News

Africa's 'First' Fact-Checking Website

South Africa-based AfricaCheck is the “first non-partisan fact-checking website in Africa.


AfricaCheck, the "first non-partisan fact-checking website in Africa" launched just a few weeks ago in South Africa. The site is currently based only in South Africa, but also plans to engage with a wider African network to promote user engagement and crowdsourcing as it relates to governance and the dispersal of information in public discourse. How does it work?

"As part of the process, the website team will engage with professional and citizen journalists from around South Africa, providing them with access both to the full archive of fact-checking reports as well as to a fact-checking toolkit of tips and a database of sources to use to fact-check claims themselves. At the same time, by using Wits University journalism students to run our site, the team will help spread fact-checking techniques and culture in the next generation of journalists."

Their latest report examines South African President Jacob Zuma's claim that the gap between the rich and poor has been narrowing. Upon first glance, AfricaCheck seems to be an effort to provide the public with more accurate information, but looking closely it's clear that the website is geared towards journalists and emphasizing the significance of reporting accurate information to the public. They do encourage users to suggest claims for them to check, and since they've just launched, we have yet to see how their efforts will engage with South Africans and the general sphere of social media throughout the continent.

If this initiative aims to assist journalists in providing more accurate information to the public so as to encourage scrutiny in public debate, then it's also necessary to consider the information in question. Reports on the site feature topics such as violent unrest, government claims of delivering public services, efficiency of schools, and many others. However, we felt something missing while reading through the reports - perhaps it's user participation. And hopefully as the initiative expands to other parts of the continent, it will be able to more adequately engage, not only with journalists, but citizens who also have concerns about the questionable information dispersed to them on a day to day basis, beyond statistical reports that can sometimes feel immaterial.

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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