Kenyan filmmaker takes on race and women

first_imgSkin-bleaching agents, weaves – these are the norm for many African women pressured into trying to fit a media stereotype of beauty. One female filmmaker decided to question this Western way of doing things in an animated documentary. Stories that include a local Kenyan hairdresser who can only afford enough beauty cream to bleach her hands and face, are documented in the film Yellow Fever. (Image: Screen grab via YouTube) • South Africa’s musos dish on being a woman in music • A need for roots drives passion for genealogy • South African foodies cooking up a storm • Powerful women shape Africa • Big screen treatment for queen of Katwe Melissa JavanWhen she was just a child Ng’endo Mukii realised that the pressure to look professional and presentable made her feel awkward. That’s one of the reasons the Kenyan embarked on a journey to make a documentary carrying the message that women needed an option of choice.Mukii, the director and editor of the animated documentary Yellow Fever, says the pressure to look professional meant having Western ideals in the world in which she grew up. These ideals included having long, straight hair and paler skin.The idea for her film developed as part of a dissertation she did at the Royal College of Art in London, United Kingdom. Yellow Fever focuses on the media’s perception of beauty and what impact it has had on African women.Yellow Fever has received awards all over the world, including Best Animation at the seventh Kenya International Film Festival in Nairobi in November 2012, Best Student Film at the Underexposed Film Festival in the United States in November 2013, and Best Short Film at the AfriKamera Film Festival in Warsaw, Poland in April 2014.The documentary features women from different generations talking about changing skin colour and styling hair. In one scene, a young black girl (Mukii’s niece) says she would love to be whiter. She says she knows she can change her skin colour with magic.The pressure to change yourselfMukii explains the need for choice. “If your industry only hires women with weaves and those who have a paler skin tone get more promotions and such, then you will be forced by this circumstance, to either find a new industry, or conform.“Many of us conform without realising that we have even done so,” she says. “In Kenya, people openly criticise and make fun of women who have bleached their skin, especially if they are in the limelight. I, however, feel that it’s hypocritical as a society to create these ideals and then criticise those that attempt to achieve them.”Online artist shop Domus explains that Mukii presented Yellow Fever as a means of showing how Africans – and Kenyans specifically – have absorbed the absolute truths presented about themselves over the years, to the point that their own media has become biased towards Western ideals of beauty.“In response, women and girls feel pressured to conform to these ideals that essentially go against the grain of our bodies. As a result, this has affected our own sense of self-image and we constantly use chemicals to straighten our hair and bleach our skin, in an attempt to emulate these ideals,” says Mukii.News portal Huffington Post says Mukii named her film after Fela Kuti’s 1970s song of the same title. “However, while Kuti’s lyrics lash out at the women who choose to use skin-bleaching products, Mukii wants to challenge those who create the ideals. In her words, ‘rather than alienating or attacking people who are victims of them, we should actively address the lack of celebration of women of all appearances.’”The filmmaker asks: “Why is there no acknowledgement of the pressure that exists to push Kenyan [and other] women to willingly poison their skin and bodies with various chemicals [mercury included] in an attempt to have a paler complexion? Why should any normal girl feel that she will be more beautiful and lead a happier life if she loses weight?” Ng’endo Mukii interviewed family members as a microcosm for Nairobi and the women who live in Kenya.The intervieweesMukii says at first she had wanted to interview a number of women and find out their histories and perspectives. “But I realised that within my own family I had a number of generations with whom I am already connected and intimate, and we have had very different experiences growing up.“So I interviewed my mother and my niece and included my own memories and narration to use my family as a microcosm for Nairobi and the women who live here,” she explains.Mukii told Design Indaba Conference 2015 that the people in her family did not want to be filmed, so she turned to animation for the characters: “I’m animating them because no-one wants to talk on camera,” she says.“Documentary animation is really changing Kenyan peoples’ perspective on documentaries,” Mukii says. “You don’t expect it to have animated Kenyan characters talking.”Her responsibility as an AfricanSpeaking about her craft, she explains that if she feels passionately about something, it becomes the focus of her film. “If it happens to be a social issue that I am concerned about, then yes, my work will reflect that.“I do sometimes feel that there is an expectation that, as an African director, I must focus on certain social issues deemed as ‘African’, and that other content beyond this scope is seen as not ‘African enough’.“I can understand why this pressure would exist, but I feel it limits our creativity and even our own understanding of ourselves as citizens in this urbanising and multifaceted context we call Africa.”Africans, she adds, have the opportunity to tell their own stories.Watch Yellow Fever on Vimeo here.last_img read more

