Friday, January 15, 2021
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Big Up Africa: “CLV” by Alec Lomami

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When most people think of Africa, they think roaring lions, golden sunsets, vast savanna landscapes and… well, you know the rest of it. While it’s true that many of these things really are a part of the African fabric, that’s not all there is to us – trust us. Africa has always been home to a rich and dynamic pop culture and we are a continent of creators, thinkers and achievers. Africa is a beautiful place and our weekly Big Up Africa feature is here to profile someone or something that makes us extremely proud.

This week, we’re celebrating a piece of art – not necessarily fresh out the oven though – in the form of a music video. When I first watched it, the thing I loved most about it was the way it was able to be international without losing its African flavor. It’s a video by Congolese-born rapper Alec Lomami (do yourself a favor and google him – he’s one fresh young fella) and it’s called CLV, which is “C’est La Vie”, the French for “such is life”. The director is Tlhonepho Thobejane and it’s shot and edited by Christian Denslow. We really hope you enjoy it. If you associate Africa only with the stuff I mentioned in my first sentence, then you definitely have to watch!

 

Fury follows Shia LaBeouf’s transformation

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Ah yes! The soothing sounds of Christians squabbling and fighting among themselves. It never gets old… Not.

If you’re au fait with pop culture and mainstream entertainment, you will know that the big story of the moment is the debate raging in Christian (and non-Christian) media circles about whether Shia LaBeouf is really a Christian now or not. For those of you not familiar with the name, Shia LaBeouf is best known for playing Sam Witwicky in the 2008 film Transformers, a role he reprised in two sequels of the franchise. His latest film, Fury, sees him team up with megastar Brad Pitt and Logan Lerman. Sure, he’s had his run-ins with the law but nobody can take away from him the thirty plus films he has under his belt. That’s quite a body of work – and it doesn’t hurt to have Steven Spielberg in your corner!

Now, onto this juicy business about him becoming a Christian. This month, in an interview with Interview Magazine, Shia had this to say about his experience on his latest project: “I found God doing Fury. I became a Christian man, and not in a f*****g b******t way – in a very real way. I could have just said the prayers that were on the page. But it was a real thing that really saved me”. A number of varying opinions and commentaries have popped up since the interview, with some celebrating this as great news and an addition to the Christian community (read God’s Kingdom) while others have discounted his comments as nothing more than the empty grandstanding of an insincere entertainer.

Whether Shia has really become a Christian or not is irrelevant. What a moment like this does, though, is shine the spotlight yet again on how sadly divided Christians are. Regardless of  the actor’s sincerity or lack of it, Christ died and rose for Shia as much as He did for anyone else. His arms are as much open to receive Shia or anyone else who turns to Him in faith as they are to anybody else. The true state of our hearts is only known to God and we should never forget that Christ made it a part of His business to spend time with the very people everyone else was quick to dismiss and spit on.

Am I saying we should believe everything we hear? No. What I am saying, though, is that this story shows us just how personal a decision for a life of faith in Christ is. Many of us hide behind stories of how ‘bad’ and ‘hypocritical’ church folk are and, while this may be true in many cases, it’s not the real message or the real story. The story of Christ’s love is one of a loving Saviour who invites all of us – regardless of who we are in life, famous or not – to an adventure, a relationship and a journey. Our invitation is for you to make this decision for Christ. It’s a thing of sheer beauty.

The Man In The Mirror

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If there is a list of the most commonly asked questions of the human soul, I’m pretty sure that “who am I?” features up there with the best of them. This question is complex, most probably because it’s one that is never really asked out loud. It’s deeply personal but at the same time pushes us to look for answers in spaces that make us uncomfortable and that logic tells us do not exist. It’s a question that forces us to consider that perhaps the spiritual is real and that there could just be more to what we see with our eyes.

When you look into that mirror, who do you see? Do you see a random individual whose existence came about because of an equally random cosmic event or is there more to you? Is there something within you – though you don’t know what it is – that tells you that you are here for a reason and that something or someone put you here?

In a simple and visually appealing way, this short video – courtesy of Elevation Creative – offers a perspective that seems simple, yet beautiful.

But is it too simple? Too good to be true? Impossible to believe with all the trouble we see all around us in this world?

We’d love to hear from you.

Big Up Africa: The 48 Hour Film Project 2014

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This week on Big Up Africa, we check out a very exciting initiative that – though it isn’t originally from Africa – may give African filmmakers an opportunity to shine. One of the most challenging things for young artists anywhere in the world is to find platforms where they can hone their skills and showcase their work. Many aspiring filmmakers, for example, find the cost of film school prohibitive and so are limited in their capacity to grow. Enter the 48 Hour Film Project, an incredibly challenging competition which gives would-be filmmakers – you guessed it – 48 hours to make a movie, from concept to finished product.

