VIDEO + PHOTO ESSAY: London Life, Lagos Living > African Digital Art


Following the book by Bob Om0tayo ( The Rennainsance Man), this short film documents a week in his life. The documentary follows a series of short stories from his book with the same title. The short film is a great introduction to contemporary Naija culture in the diaspora. If you haven’t grabbed your hands on the book, the short film is worth a watch.

This 6-minute documentary, directed by LA-based filmmaker, Francesca Tilley-Gyado, is not so much a story of ‘the journey so far’ but more a snapshot into what a typical week is like for the author and contributors to the book. This documentary is testament that it is possible for a hopeless dreamer to dream in ‘flights of fancy’ but yet have his ‘flights’ for his singular critic.



Founder and Creative Director at African Digital Art Network
Jepchumba is an AFRICAN DIGITAL ARTIST and DIGITAL ENTHUSIAST who works hard to combine her two passions: Digital Media and Africa. Originally from Kenya, she has lived around the world developing her interest in philosophy, art and technology. An African digital artist, Jepchumba loves experimenting with motion, sound and various digital effects and techniques and has an extensive background in digital art, web design and development, audio/visual production and social media strategies.




HISTORY + PHOTO ESSAY: W. Eugene Smith’s Landmark Photo Essay, ‘Nurse Midwife’ (Maude Callen) > LIFE-com

W. Eugene Smith’s

Landmark Photo Essay,

‘Nurse Midwife’

Calling Maude Callen a heroic figure — especially today, when the word “hero” is thrown around like confetti — might strike some as problematic. She was, after all, not really risking her life in her daily and nightly rounds. But how else should we characterize a woman who saved so many others through her work, and who firmly, compassionately delivered into the world so many children who, without her intervention, might well have died at or shortly after birth? What else do we call someone who dedicated seemingly every waking moment to helping others — in a time and place where pain and want were the rule, rather than the exception?

The article in LIFE, titled simply “Nurse Midwife,” that chronicled Callen’s work and her unique role in her community is a companion piece, of sorts, to Smith’s landmark 1948 essay, “Country Doctor.” Spending time with the two essays, one gets the sense that Maude Callen and Dr. Ernest Ceriani of Kremmling, Colorado — while physically separated by thousands of miles, as well as by the even broader, thornier barrier of race -— would not only understand one another, on an elemental level, but that each would recognize something utterly familiar in the other. Their lives and the landscapes they navigated might have been as different, in critical ways, as one can possibly imagine; but in the essentials, they were kindred spirits. They were healers.

Here, on the heels of the 33rd annual W. Eugene Smith Grant ceremonies in New York, presents “Nurse Midwife” in its entirety, as well as images that Smith shot for the story but that were never published in LIFE.

The story in LIFE began this way, setting the stage for what one reader called, echoing the numerous awe-struck letters to the editor published in a later issue, “one of the greatest pieces of photojournalism I have seen in years”:

Some weeks ago in the South Carolina village of Pineville, in Berkeley County on the edge of Hell Hole Swamp, the time arrived for Alice Cooper to have a baby and she sent fr the midwife. At first it seemed that everything was all right, but soon the midwife noticed signs of trouble. Hastily she sent for a woman name Maude Callen to come and take over.

After Maude Callen arrived at 6 p.m., Alie Cooper’s labor grew more severe. It lasted through the night until dawn. But at the end she was safely delivered of a healthy son. The new midwife had succeeded in a situation where the fast-disappearing “granny” midwife of the South, armed with superstition and a pair of rusty scissors, might have killed both mother and child.

Maude Callen is a member of a unique group, the nurse midwife. Although there are perhaps 20,000 common midwives practicing, trained nurse midwives are rare. There are only nine in South Carolina, 300 in the nation. Their education includes the full course required of all registered nurses, training in public heath and at least six months’ classes in obstetrics.

Maude Callen has delivered countless babies in her career, but obstetrics is only part of her work… To those who think that a middle-aged Negro [sic] without a medical degree has no business meddling in affairs such as these, Dr. William Fishburne, director of the Berkeley County health department, has a ready answer. When he was asked whether he thought Maude Callen could be spared to do some teaching for the state board of health, he replied, “If you have to take her, I can only ask you to join me in prayer for the people left here.”

