Africans making Strides in the World of Wine

Tinashe Nyamudoka and barrels (Source: jancisrobinson.com)

Have you ever heard of Africans making it into the world of wine? I don’t mean South Africans who have a good history of wine-making, but other countries on the continent? Well, a while back, I had heard about an Ivorian making wines and actually having a vineyard, and now Zimbabweans. As a side story, one of my uncles was once a very pro-eminent wine-taster… I always wondered where he had acquired the taste (given that this is not a tradition for us), but he used to be called upon by the best wineries in France to taste and judge on the quality of their wines. The Guardian had a story about Tinashe Nyamudoka and a new generation of Zimbabweans getting into the wine business. Below are excerpts from that article. Enjoy!

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A bottle of Kumusha Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon

… When he left [Zimbabwe] in 2008, [Tinashe] Nyamudoka had never tasted wine. Now, he ranks among southern Africa’s top sommeliers and has his own wine label with international sales.

We have a lot going against us as Zimbabweans, and you might think there is nothing good coming out of the country,” says the 36-year-old. “So, for me to be recognised as the [top] sommeliers in the world, being African and Zimbabwean, instils a sense of hope and pride.”

Nyamudoka began his career as a waiter in a Cape Town restaurant, where he learned about the different varieties and tastes of the wines his customers drank. He moved on to become a hotel wine waiter, working alongside some of the city’s leading sommeliers.

After studying his trade [he also has a certificate in wine business management from the University of Cape Town], he won the best wine steward award in a competition for luxury hotels in the Western Cape in 2013.

… His wine label, Kumusha – “home” or “roots” in Zimbabwe’s Shona language – has benefited from his celebrity, producing 200,000 bottles a year, up from 1,200 when it was launched four years ago. “People started embracing it,” he says.

Kumusha wines, Shiraz and Merlot

… The eight Kumusha wines – three reds, four whites and a rosé – are all produced in South Africa. They are sold in the US, the Netherlands, Kenya and Zimbabwe – “my exciting market”, he says. This month, he is starting to export his wines to the UK.

I started this brand from scratch with no aid or financial handouts. It has been pure grit, passion and dedication,” he says. “I want people to understand that you can make it without prejudice.

…. “There’s been an emergence of black sommeliers in the world as the industry becomes more diverse. We see the hospitality offering in Zimbabwe improving and there will be a need for sommeliers.

Syllart Records – A Classic from Pépé Kallé & Empire Bakuba

On Monday, we talked about Syllart Records: The African Equivalent to Motown Records, a label which owns some of the largest African music catalog in the world. Let us pray it remains so, and they can be remunerated at their right One of African’s legends is incontestably Pépé Kallé. Enjoy this rare pearl of Pépé Kallé and Empire Bakuba… this is one is from the Syllart Records Youtube channel.

Syllart Records: The African Equivalent to Motown Records

Syllart Records
Syllart Records

I recently heard about the Syllart Records, a music records label which many considered to be the equivalent of the African continent’s Motown records. The record label leader is Binetou Sylla, the daughter of the founder, the late Senegalese producer Ibrahima Sory Sylla. The label owns the largest African music catalog in the world, spanning the last sixty years of music creation. Its founder, Sylla’s impact on African pop music and its global influence is really wide. Imagine the hard work, the quality, the authenticity, and innovation that went on in his studios! Yet, I had never heard of his name. However, I had heard about some of the artists produced under his label, and danced to their music, such as Ismael Lo, Salif Keïta, Empire Bakuba, Sam Mangwana, Gadji Celi, M’Pongo Love, Tshala Muana, M’bilia Bel, Oumou Sangare, Pépé Kallé, Miriam Makeba, Papa Wemba, or Africando, and so many others.

Syllart Records_Binetou Sylla
Binetou Sylla of Syllart Records (Source: Panafricanspacestation.org.za)

Today, his daughter is working on digitizing all that hard work, and trying to find ways to give rights to the musicians. She says of her father on OkayAfrica, “[My father] preferred to let his work, his music speak for him. He was an ambassador for African music. … [He] excelled at scouting new talent and used Syllart as a launching pad for many who would rise to global stardom.” Enjoy her recent interview to BBC. Check out the Syllart Records YouTube channel.

