Toto on a koto: Africa performed with traditional Japanese instrument

And played in Kyoto. Read the rest

What's missing from machine learning research: an East African perspective

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

Tanzania detains reporters Angela Quintal and Muthoki Mumo

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

Kenyans from "the toughest neighborhood on earth" trace pixels all day to train autonomous vehicles

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

Riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna's new t-shirt line pays for girls to attend school in Togo

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!'”

Read the rest

New Weezer video for "Africa" with special guest star Weird Al

Weezer pushes the "Africa" cover gimmick ever onward with a new music video for the Toto classic. The clip stars Weird Al Yankovic as Rivers Cuomo in a parody of Weezer's own "Sweater Song" music video.

Background here. Read the rest

Weird Al joins Weezer onstage to perform Toto's 'Africa'

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."

Billboard:

"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.

Read the rest

Impressive musical demonstration of a kashaka

Senegalese musician Salliou made his own kashaka, a type of twin ball rattle on a string. Listen to him show how many sounds his ingenious creation can make. Read the rest

Turnaround's fair game: Toto cover's Weezer's Hash Pipe

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

Ghanaian parliament erupts into giggles as MPs learn about towns called "Vagina is Wise," "Penis is a Fool" and "Testicles are Sad"

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

South Africa is considering a new copyright bill that is really, really good!

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

African birds create massive colonies on utility poles

Dillon Marsh (previously) documents interesting types of utility poles around the world, including ones colonized by birds in the Kalahari desert: Read the rest

Fight against Ebola continues in high security African lab

With all of the horrible things happening in America right now, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the news and forget that there are other, equally terrible things happening elsewhere. Take Ebola, for example: it’s still a thing! Fortunately, it’s a thing being taken very seriously by very serious men and women at a research facility in the Central African country of Gabon.

According to AFP, an elite group of scientists staffing a heavily fortified level P4 isolation laboratory are working themselves raw trying to find a way to stop the deadly hemorrhagic fever-inducing disease in its tracks. Security at the facility is tight: only four people – three researchers and a technician – are allowed into the lab. The lab is part of a larger research facility called the Franceville International Centre for Medical Research (CIRMF).

From AFP:

Founded in 1979 by Gabon's late president Omar Bongo Ondimba to study national fertility rates, the CIRMF moved on to AIDS, malaria, cancer, viral diseases and the neglected tropical maladies that affect a billion people around the world, according to the WHO.

The centre is financed by the Gabonese state, whose main wealth is derived from oil exports, and gets help from France.

In all, 150 people work for the CIRMF and live on the huge premises. Its reputation draws scientists, students and apprentices from Asia, Europe and the United States, as well as Africa.

Read the rest

Tanzania's independent websites, podcasts and video channels have gone dark as the country's new blogger tax goes into effect

As of this Friday, anyone operating an independent online presence in Tanzania will have to pay a licensing fee equivalent to an average year's wages, and submit to a harsh set of censorship rules, as well as an obligation to unmask anonymous posters and commenters, with stiff penalties for noncompliance. Read the rest

Scandinavian metal cover of Toto's "Africa"

Since everyone's doing posts about their favorite cover of Toto's "Africa," here's my frontrunner, because it's very Norwegian: metal and ironic and funny all at once. Read the rest

'This Is Nigeria' is that country's viral version of the Childish Gambino hit

Nigerian rapper Falz created This Is Nigeria, a parody of This Is America that switched out lyrics and imagery for social ills in his country: machete-wielding gangs, codeine use, internet scammers, and much more. Read the rest

Uganda enacts unenforceable, ridiculous anti-"gossip" internet tax

At the urging of Uganda's corrupt dictator Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan parliament has enacted legislation imposing a daily tax on anyone using social media platforms; Museveni said the measure would curb "gossip," while Matia Kasaija claimed it would fund security and electrification efforts. Read the rest

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