And welcome to the Cultural Reads Newsletter with book, music, and movie recommendations from around the world.
In this week’s newsletter: Afrobeats, Worldwide Food, Indigenous Voices, Malian Concert & Brazilian Psychiatric Wards.
It was my first bachelor party in Nigeria, and I didn’t know what to expect.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“We’ll take you to Fela’s shrine.”
A shrine? I thought. Aren’t we supposed to go to a party?
Just trust us, you’ll like it, they replied – apparently reading my thoughts.
Just trust us usually means two things: (1) This is going to be amazing! or (2) this will be a disaster.
As we passed under a red and white lever, entering a street considered private property, I hoped it’d be option 1.
I followed them into one of the houses, and after being searched by a giant security guy dressed in black, we entered a massive crowd of Nigerians gathered on blue plastic chairs in front of an impressive stage.
If we’re lucky, we’ll see some of his kids perform tonight. Oh, and by the way, there are no rules here because the police aren’t allowed in.
There are no rules, usually means the same as just trust us. My hopes were still on option 1 (“This is going to be amazing”)
Not long after, the beer started flowing, and one of Fela’s sons hit the first tones on his saxophone.
That’s when I realized I made the right decision going in.
Only later I grasped the full impact of this night. I had visited Fela Kuti’s shrine – the godfather of Afrobeats.
If you are just as unaware of Fela’s achievements as I was, this is your chance to change that.
Just check out my post about Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti and the best Afrobeat artists!
Do you consider yourself a foodie?
If yes, you should check out Mark Wiens’ Youtube Channel.
Mark travels the world in search of the best dishes from each country and region.
He’s definitely onto something, with almost 10 million subscribers.
This might have been the best concert I have ever visited.
I’ve been a big fan of Malian music – I mean, who isn’t – and heard many stories about Fatoumata’s mesmerizing performances and voodoo dances.
Last week, I finally had a chance to experience it, and oh boy, was it good.
Fatoumata fled Mali to escape an arranged marriage.
She uses her music to fight for women’s justice and to preserve Mali’s rich culture and traditions.
If you ever have a chance to see her perform, please do.
To know more about Mali music, check out these Malian musicians or the Desert Blues.
All Dogs Are Blue is a truly exceptional read.
Its author, Rodrigo de Souza Leão, spent much of his life in a psychiatric hospital in Rio de Janeiro, grappling with mental illness.
In All Dogs Are Blue, he explores identity, madness, and the search for meaning in a chaotic world.
It provides a distinct insight into the life of someone with mental disorders.
It’s raw, funny, and honest, naturally blurring the line between reality and delusion.
When reading All Dogs Are Blue, I accidentally encountered the Brazilian movie Brainstorm.
The movie explores the same theme (Brazilian mental institutions) but from a different angle.
Brainstorm is based on a true story of a young man unjustly committed to a psychiatric hospital despite being completely healthy.
Due to a corrupt health system, mental institutions tried to keep people there as long as possible and subjected patients to abuse and torture. As a result, many patients came out sicker than they were before being submitted.
You can find the movie for free on Youtube.