ARCHITECTURE + PHOTO ESSAY: Gurunsi Earth Houses of Burkina Faso

image © scott worthington


the small country of burkina faso near the border to ghana may not have many resources or economic wealth, but with the plentiful raw materials  available the kassena people make some of the most culturally rich and architecturally beautiful villages, such as this one in tiébélé, built using traditional gurunsi vernacular. the dwellings occupy a community of just over one hectare in area, and are made of a sun-dried mix of clay, soil, straw and cow droppings moistened to a perfect mortar, mixed by foot to create strong pottery-like structures. these techniques actually preceded  the well known mud-brick constructions of indigenous peoples in the area. layer upon layer are added when needed, maintaining the necessary wall  thickness to withstand rainstorms and extreme temperatures. short walls are used as urban landscaping elements, provide a buttressing support,  and offer supplementary places to sit or work.


the most amazing feature, however, is the intricate ornamentation that covers almost every square inch of the dwellings, painted with colored mud and chalk that tell an expressive story of the ancient tribe's culture. the motifs can illustrate just about anything from objects used in normal daily life, to religion and beliefs, to decorative patterns that distinguish one house from the other. the artwork is then embossed with rocks and etchings that  highlight the designs and give a truly unique character. the material, along with small openings usually located closer to the ground assist in comfortable  interior temperatures. the construction is made with abundant resources found on site that can be re-applied endlessly.


kassena village, tiébélé, burkina faso
image © scott worthington



kassena village, tiébélé, burkina faso
image © rita willaert



kassena village, tiébélé, burkina faso
image © rita willaert



kassena village, tiébélé, burkina faso
image © rita willaert



kassena village, tiébélé, burkina faso
image © rita willaert



kassena village, tiébélé, burkina faso
image © rita willaert



kassena village, tiébélé, burkina faso
image © rita willaert



kassena village, tiébélé, burkina faso
image © rita willaert



kassena village, tiébélé, burkina faso
image © rita willaert



kassena village, tiébélé, burkina faso
image © rita willaert



kassena village, tiébélé, burkina faso
image © rita willaert



kassena village, tiébélé, burkina faso
image © scott worthington



kassena village, tiébélé, burkina faso
image © scott worthington



OBIT + VIDEO: Chinua Achebe: Novelist, essayist, social historian > Brown University News and Events

Chinua Achebe:

Writer, critic, social historian

March 22, 2013  

Chinua Achebe - The David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and Professor of Africana Studies
Chinua Achebe The David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and Professor of Africana Studies Credit: Mike Cohea/Brown University


Chinua Achebe, the David and Marianna Fisher University professor and professor of Africana studies at Brown University, died in Boston Thursday evening, March 21, 2013. Achebe, among the world’s greatest writers of his time, joined the Brown faculty in the fall of 2009.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University learned this morning of the death of Chinua Achebe in Boston Thursday evening, March 21, 2013.

Achebe, the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and professor of Africana studies, joined the Brown faculty in September 2009.

Best known for his novels and essays which critique postcolonial Nigerian politics and society as well as the impact of the West on Africa, Achebe was widely acknowledged as “godfather” to a generation of African writers. His first novel, Things Fall Apart, is the most widely read work of African fiction, having sold more than 12 million copies in English alone. It has been translated into 50 languages.

Among his activities at Brown was the annual Achebe Colloquium on Africa, an international gathering of scholars, policymakers, elected officials, writers, and others with a shared interest in current-day African affairs.

“The colloquia he organized at Brown attracted a grand array of guests and effectively demonstrated how the humanities can build understanding by drawing from and encouraging a variety of perspectives,” said Brown University President Christina H. Paxson. “We were honored to have him among us.”

“Professor Achebe’s contribution to world literature is incalculable,” said Brown President Emerita Ruth J. Simmons, who led the University when Achebe came to Brown. “Millions find in his singular voice a way to understand the conflicting opportunities and demands of living in a post-colonial world. The courageous personal and artistic example he offered will never be extinguished. Brown is fortunate to have been his home.”

From Corey D.B. Walker, associate professor and chair of the Department of Africana studies:

He was more than just a colleague, faculty member, and teacher at Brown. He was a gift to the world. We are very privileged to have had him with us for the last four years and even more so for allowing us to get close to him and his family.

At a time like this we could draw many words of wisdom and comfort from the deep wells of various African cultures and traditions to honor him. The most fitting is the simple and elegant phrase, “A great tree has fallen.”

