Category Archives: LIFESTYLE

#TBT: Namib Desert oldest on Earth

#TBT The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over part of the Namib Desert in western Namibia. At 55 million years old, Namib is considered the oldest desert on Earth.

In this image, captured on 27 October 2019, a large portion of the Namib-Naukluft National Park is visible. The park covers an area of almost 50 000 sq km and encompasses part of the Namib Desert and the Naukluft Mountains to the east. Straight, white lines visible in the right of the image are roads that connect the Namib-Naukluft National Park with other parts of Namibia.

The park’s main attraction is Sossusvlei – a large salt and clay pan visible in the centre of the image. The bright white floors of the pan contrasts with the rust-red dunes that surround it.

Sossusvlei acts as an endorheic basin for the Tsauchab River – an ephemeral river flowing from the east. Owing to the dry conditions in the Namib Desert, the river rarely flows this far and the pan usually remains dry most years. In the past, water from the Tsauchab has reached the Atlantic coast a further 60 km away.

The dunes in this area are some of the highest in the world. The tallest, nicknamed ‘big daddy,’ stands at around 325 m. The dunes facing the river valley are called star dunes and are formed from winds blowing in multiple directions, creating long ‘arms’ that point into the valley from both sides.

These dunes contrast with the saffron-coloured dunes visible in the Namib Sand Sea, just south of Soussusvlei. The sand sea consists of two dune seas, one on top of another. The foundation of the ancient sand sea has existed for at least 21 million years, while the younger sand on top has existed for around 5 million years. The dunes here are formed by the transportation of materials from thousands of kilometres away, carried by river, ocean current and wind.

The Namib Sand Sea is the only coastal desert in the world to contain large dune fields influenced by fog – the primary source of water for the Namib Sand Sea. Haze is visible in the bottom left of the image, the last leftovers of fog coming from the Atlantic Ocean.

Copernicus Sentinel-2 is a two-satellite mission to supply the coverage and data delivery needed for Europe’s Copernicus programme.

Egypt: Grand Museum opening postponed

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced postponement of the launch of mega-projects including the Grand Egyptian Museum and moving civil servants to a planned new capital city to 2021 from 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak, the presidency said on April 4.

The new Museum had been due to open later this year, while the first group of civil servants was to be transferred to the government district in the new administrative capital in June.

Sisi’s government said it wishes to start running Egypt from the new city, 45 km (28 miles) east of Cairo, as soon as the middle of 2020. But the $58 billion project has struggled to raise funds and faced other challenges after some investors pulled out.

Egypt has confirmed more than 1,000 infections with the coronavirus. The authorities have taken measures to combat the epidemic, such as a nationwide nighttime curfew and the closure of tourism facilities.

West African Dogs starring at show

A new participant is looking to be top dog at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

For the first time, the Sahelian Azawakh will be competing at the annual New York City event running February 8-11. It will be one of more than 200 breeds and varieties represented in the competition for which there is no cash prize.

“It’s all about honor, and prestige, and a trophy and being part of history,” says Gail Miller Bisher, Westminster Kennel Club Show national spokesperson.

The sighthound originating from West Africa is now recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and therefore eligible for Westminster. In order for a breed to become recognized by the AKC, “there must be a minimum number of dogs geographically distributed throughout the U.S., as well as an established breed club of responsible owners and breeders,” according to Samantha Seymour, AKC public relations manager.

Bisher says new breeds are recognized “almost every year.”

“These breeds – they may be very old breeds, actually, in other parts of the world, but they’re becoming more popular in the U.S., and so that’s the case with the Azawakh,” she says.

The Azawakh is a breed of dog from West Africa, named after Azawagh Valley. It is also used as a sighthound, they have been relegated to a secondary function of camp guardian due to the lack of game in the region. With ancient origins, it is raised throughout the Sahelian zone of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.

This region includes the Azawagh Valle. While commonly associated with the nomadic Tuareg people, they are also bred and owned by other ethnic groups such as the Peulh, Bella, and Hausa. The Azawakah is more related to the Sloughi than it is to the

Dokolo art collection future in question

The assets of Congolese art collector Sindika Dokolo who is renown for years of repatriation of African artefacts from Western collections have been frozen together with his wife’s fortune. Isabel dos Santos, often referred to as ‘richest African businesswoman‘, the billionaire daughter of the country’s former president, and her husband are facing trail for failing to repay to Angola an amount of $1bn in state loans claimed to be borrowed during her father’s term in office. (Image above: Bozar, Brussels).

The incumbent Angola’s president, Joao Lourenço, who took office in 2017, is attempting to recover the state loans he insists Dos Santos borrowed, abusing her proximity to power, and failed to repay during her father’s term in office.

Dos Santos personal fortune estimated by Forbes at $2.2bn, runs a vast business empire with large stakes in Angola companies across multiple sectors such as banking, telecoms and supermarkets.

Sindika Dokolo  has been devoted to search and repatriation of  precious artefacts which had left the continent during the colonial era to enter the European and US collections.

Dokolo is also a major collector of contemporary African art owning more than 3,000 masterpieces from different origins, and periods, including significant pieces of contemporary artists.

This contemporary art collection, which is administered by the Sindika Dokolo Foundation, is based in the Luanda, according to its website, although some artefacts may be stored abroad, including Dokolo‘s native Congo. At present there is no information about future destiny of the collection.

