Africa In Your Earbuds


Download a meditative, all-vinyl Africa In Your Earbuds mixtape from James Blake's drummer, Ben Assiter.

When he's not touring as James Blake's drummer, percussionist/DJ Ben Assister can be found playing with London outfits Ruby and The Vines and Fur. Assiter developed an interest in African music through friends, which was cemented by a musical pilmigrage to Senegal and Mali. He tells us, "As a musician, and particularly as a drummer, I find it difficult not to be inspired by the wealth of different music that has come out of the African continent."

In Africa In Your Earbuds #26, Ben Assiter compiles a meditative, all-vinyl mix. The mixtape features a premiere of "Biannual Coffee Cups" by his group Fur, as well as tunes by Ruby and The Vines, Thomas Mapfumo, The Wings, and Owiny Sigoma Band. There's also a batch of tracks from around the globe:

I’ve included tracks from other parts of the world that demonstrate different forms of engagement with Africa. Technology has clearly had a big part in facilitating such cultural interactions... , and although I’ve been lucky enough to travel in Africa, the internet has definitely played a massive role in my African musical education. For me, several of the tracks have origins particularly close to home. There’s a small but lively African music scene in London, be it involving African artists who have relocated here, or local musicians who have been influenced by various African forms. I’ve picked a few tracks to play here which I feel have African inspirations below the surface somehow.

Londoners can catch James Blake's drummer, Ben Assiter, spinning at 1-800-Dinosaur, a new biweekly night at the sonic mecca Plastic People. Stream/download AIYE #26: Ben Assiter below. Hats-off to Underdog for the cover artwork.


Jarabi – Toumani Diabate [MALI]

Sanu Maakaan – Guelewar [GAMBIA]

Xale - Mark Ernestus presents Jeri-Jeri with Mbene Diatta Seck [SENEGAL/GERMANY]

Little Big Or Small - United Vibrations [UK]

Gone With The Sun – The Wings [NIGERIA]

Red Storm – Ruby And The Vines [UK]

Paulina (Pt. 1) – Orchestra Les Wanyika [KENYA/TANZANIA]

Biannual Coffee Cups – FUR [UK]

Butsu Mutandarika – Thomas Mapfumo [ZIMBABWE]

Odera Lwar – Owiny Sigoma Band [UK/KENYA]

Let Me Love You – Bunny Mack [SIERRA LEONE]

Stay Up Zimbabwe – Brother Valentino [TRINIDAD & TOBAGO]

Last Chance Dub (Joe Ariwa feat. Annie Brown) – Val Veneto [ARGENTINA/UK]


Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.

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How CKay's 'Love Nwantiti' Became the World's Song

Nigerian singer and producer CKay talks to OkayAfrica about the rise of his international chart-topping single "Love Nwantiti," his genre-defying sound and the reasons behind this era of afrobeats dominance.