Beg, borrow or steal, buy, lend and share these films if you can. Local libraries seem to have them – that’s where I found copies. This wasn’t my planned weekly blog post, but then I got taken over with a kind of urgency. In the space of an afternoon, or evening, one can learn a very great deal about the world and how it works. History, media, money, power and…music as a vehicle of social commentary, outage and resistance, change, expression, healing, growth and transcendence. Reflect on how much has changed. Reflect on how little has changed. It’s the kind of stuff not taught in schools, but how I wish it was.

This first film, ‘life and Debt’ now over a decade old and more relevant than ever, focuses on Jamaica, but deals with a system of free trade and manipulated financial bondage that occurs daily, all over the planet. In very recent years, commentators and authors such as Raj Patel have been writing about the concept of ‘food sovereignty’ – here is a good introduction to the concept. Compelling voice over by Jamaica Kincaid and soundtrack released by Tuffgong with proceeds going to URGE, Ziggy Marley’s non-profit organisation.

Life and Debt, by Stephanie Black, 2001 – official trailer:

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Whilst  still in a musical mood, went on to watch ‘Mama Africa’, a moving and awe-inspiring biography of multilingual, multifaceted artist, Miriam Makeba –  by Finnish director, Mika Kaurismaki. Superb editing and production that showcases a lifetime of struggle and achievement, made mostly in exile, against a backdrop of politically changing – and frustrating times. Rare and riveting footage of Makeba’s husband of 10 years, Stokely Carmichael, and interviews with Hugh Masekela, Angelique Kidjo and members of the original Skylarks. The film features several times, ingenious editing of different renditions of the same song…done in different eras and keys, but with the same personnel. Also featured and intercut is Makeba’s first feature film, the ground breaking ‘Come Back Africa’, released in 1959 by Lionel Rogosin. (Clip included here.) Enjoy.

Mama Africa, by Mika Kaurismaki 2012 – Official trailer:

Come Back Africa, by Lionel Rogosin 1959 – official trailer:

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