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Kehinde Wiley's Official Portrait of Barack Obama Has Been Revealed

The National Portrait Gallery unveiled portraits—by two black artists—of the former president and first lady Michelle Obama today.

The National Portrait Gallery unveiled the official portraits of former president of the United States Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama in Washington, D.C. today.


This unveiling is historic, to say the least, because the two artists who were commissioned for this honor—Amy Sherald and Nigerian-American artist Kehinde Wiley—are the first black artists to paint official portraits of the first family.

"Working with Kehinde was a great joy, he and his team made it easy," Obama says. "Kehinde, in the tradition of a lot of great artists, actually cared to hear how I thought about it—before doing exactly what he intended to do."

"What we did find is that we had certain things in common. Both of us had American mothers who raised us with extraordinary love and support," Obama notes. "Both of us had African fathers who had been absent from our lives and in some ways our journeys involved searching for them and figuring out what that meant."

Wiley also notes on why he chose to feature flowers that connect with Chicago, Kenya and Hawaii in the portrait, saying:

"When you look at that painting...there's also botanicals that are going on there that nod to his personal story—in a very symbolic way what I'm doing is charting his path on earth through those plants. There's a fight going on between he and the foreground—who gets to be the star of the show? The story? Or the man who inhabits that story?"

Watch Michelle Obama also touch on the impact her portrait will have on young girls of color:

The reactions to the portraits on social media all point to awe—they are indeed stunning.

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Six Things History Will Remember Kenneth Kaunda For

News of Kenneth David Kaunda's passing at age 97 has reverberated across the globe. Kaunda, affectionately known as KK, was Zambia's first President from 1964 to 1991.

Following Nelson Mandela's passing in December 2013, Kenneth Kaunda became Africa's last standing hero. Now with Kaunda's passing on Thursday, June 17 — after being admitted to the Maina Soko Military Hospital earlier in the week — this signals the end of Africa's liberation history chapter.

It is tempting to make saints out of the departed. The former Zambian struggle hero did many great things. He was, after all, one of the giants of the continent's struggle against colonialism. Ultimately however, he was a human being. And as with all human beings, he lived a complicated and colourful life.

Here are six facts you might not have known about him.

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Music

The 7 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Olamide, Black Motion, Blxckie x Nasty C and more

Every week, we highlight the top releases through our best music of the week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

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News Brief

Black Motion Release New Single ‘Xxikiwawa’

Stream Black Motion's new single 'Xxikiwawa'.

South African house music duo Black Motion have finally released their single "Xxikiwawa". Featuring DJ Fortee, Lady Du, Pholoso and DJ Khosto, the song is the duo's first single since the release of their 2020 album The Healers: Last Chapter.

As usual, Lady Du's kwaito-style raps and chants take centre stage as she rhymes about hustling and trusting in the elders to answer our prayers. She ends her verse with a Brenda Fassie interpolation: "Indaba i-straight ayidingi i-ruler."

In trademark Black Motion fashion, the song is built on big drums and prominent percussion panned to give way for vocals but still managing to dominate.

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Interview: Tecla Ciolfi On The Journey To Starting Her Popular Podcast ‘Texx Talks’

South African music journalist Tecla Ciolfi launched her podcast 'Texx Talks' at the height of lockdown in 2020. Since then, it has become one of the most notable music platforms in the country.