October 19, 2013 |
The state of Louisiana - with its manicured plantations, moss-draped sycamores and creeping kudzu vines - serves almost as a character itself in "12 Years a Slave," Steve McQueen's historical drama based on the life of Solomon Northup, a free black man from New York who was drugged, kidnapped and enslaved in the antebellum South for a dozen years. At a recent installment of the Envelope Screening Series , actors Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays Northup, and Alfre Woodard, who plays a former slave married to a plantation owner, discussed how the film's powerful sense of place helped them get into character.
October 15, 2013 |
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - More than 950 rebel suspects died or were killed in custody in the first half of the year in northern Nigeria, where security forces are confronting militant Islamists, according to Amnesty International. A briefing paper by the rights group on Tuesday described emaciated corpses delivered by the dozen to morgues, prison cells so crowded that detainees suffocated, inmates beaten so severely that they died or being taken out of the cells and shot. The dead were suspected of being members of Boko Haram, a rebel group believed to be linked to Al Qaeda that is seeking to implement sharia, or Islamic law, across Nigeria.
July 16, 2013 |
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- One day, President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir of Sudan was walking down the red carpet in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, flanked by the presidential guard, on an official visit to attend an African Union summit on AIDS. The next day, after a flurry of legal threats and calls for his arrest, he was gone. Bashir, indicted by the International Criminal Court, has become perhaps Africa's most embarrassing guest. In many African countries, the protests against Bashir begin even before he arrives.
June 29, 2013 |
ACCRA, Ghana - On Thursday, my students and I visited a high school here in Ghana. When the headmistress told us that her students were "losing their culture" and "becoming too Western," we asked for an example. "Homosexuality," she said. "To us, it is an abomination. It comes from elsewhere. " That morning, coincidentally, President Obama was addressing the same issue at a news conference in Senegal. Asked about the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decisions in support of gay marriage, Obama acknowledged that Africans have "different customs" and "different traditions" about homosexuality.
June 20, 2013 |
KANO, Nigeria -- Nigerian soldiers and police once had the most to fear from the Al Qaeda-linked Islamist militia Boko Haram. But the insurgents' latest targets include farmers, irrigation officials, schoolchildren and teachers. In northeastern Nigeria, one of the poorest regions of the country, about 19,000 farmers have abandoned their crops in recent months because of attacks and threats by Boko Haram rebels, according to government officials. Children are afraid to go to school because of recent attacks.
June 17, 2013 |
Soccer matches in Tahiti rarely draw crowds larger than a few hundred. And even then most of those fans are players waiting for the next match. So the South Pacific island nation took a huge step up in class when it played Nigeria on Monday in the Confederations Cup in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, before a live crowd of more than 20,000 -- and a worldwide television audience in the millions. And the Tahitians, ranked 138th in the world by FIFA, the global governing body for soccer, acquitted themselves well against No. 31 Nigeria despite losing, 6-1. "We've shown the world there's some real quality in Tahiti," Marama Vahirua, the only professional on the team, told reporters.