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kottke.org posts about Africa

African textiles made in the Netherlands

posted by Susannah Breslin   Dec 21, 2015


Love these. African textiles. Studio 360: “But I had no idea that some of the trendiest of these prints are actually designed and produced in the Netherlands by a company called Vlisco.”


Khrista Rypl writes:

Inge Oosterhoff wrote a wonderful deep dive into the history behind the Vlisco textile house, and explained how their designs have remained hugely popular in Africa since the late 1800s. But Vlisco doesn’t just make fabric; they’re known for their printed designs. And unlike many fashion companies, Vlisco doesn’t name their patterns: each is given a number and then distributed to different areas in Africa. Some patterns are designed with different countries in mind, while others are distributed widely around the continent. As the patterns catch on among shopkeepers and consumers, many of them get colorful names like “Love Bomb,” “Tree of Obama,” and “Mirror in the Sun.” But the names aren’t even the best part: many popular patterns have developed specific cultural meanings and subtexts.


(via yellowdoorhouse)

We Work Remotely

Africa from the air

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 07, 2011

Paragliding photographer George Steinmetz takes beautiful aerial photos of Africa and other places from what is basically a chair attached to a motor and parachute.

George Steinmetz

Steinmetz was the subject of a New Yorker profile last year.

Perspectives of Poverty

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 09, 2010

Frustrated with the carefully chosen photos of Africans “dressed in rags, smothered in flies, with [looks] of desperation” used to symbolize poverty by development organizations, Duncan McNicholl has started a photography project in which he takes two photos of a person: one in a typical poverty pose and the other with the person “looking their very finest”.

The truth is that the development sector, just like any other business, needs revenue to survive. Too frequently, this quest for funding uses these kind of dehumanizing images to draw pity, charity, and eventually donations from a largely unsuspecting public. I found it outrageous that such an incomplete and often inaccurate story was being so widely perpetuated by the organizations on the ground — the very ones with the ability and the responsibility to communicate the realities of rural Africa accurately.

HIV older than previously thought

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 06, 2008

A new study suggests that HIV jumped from apes to humans around the turn of the 20th century, which coincides with the development of colonial cities in sub-Saharan Africa.

HIV was and remains a “relatively poorly transmitted” virus, he said, so the key to the success of the virus was possibly the development of cities such as Leopoldville in the early 1900s.

The large numbers of people living in close proximity would have allowed more opportunity for new infections.

“I think the picture that has emerged here, is that changes the human population experienced may have opened to the door to the spread of HIV,” he said.

Not sure when this happened, but the

posted by Jason Kottke   May 08, 2007

Not sure when this happened, but the New Yorker has posted the huge profile of Bill Clinton that David Remnick wrote for the magazine back in September 2006. Yes it’s long, but well worth the effort. Related: a NY Times crossword puzzle with clues provided by Clinton.

Great aerial photography of Africa by Michael

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 04, 2007

Great aerial photography of Africa by Michael Poliza. One of my favorites. Poliza’s work reminds me of Yann Arthus Bertrand. (via nickbaum)

A photoessay that follows the path of

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 07, 2006

A photoessay that follows the path of a diamond from the mines of Africa to the Western jewelry store. “In Angola, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, miners work for food but receive no wages” and “last year, grooms spent nearly $4.5 billion on engagement rings”. See also the interview with Edward Zwick, director of Blood Diamond. “By putting your credit card down, you’re essentially endorsing the practices that are involved in getting a resource. This place and that place are, in fact, interconnected.” (thx, blake)

The case of Kelbessa Negewo, former Ethiopian

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 04, 2006

The case of Kelbessa Negewo, former Ethiopian government official and assused of torture and human rights abuses, and how a chance encounter with one of his alleged victims in an Atlanta hotel has turned into a 15-year legal battle.

Blog about the small village of Nata

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 14, 2006

Blog about the small village of Nata in Botswana that’s documenting the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS there.

A convergence of fault lines in Africa

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 28, 2006

A convergence of fault lines in Africa near Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti is shifting the land so much that eventually the Red Sea will flow in and create a new ocean. (thx, brian)

Drawings of war from children caught up

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 04, 2005

Drawings of war from children caught up in the Sudanese cleansing in Darfur. “Without any instruction or guidance, the children drew scenes from their experiences of the war in Darfur: the attacks by the Janjaweed, the bombings by Sudanese government forces, the shootings, the burning of entire villages, and the flight to Chad.”

These things have nothing in common

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 27, 1998

My mom has email now. The Internet has officially Arrived™.

I just finished reading Tom Clancy’s new book, Rainbow Six. It was OK.

The Avengers is possibly the worst movie I’ve seen since The Fifth Element.

Go rent Good Will Hunting. You know who you are.

I bought some drawstring pants. My unemployment experience is complete.

I will be gone for the weekend.

Calvin Klein dinnerware, Polo house paint, and Tommy cars

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 23, 1998

I’m looking though the Sunday paper today…searching for bargains. I open up the ad sheet for Dayton’s, an upscale department store, and what do I see but dinnerware by Calvin Klein. Let me repeat that: dinnerware by Calvin Klein. And Ralph Lauren makes Polo house paint. Tommy, Calvin, and Ralph all have their own “lines” of bed linen. I’m currently looking for a new car…does anyone know if I can get a Tommy car yet? If I can, I bet it’ll look just like a low-end Toyota and cost as much as a high-end Lexus.

And borrowing liberally from Henry Ford, Mr. Hilfiger had this to say about the Tommy car: “they can have a Tommy car in any color they want, as long as it’s red, white, or blue.”

The good and the bad

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 18, 1998

On the one hand, you’ve got the good. On the other hand, you have the bad. And then there’s a bunch of stuff in the middle. I was in the middle for a long time. Most of my life actually…just sort of floating nonchalantly along.

Then life got weird. Ever since, I’ve been oscillating between the good and the bad, swinging (sometimes violently) back and forth from one extreme to the other. This weekend, I felt as bad as I’ve ever felt in my life. Despair the size of a watermelon. But, I also felt as good as I ever felt this weekend. Happiness you only see in the face of a small child during a really ripping game of Peek-a-boo.

And this existance is really different for me…I used to be on cruise control, but now I’m driving in the city, stopping and starting again at all the intersections. I really don’t know where I’m going to end up. Is all this oscillating going to rip me apart or will I settle on one or the other or end up somewhere in the middle again?

Right now, the good is far outpacing the bad…and I think that trend will continue for a while.