W. Eugene Smith

For W. Eugene Smith, work mattered. Throughout his legendary career, he sought out and chronicled the lives and the labor of people who knew their craft. Whether he was photographing a world figure like Dr. Albert Schweitzer in Africa or anonymous Welsh coal miners; a doctor in the Rockies or a midwife in South Carolina; Smith saw something noble in hard work, and something profoundly admirable in men and women who cared enough to do their work well.

But one would be hard-pressed to find anyone who ever appeared in LIFE’s pages whose humble and necessary work merited more admiration than that of the unforgettable, unbreakable nurse midwife of Smith’s 1951 photo essay. After the piece was published, LIFE subscribers from all over the country sent donations, large and small, to help Mrs. Callen in what one reader called “her magnificent endeavor.” Thousands of dollars poured in — sometimes in pennies and nickels, sometimes more — until, as LIFE later reported, she was overwhelmed by the response.

“Halfway through a recent day’s mail, [Mrs. Callen] said to her husband: ‘I’m too tired and happy to read more tonight. I just want to sit here and be thankful.’”

Eventually, more than $20,000 in donations helped to build a clinic in Pineville, where Mrs. Callen worked until her retirement in 1971.

In later years, Maude Callen was still (rightfully) being celebrated for her life’s work. She was honored with the Alexis de Tocqueville Society Award in 1984 for six decades of service to her community, and in 1989 the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) awarded her an honorary degree, while the MUSC College of Nursing created a scholarship in her name.

Maude Callen died in 1990 at the age of 91 in Pineville, South Carolina, where she had lived, and served, for seven decades.

— Ben Cosgrove is the Editor of


AUDIO: Jimi Hendrix Special - The Jimi You Never Knew

Jimi Hendrix, People Hell and Angels
Jimi Hendrix, People Hell and Angels Album Cover Art
More than forty years after his death, Jimi Hendrix's music is still relevant today. His new album release, People, Hell & Angels debuted at Number 2 on the Billboard Hot 200 list and the single charted at Number One.

Today's special, "The Jimi You Never Knew" is two hours of incredible music that has surfaced in the last few years. Featuring interviews with Jimi's sister, Janie, his engineer, Eddie Kramer, and his bass player, Billy Cox, the program also has insights and comments from Taj Mahal, Billie Gibbons, Angela Davis, Steve Winwood, Bootsy Collins and dozens of others. "The Jimi You Never Knew" offers fresh perspectives into and examples from one of the 20th century's most influential musicians.

Jimi Hendrix's legacy continues to grow through the efforts of Experience Hendrix/Legacy. The new album contains 12 never-before-released recordings of songs Hendrix was working on for the planned follow-up to Electric Ladyland, and this two-hour World Cafe special showcases Hendrix's creativity in the studio as well as his experiments with different players and styles. Don't miss World Cafe's exclusive look at one of the 20th century's most influential musicians.

Produced by Ben Manilla.

More About Jimi Hendrix
Hendrix was one of the most creative and influential musicians in the history of popular music, and brought an intense and raw emotion to rock during the 20th century that no one ever saw before or has seen since. His innovative use of amplifier feedback, the wah-wah pedal, and stereophonic phasing effects dubbed him a pioneer of mastering the electric guitar. Achieving success first in Europe with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Hendrix became immensely popular in the U.S. after his 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. He went on to headline the Woodstock Festival in 1969, where his played his famous rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Hendrix died in 1970, at the age of 27, from drug-related asphyxia.

