West Africa

Latest Articles


Bright lights, no city

I never cared about Africa. I never wanted to join the Peace Corps, raft the Zambezi, haggle in Fez or climb Kilimanjaro.
What the poorest of the poor can teach the rest of us
By MAX ALEXANDER  |  August 24, 2012

Ghana baby Ghana

Florida Road is a crowded strip of bars and clubs in Durban, a city on the eastern coast of South Africa.
A Letter from South Africa
By NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  July 02, 2010

Front lines

Sebastian Junger gets up close and personal with Restrepo
Sebastian Junger gets up close and personal with Restrepo
By PETER KEOUGH  |  June 26, 2010

Stark reality

Steven Stark is known to Phoenix readers for his "Presidential Tote Board" odds-making feature, but it turns out that he and his son, Harrison, are also soccer aficionados, having become fans of London side Fulham FC during stays in the British capit
Your indispensable World Cup update
By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  June 11, 2010

Messi situations

Can’t you just imagine the high-level meetings taking place daily in the British Petroleum war room these days, full of top execs and engineers, neither of whom speak the others’ language, or have even close to the same concerns?
A giant tampon for BP; plus, the World Cup, and a big bash in Pawtuxet
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  June 04, 2010

Review: Living In Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders

One thing you notice about the brave doctors working for the organization Médicins Sans Frontières in hellholes and war zones like Liberia and Congo: they sure smoke a lot.
Overworked overseas doctors
By PETER KEOUGH  |  June 04, 2010


Sweaty Palmes

Apichatpong Weerasethakul must have done something right in one or more of his previous incarnations.
The Cannes 2010 jury picks some winners, but some head-scratchers, too
By LISA NESSELSON  |  May 28, 2010

Balls of fire

For one month every four years, the United States — try as it might — can’t impose its vacuous culture on the rest of the planet. The World Cup arrives and the Americans are, at best, an afterthought.
Porn stars, witch doctors, elephant farts, and the worst soccer team on the planet take center stage at this summer’s World Cup

Nature studies

“A bird feeder,” Hamilton writes in her artist statement, “creates an intensified microcosm of the trials and hardships of avian existence.”
New works by Catherine Hamilton and Susan Twaddell
By GREG COOK  |  May 07, 2010

Words around town

“Every writer I know has trouble writing,” said Joseph Heller. Let that serve as comfort.
Our fair city is chock full of people who write well and are willing to teach you their trade.
By NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  April 30, 2010

Potatoes and a pennywhistle on Somerset Street

Drive south on Broad Street past the markets and churches, take a left on Somerset and there, in a clearing of raised garden beds behind a chain-link fence, you will find Phil Edmonds with his peas.
In the Garden
By ELIZABETH RAU  |  April 02, 2010


Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars | Rise & Shine

Although their music stands on its own, the backstory can't help but give it a deeper perspective.
Cumbancha (2010)
By JEFF TAMARKIN  |  March 19, 2010

Message points

Instrumental music isn't very dependable at conveying specific non-musical subject matter.
Christian Scott's political science, Anita Coelho's connections
By JON GARELICK  |  March 12, 2010

Don't make promises

In writing a weekly political column, you learn not to use the first paragraph to make extravagant claims you can't possibly deliver on.
Paul LePage's disastrous mistake
By AL DIAMON  |  February 26, 2010

Fela Kuti | The ’69 L.A. Sessions

Amiri Baraka put it best in his poem "In the Funk World": "If Elvis Presley is King/Who is James Brown, God?" So, by that logic, is Fela Anikulapo Kuti higher than or equal to God?
Knitting Factory (2010)
By ZETH LUNDY  |  February 12, 2010

Excerpt: Evening’s Empire by BIll Flanagan

In this chapter, "The Drugs Don't Work," aging rock star Emerson Cutler and his manager, Jack Flynn, are seeking inspiration — and desperately trying to jumpstart his career.
An excerpt from Bill Flanagan’s new novel, Evening’s Empire , the true story of a band that never existed
By BILL FLANAGAN  |  February 05, 2010

Crossword: ''Burns, Baby, Burns''

Crossword results: February 5, 2010
It's a growth industry.
By MATT JONES  |  February 05, 2010


Nobody likes labels — except maybe critics. And we all want to live by Duke Ellington's measure of quality: beyond category. Beyond names and borders, that is, in a post-racial society. And yet, the word "fusion" — at least in music — has a pejorative c
Natraj and friends expand their neighborhoods
By JON GARELICK  |  January 15, 2010

Visions of hope

Shannon Heuklom of Providence spent the past two summers helping at a rural clinic, serving some 2000 HIV-positive patients, that is run by the nonprofit Hope Through Health in the West African nation of Togo.
‘Coming Out’ at Firehouse 13; Dery and Easton at 5 Traverse
By GREG COOK  |  January 15, 2010

Various Artists | Marvellous Boy: Calypso From West Africa

Honest Jon's (2009)
Honest Jon's (2009)
By GUSTAVO TURNER  |  March 17, 2009

Divine service

Oscar Mokeme is the Director of Portland Maine’s Museum of African Culture, which he co-founded in 1998 with Hannaford executive and collector Arthur Aleshire.
An interview with Oscar Mokeme
By IAN PAIGE  |  July 31, 2008



Far more than a nostalgia act, Baobab are one of the freshest and most exuberant African bands on the road today.
Made In Dakar | Nonesuch
By BANNING EYRE  |  June 17, 2008

Middle man

As Senegal’s pre-eminent pop singer, Youssou N’Dour has mastered the art of pleasing diverse audiences.
Youssou N’Dour bridges the gap
By BANNING EYRE  |  November 19, 2007

White hunters, black hearts

There are hundreds of faces in the “Trophy Room” of , and most of them are black.
Scambaiting turns the tables on Internet con men. But when the clever pranks turn dangerous and degrading, where does the moral compass point?
By MIKE MILIARD  |  September 12, 2007

Symmetric unities

Toumani Diabaté is not just on tour, he’s on a mission.
Toumani Diabaté, Somerville Theater, March 29, 2007
By DAMON KRUKOWSKI  |  April 03, 2007

Able not to hear

During the years 1796 to 1801, John Brewster Jr. painted the portraits of Colonel and Mrs. Thomas Cutts of Saco.
Early American deaf painter John Brewster Jr. at the PMA
By CHRIS THOMPSON  |  January 31, 2007


The news from Africa

Top 10 lists are always arbitrary, especially when applied to a “genre” as sprawling as world music.
A year in world music
By BANNING EYRE  |  December 18, 2006

Novel escapes

A certain soul-crushing scene from The Fountainhead makes its way into my brain about this time every year.
Traveling without a passport
By NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  June 20, 2006

Local heroes

In this, the ninth annual edition of the Providence Phoenix’s “Best” issue, we highlight four people and organizations who are doing exceptionally good work.
Bill Shuey, Valerie Tutson, Greg Gerritt, and Scott Wolf

Continental divides

These films might not heal a continent, but they suggest that African cinema is alive and well.
Seeking reconciliation in the African Film Festival
By PETER KEOUGH  |  February 19, 2006