Africa Top10 Lifestyle & Travel News

1Angelique Kidjo Explores the Afrobeat Roots of Celia Cruz      

Angelique Kidjo

In her latest album, Angelique Kidjo plays tribute to salsa great, Celia Cruz, and demonstrates the musical connection between the Caribbean and Africa. The recently released record follows Beninese diva Angélique Kidjo as she pays tribute to one of her lifelong musical idols, Celia Cruz. The album sees Kidjo expertly stripping down, covering and reinterpreting ten songs from Celia’s legendary catalog to showcase the vast array of African influences on the salsa classics. Growing up in Benin, salsa has always been a huge thing, you know? [It’s] big in Africa. But even the local salsa band was only made up of men. Sometimes, if they couldn’t find guys to sing the backing , they would get girls. But they are way back there [on stage]. For me to witness a female salsa superstar on stage was a game changer. I was like, “Women can do that? There’s nothing I can’t do then.”

SOURCES: OKAYAFRICA

2Game Changing Somali Model Features in Sports Illustrated

Halima Aden

Two years ago, Halima Aden made history as the first-ever contestant to compete in the Miss Minnesota pageant in a hijab and burkini. Now, the Somali-American is making history again, this time as the first model to be featured in Sports Illustrated’s annual Swimsuit Issue wearing a hijab and burkini. Aden journeyed back to her stomping grounds of Kenya to shoot her first Sports Illustrated Swimsuit spread, which was special for the 21-year-old who was born at a refugee camp and lived in the country before leaving for the United States at age seven. “Don’t change yourself .. Change the GAME!! Ladies anything is possible!!! Being in Sports Illustrated is so much bigger than me. It’s sending a message to my community and the world that women of all different backgrounds, looks, upbringings… can stand together and be celebrated,” Halima wrote in an Instagram post announcing her SI feature.

SOURCES: ELLE

3Meet Botswana’s Queens of Marok

Botswana's Queens of Marok

The heavy metal scene is big in Botswana where metalheads are known as Maroks.  In a series of photos, South African photographer, Paul Shiakallis, aims to capture the personalities of the women known as the queens of Marok. Shiakallis first discovered the Marok in 2011, when documentaries and photographs about them emerged. When he was presented with the chance to meet them, the female Marok or Queens as they like to be called, particularly struck him. Looking as regal as their autonym suggests, the women in the portraits don ornamental tassels and leather, polished spikes and belt buckles. His series points out some important cleavages in heavy metal culture such as the lack of representation of people of colour and women. Queer people are marginally represented, if at all. The series also includes landscape shots of rural milieus, dry lands and vast skies. The women of Marok represent colourful individualities and strong female identities.

SOURCES: DESIGN INDABA

4Nigerian Man Develops World’s First AI Portal That Can Translate Over 2,000 African Languages  

OpenBinacle

An ambitious new app, OB Translate, aims to break down communication barriers between those speaking different African languages. Gabriel Emmanuel, who is the CEO of OpenBinacle, a Europe-Africa based technology company, says the technology was built on machine learning, AI and big data analysis which identified language patterns and tasks. The major task of the portal includes voice recognition and accent, messaging protocol, African-based programming languages, natural language processing, education materials, television subtitles and music lyrics, among others. Africa has thousands of ethnic groups, each speaking different languages and dialects, but this rich cultural diversity has caused communication barriers that hinder socio-economic development.

SOURCES: FACE2FACE AFRICA

5Trevor Noah Thinks Kids Can Handle the Truth 

Trevor Noah

With the release of the young adult version of his memoir, ‘Born a Crime,’ Trevor Noah explains the importance of teaching the truth about apartheid. Trevor Noah’s funny and devastating memoir of growing up mixed race in South Africa, became a best seller. Less predictable was the success of the book’s young readers’ edition, published this month and aimed at children 8 and up. The curse words may be gone, but it doesn’t soften his story of growing up under an oppressive regime.