According to the press release, “The 48 Hour Film Project is the oldest and largest timed film competition in the world. This project’s mission is to advance filmmaking and promote filmmakers. The tight 48-hour deadline puts the focus squarely on the filmmaking, emphasizing creativity and teamwork and “doing” instead of “talking.” The emphasis is also on building communities of local creative people, facilitating making new connections, showcasing skills, and celebrating what creativity and teamwork can accomplish in just one weekend.”

African cities taking part in this year’s edition of the 48 Hour Film Project are Cairo (September 11 – 13), Cape Town (October 31 – November 2), Durban (October 10 – 12), Gaborone (October 10 – 12), Johannesburg (November 21 – 23), Lagos (date TBA), Nairobi (November 21 – 23) and Tunis (September 19 – 21).

If you’re keen to find out more about the project, the prizes and possibly want to be part of next year’s competition, visit www.48hourfilm.com.

I Don’t Need A Saviour

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I love it when people are authentic. I’d rather deal with someone who tells me upfront that he can’t stand the sight of me than someone who greets me with broad smiles and calls me “brother” then turns around and assassinates me with his words the moment I leave. It’s always good to start off from a place of honesty than one of deceit.

When it comes to issues of faith and belief, the same kind of thinking applies, I think. I know many people who say they don’t buy into religion and I can really respect that. They are being honest about how they see things and that is an admirable thing. The reason why I say this is because, for a long time, I carried the title of a believer or ‘religious person’ but most of what I did was to please people. I attended all the church meetings, bought all the sermon tapes and DVD’s but, in reality, there was no conviction that was sincere and heartfelt. But, as anyone who has lived their life in pursuit of pleasing people will tell you, it’s not worth it. Human approval isn’t a goal worth living for. Better to live a life of conviction than to be pretentious.

Speaking of conviction, I have close friends who don’t believe that any kind of religion or faith is necessary as long as you do good works and live a good life. The whole idea of salvation – a key concept within the Christian experience – makes no sense to them because, as far as they are concerned, they are good people. “Why should I come and surround myself with a bunch of unforgiving hypocrites in a church every Sunday when I can just live a good life? I don’t need saving.”

This is actually a really valid question. Why? Firstly, there are some really horrible Christians in this world. If being a Christian produces such nastiness in people, why would anyone want to convert to that kind of thing? Secondly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with aspiring to a good life or to doing good works. How could anyone fault that in a world full of so much evil? Some of the most generous and inspiring people alive today have probably never seen the inside of a church building.

I do think my friends slightly miss the point though. Faith in Jesus Christ is just that – faith in Jesus Christ, not faith in Christians. Christians are just as much in need of help as those who do not carry that ‘title’. It’s not so much about attending church or even about being good as it is about a relationship, based on faith, with Jesus Christ.

How often do we, when we have been close to someone who has had a positive impact on us, say to them, “Wow, I’m so happy to know you. My life wouldn’t be the same without you.” In a sense, we are crediting them with having saved us in some way. When you spend time with a good person, their goodness rubs off on you somehow. They make you better, not because you were bad before but because nobody is perfect and we can all be better. Whatever we expose ourselves to influences us. For me, faith in Christ is the same but on a deeper level. It’s about discovering a relationship with a perfect person and allowing Him to transform us.

I’d be so bold as to say we all need a Saviour, but perhaps not in the simplistic “turn or burn”, “fire and brimstone” way that it’s been sold to us. What are your thoughts?

We’re All Poor

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We’ve all seen the pictures and videos. We can’t escape the billboards or avoid the television commercials. Without realizing it, we’ve been conditioned to accept that the picture of poverty is of the teary-eyed, starving African child with arms outstretched , desperately hoping to get something to eat. It’s true that this type of poverty exists in the world. It’s very real, very painful and should never be ignored. In fact, it’s for this type of problem that organizations like the UN have established observances like the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

Poverty is so much more, though.

There are so many ways to define poverty. It can be defined simply or in very deep and philosophical terms. One specific definition stands out for me and it is the one I’d like to use for the purposes of this post. Simply put, poverty is the state of being inferior in quality or insufficient in amount”. Based on this, the net widens to include so much more than the starving African child.

Have you ever wondered why the celebrity with more than a million followers on Twitter overdoses on lethal drugs? Or why the wealthy business mogul who seems to have it all fails to sleep at night? Why are stats for teenage suicides in Japan – supposedly one of the most advanced and prosperous countries in the world – so high? It’s because, whether we have all the money in the world or none at all, our lives are defined by something more significant than the size of our bank accounts and the possessions we have. There is an emptiness we all feel and a void that longs to be filled. In some way, we’re all poor.

Please don’t get me wrong: this is not an attack on wealth and the wealthy nor is it a downplaying of the tragedy of abject poverty. We must target the sort of destitution that leaves children cold, hungry and unclothed. It will be a beautiful day when we no longer have to watch TV ads pleading with the world to take a moment to ‘consider’ the hungry children of the world. Poverty must be eradicated.

