African video subculture?
April 29, 2008 11:52 PM   Subscribe

I remember reading about a subculture of vhs tapes in a northern African country (Ethiopia?), linked to its traditionally oral culture, a resistance movement, and (possibly) Haile Selassie. But it's all jumbled memories, now. Any helpful pointers?
posted by progosk to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There was an article I read online a few months ago (New Yorker? The Morning News? some similar outlet...) about someone's trip to a nothern African country, in which the author came across a florid culture of home-dubbed vhs cassettes (the content of which possibly carrying political undertones) that were exchanged locally (a bit like mixtapes would be in our latitudes), and linked this to their orally-based culture; I might be conflating this with another rather fascinating article regarding the preparations of Emperor Haile Selassie's funeral/reburial (whence Ethiopia).

This is about as specific as my memory will manage - and unfortunately my google-fu isn't cutting it...
posted by progosk at 2:30 AM on April 30, 2008

Well mainstream Christian Ethiopian culture is not, historically speaking, based on oral tradition. This is what confuses me a little about your account. However, there are tribes who are not part of this mainstream tradition, that live in the south of the country so if it is Ethiopia then this area seems the most likely. But then what makes me doubt that it might be Ethiopia at all, is that South Ethiopia is not really a place I would describe as North African and the same goes for the tribes that live their.

Which leaves us looking further north to the Sudan, Somalia or dare we say Eritrea even?
posted by munchbunch at 5:18 AM on April 30, 2008

I don't know if this is related, but I have a cousin who is just about to start working on her dissertation in Nigeria, studying a certain form of very popular and often pirated film that is made with video cameras and distributed on VHS. A search for "Nigeria Video Film" may help you determine if this is the same thing (or may at least provide you with an interesting related topic.)
posted by oblique red at 6:24 AM on April 30, 2008

Forgive my ignorance in matters African, which isn't helping to get to this clear...

I believe it involved a people whose language did not have a written codification. And something to do with a poem or song (possibly regarding subversion or simply independence) that circualted widely via these videotapes.

Thanks for your attemps to decodify my muddle so far...
posted by progosk at 6:55 AM on April 30, 2008

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