Mississippi in Africa

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Here’s another book that caught my eye. I saw ‘Mississippi in Africa: The Saga of the Slaves of Prospect Hill Plantation and Their Legacy in Liberia Today‘ in a book store yesterday. After a quick glance I knew I had to read it. (There are NEW copies available in Amazon’s marketplace for $1.81 right now… you’ve gotta love the internet!) Here’s what it’s about (via the book’s official site):

The gripping story of two hundred freed Mississippi slaves who sailed to Liberia to build a new colony—where the colonists’ repression of the native tribes would beget a tragic cycle of violence.

When a wealthy Mississippi cotton planter named Isaac Ross died in 1836, his will decreed that his plantation, Prospect Hill, should be liquidated and the proceeds from the sale be used to pay for his slaves’ passage to the newly established colony of Liberia in western Africa. Ross’s heirs contested the will for more than a decade in the state courts and legislature—prompting a deadly revolt in which a group of slaves burned Ross’s mansion to the ground—but the will was ultimately upheld. The slaves then emigrated to their new home, where they battled the local tribes and built vast plantations with Greek Revival mansions in a region the Americo-Africans renamed “Mississippi in Africa.” The seeds of resentment sown over a century of cultural conflict between the colonists and tribal peoples would explode in the late twentieth century, begetting a civil war that rages in Liberia to this day.

In the award-winning tradition of Slaves in the Family, this enthralling work traces an epic legacy that sweeps from the slave quarters of the antebellum South to the war-ravaged streets of modern-day Monrovia. Tracking down Prospect Hill’s living descendants, deciphering a history ruled by rumor, and delivering the complete chronicle in riveting prose, journalist Alan Huffman has rescued a lost chapter of American history whose aftermath is far from over.

Hip-Hop Planet

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I saw a review of ‘Where You’re At: Notes From the Frontline of a Hip-Hop Planet‘ in the AJC last week and had to add it to my list of books to read. I’ve always been fascinated by how popular hip-hop is in other countries so this should be a fun read for me. The AJC’s review follow:

BOOKS: Global tour of hip-hop changes outlook
John Freeman – For the Journal-Constitution
Sunday, August 29, 2004

NONFICTION

Where You’re At: Notes From the Frontline of a Hip-Hop Planet. By Patrick Neate. Riverhead Books. $14 paperback. 274 pages.

The verdict: A hip, lively travelogue across cultures.

Several years ago British novelist Patrick Neate (“Twelve Bar Blues”) stumbled into a Tokyo dance club called Harlem, where African men posing as black Americans danced with Japanese girls who had tanned their skin almost charcoal — to look black, of course. The music they were listening to was American hip-hop.

As Neate discovers in “Where You’re At,” hip-hop often leads to such cultural cross-dressing. Neate, a white Londoner who studied at Cambridge University and learned to spin tracks in Africa, is a walking example of why authenticity is a slippery term in the hip-hop world. He finds all kinds of definitions for it in this lively travelogue, which chronicles his travels to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; New York; Johannesburg and Cape Town, talking to DJs named Herb and bopping his head to South African bubble gum (early ’90s disco pop).

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