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Amaarae. Photo courtesy of the artist.

3 Moments That Defined My Journey As a Young Woman In Search of Herself & Her Purpose

Ghanaian artist Amaarae pens an original text exploring being a "black artist and a disruptive female voice in an industry dominated by men" and her new single "Like It."

Thank God Herself
A capsule of short stories.


Women are the purest source of divine energy. Without us, there is no life force and therefore no tools for man to create. As an artist, and most importantly a woman, the desire to tell stories through sound is bound to a singular goal: nurturing an environment for any and all kinds of women to liberate their souls, to free their inner-most desires and to embrace their best and worst selves. Below is a capsule of three unique moments that have defined my journey as a young woman in search of herself and her purpose. These moments have been pivotal to my understanding of this world and the space that I occupy in it as a black artist and a disruptive female voice in an industry dominated by men. Not all of these moments are solely unique to my human experience. Though some are expressed from my perspective, they are the stories of sisters, friends, and even strangers– All women. All honest accounts of life changing events. All written in different styles to honor each distinctive truth.


Amaarae. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Why do you hate me?

Liberation found its way to a little girl when she reconciled her first trauma all by herself—because big girls understand that when a man four times your age takes you as a lover, it must be a result of his own dysfunctions. The burden of his action is not yours to bear. It found its way to her once more at fifteen, when she reconciled her mother's traumas. Her father's palm, a noose. His fingers elongated. They curled around her mother's neck, extracting each breath for himself. Because this woman, inhabiting the house that he built, free of charge, must repay his kindness in blood. Since caring for his young was not enough. Toiling each day to find fondness in his ways was not enough. Making love to him in spite of herself was not enough. The last time liberation found its way to the little girl, she had become a woman. Her final reconciliation—a sad affair with a temperament unable to contain love nor redefine it's atrocities. She found freedom in evading the fear that intimacy would bring her, and the consequences of when she would find it. Now in full bloom, she is forced to confront her pain, trying this time to emancipate herself and her lover.

Amaarae - LIKE IT (Official Audio) youtu.be

A conversation with Alexis.

My mother was ironing clothes for work. The smell

of freshly-ironed clothes always put me at ease. I may have been five years

old.

I didn't have a task. I had no reason to be there. I was just bored,

in a fascinated way.

The steam rising up from the clothes

told me

that the iron was hot, but I still wasn't quite sure.

That fact wasn't yet tangible to me.

So I asked my mother, "Mama, is dat iron hot?"

"I don't know. Touch it and see." The reply

that only a frustrated, young mother could give,

especially since she had the baby, hoping that it would replace

the love of her recently deceased mother. My mother was frustrated,

because I was another pressure to find answers in life.

So I put my whole hand, fingertip to palm, on the plate of the iron.

I landed my hand on that plate as fully as I trusted and believed in my mother.

For the rest of the week as we iced and re-packed my blisters,

I tried to figure out why my hand

didn't smell like Mama's work clothes.

Untitled

Dipo wondered how his wife had fallen so far from herself, negotiating with her through desperate eyes to return to him, to their children. He knelt across from her and leaned forward. His desperation infuriated her, and in an effort to frustrate him further, Ehma decided to break her silence.

"Dipo."

"Yes, Ehma" He replied.

"I will kill you."

He stumbled in amazement, tilting his head so that his line of sight caught her cheekbone. Dipo remained silent.

"I once was a woman in hopes of expanding from nothing, and have resolved to settling in the middle of nowhere but this shack with you and those poor little girls. I understand their grief. I am aware of it, but honestly Dipo, I do not care to carry this burden. You have made me a miserable woman and in turn made your daughters miserable too. That is what you do, you make women tired and angry. Since your first wife failed to spare me the pain of meeting you, loving you under false truths, and marrying you, I will spare the next woman this same pain."

"Dipo."

"Ehma," he said solemnly.

"You are dead, you are so fucking dead."

"Ehma, I built the bed on which our children were conceived. Ehma, I have given you a home, whether it be straw or tin or wood or brick. It's still a roof and you are a crazy, ungrateful fool. If you really mean it, then go ahead."

Ehma, suddenly a widow and childless, had finally awakened from the brief lapse in judgement. A moment of madness despite its efforts to maintain permanence, was abruptly dismantled. As she sat facing the last standing wall of the hut, Ehma drew projections of the past unto the vacant wall: the sadistic banter that fueled her and Dipo and the emotions that reduced her home and her family to cremated remains. Where there was a window that once ushered in light, Ehma stood and remembered the reverberations of her husband's burning voice, the flailing arms and feet of her two daughters, the brilliant slits of cobalt and orange that stained the scene of a woman driven to murder by her mundane existence, thinking her only source of redemption was to set fire to the mud shelter and the man who built it.

As we continue to evolve and become more self aware, it is important to be patient with ourselves. Though pain is by no means a measure of strength, many of us are able to love, create, parent, aid and console because of the traumas we have confronted. For any woman reading this who may have seen herself, her mother, her sister or a friend in these passages, our duty is to pass on the message. We must continue to write and rewrite our herstories for our daughters and most urgently our sons so that they do not emulate the shortcomings of their fathers. Love and perseverance are our most powerful allies in these times. Each new day our call to action. For that, we must Thank God Herself.

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Rema, image courtesy of the artist.

Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Rema, Teni & More Win Big at 2020 Soundcity MVP Awards

Check out the complete list of 2020 winners.

The Soundcity MVP Awards, the annual award show that recognizes the best and biggest in African music, took place over the weekend at the Eko Convention Centre in Lagos, Nigeria. Some of the biggest names in African entertainment took home awards.

The show was hosted by South African star Bonang Matheba and featured performances from Diamond Platnumz, Tekno, Tiwa Savage, Stonebwoy and more.

The big winner of the night was none other than Burna Boy, who took home the award for African Artiste of the Year for the second time, the first time being in 2018 in which his mother, Bose Ogulu gave us that memorable acceptance speech warning us "to expect more madness." He also won Song of the Year for "Killin Dem," as well as Best Male MVP.

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Photo by Abena Boamah.

Photos: Here's What Happened at Daily Paper & Free the Youth's Design Talk for Accra's Young Creatives

Founders of the popular brands discussed all things African streetwear in a conversation facilitated by OkayAfrica and moderator Amarachi Nwosu.

Last week, Amsterdam-based, African-owned streetwear brand Daily Paper and Ghanaian streetwear label Free the Youth held a talk for young creatives at the Mhoseenu design studio in Accra, Ghana.

Moderated by Melanin Unscripted creator Amarachi Nwosu and presented in partnership with OkayAfrica, the design-based conversation explored everything from sustainable practices in manufacturing, to the overall evolution of streetwear globally. The founders of Free the Youth, which was been called Ghana's number one streetwear brand, expanded on how they've been able to build their audience, and shared details about their community-based initiatives.

They event, which took place at the Daily Paper Pop-up Store in Accra last Friday, drew a fashionable and creative-minded crowd ready to partake in a design discussion between West Africa and Europe.

Check out some of the action that took place at the Daily Paper x FYT event below, with photos by Abena Boamah.

Find more upcoming OkayAfrica events here.

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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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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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