Indeed, the passing of Chinua Achebe is an event of global significance. The entire faculty and staff in the Department of Africana Studies share in the celebration of the great life that is Chinua Achebe.

From Anani Dzidzienyo, associate professor of Africana studies and Portuguese and Brazilian studies:

Part of his impact was that he was always a part of Africana studies. His presence in the department affirmed our intellectual mission and strengthened our commitment and dedication to Africana studies. Indeed, his presence was powerful. When he was first appointed, a friend told me we had captured history and planted it in Churchill House.

He brought the whole history of contemporary African writing to Brown from the time when he wrote Things Fall Apart to the present. His name symbolizes the themes and issues that characterize African societies and cultures. His presence at Brown is something we could not have imagined before it happened. He was an inspiration to us and our students. As a student remarked, “It is incredible that he is here with us.”

In the spirit of Ghanian proverbs, and by implication African proverbs, I leave these words for contemplation: “The path crosses the river and the river crosses the path. Which came first, the path or the river?”

May you travel well, Professor Achebe.

 During his time at Brown, Achebe convened four colloquia:

  • The 2012 Achebe Colloquium focused on the security situation throughout northern, central, and eastern Africa; ethno-religious insurgency and regime change in West Africa; and peace-building efforts taking place in southern Africa.

  • The 2011 Achebe Colloquium explored the Arab Spring and the crisis in Darfur.

  • The 2010 Achebe Colloquium focused on three African nations — Rwanda, Congo, and Nigeria — and the crucial issues impacting those countries, the continent, and the world.

  • The inaugural 2009 Achebe Colloquium addressed the problems and prospects of the 2010 Nigerian elections.

University flags are flying at half-staff, and the University will plan an appropriate memorial in celebration of Achebe’s life and work.




Chinua Achebe:

Obituary of

Nigeria's renowned author

Nigerian author Chinua Achebe gestures during a news conference held during the Frankfurt bookfair on 12 October 2002

Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe, who has died aged 82, was revered throughout the world for his depiction of life in Africa.

He wrote about the effects of colonialism and its aftermath, as well as political corruption and attempts to introduce democratic reforms.

Born in 1930, he has often been referred to as the founding father of African literature in English.

Chinua Achebe said that any good story or any good novel should have a message and a purpose.

His first novel - the groundbreaking Things Fall Apart, published in 1958 - dealt with the clash between Western and traditional African values - and how traditional norms and values had been undermined.

This 2010 photo provided by Brown University shows Chinua Achebe. He worked as a professor of languages and literature for the university
  • Born in 1930 - 30 years before Nigeria's independence
  • Referred to as the founding father of African literature
  • First novel Things Fall Apart, published in 1958, has sold 10 million copies
  • Wrote about the effects of colonialism and corruption
  • Later novels include No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987)
  • Nelson Mandela called him "the writer in whose company the prison walls came down"
  • Met his wife Christie Okoli in Lagos. They married in 1961 and had four children
  • Involved in a road accident in 1990 which left him partially paralysed

Translated into more than 50 languages, its focus was on the traditions of Igbo society in south-eastern Nigeria, where he grew up.

"The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart," one of the characters said.

He wrote his novels in English and defended the use of English, a "language of colonisers", in African literature.

After he won the Man Booker International Prize for his work in 2007, he told the BBC that African literature was important for the wider literary world, and for African states themselves.

"What African literature set about to do was to broaden the conception of literature in the world - to include Africa, which wasn't there.

"In the stories we tell, it is intended to help us solve the problem of this failure that has overtaken the early sense of joy and happiness when Africans became independent, received their self-determination."

'Bloody racist'

As a boy growing up in colonial Nigeria he excelled at school.

According to the AFP news agency, he described his parents as early converts to Christianity, with his father becoming an Anglican religious teacher and travelling the region with his mother to preach and teach.

Achebe later won a scholarship for undergraduate studies at what is now the University of Ibadan and became fascinated with world religions and traditional African cultures.

After graduation, he worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service and soon moved to the metropolis of Lagos, where he met his future wife, Christie Okoli.

They married in 1961 and went on to have four children.

Chinua Achebe and Nelson Mandela in Cape Town in 2002Nelson Mandela said Chinua Achebe (l) "brought Africa to the rest of the world"


He gained worldwide attention for Things Fall Apart, which was published two years before Nigeria gained independence from the UK in 1960.

