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A robot directs traffic in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Last month, a Guardian article on the value of “Afrofuturist” art started making the rounds on the web’s myriad African news and culture forums. Usually the term, coined in the 1990s, refers mainly to innovative or progressive material coming out of the African American creative community—works which often fall into the category of science-fiction or fantasy categories and are thus brushed off as genre art. But the Guardian pieces did two great services to the term, by using it to draw our attention to lesser-known and underappreciated works coming out of continental Africa, and sparking discussion about Afrofuturism’s merits as a social phenomenon.

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Meet the Filmmaker Who Infiltrated the Underbelly of Commercial Oil Development

Rachel Boynton's film follows the quest to drill for oil off the coast of West Africa, and Ghana's attempt to protect its people.

Rachel Boynton never meant to make a film in Ghana. When the documentary filmmaker started making trips to Africa, her flights landed in Lagos. After her 2005 film Our Brand Is Crisis, which follows an American politial consulting firm's work in Bolivia during the country's 2002 presidential election, she wanted to investigate why underserved Nigerian citizens were attacking federally maintained pipelines. But when an upstart Texas oil company, Kosmos Energy, discovered the first major oil field off the coast of Ghana, and invited Boynton along to film their negotiations with the country's government, it set in motion the story that forms the backbone of Big Men–a scathing and unfettered look at the cross-cultural clash and universal greed that infects the world's most coveted resource.

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Last summer, I spent five weeks in Ghana—a country about the size of Oregon—on the West African coast. I was there studying global food insecurity. We were twenty-one jet-lagged graduate students and two New York University professors, talking with school feeding programs, development organizations, women’s health clinics, cocoa farms, and markets.
While visiting the city of Tamale, in the dry northern region of Ghana, we met a man named Dr. David Abdulai who runs a clinic that provides free healthcare and meals to Tamale’s mentally ill, handicapped, lepers, and HIV/AIDS patients. This summer, I will return to Ghana to film Under the Mango Tree: Food, Health, and Love in Ghana, a documentary about Shekhinah Clinic, for my Master’s thesis. All proceeds from the film will be used to raise funds for the clinic, which operates entirely on donations.
Dr. Abdulai was born in Tamale to one of the poorest families in the area. He is the only survivor of 11 children. All of his siblings died young of malnutrition-related diseases. As an adolescent, he hitchhiked to southern Ghana to work on a farm and finish high school. Through the aid of scholarships, Dr. Abdulai was able to put himself through medical school. After studying and practicing medicine in the United Kingdom and Austria, Dr. Abdulai decided that it wasn’t enough for him to simply practice medicine. His gratitude for those who helped him succeed and his compassion for those still living in poverty won out, and he left his lucrative career to return to his hometown of Tamale with his wife, Doris, to start Shekhinah Clinic.
Before they built the clinic, Dr. Abdulai performed the first surgery under a mango tree that now serves as a peaceful area of recovery for healing patients. Together, David and Doris Abdulai, along with a team of volunteers, provide healthcare and meals to thousands of the city's destitute.

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Video Series: Ghana in Real Life

Compelling mini-docs show the everyday struggles in the lives of Ghanians.


The Guardian Development Blog has a compelling series of short documentaries that take place in Ghana. The films tell the stories of real life in Ghana and overcoming great odds to go to school and find work in Ghana. The stories include Katumi, who, at 13:

left her rural home in Ghana to work as a street porter - carrying goods for people - in the city to earn money for her schooling. Away from her family, she was vulnerable to financial and sexual exploitation.

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Up Close at an Eye Clinic in Ghana

A Dutch photojournalist takes photos a remote eye clinic in Ghana to see how the world is tackling preventable blindness.

Dutch photojournalist Marielle van Uitert has just returned from a trip to Ghana where she photographed patients with cataracts who are undergoing eye surgery at remote camps.

Van Uitert traveled to this dangerous region with the the Eye Care Foundation, an organization that travels to remote sites and sets up eye camps where they perform simple surgeries that restore villager's sight. Van Uitert's photos are shot at the Garu Eye Clinic in Bawku, in the Ghana hinterlands, 1,000 miles from Accra. Her photographic essay introduces you to the many lives that will be changed that day, as a result of this life-changing surgery at the clinic. Some of the patients have more than 100 miles to undergo these surgeries.

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LOOK: Bamboo Bikes for Africa

Getting around rural Africa is not easy. Because cars are a luxury few can afford, bicycling is a more...

Getting around rural Africa is not easy. Because cars are a luxury few can afford, bicycling is a more attractive option. But quality imported bicycles are not particularly cheap themselves, and local bikes are often so shoddily built-out of steel so cheap you can bend it by hand-that they can't stand up to unpaved and pothole-filled roads.

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