London — Sub-Saharan Africa has a huge variety of local music cultures but not so many films or TV series about their histories. Russell Southwood talks to Asi Mathaba, Founder, Asi-B Films about his latest offering, a history of South African hip-hop.
Asi Mathaba spent four years researching and documenting the history of South African hip-hop. The series presents his relationship to the music and how it has changed over the years:”Everything is told from my point of view and looks at the people who influenced me like Public Enemy and Prophets of Da City.” The documentary has thirteen parts of 24 minutes each and he is currently in negotiations with SABC for its first showing:”Should the deal go through, they will buy the local rights and I will sell the international rights.”
The series will challenge some of the received ideas about South African hip-hop:”What I’ve found is that there is a real perception that it came from America. But the early artists were more inspired by African sounds experienced in Cape Town in the early 1980s. People like Prophets of Da City, who blended elements of hip hop music, reggae and traditional African rhythms. What they did was influenced by American hip-hop but they made it their own.”
The early South African hip-hop in Cape Town was also a voice for those opposed to the Apartheid Government and more local issues like drug-taking and gangsterism. In contrast to that city’s more socially conscious artists:”Johannesburg had its own version of hip-hop, only focused on the commercial side of it… When it went materialistic, I lost hip-hop. When African kids start dressing like Americans and talk American slang, it’s killing our positive culture.”
On a more positive note, he highlights Kwaito:”The kids are trying to find their own identity with a distinctive version of hip-hop influenced by their own beats.” He also name-checks Amapiano (see issue 360: https://www.balancingact-africa.com/news/broadcast-en/47546/music-streaming-service-spotify-expands-into-39-sub-saharan-african-countries-why-this-matters-to-the-african-broadcast-ecosystem ) which came out young people in the townships using social media to reach audiences:”They don’t want big record companies. They produce in backrooms and know their audiences.”
His other major project has been producing short film’s for the National Film and Video Foundation’s Directors for Youth Filmmakers project. Since 2018, he has produced 20 shorts, the idea of the scheme being to take 10 writers and develop their scripts over 3-6 months. The resulting films are all broadcast on SABC and some have won awards. He is currently producing the scheme’s third slate of films:”Some of the filmmakers are employed in local TV. It’s a good starting point.”
Wi-flix, Africa’s fastest-growing video-on-demand and live TV platform, has taken a monumental stride by announcing the launch of its services in Nigeria for customers on the MTN Network. After successful launches and uptakes in Kenya and Ghana, with this announcement, the streaming service is now available to consumers in Africa’s biggest economy – offering 360-degree entertainment to Nigerian audiences. The partnership offers MTN subscribers unlimited access with daily, weekly and monthly data packages starting from as low as 50 Naira via MTN airtime billing.
Subscribers across Africa will be able to live stream all matches of the Euro 2020 on the streaming service, Showmax Pro. Launched last year, Showmax Pro bundles the existing Showmax entertainment offering with music channels, news and live sports streaming from SuperSport.
May marks Africa Month and Apple Music celebrates this occasion by highlighting the impact of the current generation of African stars. For the entire duration of the month, Apple Music launched a campaign themed, Umoja – the spirit of unity. The campaign consists of the Africa Month: Umoja playlist which fittingly features the best cross-continental collaborations in recent memory. From Master KG, Nomcebo & Burna Boy to Nasty C & Runtown. Additionally, the platform hosts 12 exclusive playlists from rising superstars such as Focalistic, Nviiri the Storyteller, Tems, Amaarae, Tayc & more, who each cover a broad spectrum of innovation & dynamism within the continent’s sonic landscape. Umoja playlist: https://music.apple.com/za/playlist/africa-month-umoja/pl.35fa9ae38ddd4d2a87efd159198cce5e
South Africa: The Communications Ministry’s Acting Director General (DG) Nonkqubela Jordan-Dyani recently revealed the status of digital switch-over in South Africa. In her address, Jordan-Dyani stated that only 600 000 Set-Top-Boxes (STBs) had been installed thus far in qualifying households. Jordan-Dyani described this number as an ‘a drop in the ocean’ when she considered the amount of work and installations needed to be carried out to migrate the entire country from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting. The Acting DG also shared the status of the Free State analogue switch-off, which has the town of Bethlehem to be still completed to date. According to the Acting DG, installations in the Northern Cape province has already started.
According to media reports, Netflix has signed on South African self-published author and social activist Jackie Phamotse to adapt her debut novel called Bare: The Blesser’s Games. The book is based on true-life stories of the phenomenon of blessers and slay queens, which has been trending over recent years.
Disinformation online has led to a sluggish vaccine roll-out in Ivory Coast. Ivorian and international health authorities have told FRANCE 24 that they are concerned about the pandemic of fake news. While this problem is not unique to Ivory Coast, the West African state is lagging behind a number of other countries in the region when it comes to vaccination rates: https://www.france24.com/en/africa/20210511-covid-19-how-fake-news-is-hampering-ivory-coast-s-vaccination-efforts
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In partnership with MTV Base Africa, YouTube Music has released their Africa Month celebration schedule for performances by popular artists from South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya. The popular streaming service released additional music-industry related events that will occur in celebration of Africa month. Alex Okosi, the Manager Director at YouTube EMEA Emerging Markets, said that YouTube had been a helping hand to artist development. It has been a driver in exporting African sound to music lovers, fans, and listeners worldwide. YouTube has also enabled collaborations across the continent and around the world.
Following its recent receipt of the free-to-air television licence granted by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), Zimpapers Television Network (ZTN) has announced its partnership deal in the upcoming 2021 season with the local Premier Soccer League. The broadcasting partnership will see ZTN broadcasting PSL matches and tournaments by live streaming on their online television platforms. Streaming is expected to start next week when the season-opening PSL cluster tournaments start, which will feature 18 top-flight clubs in four different venues.
Canal+ will broadcast the inaugural season of the Basketball Africa League (BAL), the new pan-African basketball competition launched in collaboration with the NBA and FIBA, bringing together the best African basketball clubs. As part of this multi-year agreement, Canal+ will air the competition in French for the next three seasons in sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar and Mauritius.