Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Thankfully, in this one instance,  ITN journalists saved the lives of these lucky Nigerian men. If the news crew had not been around nine more black bodies would have shown up the next day as deserter-victims of Gadhafi's terror regime:
Watch this:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Libyan "Rebels" and the unspoken murders of black men

Right from the beginning of the NATO-supported rebellion in Libya, I have been very skeptical of the propaganda of the whole campaign. I am not talking about the UN-mandate to "protect civilians" when in fact the unmentioned motive was to arm and strengthen the opposition forces in their war against Gaddafi's regime. (I would have thought that Gaddafi was enough of a bad guy that the Western powers and their supporters in the Arab League did not need to lie about their intention to remove the crazy megalomaniac).  But that is not what pisses me off. Rather, it is the concerted effort by the so-called international media to downplay and ignore the violence perpetrated against black people in Libya throughout the entire campaign to remove Gaddafi. To be sure, Gaddafi is a anti-black racist, even though he had to rely on poor, black migrant workers (who for the most part got stuck in Libya on their perilous, trans-Saharan-trans-Mediterranean journey to Europe) to fight his war of survival.
When at the beginning of the rebellion many black people in Libya were killed, harassed and tortured by the rebels and their sympathizers, very little of this news made it to CNN; even when it did, it was as an aside. After all it was a war between the good guys (NATO-supported rebels) and a Bad Guy. Apparently the NATO mandate to protect civilians did not include protecting the black civilians. But that was several months ago.
Then some days ago, after the rebels took Tripoli, grisly pictures of men executed with their hands tied to their back made the news. What was the story? Oh, of course the cruel Gaddafi and his murderous forces had summarily executed rebel "prisoners" just before fleeing his palatial redoubt. So if had anyone doubts about the justification for the rebellion and the NATO bombings, there was it! Just that freedom came too late for the murdered men.
Except that looking at many of the bodies, you could not mistake their blackness, the fact that these were more than likely members of Gaddafi's mercenary army we heard so much about but saw little of before now. So who killed them? Gaddafi that either paid or forced them to take up arms in defense of his regime? Did any journalist ask why on earth Gaddafi--who is still on the run and thus needs all the protection he could get for himself and his family suddenly--decided to bind and execute his mercenary protectors?Or is the media too willing to buy to story that these were deserters killed by the regime?
Mercenary soldiers captured by Libyan rebels (Photo: from
Even the Human Rights Watch mealy-mouthed and equivocated in the face of evidence so obvious. While they were quick to announce that Gaddafi murdered scores of rebel prisoners, they were conveniently still studying allegations of murders and human rights violation by the rebels. What about the news networks, and NATO's people? Have they as much as expressed anxiety (much less anger) about the fact that the Libyan rebels clearly rounded up the "despicable" black mercenaries captured in the battle of Tripoli and executed them? No. Surely they must be part of collateral damage no one, except the spineless African Union, can speak for.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"Real Art Historians of New Jersey"

I have it on good authority--though my source wants to remain anonymous for the usual reasons--that three art historians (two based in New Jersey, and one from neighboring New York) have been signed on for the pilot of what might be a smash hit reality show to be called "The Real Art Historians of New Jersey." It's about time art (history) got into the lucrative reality business if you ask me. Because I am getting tired of this conference-classroom-gallery-museum-art fair hermetic, unreal world of art/history. We need a dose of, or it is a window to, the real. No? The question of course is this: Will a show like this cause a lot a damage to art history's already troubled reputation as an irrelevant, highly expendable discipline, or will it ensure more popular support for art and its institutions? As for its entertainment quotient, thankfully art history has enough colorful, goofy, smart, buffed, sassy, foulmouthed, cameraphilic characters to make other fake "Real XYZ of ABCs" or the stupidly good old "Jersey Shore"  seem like civic infomercials! I hope they will throw in some high-flying artist, curator and collector characters to heat up the whole thing. If I were a consultant, I could recommend quite a few to the casting director!
Can't wait to see the show which I understand will be available on basic cable tv. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Nka Roundtable IV: Independent Art Centers in Africa

The fourth installment of the Nka Roundtables which focuses on independent art centers in Africa will commence by August 29. Participants include the founders and directors of some of the best known and most active contemporary art centers in West, East, North and Southern Africa. The roundtable will be an opportunity to discuss, debate and examine the necessity of these centers, the challenges of establishing and operating such initiatives in Africa, the difference such programs have or can make within their local environments, opportunities of international networking, questions of sustainability and funding, the place of contemporary art in their locales, global pressures and opportunities, art and national identity, and relationship between such initiatives and local art industries/markets.

Chika Okeke-Agulu, Princeton University

Koyo Kouoh, Raw Materials Company, Dakar
Abdellah Karroum, L’Appartement 22, Rabat
Gabi Ngcobo, Centre for Historical Re-enactments, Jo’burg 
Marilyn Douala-Bell, Doual’Art, Douala
Bassam El Baroni, Alexandria Contemporary Art Forum
Mia Jankowicz, Contemporary Image Collective, Cairo
Jimmy Ogonga, Centre for Contemporary Art of East Africa, Nairobi
Moataz Nasr, Darb 1718, Center for Contemporary Art and Culture Center, Cairo

Make sure to join the discussions at Nka Journal Blog next week!

Photos of African Sky--announcement

ARE YOU in AFRICA?  Become a member of the Africa Stargazers education project of The National Museum of African Art in Washington DC. 

We’re preparing to open a new exhibition, African Cosmos in June 2012, and  I ‘m creating a photo-sharing site for the exhibit - are there any photos of the African Night Sky you would like to share? 

