Book covers of 'Thomas Sankara Speaks', 'Freedom is a Constant Struggle' and 'Let My People Go'.

Here are 7 Important Books to Read About the Revolution

Here are 7 Important Books to Read About Revolution

Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane hand-picks 7 books written by Black authors reflecting on the revolution. As there is continued political instability across the African continent (and the world), these books put into words the difficult experiences through which many Black people are living.

Black people are thinkers and have been thinking about change and revolution for a long time. I often return to Audre Lorde whose thinking has shaped me in many ways. In February of 1982, she delivered an address titled Learning from the 60s as part of the celebration of the Malcolm X weekend at Harvard University. In her address, she said that, "As Black people, if there is one thing we can learn from the 60s, it is how infinitely complex any move for liberation must be." In this, Lorde urged us to understand that any move for our liberation is one that is complex.

Reflecting on her words now, we see how they ring true when observing large scale global movements such as #BlackLivesMatter, #EndSARS, #EndAnglophoneCrisis, the global pandemic and several others. These movements have reminded us that the quest for liberation itself is undeniably complex and that it requires us to think quite deeply and sincerely about what liberation actually looks like.

As Lorde says in her speech: "[R]evolution is not a one-time event. It is becoming always vigilant for the smallest opportunity to make a genuine change in established and outgrown responses. For instance, it is learning to address each other's difference with respect." Although books will not lead the revolution, they are our tools to begin to concepetualise what others before us have done and how we can improve on what is already there. These books help us to begin to think and to imagine our freedoms particularly as Black people.

Below is a list of 7 important books written by Black authors about the revolution.

Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane is a South African advocate and co-founder of the literature podcast, Cheeky Natives. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

1. 'How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective' by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Image supplied by Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane.

This book is a collection of interviews featuring the founders of the Collective mainly Barbara Smith, Beverly Smith, Demita Frazier. It also features Alicia Garza, co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter and as a bonus, a comment by Barbara Ransby, who remarks on the creation of the Collective and how it especially inspires her. The Collective was one of the most important organisations to develop out of the anti-racism and women's liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s. The conversations in the book are reflections on the legacy of the Collective with regards to Black feminism and its impact on today's struggles. As Frazier says: "the point of talking about the Collective is not to be nostalgic; rather, we talk about it because Black women are still not free."

2. 'Freedom is a Constant Struggle' by Angela Y. Davis

This is a collection of essays, interviews and speeches by the revolutionary Angela Y. Davis. These musings illuminate the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world. They are a reflection on the importance of Black feminism, intersectionality and prison abolitionism. Davis masterfully discusses the legacies of Black freedom movements. Additionally, she says in an interview with Frank Barat that is included in the book: "I would say that our struggles mature, they produce new ideas, new issues and new terrains on which we engage in the quest for freedom. Like Nelson Mandela, we must be willing to embrace the long walk toward freedom."

3. 'The Black Consciousness Reader' by Baldwin Ndaba, Therese Owen, Masego Panyane, Rabbie Serumula and Janet Smith

Image supplied by Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane.

This book was published in the year of the 40th anniversary of Stephen Bantu Biko's murder. The book is an essential collection of history, interviews and opinions about Black Consciousness. It examines how the proper acknowledgement of Blackness brings a greater love, a broader sweep of heroes and a wider understanding of intellectual and political influences. The book shines a spotlight on other significant Black Consciousness personalities such as Vuyelwa Mashalaba, Assata Shakur, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Onkgopotse Tiro, to name but a few. It is a perfect reading companion for both I Write What I Like and The Testimony of Steve Biko.

4. 'Freedom in Our Lifetime: The Collected Writings of Anton Muziwakhe Lembede' edited by Robert R. Edgar and Luyanda ka Msumza

Anton Lembede was the first president of South Africa's African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL). He was known for this sharp intellect, fiery personality and unwavering commitment to the struggles at hand. This book contributes to the liberation canon by acknowledging Lembede's early contribution to the freedom movement and his passionate and eloquent articulation of the African-centred philosophy he called "Africanism".

​5. 'From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation' by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Image supplied by Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane.