Who/What do we Celebrate in Africa in 2021 ?

Although 2021 has globally been a tough year, there are still events that lend to celebration. As we turn the page of 2021 and delve into 2022, it is good to note that in 2021, a lot of “firsts” have taken place on the African continent. Below are a few of the events that brought joy. There are many more, of course, but I selected 11. Enjoy, and add in the comments other celebratory events that have marked the continent this year.

  1. Hulda Swai_1
    Professor Hulda Swai

    Tanzanian professor Hulda Swai wins the 2020 prize of the African Union Kwame Nkrumah Continental Awards for Scientific Excellence in February [Professor Hulda Swai of Tanzania Wins Distinguished Science Award: ‘Women are as good as men’]. This is a highly prestigious scientific award in Africa.

  2. In May, a Malian woman gives birth to 9 babies (from natural conception). This marks the first single birth and survival of nonuplets in the world. Halima Cisse, a Malian woman, has given birth to nonuplets, 5 girls and 4 boys, in a hospital in Morocco [World Record: Malian Woman gives Birth to Nine Babies].
  3. Herero_chained
    Chained Herero men

    Germany agrees to pay Namibia €1.1bn over historical Herero-Nama genocide in May of this year. This is historic, late, and probably not enough compared to the loss in human lives… yet it is important! The money will be paid over 30 years in aid programs…  (probably a way to siphon money back to Germany, while appearing to be giving something), and pales in comparison to the billions worth of Namibian diamonds and cobalt mine that will profit German companies in fine print [Germany in Namibia: the First Genocide of the 20th Century].

  4. Laurent Gbagbo
    Laurent Gbagbo

    In June, after 10 years of imprisonment, and over 20 years of persecution, Laurent Gbagbo, the former president of Cote d’Ivoire finally lands home amidst celebrations from his supporters in the country and abroad [Laurent Gbagbo is Back in Cote d’Ivoire]. Although there have been subsequent disappointing actions on his part, it is nonetheless a victory over the International Court of Justice, and all the persecution Blé Goude (How long shall they kill our prophets…?), him, and countless others have gone through, and remains a major cause for celebration, as it shows that, for a just cause, perseverance and determination always bear fruits.

  5. In June, Petra Diamonds pays Tanzanians for its abuse [Petra Diamonds pays £4.3m to Tanzanians ‘abused’ by its contractors]; this is significant as it shows that it is not impossible to demand reparations from these giant companies that pollute our lands and abuse us. It sets a precedent.
  6. Tokyo2020
    Tokyo 2020 Olympics logo (Olympics.com)

    Late July marks the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after one year of postponement, and Africa wins new victories. Tunisian Ahmed Hafnaoui offers the African continent its first medal of the games, by winning gold in the 400m freestyle swimming; Hugues Zango of Burkina Faso gives his country its first ever medal at the Olympics by winning the bronze medal in the men’s triple jump; while Eliud Kipchoge successfully defends his Olympic title at the marathon becoming the 3rd person in the history of the games to win successive marathons [African Wins at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics].

  7. In October, Tanzanian writer Abdulrazak Gurnah is awarded the Nobel Prize of Literature, making him the fifth African to win the illustrious prize [Tanzanian Abdulrazak Gurnah awarded Nobel Prize of Literature]. As you can see, the African literary scene is flourishing.
  8. Somalia_The Gravedigger Wife
    “The Gravedigger’s Wife” by Khadar Ahmed

    A Somali love story, the Gravediggers’ Wife is this year’s FESPACO winner [Somali Love Story, The Gravedigger’s Wife, is this year’s FESPACO winner]. The FESPACO, which is one of Africa’s biggest film festival, took place this year after the pandemic and lockdowns, and an 8-months delay because of security reasons [FESPACO 2021: One of Africa’s Biggest Film Festival is back!].

