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Photo by Alec Lomami.

Alec Lomami's New Photo Series Shows the Beauty of Everyday Life in Kinshasa

The Congolese rapper questions our tendency to gaze at the continent in extremes through his series, "Kin la Belle."

Congolese rapper Alec Lomami touches base to share his photo series, Kin la Belle, with OkayAfrica.

Shot on film with a Leica 35mm, Lomami wants to show the complex beauty of Kinshasa by capturing everyday life in his homeland. Though these images are what you wouldn't usually see in other platforms covering the continent—they are just as valid.

In his statement below, he explains in depth the inspiration behind the series:

I was trying to take a picture of my aunt because she has this beautiful afro. She wouldn't let me though, telling me she wasn't presentable. She jokingly told me, "Are you trying to take my pictures so you can show people how we suffer here then solicit donations to create an NGO?" That interaction made me think of the conversations underway surrounding the negative portrayal of Africa.

As a counter, there has been a rise of publications whose aim is to show the continent is a positive light. Who can blame them? Even heads of states (who shall remain unnamed for the sake of maintaining my green card) refer to nations in Africa as "shitholes." Sometimes, however, it feels like portrayals have moved to the other side of the same coin. The Africa that I know isn't binary. It isn't the idealized Wakanda or the wild jungles tales of Tarzan—both written by white people funny enough (but that's a story for another time).

As I was taking pictures in Kinshasa, I wanted to capture Kinshasa as it is, rather than as I (or anyone else) thinks it ought to be. The truth is we have beautiful homes as well as shacks, we have asphalt roads as well as dirt roads. Not to sound overly romantic, but I think the amalgamation of the polarities and everything in between is what makes Kinshasa what it is—Kin la Belle.

Click through the slideshow to have a look at Kin la Belle, and revisit Alec Lomami's DRC Independence Day playlist here.


Photo by Alec Lomami.

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Photo courtesy of CSA Global.

In Conversation with Congolese NBA Player Emmanuel Mudiay: 'I want more African players in the NBA.'

The Utah Jazz player talks about being African in the NBA, supporting basketball in the DRC and how 'everybody knows about Burna Boy'.

Inspired by his basketball-playing older brothers, by second grade, Emmanuel Mudiay already knew that he wanted to play in the American National Basketball Association. Then in 2001 his family, fleeing the war in Democratic Republic of Congo, sought asylum in the United States.

In America, Mudiay saw basketball as a way for him to improve his situation. After impressive high school and college careers, he moved to China to play pro ball. Picked 7th overall in the 2015 NBA draft, the now 23-year-old guard has made a name for himself this season coming off the bench for the Utah Jazz.

Mudiay attests to the sport having changed not only his life but that of his siblings. Basketball gave them all a chance at a good education and the opportunity to dream without conditions. Now he wants to see other talented African players make it too.

We caught up with him to talk about his experience as an African player in the NBA, his hopes for basketball on the African continent and who he and his teammates jam out to in their locker rooms.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Photo by Papy Mulongo/AFP for Getty Images.

Clashes Between Students Protesting Fee Increases and Police in the DRC Turn Deadly

Police in the Democratic Republic of Congo have issued a warning to protesting students to vacate Kinshasa University after clashes left one police officer dead and two others injured.

News24 reports that police in the Democratic Republic of Congo have issued a warning to protesting students at Kinshasa University (UniKin) o vacate the campus.

The warning comes after clashes between the protesting students and the police resulted in the death of a police officer with two others suffering injuries. Students have been protesting against proposed increases in tuition fees.

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University lecturer and activist Doctor Stella Nyanzi (L) reacts in court as she attends a trial to face charges for cyber-harassment and offensives communication, in Kampala, on April 10, 2017. (Photo by GAEL GRILHOT/AFP via Getty Images)

Jailed Ugandan Activist, Stella Nyanzi, Wins PEN Prize for Freedom of Expression

The outspoken activist, who is currently serving a prison sentence for a poem she wrote about the president's mother's vagina, won for her resistance "in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her."

Stella Nyanzi, the Ugandan academic, activist, and vocal critic of President Yoweri Museveni has been awarded the 2020 Oxfam Novib/PEN International award for freedom of expression, given to writers who "continue to work for freedom of expression in the face of persecution."

Nyanzi is currently serving a 15 month sentence for "cyber harassment" after she published a poem in which she wrote that she wished "the acidic pus flooding Esiteri's (the president's mother) vaginal canal had burn up your unborn fetus. Burn you up as badly as you have corroded all morality and professionalism out of our public institutions in Uganda."

According to the director of PEN International, Carles Torner, her unfiltered outspokenness around the issues facing her country is what earned her the award. "For her, writing is a permanent form of resistance in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her," said Torner at the award ceremony.

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Photo: Ben Depp.

Watch Yilian Canizares & Paul Beaubrun's Beautiful Video For 'Noyé'

"Cuba and Haiti come together to share the love and heritage of our deep rooted culture and spirituality."

Yilian Canizares and Paul Beaubrun connect for the serene "Noyé," one of the highlights from Canizares' latest album, Erzulie.

The Cuban singer and Haitian artist are now sharing the new Arnaud Robert-directed music video for the single, which we're premiering here today.

"Noyé is a song that comes from our roots," Yilian Canizares tells OkayAfrica. "Inspired by the energy of love. The same love that kept Africa's legacy alive in the hearts of Haiti and Cuba. We wanted to do a stripped down version of only the essential pieces from a musical point of view. Something raw and beautiful where our souls would be naked."

The striking music video follows Canizares and Beaubrun to the waters of New Orleans, the universal Creole capital, where they sing and float until meeting on the Mississippi River.

"Noyé is a cry of love from children of African descent," says Paul Beaubrun. "Cuba and Haiti come together to share the love and heritage of our deep rooted culture and spirituality."

Watch the new music video for "Noyé" below.

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