This Nigerian Song Calling Out 'Perverted Uncles' Is Blowing Up

24-year-old Teniola Apata is the voice behind the new single “Fargin,” a song that's blessing airwaves across the U.S. and Nigeria.

24-year-old Teniola Apata is the voice behind the new single “Fargin,” a song that's been blessing the airwaves both in the U.S. and in Nigeria.

The Lagosian singer, songwriter and entertainer came to America to study pharmacy, but that wasn’t quite where her heart was. Her little sister told her that people only care when you do something you love, so Teni pursued her passion in music. When Teni was 7, she played drums for governors at festivals, so music's always been in her DNA.

Teni made a name for herself on YouTube 5 years ago, where she performed comedy just to get comfortable on screen. Her fans loved it, but they liked it even more when she sang. So Teni incorporated her voice into her videos and her fans were hooked.

We talked with Teni to learn more about her art, how her song "Fargin" came about and what her next plan are in terms of music.

What does "Fargin" mean and how did it come about?

"Fargin" is "Virgin" said with a Yoruba accent. I was bored one day and freestyled off my friend’s phone and that was it. Fargin is a common Nigerian conversation of men trying to seduce young girl into sex. But honestly, this song is about sex education and rape culture in the African community. I want to inspire women to be confident in being virgins, it’s okay to wait. It’s okay to practice safe sex even if it’s not cool. I hope when young girls hear this song, they understand that they don’t have to be pressured to have unprotected sex. I’m a virgin and I’m very proud of that.

How did the song start spreading on social media?

I’ve been doing comedy for some time on Instagram and YouTube so when I started to sing, people took note of that. I posted the Fargin video on Instagram first and it went viral. It has over 153,000 views and counting currently, then it spread to Twitter and Facebook. Falz posted it then small doc followed and the rest was history. I would say with social media, it’s a matter of consistency and putting yourself out there. Something is bound to take off. I believe that once you open your mouth to ask God for something, it’s a matter time before he gives it to you.

What is what advice you would give to people hustling out there?

Put God first, I know it sounds cliche but that’s how it all happened. I remember being confused on my major, pursuing music and I just humbled myself before God and it all happened. One thing I’ll say is that success is psychological. The world is a jungle and we’re all like animals. Learn how to strategize, build with a team of people that have vision and share the same vision as you. Surround yourself with people that balance you and the ones that give and show you the most patience. Being a team player goes a long way because when you win, they win-that’s true success to me.

What’s next for you?

Move back to Nigeria and take off.

Who are some people that inspire you?

I listen to a lot of old music. Bright Chimezie, Sunny Bobo, Femi Kuti.

What is the goal of your music and things you sing about?

I want people to find joy, hope, peace within. I want to inspire people to chase their dreams because it takes one person to break something and you could be that person. I remember feeling down and music being what lifted my spirit

Who are some artists you would love to work with?

Salawa Abeni, King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal and Wizkid.

Photo: courtesy of Natsai Audrey Chieza

100 Women: Natsai Audrey Chieza is Changing the World One Petri Dish at a Time

Her interdisciplinary approach to biology and fashion has sparked conversation about the future of sustainability and pollution in textile manufacturing.

The bold jewel tones of OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree Natsai Audrey Chieza's silk scarves aren't the product of hazardous chemicals or silkscreen printing. Instead, they are the product of bacteria. Specifically coelicolor, a strain of bacteria found in soil that happens to excellently synthesize organic chemical compounds. Working in the trade for six years, the Zimbabwean materials designer quickly came to understand why the textile industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Knowing that the most harm occurs during the process of dyeing fabrics, she decided to take action.

Chieza has worked with leading brands such as Microsoft, Nissan, and Unilever to usher in a new approach to science and design. Through her creative R&D; studio Faber Futures, the design innovator uses the process of creating with bacteria to assist in moving mankind away from our fossil fuel dependency. As the biopigment expert put it [last year during her TED talk "Fashion has a pollution problem—can biology fix it?"], in the future we must make sure that we are not "mirroring the destructive legacies of the oil age."

Her interdisciplinary approach to biology and fashion has sparked spirited conversation about the future of sustainability and pollution in textiles. Here, Chieza expounds on her start, the pros and cons of creating something new and the urgency of change.

The following has been edited for length and clarity

Akinyi Ochieng for OkayAfrica: STEM and the arts are often conceptualized as separate worlds. However, in your career, you've managed to find the overlap. How did you, a materials designer, end up dabbling in biotechnology?