This book is about the historical and contemporary ravages of racism and the persistence of structural inequality including mass incarceration and Black unemployment. Taylor argues that this new struggle against police violence holds the potential to reignite a broader push for Black liberation. Robin D.G Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination, said of the book: "Class Matters! In this clear-eyed, historically informed account of the latest wave of resistance to state violence, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor not only exposes the canard of color-blindness but reveals how structural racism and class oppression are joined at the hip. If today's rebels ever expect to end inequality and racialized state violence, she warns, then capitalism must also end. And that requires forging new solidarities, envisioning a new social and economic order, and pushing a struggle to protect Black lives to its logical conclusion: a revolution capable of transforming the entire nation."

​6. Thomas Sankara Speaks - A collection of selected writings

Sankara says that, "We must dare to invent the future. Everything man is capable of imagining, he can create." It is this call that we must heed––the invention of the future. This requires imagination and as South African Professor Pumla Gqola encourages, it requires that we must do some "dream work". This book brings us Thomas Sankara in his own words. It is a careful selection of his writings and interviews from 1983 until his tragic and untimely assassination in 1987.

​7. 'Let My People Go' by Albert Luthuli

Image supplied by Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane.

Luthuli writes in the preface of the book: "This book is the outcome, after long hesitation on my part, of the urging of my friends. It is true that in the last thirty years I have been increasingly identified with the movement of resistance against oppression by white supremacy in South Africa, until now, I find myself at its head. Nevertheless, I regard my life as one among many, and my role in the resistance as one among many." Luthuli tells the story of the repression and resistance that were to shape the South African political landscape forever: the Defiance Campaign. This was the first mass challenge to the Apartheid regime. he also speaks about the drafting of the Freedom Charter, the infamous Treason Trial and the tragedies of the Sharpville and Langa massacres.

Photo by Robert Okine/Getty Images.

The 30 Best Davido Songs

The essential songs from Nigerian superstar Davido’s broad catalog.

Very few musical acts have been able to succinctly capture the musical zeitgeist of the 2010s (and the eras after) like Davido. With a signature sound that basks in the simple joys of navigating life as a Nigerian, his decade-long career has been marked by songs that provide respite in the face of harsh realities. It does not matter whether fans can relate to his exaggerated, often cheeky lyrics or not; with Davido, there's always a good time to be had.

Since his remarkable arrival on the scene with the Naeto C-assisted "Back When" and the ballsy follow-up "Dami Duro," Davido has remained a consistent figure on the ever-evolving Afrobeats scene. From record-breaking singles and albums to his intrinsic ability to turn every collaboration into a "Davido song,” the singer is one of Afrobeats’ most decorated artists and is capable of creating music that seamlessly transcends into anthem status.

With the release of his long-awaited fourth studio album, Timeless, a record that inserts him back into the conversation after a brief hiatus, we delved into Davido's expansive collection of hits and underrated gems to bring you a list of his most essential songs.

“Back When” with Naeto C

Davido's first official single, "Back When," introduced the world to the teenage producer and singer in 2011. Joining a new wave of artists attempting to reinvent afrobeat for a new generation of internet-driven fans, Davido came in guns blazing with a banger about making it despite coming from nothing, an interesting narrative for an artist who later announced himself as the son of a millionaire. The self-produced track also featured a hard-hitting albeit playful cameo from rapper Naeto C.

“Dami Duro”

Co-produced alongside Shizzi, "Dami Duro" allowed Davido to ditch his initial grass-to-grace narrative for one that felt truer to his public profile. Brilliant, joyous and braggadocious, "Dami Duro" was part-manifesto, part-party anthem, as the young singer loudly declared his intention to change the game while warning anyone who tried to stop him.

“Carolina” with Sauce Kid

Mere months before his debut album hit shelves worldwide, Davido collaborated with Nigerian rapper Sauce Kid (now known as Sinzu) on the Maleek Berry-produced "Carolina" to close out 2011. Combining Sauce Kid's smooth, buttery flow with Davido's signature vocals on an impeccable hook, "Carolina" became a certified hit and one of Afrobeats most enduring collaborations to date.

“All of You”

Coming off a string of successful singles while battling a nepo-baby perception that attempted to box his achievements, Davido had much to prove with his debut album, OBO: The Genesis. Carefully treading the line between obnoxious and self-assured, "All of You", the album's opening track, found Davido confidently declaring his position as one of the best in the game. This was a bold statement from a 19-year-old introducing his first body of work to the world. But looking back at "All of You" over a decade later, young Davido might have been right.


