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APRIL 15TH, 2014





forgotten kingdom_large

There is more to Lesotho

than blankets, mountains

and horse rides



The Forgotten Kingdom,” the new feature film by American director Andrew Mudge, depicts the story of a rebellious young man called Atang, toiling in inner city Johannesburg. When Atang’s father, living elsewhere in a Joburg township, passes away, he must voyage back to his homeland of Lesotho to honour his father’s wish to be buried in the “forgotten” country of his birth. While at home Atang sparks an intimate connection with an old friend, Dineo. He then embarks on a challenging journey of self-discovery, guided by a mysterious young shepherd, as he readjusts to the now foreign landscape of the Mountain Kingdom and her people.

Here’s the trailer:



Known for having one of the highest prevalence of HIV in the world, the Kingdom of Lesotho has been host to many HIV-centered film projects shot among the nation’s scenic valleys and modest thatched houses. It is almost typical to associate Lesotho with HIV. “The Forgotten Kingdom” once again weaves the pandemic into its overall storyline, though it succeeds at being one of the most visually spectacular films ever shot in the country. By virtue of its particularly wide reach, having been screened across the Unites States, it has become one of the most powerful representations of our country. Still, as usually is the case when one represents another culture, the film is not immune to critique.

The film made its premiere in Lesotho on March 1st to a VIP audience, which included Lesotho’s monarchy (King Letsie III and Queen ‘Mamohato Seeiso) in its ranks. The film had been on peoples’ lips since it was shot in 2011. The hype had only intensified after its international debut in 2013 and it’s series of award nominations. I went to the Lesotho premiere fortified with awareness that “no one can tell your story better than you can yourself.”

Before the first frame, several things had been floating in my mind. Firstly the writer/director Andrew Mudge likely had somewhat of a romantic experience with Lesotho, one different from Basotho. Secondly, leading roles are occupied by South African actors while locally-based talent serves as support. Thirdly, the movie debuted in America (winning awards for the Best Narrative Feature and Best Cinematography at the Woodstock Film Festival) before it came to Lesotho where it was shot. I was a skeptic who wanted answers, so I went into the theatre beaming with curiosity about how my country would be depicted.

Upon watching the film, it became apparent to me that “The Forgotten Kingdom” offers a limited biography of Lesotho. The Lesotho I know is vibrant, transcending the narrative of HIV so often ascribed to it. It is home to visionaries who produce creative work and intellectual property from a first world perspective in a so-called third world country. There is more to the country than blankets, mountains and horse rides.

In addition, some of the details Basotho culture in the film have been altered in strange ways. For example, the blankets (which are an important aspect of our traditional cultural attire) as worn by the protagonist Atang and his shepherd guide are out of place. The shepherd, a young boy, is wearing a blanket only worn by older men who have graduated from initiation school and Atang is initially wearing his blanket like women do. It is not clear why these style choices were made. Was it by error, or was it to make a statement? Regardless, these wardrobe malfunctions, deliberate or not, contradict the way many traditional Basotho see themselves.

The spellings of words and names are also disconnected from the Basotho culture of Lesotho. Dineo, the name of the love interest, should be written as Lineo in Lesotho’s Sesotho language (but pronounced with the “D” sound, as in my name). The spelling of Lineo with a D is the more Western-oriented South African way. These details are an indication that the film is concerned with privileging foreign audiences over those at home in Lesotho.

Yet still, the awesomeness of the landscape captured by the film’s cinematography is something to behold. The setting is a character in itself. Mudge cited that the Director of Photography, Carlos Carvalho, had his work cut out for him because his challenging task was to grade with flawless poise what mother-nature had already brilliantly crafted in Lesotho’s delicate mountains. This was done with admirable artistry.

When the lights came on at the end of the film, I was left with the insight that the film communicates to us as Basotho that we live on a grand movie set, that our stories, trivial as we may assume them to be, deserve audience. Overall, there were a number of elements of The Forgotten Kingdom to appreciate – the cinematography the dialogue and the quality of the acting (the shepherd Lebohang Ntsane stole the show). But my biggest takeaway from the film was the hope that it will summon Basotho writers, filmmakers, aspiring actors and the public as a whole to be more active in telling our own stories. There are a number of Basotho whose creative work warrants greater attention. But for those Basotho in need of a wake-up call, the film speaks in the tone of a travelling messenger who is bewildered and wants to know: “why are you sleeping on your own allure, aesthetics and talent? More especially, why do you flirt with the attractions of foreign lands when you live on a treasure you can explore practically for free?”












