The world's worst money launderers are the UK, Switzerland and the USA

The USA has moved up in the Tax Justice Network's Financial Secrecy Index to number two, behind Switzerland; in reality, though, the UK is the world's worst money-laundry, but because its laundering activities are spread out over its overseas territories -- taken as a whole, the UK leads the world in helping criminals and looters hide their fortunes. Read the rest

Here's the winner of Integrity Idol, the reality show for Nigerian government workers

Nuzo Eziechi said, "I am incredibly excited to be honored as Nigeria's Integrity Idol." The show featured government workers competing to be crowned most ethical. Read the rest

Toto's 'Africa,' as performed by a computer hardware orchestra

Toto's got a new greatest hits album and is going on tour which is probably why they are popping up in my feed so much lately. On Wednesday, I posted the story behind their hit song "Africa" as told by the man who wrote it, the band's David Paich.

Today I noticed that the Floppotron (previously) has covered the song. Yes, love it. Everything's turning up Toto! Read the rest

The story behind Toto's 'Africa'

Love it or hate it, Toto's 1982 soft rock mega-hit "Africa" is here to stay. But how did a band from Los Angeles get famous for a song about Africa?

Dave Simpson of The Guardian recently interviewed the song's writer (and vocalist) David Paich and found out:

One of the reasons I was in a rock band was to see the world. As a kid, I’d always been fascinated by Africa. I loved movies about Dr Livingstone and missionaries. I went to an all-boys Catholic school and a lot of the teachers had done missionary work in Africa. They told me how they would bless the villagers, their Bibles, their books, their crops and, when it rained, they’d bless the rain. That’s where the hook line – “I bless the rains down in Africa” – came from.

They said loneliness and celibacy were the hardest things about life out there. Some of them never made it into the priesthood because they needed companionship. So I wrote about a person flying in to meet a lonely missionary. It’s a romanticised love story about Africa, based on how I’d always imagined it. The descriptions of its beautiful landscape came from what I’d read in National Geographic.

Paich told Musicradar in 2013:

"Its first inception came when there used to be UNICEF commercials on TV, showing children and families living in poverty. The first time I saw that it affected me deeply…

"I sat down and started playing and the chorus just came out like magic.

Read the rest

Donald Trump will re-legalize importing endangered elephants' ivory and severed heads

The Trump administration will reverse the Obama-era prohibition on importing taxidermied elephant heads and tusks from endangered wild African elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia. Read the rest

African grain silos repurposed into art museum

Cape Town's Zeith Museum of Contemporary Art Africa was built from an old grain silo complex. Read the rest

Rare white giraffes spotted in Kenya

In early June, conservation rangers with the Hirola Conservation Program in Kenya first spotted a white female and baby giraffe. In early August, they were able to capture this footage of the elusive pair.

Like that translucent-shelled lobster that was recently pulled in, these giraffes are not albino but have a genetic condition called Leucism. That means they a partial loss of pigmentation in their skin cells. If you look closely, you can see a familiar, though faded, reticulation on the calf's neck.

A blogger for Hirola writes:

In this very sighting, in Ishaqbini, there was a mother and a juvenile The communities within Ishaqbini have mixed reactions to the sighting of this leucistic giraffe and most of the elders report that they have never seen this before. ‘This is new to us” says bashir one of the community rangers who alerted us when they sighted the white giraffe. “I remember when I was a kid, we never saw them” he added. “It must be very recent and we are not sure what is causing it” he said.

(National Geographic) Read the rest

How African speculative fiction gave birth to itself

Geoff Ryman -- the brilliant science fiction author who curated last year's 100 AFRICAN WRITERS OF SFF project, continues to publish and curate excellent, exciting science fiction from across Africa. Read the rest

Incredible Afrobeat music from Mali

Founded in 1989, Mr Bongo is an exquisitely-curated indie record (and film) label that uncovers incredible Brazilian psych, rare soul, avant-jazz, and deeply groovy Afrobeat recordings and reissues them in beautiful and informative vinyl and CD packages. Based in Brighton, UK, the label's latest compilation is titled The Original Sound Of Mali and the clips I've heard drive me wild. These 1970s and 1980s cuts from the war-torn West African country are so deeply groovy and raw, culled from tapes that the performers never expected would be heard beyond their local scene. Have a listen below. From an interview with David 'Mr Bongo' Buttle at Ran$om Note:

Going back to the beginning, I’ve always been inspired by Mali music. There’s a haunting, heavy quality to it. I used to work with Ali Farka Toure when I worked at World Circuit back in ’88, and I found out about Mali music then. So over the last 20 or 30 years I’ve been getting into the artists featured on this album; Idris Soumaoro, The Rail Band and so on. That process helped me find some of the people involved and start to license stuff. It took a long time; it’s taken about three or four years to put this together...