Digging deep into his Yoruba heritage, "Ekuro" finds Davido comparing his relationship to a palm fruit bean as he reassures his muse that their love would remain safe, come rain or sunshine. An underrated gem from his debut album, "Ekuro" was a far departure from the party fire-cracker the world was introduced to on songs like "Back When" and "Dami Duro". However, it lays the foundation for the artist to deliver future romantic classics like "Aye," "If," and "Jowo."


Before TikTok became the Gen Z-oiled machine that turned relatively obscure songs into sped-up chart toppers with choreographed dance challenges, Davido left his imprint on the global dance scene with "Skelewu" — his viral 2013 hit that birthed an even more viral dance of the same name. The Shizzi-produced song and its video helped Davido unlock a new level of Afrobeats influence similar to that of hitmakers like Daddy Showkey, Marvelous Benji, Olu Maintain, and Artquake.


Prior to Davido bragging about being able to provide his muse with the luxury life and everything money can buy on songs like "Fall," "If," and "1Milli," he released 2014’s "Aye.” The track is a folksy pop record, penned by “Mad Over You” singer Runtown, in which Davido sings about love free from the desire for material things. Produced by T-Spize, "Aye" has become a signature Davido song, soundtracking clubs and wedding receptions all over the world.

“Coolest Kids in Africa” with Nasty C

2016 was the undeniable year of trap music takeover. Migrating from dimly lit Atlanta clubs to the top of the charts, songs like Desiigner's "Timmy Turner" and Migos' "Bad and Boujee" became major anthems across the world. Always looking to experiment with the new, Davido enlisted South African rapper Nasty C for the "Coolest Kid in Africa" trap record off his 2016 Son of Mercy EP. Bouncing off each other and twitching typical hip-hop bass to reflect a more African sound, Davido and Nasty C cooked up one of the singer's most experimental songs yet.


Written and produced by Tekno, "If" was the song that started a Davido renaissance, ending the dry spell the singer experienced after the lukewarm reception of his Son of Mercy EP. Often referenced as one of Davido's greatest songs of all time, "If" became somewhat of an unofficial national anthem for Nigerians. The song won Davido a Best African Act of the year award at the MTV Europe Music Awards, inspired a fashion collection with internationally-acclaimed Nigerian designer Orange Culture and helped cement the name of Davido's fan club: The 30 Billion Gang or 30BG.


Loudly regarded as Davido's magnum opus, "Fall" was the song that helped Davido transition from Nigerian musical hero to global superstar. Drawing influences from the trending 2016 synth-based mid-tempo sound popularized by both Runtown's “Mad Over You” and Tekno's “Pana,” Kiddominant's production helped elevate Davido's lyrics about wanting to leave the streets behind for love. "Fall" made history as the longest-charting Nigerian pop song in Billboard history in 2019, way before Nigerians started becoming fixtures on Billboard lists.


Very few songs on Davido's discography are as vulnerable as the 2017 single, "FIA." Diving into the emotions of a man frustrated by his lover's lack of contentment, Davido is in top form here as he toils with the idea of what could've been while making the hard decision to walk away from a love that demands too much of him. In a year that saw Davido establish himself as a maestro of romance with "Fall" and "If," "FIA" felt like a more emotionally grounded exploration of love for the singer.

“Like Dat”

Davido bookended his 2017 hit run with the release of "Like Dat," which followed the success of "If", "Fall", and "FIA." Another collaboration with Shizzi, the song, which was also co-written by Teni, has gained an almost cult-like status, with many referencing "Like Dat" as his best song of that era, despite being deluged by the popularity of the songs that preceded it.


Davido is no stranger to pouring his heart out in a grand attempt to prove his love through music. While bits and pieces of the singer's love life had been fodder for the press since his debut, he finally took creative control of the narrative with the release of "Assurance" in 2018. Taking his relationship public with the Meji Alabi-directed video, Davido's muse finally had a face, with the singer promising a lifetime assurance of his love.

“Divine” with Odunsi The Engine

The release of Odunsi The Engine's 2018 debut album, rare, was pivotal for Nigeria's non-traditional alté movement. The album disrupted the frequency of what Nigerian audiences were used to and was quickly followed by daring projects from Tay Iwar, Lady Donli, and Cruel Santino in 2019. Tapping into the independent Y2K-inspired scene before it filtered into the mainstream, Davido gave his energetic vocals and signature "Shekpe!" adlib to Odunsi's "Divine," a song that converted genre skeptics, and reminded audiences of the possibilities that exist when both the familiar and outlier find a sonic middle ground.

