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Article

Anne Elise Thomas

Egyptian composer, musician, and film star, was born in the early 1900s, either in Cairo or in the village of Abu Kibir, Sharqiya Province. There is confusion regarding both the date and the place of his birth. Two official identification cards in his possession listed his birth in 1910 but in the two different locations named above. ʿAbd al-Wahhab’s contemporaries have suggested that he was born sometime between 1896 and 1907 their suggestions are supported by reported incidents of his early musical life and encounters with important historical figures of the 1910s His early years were spent in the Bab al Shaʿrani quarter of Cairo where his father Muhammad Abu ʿIsa ʿAbd al Wahhab was shaykh religious scholar and caretaker of the neighborhood mosque ʿAbd al Wahhab was one of five children born to his father and Fatima Higazi his mother Early on ʿAbd al Wahhab was enrolled by ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

Mousstapha Alassane, one of Niger's first filmmakers, excels in animation, a genre of film typically ignored in Africa. His work aims to preserve and revalue his African cultural heritage and to provide biting social commentary on Niger's postcolonial bourgeoisie.

Alassane was born in N’Jougou, Benin. He moved with his family to Niger in 1953. While in primary school, he began to develop the film style he would later polish as an adult. Alassane entertained his relatives and friends with shadow shows and makeshift cartoons drawn on translucent wrappings and shown through a projector he built. Throughout his teenage years, he refined his animation technique and at the age of twenty, he produced two short animated films—Le Piroguier (The Canoe-Paddler) and La Pileuse de mil Woman Pounding Millet While working at the Institut Fondamental d Afrique Noire Alassane had the opportunity to show these films to French ...

Article

Sada Niang

Nigerois filmmaker, was born in Ndougou (Niger). A mechanic by trade, he revealed himself to be an inventive young man at an early age. When no film theater existed in his village, indeed at a time when most of his fellow villagers had never seen a film, Alassane drew characters on cardboard, cut them out, and offered his fellow villagers their first cinematic experience by animating a rudimentary set of puppets.

In 1960 Alassane met Jean René Debrix and with his support obtained employment at the Institut d Afrique Noire Ifan in Niamey Later on two major figures exerted profound influence on the art and filmmaking career of Moustapha Alassane Jean Rouch a French engineer turned Africanist and advocate of direct anthropology and Norman McLaren a Scottish Canadian who made his first film at age twenty and later became the animation guru at the studios of National Film Board ...

Article

David Dabydeen

African‐Americantragedian and Shakespearean actor who emigrated to England and performed extensively in Europe. Aldridge was born to Daniel and Lurona Aldridge on 24 July 1807 in West Broadway, New York. There has been some confusion concerning his genealogy. One suggestion of his lineage was that he was a descendant of a princely line of the Fulah tribe in Senegal. This version is probably a romantic tale fabricated to accentuate an exoticism that would have boosted his dramatic persona. What is known, however, is that Daniel Aldridge was a straw‐vendor and a pastor, who might have been a slave. There are no records to verify that Daniel was indeed a slave, but the name Aldridge was most probably that of a slave master.

Although Daniel had intended his son to join the ministry the young Aldridge was already passionate about the theatre After his education at the African Free School ...

Article

Christine Matzke

Eritrean comedian, theater artist, musician, and sports teacher, was born on 1 February 1925 during the Italian colonial period in Eritrea in Abba Shawl, the poor segregated Eritrean quarters of the capital Asmara. His father was Kahsay Woldegebr, and his mother, Ghebriela Fitwi.

At the age of ten he attended an Orthodox Church school and then received four years of Italian schooling, the maximum period of formal education for Eritreans under Italian rule. Thereafter Alemayo worked as a messenger for an Italian lawyer and, at the age of seventeen, found employment as a stagehand in Cinema Asmara, then Teatro Asmara, an imposing Italian theater and center for Italian social and cultural life. Here Alemayo was exposed to European variety shows, operas, and cinema that fascinated him greatly, particularly the genre of comedy, such as the works of Charlie Chaplin and the Neapolitan comedian Totò.

Italian colonization was characterized by strict ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Africanjournalist and nationalist born in Egypt of Egyptian and Sudanese parentage. At the age of 9 or 10 Ali was sent to England to be educated. He never returned to Egypt and spent most of his time between 1883 and 1921 living in Britain. During this period, he was poverty‐stricken, attempting to earn a living through his pen and tour acting. Ali published Land of the Pharaohs in 1911, an anti‐imperialist book that became a significant contribution to the decolonization efforts in the United States and West Africa.

In 1912Ali and John Eldred Taylor, a journalist from Sierra Leone, inaugurated the African Times and Orient Review (1912–20), a magazine that sought to deal with anti‐colonial issues that not merely embraced Pan‐African matters, but incorporated Pan‐Oriental topics as well. The journal was inspired by the Universal Races Congress in London in 1911 which advocated ...