To a certain extent; the record is a document of a certain time that isn’t now. It’s good to draw attention to things though. Just by talking about Mali it opens up a lot of new stories, and that’s what inspired us initially.

Read the rest

Esther Mahlangu's tour teaching Americans to make traditional South African art

Late last year, famed South African artist Esther Mahlangu visited a number of major American cities with a traveling display of her work and hands-on workshops for aspiring artists. It's a great glimpse into her body of work. Read the rest

William Onyeabor, Nigerian funk music pioneer, RIP

William Onyeabor, the Nigerian musician who pioneered African electro-funk in the 1970s, has died. He was 70-years-old. Onyeabor's music experienced a resurgence in recent years thanks to the Luaka Bop label's reissues of his deeply groovy albums. From Luaka Bop:

It is with incredibly heavy hearts that we have to announce that the great Nigerian business leader and mythic music pioneer William Onyeabor has passed away at the age of 70. He died peacefully in his sleep following a brief illness, at his home in Enugu, Nigeria. An extraordinary artist, businessman and visionary, Mr. Onyeabor composed and self-released 9 brilliant albums of groundbreaking electronic-funk from 1977-1985, which he recorded, pressed and printed at Wilfilms Limited—his personal pressing plant in southeast Nigeria.

For people in his hometown of Enugu, Nigeria, Mr. Onyeabor was simply referred to as "The Chief”. He was known for having created many opportunities for the people in his community. In his early 30s, he traveled the world to study record manufacturing, so that he could build, "the greatest record manufacturing business in all of West Africa." After those successful years as an artist and record label President in the 1980's, he opened a flour mill and food processing business. In 1987 these new business ventures saw him awarded West African Industrialist of the Year—just two years after the release of his most successful song "When The Going is Smooth and Good", and what should have been the height of his musical career. He was given the honorary title "Justice of the Peace"—a local judicial position elected by the community to provide independent legal ruling.

Read the rest

Listen: Hugo-winner Nnedi Okorafor's story, Spider the Artist

Tony from Starshipsofa writes, "StarShipSofa is very proud to have Hugo winning author Nnedi Okorafor on this week's show (MP3) with her story 'Spider the Artist,' first published in the anthology Seeds of Change. Nnedi Okorafor is the Hugo winning novelist of Nigeria-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults. The narration is by Aminat Badara." Read the rest

Ten of 2016's most notable African science fiction and fantasy stories

James Mazi writes, "Wole Talabi, a Nigerian SF writer and editor who lives in Malaysia, has rounded up his ten favorite African science fiction and fantasy stories of 2016. This is a follow up to his list from 2015 and just like that list, the stories are wildly varied, from fun techno-thrillers set in Uganda to emotional universe-spanning stories of family." Read the rest

In Africa, British spies target allied leaders, executives, and telcoms engineers

Le Monde has published a new collection of documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden, showing that the British spy agency GCHQ targeted the leaders of allied countries in Africa, as well as business executives and employees of telecommunications companies, whose accounts were a means to gaining access to communications infrastructure across the continent. Read the rest

Trumpism in Gambia: "marbles" election sparks internet shutdown

Deji writes, "Gambia is a small country but this story is pretty crazy. The president, who is seeking his 6th term, is using Trump rhetoric surrounding the 'rigging of elections.' People are voting by using marbles. Meanwhile, opposition activists and journalists have been arrested -- and the government STILL shut off the internet. It seems the president has lost his marbles." Read the rest

Amazing photos from Kinshasa's scrap car-parts megamarket

The N’Djili district of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo is home to an enormous market of scrap auto-parts, carefully salvaged from Japan's waste-stream and meticulously arrayed on blankets by merchants eking out a marginal existence. Read the rest

Internet of Things botnet threatens to knock the entire country of Liberia offline

The various Mirai botnets, which use "clumsy, amateurish code to take over even more clumsy and amateurish CCTVs, routers, PVRs and other Internet of Things devices, have been responsible for some eye-popping attacks this season: first there was the 620Gbps attack on journalist Brian Krebs (in retaliation for his coverage of a couple of petty Israeli crooks); then there was the infrastructure attack that took out Level 3, Netflix, Twitter, Dyn, and many more of the internet's best-defended services. Read the rest

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