The African Cosmos exhibit will emphasize that astronomy is a human, therefore, global endeavor, and will place Africa as a vital part of a broader global discourse on the artistic, cultural and scientific dimensions of celestial observation.  Key components: Moon, Stars, Sun, and celestial phenomena – lightening, rainbows, eclipses. Let us know the time and largest city near you so we can track them. Post on our Facebook page at:  Africa Stargazers

Maybe you can organize a flash mob of people to snap photos at the same time, different locations and all send them too?  Take a picture of the night sky in the next few days, and post it to our group and let’s see where we can go! 
Please post your photos at this Flickr site   
From: Deborah Stokes 
Date: August 21, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Curatorial Position at Newark Museum


Assistant/Associate Curator, Arts of Africa
The Assistant/Associate Curator, Arts of Africa is a newly created curatorial position with a strong emphasis on interpretation, reporting to the Senior Curator, Department of the Arts of Africa and the Americas/Curator, Arts of Africa and also working closely with the Museum’s Education department.  The selected candidate must have expertise in African art and will work with the permanent collection to foster the educational mission of the museum. In collaboration with Education staff, the Assistant/Associate Curator’s primary responsibility is to expand the understanding and appreciation of the Museum’s collection and to ensure the most effective interpretative program and its integration into teaching. The Assistant/Associate Curator will be responsible for the cataloguing of the collection and will promote knowledge of the collection through exhibitions, publications and educational programs that inform the public, students and scholars.

  • Conducts research on and documents the Museum’s collection of African art, including the compilation of records for cataloguing and object identification, and works with the Registrars department to ensure collection records are accurate and up-to-date.
  • Works with Education department staff to develop and implement wide range of interpretative programs based on the collection. Disseminates research on the collection through publications (including exhibition labels, gallery guides, catalogue entries and articles) and educational programs, such as lectures, symposia, docent training, and gallery talks. Fosters integration of Museum’s collection into teaching by working with Education staff within the museum and by developing collaborative relationships based on teaching from the collection with outside institutions, including local universities (Rutgers, Seton Hall, etc.)
  • Working under the direction of the Senior Curator and in collaboration with other relevant departments within the Museum (Education, Exhibitions, Registrar, Marketing and Development), contributes to the development and execution of exhibitions drawn from the Museum’s collection as well as loan exhibitions.
  • Working with Senior Curator, contributes to the support of development activities, including assisting in writing grant proposals and other fund-raising activities and engaging collectors and donors to develop the collection
  • Serves as supervisor to curatorial interns
  • Contributes to scholarship in area of specialty through participation in outside symposia and publications.

  • Demonstrated ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships, both one-on-one and in a team situation, and a commitment to collaboration
  • Ability to communicate effectively and in a professional manner, both verbally and in writing.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Self-directed; ability to take initiative and anticipate actions as needed.
  • Attention to detail and ability to conceptualize steps involved in implementing programs as well as to see the big picture
  • Excellent computer and organizational skills

  • Ph.D. in art history, anthropology or museum/curatorial studies with focus on African art required.
  • Preferred: one to three years related professional experience (museum or university setting).
  • Art museum, research institute, or university teaching experience required.

POSITION LEVEL:  Assistant or Associate Curator.  Level commensurate with experience and qualifications.

COMPENSATION:  Competitive with excellent benefits package.

Interested candidates should forward their resume with cover letter by September 23, 2011 to:   
                Human Resources
                The Newark Museum   
                49 Washington Street
                Newark, NJ  07102
                Fax:  (973) 645-0306

Friday, August 12, 2011

Announcement: ACLS fellowship competition for Africa-based scholars

The American Council of Learned Societies is happy to announce that application materials for the 2011-12 African Humanities Program fellowship competitions are now available online.  

To download the application documents, and for further information on this year's competition, please visit the program website at 

Please note that a list of the 2010-11 AHP Awardees is now also available on our website.

The application deadline has been moved forward this year to November 1, 2011. Applications may be submitted via email or by post. Late applications will not be accepted.

We encourage everyone to spread the word about this year's competition and to contact ACLS with any questions about the application process. Queries can be directed to 

The African Humanities Program provides fellowships for scholars in the humanities who are nationals of sub-Saharan African countries. Dissertation fellowships to support the final year of writing are available to scholars to scholars affiliated with institutions of higher education and research in Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. Postdoctoral fellowships are available to early-career scholars affiliated with institutions in Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and South Africa. The African Humanities Program supports research in any humanistic discipline, and invites applications from scholars working in any field in the humanities. 

Eszter Csicsai, Program Associate
African Humanities Program
American Council of Learned Societies
633 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017-6795
Tel.: 212.697.1505 x 135
Fax: 212.949.8058

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Unfolding catastrophe in the Horn of Africa

Yes, there is so much trouble in the world today, such that news of mass starvation and death in Africa does not shock anymore. And yes, there is the usual--sometimes justified--criticism of western aid (so powerfully articulated by Dambisa Moyo in her book Dead Aid), because it in fact contributes in the long term pauperization of aid-dependent societies. But the unfolding human catastrophe in the Hrn of Africa, a region debilitated by the worst famine in more than half century is enough to lose all sense of optimism about the future of mankind. It requires drastic action. From Somalia, a classic failed state terrorized by Islamist groups, criminal gangs and corrupt, feckless politicians, there is news of thousands of children dying of malnutrition  (some reports say as many as 600,000 will likely die if food and medicine aid does not reach them in weeks). And the aid is not forthcoming...

Which is why the new video produced by the estate of Bob Marley (the ever-living prophet of the downtrodden)  in partnership with Chris Blackwell of Island Music to call attention to the East African crisis is a must-see. Watch the video, and do something. Let's talk about the evils of aid later, perhaps with the survivors. After all, if it weren't from the corn meal, dried milk and corned beef from Caritas, I, a Biafran child, might not have survived to write this.

Here is the Bob Marley-Save the Children Video