In Maine, A Battle Royal Over Energy Policy

first_imgNet metering is a “regressive tax”Echoing arguments made by any number of electric utilities, the governor’s energy office called current net-metering rules “regressive” and said they amount to unfair subsidies for those who can afford to install photovoltaic (PV) systems.“It’s a regressive tax that’s disproportionately placed on low-income Mainers, and we have a lot of low-income Mainers,” said Lisa Smith, senior planner in the energy office. “In Maine, someone who has a solar panel who applies for net metering not only gets credited the full retail value of the electricity, they’re not paying their fair share of grid maintenance because they’re not only being credited for the supply, they’re also being credited the [transmission and distribution] portion of the bill.“They’re getting everything for free and someone who doesn’t have a solar panel is paying for that,” she continued. “They’re paying for their own and they’re paying for the folks who have solar panels.”Because there are only a couple of thousand net-metered customers in the state now, she said, the costs are not significant, adding, “It has the potential to become quite significant.”Recently, a study conducted for the Maine Public Utilities Commission concluded the actual value of electricity generated by PV customers is double what net-metering now pays. And the latest news was greeted with “disbelief” by the co-founder of a Maine renewables company.“We are rubbing our eyes in disbelief at the governor’s new energy bills,” Phil Coupe, co-founder of ReVision Energy, told The Portland Press Herald in an article published on May 13.“They will take Maine’s energy policy back to the Stone Age,” Coupe said of the new proposals. In what’s shaping up to be one more clash over state energy policy, Maine Governor Paul LePage has proposed the elimination of both net metering and Maine’s renewable portfolio standard. Both policies are regarded as essential by renewable energy advocates but too expensive by the executive branch.Legislators already are doing battle with the Republican governor over how to fix a typo in a 2013 law that now threatens to gut the Efficiency Maine program. The new proposals, yet to be scheduled for a public hearing, will add fuel to the fire.Under current rules, Maine residents with small solar or wind systems are paid the full retail rate for excess electricity they sell to the grid. That would end, as would requirements that Maine electric utilities purchase an increasing amount of their electricity from renewable sources.In both cases, the governor’s energy office says changes are intended to simplify existing law and make electricity more affordable for both residential and industrial customers.Renewable energy advocates are outraged. Lower regulatory barriers for nuclear plantsAlso on the energy front: The governor recently submitted legislation that would eliminate the requirement for voter approval for any nuclear plant with a generating capacity of less than 500 megawatts.Maine hasn’t had a nuclear power plant since Maine Yankee in Wiscasset closed in 1996. There are still some 550 tons of spent nuclear fuel from the 900 MW plant stored on site.The new proposal hasn’t had a hearing to date, and Smith said she was unaware of any specific plans for bringing a new reactor into the state.“I’m personally not aware of it,” she said. “A couple of these proposals were put in to just start a discussion and try to eliminate some outdated language. We actually had language in our statute that said nuclear was bad, or something along those lines. So there were a couple of proposals to look into this issue again. I’m not aware of anything on the horizon.”LePage is actively working to increase the availability of natural gas in the state as a way of bringing down energy costs and making the state more attractive to new industry. Lower costs, not the source of the electricity, is key, Smith said.