As well as writing novels he was also an academic.

In 1975, his lecture - An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness - became the focus of controversy, for its criticism of Joseph Conrad as "a bloody racist" and was later published.

Former South African President and anti-apartheid fighter Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in jail, once said that in the company of Chinua Achebe's novels "prison walls fell down".

He also said that he was the writer who "brought Africa to the rest of the world".

Much of his work reflected his belief that his own country had failed to realise its potential.

Honour refused

After a car crash in 1990 which left him partially paralysed and in a wheel chair, Achebe moved to live in the US - only returning to Nigeria infrequently.

But he continued to write and his novels, poems and essays and in his later years he was an outspoken critic of the Nigerian government.

He has twice turned down the offer of a title Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic, once in 2004 from Nigeria's then President Olusegun Obasanjo and again in 2011 from President Goodluck Jonathan.

"What's the good of being a democracy if people are hungry and despondent and the infrastructure is not there," Mr Achebe told the BBC in 2004, explaining his decision.

"There is no security of life. Parts of the country are alienated. Religious conflicts spring up now and again. The country is not working."

Last year, he published a long-awaited memoir about the brutal three-year Biafran war - when the south-eastern Igbo region tried to split from Nigeria in 1967.

He had acted as roving cultural ambassador for Biafra at the time, but for more than 40 years he remained silent about his war experiences.

More than one million people died during the conflict and in the book he accused the UN of standing by, like Nigeria's government, as Biafra was crushed.

"You see we, the little people of the world, are ever expendable," he wrote.




HISTORY: German Genocide In Namibia





Thirty years before Hitler came to power in Germany, and about forty years before Raphael Lemkin authored the word genocide, there had already been one at the hands of Germany. This genocide did not take place in Europe. This ‘forgotten’ genocide took place in Southwest Africa, or what is today, Nambia. 

In the early 1900s, Germany invaded Namibia. This documentary from the BBC outlines the events that lead up to the deaths of at least three-quarters of the population of Herero people, and at least half of the population of Nama people.

This systematic form of ethnic-cleansing was done to create Lebensraum for German settlers, where space was running out in the over-crowded cities of urban Germany, and create a satellite state for Germany interests and prosperity.

“The dark racial theories that helped inspire the Nazis run much deeper into German and European history than most people want to acknowledge”

(part 2;3;4;5;6)





By Nick Kates

Early History

Not much is known about what went on in Namibia before the arrival of Europeans.  It is thought that the San people inhabited modern day Namibia as far back as 2,000 years ago (Fact Monster).  The first europeans to visit Namibia were Portuguese, who used Namibia as a place to stop over on Asian expeditions.  

Namibia was assigned to Germany at the Berlin Conference of 1883.  The territory was called Deutsch-Südwestafrika, or German South West Africa.  The Germans gradually took control of the country using various methods.  One such method was to offer "protection" in exchange for land.  This protection was called into question when Namaqua chief Hendrik Witbooi managed to steal the Imperial Commissioner's horses.  This was a real wakeup call for the Germans, and they began to use violence to obtain land.





Effects of Imperialism

Herero and Namaqua Genocide

The Herero and Namaqua Genocide was the response by German soldiers to uprisings by the nomadic Herero population (Ezakwantu).

Upon arrival in Namibia, Germans were encourage to settle on Herero land, which angered the Hereros and their leader, Chief Samuel Maherero.  The colonial government also oppressed the Hereros.  The tension boiled over in 1904 when Chief Maherero called for the offensive known as the Herero uprising.  The Hereros attacked the Germans, killing only important German men and sparing women, children, Boers, and British (Ezakwantu).  

In response, the German government replaced the more lenient colonial administrator, Theodor Leutwein, with the ruthless General Lothar von Trotha.  Von Trotha confronted and defeated the Herero at the battle of Waterberg before sending the Herero an ultimatum: get out or be rounded up and killed (Ezakwantu).

Von Trotha then turned his killer intentions towards Hendrik Witbooi and the Namaqua, who had fought with the Germans against the Herero.  The Germans defeated the Namaqua and also killed Witbooi.  Survivors were all captured.

Those captured were rounded up and sent to concentration camps at Luderitz, Swakopmund, Windhoek, and Okahandja.  The camp at Luderitz was on an island called Shark Island.  Shark Island became one of the most notorious death camps in the world.  Native peoples were shot and hung at will by German soldiers.  Over 3000 people were killed there (Ezakwantu).