Natsai Audrey Chieza: I've always really wanted to work within the creative field. I used to work in architecture where I really enjoyed my education in a systems approach to designs and designing for multiple contexts. But I wanted to explore a different side of the design world, so I began exploring the skill and context of material flows, and how technology and futures fits within this framework of how we design.

For my own work and my practice, not having a scientific background made me try things based on what I understood about materials and what I understood about the interactions in which those materials existed in society. I'm interested in a political lens, an economic lens, and how textiles perform in reality. That's not necessarily the approach that a scientist would have taken. Now that's not to say that science isn't important—it's vital. But innovation can occur in that intersection.

Did you go into this thinking, "Oh, I'll figure it out. There must be a path to make this work"?

To be honest, when I started off, the field was not defined. I think I found something really interesting, which was about how biology was becoming a realm of design, and I just explored that as best as I knew how as a designer and non-scientist. It just so happened that around me there was a context that was imagined but enabled me six years later to say, "That's the industry where this work belongs" and stakeholders who give me a space to further my work in a creative and experimental. The path was never anything clear at all. I learned as I grew.

There's a phrase that is often repeated today: "You can't be what you can't see." But you have really created a niche for yourself. What are the benefits of entering an emerging space?

I think what's amazing is not having anyone or anything telling you that what you think is impossible. If you're carving a new territory then you must trust in your instinct and vision to effectively push where the work can be and where it exists. You're not asking permission to do anything. Of course the flip side of that is you have to bring people with you, and so part of you being able to do the work is convincing people that your vision has legitimacy and it's worth exploring, worth taking a risk to look outside of that box.

It's often quite challenging to figure out how to find the strength to push something that hasn't been done before. There's no precedent or rulebook to my work, but sometimes it's really nice to have a rulebook. [Laughs] However, I think it's made me a person who doesn't see challenges as obstacles that are in the way, but more as problems that can be solved. And I think that's the good thing.

Much of your work is about biopigments. What color excites you?

It's not really the colors that excite me. It's color as a cultural context that really fascinates me. I'm really interested in if a microbe is almost like this living factory that produces this pigment, and the technology can be shared and deployed with people as to how you work with it across the world, then what are the cultural interventions that can happen in South Africa versus in Argentina versus in the United Kingdom, based on this common microbe. I think that's always been what interests me the most, the context in which our materials exist. I think a really good example is indigo, and how from Japan to West Africa, indigo is just this really, really rich material, and the process and the craftsmanship that goes into it. I'm interested to see how the future ecology of making arises in response to biotechnologies across the world.

Where do you see yourself and your work evolving in the near or long term?

I'm sort of going through that growth moment where you've been working toward something and then you've arrived at that and you're like, "Right, what's next?" I think I'm fundamentally somebody that wants to use design as a discursive tool to understand how our technologies proliferate. My focus is really on the imagined life sciences and how they're going to become very much a part of all of our lived experiences, and particularly in the context of really urgent changes that are happening from a local level to a global level. From global warming and climate change to resource scarcity across regions, our response to what I think being able to design with living systems, can afford us in the future. So my work really is about understanding how to engage stakeholders across different sectors to grow a consensus around how we're going to leverage these sorts of technologies so that they can be technologies for good. That's really where this is going.

This article appears as part of OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2018—a project highlighting the impactful work done by African women across the globe. Throughout March, we will be publishing a series of profiles, videos, interviews and feature stories on these inspirational women.

Click here to see the entire list of 2018 honorees.

Maia & The Big Sky LP cover.

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The Nairobi-based artist is now sharing the new music video for "Pawa," the album's leading track, which we're premiering here today. Directed by Chris King, the beautiful new clip sees Maia & the Big Sky taking over the TV airwaves and minds of all of those watching, freeing them from the "power" that controls them.

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Photo: Mídia NINJA

The Assassination of Marielle Franco and the Dawn of Brazil's New Civil Rights Movement

Marielle Franco was one of a new generation of black activists trying to overturn Brazil's entrenched and violent racism

The violence in Rio de Janeiro right now is akin to a war zone, with per capita death tolls resembling those from Afghanistan and Syria. Two weeks ago I traveled there for business and stayed in the relatively safe and trendy neighborhood of Santa Teresa. Each night of my stay, was abruptly awaken by long streams of gunshots and also fireworks from the nearby favela of Falett. The fireworks—as I learned from my local friends—were not a result of any celebration, rather a signal that either drugs, guns, or the police have arrived. This is the norm for many of the 763 favelas in Rio which houses nearly 25 percent of the city's population.

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