  9. 100 years after René Maran, an African wins the prestigious French Prix Goncourt. The award was given to Senegalese writer Mohamed Mbougar Sarr. This is the first time that a Sub-saharan African person wins the prize, and the third time for a Black person in the almost 120-years history of the title [100 years after René Maran, An African wins the Prestigious Prix Goncourt], even though people of African descent make up so much of the French population over the past century.
  10. Benin_Fon statue symbolizing Behanzin Man shark
    Benin Fon statue symbolizing Behanzin man shark (Musee du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac)

    In November, France returns some artifacts of the kingdom of Dahomey to the present-day country of Benin; these were looted when the French burnt down the capital of King Behanzin at Abomey over 120 years ago [France returns 26 Artifacts from Behanzin’s Era to Benin]. Similarly, the Benin Bronze cockerel held at the University of Cambridge from the famed Benin Kingdom [Benin City: the Majestic City the British burnt to the ground] has been returned to Nigeria. This is still little, as they should all be returned to their rightful owners; it should not even be up to negotiation.

  11. Congolese Rumba has been recognized as a UNESCO Intangible World Heritage. Congratulations to both Congos, the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for working together. We do hope that this is just the first step in a collaboration that will extend to other domains including economic success and beyond [Congolese Rumba Wins UNESCO Protected Status].

Now, there are a lot more such as David Diop winning the International Booker prize for his book “At Night All Blood is Black” which focuses on Tirailleurs Senegalais; or the Senegalese influencer Khaby Lame being ranked number 2 on Tik Tok for his wordless humor which transcends language barriers and cultures (he is the fastest growing Tik Tok influencer with 120 million followers); or even Madagascar’s secretary of police, Serge Gelle, swimming for about 12 hours to reach shore after his helicopter crashed in the Indian Ocean off the northeast coast of the country. When rescued, Gelle said “My turn to die has not yet come, thank God.” So let us all be grateful for this year, and for the people and events who have brought joy to our lives, and let us move forward to a new year. 

Who/What did we say Goodbye to in Africa in 2021?

2021 was no doubt a tough year the world over, with a continued global pandemic, stressed economies, and much more. What a year! Africa said goodbye to quite a few people, events, and more. Below are a selection of 10 events of 2021. I am sure that I have left quite a few out…

  1. John Magufuli_2
    President John Magufuli of Tanzania

    In March, President John Magufuli of Tanzania changed dimensions. It was heartbreaking to see someone who had done so much for his country go away so suddenly. Nicknamed the “bulldozer” he had a reputation to be incorruptible [So Long to President John Magufuli of Tanzania: The Bulldozer], and under his leadership Tanzania saw growth and development. Magufuli was focused on Tanzania’s economic success and sought to implement ambitious projects that would lift more of his people out of poverty. Under his reign, he expanded free education, and rural electrificationTanzania was one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, thanks to his hard work [President John Magufuli in His Own Words].

  2. SA_Goodwill Zwelithini
    King Goodwill Zwelithini (Source: sahistory.org.za)

    In March, King Goodwill Zwelithini of the Zulu people of South Africa passed away. He had been king of the Zulu for over 50 years, since 1968 when he had succeeded his father, King Cyprian Bhekuzulu. Over these 50 years, he saw his country change from the apartheid regime to the Rainbow nation. At the time of his passing, the King’s Great Wife, Queen Mantfombi Dlamini was appointed as interim leader of the Zulu Nation under the title of queen regent from March 2021 to April 2021, when she passed away suddenly. King Goodwill Zwelithini was succeeded by his son King Misuzulu Zulu.

  3. In June, the very popular Nigerian pastor T.B. Joshua departed from this planet. He was a legendary charismatic pastor who was visited by presidents, and people from around the world; it is said that his church was Nigeria’s biggest tourist attraction.
  4. Kenneth Kaunda
    Kenneth Kaunda

    In June also, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, first president of Zambia joined his ancestors. At 97 years old, he was one of Africa’s last surviving liberation leaders. To a generation of Africans, he epitomized the Africa struggle for independence. Affectionately known as Mzee, Kaunda worked tirelessly towards the freedom of the whole of Southern Africa from white rule; he supported the fight of other countries against repressive, racist regimes in South Africa, Malawi, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique and Southern Rhodesia (Why the name: Zimbabwe?). It took several years, but his support never faltered.

