Four years ago, there were 15 known black rhinos left in Tanzania -- "ground zero of the poaching crisis" -- and today there 167 of them; elephant populations (which dropped 60% between 2009-2014) are rebounding too, up to over 60,000 from a low of 43,330. Read the rest
In central Kenya, biologists and wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas captured footage of a fantastically rare melanistic leopard, sometimes known as an African "black panther." There are only two known prior photos of an African black leopard, from 1909 and 2007. From National Geographic:
"Almost everyone has a story about seeing one, it's such a mythical thing," says Pilfold, of San Diego Zoo Global's Institute for Conservation Research.
"Even when you talk to the older guys that were guides in Kenya many years ago, back when hunting was legal [in the 1950s and ‘60s], there was a known thing that you didn't hunt black leopards. If you saw them, you didn't take it..."
Pilfold adds it’s curious that the fictional country of Wakanda, home of the superhero Black Panther, is located in East Africa, fairly close to Kenya.
"It's a unique coincidence," says Pilfold. "The only place where we have black leopards is where this place in the Marvel Universe appears to exist."
"Black leopard spotted in Africa for first time in 100 years" (National Geographic)
Teff is one of the oldest grains to have been cultivated, a staple for so long that its original cultivation date is lost to history and can only be estimated at between 1000 and 4000 BCE; it is best known as the main ingredient in injera, the soft pancakes that are served with Ethiopian meals. Read the rest
And played in Kyoto. Read the rest
CIT computer scientist Milan Cvitkovic conducted 46 in-depth interviews with "scientists, engineers, and CEOs" and collated their machine learning research needs into an aptly named paper entitled "Some Requests for Machine Learning Research from the East African Tech Scene," which presents an illuminating look into the gaps in the current practice of machine learning, itself an example of how rich-world priorities shape our ability to understand, compute and predict the world. Read the rest
The Committee to Protect Journalists says authorities in Tanzania have forcibly detained Angela Quintal, Africa program coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Muthoki Mumo, CPJ's sub-Saharan Africa representative. Their passports were seized. Read the rest
The Nairobi neighborhood of Kibera is Africa's largest slum, and it's home to an unlikely, Silicon-Valley-style tech park operated by Samasource (motto: "Artificial intelligence meets human dignity"), who serves clients from Google to Microsoft to Salesforce, using clickworkers who get paid $9/day, compared to the going wage of $2/day in the region's "informal economy" (the company believes that paying wages on par with rich-world clickworkers would "distort the local economy"). Read the rest
OG riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre has launched a new t-shirt line with all the money going to Peace Sisters, a non-profit that helps pay school tuition for underprivileged young girls in the West African nation of Togo. The shirts feature the likes of Kim Gordon, Jill Soloway, Chuck D (all seen below), Patton Oswalt, W. Kamau Bell, and Carrie Brownstein. The money from each $40 t-shirt sends a girl to school for a year. Buy 'em at Tees 4 Togo.
From Rolling Stone:
Hanna devised the concept after meeting Peace Sisters founder Tina Kampor. A former teacher in Togo, Kampor immigrated to Pasadena 15 years ago, where she would become a full-time registered nurse. Still, she could not forget her students back home: “[Tina] grew up there and she just saw all these girls who weren’t able to go to school,” explains Hanna. “A lot of them are orphans, or very poor. Past the fifth grade in Togo, you have to pay for [education]. She saw all these girls dropping out in the sixth grade. So when she came to California she started sending money home, then opened it up for other people to help. She’s put 130 girls through school herself and supported members of her family at the same time. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and [said], ‘I want to be a part of this!'”
At Weezer's show at The Forum in Los Angeles Wednesday, Weird Al got onstage mid-song to join the band in a cover of Toto's 1982 hit "Africa." You may remember that a 14-year-old recently convinced Weezer to cover "Africa."
— Al Yankovic (@alyankovic) August 9, 2018
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"We're gonna take you on a distant voyage," promised singer Rivers Cuomo, who was sporting a classic sleeveless Nirvana T-shirt and rocking a flying V guitar. "To the continent of your choosing... where do you kids want to go tonight?" The question was rhetorical, of course, as "Africa" has become the highlight of the band's sets on their current co-headlining tour with The Pixies. Just moments after the crowd shouted "AFRICA!!!," the band kicked into the song's familiar heat mirage intro and Cuomo awkwardly played some air drums and then, just after the third verse, it happened.
"Weird Al" wandered out on stage in his signature Hawaiian shirt, his accordion at the ready to rip off a wicked solo. Al joined in on the chorus and finished it off with an accordion/guitar riff-off with Cuomo. And then, officially, summer was over.
After all the noise made over Weezer covering Toto's Africa, it was only a matter of time before Joseph Williams and the rest of the lads decided what's good for the goose is good for the gander: at a concert in Vancouver, Canada earlier this week Toto unleashed their cover of Hash Pipe upon an undeserving world. Read the rest
Members of the Ghanaian lost their composure in fits of giggles and guffaws when MP John Frimpong Osei listed out the names of towns in his district that were awaiting electrification. Read the rest
Here's some refreshing news: the pending reform to South African copyright is really excellent, with a fair use definition that futureproofs itself with the key phrase "such as" -- so naturally, giant entertainment companies are doing everything they can to kill it. Read the rest