“Blow My Mind” with Chris Brown

After a string of hits teasing his sophomore album, Davido brought on Chris Brown for "Blow My Mind," a sleek vocally-driven R&B love song penned by singer Wurld and produced by long-time collaborator, Shizzi. The song set the tone for the album's final singles, "Risky" featuring Popcan and "Sweet in the Middle" featuring Naira Marley, Wurld, and Zlatan.

“Risky” with Popcaan

Davido brings his signature energy to "Risky," a vibrant and sultry dancehall track, with Popcaan finally getting retribution for his bare-there appearance on Drake's "Controlla.” Speroach Beatz's production on the song elicits images of fluorescent-lit clubs, sweaty bodies and slow seductive whining.

“D&G” with Summer Walker

Making his move to cross over into the international market, Davido collaborated with American singer, Summer Walker on "D&G," a compelling addition to an oeuvre already bursting with incredible love songs.


With Davido, love is not just about committing physically and mentally but also about investing financially. On this Teekay Witty-produced track, Davido is entirely enthralled by his muse, as he asks if one million dollars would be a decent compensation for her attention. "1Milli," off his 2019 album A Good Time, also serves as an unofficial follow-up to 2018's "Assurance."


It would be remiss of anyone to talk about the 2020 #EndSARS movement without acknowledging the role music played in soundtracking and fueling marches scattered across the country. But if there was one song that succinctly captured the palpable tension and general feelings of exhaustion in those two weeks, it was Davido's "Fem". The singer employed the word "fem," which can be translated as "shut up," as a response to his haters. However, when protests kicked off that year, frustrated Nigerians flipped the song into a loud middle finger directed at the Nigerian government.

“Barawo” with Ajebo Hustlers

Port Harcourt-based Ajebo Hustlers were relatively unknown when they released "Barawo", a song calling out an endemic corruption system among Nigerian politicians. With the #EndSARS protests propelling the song to a new level of notoriety, the group enlisted Davido for a remix that has, over time, become almost, if not more, impactful than the original.


As far as Davido's love songs go, "Jowo" will go down as one of his most potent performances. On the track, Davido wears his heart boldly on his sleeves as he tries to convince his lover to focus on what they have and block out the rest of the world. Even if his plea fails to convince the song's subject, they go a long way in connecting with his audience, making "Jowo" the most streamed song on the singer's A Better Time album.

“The Best” with Mayorkun

Taken off his third album, A Better Time, "The Best" is a standout collaboration between Davido and former Davido Music Worldwide signee, Mayorkun. While most of Davido's other attempts at marking his territory as a leader in the game come with a sense of urgency to exert his influence, "The Best" relies on cheeky one-liners and humour, revealing an artist who doesn't feel the need to prove that he's the best to anyone, not even himself. With this song, Davido finally believes his own hype.

“Ke Star” with Focalistic

Outside of being one of the most important voices in Afrobeats today, Davido has seamlessly evolved into a cross-continental musical chameleon capable of delivering zesty features with artists from across the globe. On the remix of Focalistic's "Ke Star," he matches the South-African rappers swaggering chants with the flow of an Afropop juggernaut with a penchant for skating genres. Exploring the now-popular amapiano sound, at the moment it was transitioning from an underground favorite to global phenomenon, was a major creative frontier for Davido.

“High” with Adekunle Gold

Five years after winning widespread critical and commercial acclaim for being the poster boy for modern-day Juju and Yoruba-folk-inspired music, Nigerian singer Adekunle Gold decided it was time to expand his sonic purview. Although Adekunle Gold's rebrand was facilitated by 2020's Afro Pop, Vol.1, it wasn't until "High," his scintillating house-meets-amapiano collaboration with Davido that he finally made the jump from folk-boy next door to pop leading man. Riding on a Pheelz-produced beat, the two go toe-to-toe on a song about chasing the euphoric high from having a good time.