This Genocide is best known for its influence on another genocide.  It is widely believed that Adolf Hitler used the Namibian extermination camps as a blueprint for his own extermination camps in the Holocaust (Ezakwantu).


When South Africa took control of Namibia by direct rule in 1969, it implemented Apartheid.  However, the United Nations quickly declared the South African occupation illegal.  In the face of sanctions, South Africa was forced to adopt a much more lenient system of Apartheid in Namibia (South African History Online).

So What Was Imperialism Really Like?

Imperialism in Namibia was a different experience depending on the color of one's skin.  Whites could expect a cosmopolitan city life and access to natural resources, while Blacks experienced genocide, oppression, and apartheid.





Struggle for Independence

South Africa began occupying Namibia in 1915, but the real struggle for independence began in 1960, when the Ovamboland People's Oragnization (OPO) became the South West African People's Organization (SWAPO).  SWAPO began training a guerrilla army and won the support of other African countries as well as the United Nations.  In 1969, South Africa took control of Namibia via direct rule.  However, the UN quickly condemned this as illegal, and sought sanctions against South Africa.  This, coupled with numerous SWAPO guerrilla strikes, eventually proved too much for South Africa.  South Africa made multiple unsuccessful attempts at establishing Apartheid in Namibia.  Finally, Namibia began to become less profitable and more of a burden.  South Africa finally granted independence to Namibia in 1990 (South African History Online).




Namibia Today

Namibia has been a relatively peaceful country.  Apart from a minor conflict in the Caprivi strip, there have been no internal conflicts since independence.  Namibia's prospects for ecotourism seem good, considering the various ecosystems and wildlife that live there.  Wildlife that make their home in Namibia include lions, zebras, elephants, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, leopards, cheetahs, springboks, and several species of whale.


Works Cited 

Ezakwantu. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2013. <>.

Fact Monster. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2013. <>.

Government of Namibia. Government of Namibia, n.d. Web. 8 Jan. 2013. <;jsessionid=c9da03a87290c52f1576c61068cf>.

Namibian., n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2013.

Namibiana. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2013. <>.

South African History Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2013. <>.


AUDIO + INTERVIEW: Opolopo Remixes Jackson, Jackson & Jones > They Make Music


Who are you and what do you do? How long have you been a working musician?

I’m Peter Major, better known as Opolopo and maybe Actual Proof. I’m a producer, songwriter and DJ who’s been at it for ages but doing it full-time since about 2003.

What is your educational background? Are there any schools, courses, or books you recommend?

I’m self-taught when it comes to music, but what I recommend is get yourself a music loving mother and father with a fusion and jazz addiction. Other than that, I think pretty much everything else is only a mouse click away. There’s so much information out there for free. You just need patience and a sense of what to look for. Also listening to what people before you did, trying to figure out how, is invaluable.

What hardware are you using?

A PC, RME Multiface sound card, MIDI controllers and a set of beat up but still working pair of ears. These are the hardware tools I always use, but then I have other bits like a Rhodes, EMU sampler, SE-1, Nord Modular etc, that barely get used anymore. Oh, there’s an Ibanez Bass, a cheap Music Man copy, and a Larrivée guitar that get some love every now and then too.

What software are you using?

My main DAW is Cubase 6 for production. I use Ableton Live for the live gigs and for doing edits.

Ever since I first played around with Propellerheads Rebirth sometime back in the previous century, I’ve been dreaming of having the whole production process at my fingertips within one environment. The idea of having everything contained in one project file, making it possible to work simultaneously on multiple projects with all settings and parameters called back exactly as you left them, is so appealing to me. All the possibilities with things like automation and the exact control software gives you, is feeding my creativity and shortens the time from idea to realization. Of course all this isn’t worth much if you’re let down by the sonic quality of the digital environment, but with the right plug-ins and an understanding of what it is you’re trying to achieve, the pros far outweigh the cons – for me that is. It’s what gets your creativity flowing. If you’re turned off by software and only feel sexy when touching knobs and faders then go with the hardware.

Some of the plug-ins that do it for me are: OP-X – a beautiful emulation of the Oberheim OB-X. I love the organic analogue feel and randomness of the sound. The DCAM Synth Squad is a suite of synths that emulate analogue circuitry rather than specific synths. Great modulation capabilities! Another favorite is Korg’s Mono/Poly plug-in. I kinda grew up with this quirky but very versatile synth and the plug-in emulates it beautifully.