But may we never forget that a human life is as much spirit and soul as it is flesh and bones. There are deeper levels of poverty in this world than what we are led to believe. That poverty too must be eradicated.

It is this deeper, intangible level of poverty and inner hunger that Jesus Christ seeks to address with these words: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)

Do you sometimes feel like there is something like a void in you that needs to be filled? What do you do about it?

 

Tragic N12 Crash in Alberton

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It’s been a sad day in Alberton, a town located about 15 kilometers from Johannesburg, South Africa. On the morning of 14th October, the driver of a petrol tanker lost control of his truck and hit more than fifty cars, leaving a gruesome trail of destruction behind him. It is now alleged that the truck driver was speeding way above the limit and failed to manoeuvre the vehicle at about 7:30am, causing the accident. At the time of writing this piece, two fatalities have been confirmed.

Tragedy and pain are an unbearable part of life and there really are times where words fail to express what we feel. For the vast majority of the people involved in this crash, today probably started off as just an ‘ordinary’ day. People likely had plans of what the day was going to look like and things they were going to do later. But all that changed in a moment. For some, life may never be the same again.

At 1Africa, we want to take a moment to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15) and express that our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected directly and indirectly by this tragic N12 crash.

Life is a precious, fragile thing and should never be taken for granted.

“Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

Work Hard. Be Diligent.

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Work. Depending on your experiences, background and upbringing, this word either traumatizes you or energizes you when you read it. When we look into God’s Word though, work is essentially a good thing. In fact, the very first thing recorded as having been done by God was work. After He was done creating, the Bible says that “on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done.” (Genesis 2:2)

One of the great journeys of life is ‘discovering’ one’s purpose, i.e. the work that one was created to do. We all have gifts and talents. Some may seem grand and some may seem somewhat insignificant but they all matter in the big picture. However, it’s not enough to just discover our gifts. Once we have discovered (and I’m not suggesting that this discovery comes easily at all), we have to work hard and be diligent in growing and making full use of what God has given us.

“Observe people who are good at their work— skilled workers are always in demand and admired; they don’t take a backseat to anyone.” (Proverbs 22:29 – The Message)

Nyerere Day: Generation with a Cause

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In most African cultures, the role of the father is prized and precious. The father is generally regarded as the head of the home and the one to whom everyone looks for leadership, wisdom and protection. A far higher honour than this might probably be to be known as Father of the Nation. In Tanzania, this title (Baba wa Taifa in Kiswahili) belongs to the late Julius Nyerere – leader of Tanzania (and Tanganyika before that) from 1960 to 1985. On the 14th of October each year, Tanzania remembers him by celebrating Nyerere Day.

Talking about politicians – especially those no longer with us – is tricky territory. On the whole, they are viewed as controversial and, by the time many of them leave office, they have lost the trust and confidence of the people who voted them into power.

In spite of this, it is still possible to learn some good things from every leader. The generation of Nyerere and other champions of African independence certainly left the younger generation with some important lessons about courage and having a pioneering spirit. Perhaps, in this era where information is readily available and young, urban Africans potentially have more access to opportunity than in the pre-independence days of a much younger Nyerere, it is easy to discard the values of courage, sacrifice and persistence.

The reality, however, is that values are values. Principles remain. Though times may change and each new generation faces its own unique set of challenges, it would be great if the new generation of African youths took the good from leaders like Julius Nyerere. Maybe, using the positive lessons of the past may be just the fuel needed to propel Africa into a brighter future.

Happy Nyerere Day, Tanzania!

Ebola: Global Threat?

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Most of us have probably heard the phrase “knowledge is power”. If this is true, then it follows that ignorance is weakness. At 1Africa, while we are all about celebrating the creativity and energy coming out of our beautiful continent, we talk about serious matters too.

Ebola is the big headline currently. Once viewed as “Africa’s problem”, it is being taken more seriously now, particularly since it has become a very real threat in places like Europe and the US. For all intents and purposes, Ebola is now a global threat.

If you’re reading this and haven’t quite gotten your head around what Ebola is, here, courtesy of the BBC, is a short video that explains in about a minute what the virus is all about.

In moments like these, fear has the potential to grip us all and make us paranoid. Yes, it is important – especially if we are in affected or at-risk regions – to take precautions and do all we can to protect ourselves. But we must not be paralyzed by fear because fear cripples.

There is so much to be afraid of in the world. The list just never ends! If it’s not terrorists, it’s deadly viruses. If it’s not natural disaster, it’s the fear that your friendly next door neighbour might not be who he says he is. In a world full of so much fear, Jesus Christ had the boldness to say these words: “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Where do you turn to when you are afraid?

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