“Champion Sound” with Focalistic

Barely a year after he joined Focalistic and Virgo Deep for the highly addictive remix to their 2020 single, "Ke Star'', Davido teamed up with the South-African rapper once more on another amapiano earworm, "Champion Sound." The song, which finds Davido using lyrics like "Tell them make dem calm down, 10 years I've never gone down" to declare his enduring impact over a decade after his debut, was already a hit before an official release with its leaked version lighting up dancefloors from Lagos to Cape Town.

“Stand Strong”

Not many people knew what to make of Davido's "new" sound when he teased "Stand Strong" in 2022. Accompanied by The Samples, the group famous for collaborating with Kanye West for his Sunday Service Choir, we see Davido perform his most vulnerable song yet. Replacing theatrics with raw honesty, he confronts his deepest fears about fame while carving out space to acknowledge his journey so far and his resilience through it all. "Stand Strong" is a triumphant testament to Davido's versatility.

“Over Dem”

A biblical reference and killer sax instrumental serve as the base of "Over Dem", the opening track of Davido's long-awaited fourth studio album, Timeless. Davido is back and ready to reiterate his undisputed position as a leader in the game. But rather than announce his return with an exuberant beat or cadence, the singer opts for a neat and tightly controlled mode of delivery. The mid-tempo track is the perfect springboard for an album aiming for the highly competitive king of Afrobeats crown.

“Unavailable” with Musa Keys

Davido is done dealing with everyone's BS and taking time to do him. He turns this PSA into another cross-continental amapiano number by pulling in South-African singer and producer Musa Keys for "Unavailable." Produced by Asake's frequent collaborator, Magicsticks, "Unavailable" has recently found a home on TikTok thanks to a dance challenge started by the artist himself.

“Kante” with FAVE

Davido has consistently proven himself to be an incredible duet partner on female collaborations — "D&G'' with Summer Walker and the highly underrated "Tanana" with Tiwa Savage — so it is no surprise that he creates magic with singer Fave on "Kante." Handing the reins to the "Baby Riddim" singer, Davido handles the backseat with finesse as the two coo and flow on the Damie-produced slow burner.

“Na Money” with The Cavemen and Angelique Kidjo

One song that readily illustrates Davido's profound role as a musical curator is "Na Money," featuring high-life duo The Cavemen and Grammy favorite, Angelique Kidjo. Produced by 1da Banton, the unusual collaboration harnesses the sound and aesthetic of each featured act, resulting in an overall symmetry that is both familiar and excitingly fresh.

Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Global Citizen.

Fun Places in Accra, Ghana to Visit This Weekend

From Any Given Wednesday at Club Rave to May Day Brunch at Nsuomnam, Accra is packed with places to have fun.

Anyone who's been paying attention knows that Ghana has officially become the go-to destination for some of the hottest events on the continent. The biggest music festivals and the most exclusive parties have all featured in Accra’s nightlife and event scene, and this week is no different. From Any Given Wednesday at Club Rave to May Day Brunch at Nsuomnam, this week is packed with places to have fun. Additionally, it’s a long weekend as Monday the 1st of May is a holiday—which means an extra dose of enjoyment. Check out our list of the hottest events taking place in Accra this weekend below.

Any Given Wednesday at Club Rave

Club Rave Accra will be hosting their signature Any Given Wednesday event this Wednesday, featuring sounds provided by some of Accra’s best DJs. Any Given Wednesday is one of the best midweek events in Accra, and the likes of Wizkid and Victony have been spotted showing up. Located on the La road near Marwako restaurant, Any Given Wednesday is the best way to get pumped for the weekend.

Date: Wednesday, 26th April, 10 p.m.

Venue: Club Rave

Cost: Free, table reservations available

Tipsy Thursday at Lavo Lounge

This Thursday, Lavo Lounge will be hosting Tipsy Thursday. This edition is headlined by Carmen Caramel, who will be providing an electric DJ set at Lavo which is located in the heart of Osu at Oxford Street, right behind Frankie’s Restaurant. Also, there will be complimentary cocktails for all ladies until midnight!

Date: Thursday, 27th April, 8 p.m.

Venue: Lavo Lounge, Osu

Cost: Free

Stonebwoy’s ‘5th Dimension’ Album Release Party

This Friday, Ghanaian reggae, dancehall, and Afrobeats singer Stonebwoy will be having the album release party for his upcoming studio album 5th Dimension, which is scheduled to drop on the very same day. Hosted by Stonebwoy himself, the party is taking place at the Polo Beach Club in Accra. This is the first project the superstar musician is dropping since signing a record deal with Def Jam Africa last year, so this event promises to be a lavish occasion.

