News Brief

It's Been 1 Year Since the Grenfell Tower Fire Claimed the Lives of 72 People

The shell of Grenfell Tower was lit green to mark one year since the tragedy as memorials have been held all over London.

Today marks one year since a massive fire took over Grenfell Tower—a social housing building in west London—killing 72 people.

The remnants of the tower was lit green at 12:54 a.m., among other major landmarks around London, in remembrance of the lives lost, NPR reports. It was the moment when the first emergency call was made. A moment of silence was also observed midday.


The tragedy of Grenfell Tower brought to light the poor living conditions residents faced, the slow, distant government response they endured and a long overdue review of building materials in other public housing building across the UK.

The fire started on the lower floors and raced upward, while those trapped on the highest floors were forced to wave whatever they had to get people's attention, screaming for help. Grenfell Tower residents had filed complaints concerning the fire safety of the building only months before the diaster. The building was wrapped in a flammable siding rather than a fire-resistant alternative, according to NPR.

The survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire have had a challenging time starting over because of delays in obtaining replacement housing, despite Prime Minister Theresa May promising the survivors that they would be rehoused within three weeks. BBC reports that only 83 households have been moved to permanent housing—that's fewer than half of those who were evacuated. According to the Kensington and Chelsea Council, the rest of the survivors are still in temporary housing.

As we learned the stories behind the lives cut short in the fire, Khadija Saye, a rising British-Gambian photographer, was among the victims along with her mother.

Her last photographic series, Dwelling: in this space we breahe, explored traditional Gambian spiritual practices and was shown at the 57th Venice Biennale. Her career as an artist was on the brink of flourishing.

Saye was trapped on the 20th floor, posting gut-wrenching Facebook statuses asking her friends and families for their prayers. She was 24-years-old.

Revisit Nigerian poet and novelist Ben Okri's poem dedicated to the memory of the victims below.

Our thoughts are with the Grenfell community as they continue to fight for justice.

Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Emile YX? Wants to 'Reconnect The String'

The father of South African hip-hop's latest book release is here to teach you about the culture.

As a father-figure in South African hip-hop, there's a lot Emile Lester Jansen, aka Emile YX?, knows. He'll also tell you, there's a lot he doesn't. But the knowledge Emile has gained, over his 3 decades in music, he's always tried to share with others. His latest project is no different. The Black Noise founder is working on a book that identifies the similarities between Bushmen expression and hip-hop, and how this knowledge can help empower anyone who has a love of the culture.

The book, which will be called Reconnect The String, comes on the back of this year's 21st anniversary of the African Hip Hop Indaba, one of the landmark hip hop events in Cape Town created by Emile, which has helped many an artist launch their career. As a teacher and a musician, he's long been involved in using hip hop to uplift communities—first through the seminal group Black Noise, founded in the late 1980s, with its rhymes rallying against Apartheid, and then through the Heal the Hood organization, a non-profit that grew out of the group's efforts to use its love of hip hop to fuel youth development initiatives in townships on the Cape Flats.

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Interview
Photo: Nick Beeba

Interview: Sango's ‘Da Rocinha 4’ Is a Polished & Grinding Take On Baile Funk

We speak with the Seattle-based DJ and producer about his new album and the music bridges connecting Brazil, the US and the world.

It's a common joke in Brazil: once three or more Brazilian people gather together, they will start a WhatsApp group. The producer and DJ Kai Wright, who goes by the alias Sango, is well aware of that. While he is giving this interview through a Zoom call, a sound notification pops from his computer. "Do you hear that?" he says, amidst laughs. "It's WhatsApp, this album was made through WhatsApp groups."

Once and for all, Sango is not Brazilian. "I am an ambassador for that sound, but I am a Black American," he says. "That sound" is baile funk, the most prominent Brazilian electronic and popular music of the past decades. Born in Michigan and based in Seattle, Sango became a beacon for a new strain of baile funk around 2012, when he released the album Da Rocinha—a suite that he revisits in his new release, Da Rocinha 4.

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Image supplied by Candice Chirwa.

In Conversation with Candice Chirwa: 'Menstruation is More than Just Bleeding for Seven Days.'

South African activist Candice Chirwa, the 'Minister of Menstruation', speaks to us about what a period-positive world looks like, the challenges menstruators face even in 2020 and her important advocacy work with QRATE.

It's 2020, and naturally, tremendous advancements have been made across various spheres of society. From the prospect of self-driving cars and drones delivering medicines to rural areas to comparatively progressive politics and historic "firsts" for many disenfranchised groups, we've certainly come a long way. However, in the midst of all that progress, there is still one issue which continues to lag behind considerably and consistently, particularly in less developed countries: menstruation.

Candice Chirwa is a young Black woman on a mission to fiercely change the disempowering narratives and taboos that still shroud the issue of menstruation. The 24-year-old South African activist, who is endearingly known as the "Minister of Menstruation" on social media, wants young girls and women to not only accept but embrace their bodies fully in a society that insists on speaking in hushed tones about a perfectly normal biological process. Both Chirwa's research and advocacy work with the UN and her award-winning NGO, QRATE, has focused on dispelling common myths about menstruating, removing the shame and stigma around it and giving menstruators the knowledge and tools they need to navigate their world through impactful workshops.

And when Chirwa isn't collaborating with Lil-Lets, one of the biggest sanitary product brands on the continent, or co-authoring a bad-ass book titled Perils of Patriarchy, she's dominating the TEDx stage and making sure that her audience, no matter how diverse or varied, leaves the room feeling comfortable and courageous enough to boldly shout the word "vagina".

We caught up with Chirwa to discuss what initially compelled her to become a "period-positive" activist, her continued advocacy work with QRATE and what kind of world she imagines for menstruators.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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The Nigerian Army Has Denied Opening of Deadly Fire on #EndSARS Protesters

Despite considerable footage depicting #EndSARS protesters at Lekki Toll Gate having been shot at by security forces, the Nigerian military has denied that they were responsible.