It happened twice, first we had a package arrive on somebody's birthday, then we had one arrive a month later just before Christmas. The contents of these packages sent to us from South Africa would keep us smiling for days and weeks on end.
First to arrive was 'AFRO-'. We had been hearing about this 'magazine' for quite a while and couldn't wait to get our hands on a copy before any one else. The 'magazine' pushes design to the limit with the most advanced graphological layout I have ever seen on an african publication. The 'pages' of this full colour 'magazine' are all loosly stacked on top of each other and then wrapped into a little square package. Just imagine a little gift package with wrapping paper around it. You open the package and boom! You are confronted with words, images, image-words, text-art, and great design. Text that is laid out in such a way that it makes easy reading a challenge if not impossible.
The magazine features articles and photography from across the continent's various countries with some of the pages of the magazine folding out to poster size. The text for the poetry and articles that touch on subjects ranging from hip-hop culture, Bollywood in Nigeria, African poetic styles, drugs and Hiv/aids to Senegalese wrestling, are formed into various shapes, similar to ASCII
art pictures. It is clear that a few artists' minds were responsible for this concept. Football and war imagery play a big part in the overall design and theme of this first issue, a reflection of the concerns that many Africans have.
In contrast, Levitation magazine comes in the standard rectangular magazine format that we are all used to. It promotes itself as an independent, street level media outlet with revolutionary aims. Articles inside this first issue include a focus on the power of youth, hip-hop as a social movement, vegetarianism and hiv/aids, but the content also switches to fashion, a six page full colour graffiti section, and a few in-depth interviews with local hip-hop heads. The magazine focusses primarily on South African hip-hop but there are also articles on hip-hop culture in other parts of the continent. The editors also state that they hope for it to become a platform for African youth to express themselves through which ever mediums you can put on a page.
What is phenomenal about these magazines is the fact that they were both produced and distributed independently with little, in the case of AFRO-, and no corporate sponsorship in the case of Levitation. My only hope is that these magazines receive proper advertising or sponsorship because you can't drive without gas.
If you would like to purchase copies or contribute to these magazines, you can drop them a line via e-mail: