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."

Photo courtesy of Doble Seis Entertainment

Burna Boy, Teni, AKA, Sho Madjozi, Mr Eazi & More Earn 2019 BET Award Nominations

This year's "Best International Act" categories are stacked with some of the biggest names in African pop.

The nominees for this year's BET Awards have been announced, and one again, some of the biggest names in African pop have been named in the " International Act" categories.

This year, Nigerian acts Burna Boy, Mr Eazi have been nominated in the "Best International Act" category. They've each had standout years, with both artists performing at the Coachella Music Festival this year.

They're nominated alongside South African star rapper AKA, who won a Kids' Choice Award earlier this year for "Favorite South African Star," and the French-Malian pop singer and one of OkayAfrica's 100 Women Aya Nakamura. French-Cameroonian and Togolese rapper Dosseh and UK rappers Dave, and Giggs round out the heavily-stacked category.

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Photo still courtesy of Chika Okoli.

This New Documentary Sheds Light On the History of a Beloved Nigerian Staple—Agege Bread

'Fresh Agege Bread' by Chika Okoli's FABA gives us a much-needed insight into the popularity of Nigeria's coveted Agege Bread.

This new documentary following Nigeria's own Agege Bread contributes to the need of preserving and documenting food culture on the continent.

In Fresh Agege Bread, directed and produced by filmmaker Chika Okoli of FABA (For Africans By Africans), we follow food researcher Ozoz Sokoh as she traces the history and popularity of Agege Bread featuring its pioneering bakers, community figureheads and locals. The documentary touches on the rise of the booming product as well as addresses some of the controversies around the health and safety measures applied in the production of this staple.

For Okoli, the inability to find such insights about this significant food in Nigerian culture is what inspired her to develop this documentary.

"Agege Bread is so popular in Lagos but shockingly, there is very little information about it online and the same can be said about other cultural elements that are significant to our way of life," she shares with us.

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amA picture taken on May 17, 2019 in Berlin shows a Stone Cross, a key 15th-century navigation landmark erected by Portuguese explorers, seen at the History Museum in Berlin. (Photo: TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Germany to Return Stolen 15th Century Stone Cross to Namibia

Germany's Culture Minister says the move is a "clear sign" that the country is committed to coming to terms with its colonial past.

In the latest development in the movement towards African art repatriation, the German government will return a 15th-century Portuguese stone cross that has been in its possession since the colonial era, back to its original home in Namibia.

The cross was a navigation landmark placed on the coastline of present-day Namibia in 1496, before it was taken in the late 17th century under German colonial rule, BBC Africa reports.

The Namibian government put out a request for its return back in 2017, and the request was formally approved today by the Berlin Museum. The cross is set to be returned in August, according to a statement from the museum.

READ: Taking Back Our History: Understanding African Art Repatriation

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