  5. In September, Sultan Ibrahim Mbombo Njoya of the Bamun people of Cameroon perished at the hands of the virus which has paralyzed the planet. He was the 19th reigning monarch of the Bamun Kingdom in the Western province of Cameroon. He had succeeded to his father, the sultan Seidou Njimoluh Njoya in 1992. He has been succeeded by his son Nabil Mbombo Njoya. At 28, Nabil Njoya is now the 20th in the Nchare Yen dynasty of the Bamun people.
  6. In November, F.W. De Klerk, former president of South Africa, and last president of the Apartheid era, passed away. He is known for releasing Nelson Mandela from prison, after 27 years, disassembling the apartheid system, and sharing the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela.
  7. Ethiopia_flag
    Flag of Ethiopia

    Ethiopia’s Tigray crisis started bringing tears to our hearts… Not sure how to explain the Nobel Peace prize given to Ethiopia’s prime minister Ahmed Abiy in 2019, when I see him choosing the war path instead of peace now. He is presiding over a protracted civil war that by many accounts bears the hallmarks of genocide. This leads to skepticism towards these “prizes” handed over by the “international” community. It has been over a year now that Abiy ordered a military offensive in the northern Tigray region with the promise to have it resolved quickly. Thousands are now dead, 2 million people displaced, and much more.

  8. Mozambique_Flag
    Flag of Mozambique

    Loss of peace in Mozambique. Last year, I told you about this amazing oil fields and precious minerals found in Mozambique, and all of sudden the presence of Islamic insurgencies [seriously?… Islamic insurgencies… I think these people probably take us for idiots] starting there right after Total signed one of the biggest contracts ever for over $14 Billions, and the united nations of thieves [seriously check it out, banks for Japan, EU, France, India, US, etc…] descended on the country [Who/What did we say goodbye to in Africa in 2020?].

  9. King Kêfa Sagbadjou Glèlè, monarch of the once-powerful Dahomey kingdom, in the country of Benin, has joined his ancestors. Bear in mind that King Kêfa descended from the Agoli-Agbo line, the one installed (not the rightful bearers of the traditions) by the French after King Behanzin was deported to Martinique and then Algeria.
  10. South Africa_Desmond Tutu_1
    Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Source: The Namibian)

    Just the day after Christmas, we learned that Desmond Tutu, the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner and iconic anti-apartheid fighter was deceased on December 26. As the tributes pour in from around the world, Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta said, Tutu had “inspired a generation of African leaders who embraced his non-violent approaches in the liberation struggle.” At 90, Archbishop Tutu had lived a long fruitful life, battle-tested by life under apartheid. The plans include two days of lying in state before an official state funeral on 1 January in Cape Town.

So Long to Desmond Tutu, the Archbishop who Fought Apartheid and Injustices

Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Source: The Namibian)

Yesterday, December 26, 2021, the 1984 Nobel peace prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu passed away in his home in Cape Town, South Africa. As tributes pour in from around the world, all will remember him as an anti-apartheid hero. Contemporary to Nelson Mandela and to many other freedom fighters, he used his pulpit from his church to bring forward the injustices of the apartheid regime to the world. The BBC has an obituary about the life of this great man. Excerpts below are from the BBC.

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… Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born in 1931 in a small gold-mining town [Klerksdorp], in what was then the Transvaal. He first followed in his father’s footsteps as a teacher, but abandoned that career after the passage of the Bantu Education Act in 1953 which introduced racial segregation in schools.

Tutu (r) with fellow staff members of the Pretoria Bantu Normal College in 1961 (Source: BBC)

… He served as bishop of Lesotho from 1976-78, assistant bishop of Johannesburg and rector of a parish in Soweto, before his appointment as bishop of Johannesburg. It was as a dean that he first began to raise his voice against injustice in South Africa and again from 1977 onwards as general secretary of the South African Council of Churches. Already a high-profile figure before the 1976 rebellion in black townships, it was in the months before the Soweto violence that he first became known to white South Africans as a campaigner for reform.