Article

Maxamed Dahir Afrax

Somali poet, dramatist, actor, and political activist, was born in Gabiley in northwestern Somalia in 1935. His father, Muxumed Amiin, was a soldier. His mother, Muumina Kaahin, Muxumed Amiin’s first wife, died when Cabdi, her only child, was still an infant. Cabdi’s grandmother Murriya took care of him until he was a teenager. He lived in the towns of Berbera and Arabsiyo where he attended a qurʾanic school. As a teenager he had to support himself through different kinds of hard physical labor.

In 1953 he moved to Hargeisa then the capital of the British Protectorate of Somaliland where he started composing his first poems Soon after in the same year he moved to Mogadishu the Somali capital There he was recognized as a talented poet and artist and was employed by Radio Mogadishu At the same time he joined the movement for national independence He worked for ...

Article

Maxwell Akansina Aziabah

Ghanaian filmmaker, writer, producer, and director, was born in Agona Swedru in the Central Region of Ghana. His father, J. R. Ansah, was a professional photographer, a painter, dramatist, and musician, and his mother was a trader. Kwaw Ansah, after his Anglican elementary education in Agona Swedru, moved to Accra, where he completed his ordinary-level certificate examinations. While studying for his ordinary-level certificate, he worked as a fashion designer for the United Africa Company. He later entered London Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster) in 1963 to study theater design. Having decided to pursue a career in film production, he then enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and graduated two years later, in 1965 with a diploma in dramatic arts That same year he was admitted to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy It was while there that he understudied film production in R ...

Article

Joel Gordon

leading male vocalist of his generation in Egypt, composer and box- office sensation with a career spanning five decades, was born in Suwayda, a village in the Druze stronghold of Southern Syria. He was the eldest child of Fahd al-Atrash, an Ottoman official related to the leading Druze princely clan and Alia al-Mundhir, a Druze from Beirut. At the end of World War I, Fahd al-Atrash was posted in the Turkish district of Demirci. Fearing arrest, he fled with his family to Beirut; on the sea passage from Izmir, Alia gave birth to a daughter, Amal, whose fame as the musical artist Asmahan would equal, if not surpass, her older brother’s.

In 1923 against her husband s will Alia took her children to Damascus and then to Cairo She fled the violence that had followed the bombardment of the Druze stronghold in response to an attack on French forces ...

Article

Philip Herbert

Famous pianist in the United Kingdom during the 1950s, selling over 20 million records. She was born in Tunapuna, Trinidad, in February 1914. She studied the piano as a child and had a local following. It was hoped that she would eventually work for the family business, after her training in pharmacy.

To gain further musical training, Atwell moved to the United States in 1945, and then came to London in 1946, to the Royal Academy of Music, to become a concert pianist. To sustain her studies, she performed piano rags at hotels, theatres, and clubs in London. By 1950 she had attained national celebrity, and signed to record with Decca. She recorded such hits as Let's Have a Ding‐Dong, Poor People of Paris, Britannia Rag, and many others. The Black and White Rag became the signature tune for the BBC's Pot Black ...

Article

Bob Ramdhanie

Black dance company, which presented its first season at the Twentieth Century Theatre in London on 30 April 1946 under their artistic director and choreographer Berto Pasuka. Pasuka, a Jamaican of mixed parentage, arrived in England in 1939. He obtained small parts in the films Rain of the Pacifica and Men of Two Worlds, the latter providing the resources to establish Les Ballets Nègres. With Pasuka's close friend Richie Riley, this company laid the foundation for Caribbean and African theatrical dance in Britain.

A culturally diverse company of approximately 25 members (dancers, musicians, and other support staff), performers came from Jamaica, Liverpool, Ghana, Nigeria, England, and Trinidad. They presented four full‐length ballets—De Prophet, They Came, Aggrey, and Market Day generally receiving positive reviews They toured extensively in the United Kingdom and Europe and though they were very popular in post war ...

Article

In 1935 the Colonial Office of the British Film Institute assigned British director Leslie Alan Notcutt to lead an experimental mission to test the uses of film in Africa. The British hoped that the mission, called the Bantu Educational Cinema Experiment (BECE), could accomplish several important tasks at once. The first was to form a monopoly control over films shown to African audiences. British colonial administrators believed that commercial American and European films depicted whites unfavorably and feared these images could jeopardize British colonial authority in Africa. As Notcutt noted in his field report, The African and the Cinema the British assumed Africans were unable to distinguish fact from fiction Reflection will convince any unprejudiced person that with backward peoples unable to distinguish between truth and falsehood it is surely our wisdom if not our obvious duty to prevent so far as it is possible the dissemination of wrong ...

Article

Leyla Keough

In 1932 a group of European Communists proposed a film, Black and White, to dramatize the unhappy plight of black industrial workers in the American South. Eager to encourage African American membership, the Russian-dominated worldwide organization of Communist parties, the Communist International (Comitern), agreed to finance the film. The Communists construed the predicament of American blacks as an issue of class, not race, and even before the film was proposed had appealed to African Americans to support their international cause. But by the late 1920s only 1,000 African Americans had joined the Communist Party of America.

