July 30, 2009
Contact:
Emerson Brown, NPR


   

NPR NEWS UNCOVERS "EMERGING VOICES"
OF AFRICAN CULTURE AUGUST 3-7

NPR Africa Correspondents Gwen Thompkins and Ofeibea Quist-Arcton
Spotlight Five African Artists’ Work and Lives in Weeklong Morning Edition Series


July 30, 2009; Washington, D.C. – Africa is a vast continent rich in culture, color, sound and movement that has inspired internationally acclaimed art, literature, music and dance. The generation that followed the wave of independence that swept across Africa produced giants such as songbird Miram Makeba, author Chinua Achebe and musician and social commentator Fela Anikulapo Kuti. But who are the emerging cultural voices of this generation? NPR News brings some of the continent’s newest talents to a wider audience in the series "Emerging Voices," being broadcast August 3-7 on the NPR newsmagazine Morning Edition.

"Emerging Voices" showcases artists, musicians and writers whose work is informed by modern African life. The series presents a different profile each day: an imprisoned Ethiopian reggae singer, a Ugandan literary critic working on his first novel, an artist using digital technology and traditional symbols to represent Ghana’s past and present, a rapper and youth advocate from Senegal and a poet seen as a leading voice of the youth in post-apartheid South Africa. All of the stories in the series will be archived at www.npr.org

The series is being reported by Gwen Thompkins, NPR's East Africa Correspondent, and Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR's West Africa correspondent, continuing both journalists' extensive coverage of the continent. They profile the following artists during the series:

Teddy Afro, a wildly popular singer, who's been dubbed the Bob Marley of Ethiopia. He's currently serving two years in prison on charges related to a traffic accident involving a fatality. The conviction has been widely perceived as government payback for Afro's songs, which many interpret as critical of Ethiopia's current regime.

David Kaiza, a Ugandan writer who is completing his first novel. Kaiza is from Northern Uganda, a region that has seen much warfare, so it's no surprise that his first novel is about conflict. Ahead of his anticipated literary success, Kaiza's reputation was forged as a literary critic.

Heather Badger, an artist from Ghana, uses digital technology to mix the traditional with the modern in her signature shadow boxes. She incorporates centuries-old brass Adinkra symbols of wisdom, that double as Ghanaian proverbs, in glass-framed artworks.

Didier Awadi, a rap musician from Senegal, led the popular group PBS (Positive Black Soul) before launching a solo career. As an African youth advocate and goodwill ambassador, he champions many causes in song and on stage.

Lebogang Mashile, an award-winning performance poet, writer and actor is based in South Africa. She was born in Rhode Island to parents living in the U.S. in exile from apartheid and returned to South Africa at the age of 16. In many ways, her work has become a voice for the born-frees –- the youth of post-apartheid South Africa.

Thompkins' and Quist-Arcton’s fulltime presence on the continent, along with contributions from reporter Charlayne Hunter-Gault in Johannesburg, allows NPR to stay on top of the news, issues, trends and culture of Africa. Reports from Hunter-Gault, Quist-Arcton and Thompkins are heard on all NPR News programs.

Morning Edition, the two-hour newsmagazine airing weekdays and hosted by Steve Inskeep in Washington, D.C. and Renée Montagne from NPR West in Culver City, Calif., is public radio’s most listened-to program with nearly 14 million weekly listeners. For local stations and broadcast times, visit www.NPR.org/stations