Aug 24, 2014





jesse williams

Jesse Williams and

the depiction of Michael Brown

Jessie Williams leaving cnn “journalists” speechless with too much truth. CNN and Fox News should be held as accountable for the murder of Mike Brown as darren wilson. They are tag teaming in averting justice. Shameless scum.











  • Eleanor XiniweThe African Choir, 1891-93. London Stereoscopic Company. Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images
  • Unidentified sitter, c. 1881. Missionary Leaves Association. Courtesy Paul Frecker collection / The Library of Nineteenth Century Photography
  • Saragano Alicamousa, renowned lion and tiger tamer, c. 1870s. Courtesy Michael Graham-Stewart collection
  • Mussa Bhai, The Salvation Army, 1890. London Stereoscopic Company studios. Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images
  • Peter Jackson, 1889. London Stereoscopic Company. Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images
  • Unidentified sitters, c. 1870s. Courtesy Paul Frecker Collection
  • Dhuleep Singh, c. 1864. Courtesy Jenny Allsworth collection
  • Rivington Place, London







Free exhibition

Autograph ABP presents Black Chronicles II, a new exhibitionexploring black presences in 19th and early 20th-century Britain, through the prism of studio portraiture – continuing our critical mission of writing black photographic history.

Drawing on the metaphor of the chronicle the exhibition presents over 200 photographs, the majority of which have never been exhibited or published before. As a curated body of work, these photographs present new knowledge and offer different ways of seeing the black subject in Victorian Britain, and contribute to an ongoing process of redressing persistent ‘absence’ within the historical record.

Many of the images on display have very recently been unearthed as part of our current archive research programme, The Missing Chapter - a three-year project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This is the second exhibition in a series dedicated to excavating archives, which began with ‘The Black Chronicles’ in 2011.

Black Chronicles II is a public showcase of Autograph ABP’s commitment to continuous critical enquiry into archive images which have been overlooked, under-researched or simply not recognised as significant previously, but which are highly relevant to black representational politics and cultural history today. For the first time acomprehensive body of portraits depicting black people prior to the beginning of the second world war are brought together in this exhibition - identified through original research carried out in the holdings of national public archives and by examining privately owned collections. This research also coincides with Autograph ABP’s continuous search for the earliest photographic image of a black person created in the UK.

All of the photographs in the exhibition were taken in photographic studios in Britain prior to 1938, with a majority during the latter half of the 19th century. Alongside numerous portraits of unidentified sitters, the exhibition includes original prints of known personalities, such as Sarah Forbes Bonetta, goddaughter to Queen Victoria; Prince Alemayehu, photographed by renowned photographer Julia Margaret Cameron; or Kalulu,African ‘boy servant’ (companion) to the British explorer Henry Morton Stanley.

This extensive display of over 100 original carte-de-visite is drawn from several collections, and presented in dialogue with Autograph ABP’s 1996 commission ‘Effnik’ by Yinka Shonibare MBE.

A highlight of the show is a dedicated display of thirty portraits of members of The African Choir, who toured Britain between 1891-93, seen here for the first time. Perhaps the most comprehensive series of images rendering the black subject in Victorian Britain, these extraordinary portraits on glass plate negatives by the London Stereoscopic Company have been deeply buried in the Hulton Archive, unopened for over 120 years. These are presented alongside those of other visiting performers, dignitaries, servicemen, missionaries, students and many as yet unidentified black Britons. Their presence bears direct witness to Britain’s colonial and imperial history and the expansion of Empire.

‘They are here because you were there. There is an umbilical connection. There is no understanding Englishness without understanding its imperial and colonial dimensions.’ Stuart Hall, 2008

The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Stuart Hall (1932-2014). It features text and audio excerpts from his keynote speech on archives and cultural memory, held at Rivington Place in May 2008.