Session Playlist:
Jimi Hendrix “Crash Landing” People, Hell, and Angels
Jimi Hendrix “Somewhere” People, Hell, and Angels
Jimi Hendrix "The Wind Cries Mary" West Coast Seattle Boy
*((Jimi Hendrix Experience “Third Stone From the Sun” Are You Experienced?))
Jimi Hendrix “Earth Blues” People, Hell, and Angels
Jimi Hendrix “Hear My Train A' Comin'” The Blues
Band of Gypsys "Hear My Train A' Comin'" People, Hell, and Angels
((Jimi Hendrix "Lullaby for Summer" Valleys of Neptune))
Jimi Hendrix Experience “Mr. Bad Luck” Valleys of Neptune
Jimi Hendrix “Izabella” People, Hell, and Angels
Jimi Hendrix “Angel” West Coast Seattle Boy
The Ghetto Fighters “Mojo Man” People, Hell, and Angels
Band of Gypsys “Bleeding Heart” People, Hell, and Angels
Band of Gypsys “Changes” The Baggy's Rehearsal Sessions
Band of Gypsys “Message to Love” The Baggy's Rehearsal Sessions
((Jimi Hendrix "Villanova Junction" People, Hell, and Angels))
Jimi Hendrix Experience “Little Wing” Winterland
Jimi Hendrix Experience “Stone Free” Paris 1967/ San Francisco 1968
Jimi Hendrix Experience “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” Winterland
((Jimi Hendrix "Born Under A Bad Sign" The Blues))
Jimi Hendrix “Roomful of Mirrors” West Coast Seattle Boy
Jimi Hendrix “Shame, Shame, Shame” West Coast Seattle Boy
Jimi Hendrix “Valleys of Neptune” Valleys of Neptune
Jimi Hendrix “Easy Blues” People, Hell, and Angels

(( ))interlude music

Website | Facebook

Recent Release: People, Hell, and Angels
Label: Experience Hendrix/Legacy Recordings
Release Date: March 5, 2013



VIDEO: Nneka > Okayafrica


Nneka ‘Restless’


The ever-evocative Nigerian songstress Nneka sums up a relationship split in her LA-shot video for “Restless.” Experimental dancers mirror a couple’s rupture, while Nneka sings, forlorn, from a chair and splashes paint over the image of a previous love — take out of that what you will. This is the sixth (!) video single off her excellent Soul Is Heavy LP. Watch her previous music videos and see Nneka perform acoustic songs for OKATV.


Bare Soul Pt.4:

Nneka ‘My Home’

(Live Acoustic)

We caught Nigerian chanteuse Nneka at Cielo in NYC, where she performed an intimate acoustic set of standouts from Soul Is Heavy — grab the album at Decon. Nneka closed the show with a beautiful rendering of “My Home” (above). This is the last in a four-part Bare Soul series brought to you by Okayafrica and Decon. Below are her alluring versions of “Shining Star,” “Do You Love Me Now?,” and “Camouflage.”


PUB: Entries Open: The Nigeria Prize for Literature 2013 > Writers Afrika

Entries Open:
The Nigeria Prize for Literature 2013

Deadline: 12 April 2013

Entries are hereby invited for The Nigeria Prize for Literature. The yearly literary prize is endowed by Nigeria LNG Limited [NLNG] to honour the author of the best book by a Nigerian within the last four years.

The prize rotates among four literary genres - prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature. This year, the competition is for Poetry. The competition is open only to published works by Nigerian writers irrespective of place of residence. It carries a reward of $100,000.


  • Six copies of the entry and, if available, an e-copy, together with evidence of Nigerian citizenship (photocopy of Nigerian passport or National identity card), may be submitted either by authors or publishers, in accordance with the genres in competition.

  • Books should be submitted to Nigeria LNG Limited’s External Relations Division, promoters of the prize, by the stipulated deadline. Failure to meet the stated conditions will lead to disqualification of the entry.

  • No book published before January, 2010 will be accepted.

  • Complete contact information, including full postal address and/or e-mail(s), phone number(s) and other relevant contact information should accompany each submission.

  • An author in any competition will enter only one published work. Mere manuscripts will not be considered. No book previously submitted for this competition may be re-submitted at a later date, even if major revisions have been made or a new edition published.

  • The prize will be awarded for no other reason than excellence.

