Stories: Arts and Culture

  • Sierra Leone’s Politically Minded Pop Star Captures His Country’s Ear

    When singer Emmerson Bockarie swaggered on stage on a recent evening here, the crowd in front of him seemed to twinkle – hundreds of tiny flames flickering on and off in the balmy darkness. This crowd wasn’t waving lighters or glowing blue cellphones, though, but matches, which flamed and fizzled in rapid bursts so that the venue appeared...

  • Hidden Treasures of a Remote Record Shop

    Batbold Bavuu began collecting records by accident 10 years ago, rescuing them from rubbish bins at the music college where he was a student. Those discs formed the basis of his collection and the inspiration for his new shop, Dund Gol Records. The business started off in the corner of a children's library, tucked away in a tiny area with...

  • Niger Is the Most Amazing Country I Never Expected to Visit

    Chances are you'll never get to go to Niger. I never thought I'd get to go there either. Boaters on the Niger River in Niamey, the country's capital. It's landlocked and mostly desert. The only non-African cities that offer direct flights are Paris and Istanbul. The desert northeast used to get tourists who wanted to...

  • Nepal Connections: Asan Bazaar a Testament to Earthquake’s Upheaval, Nepali Culture

    The choice of left or right makes a world of difference when walking away from the Tibet Guest House in the capital city's famous Thamel district. Turn left, and a spider web of roads wends through a trekker's outdoor mall. Tiny shops spill North Face travel bags and down jackets, Nikon camera lenses and brass Buddha statues, Ghurka...

  • Meet China’s Salman Rushdie

    On a warm late afternoon in June, I sat with Perhat Tursun as he slowly exhaled a puff of smoke from a blue cigarette with shiny gold trim. Arrayed on the pale lace tablecloth before us was an assortment of nuts, sunflower seeds, and wine. The furniture was a muted neo-Victorian, but on the wall behind Perhat hung...

  • Indonesia’s Hidden Beauty

      A wise woman once told me to contribute to society and have an interesting life. She also used to say things like, ‘go outside and play,’ and ‘go to bed.’ I’d say all of those words are sage advice from my mother. I'm photojournalist Carey Wagner, and this week I’m...

  • If You Have a Meeting in Ethiopia, You’d Better Double Check the Time

    Things always get lost in translation. Sometimes, words or phrases just cannot be converted word-for-word from one language to the next. But in most places, the date and the time works pretty much the same all over the world. Not in Ethiopia. There, it’s currently the end of the fifth month of 2007. It isn’t so...

  • New choir brings opera to Mozambique

    A dozen singers belt out Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle in a classroom at the Pedagogical University in Mozambique. The country has just two professional opera singers; this year, the duo are training young Mozambicans to perform a new show based on a book by the country’s most prominent author. International opera performers Stella Mendonça...

  • Maputo Meanderings

    The colonial gaze, a subliminal how-to-vote poster from the government, and the red light district – such was my introduction to Mozambique’s capital. Jane Flood led a city tour for fellows from the International Reporting Project around some of Maputo’s more obscure sites. One of my favourites from the day was this sculpture...

  • Prayer, Techno Music and Skinny Dipping: Celebrating Jewish New Year in Ukraine

    Rabbi Nachman, founder of the Hasidic Breslov movement, taught his followers to vanquish sadness through private prayer and celebration. On his deathbed in 1810, he asked that Jews visit his grave annually to mark Rosh Hashanah. After the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, what had been a trickle of pilgrims exploded into tens of thousands. “Coming here...