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Colombia Finally Recognizes Its First and Only Black President, Juan José Nieto Gil

Juan José Nieto Gil's presidency was erased from history on account of his race, but his legacy is finally being recognized.

This August, OkayAfrica shines a light on the connections between Africa and the Latin-American world. Whether it's the music, politics or intellectual traditions, Africans have long been at the forefront of Latino culture, but they haven't always gotten the recognition. We explore the history of Afro-Latino identity and its connection to the motherland.

Afro-Colombians account for around 5 million of Colombia's population. Still, black people in the nation are widely marginalized and underrepresented in political life. It's been this way throughout history, and nothing makes this reality more clear than the story of Colombia's first black president, Juan José Nieto Gil who, despite the odds, went on to lead the country during one of it's most divided periods in history and fight for the abolishment of slavery. He's gone largely unheralded until now.

After centuries of being unrecognized for his contributions, the Colombian government has unveiled a portrait of the country's first and only black president in the presidential palace, following an extensive investigation carried out by veteran Colombian journalist, Gonzalo Guillén.

Guillén made a promise to his late friend, the Father of Colombian Sociology, Orlando Fals Borda, that he would see to it that the country's black president, be given his rightful place in the Nariño Presidential Palace, reports Colombian publication The City Paper Bogota. According to the outlet, Guillén first brought the matter to the public's attention when he published an article entitled "Obama was not the first black president of the Americas. The title rightfully belongs to Juan José Nieto Gil," after Barack Obama won his presidency in the United States in 2008.


Prior to the efforts of Guillén and Borda, Nieto Gil's legacy as the first Afro-Colombian to hold political office had been virtually erased from Colombian history, in fact when an original portrait of him from the 19th century was first discovered in a basement, in 1866 it was whitewashed and his skin was made to appear white. "No one wanted the original painting. It was found in a basement, piled up with junk and rotting," Guillén tells The City Paper Bogota. The portrait was rediscovered by Borda in the 1970s and the true color of Nieto Gil's skin resurfaced. Even then, some still attempted to deny his African ancestry.

In 2008, an investigation led by Guillén confirmed Nieto Gil's status as Colombia's—then known as the United Provinces of New Granada—42nd president. Nieto Gil served as the country's leader from January 25 to July 18, 1861. He ruled during a politically divisive periods and worked as a novelist and geographer, who advocated for the abolishment of slavery.

The Colombian government held their own investigation into Nieto Gil, following a 2014 petition from Guillén.

On August 2, Colombia's former president Juan Manuel Santos unveiled a replica of the original portrait in the presidential palace with leaders from the Afro-Colombian community in attendance. After centuries of intentional erasure, the country's first and only black leader finally received his rightful recognition. While it's a major step in the right direction, the act doesn't erase Colombia's negative history with its large black population.

The prolonged recognition of Nieto Gil's contribution to Colombian history, highlights the ongoing struggle for Afro-Latino rights and representation in Colombia and beyond.

During the month of August, OkayAfrica is exploring Afro-Latino identity and highlighting the stories and experiences of Afro-Latinos throughout the diaspora, keep up with more of out stories here.

Photo credit: Paras Griffi

Asake Has to Add Third O2 Academy Show After Selling Out in Minutes

As he climbs up the ladder of global superstardom, Asake continues to break glass ceilings and crash websites.

Asake has been making undeniable waves with his music and mass appeal, and his recent O2 Academy ticket sales are proof of that.

The new Afrobeats sensation recently sold out London's O2 Academy venue for his upcoming UK stint. Amidst the buzz of the sold out show, the official account of the O2 Academy took to social media to share that Asake would be headlining two additional shows at the event's center. Although the original date was slated for the 11th of December, the high demand for tickets pushed organizers to add on two more dates to the 11th, and "Mr. Money With The Vibe" will also now perform on the 12th and the 15th.

Asake's career trajectory has been swift, yet packed with back to back hits and critical acclaim. The Lagos-born artist first got his major big break when Olamide signed him to YBNL. His long trail of chart-topping records have quickly earned him the attention of fans, airplay and recognition. The Afrobeats singer's success, though sudden, has helped to propel him to the upper echelon of musical acts coming out of Africa. Because of the versatility of his sound, listeners have quickly gravitated towards his content. His ascent into superstardom has also ignited intrigue and conversation, inspiring many fans to root for him, because of his initial reputation as the underdog. Although he had received some recognition in 2020 after he released his "Mr. Money" single, 2022 was the year that he would gain the admiration and respect of his peers, as well as a bevy of fans and commercial success.

Though still a newcomer, Asake has proven that he is not a typical Afrobeats artist. His unique ability to fuse different Afro-inspired sounds from Fuji to Amapiano have made him a rare talent. He has also amplified the depth of most of his songs by merging different genres and articulating them with Yoruba language and the broken English spoken in some of the most intricate parts of Lagos. Those elements perhaps, are what have made Asake one of the most marketable and likable Afrobeats artists in recent time.

Photo by: Screenshot from The Daily Show'

"My Time is Up:" Trevor Noah Talks About Leaving 'The Daily Show' After 7 Years

The South African comedian announced that he would be leaving the Comedy Central series after his seven-year tenure.

Trevor Noah announced that he will be leaving The Daily Show after seven years.

In his statement Noah described his experience hosting the show as "absolutely amazing."

“It’s been absolutely amazing. It’s something that I never expected,” Noah said. “I found myself thinking throughout the time of everything we’ve gone through. The Trump presidency, the pandemic, just the journey, more pandemic and I realize that after the seven years, my time is up.”

Following the departure of Jon Stewart from the show in 2015, the South African comedian became the show's host, and has since interviewed the likes of Barack Obama, Burna Boy, Davido and a host of other notable public figures. The 38-year-old has also used his platform to elevate African artistry and elevate the African experience. Noah alluded to the idea that his decision to leave the show was inspired partly by his interest in returning to stand up comedy and exploring his skillset that way. Noah also thanked his viewers for giving him an opportunity when he first came on the American scene as a comedian who very few knew about.

“I spent two years in my apartment, not on the road, and when I got back out there, I realized there’s another part of my life out there that I want to carry on exploring. I miss learning other languages. I miss going to other countries and putting on shows,” said Noah.

Noah also referred to the show as "one of the greatest joys" of his life, and has credited the show for helping him hone his creative muscle.

“I’ve loved hosting this show, it’s been one of my greatest challenges and one of my greatest joys,” Noah said. “I’ve loved trying to find a way to make people laugh, even when the stories are particularly shitty, even on the worst days. We’ve laughed together, we’ve cried together.”

Although he did not make any comments about his last day on the show, or exactly when he would exit, he did humorously say that he would not abruptly leave without prior warning.

“Don’t worry, I’m not disappearing,” said Noah. “If I owe you money, I’ll still pay you.”

(YouTube)

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Here are the best songs to come out of the buzzing Nigerian music scene this month.

Head here for more of our Best Songs of the Month lists from Nigeria, Ghana, South African and East Africa. You can also check out our weekly,Songs You Need to Hear roundup for the best new music.

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