Op-Ed

100 Women Letter From the Editor

OkayAfrica's Editor in Chief Rachel Hislop tells us what 100 Women 2019 means to her.

Every time I reflect on my career in journalism, a memory close enough to touch reappears. The feel of the smooth glossy paper under my index finger while I sat, legs folded, on the iron-burned carpet in the Brooklyn bedroom I shared with my sister is still palpable. I would run my finger down the magazine mastheads, reading every name and corresponding title as I tried to imagine what their jobs entailed. This was long before we had access to content in a digital space. There wasn't a quick place for me to explore the world that existed within the binds of a magazine, so I assumed this space was out of reach.


The Internet is a hard place to come of age. It's an even harder place to grow up. And for Black women, it is a minefield of volatility to navigate. Digital spaces allow us to partake in global connectivity in the most beautiful of ways. But for all we love of the Internet, it magnifies the traditional norms of masculinity and femininity that can hold us back. This tends to mute the voices of brilliant women who are afraid of using this space as an amplification of the amazing work they are doing.

We're here to be that megaphone with OkayAfrica's 100 Women.

When we sat down in September of 2018 to begin planning for this year's list, the first and only focus that came up was the youth. The web has allowed youth to tell their stories in a way that was unfathomable to me as a young girl marveling at the pages of print magazines. They are using the Internet to activate as creatives, artists, organizers, personalities; they are eschewing the expected career routes, and even using their platforms to breathe new life into traditional practices across the board.

And the rest of us? Our role is to celebrate, amplify and support. This year's 100 Women list celebrates not only the youth, but the women amongst us who are doing the work to ensure that the lessons they've learned provide a clear pathway where they were once blocked. And with the youngest population in the world, Africa's youth is quite literally the future. If there is going to be any actionable change in the fate of the youth on the continent and the diaspora, we must turn our heads to not only acknowledge them, but to also do work to amplify their passions, provide them with resources, and eliminate the barriers that they may face.

If you've followed the campaign in years past you'll notice that we've made a few intentional changes. Our goal was not to simply create a list, our goal is to create a community of women who share a distinct honor. We have eliminated categories and leaned heavily into the ease of exploration. On each woman's bio page you will find two suggestions for other women to explore, women who may work in different industries but share similar stories. I implore you to re-visit the space throughout the month as it is updated with new information.

We will also be programming 100 Women throughout the month of March, so keep your eyes open for new updates.

And lastly, to that young girl who may not be flipping through glossy pages as I once did, but who may scroll on our site, I hope you use this list as a starting point in the exploration of your possibilities. As a first-generation Cape Verdean-Jamaican girl from Brooklyn, New York, it took me a while to find a multi-hyphenate woman I could relate to. But I sincerely hope someone, somewhere, can find inspiration in at least one of the dynamic, brilliant, and nuanced women on this list.

Wishing you a Women's History Month filled with meaningful connections.

Warmly,

Rachel Hislop

Editor-in-Chief

OkayAfrica + Okayplayer

P.S. OkayAfrica's 100 Women is a project for women by women, so I would be remiss if I didn't provide a special thanks to the women who graciously lent their gifts to this project. Alone we are mighty, but when we come together we can shake the globe.

popular

The Funána Revolt in 1990s Cabo Verde

In 1997, an "earthquake shook [Cabo Verde]," as a national newspaper wrote, when a group of youths calling themselves Ferro Gaita "dared to make a disc based on the gaita, ferrinho and bass guitar."

Vik Sohonie, founder of Ostinato Records, tells us the background on his latest compilation release, Pour Me A Grog: The Funána Revolt in 1990s Cabo Verde.

In the 1950s, a few young men, known as Badius, embarked on a nearly 2,500-mile (4000 km) journey from the northern rural interior of Cabo Verde's Santiago Island to the island of São Tomé off the Atlantic coast of central Africa. Incredibly, they made the arduous journey not to earn a better living or send money back home—but to simply buy an accordion, locally known as a gaita. They would work years in harsh conditions to earn enough to buy the instrument and a few more years to buy a ticket back to Santiago.

Returning home, they slowly formed an elite class of self-taught gaita players who achieved a status similar to the griots of West Africa: venerated: wise elderly men archiving Badiu history in their diatonic button accordions. The gaita became the maximum expression of Badiu identity, one defined over centuries by a persistent culture of revolt and rebellion against domination and injustice. In a land lacking electricity, the acoustic instrument is king.