His efforts saw him awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984As head of the Anglican Church in South Africa, he continued to campaign actively against apartheid. In March 1988, he declared: “We refuse to be treated as the doormat for the government to wipe its jackboots on.”

He was never afraid to voice his opinions. In April 1989, when he went to Birmingham in the UK, he criticised what he termed “two-nation” Britain, and said there were too many black people in the country’s prisons. 

Later he angered the Israelis when, during a Christmas pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he compared black South Africans with the Arabs in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. He said he could not understand how people who had suffered as the Jews had, could inflict such suffering on the Palestinians.

Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela just after Nelson Mandela’s release from prison (Source: the Nelson Mandela Foundation)

… In November 1995, Mandela, by then South Africa’s president, asked Tutu to head a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, with the task of gathering evidence of apartheid-era crimes and recommending whether people confessing their involvement should receive amnesty. At the end of the commission’s inquiry, Tutu attacked South Africa’s former white leaders, saying most of them had lied in their testimony. The commission also accused the ANC of committing human rights abuses during its fight against apartheid. Both sides rejected the report.

… A small man, “the Arch”, as he was known, was gregarious and ebullient, emanating a spirit of joy despite his intense sense of mission.

100 years after René Maran, An African wins the Prestigious Prix Goncourt

Mbougar Sarr
Mohamed Mbougar Sarr (Source: France 24)

Meet Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, the Senegalese writer who has just won the Prix Goncourt, France’s oldest and most prestigious literary prize. This makes him the first writer from sub-Saharan Africa, a Black African, to win the prize. Isn’t it funny that I was recently reading about René Maran, the first person of African descent (from French Guyana) to win the prestigious Goncourt prize in 1921 for his novel Batouala? This was the first French novel to openly criticize European colonialism in Africa, which caused violent reactions and was banned in all French colonies. So 100 years later, we have the first African to win the prize.

Mbougar Sarr-la plus secrete memoire des hommes
“La plus secrète mémoire des hommes” de Mohamed Mbougar Sarr

Mbougar Sarr is the youngest winner of the Goncourt since 1976. He hails from Senegal, where he grew up in the city of Diourbel, a small city located about 100 miles from the capital Dakar, before moving to France to study literature. His winning novel, La plus secrète mémoire des hommes (The Most Secret Memory of Men), tells the story of a young Senegalese writer living in Paris who stumbles by chance across a novel published in 1938 by a fictional African author named TC Elimane, nicknamed “the Black Rimbaud” by an ecstatic Paris media. The story, described as a reflection on the links between fiction and reality, follows the life of a cursed African writer echoing the real-life experience of the Malian writer Yambo Ouologuem who in 1968 was the first African winner of the prix Renaudot, but was later accused of plagiarism, and had to flee France and vanish from public

life.

Rene Maran_1
Posting of René Maran as he won the Prix Goncourt for Batouala

Previous works by Mbougar Sarr, Terre Ceinte (his first novel published in 2015) and Silence du choeur (2017) have won several prizes including the Prix Ahmadou-Kourouma, and the Grand prix du roman métis. Congratulations to Mohamed Mbougar Sarr for winning the 2021 Prix Goncourt. It took 100 years after René Maran for Sub-Saharan Africa to have a winner of the Goncourt !!! 

Who killed Thomas Sankara? The Trial starts in Burkina Faso

We all know who killed Thomas Sankara… and we all know that it was an international affair with Blaise Compaoré at the center, France, Felix Houphouet-Boigny of Cote d’Ivoire and even Liberians… we all know… but with all the cover-ups, and the powerful owing the justice, will we, citizens of Burkina Faso and Africa ever get justice for Thomas Sankara and his family? Well, the trial started this past Monday in Ouagadougou, without the main actor Blaise Compaoré, the coward previous president of Burkina Faso who got Ivorian citizenship to avoid getting extradited to face his crimes against the people of Burkina Faso… really a coward… how could someone like that have ever governed people? Excerpts below are from the BBC. Enjoy!