“The governor is completely agnostic as to the source of the energy,” she said. “He just wants the best deal and he does not want the electricity price hikes we’ve seen. We have large industrial customers who won’t come to the state because of the volatile electricity prices.” But it’s a blow to advocatesMaine is the only state in New England without incentives of its own for solar power, and installers and other renewable advocates were dismayed by the latest proposals from the governor.Vaughan Woodruff of Insource Renewables told The Press Herald that the legislative proposals will discourage customers because they will create uncertainty about the future of net metering, a key component in weighing the economics of a purchase.Coupe also pointed to the contribution renewable energy already is making to the state — a $2.6 annual contribution to the state’s economy every year and the creation of 12,000 jobs, according to a study funded by the Maine Technology Institute, the newspaper said.He called LePage’s proposals “mind boggling.”In an email, Coup raised another point: Maine’s economy increasingly relies on tourism, yet the state is the “worst air polluter in the region.”“Maine already has the lowest electricity rates in all of New England, but we also have the highest per capita carbon pollution in the region due to our over-reliance on oil, propane, natural gas, and gasoline,” Coupe wrote. “As our once-vaunted pulp and paper continues to decline due to global market factors and the advent of the digital (not because of energy costs), tourism has gradually become Maine’s strongest economic driver. Our tourism industry is predicated on Maine’s pristine environmental reputation — in reality we are the worst air polluters in the region.”He said ocean acidification and carbon pollution is already taking its toll on Maine’s lobstering and clamming industries as well as the $7 billion tourism industry.“Gov. LePage’s energy proposals will devastate Maine’s renewable energy and clean-tech industries and over the long term will harm our vital marine fisheries and tourism industries,” Coupe added. “It is the height of insanity.”Given that the Legislature will be in session another month, it’s unclear how far these latest initiatives will get this year. But, Smith pointed out, they can always be put back on next year’s session without being formally reintroduced. Portfolio standard is an “artificial subsidy”Maine has a two-tier renewable portfolio standard that separates renewable energy sources into two classes, Smith explained. Class 1 includes energy projects that existed prior to 2005 or 2006, such as combined-heat-and-power plants and waste-to-energy facilities. Class 2 includes solar, wind, small hydro, and biomass.Maine utilities are now required to purchase an increasing amount of the electricity they sell from Class 2 sources, rising to 10% by 2017.“What has actually happened in Maine is that over 50% of our electricity is already generated from renewable sources,” Smith said. “We have one of the cleanest, the second cleanest, [mix] in the nation as far as electricity generation already.”The real driver of renewable investment in the state, she said, is the demand from southern New England, where the prices for renewable energy certificates (or RECs) are higher.“A wind project in Maine,” she said, “they’re selling their RECs in Massachusetts or Connecticut. They’re not even using our market. We have this artificial, so to speak, subsidy that is not achieving the goal of driving renewable energy investment in Maine.”Smith said the renewable portfolio standard costs Maine ratepayers millions of dollars a year.last_img read more

