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The Cultural Frontline

The Cultural Frontline

Podcast The Cultural Frontline
Podcast The Cultural Frontline

The Cultural Frontline


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  • Kemka Ajoku: My Camera, My Vision
    A rising star of British photography, Kemka Ajoku talks about how his English and Nigerian roots have shaped his outlook. He tells us why he focuses on telling Black British stories and how he handles racist responses to his work. Linton Kwesi Johnson’s unflinching political poems about police brutality, social injustice and protest have made him an inspiration for a generation of poets. But whose words inspired him as a young writer? Linton shares with us how the work of Martin Carter fired his imagination and his passion for poetry. Xiran Jay Zhao’s New York Times best-selling debut novel Iron Widow has been described as Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid’s Tale. It tells the story of 18-year-old Zetian, the pilot of a giant robot, who is battling both an insidious patriarchy and menacing alien beings that lurk beyond the Great Wall of China. Xiran reveals how their experiences as a first generation Chinese immigrant and as a non-binary writer have influenced their work. Presented by Megha Mohan. (Photo: 'Gestural Greetings' by Kemka Ajoku. Credit: Kemka Ajoku)
  • South African writing: Damon Galgut, Lebo Mashile, and Kaaps
    This week on The Cultural Frontline, Tumi Morake looks at writing from her country, South Africa – focussing on fiction, poetry, and language reflecting the country’s history, politics, social make-up, and identity. Multi-award-winning author Damon Galgut’s latest novel, The Promise, is his third to be nominated for the Booker Prize, and is in the final running. Set during South Africa’s transition from apartheid, it explores its legacy through the decline of a white farming family, whose promise to their black maid - to give her the house she lives in - remains unfulfilled, as we follow them from the height of apartheid to the present day. Lebo Mashile is an acclaimed poet, actress and writer. It’s been a tough year in South Africa – with the pandemic, political scandal, and violent civil unrest – but Lebo uses her poetry to try to make sense of what’s happening in the world. She’s been performing at the recent Poetry Africa international festival at the University of KwaZulu Natal, and spoke to reporter Mpho Lakaje about tackling big issues in her work. Plus, how a new dictionary - with the help of hip hop - can overcome inequality. The South African Kaaps language is commonly used by working class people, however speakers can be negatively stereotyped and suffer discrimination. Now a new Dictionary of Kaaps - in Kaaps, English, and Afrikaans - is being launched by the University of the Western Cape and a hip hop charity, Heal The Hood. Shaquile Southgate of the charity explains the difference he hopes the dictionary will make. And South African actor, activist, and playwright Dr John Kani. In spring 2020 he was in London performing in his new play, Kunene And The King, when the pandemic sadly brought it to a close. He speaks about the art that lifted his spirits in lockdown, and his love for the jazz of Hugh Masekela. Presented by Tumi Morake Produced by Emma Wallace, Mpho Lakaje, Mugabi Turya and Jack Thomason (Photo: Damon Galgut)
  • Nigeria: Nollywood Star Richard Mofe-Damijo
    This week, we focus on the booming cultural landscape of Nigeria and hear from some of the country’s most exciting creatives. One of Nollywood’s biggest stars, Richard Mofe-Damijo, talks about his screen career and how the Nigerian film industry is bouncing back from the coronavirus pandemic. Lisa Folawiyo is one of Nigeria’s leading fashion designers. Her work, which combines traditional Nigerian fabrics with contemporary tailoring, has been featured in Vogue and worn by celebrities, including Lupita Nyong’o, Lucy Liu and Thandiwe Newton. Lisa shares her secrets of how she created a global brand using traditional Nigerian materials. Etinosa Yvonne is a documentary photographer who photographed the End SARS protests against police brutality. Victor Ehikhamenor is a contemporary multimedia artist, photographer, and writer, who responded to the government ban on Twitter with an illustration of the blue bird logo, silenced behind bars. They discuss their work and the power of visual art to send political messages. Onyeka Nwelue is an award winning author, filmmaker and publisher whose latest novel, The Strangers of Braamfontein, tells the story of a young Nigerian artist, who moves to South Africa to seek new opportunities. Onyeka wrote the novel in Pidgin, he and discusses why it was important to him to bring Nigerian dialects and languages to an international audience. Presented by Chi Chi Izundu Produced by Candace Wilson, Emma Wallace and Jack Thomason (Photo: Richard Mofe-Damijo. Credit: Spotlight Photos & Imagery)
  • Faïza Guène and Omar El Akkad
    This week on The Cultural Frontline, Anu Anand looks at how migration and the journeys we take have inspired writers and theatre makers. French author Faïza Guène made a global impact with her first novel Kiffe Kiffe Demain, which was translated into English as Just Like Tomorrow. It shook up the literary scene in France with its humorous portrayal of the lives of immigrants in the deprived suburbs of Paris. Faïza Guène talks about her novel Men Don’t Cry and how the French establishment reacted to her ground-breaking debut. Writer Nina Mingya Powles grew up in New Zealand, in a Malaysian-Chinese family, and she now lives in London. Her essay collection, Small Bodies of Water, takes the reader on a personal journey to the places across the globe which have given Nina a sense of belonging and home. In a piece written especially for The Cultural Frontline, Nina reflects on migration and the impact of the journeys we take. After the 2010 earthquake that devastated large parts of Haiti, many Haitians migrated to Chile to build a new life. But Haitians in Chile have faced racism and discrimination, and many have struggled to find work. LETTM, a theatre project in Cartagena, is working with Chilean locals and Haitian migrants. Assistant Director Ramona Suarez explains how they are finding common ground between the communities. Award winning author and journalist Omar El Akkad’s new novel tells a harrowing tale of enforced migration. What Strange Paradise focuses on the journey a nine year old Syrian refugee. Omar El Akkad tells The Cultural Frontline how the classic children’s story, Peter Pan by JM Barrie, influenced and inspired his writing. Photo: Faïza Guène. Credit: Faïza Guène)
  • Poetry: The power and the beauty of spoken word
    This week on The Cultural Frontline, Anu Anand hears from the young poets expressing the hopes and fears of their generation. American film director Carlos López Estrada explains how a spoken word showcase affected him so deeply that he wanted to share his new love of poetry with the world. It inspired him to work with young poets in Los Angeles to create his latest film, Summertime. Carlos Lopez Estrada and one of the poets in Summertime, Raul Herrera, discuss how they collaborated to make a film entirely in verse. Young poets from Lebanon and the UK have come together to write new work, inspired by their home cities of Beirut and Coventry. The finished pieces will be performed as part of the BBC’s Contains Strong Language Festival. Two of the writers, Kelvin Ampong and Nour Annan explain what they learned from each other and how they found common ground. Zambian writer Musenga L Katonga has been working with a British illustrator to create an animated online poem, exploring the theme of beauty and chaos. He explains how he wrote about escaping the noise of social media to find solace in the written word and discusses performing a TED Talk about Zambian identity, in spoken word. (Photo: Carlos López Estrada. Credit: Good Deed Entertainment, LLC)

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