Date: Friday, 28th April, 9 p.m.

Venue: Polo Beach Club

Cost: General access tickets for GHC210, table reservations also available

Vibeside at Hermanos Jungle

Hermanos Jungle is a caribbean-themed bar located at East Legon on the UPSA road, and this weekend they are taking the Hermanos vibes to Ada for Vibeside, an outdoor camping, bonfire, and rave experience. A host of guest artists and DJs will be performing, such as the likes of Sister Deborah, Kofi Jamar, Fameye, Malcolm Nuna, and more. Tickets for the event come with free transportation from Accra to the event and back.

Date: Saturday, 29th April, 9 a.m. - Sunday, 30th April, 10 p.m.

Venue: Big Ada

Cost: From GHC155

Surf Club at Alora Beach Resort

On Saturday the 29th and Sunday the 30th of April, Alora Beach Resort located at Labadi, Accra will be offering surfing lessons in the name of Alora Surf Club. If you’re down for a new adventure you can pass by Alora Beach Resort anytime from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. to participate in a one-hour surf class. Alternatively, if you’d just like to do your own thing you’re free to rent a surfboard for a slightly lower rate.

Date: Saturday, 29th April - Sunday, 30th April, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Venue: Alora Beach Resort

Cost: GHC150 for a class, GHC100 for a surfboard rental

Bloombar’s After Brunch

If you need an excuse to day drink this weekend, Bloombar has got you covered. On the 30th of April, Bloombar will be offering bottomless Mimosas and Bellinis from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Bloombar Terrace. Bloombar’s day parties are well known to be an epic affair, so you definitely don’t want to miss this one.

Date: Sunday, 30th April, 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Venue: Bloombar

Cost: GHC250

Temptation Monday at Club 69

Club 69 is hosting Tempation Monday at Nyaniba Estates, Osu. It’s this and every Monday, but as Monday the 1st of May is a public holiday in Ghana it promises to be extra lit. For the ladies, if “squad goals” is your move then this is the spot for you because every group of five ladies who show up for Temptation Monday before 2 a.m. will be gifted a free bottle of champagne and tequila shots.

Date: Monday, 1st May

Venue: Club 69, Osu

Cost: Free, table reservations available

May Day Brunch at Nsuomnam

On the 1st of May, Nsuomnam will be hosting the May Day Brunch. It’s Nsuomnam’s first exclusive brunch at the upscale restaurant’s outdoor bar, called the Lake Volta Bar. It’s free to attend, but you get a complimentary Mimosa when you spend GHC300 and above.

Date: Monday, 1st May, 2 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Venue: Nsuomnam

Cost: Free

Photo by Agyeibea Asare-Boye.

Inside the Challenging World of African Esports

Facing several hurdles, Africa’s esports scene is yet to find its footing and roll with the industry’s biggest players.

No longer is esports (or electronic sports) seen as a mindless hobby. Also known as competitive gaming, esports has lifted off the ground and evolved into a billion-dollar industry. With innovations like Twitch and other high-stake investments, gamers around the world are making serious earnings thumbing away in live tournaments.

But the story isn’t as glamorous on the African continent. Video gaming in Africa is yet to catch up with the fast-paced industry, especially in competitive arenas. It’s still contending with issues like poor internet connection, economic equality, and, most importantly, unstable game servers. But a few relentless people are dedicated to growing the scene to its full potential.

Ghanaian gamer Ritalucia contends with poor esports infrastructure

For most African esports enthusiasts, passion is what drives them. Ritalucia, a professional esports gamer and shout caster in Ghana, wants to keep striving in the industry despite her geographical location tipping all the odds against her. “I am a competitive person but I have to stay away from professional esports competitions because of the huge ping difference in Ghana,” Ritalucia tells OkayAfrica. “ If I lose I know I’ll be sad.”

She’s joined other African gamers to call for the creation of local servers on the content to level the grounds with their international counterparts, especially when it comes to online competitions. It led to the emergence of #SeversInAfrica, a hashtag created to drive conversations for their cause. Kwesi Hayford, President of the Ghana Esports Association, has been a leading voice.

