The ALC We Do Not See
Africa's Invisible
Art, Literature & Culture
Art, literature and culture (ALC) are flourishing in Africa and have been for a while (several thousand years, give or take a few millennia), but with rare exceptions western mainstream media manages to keep it a secret.

It's probably not a conscious conspiracy. It's more likely an unconscious one, a combination of indifference, cluelessness, misplaced or confused priorities. But then ALC are not what the media is looking for in Africa.

Africa is the media's go-to continent for tragedy, violence, despair, disease. ALC in Africa may just not compute for many at the mass media factories' editorial assignment desks. One hopes that's not true, but given the output related to Africa by most major media in the west, it sure seems that way.

Take Kampala, Uganda's excellent 3-day Writivism literary festival. It got exactly zero coverage in the New York Times this year or last. The Times of London didn't mention it either. (It was cited in passing, in a NYT Artsbeat blog entry about Okwiri Oduor, the Kenyan winner of 2014's Caine Prize for African Writing, who directed the inaugural Writivism Literary Festival in 2013.)

There are many, many other examples of this pervasive, pernicious media denial when it comes to Africa; and the NYT and Times of London are not the only or the worst offenders. Be that as it may, you'll be relieved to hear I'm done bitching about this topic for the moment. Instead of cursing the darkness, as my dear departed mom used to implore me, I'll proceed to shed some light on a handful of web sites that focus on art and literature and culture in Africa; most of them are based here in Kampala.

The following list barely scratches the surface of what's available online. There are actually several supertankers-full of such sites, but I don't want to rob you of the joy of discovering some for yourself. Also, for the most part I've let the sites describe themselves because I'm a lazy sot for one, and because, two --- you can type or you can drink crisp, clean, cold Chenin Blanc of the uncannily appropriate African Passion label, but you cannot do both.

(The sites here are weighted toward Uganda because I live here, but there are, of course, great arts, literature and culture sites based throughout Africa and elsewhere that reflect the dazzling hall of mirrors, kaleidoscopic cultural history and ongoing output of the world's second largest continent.)

Send us e-mail


Go Home

Go to the most recent RALPH