  • A panel of judges shall be appointed for The Nigeria Prize for Literature by the Advisory Board for Literature.
  • The appointment of judges shall be done to reflect the genre in competition for the year. Persons appointed as judges are those who have wide experience, peer recognition, good public image, and command respect nationally and internationally.
  • Professor Romanus Egudu - Chairman

  • Professor Abiodun Omolara Ogundipe - Member

  • Dr. Andrew Abah - Member

  • International Consultant

  • Professor Kofi Anyidoho

  • Advisory Board

  • Professor Emeritus Ayo Banjo - Chairman

  • Dr. Jerry Agada - Member

  • Professor Ben Elugbe - Member


To encourage literary criticism, the Advisory Board for Literature will also reward one critic with not less than N1,000,000.

Since the aim is to promote Nigerian literature in the world, the prize will be open to literary critics from all over the world. Special considerations shall be given to critical essays on new writing in Nigerian Literature.
Contestants shall send in at least three or more critical essays published in a major scholarly journal. Such a journal shall have proven track record of dedication to excellence and shall have an international circulation.
No critical essay previously submitted for this competition may be considered at a later date, even if major revisions of it have been made. Mere manuscripts will not be considered. Entries not submitted by the deadline and according to stated conditions shall not be considered. Only entries published in the year of the competition or in the three years before then shall be considered.

No member of the Advisory Boards or Panels of Judges can enter their essay(s) for the literary criticism award in the year they are serving.


The Nigeria Prize for Literature
External Relations Division
Nigeria LNG Limited
INTELS Aba Road Estate
Km 16, Aba Expressway
P.M.B 5660, Port Harcourt
Rivers State, Nigeria.

The Nigeria Prize for Literature
External Relations Division
Heron House
10 Dean Farrar Street


For submissions: see the above addresses




PUB: CFP: BGHRA Annual Convention 2013: Deadline Extended! > Black German Heritage & Research Association


BGHRA Annual

Convention 2013:

Deadline Extended!


The third annual convention of the Black German Heritage and Research Association (formerly the Black German Cultural Society NJ) will be held on August 8-11, 2013, at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. This year’s convention will focus on Black Germans in Diaspora. The conference will feature a keynote address by Maisha Eggers, Professor of Childhood and Diversity Studies at the University of Magdeburg, a screening of the 1952 film “Toxi” at the Amherst Cinema with an introduction and Q & A by Professor Angelica Fenner of the University of Toronto, author of “Race Under Reconstruction in German Cinema” (2011), and presentations by guest artists Sharon Dodua Otoo and Sandrine Micossé-Aikins, editors of “The Little Book of Big Visions: How To Be an Artist and Revolutionize the World,” published by the Berlin publishers Edition Assemblage in October 2012.

The BGHRA Review Committee invites proposals for papers that engage the multiplicity and diversity of the experiences of Blacks of German heritage and on Blackness in Germany. We welcome submissions for twenty-minute presentations on three academic panels and two sessions devoted to life writing, oral history, and memoir. We are especially interested in life stories by and about Black Germans as well as academic papers. Please send a one-page abstract and a CV or short biographical statement to: by April 8.



PUB: Call for Papers: American Women Writers of Color Conference > Writers Afrika

Call for Papers:
American Women Writers
of Color Conference

Deadline: 17 May 2013

For more than ten years, Salisbury University proudly hosted the American Women Writers of Color Conference, and we are delighted to reinvigorate this meeting anew. We invite individual, panel, and roundtable proposals on all aspects of scholarship on women writers of color of the Americas (North, South, and Central). We welcome proposals addressing, but not limited to, the following, of any period or genre:

  • Novels, Graphic Novels, Short Fiction

  • Poetry

  • Memoirs, Autobiography, Biography

  • Storytelling and Folklore

  • The Archive(s)

  • Journalism

  • Theatre and Performance

  • Music

  • Literary and critical theory

  • Cinema

  • Digital Humanities

  • Pedagogy

Please include a 100-word biography (noting institutional affiliation and contact information) with your 250-word abstract. Send both via e-mail or postal mail by Friday, May 17, 2013 to

April Logan
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Salisbury University
1101 Camden Avenue
Salisbury, MD 21801-6860


  • Nov. 1 – Nov. 3, 2013 

  • Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel, Ocean City, MD

  • Keynote Speaker: Daphne Books (Professor of English and African-American Studies at Princeton University; author of Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850-1910, Jeff Buckley's Grace, and the forthcoming work Subterranean Blues: Black Women and Sound Subcultures—from Minstrelsy through the New Millennium)
Ocean City is within driving distance of the Harriet Tubman Museum in Cambridge and the Charles H. Chipman Cultural Center, the Delmarva Peninsula’s first African-American school and church. It is also near two other scenic beach towns: Bethany and Rehoboth.