“During the FIFA e-nations tournament, Ghanaian players couldn’t participate in the global qualifiers mainly because we were facing server issues,” Hayford said. “We had to connect to servers in Madrid because that was much closer to us. We lost to South Africa because they flew their players to Dubai where the default servers were for the tournament and that gave them an advantage over our players.”

Kwesi began an online petition in 2020 to bring heightened attention to the issue. The petition, which was posted on the website, has garnered over 2,000 signatures so far. In the petition, Kwesi highlighted how servers in Africa will be the bedrock of a revolutionized digital and technological ecosystem on the continent.

Players petition for accessible local servers

Major companies and stakeholders in the gaming world including Sony, Konami, EA Games, and Microsoft were tagged in the petition. The question here is, are they willing to let up and commit resources to build the local servers in Africa?

“Africa currently boasts of 186 million gamers as of 2021,” James Karanu, a Kenyan game analyst and former professional esports player, told OkayAfrica. “I do believe that the number of gamers here is enough to operate servers to full capacity in Africa. In my view, I think building servers in the central part of Africa, like DR Congo for example, will be a vantage point to serve the whole continent.”

According to Karanu, Liquid Technologies, a pan-African technology company, is planning to host game servers in Africa. “They have the requisite infrastructure to connect different African countries towards South Africa and the other developed economies. The caveat, however, is mobilizing the various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Africa to join the #ServersInAfrica caravan,” Karanu said. “Every Internet Service Provider has different policies per the country they operate in as well as different costs in using their services.”

ISPs are the liaison between the servers and the gamers but if Karanu’s submissions are anything to go by, the abject economic situation most African countries are facing limits gamers from playing high-end games to their full capacity.

As it stands, running servers anywhere in the world is relatively expensive and with a nascent market like Africa, companies have been reluctant to invest in the gaming community and that has stunted the growth of professional esports players.

“Most of my friends who play professional esports often have to fly overseas to gain some advantage and engage in competitions without lagging.” Mhister Flak, a South African game enthusiast on YouTube, tells OkayAfrica.

With support, African esports could be an emerging market

In gaming, ping determines the time between a player’s input and the server’s response to that particular input. The lower the ping number, the faster and more advantageous a gamer gets. Since Africa barely has any game servers—except South Africa—the ping number for most countries is higher and that puts most gamers on the continent at a gross disadvantage. They don’t get to play in international competitions unless they can afford a flight to countries with servers.

Back in Ghana, Kwesi is in no way fazed by the exorbitant cost of running servers. He believes when major stakeholders like the government, ISPs, and gaming companies come together, a mutually beneficial agreement can be made to drive esports to its zenith in Africa.

“I don’t think the gaming community in Africa should be termed as ‘small,’” Kwesi said. “ First, there is no data backing those claims. I believe we are an emerging market. Africa being an emerging market in gaming makes it difficult. In my petition, I stated how big gaming companies have no adequate data on gamers in Africa. Take my PSN account, for example, it is tied to New York. Most gaming sites haven’t enlisted African cities in their database when it comes to purchasing their games.”

For this reason, African gamers are forced to buy games in foreign currency. There, however, is a South African market but, according to Kwesi, that data isn’t significant enough. South Africa is seen as the poster country for the African gaming community, the beacon of African local servers. Although they have quite a number of servers, Flak acknowledges the privileges but believes there’s still more work to be done to propel the country to the same level as other continents.

“Most gaming companies rarely see Africa as a continent with gamers,” he said. “ You check the release dates and times of your favorite games and all continents are enlisted except Africa.”

Even in South Africa, players compete with poor connection

The South African gaming market is relatively the “most developed in Africa.” Unlike other countries, they are equipped with local servers for eight of the high-end PC and console games like Call of Duty, Rocket League, and Rainbow Siege just to mention a few.

The ping numbers the servers in South Africa provide are too high for a professional gamer to work with.

“I play Apex Legends often and there’s no local server here and that makes playing online in multiplayer mode difficult,” Flak said. “Gamers have to connect to servers in London and Bahrain to get a decent connection but being farther poses a huge disadvantage to the African gamer.”

As a result, it delays the gameplay for most African gamers. Any move they make in the game has been countered by their overseas counterpart within milliseconds because they are closer to the server. It is always a lost battle for these gamers before it even begins.

“It is like a battle between David and Goliath,” he adds.

