Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged Africa

White Material

The title of this grave work derives from Black African slang for Whites and for the objects Whites own, e.g., a gold cigarette lighter (an important symbolic prop in the film). Maria Vial (Isabelle Huppert) is the main white material here, a middle-aged woman trapped by the colonial past and present civil war in an unnamed African country.

The Memory of Love

The Memory of Love is a slow and beautiful book. I'm not the biggest fan of art that proceeds at such a deliberate pace, but this is definitely at the top of the heap for such books; the descriptions are lovely and precise, every detail picked out with absolute care. I loved the representations of African life, which felt honest and authentic.

Voices of Witness Africa

Voices of Witness Africa honors the truth and plight of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Anglicans in Africa, who have often been excommunicated by the Anglican Church. This is an admirable task for the producers of this film, since their target audience is Anglican bishops at the Lambeth Conference, a meeting of bishops which happens once every ten years. The producers must work not to overly offend the church bishops that they are trying to win over. However, this tension to represent various sides of the issue leaves the film with a sense of having been diluted to be palpable.

The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between the Rich and the Poor in an Interconnected World

Would you give up a promising career in international banking to pursue a lifetime of attempting to understand and eradicate global property? Jacqueline Novogratz began her career as an international banker at Chase Manhattan Bank. As a member of the Credit Audit team for Chase Manhattan Bank, Novogratz was responsible for reviewing the quality of the bank’s loans in other countries, especially in troubled economies. As time went on, Novogratz began to explore the possibilities of working with the poorest people.


I just got back from seeing the documentary Babies. I have to say that it was great! Director Thomas Balmès followed four babies from four countries for a little over a year each. The movie is mostly without dialogue, except for the little bit of the parents' talking. It is mostly shot from the baby's level, and is organized by the developmental stages of babies' lives.

Dark Heart of the Night

The gross reality of genocide brings one’s spirit to feel a deep sadness for groups and individuals who don't understand different cultures. Delineating a brutal world of power and defeat, the author of Dark Heart of the Night doesn't hold back and the shocking truth of this topic engenders an incredulous curiosity in the reader: how can a village not support their people, even those who are related to some in the village?

Aya: The Secrets Come Out (Volume Three)

Last summer, in dire need of some pure escapism, I stumbled upon the four-volume Aya comic book series. Inspired by author Marguerite Abouet’s childhood, this series takes us back to the late 1970s on the Ivory Coast to a suburb of Abidjan, Yopougon, known affectionately as Yop City to its residents. What initially piqued my interest was finding a series taken from the point of view of Aya, a nineteen-year-old African woman—indeed a rare occurrence.

Societies of Peace: Matriarchies Past, Present and Future

In a time when it seems we have lost our sense of humane, egalitarian living Societies Of Peace stands out as a guide to what we can learn from matriarchies in order to save ourselves from self-destruction. This book is a collection of the presentations from the two World Congresses on Matriarchial studies.

East African Hip Hop: Youth Culture and Globalization

Ntarangwi’s book on hip hop culture in East Africa could be used as an academic treatise for music and cultural classes in any university in America. Generally speaking, when we create something, very rarely are we aware of the far-reaching implications that creation may have outside of our immediate scope. Hip hop has been one such creation. Similar to jazz, hip hop was, in part, created out of the need to communicate what did not want to be heard, at first.

China Safari: On the Trail of Beijing’s Expansion in Africa

In China Safari: On the Trail of Beijing's Expansion in Africa, Serge Michel and Michel Beuret invest a lot of time and energy in examining China’s presence in African countries. They travel to various places to interview different people in order to find out what affects Chinese business has across the continent.

New York Times 'Half The Sky' Issue

In July, I wrote a post about Nicholas D. Kristof's announcing a "special issue" of the New York Times Sunday Magazine that would cover women in the developing world. Well, that issue is now available online, and will be arriving to the doorsteps of NYT subscribers in a few days.

The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World

Many well-meaning people and organizations throughout the world have had grand visions for African and Indian aid over the years, but many of these projects and initiatives have not had a lasting impact for the poorest people. Author and Acumen Fund founder Jacqueline Novogratz has written a book that will change the way you think about Africa, India, philanthropy, and probably your own life. Novogratz, who had been an international banker, knew she wanted to make a difference in the world. Like many of us, though, she wasn’t sure how.

