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."

News Brief
Photo by Seyllou/AFP via Getty Images

France Returns a 19th Century Sword Back to Senegal

The sword belonged to a Senegalese anti-colonial struggle fighter Omar Saidou Tall.

France has returned a 19th century sword back to Senegal. The sword belonged to Senegalese Islamic scholar and anti-colonial struggle fighter Omar Saidou Tall. The French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe recently handed over the sword to Senegal's President Macky Sall in a ceremony held in Dakar this past Sunday. The sword is now in the Museum of Black Civilizations of Dakar. The move comes after the Senegalese government's request for France to return more than 100 artifacts housed in French museums and France's President Emmanuel Macron subsequently commissioned a report entitled "The Restitution of African Cultural Heritage: Toward a New Relational Ethics".

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Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images

South Africa's Iconic Group Bongo Maffin is Set to Release a New Album

It will be the group's first album in well over a decade.

Last year, the iconic South African kwaito group Bongo Maffin, reunited after several years. They then went on to release the single "Harare" much to the delight of their numerous fans. Of course, the single was just an appetizer for everything else still to come. Thandiswa "King Tha" Mazwai, one of the members of the diverse quartet, recently confirmed that Bongo Maffin will be releasing an album on November 29th—the group's first album in well over a decade.

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Image courtesy of Riveriswild

#BuyBlack: The 8 Black-Owned Brands To Shop For On Black Friday

It's that time of year again, here is OkayAfrica's 2019 gift guide for you to #BuyBlack this Friday.

You know we're near the end of 2019 once the holiday season comes back around. Thanksgiving is upon us and the bargain shopping and gift-giving is set to commence thereafter. While this American "holiday" being questionable in of itself, Black Friday is a prime occasion to highlight, support and spend exclusively with black-owned businesses.

Just like we mentioned last year, let's keep the 'for us, by us' energy going. Even beyond the hustle and bustle of Black Friday, tap into the businesses that continue to contribute to wealth-building, development and employment in Black communities around the world.

Here is OkayAfrica's curated shortlist of black-owned brands to take note of this Black Friday, including some standout home decor, fashion, skincare and beauty brands you should know.

Take a look below.

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