‘The curatorial premise of Black Chronicles II is to open up critical enquiry into the archive, continue the debate around black subjectivity within Britain, examine the ideological conditions in which such photographs were produced and the purpose they serve as agents of communication.’ Curators’ note

Black Chronicles II also marks the 30th anniversary of the publication of Peter Fryer’s seminal book Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain (1984).




The Guardian home

The black Victorians:

astonishing portraits

unseen for 120 years

From the African Choir posing like Vogue models to an Abyssinian prince adopted by an explorer, a new exhibition spotlights the first black people ever photographed in Britain

    Member of the African choir

    Discovered … Member of the African Choir, London Stereoscopic Company, 1891. Photograph: Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images


    The African Choir were a group of young South African singers that toured Britain between 1891 and 1893. They were formed to raise funds for a Christian school in their home country and performed for Queen Victoria at Osborne House, a royal residence on the Isle of Wight. At some point during their stay, they visited the studio of the London Stereoscopic Company to have group and individual portraits made on plate-glass negatives. That long-lost series of photographs, unseen for 120 years, is the dramatic centrepiece of an illuminating new exhibition called Black Chronicles II.

    “The portraits were last shown in the London Illustrated News in 1891,” says Renée Mussai, who has co-curated the show at London’s Rivington Place alongside Mark Sealy MBE, director of Autograph ABP, a foundation that focuses on black cultural identity often through the use of overlooked archives. “The Hulton Archive, where they came from, did not even know they existed until we uncovered them while excavating their archive as part of my PhD project.”

    The London Stereoscopic Company specialised in carte de visites – small photographs printed on cards that were often traded by collectors or used by performers for publicity purposes – and, as their name suggests, they were all in stereo which, when seen through a special viewer, gave the illusion of a three-dimensional photograph.

    The enlarged portraits of the African Choir, which line one wall of the exhibition, were made by Mike Spry, a specialist in printing from glass plates who was coaxed out of retirement to undertake the meticulous process in his garden shed. They are arresting both for the style and assurance of the sitters – some of the women look like they could be modelling for Vogue – and for the way they challenge the received narrative of the history of black people in Britain.

    “Black Chronicles II is part of a wider ongoing project called The Missing Chapter,” says Mussai, “which uses the history of photography to illuminate the missing chapters in British history and culture, especially black history and culture. There is a widespread misconception that black experience in Britain begins with the arrival of the Empire Windrush and the first Jamaican immigrants in 1948, but, as this exhibition shows, there is an incredible archive of images of black people in Britain that goes right back to the invention of photography in the 1830s.”

    Near the African choir shots, there is an equally striking portrait of Major Musa Bhai, a Ceylon-born Muslim who was converted to Christianity in colonial India. He accompanied the family of William Booth, founder of theSalvation Army, to England in 1888 as a high-profile advocate for the organisation. As Mussai notes, there “are several intertwining narratives – colonial, cultural and personal – embedded in these images, but what is often startling is how confident and self-contained many of the sitters are as they occupy the frame.”

    Sara Forbes Bonetta. Brighton, 1862.

    Sara Forbes Bonetta. Brighton, 1862. Photograph: Courtesy of Paul Frecker collection/The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

    Black Chronicles II is punctuated by several such surprising shots, some of well-known people but many of ordinary individuals caught up in the indiscriminate sweep of colonial and postcolonial history. Among the former is Sara Forbes Bonetta, perhaps the most celebrated black British Victorian, who was photographed by two pre-eminent portrait photographers, Camilla Silvy and Julia Margaret Cameron.

    Captured aged five by slave raiders in west Africa, Forbes Bonetta was rescued by Captain Frederick E Forbes, then presented as a “gift” to Queen Victoria. Forbes, who rechristened the child after his ship, the Bonetta, later wrote of the proud moment when he realised that Forbes Bonetta “would be a present from the King of the Blacks to the Queen of the Whites.”

    Prince Alamayou. Isle of Wight,1868.

    Prince Alamayou. Isle of Wight,1868. Photograph: Julia Margaret Cameron /Courtesy of Jenny Allsworth collection


    More haunting is the portrait of Dejazmatch Alamayou Tewodros, an Ethiopian prince who was orphaned at the age of seven, when his father died rather than surrender to the British troops that had surrounded his castle in what was then Abyssinia. Alamayou was brought to England by Sir Robert Napier and adopted by the intriguingly named explorer Captain Tristram Speedy. Alamayou died in England of pleurisy in 1879.