For FX and EQ I try to use the built in tools in Cubase more and more. One thing I use a lot, that got dropped in Cubase 6, is the QuadraFuzz distortion/filter bank. It’s great for speaker simulations and dirtying up sounds. If you have an old Cubase version you can just grab the dll and copy it to your Cubase 6 installation.

What would be your dream setup?

Having said I’m all for software, I’d still love to collect all the classic vintage gear. If nothing else, just for inspiration. The hands on feel, the look, smell and embedded history in those machines is something you can’t get in software.

Can you describe your creative process? Is there a particular routine or schedule you stick to?

Hm, not really. I guess I normally start out with chord progressions though. Especially when doing vocal remixes I always first play around with new harmonies over the vocals followed by bass line and beats. But it’s usually a very non linear process where I jump around and constantly mess with bits and pieces until I feel it’s all done. I do try and get the song structure done before I get too deeply into the production side of things but sometimes I get carried away with the first eight bars and want to nail the sound before going further. I think the process is I let myself go with what excites me the most in any given scenario. It’s important to try and feel excited as long as possible to keep things fresh. Even though I’m quite disciplined by now it helps to sustain the excitement to finish and complete things.

Where do you shop for and discover music?

I shop for all music on-line these days. All the usual places like Juno and Traxsource but also eMusic which is subscription based and has a somewhat different selection. Bandcamp is great for discovering new stuff that’s not available elsewhere. Soundcloud and various blogs are great recourses too.

Any highlights from your latest musical discoveries?

Not necessarily the latest but some artists/albums that have stood out for me in 2011 include: Deboráh Bond – Madam Palindrome, Teeko – Light Up The Darkness, Brandon Coleman – Self Taught.

What’s brewing in your studio?

Right now I’m working on a bunch of stuff: A new album to drop after the summer. A new house EP. Various remixes, mixes and collabs. This is where working in the box is handy – I can work on all of these projects simultaneously. ;-) I also just finished a loop and sample CD for Loopmasters.

Any production tips & tricks you’d like to share?

Some random tips:

Don’t over compress your masters!

Cut at around 250 Hz to get rid of mud.

Check your mixes in mono.

Don’t over compress your masters.

De-essers are your friends and can be used for more than just vocals.

Haas panning (where you delay one channel of a mono sound to create a sense of direction of the sound) is an interesting alternative to traditional panning.

Worry more about your songwriting and musical skills than whether you’ve got the right/latest/coolest software/hardware.

And also, don’t over compress your masters…

Where can we find you on the web?

Opolopo / Facebook / SoundCloud / Twitter / YouTube


VIDEO: This is a 1958 Tonight Show featuring Terry Pollard > Daughters of Dilla



This is a 1958 Tonight Show with the Terry Gibbs Quartet and Terry Pollard. You may not have heard of Terry Pollard, but you will become a fan after this video. Unfortunately, she passed away in 2009, and for reasons unknown, she didn’t make her mark on the jazz scene a well as she should have. Regardless of her career, or lack there of, this video is remarkable in more ways than one. 


PUB: Spoon River Review Poetry Contest

SRPR Editors' Prize Contest: $1,000



Deadline: April 15, annually (postmark)

One winning poem will be awarded $1,000, two runners-up will be awarded $100 each, and 3-5 honorable mentions will be selected. All winning poems, honorable mentions, and several finalists are published in the winter issue of SRPR.

Finalists are read by a prominent outside judge, who also writes an introduction to the winning poem. Recent judges include David Baker, C.S. Giscombe and Jeanne Marie Beaumont. Judges are announced after winners are selected.

Entry Fee: Our entry fee of $20 includes a one-year subscription to SRPR (two issues). If you already subscribe, then we will extend your subscription.


We accept simultaneous submissions. To withdraw a specific poem or the entire submission notify us by email at contact[AT]srpr[DOT]org.

To Submit Online: Please visit online Submission Manager for the Editors' Prize Contest. You will find full guidelines on the submission page. Also please note that your SRPR issues will be shipped to the shipping address that you will select in PayPal.

**Important note for existing subscribers to SRPR: when you are at the PayPal checkout page, please provide the email id that you have provided SRPR with for contact purposes. This will help us handle your subscription more efficiently. If you are not sure if your current email is the one you already have registered with SRPR, please email us with your mailing details and we will reply back with your email id.

