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Kenya's Mysterious #EyewitnessChallenge is a Welcome Distraction

We speak with the meme's originator and ask "has Cyrus Kabiru done the #EyewitnessChallenge yet?"

If you hang out on the goofy fringes of Kenyan social media like we do, you will have been inundated with images from the #EyewitnessChallenge, a meme dedicated to mocking a man who shows up at disaster sites with a unique pair of futuristic sunglasses.


It started when Kenyan television news interviewed a man at the scene of the the October 21, Nakuru plane crash. A few days later, the man popped up on TV again as an eyewitness to the car accident that claimed the life of Nyeri Governor, Wahome Gakuri. But rather than dwell on a somewhat creepy coincidence, Kenyans were drawn more to the man's odd choice of facial accessories.

Here's some video of the mystery man:

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OkayAfrica chatted with the meme's originator Nelson Odette, a 29 year old accountant in Kisumu. Going by @jr_odette on Twitter, Odette says he expected the #EyewitnessChallenge to go viral because of its potential to capture the national interest. While he's tried other humorous social media posts before that didn't get shared Odette believes that, "this one did as it offered us some relief from the ongoing politics."

Odette says that the Kenyan electoral dispute and related social upheavals have had an ongoing impact on his life. From a lack of work during the demonstrations to state targeting of people from Odette's Luo community. The stress, in other words, was the perfect setting for a goofball meme. A quick respite from posts about the fight for electoral justice that Odette typically engages in online.

Here's Odette's relatively tame, original contribution to the meme. The "ur-tweet" if you will:

Some of our favorites from the #EyewitnessChallenge:


Has Cyrus Kabiru taken the #EyeWitnessChallenge yet?

In their artful disdain for the mundane, these Kenyan social media artists bring to mind the work of fellow Kenyan, the internationally recognized artist Cyrus Kabiru whose self portraits in elaborate improvised glasses frames adorn many of the world's top art galleries. We can only imagine that Kabiru would have the best addition to the challenge yet.

News

The Ethiopian Government Has Asked Olympic Runner In Exile, Feyisa Lilesa, to Return Home

After two years in exile, the Olympic athlete will return home and receive a "hero's welcome."

Feyisa Lilesa, the Ethiopian runner who went into exile in 2016 after bravely protesting the Ethiopian government's brutal treatment of its Oromo population at the Rio Olympics, has been invited to return to home.

After living in self-imposed exile United States for two years the marathoner, who demonstrated by crossing his fists as he reached the finish line and claimed the silver medal, has been extended an offer to return to his homeland and compete for his country once again by the Ethiopian Athletics Federation and the country's Olympic committee. According to VOA News, the runner will return home in the coming weeks with his wife and children.

"Athlete Feyisa Lilesa has scored great results at the Rio Olympics and other athletics competitions enabling Ethiopia's flag to be hoisted to great heights," read a joint letter from the two athletics organizations.

"We want Lilesa to return to his home country to resume his athletics competition and upon his return we are prepared to give him a hero's welcome."

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Politics
Image via GovernmentZA's Flickr.

Could Justice Finally Be on the Horizon for Marikana Massacre Families?

New evidence suggests that the police intended to kill all along.

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the Marikana Massacre, when 34 mine-workers were gunned down by police after several days of wage disputes at Lonmin Mine in Rustenburg, North West province. New information was recently uncovered that undermines the police's longstanding claim that they acted in self-defence. If anything, it is a glimmer of hope for the families of the victims that remain left behind in the aftermath of that tragedy.

It was the worst mass civilian killing since the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre, where South African protesters were killed for opposing the Apartheid regime. The Marikana Massacre, in contrast, was the tragic consequence of week-long wage disputes and clashes between miners and the South African police.

While media footage appears to show the miners as the victims, police have always argued that they were acting in self defence. Consequently no officers involved have been charged. Instead, the surviving mineworkers face murder charges under the doctrine of common purpose. But unnerving facts have come to light that seem to make the police argument even less likely. This includes the ordering of 4000 rounds of live ammunition and several vans from the mortuary the day before the massacre.

I cannot even begin to unpack my anger and frustration at this terrible irony.

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popular

Remembering Aretha Franklin and Her Heartfelt Connection With Nelson Mandela

In honor of the Queen of Soul's immeasurable impact, we revisit her passionate support of Nelson Mandela, and the anti-apartheid movement, through her musical tributes.

Iconic singer, Aretha Franklin, the "Queen of Soul" passed away on Thursday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 76.

Franklin was considered by many to be the greatest singer of all time. Her influence on popular music cannot be overstated. The legendary artist sold 75 million records and earned 18 Grammys in a career spanning six decades and she was influential in many global social movements as well.

Having been a widely-embraced public figure for so long, Franklin was present for some of the biggest events of the 20th century, including the funeral of Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the release of Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990.

Upon Mandela's release, the singer played a unique role in welcoming him to the States by performing at a freedom rally in his honor in Detroit. Rosa Parks, Jesse Jackson and Stevie Wonder were also in attendance for the historic night. During the celebration, Franklin called the anti-apartheid leader on stage, where he spoke about listening to and appreciating "the Detroit, Motown Sound" while he was in prison.

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