    “There is a certain melancholy to many of these images, particularly the portraits of children, that speaks of exile and estrangement,” says Mussai. “That is certainly the case with Alamayou and Ndugu M’Hali, who was known as Kalula in his role as companion-servant to the explorer Henry Morton Stanley. The history of colonialism, in all its contradictions, is present in these portraits.”

    In Black Chronicles II, the resurrected photo albums and carte de visites, plus a slideshow of black British soldiers and portraits culled from theHulton Archive and the National Army Museum all add up to an impressionistic history of black British experience – but, more tantalisingly, tell the extraordinary individual stories that underpinned that collective cultural experience. “And this is just the first showcase of our research project,” says Mussai.

    Fittingly, the exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Stuart Hall, the influential left-wing cultural theorist who died this year, and whose writings underpin The Missing Chapter project. “They are here because you were there,” he wrote of the black British people whose experience he illuminated. “There is an umbilical connection. There is no understanding Englishness without understanding its imperial and colonial dimensions.” The excavated images in Black Chronicles II provide a crucial and, until now, overlooked way of further understanding that complex connection.

    • Black Chronicles II is at Rivington Place, London, until 29 November 2014








    photo by Alex Lear

    photo by Alex Lear




    We are all amphibians



    breathing beneath

    water, initially encased

    in a placenta


    within maternal

    flesh until

    we outgrew

    the pond

    and dove to birth

    to walk upright

    on earth


    no matter our solidity

    the moon maintains

    its pull on us

    and we all long

    at various

    levels of awareness

    to float in the tranquility

    of a human sea


    land is cool

    but after all

    there is an undertow

    we can never escape


    it is our nature

    we are all amphibians


    —kalamu ya salaam








    Audiophile Life

    Sept. 15, 2014







    John Coltrane, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Garrison and McCoy Tyner performing ‘Alabama’.

    Coltrane wrote the song after the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing by the klu klux klan that killed Addie Mae Collins who was 14, Cynthia Wesley who was 14, Carole Robertson who was 14 and Denise McNair who was 11. The attack happened today (September 15th), 1963.

    2 Black boys were also murdered by whites on that day in Birmingham. Their names are Virgil Ware who was 13 and Justin Robinson who was 16. Remember them as well.















    Thursday, August 28 2014




    Hip-Hop’s Biggest Names

    Release Song After Ferguson:

    ‘Don’t Shoot’


    by Jamilah King


    dont shoot_082814-thumb-640xauto-11450

    Some of hip-hop’s biggest stars got together to record a new track dedicated to Michael Brown called “Don’t Shoot.” The song features the Game, Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Diddy, Fabolous, Wale, DJ Khaled, Swizz Beatz, Yo Gotti, Currensy, Problem and King Pharaoh & TGT. It also names other victims of police and vigilante violence, including Ezell Ford and Trayvon Martin. 











    boston review

    October 1, 2014 

    Entry Fee: 



    E-mail address:


    A prize of $1,500 and publication in Boston Review is given annually for a short story. Ruth Ozeki will judge. Submit a story of up to 5,000 words with a $20 entry fee, which includes a six-month subscription to Boston Review, by October 1. E-mail or visit the website for complete guidelines.

    Boston Review, Aura Estrada Short Story Contest, P.O. Box 425786, Cambridge, MA 02142. (617) 324-1360.







    Submit to Contemporary Queer’s

    second issue: Bodies.

    This issue asks you to consider bodies through space and time. Your body. The bodies you like. The bodies you’d like. The bodies of your ancestors or descendants. What our bodies convey when we perform certain behaviors or don’t. What we consider “whole” and “partial.” Musculature. Skin color. Photography. Art. The definitions we apply to our bodies versus the definitions others ascribe to us. Representations and appropriations. Gender. Disease. Settler. Indigenous. What role does culture play when it comes to our bodies? What does protection mean? What are our boundaries? How do our bodies affect us? Do food and environment play significant roles? Immigration. Prison. Slavery. Trafficking. Modeling. Servitude. Commodification. Markets. Mockery. Sexuality. Beauty ideals. Virtual bodies. Physical bodies. Digital bodies. Celebrated bodies. Reviled bodies. Incarcerated bodies. Free bodies. Space. Movement. Movement through physical space. Movement through symbolic space.