Based in Berlin, Germany, the film company behind Black and White hired Louise Thompson who had organized the Harlem Chapter of Friends of the Soviet Union to help recruit the twenty one African Americans needed for the project Few of those who joined the cast had ever actually acted in film or ...

Article

Bob Ramdhanie

Term used by African and Caribbean dancers to refer to dance forms utilizing vocabularies, rituals, and symbols from traditional African and Caribbean forms, combining music, movement, storytelling, and theatre. Adopted from North America, the term came into popular usage in the United Kingdom in the 1970s.

1.Phase 1 1946 ...

Article

James Sellman

Rubén Blades is one of the creators of the Latin musical style known as Salsa, which blends various traditions of Afro-Caribbean—particularly Afro-Cuban—dance music. He first gained recognition while singing with Willie Colón and the Fania All-Stars (1976–1981). In 1978 Blades and Colón recorded the breakthrough album Siembra; after two decades, it remains the best-selling salsa album. Since that time, his recordings have enjoyed great success and have broadened the popularity of salsa, bringing Afro-Caribbean dance rhythms not only to Spanish-speaking listeners but also to a large English-speaking and international audience.

During the late 1960s and 1970s, Fania Records and other recording companies of New York City popularized the term salsa as a catchier alternative to the labels Afro Cuban or Afro Caribbean Dance Music Salsa draws from the musical traditions of those who settled the Caribbean basin making particular use of the styles and instruments ...

Article

Houda Ben Ghacham

Tunisian film critic and director, was born in Tunis on 11 March 1944. His father, Taoufik Boughedir, was a journalist, novelist, playwright, and an influential figure in cultural life. Boughedir attended a French secondary school in Tunis and lived in the family home in Halfaouine, an area of old Tunis that was later to provide the name for the director’s first film. He went on to study French literature in Rouen and Paris and wrote two doctoral theses on African and Arabic cinema.

Boughedir first made a name for himself as a film critic, writing for, among others, the journal Jeune Afrique, which was published in Paris and distributed in francophone Africa. In his writing for this, he was an inexhaustible supporter of the cause of African cinema. He was involved in organizing the oldest pan-African film festival, Les Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage, in Tunis which he ...

Article

Zózimo Bulbul was born in Rio de Janeiro. In the 1970s he appeared in several films including Compasso de Espera (1973), Sagarana (1973), Pureza Proibida (1974), and Deusa Negra (1979). In 1974 Bulbul directed Soul in the Eye a powerful ...

Article

Angolan anthropologist, writer, and filmmaker, was born in Santarém, Portugal, on 22 April 1941. His family immigrated to Angola in 1953, to the city of Moçamedes, where he spent part of his adolescence. He then returned to Portugal, where in 1960 he finished a course in agronomy. During these Portuguese years, he kept himself at a distance from the group of young nationalist students from the colonies, who tended to congregate around the Casa dos Estudantes do Império in Lisbon, to discuss and denounce the iniquity of the Portuguese colonial system.

Carvalho returned to Angola in 1960. He was living in the province of Uìge when, in 1961, the anticolonial activity of the Movimento Popular para la Libertação de Angola (MPLA) began, which would lead to Angola eventually achieving independence in 1975 In those years Ruy Duarte de Carvalho worked as a coffee grower and ...

Article

Cinema  

Chérie Rivers

Cinema occupies an important social, political, and economic role in numerous African countries. African cinema is not only a medium of entertainment, but also a powerful tool, with a history of mobilizing social change, from independence movements to current struggles against neocolonialism. Despite structural obstacles and the lack of production, distribution, and exhibition facilities, African filmmakers have successfully established distinct aesthetic modes of representation to counteract the legacy of cinematic portrayals in colonial Africa. African cinema continues to evolve, and remains at the forefront of activist cinematic traditions worldwide.

Cinema in Colonial Africa. Cinema was first introduced to Africa by European governments as part of the colonial project. Arguing in favor of film as a means of influencing thought, the British government founded the Bantu Educational Cinema Experiment in 1935 In cooperation with missionary efforts this program sought through film to civilize and educate Africans according to the British ...

Article

Karen Backstein

The beginning of Cinema Novo (Portuguese for “New Cinema”) generally dates from the 1957 release of filmmaker Nelson Pereira dos Santos's film Rio, zona norte (Rio, Northern Zone). In 1968Brazil's military regime, in power since 1964, intensified its repressive policies and many filmmakers of the Cinema Novo movement (along with some of Brazil's finest artists, such as the musicians Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil ) were forced into exile. Even so, Cinema Novo remained the most important film influence in Brazil until the early 1980s. Although Cinema Novo's most acclaimed directors have been white, the movement's political orientation and concern with race opened the door for Afro-Brazilian actors—such as Antônio Pitanga, Zózimo Bulbul, and Zezé Motta—who later directed films themselves or promoted the emergence of Afro-Brazilian film directors.

Like many of the other post World War II national film movements Brazil s Cinema ...