Keep reading... Show less
Interview
Photo: OJOZ. Courtesy of Mayra Andrade.

Mayra Andrade Is Bringing Cape Verdean Music Forward

We talk to the singer about her latest album, Manga, which offers a fresh pop take on Cape Verdean sounds.

Mayra Andrade is something of a musical mermaid. Now living in Lisbon, the Cape Verdean pop singer firmly plants one half of herself in her mother island while the other swims into sounds from beyond. Her fifth and most recent album, Manga, released in February, is a fresh take on old styles.

Andrade has always lovingly trespassed the stodgy borders of traditional Cape Verdean music. Manga takes it further, hitting up the ranks of West African pop and Lisbon's Afro-Portuguese dance music for inspiration. It's gorgeous and minimal, sing-able and danceable for any body. Manga also reminds Cape Verde of something that it – and the wider world—sometimes forgets: that it's an African country interwoven with its neighbors.

Cape Verde's traditional music is global, but its pop music rarely reaches outside the Lusophone world. Mayra Andrade, sharpening her country's cutting edge, should be counted as one of the best pop artists in West Africa, not just Cape Verde. As she says, her latest album Manga is speaking to her fans like nothing else in her 19-year career. The recent video for her song "Pull Up," shot in Paris and Dakar, features dance crews whose brazen moves mirror the message: "Let me be free to be what I really am."

Andrade spoke with OkayAfrica at the Atlantic Music Expo in Praia, Cape Verde, the day before her first homecoming concert for Manga.

Keep reading... Show less
Interview
Merry-Lynn. Photo courtesy of the artist.

You Need This Merry-Lynn EP In Your Life

Interview: Rising R&B newcomer Merry-Lynn's Petrichor EP is a breath of fresh air.

Iyere-Eke Merrylynn Ehinomen, also known as Merry-Lynn, is a rising singer and songwriter based in Abuja, Nigeria. She recently released her debut EP, Petrichor, which presents a masterful blend of reggae and R&B with a modern twist across its six tracks.

Drawing you in with its resonant bass line and alluring vocals, EP opener "Skin," is a major head-bopper. Merry-Lynn pours her heart out over the rippling guitar chords singing "When you gonna call me baby?/ Or don't you think about me lately?" Before you know it you're midway through the sultry and euphoric cut, "Temptation," and fully locked-in to this musical experience.

In "Boy Tears" the young singer, who was born in 1997, graces us with vivid lyricism and audacious delivery as she rhymes "too" and "fooled," enriching each line with subtle nuance. She also enlists Nigerian hitmaker King Perryy on the melancholic heartbreak tune "911"—a remixed version of the original track that was released earlier in the year

Merry-Lynn's decision to work exclusively with Nigerian producer Veen on the project seemingly enabled her to truly experiment and find the distinctive sound that sets her apart from the crowd. Emotionally rich and enlightened, this tape is a smooth sonic ride for any lover of good music. There's no doubt that, with Petrichor, Merry-Lynn has delivered a reliably-solid debut.

We got to know the R&B newcomer a little bit more in a recent interview below.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Tiwa Savage "Owo Mi Da" cover.

Tiwa Savage Drops Two New Songs 'Owo Mi Da' & 'Attention'

The Nigerian star has shared two new bangers—"Owo Mi Da" and "Attention"—a day early due to leaks.

Tiwa Savage has returned with not-one-but-two new singles, "Owo Mi Da" and "Attention."

While the tracks were originally slated to drop tomorrow, Wednesday, the Nigerian superstar rushed released them due to leaks. "You guys couldn't wait na so my songs don leak o .... FUCK IT OUT NOW," Tiwa wrote on her social pages.

The addictive and upbeat "Owo Mi Da" was co-written by fellow Nigerian hitmaker Olamide and produced by Pheelz.

Video: Tiwa Savage On Female Artists Having to Work Twice As Hard

The smoother "Attention" is a song aimed at a man who isn't taking enough notice of his woman. " I guarantee all the ladies will know the lyrics to this one word for word," Tiwa wrote about the track. It was produced by Blaqjerzee.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.