Segments in this Video

Africa: Expert in Ephemeral Art (01:24)


In African art is a question of survival. African artists have always had a perspective and language of their own. Until colonization history and literature were always oral. All the arts have been present in Africa but none has remained for long.

Art in Dakar, Senegal (01:40)

Senegalese rap group Wagëblë express themselves through their music. They consider rap a tool to represent the people. The group's lyrics come straight from life in the depressed neighborhood where Witness and Water live.

Art as a Representation of the Ghetto (01:59)

Witness and Water are members of the Senegalese rap group Wagëblë. They rebel through their lyrics. They explain the meaning of Wagëblë and how it relates to the duality of life.

Culture Revolution in Senegal (01:05)

Through rap and the hip hop culture, young people have found a way to rebel against social injustice. During the elections of 2002, the young artists of Dakar achieved a change of government using their lyrics and votes.

Liberation Attack of the Women's Infantry (02:05)

Alif is a new face on the Senegalese cultural scene. The group confronts the problems suffered by women in their country. They were the first female rap group in West Africa and are now recording their first album.

Female Rappers in Africa (00:60)

Members of a women's Senegalese rap group, Alif, talk about how they got started and what they hope to achieve. One explains, "Rap wasn't created to please people but to condemn he wrongs of society".

Reflection on African History (02:22)

Witness and Water are members of the Senegalese rap group Wagëblë. While on Gorée Island they discuss African History and slavery. They share the same philosophy of the island people who are an Islamic sect of pacifists and mystics.

Societal Role of Rappers (02:46)

Fight and Forget isn't so much a rap group as a cultural experiment and a record label. They are independent musicians that belong to different bands but get together to rap. Condemnation of social injustice is a common theme.

Collaboration of African Rappers (01:32)

Wagëblë, Fight and Forget, and Alif meet in the recording studio to record a jam session. Each artist improvises lyrics on a set theme. The lyrics will be used together to make the final song.

Expression through Hip Hop (02:14)

Senegalese rappers from Wagëblë, Fight and Forget, and Alif comment on politics and the current conditions of their homeland in Africa.

Stone Hides a Great Secret (01:36)

Senegalese sculptor Babacar Niang works with stone and has established a school. His workshop has produced artists that have found success in both Europe and the U.S.

Senegalese sculptor Babacar Niang's "Family Reunion" (00:57)

Senegalese sculptor Babacar Niang discusses African history in relation to his work.

Artist as Watchdog (03:12)

In South Africa Willie Bester recycles scrap metal to build his pieces. He is an artist committed to the history and present of his country. He uses his work to speak about the horrors of apartheid as well as the problems of greed and waste.

Keepers of Tradition (02:05)

Fanta Djabate is a griot in Kela, Mali. It is her responsibility to share traditional stories.

Role of Griots in Mande Society (01:44)

Fanta Djabate is the most veteran of the woman griots of Kela, in the heart of the Mande, the most sacred area for the Mandingo people. In the Mande as in the rest of Africa culture and oral tradition are one and the same.

Traditional Power Structure of Mali (02:44)

In the center of the village of Kela stands the word tree. Every afternoon the elders and influential men of the village meet to speak of relevant issues. Blacksmiths are a separate caste related by marriage to the griots through noble ancestry.

Keepers of Mande Tradition (01:53)

The Djabate family has been invited to a baptism that is being held in the neighboring village. Griots exist to testify to the fact that everything is happening as it should.

Traditional Mande Celebration (02:28)

Mande women dance at a traditional baptism ceremony. Griots should be able to convey history as well as tell stories and sing.

Important Role of Griots (00:55)

Fanta Djabate explains role of griots in the history and future of the Mande people. She is teaching the younger generation to carry on the tradition.

Opera Marimba in Cape Town, South Africa (02:08)

Raymond Bogwana of Abakhaya began singing in the street when he was 8 years old. Later he formed his own group with other street kids and invented opera marimba.

Opera Marimba (01:50)

Raymond Bogwana's idea for opera marimba has been so successful that the group has already finished their first tour.

Mother Courage: Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (01:40)

Suzanne Kourouma is one of the few African directors who has been able to premier her work. "Mother Courage", her first feature length film is a documentary drama based on the true story of a woman suffering from AIDS.

Mother Courage: A Real Story (02:13)

Suzanne Kourouma is filming a documentary drama based on a widow who cares for her children while living with AIDS. The lead actress is herself a mother with AIDS.

Fespaco: Burkina Faso Film Festival (01:45)

Despite being one of the poorest countries on the continent of Africa, Burkina Faso is at the forefront of film production. It has a film school where Suzanne Kourouma studied but finding equipment for filming is not easy.

Cast and Crew of Mere Courage (02:00)

Lobi Traore is a composer working on the set of "Mother Courage". The theme of his music is strength and courage of women. The director of the film Suzanne Kourouma speaks about being a woman in the film industry.

AIDS Education through Film (02:24)

Suzanne Kourouma decided to make a film about AIDS because it is a current issue. She wants to raise awareness and show the world that people with AIDS should not be marginalized and abandoned simply because they are infected.

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By Profession . . . an Artist: Contemporary Art in Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, and South Africa

Part of the Series : The Call of Africa: The Voice of a Continent
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Historically, the arts in Africa were largely communal and unrecorded. But much has changed over the past century, and this program takes a look at art in sub-Saharan Africa as it exists today through profiles of Senegalese rap groups Alif and Wagëblë and the rap collective Fight and Forget, who use their music as a form of political activism; Senegalese sculptor Babacar Niang, whose workshop has trained artists who have found success in both the U.S. and Europe; Willie Bester, one of South Africa’s most important resistance artists; Raymond Bogwana of Abakhaya, a world-touring crossover marimba band from South Africa; the cast and crew of Mother Courage, an AIDS documentary filmed in Burkina Faso and screened at the largest film festival in Africa; and Malian griot Fanta Diabaté, matron of a 65-member family in which all, without exception, are griots—masters of words and the keepers of history. (Portions in other languages with English subtitles, 52 minutes)

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL39454

ISBN: 978-1-60467-361-6

Copyright date: ©2004

Closed Captioned

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