Flak and Karanu commended Hayford for taking the brave step to champion the establishment of local servers in Africa. They both expressed how hopeful they are for the future of gaming in Africa. However, most game companies according to them are operating huge businesses that require a steady flow of profits and return on investment, and are risk-averse when it comes to pumping money into the market.

“There is an Amazon data center here in South Africa, which can host most of these game servers,” Flak said. “ The resources are available but it all boils down to companies’ willingness to invest.”

For Ritalucia, gaming hasn’t been the best experience because the ping numbers aren’t favorable. “I pay around 850 cedis a month for my current internet plan to stream my games online and create content for my audience,” Ritalucia said. “The downloads take forever and the games are always lagging and honestly, it has affected my career in professional esports.”

For her, having local servers in Ghana would be a game changer and would really be a nice boost to have affordable internet for Ghanaian gamers.

Hayford has sparked a needed conversation for growing the African gaming ecosystem. Since starting this petition, he and his team have organized social media campaigns, written letters to gaming companies, and are in talks with data centers and important stakeholders to facilitate the establishment of servers in Ghana and other parts of Africa.

Photo by Emmanuel Arewa via Getty Images)

Places in Lagos to Have Fun this Weekend

From outdoor movie nights to GTBank’s Food and Drink Festival, wrap up the month with this Lagos weekend guide.

Clear your weekend for GTBank’s Food and Drink Festival, which returns for its sixth edition. As the mother of all festivals, this long-running event has cemented itself as Africa’s biggest food trade show. Nothing beats the atmosphere, attracting thousands of local and international visitors from world-renowned chefs to industry professionals.

The vendor stalls are one of the catchiest things at the festival, showcasing the best of Nigerian food and fresh farm produce. This year, the stall number will increase from 142 to 204. Foodies, this is your time.

Ric Hassani Weekends Live - The Grand Finale

Ric Hassani’s month-long residency, which started in late March, will draw the final curtain on Friday. Over that time, he released two new singles, "Amina" and "The One," which has enjoyed reception during his residency. After the event, an after party takes place at Stage Lagos Club, Ikoyi.

Friday, April 28, 8pm

Venue: #15, Idejo Street, Off Adeola Odeku, Victoria Island

Cost: Free

Tipsy Friday at Goza Lagos

As one of the newest luxury restaurants in Lagos, Goza Lagos is wrapping up the month of April on a high. Their Tipsy Friday events are one of the retail selling points of the establishment.

Friday, April 28, 7pm till dawn

Venue: 1, Oluniyi Olumide Crescent, Victoria Island

Access: Call for reservations

Movie Night with YellowLyfe Events

Start the weekend with an outdoor movie experience put together by Yellow Lyfe. While we don’t know yet what movie will be shown, we are banking on Yellow Lyfe to make it worth your while.

Friday, April 28, 5pm

Venue: Lagos Island

Cost: N10k

Bottomless Brunch Party at Wingsville

Take out the week’s stress at Wingsville’s Bottomless Party. It promises to be a finger-licking experience with Wingsville’s signature crispy chicken wings with bottomless drinks and cocktails. Side attractions include music, games, and a wings eating competition.

Saturday, April 29, 12pm

Venue: 28b Adebayo Doherty St, Lekki Phase 1

Cost: N15k

Movie Night with Classics Lagos

If you are a cinephile with a thing for classic cinema, then the good people at Classics Lagos have got another treat for you. They turn to one of the works of legendary American filmmaker, Billy Wilder, revisiting his Oscar-winning film The Apartment. Released in 1960, the romantic comedy drama stars Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. Its timelessness makes it a great pick for movie night.

Saturday, April 29, 6:30pm

Venue: Sailors Lounge, Lekki Phase 1

Cost: Free

Dine at Toasties

Have a bite at Toasties’ newest branch in Lekki. The growing restaurant chain has carved a niche in hot toasted fusion sandwiches.

Venue: 31b, Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1

GTBank’s Food & Drink Festival 2023

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill culinary showpiece. The GTBank’s Food and Drink Festival is now in its sixth year, staging a bigger space for the food service sector to connect with communities. Enjoy bite-sized food, street food, cuisines with DJs setting it with a party vibe. If you can, make yourself available for the free cooking masterclass.

Saturday, April 29 - Monday, May 1,

Venue: GTCentre, Victoria Island

Cost: Free

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