 

Belgium colonial taboo

By the end of last year Africa Museum in outskirts of Brussels, Belgium, has terminated cooperation with a guide accused of “racist comments” during a tour with students, because of mentioning some positive sides of the colonial past.
He is no longer a guide at our museum,” the director of the Museum Guido Gryseels said while dealing with the allegations. “We have distanced ourselves from his statements.”

The guide, who has not been named, but referred in social media as Dirk, has made some unsuccessful attempts to present an objective from his point of view concept of Belgium’s colonialism of Africa, mentioning some positive elements of introduction of advantages of Western civilisation to Congo, which are an absolute taboo in Belgium modern cultural discourse.

During a recent tour of the Museum given to a group of history students from the University of Antwerp, one of their number, Hanane Llouh, alleged on Twitter and to Agence France Press (AFP),

The student Ms.Llouh wrote on her Twitter page that she was «furious and offended» by the guide interpretations of the past.

Gryseels said the guide, with whom he discussed the complaint, agreed to a “lack of judgement” in some of his comments portraying colonial history positively, but denied making outright racist statements.

We have stopped our collaboration with him,Gryseels said, adding: “He’s a freelancer so we can’t really fire him.”

However not everyone approved the draconian measures of the Museum administration against the ‘heretic‘ guide. The voices were raised against the disproportionate reaction, indicating that the guide Dirk did not twist any facts or figures. However his vision of Congo history was influenced by very personal souvenirs kept in his family. Apparently the stories of his grandmother residing there were preciosus to him, and he was pround of her, treating her African servant as a member of the family, eating all together at the table once a week in a patriarchal manner. Dirk called for more ‘nuanced‘ vision of colonial past, avoiding the trap generalisations, reproducing clichées. The guide also complained that while soliciting he was confronted with discirmination based on his skin color, but finally he was admitted for the job.

Hanane Llouh studies both history and fashion design in Antwerp, apparently she is also an activist, entering polemics with the prominent politician Filip Dewinter from Vlaams Belang party, who objects her imposing burkini swiming costume and the other attributes of Muslim culture onto Flemish lifestyle. “Follow your heart! If you choose a direction in which you always reluctantly dive behind the books, that will have a negative impact on your own well-being…” shares her thoughts student Llouh in an interview for University site, explaining her activism.

Apparently the heart of Ms.Llouh as compass is not accepted by everyone universally. Dewinter has been pointing at Llouh, while criticising wearing the veil in Univeristy of Antwerp (UA). “While women risk their lives in Iran to shed headscarves, Islam discrimination symbol is propagated here by UA! How cynical” he wrote. (Hanane Llouh on the image below in veil).

African Museum is one of five among Belgian establishments nominated for the ‘European Museum of the Year Award’, the European Museum Forum announced.

The Africa Museum has welcomed more than 350,000 visitors since it was re-opened in December 2019, according to BX1. Before the encounter with Antwerp University students. the expelled guide Dirk has conducted 70 groups, and neither of them complained about his narrative.

Kendell Geers ventures African mask philosophy

South African conceptual artist Kendell Geers presents African masks in unconventional way to evoke re-evaluation of cultural heritage of the continent, shifting from outdated perception of  “fetish” to artefact, and further to reading the profound philosophical meaning of the ritual objects.

Concluding the exhibition IncarNations (BOZAR, Brussels)  debates took place on contemporary vision of African cultural heritage, and imminent need to shift away from the Colonial era patterns of exoticism to genuine understanding of meaning of African culture. Passionate proponent of African art,  Kendell Geers calls for abandoning Eurocentric system of assessment of cultural heritage, and regarding historic artefacts with African eyes.

Kendell Geers presentations of African masterpieces stretches beyond Africa, pointing to their universal spiritual strength, fearlessly confronting the most sensitive issues of Colonial past, and problems of the present dialogues between East, West and Africa to ensure transformations leading to engagements, empowering Africans, and reconstructing their rich cultural heritage.

The artist reflects upon dramatic history of colonisation of Africa, suggesting “negative” overpowers “positive” in synergy of two continents, until Europeans keep their prejudices and fantasies, and desires rooted in the bygone era.

 

The exhibition IncarNations created by the artist Kendell Geers in co-operation with the Congolese art collector Sindika Dokolo has challenged a traditional outlook on African culture, proposing Afrocentric perspective. It took place in Brussels Art Centre BOZAR from 

 

 

Museum Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac free visit

Paris museum Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac will be “free for ten days” to pay tribute to the former head of state at the origin of its creation, said it director, Stéphane Martin.

*The Museum will be free for ten days, (…) the time that people who want to pay tribute to the President can visit,” said Stéphane Martin on Europe 1 after the death of Jacques Chirac . Since, the establishment has been offering a temporary exhibition dedicated to acquisitions made since 1998, when the museum’s public establishment was created, which was opened in 2006.

This exhibition, which began two days before the death of Jacques Chirac,is really his collection, the collection that began in 1998 when he launched the museum Quai Branly,” said Stéphane Martin. This retraces “what we did for 20 years thanks to him in terms of enriching the collections”. “The images of the president are everywhere in the museum, the flags are at half-mast, it’s a very emotional moment for the teams,” said Stéphane Martin, adding that “a guestbook is available to visitors.

 

 

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