Women Writing Africa: The Northern Region

Women Writing Africa: The Northern Region is the fourth in a series of volumes, following The Southern Region, The Eastern Region, and _[West Africa and the Sahel](http://www.amazon.com/gp/pro

Three Sisters

Three Sisters is part of the Life Series collection which is funded by BBC World and TVE International. The episodes are meant for classroom use from grades seven to twelve, or even college age. This particular episode focuses on the women of Eritrea, a small country near Ethiopia, Sudan, and Somalia.

Cocoa Butter Body Cream: Vanilla Mocha

I love my organs! My kidneys are awesome. As bad as I have been to my liver, it has never let me down. My heart is a hard-working love machine. Although, I must say, my absolute favorite organ has to be my skin, and the best part is that I have lots of it! My skin has been so good to me, I am certainly grateful that, even after years of long baby oil tanning sessions, it still appears mildly even-colored, and I haven’t attained that proverbial fried-pork-rind look.


Malian singer Rokia Traoré blends African music with European and American folk music to create a sound that is interesting, balanced, and beautiful. As someone who fits more comfortably on the metal side of the spectrum, I have not removed this disc from my stereo since I first listened to it a month ago.

Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa

Wangari’s Trees of Peace is a beautifully imagined account, designed for young readers, of the life and career of Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan scholar, activist, and environmentalist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her leadership of the Green Belt Movement and her resistance to deforestation. Often, “message books” like these underestimate kids’ level of sophistication and come across as preachy or cloying.

Starved for Science: How Biotechnology Is Being Kept Out of Africa

As a mom who does what I can to buy organic food for my family, I completely understand the general distaste most of us have for genetically modified (GM) foods. The very thought of vegetables altered by scientists in labs seems creepy and somehow inherently wrong, doesn’t it?

Born in the Big Rains: A Memoir of Somalia and Survival

Born in the Big Rains begins like a beautifully written work of fiction: “In the distance, a lion roared, deep and long, dismissing the night. The air smelled of smoke and freshly brewed tea, and on the horizon the day’s first light chalked the sky.” But the writing’s rich details and driving action belie that this is no tall tale, but the true story of an adolescent girl, named Fadumo Abdi Hersi Farah Husen, who was born to a nomadic family in Somalia.

I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me By a Young Lady From Rwanda (4/13/2008)

I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me By a Young Lady From Rwanda is an amazing two-person play set in London, England in the modern day. It chronicles one Rwandan refugee’s struggle to write about what happened to her in 1994, and the Englishman who helps her. While living in England, Juliette (Susan Hayward) meets an aging poet, Simon (Joseph J. Menino), who works at the refugee center part-time. She comes to him for help in getting her book about the Rwandan genocide published.

The Last King of Scotland (DVD Special Features)

Viewing The Last King of Scotland's Special Features section is a lot like stopping off for dessert at a fast-food restaurant after dining on a sumptuous five-course meal. In striking comparison to the feature film’s nail-biting tension and riveting drama is “Seven Deleted Scenes,” a special feature that is about as exciting as a bowl of boiled rice, and a nonessential theatrical trailer that should be fast forwarded.

Aman Iman

In an age of over-produced, mass-marketed tripe, Tinariwen is a beacon shining from the Sahara. Their 2007 Aman Iman relies heavily on the rare sound of raw, straining human voices and features handclaps as primary percussion. Foremost, there is a voice singing against isolation and violence in favor of a solidarity so desperately needed to improve the station of the Touareg people.


Bamako is a largely unscripted political film which centers on a trial of the Malian people against the World Bank and IMF. Filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako chose to shoot the trial in a courtyard that represents his family home in a poorer neighborhood of Mali’s capital city, where he has memories of passionate discussions about Africa.

M’Bem di Fora

If you wish to fully appreciate this album, I would recommend that you read about the artist and the music first. I was lucky in that I received a press release with the album. I listened to the music, which varies from slow, ethereal songs to finger-snapping, toe-tapping beats. Then I read about Lura, and the background of each song. I was able to go back and listen, again, for real.

The Last King of Scotland

Idi Amin loved fast cars. Idi Amin so admired the Scots that he outfitted his soldiers in tartan kilts and had them play bagpipes along with their drums.