wed 22/01/2020

Africa

Chris Packham: 7.7 Billion People and Counting, BBC Two review - is it too late to get population growth under control?

We hear plenty of debate about climate change and its disastrous potential, but the ballooning growth of the world’s population may be the most critical issue facing humankind. Chris Packham thinks so (“it’s undeniably the elephant in the room,” he...

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Albums of the Year 2019: Sault - 7

Music has never felt more important. While politicians debated our future, badly and in heated, farce-to-farce debates, the electorate went to war with each other – on social media mainly. The atmosphere is toxic and we’re surrounded by the bodies...

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Three Sisters, National Theatre review - Chekhov in time of war

Inua Ellams’ Three Sisters plays Chekhov in the shadow of war, specifically the Nigerian-Biafran secessionist conflict of the late 1960s which so bitterly divided that newly independent nation. It’s a bold move that adds decided new relevance...

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Ant Middleton and Liam Payne: Straight Talking, Sky 1 review - when the commando met the pop star

“What is wrong with us? What are we doing here?” Liam Payne asked the camera, as we neared the end of his jaunt round picturesque Namibia with his quizmaster Ant Middleton. The short answer would be “it’s for the publicity, you idiot,” but of course...

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Vampire Weekend, O2 Academy, Birmingham review – clean-cut Americans fail to ignite

By the time Vampire Weekend reached Birmingham on their latest UK jaunt, they had unfortunately managed to mislay their support band, the colourful Songhoy Blues. This was a great shame, as the Malians would surely have added a bit of colour to the...

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CD: Aziza Brahim - Sahari

Last month this Western Saharan singer-songwriter stood on stage at London’s Jazz Café and turned the venue into a hallowed holy space with just her voice and the rhythm she summoned from her tabal drum. Translated from the orginal Arabic, two lines...

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The British Tribe Next Door, Channel 4 review - risible culture-clash farrago

What’s the most ridiculous programme that Channel 4 has ever made? Sex Box? The Execution of Gary Glitter? Extreme Celebrity Detox? Whatever, The British Tribe Next Door is up there vying for supremacy.The Moffatt family, from Bishop Auckland, have...

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CD: Foals - Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 2

Foals, the band with a trademark sound characterised by the African-style intricate interplay of rhythm rather than lead guitars, returns with what amounts to the second half of a double album. The first half was released last spring, and this new...

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Our Lady of Kibeho, Theatre Royal Stratford East review - heaven and hell in Rwandan visions

The American dramatist Katori Hall has created a work of rare accomplishment in Our Lady of Kibeho, a play that combines a beautifully established picture of a particular world – a church school in rural Rwanda, in the early 1980s – with profound...

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CD: Tinariwen - Amadjar

Tinariwen’s music has always been evocative of West African deserts with their mellow blues-like guitars and shuffling groove. Initially recording everything in Mali until it was invaded by religious fanatics who deemed playing music forbidden,...

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José Eduardo Agualusa: The Society of Reluctant Dreamers review - vivid visions towards a free Angola

Reality follows dreams in José Eduardo Agualusa’s latest experiment in quixotic political fable. The book opens with journalist Daniel Benchimol waking at the Rainbow Hotel in Angola’s capital, Luanda: “I saw long black birds fly past. I’d dreamed...

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The Lion King review - a dazzling photocopy

The cynicism of this film’s existence squeezes all the feeling from it. It approaches cherished childhood memories of the original The Lion King (1994) with a view to remonetising them. Technological advances apart, there’s no reason at all for this...

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