Africa is a massive continent. But for whatever reason, map makers make it appear smaller than its “true true” size. As Polish-American scientist Alfred Korzybski reminds us, “the map is not the territory.” Lines are ultimately arbitrary.
Map design is deceptive. But computer-graphics designer Ka Kraise took it upon himself to ‘fight against rampant immappancy,’ in particular the popular Mercator projection originated by Gerardus Mercator in 1569 which tends to exaggerate the size of continents and countries more than others. Greenland, for instance, is 14 times larger than Africa.
As you can see above, Kraise illustrates the reality of Africa’s size, that which is “larger than the USA, China, Japan, and all of Europe, combined!” The Economistrevisualized Kraise’s map as well.
Kudos to Kraise for illuminating our ignorance about geographical knowledge, pointing the finger at Western and Asian students who tend to inflate the size of their countries when in actuality Africa makes everyone else look so small.
Photojournalist Pascal Maitre has been capturing Africa for over 30 years. But “each story is like new,” he said an interview with The New York Times, “You must find a new solution, a new piece to make the story.”
America and Western Europe have stagnated while China dives into its newfound riches.
Ethnic nationalism is on the rise while the liberal globalist elite does nothing to stem the tide, too occupied in complaining about the ‘deplorables’ on their devices while ordering more wine from Amazon and posting selfies on Instagram.
The myth that no two countries with McDonald’s refuse to fight each other appears to be just that. Realism is back, manifesting itself through the whims of protectionism.
Are we doomed to conflict?
Not necessarily. It is in these moments that pessimism and inventiveness coexist.
“We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all before us, and with just as much apparent reason . . . On what principle is it that, when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?”
We can get out of this rut. Doom and gloom is the end all for worrying times. Tribalism can be cured, as can the negative aspects of nationalism.
There is a good side to bad problems that expose a weakness in the international order. But instead of whining in our own filter bubbles, we can use the moment to cushion against discontent.
Shugo Tokumaru is a Japanese singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. He’s basically a one-man show.
But you don’t need to understand his native Japanese to dig his euphoric melodies, such as the jubilant track ‘Bricolage Music’ which pops and claps in a fidgety rhythm before breaking open to a balearic jam at the two-minute mark.
Yasmine Hamdan is a Parisian-based electronic musician who grew up in war-torn Lebanon. While’s she gained a reputation in the Middle East as an underground artist, her latest solo record Al Jamilatplans to unleash her to a broader audience. The track ‘La Ba’den’ offers dreamy electronic Arab vibes. Compelling stuff.
+ Listen to her interview on the latest Gilles Peterson show.
From the Nigerian archives comes the band Grotto’s lost 1977 gem, At Last, reissued by the Lago-based Odion Livingstone label. Odion Iruoje was a former A&R manager at EMI whom discovered the group and recorded their album.
Influenced by the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santra, the group formed a rock/funk fusion band at St Gregory’s college in 1974. Recalls Odeon:
“I was into youth bands at the time, I felt they offered something fresh, most pros were into reggae which I hated (not as a genre but the aping of it).. youth bands allowed me to experiment, I gave them something and they in turn gave me something, which I could take to the next project. They made me in a way. EMI (Nigeria) did not really get the emergence of the youth market, they thought I was fooling around with kids.”
Gulu singing legend and ‘Acholi folk pop’ pioneer Otim Alpha teamed up with London producer Jesse Hackett and multi-instrumentalist Albert Ssempeke to produce Ennanga Vision, “deconstructed musical forms from the kingdoms of Uganda.”
The album’s single ‘Otim’s War’ mashes together techno elements into traditional choral signing. The result is something like you’ve never heard before. The music video is fascinating too.
William Onyeabor was a Nigerian musician and businessman. He was known as “The Chief” in southeast Nigeria, where he built “the greatest record manufacturing business in all of West Africa.” He released nine funky electronic albums in total, all pressed at his own studio.
A legend, he passed away last month. His music survives him.
Kxngs is an electronic music producer from Brixton, London. His debut EP Earth Sign dropped on the Ex-local label.
Describing Kxngs craft other than worldly is hard. As he says, “No real Genre, just music.” His track “Through the Storm” premiered on the Boiler Room:
Lined with kinetic kuduro rhythms and shooting dynamic vocals, “Through The Storm” is spurred on by cascading strings. Drawing upon wide-spanning influences from his travels, Kxngs has created a jittery, upbeat marvel that’ll get any feet tapping.
Sarathy Korwar is an American-Indian producer and drummer. While born in the United States, he spent most of his childhood growing up India where he listened to American jazz records in local record shops.
‘Bhajan’ is the first song on his debut album, Day To Day, which weaves together both Indian folk and jazz music into a unique sound that Korwar can call his own.
’Day To Day’ is an exceptional debut by this multi-percussive artist fusing jazz, electronic and Indian harmonics.” — Gilles Peterson
Whether it’s Istanbul, LA, Congo, or Kingston, Paris electronic producer Débruit seems to work his diverse production palette to the sounds of the local scene.
His latest project débruit & Istanbul highlights the swing and spirit of the Turkish city on the Bosphorus. Below is what Gilles Peterson said about the artist’s collaboration on ‘Duman.’
“Istanbul is a melting pot of traditional, visionary, electric, psychedelic, futuristic, melodic and experimental music. On ’Duman,’ he links with Murat Ertel, lead singer and guitarist in BaBa ZuLa, one of Turkey’s most beloved alternative bands. The hypnotic cries of a guitar take centre stage, powerfully reverbing as if echoing across the Bosporus. débruit adds his own rhythmic touches with drum machines and synths, coming close to the minimal techno feel of Baris K’s Insanlar project.”
Citizen Boy is a Durban electronic producer pioneering the Gqom sound emerging out of Durban, South Africa. His fellow Gqom Oh! label-mate DJ Lag called the localized genre, “a mix of elements of hip-hop and house.”
Citizen Boy’s track ‘Indaba Ka Bani Besibenuza’ is a tribal dance beat that tries to encapsulate the resourceful experiences of “Zulu culture and history.” The song also translates into ‘who cares if we dance under the influence of drugs.’