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PADERBORN, GERMANY - MAY 31: Achraf Hakimi Mouh of Borussia Dortmund celebrates scoring his teams fourth goal of the game with a 'Justice for George Floyd' shirt during the Bundesliga match between SC Paderborn 07 and Borussia Dortmund at Benteler Arena on May 31, 2020 in Paderborn, Germany.

'Unity Is Strength': African Football Stars Show Support for #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd

Several international footballers are using their platforms to express support for the fight against racism in the US and beyond.

The recent murder of George Floyd, another unarmed Black man, has sparked great outrage and protest within the streets of the US and cities across the world. With professional sports slowly making their way back onto our screens, many famous faces in football have shown solidarity to those fighting for the cause.

Manchester United Midfielder Paul Pogba expressed his sadness on a recent Instagram post. The player wrote "Sadness for George and for all Black people who suffer from racism every day! Whether in football, at work, at school, anywhere!" This comes after Pogba himself has experienced explicit racism during his professional career. In 2019, he and Man United striker Marcus Rashford fell victim to harsh racial abuse over social media. Using the hashtag "#NoToRacismWeAllOne", the football star's plea brought power and support to the thousands protesting across the world.


Similarly, Moroccan defender Achra Hakimi showed his support during Borussia Dortmund's recent win against Paderborn, with a shirt that had the words "Justice for George Floyd" written across it:

While celebrating his first hat trick in his professional career, Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jadon Sancho also took the opportunity to show his support for the fight for freedom in a similar fashion:

During one of their team practices, Liverpool Football Club players, including Egypt's Mo Salah and Senegal's Sadio Mane, took a knee to show support and to emphasize strength in numbers and coming together. Mane, who has been outspoken about the racism faced by Black players, shared the image on Instagram, writing "Unity is strength #BlackLivesMatter."

South African women's football captain Janine Van Wyk echoed the words of Bernice King and asked, "When will people of this world treat others equally regardless of race or gender? #BlackLives Matter #AllLivesMatterWhenBlackLivesMatter"

Nigerian player Anthony Ujah highlighted how common the murders of unarmed Black men seem to be when he simply edited "George Floyd" onto a t-shirt he wore in 2014 to protest the police killing of Eric Garner.

Although the officer in question, Derek Chauvin, was recently arrested and charged, the protests continue to fight for and defend the lives of Black and African American individuals across the world.

Interview
Photo: Jolaoso Adebayo.

Crayon Is Nigeria's Prince of Bright Pop Melodies

Since emerging on the scene over two years ago, Crayon has carved a unique path with his catchy songs.

During the 2010s, the young musician Charles Chibuezechukwu made several failed attempts to get into a Nigerian university. On the day of his fifth attempt, while waiting for the exam's commencement, he thought of what he really wanted out of life. To the surprise of the thousands present, he stood up and left the centre, having chosen music. "Nobody knew I didn't write the exam," Charles, who's now known to afro pop lovers as Crayon, tells OkayAfrica over a Zoom call from a Lagos studio. "I had to lie to my parents that I wrote it and didn't pass. But before then, I had already met Don Jazzy and Baby Fresh [my label superiors], so I knew I was headed somewhere."

His assessment is spot on. Over the past two years Crayon's high-powered records have earned him a unique space within Nigeria's pop market. On his 2019 debut EP, the cheekily-titled Cray Cray, the musician shines over cohesive, bright production where he revels in finding pockets of joy in seemingly everyday material. His breakout record "So Fine" is built around the adorable promises of a lover to his woman. It's a fairly trite theme, but the 21-year-old musician's endearing voice strikes the beat in perfect form, and when the hook "call my number, I go respond, oh eh" rolls in, the mastery of space and time is at a level usually attributed to the icons of Afropop: Wizkid, P-Square, Wande Coal.

"My dad used to sell CDs back in the day, in Victoria Island [in Lagos]," reveals Crayon. "I had access to a lot of music: afrobeat, hip-hop, Westlife, 2Face Idibia, Wizkid, and many others." Crayon also learnt stage craft from his father's side hustle as an MC, who was always "so bold and confident," even in the midst of so much activity. His mother, then a fruit seller, loved Igbo gospel songs; few mornings passed when loud, worship songs weren't blasting from their home. All of these, Crayon says, "are a mix of different sounds and different cultures that shaped my artistry."

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