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Activists Demand the Release of Omoyele Sowore and Other Political Detainees, Amidst Growing Attacks on Freedom of Press In Nigeria

"It feels like the '90s again," says Sowore's wife Opeyemi Sowore, about the recent crackdowns on political dissidents in Nigeria.

On August 3, activist and founder of Sahara Reporters, and former presidential candidate Omoyele Sowere was arrested for planning a peaceful protest in Nigeria. Fifty-four days later, he remains in custody.

Sowere has been hit with a seven-count charge, including money laundering, treason, as well as "cyberstalking the president," Sahara News reports. He is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow after being jailed for nearly two months, according to his wife Opeyemi Sowore.

He, along with several activists who have voiced political dissent in recent months have been detained by Nigerian authorities, denoting an upward shift on crackdowns on members of the press and attacks on basic civil liberties in Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari's administration. "This truly is a threat to freedom of press, freedom of speech and expression," Sowore tells OkayAfrica. "As much progress as we thought we had made, a lot of the events truly sadden me."


Others who have been arrested include fellow #RevolutionNow activists, Olawale Bakare another member arrested in Osogbo Nigeria. The movement's mission is to urge the government to take greater steps towards fighting insecurity, and advocate for improved education in the densely populated country.

Protests in support of Sowore took place last week, and another is set to occur at the Nigerian mission to the UN in New York City tomorrow, September 24, the same day as Sowore's first court appearance. There has been growing support for Sowore internationally, as several human rights activists across the diaspora have become involved in advocating for his release. Earlier this month a coalition of US and Nigerian activists, including Black Lives Matter co-founder, Opal Tometi, activist Folabi Olajbaju and more, sent a letter to the Nigerian ambassador to the United States, Sylvanus Adiewere Nsofor, demanding his immediate release. "The Nigerian people and people of good will around the world are watching," said Olabaju in a statement. "We will oppose all efforts to suppress the rights of the people and silence democracy defenders."

The letter also pushes for the release of several others who are believed to be unjustly detained by the Nigerian government. "Abubakar Idris, who has been held incommunicado after criticizing the Kano state government;" the letter reads. "Stephen Kefas, an activist in the tense Nigerian Delta oil fields imprisoned for more than three months for distributing a press report embarrassing to the state governor; journalists Agba Jalingo and Jones Abiri, who spent over two years in detention without charge; whistleblower George Uboh who exposed malfeasance at the Nigerian Central Bank; Olawale Adebayo, a pro-democracy activist arrested in August, and Muslim spiritual leader Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky."

The arrests reveal the growing gaps in Nigeria's democracy—the largest in Africa which has implications for the rest of the continent. "It feels like the '90s again," says Sowore, referencing one of Nigeria's most politically turbulent periods under the dictatorship of Sani Abacha. "It's so important for democratic societies to have freedom of press. It's the only way to hold the government accountable."

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Interview: Lady Du, Amapiano’s Sultry-Voiced Superstar, Is Smashing The Glass Ceiling

In conversation with amapiano star Lady Du about her rise, spirituality and considering herself a kwaito queen.

Lady Du is currently one of the hottest voices in amapiano. Born into a family of musicians, her father DJ Choc and uncle DJ Zan D are reputable deejays and producers. Lady Du, real name Dudu Ngwenya, first learned how to play at the tender age of nine. Since then and during her early adult life, she had been trying to get a successful break into the music industry. Though she made songs with renowned producers such as DJ Clock, DJ Mshega and DJ Maphorisa (back when he still did gqom) in 2013, 2014 and 2018 respectively, her breakthrough only came under a year ago through the track "Superstar", alongside revered amapiano deejay and producer Mr JazziQ.

Lady Du's musical journey speaks to her resilience, and her success can rightfully be attributed to her perseverance. On "Superstar", Lady Du sings about aspiring to superstardom, even going as far as mentioning some South African celebrities that she looks up to! Today, her name is listed among the very stars she once mentioned on the track. Since 2020, she has collaborated with heavyweights like Oskido, Cassper Nyovest, Khuli Chana, Focalistic, De Mthuda, Josiah De Disciple, Busta 929, DBN Gogo and many others. Her signature sultry voice, which sometimes resembles that of a baby, can also be heard on some of amapiano's biggest smash hits like "Umsebenzi Wethu", "Dakiwe", "Catalia", "Woza", "GUPTA" and more.

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