The Lost Jews of Nigeria

Nigeria isn’t just the most populous nation in Africa; over the past few decades, as Samanth Subramanian details in this sprawling travelog, it’s become home to the largest community of Jews in the sub-Saharan part of the continent. But while this burgeoning community may not yet have Israel’s official recognition, its faith isn’t just syncretic — it’s as searching and adaptable as Judaism always has been.

During Rosh Hashanah, when the shofar – the ram’s horn – had to be blown to inaugurate the new year, no one knew what sound to produce. A single, long blast? Several short ones? (Later, an audio tape arrived from overseas to solve that dilemma.) When Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, came around, and when Ben Avraham still owned no siddur, they read from the Book of Lamentations instead, because it felt appropriately bleak. On Hanukah, they lacked a dreidel, the four-sided spinning top that is part of a game played during the festival. “Instead,” Ben Avraham said, “we used the lid from a pen.”

Source: The Guardian
Published: Apr 26, 2022
Length: 26 minutes (6,635 words)

The Rich Versus the Very, Very Rich

“When a Chinese billionaire bought one of Britain’s most prestigious golf clubs in 2015, dentists and estate agents were confronted with the unsentimental force of globalized capital.”

Source: The Guardian
Published: Mar 2, 2021
Length: 22 minutes (5,700 words)

Data Disappeared

Over nearly four years, the Trump administration has” defunded, buried, and constrained dozens of federal research and data collection projects across multiple agencies and spheres of policy: environment, agriculture, labor, health, immigration, energy, the census.” This is an accounting of the damage.

Published: Oct 29, 2020
Length: 46 minutes (11,700 words)

Inside the Airline Industry’s Meltdown

“Coronavirus has hit few sectors harder than air travel, wiping out tens of thousands of jobs and uncountable billions in revenue.”

Source: The Guardian
Published: Sep 29, 2020
Length: 23 minutes (5,860 words)

Question Time: My Life as a Quiz Obsessive

From India and Ireland to the U.S., quiz tournaments are enduringly popular even — if not especially — as information has become more accessible than ever.

Source: The Guardian
Published: Jan 28, 2020
Length: 24 minutes (6,084 words)

A Port In a Storm

When the village of Portpatrick, Scotland formed a trust to protect its harbor from further decay and outside ownership, a financial scandal forced the village to try a very different type of ownership model, a truly equitable one, called community shares. This model would be difficult in capitalist America.

Published: Apr 1, 2018
Length: 24 minutes (6,210 words)

How to Sell a Country: The Booming Business of Nation Branding

What do you know about Minsk, the capital of Belarus? Or the nation of Georgia? If you know anything, it’s either a oversimplification like ‘danger’ or ‘forested’ or an enticing tagline about wine and prosperity. An entire niche industry helps create identities, sometimes to attract tourists, sometimes, as with Libya, to scrub its image clean.

Source: The Guardian
Published: Nov 7, 2017
Length: 23 minutes (5,810 words)

Buck to the Future: Why the High-Tech Ideas of Buckminster Fuller Are Back In Vogue

He’s a forgotten hippie idol, a sage of 1960s counterculture. What can we learn from Bucky Fuller’s faith in technology?

Source: Aeon
Published: Oct 25, 2016
Length: 12 minutes (3,049 words)

Unraveling the Mysteries of Our Grandparents’ Lives

After his grandfather’s death, Samanth Subramanian attempts to piece together what he did not know about the man’s past—and understand why he hadn’t sought out the information earlier:

Given all this, I now wonder, why did I fail to learn more about him? It is true that, for all the diligence my family has expended on passing down the rituals of our religion, it has never been as attentive to personal histories; I know absolutely nothing about my eight great-grandparents except for the name of one of them. Even so, my grandfather always felt like a special case — less a real person than a character pulled out of a fable, his abilities and his flaws both immensely larger than life, and his past obscured as much by my own ignorance as by the half-truths and legends that swirl around him.

Source: Aeon
Published: Oct 26, 2013
Length: 11 minutes (2,900 words)