To Submit by Postal Mail : Submit two copies of up to three unpublished poems, maximum of ten pages total. Name, address, email and phone number of poet should appear on each page of one copy only; the other copy must be free of all identifying information. Entries must be unpublished and will not be returned. Please check our website in August for announcement of winners.

To enter the contest, please send your entry, along with your check (made out to SRPR) to:

SRPR (Spoon River Poetry Review)
4241 Publications Unit
Illinois State University
Normal, IL 61790-4241


Past Contest Winners

37.2 William Stobb, "A Moment for Authentic Shine," chosen by David Baker

36.2 Jennie Ray, "Chapter VII: When You Stand in Front of the Coffeed Moths," chosen by C.S. Giscombe

35.2 Nancy Pearson, "Abrams Creek," chosen by Jeanne Marie Beaumont



PUB: Call for Entries Worldwide: Desi Writers Lounge Short Story Competition 2013 > Writers Afrika

Call for Entries Worldwide:

Desi Writers Lounge

Short Story Competition 2013


Deadline: 15 July 2013

We at DesiWritersLounge are a not-for profit volunteer-based magazine that promote South Asian writers and their stories and poems. We publish a biannual online literary journal called Papercuts and we are holding a short story competition 2013 offering a grand prize of PKR 50,000 for one winner. The top 3 would be published in our online magazine and receive copies of How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia - the new, critically acclaimed novel by Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid.


The DWL annual short story competition aims to encourage fiction writing and promote new writers. Now in its second year, the competition is open to writers of all ages around the world.

The top three entries will be published in the next issue of Papercuts magazine and will receive copies of How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia - the new, critically acclaimed novel by Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid. Of these, one lucky winner will be selected for the 50,000 PKR Dastaan Award*, a new writing prize being offered by DWL in partnership with a benefactor.


  • The stories may follow any theme, but should not be more than 5,000 words.

  • Only one entry per person will be accepted.

  • Entries should be in English.

  • Please only submit original stories.

  • Please do not submit previously published material.

  • Please send your entries only as Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) attachments. Each story must have a title.

  • Each document should be named clearly with the title of the story plus the name of the author. No page numbering, headers or footers, please. Text must be received in the following format: a single-spaced, left-aligned document with Georgia size-12 font.
Send your entries to the editor with "Short Story" in the subject line.


Desi Writers Lounge is proud to announce that as of this year it will be offering a prize of 50,000 PKR to one selected winner of its annual Short Story Competition.

The prize has been set up by Mr. Ali Azfar and his wife Afia Aslam to support new writing and can be awarded to a writer based anywhere in the world. The founders are veteran supporters of DWL and have generously chosen to offer the prize in partnership with us.

At present, the award is only available for original, unpublished short stories submitted through the DWL short story competition. The deadline for submissions for this competition is July 15th, 2013. The winner of the Dastaan Award will be notified by September 15th, 2013.


For queries/ submissions:




PUB: Call for Entries: Commonwealth Women in Leadership Essay Competition > Writers Afrika

Call for Entries:

Commonwealth Women in Leadership

Essay Competition

Deadline: 8 April 2013

Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meetings (WAMMs) have been held triennially since 1985. They have provided strategic opportunities for Ministers, Senior Officials, civil society organisations, and partner agencies to discuss critical issues in advancing women’s empowerment and gender equality. They contribute to Commonwealth and global agenda-setting processes.

The 10th Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting (10WAMM) will be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh from 17-19 June 2013. The theme of the meeting is “Women’s Leadership for Enterprise”.

The theme highlights the importance and significance of having more women represented in the economy and in decision-making processes, global financial markets, leading banks and national policy making bodies. Given that youth form 60 per cent of the Commonwealth population, bringing them into the decision-making process is vital. We are therefore seeking the perspectives and opinions of the young Commonwealth on the 10WAMM theme.

The Gender Section of the Secretariat is organising the Commonwealth ‘Women in Leadership’ essay competition. This competition is open to all youth in the Commonwealth between the ages of 15 and 29 years.

Young Commonwealth is invited to participate by answering one of the following questions.

  • How and why should governments encourage women’s leadership?


  • How and why should governments encourage women-owned enterprises?
The winner will be sponsored to participate in the 10th Women Affairs Ministers Meeting (10WAMM) in Dhaka, Bangladesh, from 17 to 19 June 2013.

Download: more information for applicants, essay cover sheet


For queries/ submissions:




VIDEO: Danilo Parra tells ‘The Unknown Story of Kalaparusha’


Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre is a 74-year-old jazz saxophonist, who once played with Miles Davis and now busks in New York's subway system to support himself and his wife, Antoinette.

Danilo Parra tells

‘The Unknown Story of 


I spotted Danilo Parra’s film a while back on the Guardian website and was blown away. It was in the shadow of Steve Reid passing away and I was moved by the plight of a generation of great musicians in danger of dying in poverty. Seventy four year old horn player Maurice McIntyre , best known as Kalaparusha, is the subject of this documentary, and one such musician. Though he did play with Miles I know his music from the Chicago AACM avante garde scene and here we find him, in the company of two bassists and drummer, recording what he claims will be his last LP. Basically, it sounds great – deep, resonant, spiritual jazz. Upon hearing the finished disc it prompted the horn player to reflect on how much he sounds like Coltrane. I contacted Danilo to thank him for making this film and he’d heard that Kalaparusha’s horn had been stolen while busking on the subway, threatening his ability to survive. The film doesn’t shy away from revealing that Kalaparusha has a drug habit to support and we a get a 2011 taste of the “Jazz Life” – a hard, destructive life – that was experienced by generations of users from Bird to Chet Baker to Coltrane. An aged horn player without a horn – that’s bad, very bad, so I’m hoping its been replaced and the release of the album is imminent ’cause it should, rightfully, get him some live bookings.

PS: I’ll keep you posted… or of you have any news hit me back!


FOOD: Fast and easy “red red” recipe from Ghana

Fast and easy

“red red” recipe from Ghana


When I asked my mother about what “red red” was, she explained that it is in actual fact, any stew made with palm oil. It has become accepted that this traditional black eyed pea stew or bean stew is widely known as red red. It is traditionally made with black eyed peas, however I remember mother making this with red beans, she says they taste better than the black eyed peas. Seeing as I am a busy Londoner with no time to soak beans, and knowing that I seldom stick to tradition when it comes to cooking, I have made an extremely easy version of this dish using a combination of canned black eyed peas and adzuki beans.


3 tbsp palm oil (must, otherwise it’s not “Red Red”)
1 onion
1 inch ginger
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp tomato puree
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 vegetable, fish or prawn stock cube
1 can adzuki beans
1 can black eye peas (no time for soaking dried beans)
1 scotch bonnet pepper, left whole


1. Heat up the palm oil and fry the onions until golden.
2. Add the garlic, ginger and tomato puree and fry for a minute
3. Add the chopped tomatoes followed by the stock cube and allow to fry and reduce for 10 minutes
4. Add the beans, including bean juice in can. Add the whole scotch bonnet to release flavour without too much heat and bring to a simmer.

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Traditionally enjoyed with fried plantain and a sprinkling of gari.



Hi! My name is Freedes*1, the author of My Burnt Orange*2. I am a wife, a mother, and a professional electrical engineer who loves to cook dishes from across Africa and beyond. You can probably tell I have a very busy life, but I ALWAYS make time to cook because I absolutely love it and have a healthy appetite for fresh, simple and sizzling food. Born and raised in Botswana to Ghanaian parents, and now married to a Zimbabwean, I have what I like to call a pan African palate. I have lived in the most amazing cities, namely Melbourne and now London. It is in these cities that I gained my cosmopolitan flair. I have travelled the world in search of culinary inspiration and have found one of the best ways to immerse myself into a culture is through food. I have taken the opportunity to learn about local foods in my travels; having had a wonderful experience learning about Thai Culinary Arts from the head chef at a hotel in Thailand and then Portuguese cuisine at a country cooking school in The Algarve. It is my hope that in sharing my recipes, I will challenge the misconception that African food is unhealthy, and even throw in some great Afro vegetarian ideas.

Since starting this blog in 2011, I have written recipes for Africa on The Blog through which some of my recipes have been picked up and published in the Guardian for theGuardian Africa Network. I have also been featured at The African Pot Nutrition and in Lohi’s Creations and am greatly humbled by these mentions. I am now working on publishing my first Afro Cosmopolitan Diet book in 2013, so please, watch this space.

*1 Freedes is my blogging name, but it works because my friends call me Freedes too. Mama calls me Freda.

*2 My Burnt Orange is the home of the Afro Cosmopolitan Diet. I am not a dietitian. Views are my own and based on personal experiences I am happy to share if it helps. If you need access to dietitians, keep posted while I populate a list for you.*