Grizzlies Devour The Knicks, 105-83

first_imgMEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mike Conley knew how important it was for the Memphis Grizzlies to start the second half aggressively against the depleted New York Knicks.After injury-ravaged New York stayed close in the first half, and even took a brief lead, the Grizzlies pulled away and handed the Knicks yet another loss.Conley scored 14 of his game-high 22 points in the third quarter, and the Grizzlies beat New York 105-83 on Jan. 5, sending the Knicks to their record-tying 12th straight defeat.“It was very important we didn’t come out and ease into the (third) quarter,” Conley said. “We really took it upon ourselves to come out and play team defense and play aggressive defense.”Tony Allen forced four of his game-high seven steals in the quarter to pace the defense, which forced nine turnovers in the period.“Tony got going with all those steals, and that always sparks us a little bit,” Conley said. “Guys were also making shots on the offensive end and we were getting layups.”The Grizzlies led by 11 at the half and pulled away in the third quarter behind Courtney Lee and Conley.Lee scored all 11 of his points in the first seven minutes of the frame. Conley made both of his 3-pointers in the period, and the Grizzlies built a 22-point lead entering the fourth.The Knicks (5-32), who have the NBA’s worst winning percentage, lost for the 22nd time in 23 games.Reserve forward Quincy Acy led the Knicks with 19 points, and Jose Calderon added 13.New York played without injured starters Carmelo Anthony and Amare’ Stoudemire. The Knicks were also missing J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, who were sent to the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of a three-team trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder.Knicks coach Derek Fisher said the trade created a difficult pregame environment and even more challenges during the game.“We had to make some adjustments in terms of things we could do offensively and defensively,” Fisher said. “You saw us play some zone, which we hadn’t done before.“In some spurts it was effective, but overall, the nine guys that went out there, I thought they were trying their best. Memphis was the better team.”The Cavaliers sent reserves Lou Amundson and Alex Kirk and their 2019 second-round pick to the Knicks, who are desperate to clear salary-cap space.New York also received forward Lance Thomas from Oklahoma City.Fisher called it a strange pregame setting. “I can honestly say I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced it as a player where you’re right before tipoff and a teammate is not right there with you,” he said.The deal forced guard Tim Hardaway Jr. to play small forward. He finished with 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting.“It’s tough,” he said of the trade. “But you still have to go out there and give it your all and compete.”Allen and Marc Gasol added 14 points apiece for the Grizzlies, who rested their starters for most of the final period.Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said he found out about the trade about 12 minutes before tipoff, and adjusted his lineup and the matchups accordingly.The Knicks fell behind by 12 in the first quarter, but recovered to take leads of 27-26 and 29-26 midway through the second after successive baskets by Calderon.Calderon’s 3-pointer gave the Knicks their first lead, and he followed with a 20-foot jumper on the next possession.The Grizzlies recovered in the final six minutes of the quarter. Vince Carter sparked a 21-7 run, starting with a 3-pointer to tie it 29-29. He closed the spurt with a 3-pointer to give the Grizzlies a 47-36 lead at halftime.Tayshaun Prince had eight points in between, including six straight before Carter’s finishing 3.New York shot 33 percent in the first half, including 26 percent in the opening quarter. The Knicks finished at 43 percent. Memphis shot 45 percent in the first half and 52 percent for the game.(PHIL STUKENBORG)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

John Stamos Features In Dog Adoption Campaign

first_imgJohn Stamos is getting a big kiss — from a canine pal! It’s all part of the Scream Queens star’s new PETA campaign, which proclaims, “Adoption Is Love. Begin a Lifelong Friendship at Your Local Animal Shelter.”John Stamos PETA AdThe ad was shot by top celebrity photographer Brian Bowen Smith.“I couldn’t ask for more devoted companions than my dogs Lilo and Frieda, who are always ready to play, snuggle, and keep my spirits up,” says Stamos. “PETA and I encourage people to find the love of their lives at their local animal shelter.”Not every dog is as lucky as Lilo and Frieda. Every year, more than 6 million dogs and cats end up in U.S. animal shelters, and half of them have to be euthanized because there aren’t enough good homes for them. Countless more end up on the street, where they may starve, freeze, get hit by cars, or endure abuse.That’s why Stamos and PETA — whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way” — encourage caring people to adopt from local animal shelters and never buy from breeders or pet stores, which only exacerbate the homeless-animal overpopulation crisis.last_img read more

Rep Iden Help create Michigan jobs by improving business climate

first_img08Feb Rep. Iden: Help create Michigan jobs by improving business climate Michigan can continue its economic comeback with a renewed push to reduce the regulatory burden on business, Rep. Brandt Iden said today.Iden, after his first meeting as chair of the House Regulatory Reform Committee, said the panel will have a sharp focus on continued job growth during the 2017-18 session of the Michigan Legislature.“As we look forward to the next two years, my priorities will be to make sure we’re cutting regulations and red tape for businesses,” said Iden, of Oshtemo. “Michigan continues to grow. We’re the ‘Comeback State.’ And it’s incredibly important that we continually strive to ensure business growth.“We need to create more and better jobs, and the way to do that is to ease regulatory burdens on our businesses. So every time a piece of legislation comes before this committee, that’s what we’ll be looking at: Will this help business, will this help people, and will this help Michigan?” Categories: Iden News,Newscenter_img ###last_img read more

Russian broadcast infrastructure provider RTRS has

first_imgRussian broadcast infrastructure provider RTRS has started test broadcasting digital-terrestrial TV services in the Irkutsk region in Siberia.According to RTRS, digital broadcasting currently covers 43.8% of the population of the region, with full transition to digital planned for 2013.last_img