The True Size of Africa

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.

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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 Economist revisualized Kraise’s map as well.

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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.

Read more in The Economist: ‘The true true size of Africa’

Pascal Maitre’s African journey

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Bata children after their First Communion. Equatorial Guinea, 1989 (Pascal Maitre/Agence Cosmos)

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.”

Photographers are first-class noticers. They wait for something to happen. Said Maitre:

“The most difficult part is to be in a place where something interesting is happening. To get physical access, authorization and safety. Once you’re on the spot, shooting is never difficult.”

 

Clash of civilizations

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.

Wrote British historian Thomas Babington Macauley in 1830:

“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.

Nikola Tesla: ‘If hate could be turned into electricity, it would light up the whole world’

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“If hate could be turned into electricity, it would light up the whole world”

— Nikola Tesla, My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla

Quote image of Nikola Tesla

We shape Earth. It shapes us.

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We shape the Earth, and it shapes us.

For all the pieces interact, transforming into a cohesive thought.

The trees grow in cities, the oceans meet at the cape.

All the pieces interact, enveloped by the space inside.

The weather is fickle, cyclical, everything too much for a remix, itching for evolution.

To get closer to the texture of stimuli, gentle in our convictions, cushioned from other things.

In nature’s ludicrous rhythm, we trust.

Every variety of thought

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Photo by Wells Baum

When we’re young, we’re incorrectly taught to think in absolutes. We apply certainty to everything. The sky is blue. One plus one equals two.

But when we think about it, there are always exceptions and different ways of looking at the obvious. You can stick two pieces of gum together to make one. Says neuroscientist David Eagleman:

“If you could perceive reality as it really is, you would be shocked by its colorless, odorless, tasteless silence.”

We infer the truth based on the probability of our surroundings. But it is in pausing to question the obvious that we stretch our curiosity. If the mind likes to play, let it dance.

The world means nothing without the inquisition of nature.

Shugo Tokumaru – Bricolage Music

 

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Image courtesy the artist

 

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.

The song appears on his latest album TOSS.

Yasmine Hamdan – La Ba’den

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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 [easyazon_link identifier=”B01N7Z9ZVH” locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″]Al Jamilat[/easyazon_link] plans 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.

Grotto – Funk From Mother

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.”

Check out the psychedelic jam ‘Funk From Mother.’

Images courtesy odionlivingstone

Ennanga Vision – Otim’s War

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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.

Pre-order the album on Bandcamp

Kxngs – Through The Storm

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Image courtesy the artist

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 – Bhajan

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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

Débruit – Duman with Murat Ertel

Thinks local. Acts global. (Image courtesy the artist)

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.”

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Citizen Boy – Indaba Ka Bani Besibenuza

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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.’