For queries/ submissions:




LITERATURE: Aminatta Forna interview: unsilent witness > Telegraph

Aminatta Forna interview:

unsilent witness

Aminatta Forna’s father was tortured and then hanged for ‘treason’ when she was a little girl. But there was no way those responsible were ever going to intimidate her. Nigel Farndale meets a novelist whose life and courage are even more remarkable than her work.

Aminatta Forna


Talking over her shoulder as she brews a pot of coffee in her kitchen in south-east London, Aminatta Forna tells me she is so hopeless at multitasking she recently answered her mobile while tapping her numbers into a cashpoint, and then walked away without waiting for her money.

It’s a surprising admission because the 48-year-old novelist is together enough to have a law degree from UCL, and to have been the founder of a village school and farming project in Sierra Leone, a fellow at Berkeley and a judge of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize.

Then again, her life is not without its paradoxes. Although she is, well, a woman – a rather elegant and striking one – she does have a decidedly masculine prose style. The narrator of her new novel, indeed, is a man. And some of his descriptions, such as him feeling ‘a tightening in my balls’, had me wondering how she knows this stuff.

‘Well, I do have a husband,’ she says with a laugh. ‘But the curious thing is, I do feel more comfortable writing in a male voice and I think it’s possibly because I am, actually, a man! Growing up in the 1970s, I was envious of my brother’s Action Man, so I made a parachute for my Barbie and threw her out of the window. I was very much a tomboy and passed as a boy for quite a long time, until I was about 14. I wanted to be a boy because life looked palpably more fun that way. Even the clothes boys got to wear were more practical.’

Now framed in the bay window of her sitting-room, Forna keeps looking up the road outside to where the first blossoms of spring are emerging. As she talks she alternates between being in profile in this way to making full eye contact. She’s confiding and has an easy laugh, but you can sense the iron in her soul.

Forna in Sierra Leone in 2004 with her late aunt and her cousin, Adama

The Hired Man, her third novel, is set in Croatia, in a small community still living with the memory of war. The narrator hunts deer and there are descriptions of him firing his rifle, which, I suggest, can only have come from first-hand experience. ‘Yes, I learnt to shoot as part of my research,’ she confirms. ‘I went to the range at Bisley in Surrey and I’m now a National Rifle Association member. The man who taught me was a former police marksman. It gave me a whole other view of guns, as well as of my narrator. To shoot, you have to be in control of yourself. The best shots are able to squeeze the trigger between heartbeats.

At first I was knocked off my feet by the gun, but by the end I could hit targets at a kilometre range.’ Her husband, Simon, a furniture designer, enters, says hello and tells Forna he is popping out.

‘Simon gets invited shooting all the time,’ she says when he has gone. ‘It’s so unfair! Just because he’s a man! I discovered that the American military have a lot of female snipers. I think it’s to do with their calmness. Certainly, of the couples I took to Bisley it was the women who were the better shots. I would never make a good sniper, though, because the telescope calibrations would defeat me. I’m no good at maths.’

Her research is always this thorough. She also went to the former Yugoslavia to travel the roads she was writing about, as well as to meet the people. For her last novel, The Memory of Love, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, she travelled to Sierra Leone (where she had been partly raised, when not at her English boarding-school) and spent time in the hospital there watching amputations. She also observed the counselling offered by psychologists for post-traumatic stress, another strand of the book (which also has male narrators and shifting time signatures, and deals with the aftermath of war). ‘One similarity between the wars in Sierra Leone and Croatia is that they used the weapons they had access to,’ she says. ‘So in Croatia they had access to hunting rifles, and that’s why it was characterised by sniping, whereas in Sierra Leone they had machetes because they were farmers. Low-tech. That’s why that war was characterised by amputations.’