SOURCES: THE NEW YORK TIMES

6“My Biggest Goal is to Make Africa Proud” – Tiwa Savage

Tiwa Savage

Universal Music Group (UMG) has signed an exclusive global recording agreement with Nigerian singer-songwriter Tiwa Savage, the company announced on Thursday (May 2). Under the terms of the deal, Savage’s future music will be released by UMG in over 60 countries worldwide. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Savage started as a backup singer for artists such as Mary J. Blige and George Michael before attending Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music on scholarship. Several of her recent singles, including “Mr Lova Lova” ft. Duncan Mighty and “Tiwa’s Vibe,” have hit No. 1 on charts across Africa, making her one of Afrobeats’ biggest stars. She’s also carved out a career as a successful songwriter, including for American artists such as Kat DeLuna (“Push Push”) and Fantasia (“Collard Greens & Cornbread”). In 2018, Savage won best African act at the MTV European Music Awards (EMAs), making her the first woman to receive the honor. In December of last year, she was handpicked by Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin to perform at the Global Citizen Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa. She also performed at Jay-Z’s Made in America Festival in Philadelphia in 2017. “It’s an amazing time for Nigerian music right now,” Savage told Billboard in an interview last year. “I’m proud to be part of a growing movement that is influencing mainstream and pop culture globally. [Artists] like Fela [Kuti] paved the way for artists like me to stand on this platform. Much of music’s origin stems from the motherland, so it was only a matter of time before the spotlight fell on Africa.” 

SOURCES: BILLBOARD

7Iconic South African Attraction Builds a Train Hotel

Kruger Shalati Train

The Kruger Shalati Train on a bridge is being hailed as a unique luxury accommodation experience that will open in December 2019. The new initiative pays tribute to the history of Kruger when visitors to park once arrived by train. The project incorporates the iconic and still original old Selati railway bridge at Skukuza Camp, where the KNP’s first warden, James Steven-Hamilton, welcomed visitors nearly 100 years ago. At night, these same guests would retreat into the train to sleep, before it moved on to its next destination the following day. Looking to recreate the magic of these early visitor encounters, the project will see the restoration and upgrading of a train that will permanently rest on the original tracks running across the bridge, high above the waters of the Sabie River. The train, in its stationary position with an external walkway attached to the bridge structure, allows the Kruger Shalati rooms to be much larger than the expected traditional train compartment-style room – complete with floor-to-ceiling windows welcoming the unsurpassed views from atop the Sabie River into the room.

SOURCES: IOL

8Tips on Visiting Marrakesh during Ramadan

Marrakesh during Ramadan

With Ramadan generally meaning a wind-down all over the Muslim world, you might expect that the red city of Marrakesh shuts up shop for the month, but that isn’t exactly the case. While the holy month means that many in Muslim-majority Morocco will be fasting during daylight hours, that doesn’t mean that Marrakesh is in any way off limits. While not impossible, alcohol will be harder to find all over the country during Ramadan with some Muslims refusing to even touch the bottles during the holy month. Larger hotels aimed at tourists are likely to still serve booze though many smaller bars will close for the period or stay open while not serving alcohol. For travellers, the main difference will be the shortened opening hours, as many business and sights close either earlier in the day or for a chunk of the evening as Muslims gather together to break fast in a meal known as iftar.

SOURCES: LONELY PLANET

9Remote African Island Tops Airbnb Listings

L’Ermitage Les Bains

When it comes to Airbnb occupancy rates in Africa, a volcanic island that sprang out of the ocean three million years ago leads the way. The remote Indian Ocean island of Réunion has all the top 10 locations for average occupancy in the accommodation-sharing site, according to data from short-term rental analytics firm AirDNA. These listings include entire homes, private or shared rooms occupied between March 2018 and February 2019. During this timeframe, L’Ermitage Les Bains area was listed as having one of the highest average Airbnb revenues in the whole of Africa, preceded only by Moses Kotane and Bela Bela towns in South Africa. In 2010, UNESCO included the island’s volcanic peaks and ramparts in its list of natural World Heritage Sites. The Piton de la Fournaise, one of the most active volcanoes on the planet, attracts tourists particularly as it gains ground on the ocean during certain lava flows. In total, more than 550,000 tourists arrived on the island in 2017, according to the World Tourism Organization.

SOURCES: QUARTZ AFRICA

10Travel Noire asks Which African Country is at the Top of your Travel To-do List?

Travel Noire

For many African-Americans it seemed like traveling there was off-limits but now, not so much. Timelines are filled with travelers that have gone and seen the homeland that hosts the rich heritage that many want to indulge in and since 2019 is the “Year of Return,” acknowledging the first slave ship departure 400 years ago. Ghana features high on the list as it hosts a huge event called Panafest. Tanzania was another popular country that travelers want to visit. Although the east African country has some very strict LGBTQ laws, there are plenty of things to do. Take a trip to the Serengeti National Park where tourists can visit all types of wildlife or prepare to hike up Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. South Africa has been on many travelers’ radars for a while now because of their lavish beaches and AfroPunk being hosted there. Morocco is filled with exotic gardens and beautiful mosques; it’s a prime location for romance and to explore spirituality.

SOURCES: TRAVEL NOIRE