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Thirty-four years, almost to the day, since the shocking killing of Burkina Faso‘s then President, Thomas Sankara, 14 men are going on trial, accused of complicity in the murder of the man known as “Africa’s Che Guevara”.

The charismatic Pan-Africanist was shot dead aged 37 by soldiers during a coup on 15 October 1987, which saw his close friend, Blaise Compaoré, come to power.

Four years previously, the pair had staged the takeover which saw Sankara become president.

Mr Compaoré is among the 14 accused but he is currently in exile in neighbouring Ivory Coast, where he fled after being forced to resign during mass protests in 2014. He has repeatedly denied involvement in Sankara’s death and is boycotting the trial.

I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” the former president’s widow Mariam Sankara told the BBC. “I want to know the truth, and who did what.”

Sankara remains something of an icon across Africa – … across the continent in South Africa, radical opposition leader Julius Malema cites him as one of his inspirations.

Amilcar Cabral on the Colonizer installing Puppets

Statue of Behanzin in Abomey, Benin
Statue of Behanzin in Abomey, Benin

As you all know, we have seen in recent coups and throughout history, that the colonizers/oppressors in Africa tend to install fake chiefs, or rather puppets to serve their interests. Remember when Agoli-Agbo (French puppet) was installed after King Behanzin was deposed in 1894? or Patrice Lumumba with Joseph Mobutu in 1961, or more recently Thomas Sankara by Blaise Compaoré in Burkina Faso in 1987, and countless others … history repeats itself. This behavior is not just observed at the top of the country, but even at the levels of the local traditional chiefs… where the successions are contested thus breaking the will of the people, and the passing on of a culture, effectively destroying the oppressed. I could not have said it better than  Amilcar Cabral, himself during his February 20, 1970 speech, as part of the Eduardo Mondlane Memorial Lecture Series at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, under the auspices of The Program of Eastern African Studies. Enjoy!

Amilcar Cabral
Amilcar Cabral

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the colonizer who represses or inhibits significant cultural activity on the part of the masses at the base of the social pyramid, strengthens and protects the prestige and the cultural influence of the ruling class at the summit. The colonizer installs chiefs who support him and who are to some degree accepted by the masses; he gives these chiefs material privileges such as education for their eldest children, creates chiefdoms where they did not exist before, develops cordial relations with religious leaders, builds mosques, organizes journeys to Mecca, etc. And above all, by means of the repressive organs of colonial administration, he guarantees economic and social privileges to the ruling class in their relations with the masses. All this does not make it impossible that, among these ruling classes, there may be individuals or groups of individuals who join the liberation movement, although less frequently than in the case of the assimilated “petite bourgeoisie.” Several traditional and religious leaders join the struggle at the very beginning or during its development, making an enthusiastic contribution to the cause of liberation.

But here again vigilance is indispensable: preserving deep down the cultural prejudices of their class, individuals in this category generally see in the liberation movement the only valid means, using the sacrifices of the masses, to eliminate colonial oppression of their own class and to re-establish in this way their complete political and cultural domination of the people.

… among the oppressor’s most loyal allies are found some high officials and intellectuals of the liberal professions, assimilated people, and also a significant number of representatives of the ruling class from rural areas.

… Without minimizing the positive contribution which privileged classes may bring to the struggle, the liberation movement must, on the cultural level just as on the political level, base its action in popular culture, whatever may be the diversity of levels of cultures in the country. The cultural combat against colonial domination–the first phase of the liberation movement–can be planned efficiently only on the basis of the culture of the rural and urban working masses, including the nationalist (revolutionary) “petite bourgeoisie” who have been re-Africanized  or who are ready for cultural reconversion. Whatever may be the complexity of this basic cultural panorama, the liberation movement must be capable of distinguishing within it the essential from the secondary, the positive from the negative, the progressive from the reactionary in order to characterize the master line which defines progressively a national culture.

Confronted with such a necessity, the liberation struggle is, above all, a struggle both for the preservation and survival of the cultural values of the people and for the harmonization and development of these values within a national framework.