    If you have a poetry, prose (fiction/nonfiction), essays, interviews, photo series, etc. that you think would be a great fit for this issue, keep us in mind. Follow @ConQueerZINE on Twitter and the hashtag #ConQueerBODIES if you’d like to join the ongoing discussion.







    Stories for Chip:
    A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany


    Our anthology-in-progress, Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany, will honor science fiction’s living legend, the author of over 20 novels, approximately as many short stories, five notable memoirs and counting, and ten essential books of genre criticism. SFWA Grand Master, Science Fiction Hall of Fame inductee, and multiple award-winner Samuel R. Delany (“Chip” to his friends) has inspired and taught many of us in the fields of science fiction and fantasy, directly and indirectly, by example and by intent. We want to demonstrate to the world the power of his work through what we write, and thank him for the grace of his existence. Would you like to be part of this anthology? Read on.

    Open for submissions: September 4, 2014

    Deadline for submissions: December 1, 2014

    Response time: You’ll hear back from us about your submission by January 29, 2015, at the latest.

    Wordcount limits: 1000 to 10,000 for prose

    Pay: minimum .05/word up to $400 total per story/essay for original prose; minimum .02/word up to $160 total per story/essay for reprint prose. 

    NOTE: Acceptance, contracts, and payments will follow a successful crowdfunding campaign. Campaign will run October 1 – 31, 2014.

    We’re accepting a very few reprints, and plan to include no more than five total in the book. We already have two in mind. You’ll have a much easier time selling us original material.

    What we’re looking for: We want stories and critical essays that relate in some way to the strength and beauty of Samuel R. Delany’s body of work. This relationship can be made evident through allusions to the author himself; through allusions to his work’s titles, characters, situations, settings, etc.; through evoking a Delanyesque atmosphere; or through analysis of any of these elements, in the case of nonfiction. We’re hoping for essays which elucidate his important, lasting contributions to literature; and for fiction inspired by these contributions.

    What we’re not looking for: Please don’t send us your parodies of Delany or his work. We’re also not at all confident you’ll impress us with your serious attempts to reproduce his style; if you must try us with something along those lines, be aware that’s going to be an extremely hard sell. Further, because Delany’s critical writing though rigorous, is so clear and easily understandable, we’re not at all interested in deliberately obscurantist, jargon-laden critical essays.

    Once the submission period opens, we’ll accept ELECTRONIC SUBMISSIONS ONLY. We’ll destroy unread anything you send before September 4 or after December 1. During that period, send your submissions as attached .rtf or .doc files In your message you can include any previous publishing credits you’d like to mention, and make any statement you care to make about your connections to Delany.
    How to support without submitting: Check back here this February 2015 to participate in our crowdfunding campaign.

    Publication and review copies: Our press is Rosarium, noted publisher of Mothership: Tales of Afrofuturism and Beyond. We expect to publish Stories for Chip in July 2015, and to make ARCs available to reviewers in March 2015.

    Editor Nisi Shawl is the author of the James Tiptree, Jr. Award-winning collection Filter House. Delany pronounced her one of the best short story writers he has ever read. Previously she editedBloodchildren: Stories by the Octavia E. Butler Scholars and WisCon Chronicles 5: Writing and Racial Identity. With Rebecca J. Holden, Shawl co-edited Locus Award finalist Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler.Since its inception in 2011, she has edited reviews for The Cascadia Subduction Zone, a feminist literary quarterly. She’s a co-founder of the Carl Brandon Society and a board member for Clarion West.

    Editor Bill Campbell is the author of three novels, including Koontown Killing Kaper and Sunshine Patriots and the nonfiction collection, Pop Culture: Politics, Puns, and “Poohbutt” from a Liberal Stay-at-Home Dad. He also co-edited (along with Edward Austin Hall) Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond and is the owner of Rosarium Publishing.