If you have a war fought on your land, she reckons, you never get away from the echoes of it. ‘The British usually think of war as something fought “over there”. For the Yugoslavians and Sierra Leoneans it was “over here”, and both were about betrayal.’

The big difference between the wars was that there was no ethnic cleansing in Sierra Leone, she adds. But rape was used as a weapon in both. ‘Many of the Yugoslavian women who were raped knew the men who were raping them. And in Sierra Leone they were often connected with personal grudges. When we heard the terrible stories about the war happening in neighbouring Liberia we were sitting there thinking, “We’re not like that.”’

I notice she refers to Sierra Leoneans as ‘we’. Yet she was born in Scotland to a Scottish mother and is married to an Englishman. She tells me that when she is there they don’t see her as black and when she’s here they don’t see her as white. Sounds like she is in a sort of racial limbo, I say. ‘Sometimes when I’m talking of both cultures I use “we” for both. I say “we British” and “we Sierra” Leoneans, because I identify with both. I feel black in one place and white in the other, which tells you a lot about human nature.’

Forna with her mother in Scotland, 1968

People who are black would see someone of mixed race as being mostly white, she reckons, whereas someone white would see them as mostly black. ‘It always astonishes me that people from either group can’t see I’m mixed race, because to me it is obvious. I clearly look half and half. I remember overhearing a black woman in Sierra Leone say, “Yes, you can almost see the black in her.” They see I’m different but they assume there are just different shades of white people.’

Her ambition in both books was to write about the silence that defines communities torn apart by war. Breaking the silence was also the theme for the memoir she wrote before she became a novelist – the facts, indeed, she needed to get out of her system before she could write fiction.

Called The Devil that Danced on the Water, it dealt with her father’s untimely death. He was a Sierra Leonean doctor who had come to Scotland to do his medical training. When he returned to Africa he was drawn into politics, and the regime tortured and bribed four men into bearing false witness against him. He was hanged for ‘treason’ in 1975.

Forna was 11 at the time and her memoir was her attempt to find out what really happened to him, because no one would tell her. ‘My stepmother [her parents had divorced and remarried] found it too difficult to talk about, so it went unsaid. I think she probably thought we were too young to understand and also, because of the political situation, it was hard to talk about it.’

She named names in the memoir, though; did that make her nervous? ‘Boy, did it. The only person I let read the book before publication was my stepmother because she still lives out there. Privately I thought I would change any name she wanted changing but I wouldn’t offer it in advance. She just put a tick on it and said, “Very good, darling.”’

Actually, she changed one name. ‘One of the witnesses at my father’s trial who had been paid to lie. He was a nasty character who did it for money and promotion and he complained to me that he was never paid. I changed his name because he was a poor man and vulnerable to the kind of anger and revenge lynchings you get on the streets after a civil war.’

Was that tantamount to forgiveness on her part? ‘I don’t wish him harm but I can’t forgive him. He didn’t apologise to me. I protected him because I didn’t want his blood on my hands. But forgiveness? No.’

I’ve read that she is a chronic insomniac; how is she sleeping at the moment? ‘I do all the sleep hygiene things – don’t drink coffee after midday, earplugs and so on, then – bang! – four o’clock in the morning and I am wide awake. It’s all about the nuttiness of making us sleep in this eight-hour period, the Industrial Revolution and working in the hours of daylight. What’s annoying about it is that it is useless time when you are lying awake, because you feel too fractured to work, you just want to go back to sleep. I heard of one writer who went to bed at 10 then got back up to write at two. Then went to sleep at four. But I couldn’t do that. I don’t really like the silence at night. I like the life going on around me. I find absolute silence too eerie.’

She thinks the insomnia and the writing are linked because she doesn’t remember being an insomniac when she worked as a journalist at the BBC for 10 years. ‘It became chronic when I was writing The Devil that Danced on the Water.’

