When the people of Egypt filled Tahrir Square, we were predictably glued to the newsroom television. A single screen that normally flickered between British football games and Nigerian soap operas suddenly became fixed on Al Jazeera updates. It was a blazing hot January, and I had just begun reporting at Malawi’s oldest newspaper, The Daily Times.
The Arab Spring made an indelible impression on people across the globe. Beginning my internship at the Times, the first questions from family and friends were about a people’s revolution happening nearly 5,000 kilometres north. They asked what the mood was like in Africa and if the uprising was spreading south. There were a few moments when I had to earnestly explain that Egypt and Malawi were very different countries.
At the world-renowned artist studio Núcleo de Arte in Maputo, Mozambican artist Fiel dos Santos recalls a childhood robbed by military struggle.
“I grew up in civil war,” says Santos, who was 5 years old when his country became embroiled in a conflict that would last 16 years. “In my area the rebels were coming two times a week, every month, every day — but I’m here.”
Mbongseni “Bholoja” Ngubane wasn’t always an internationally revered musician. By profession, the soulful songwriter hailing from the kingdom of Swaziland was once a mechanical engineer.
“To me, music is a calling,” Bholoja explained, hours before taking the stage at this year’s Bushfire Arts Festival in Ezulwini, Swaziland.
“It’s not all about being doctors or engineers. I was an engineer, but I’m an artist today.”