, the show is divided into three sections: The Old World, where the Moors of Europe, “The Black King” and the Aethiopes or Ethiopians of classical mythology are explored; the New World, where the African continent and blacks as victims of slavery come into play; and the Modern World, where new art movements like Cubism, and Surrealism explore the jazz culture that swept through Europe.

The exhibition was curated by art historian Esther Schreuder.

PHOTO: “Sibylle Agrippina” by Jan van der Hoecke; “On The Terrace” by Nola Hatterman

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Africa Sports

Africans Spell Success With Scrabble

African countries vie for top spot at this week’s Francophone World Scrabble Championship in Dakar, Senegal as 600 entrants from 21 countries, more than half of which are African countries, compete in this year’s games.

Now in its 37th year, the francophone competition is incredibly popular among French colonized countries of West Africa, with Africans claiming top honors since 2000. Mali’s Ministry of Sports picked up the tab for 10 players to compete in this year’s championship and Senegal’s Minister of Sports declared the tournament one of the year’s most important sports events, proving Scrabble is more than just a past time for many African countries.

Even though Africans face considerable economic and educational disadvantages, they have proven to be extremely resourceful….

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Africa Race Matters

Report: Albinos Fear For Their Lives In Tanzania

Long ostracized for their lack of pigmentation–and believed to be bad omens–albinos are now fearing for their lives in Tanzania, according to the BBC.

Last year, 25 albinos were killed in Tanzania. Although the exact reasons for the killings have not been pinpointed, it is speculated that Albinos have become the target of sorcery and the occult. Most recently, a 7-month-old baby and an adult man were mutilated for their body parts, which are believed to be valuable for potions.

While albinism occurs 1 in every 20,000 people worldwide, Tanzania offers the highest rate with 4,000 albinos registered in the country and as much as 173,000 believed to be a more accurate count.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete is pushing for the police to offer protection for albinos, as many are moving closer to safer, urban areas.

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Accolades Africa Politics Race Matters

Happy Birthday, Mr. Mandela!!!

The face of South Africa and a symbol of compassion and forgiveness, who was imprisoned for nearly three decades for his fight against apartheid, has turned 90 today. Happy birthday, Mr. Nelson Mandela!

But, the first black president of South Africa celebrated his landmark birthday in Robin Hood-style (minus the thievery!): he urged the wealthy to share their prosperity with the less fortunate, according to the AP.

“There are many people in South Africa who are rich and who can share those riches with those not so fortunate who have not been able to conquer poverty,” Mandela said, adding that many people in his country are not fortunate enough to make it to 90. “If you are poor, you are not likely to live long.”

PHOTO: AP

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Africa Health Race Matters

Genetics Blamed For HIV Among African Descendants

The recent headlines, concerning a new study on HIV/AIDS, have been frightening: “Genetic Variation May Raise AIDS Infection Risk in Africans ” (Bloomberg.com) AND “Scientists Make Gene Link To African HIV Epidemic” (Times Online). But the media and even the scientists may be jumping the gun by making such bold declarations.

A new study published in the Cell Host and Microbe journal has researchers concluding that sub-Saharan Africans and their descendants are more susceptible to the HIV virus because of their genetics: the lack of a Duffy Antigen Receptor for Chemokines (DARC), commonly referred to as the Duffy protein.

In the presence of the protein, according to the study, HIV particles are absorbed–diminishing the virus’ chances of infecting vulnerable white blood cells. However, the absence of the Duffy protein acts as a protector from the malaria parasite.

The results and interpretations of this study provide a plausible explanation for the disproportionate number of African and African-Americans affected by the HIV virus in relation to their European counterparts. It also deflects from the common excuse of sexual behavior patterns. But it should not be overlooked that declaring an ethnic group genetically predisposed to fall prey to a modern day plague smacks of racial propaganda.

Cheryl Winkler, head of the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity at the National Cancer Institute, in Frederick, Md. cautions, “This definitely requires more study and replication of results before you can make these assumptions. They have a model here, but they don’t have enough evidence.”

Let us not forget that it is often argued in the scientific field that the bias of researchers and their preconceived notions and hypothesis can skew data results. In other words, researchers might be discovering exactly what they’re looking for and possibly overlooking other factors.

It should also be noted that the study was conducted exclusively on American military personnel which not only eliminated many of the socioeconomic variables that might have an impact on HIV susceptibility but also excluded Africans from the study.

David Goldstein, a Duke University population geneticist who studies HIV genetics, points out that African Americans have an especially diverse genetic heritage making it more difficult to link a particular gene to HIV susceptibility.

If the study didn’t include any Africans why are they being accused of genetic shortcomings in the headlines?

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Africa Europe Politics

French President Sarkozy’s Plan To Divide Africa

A plan to join the 27 states of the European Union and countries bordering the Mediterranean, including North Africa, has been launched and led by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Dubbed the “Union for the Mediterranean”, the plan is outlined as aiming to improve energy supply, fight pollution, and strengthen the surveillance of maritime traffic, among other goals.

Sengal’s President Abdoulaye Wade has criticized the plan, claiming that the union will divide Africa into two separate groups. “Africans should now brace themselves to face up to the consequence of the departure of some African states from the African Union in favor of Europe,” Wade says, pointing out that “there are other obvious goals behind the Union for the Mediterranean initiative like Algeria’s oil and gas and Libyan oil.”

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi also describes the plan as “divisive and dangerous to African and Arab unity.”

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Accolades Africa Leona Lewis Politics Will Smith

Second Mandela Bash Planned For South Africa

In response to the high wattage, celebrity-sprinkled (Will Smith, Amy Winehouse, and Leona Lewis performed) pre-birthday concert bash held in London’s Hyde Park on June 27th to mark Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday, South Africa’s political party, the African National Congress, is bringing the celebration back to “the people.”

ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe says, “The people and the society made Mandela, not London or Houghton. That is why we want his birthday to be celebrated by the people.”

Mantashe has announced plans for a rally in Pretoria, South Africa on August 2nd that would include performances by local artists paying tribute to one of the key figures of the South African liberation struggle. This week also marks the 10-year anniversary of Mandela’s marriage to third wife Graca Machel, the former wife of Mozambique president Samora Machel.

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