A psychologist might say there was a connection there. ‘I can see why they might. It was such a difficult book to write. I used to dream about my father coming back. It had all been a misunderstanding and he was in hiding. After I wrote that book I did stop having that dream.’

She’d laid him to rest? ‘I’m very nervous about anything that looks like psychotherapy in writing. Writing disturbs more than it settles. I teach a course on memoir writing and always start by saying, “It’s not therapy. You may come out of it far more upset than you were when you went in.”’

Aminatta Forna with her father in Sierra Leone in 1966. He was hanged for ‘treason’ in 1975

Before she started researching her memoir, her sister warned her to be careful, in case what she found out was worse than what they had assumed had happened. ‘And she was right. I went in search of evil and found it. And it was worse than I had imagined it would be. I never imagined that people would have stood by and let such a thing happen. I always assumed it would be more difficult for people to kill him than it was.’

In the 1990s did she find the civil war in Sierra Leone traumatic to follow on the news? ‘No, but I was traumatised by the sheer indifference to it here. During the war I was here and my stepmother was there. I would telephone and hear the shells and gunfire in the background. I could hear the advance of the rebels, but the thing that shocked me, and I still haven’t got over, is how few of my friends rang me to find if my family were OK. It taught me something about the Western mindset. It was on the news every night yet people couldn’t relate those events to the one person from Sierra Leone they knew. People who knew my parents. One close friend rang up during the invasion to tell me her mother’s dog had died and she was upset.

I said, “I thought you were ringing me about Sierra Leone.” It pretty much ended that friendship.’ Last year the Liberian politician Charles Taylor was convicted of crimes against humanity in the Hague for his part in the war in Sierra Leone. Did that give her some closure? ‘Not as much as you would think. But writing the memoir did. What came out of it for me was that I had no more questions.’

I cannot say the same, but as our photographer is waiting patiently downstairs we have to draw the interview to a close. A fascinating life story, though. And a fine (and manly) writer.

The Hired Man, by Aminatta Forna, is published by Bloomsbury, £16.99


VIDEO: Our Rhineland - Faren Humes Filmmaker


In 1937, under the Third Reich, Germans of mixed race are being rounded up and rendered sterile. The looming threat is dangerously close, yet two sisters struggle over how to react -- Sofia yearns to fight, while Marta says cope. Their bond must be stronger than their differences if they are to overcome the horror of the Reich. 

A Student Emmy winner
A Student DGA winner

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved by the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts.


Faren Humes is a filmmaker originally from Carol City, Florida. After a brief stint as a local news editor, Faren graduated from Florida State University’s College of Motion Picture and Arts with an MFA in Motion Picture Arts, Production.

Faren’s 2011 short film ‘Our Rhineland’ has garnered much acclaim including a Director’s Guild of America Student Film Award, Best short at Palm Beach International Film Festival and an Academy of Television Arts & Sciences College Television Award.

Faren lives in New York City as a freelance production designer, writer and director.


VIOLENCE: Rosa Clemente Responds to Rick Ross' "rape lyric" > NewBlackMan (in Exile)

rosa clemente 

Peace everyone I want to thank your thoughts, your support of women, your humanity. For the very few that seem to just be nasty, mean, violent, I only wish that your heart will open. As for me I will fight on to stop this, and if anyone reading wants to do something more, please email me at For those who hide behind a computer spewing hate, I suggest you let me/us be. At the end of the day I am a Bronx born Puerto Rican woman, and I will push back. Peace.


Rosa Clemente Responds

to Rick Ross' "rape lyric"


Rosa Alicia Clemente is a community organizer, journalist Hip Hop activist and the 2008 Vice-Presidential candidate with the Green Party. She has been a featured keynote speaker, panelist, and political commentator all over the United States. In 1995, she developed Know Thy Self Productions, a speaker’s bureau for young people of color.. Clemente is currently working on her first book, When A Puerto Rican Woman Ran For Vice-President and Nobody Knew Her Name.  She is a doctoral candidate in African American Studies at the University of Massachusetts--Amherst.