News Brief

Here's How to Get Your Brand New African Union E-Passport

Unless you’re a head of state, an AU or government official, you can't—for now.

It’s official—the African Union has launched its continental e-passport program Sunday as part of the opening ceremony of the 27th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Kigali, Rwanda.


But unless you're Rwandan President Paul Kagame or Chadian President Idriss Eby, who are already carrying their fancy-looking red and gold document, an AU official or select government personnel, it's unclear when AU passports will become available.

The launch fulfills an aspiration of Agenda 2063 that envisions an “integrated” and “united” Africa, according to the AU press release announcing plans for the e-passport.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by requests and enquiries of other ministers, officials, and African citizens to share in this privilege of holding an African passport,” Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission says, according to The New Times.

“These are great steps we are taking. Our Union has great ambitions in order to ensure economic and political integration,” President Deby says.

For now, there is no set timeline for when e-passports will be rolled out to the rest of Africa, but Dlamini-Zuma has urged African Union member states to issue e-passports to their citizens “within their national policies, as and when they are ready,” Quartz Africa reports.

It’s hoped that the e-passports is the first step that will increase mobility for Africans on the continent as well as boost trade and economic growth opportunities.

However, strict visa requirements and cost prohibitive airfare are still obstacles for the African Union to realize its vision for “a strong, prosperous and integrated Africa,” though countries such as Seychelles, Mauritius, Rwanda, and Ghana have taken lead in easing their visa requirements.

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Nollywood Actress, Funke Akindele, Arrested for Throwing Party During Coronavirus Lockdown

Naira Marley, who was also in attendance, has also turned himself in according to local reports.

Star Nigerian actress, Funke Akindele, and her husband, rapper JJC Skillz, were arrested on Monday after hosting a party at their home which violated Lagos' coronavirus lockdown order.

The actress came under fire over the weekend, when footage of a party she threw for her husband's birthday began circulating on social media. The clips showed several people, including fellow Nollywood actress Eniola Badmus and Nigerian rapper Naira Marley, gathered inside of Akindele's Lagos home. According to a report from Pulse Nigeria, Marley also turned himself in on Monday for attending the function and will be arraigned.

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Valerie Omari Shines in Apple Music's 'New Artist Spotlight'

Apple Music honors Congolese-born and Cape Town-based musician Valerie Omari as this month's artist to look out for.

Apple Music's "New Artist Spotlight" for this month is Congolese-born and Cape Town-based singer Valerie Omari.

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Interview
Justice Mukheli. Courtesy of Black Major/Bongeziwe Mabandla.

Interview: Bongeziwe Mabandla's New Album Is a Calm Meditation On Relationships

We speak with the South African artist about his captivating new album, iimini, love cycles, and the unexpected influence of Bon Iver.

"I've been playing at home for so many years and pretending to be having shows in my living room, and today it's actually happening," Bongeziwe Mabandla says, smiling out at me from my cellphone as I watch him play songs on Instagram Live, guitar close to his chest.

Two weekends ago, Mabandla was meant to be celebrating the release of his third album, iimini, at the Untitled Basement in Braamfontein in Joburg, which would no doubt have been packed with some of the many fans the musician has made since his debut release, Umlilo, in 2012. With South Africa joining many other parts of the world in a lockdown, those dates were cancelled and Mabandla, like many other artists, took to social media to still play some tracks from the album. The songs on iimini are about the life and death of a relationship—songs that are finding their way into the hearts of fans around the world, some of whom, now stuck in isolation, may be having to confront the ups and downs of love, with nowhere to hide.

The day before his Instagram Live mini-show, Mabandla spoke to OkayAfrica on lockdown from his home in Newtown about the lessons he's learned from making the album, his new-found love for Bon Iver, and how he's going to be spending his time over the next few weeks.

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Interview
Lueking Photos. Courtesy of emPawa Africa.

Interview: GuiltyBeatz Proves He's Truly 'Different'

The Ghanaian producer talks to us about his debut EP, Different, the massive success of "Akwaaba," producing for Beyoncé and more.

GuiltyBeatz isn't a new name in the Ghanaian music scene. A casual music fan's first introduction to him would've likely been years ago on "Sample You," one of Mr Eazi's early breakout hits. However, he had scored his first major hit two years before that, in the Nigerian music space on Jesse Jagz' and Wizkid's 2013 hit "Bad Girl." In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists.

In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists, having worked with the likes of Efya, Pappy Kojo, Sarkodie, R2Bees, Stonebwoy, Bisa Kdei, Wande Coal, Moelogo and many more over the last decade. The biggest break of the talented producer's career, however, came with the arrival of his own single "Akwaaba".

In 2018, GuiltyBeatz shared "Akwaaba" under Mr Eazi's Banku Music imprint, shortly afterwards the song and its accompanying dance went viral. The track and dance graced party floors, music & dance videos, and even church auditoriums all around the world, instantly making him one of Africa's most influential producers. Awards, nominations, and festival bookings followed the huge success of "Akwaaba." Then, exactly a year later, the biggest highlight of his career so far would arrive: three production credits on Beyoncé's album The Lion King: The Gift.

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