News Brief

Benin Enforced an Internet Shutdown on the Same Day as Uncontested Elections

As a result, voter turnout was low Sunday in a country with 5 million registered voters.

Benin held parliamentary elections Sunday leaving citizens without access to opposition candidates and the internet.

Social media platforms including WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as Spacetel—Benin's leading internet provider—was shut down according to NetBlocks (a digital monitoring organization), Quartz Africa reports. VPNs were also blocked.

This makes Benin the latest African country alongside Sudan, Egypt and the Democratic Republic of Congo to restrict internet access ahead of pertinent elections, protests and dissent—which in turn impacts the democratic process the country is known to respect.


François Patuel, Amnesty International's West Africa researcher, has called on Benin authorities to lift the restrictions so that citizens can freely express their opinions on the elections.

"The decision to shut down access to the Internet and social media on an election day is a blunt violation of the right to freedom of expression," he says in a statement. "It is effectively silencing human rights defenders, journalists and bloggers who are monitoring contested parliamentary elections without opposition candidates."

The country's 5 million registered voters were only given two options to vote for on the ballot—two parties that have declared allegiance to President Patrice Talon. These parties also met the "requirements" to be included in the elections: pay a fee of about $424,000, according to BBC.

"All indications are...from election observers that voter turnout appears to be low. That's in huge contrast to 5 years ago, when people had 20 parties to choose from—now, they have two to choose from," Al Jazeera's Ama Boateng says from Cotonou in this video report. "Opposition parties have asked their supporters to stay at home, and that could be one of the reasons why we're seeing such low numbers."

Controversial
Photo: Joseph Okpako/WireImage

30BG vs. Wizkid FC: Dissecting the Rivalry Between Two of Nigeria's Biggest Fanbases

We talk to Wizkid and Davido's Twitter superfans about their daily exchanges of animosity—and if there can ever be peace.

Two months ago, on a cold Thursday night, dozens scurried into a small-sized capacity auditorium. There, Davido was answering questions under bright lights on stage and, minutes later, he would elicit a loud ovation from the small crowd after delivering an energetic live performance of a few songs from his soon-to-be released album, A Better Time. But he was sure oblivious to the number one trending topic that night on Twitter.

The hashtag #ABetterThrash was oozing retweets and conversations on Twitter. As the clock ticked down to midnight when Davido's A Better Time was to be released, the infamous hashtag nestled at the top of the trends. Who was behind this strange hashtag minutes before the album's public release? Wizkid FC.

To the group, it was nothing personal. They were finally shaking the hand of hatred extended by Davido's 30BG a few weeks back when the word "Thrash" appeared as a trending topic alongside Made In Lagos. "I wondered how 30BG could do this and go scot-free when your fav is about to drop too," Basit, a staunch member of Wizkid FC pondered. "When ABT dropped, I was like it's time for payback."

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Listen to Wizkid's 'Made In Lagos' Interview with Apple Music

Wizkid speaks on Apple Music's 'The Zane Lowe Show' about artistic growth, being an old soul and working with Damian Marley and Ella Mai on his latest album, 'Made In Lagos'.

Wizkid has revealed deep insights in his latest interview on Apple Music's The Zane Lowe Show. The Afrobeats star reflects on the success of his latest album Made In Lagos which dropped in October of 2019. The interview with famed DJ and radio host Zane Lowe is a musical musing on collaborations, resilience, lessons learnt from the COVID-19 lockdown and artistic growth. The dialogue forecasts Wizkid's current music-making for a post-pandemic era.

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Image courtesy of artist.

13 South African Artists To Look Out For In 2021

Here's a list of South African artists to watch in 2021. Featuring Kamo Mphela, Azana, Lucasraps, Joda Kgosi, Intaba Yase Dubai and more.

Because we keep our ears on the streets, every beginning of the year, we make our predictions of South African artists we feel will have a huge impact on the scene based on their activity from the previous year. Peep our predictions for 2020 here.

As tough as 2020 was, new artists put in the groundwork laying a solid foundation for what is likely to be a great 2021 for them. From Intaba YaseDubai, whose hook was a big contributor to the success of Big Zulu's "Imali Eningi", to popular dancer Kamo Mphela's fruitful forays into being a recording artist, new wave lyricist Lucasraps who's raking in thousands of plays on SoundCloud for his new age raps, we bring you 13 South African artists who are likely to make a big impact on the SA music scene this year.

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