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Angelique Kidjo, Femi Kuti, Chris Martin, Brian Eno & More Sign Letter Condemning the Imprisonment of Bobi Wine

A host of artists have signed a letter in support of Bobi Wine, sent to the Ugandan government.

As we've been reporting, Ugandan politician and musician Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, is facing unjust imprisonment and government harassment for speaking out against Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni.

Reports state that Bobi Wine has been detained and brutally beaten. He's currently being held by the military and faces a tribunal this Thursday, August 23.



A group of noteworthy musicians and music industry names has now come together to sign a letter in support of Bobi Wine.

The signees include Angelique Kidjo, Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti, Chris Martin, Brian Eno, Damon Albarn, Peter Gabriel and many more.

Read the full letter below:


Tuesday August 21 2018

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the arrest, imprisonment and vicious, life-threatening physical attack by Ugandan government forces on popular Ugandan singer and Member of Parliament, the Honourable Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, a.k.a Bobi Wine. We also condemn the unprovoked killing of his driver, Yasin Kawuma as well as the beating and arrest of three other opposition Members of Parliament.

The above incidents took place in the town of Arua on Monday August 13, where Bobi Wine was attending a bi-election rally in support of an opposition candidate, Kassiano Wadri. It is claimed that stones were thrown at the convoy of President Museveni who was there to support his candidate. Museveni's security forces then made their way to Bobi Wine's hotel where Yasin Karuma was sitting in Bobi's car and was shot in the head at close range and killed. Yasin was sitting in the co-driver's seat where Bobi Wine normally sits. The possibility of an assassination attempt cannot be ruled out. They then entered the hotel, kicking in doors and arresting many people, including hotel staff, journalists and other opposition MPs until they found Bobi who was beaten to within an inch of his life and arrested.

They claim to have found two sub-machine guns, a pistol and ammunition in Bobi's room and he was charged with treason and taken before a military tribunal on Thursday. His face was badly swollen and he could neither talk, see or walk, so vicious was the beating he'd received. The charge against him was reduced to the illegal possession of arms and he is currently detained in an army barracks with limited access by his family and lawyers until a further appearance before a military tribunal this coming Thursday.

We call upon the Ugandan government to ensure his full access to medical treatment, to allow a full and impartial investigation of his violent arrest and imprisonment and of the brutal killing of Yasin Kawuma, and to follow internationally recognised procedures and safeguards in proceeding with any case against him.

We pledge to remain vigilant about his ongoing detention and to use our voices and networks at the local, regional and international levels to raise awareness about his case, to press for his immediate and unconditional release, and for an end to this and other acts of political repression and violence in Uganda.

We also call for the lawful and humane treatment of the more than thirty other detainees that were arrested at the same time as Bobi Wine. Some of them are also fighting for life.

N.B. At the same time as Bobi appeared before the tribunal the results of Wednesday's by-election were announced. The candidate, Kassiano Wadri, who Bobi had come to Arua to support, had won. He also remains in custody, still charged with treason.

AARON BEBE SUKURA, - Musician, Ghana ABIOLA OKE – CEO OkayAfrica/Okayplayer ADAM CLAYTON – Musician U2 ADE BANTU – Musician, Producer Nigeria AHDAF SOUEIF – Author AISHA ORAZBAYEVA – Musician, violinist ALEX HEFFES - Composer ALFRED ADEFILA - Musician, Lagos ALI BUKARI aka NUBIAN – Musician ANGELIQUE KIDJO - Musician BANNING EYRE - Senior Producer, Afropop Worldwide BELINDA ATIM – Uganda Sustainable Development Initiative BRIAN ENO – Artist, musician, producer CHICOCO RADIO - Port Harcourt Nigeria CHRIS MARTIN – Musician Coldplay CHRISSIE HYNDE – Musician CLAUDE GATEBUKE – African Great Lakes Action Network DAMON ALBARN – Musician, Blur, Gorillaz DAN ACEDA - Musician, Nairobi DELE SOSIMI – The Afrobeat Orchestra DR VINCENT MAGOMBE – Journalist and Broadcaster EDDY YAWE - Musician EMEL MATHLOUTHI – Musician EMRE RAMAZANOGLU – Musician & Producer ERIAS LUKWAGO - Kampala City Lord Mayor FATOUMATA SOW - Music Industry Professional, Mali FEMI ANIKULAPO KUTI – Musician Nigeria FRANCESCA MARTINEZ – Writer & Comedian FRANK RYNNE - Senior Lecturer British Studies, UCP, France FREDERICO RODRIGUES DE PAULA SANTOS (FRED) – Footballer Manchester United GEOFF TRAVIS – Rough Trade Records HELEN EPSTEIN - Author of Uganda and the War on Terror HUGH CORNWELL - Musician HON MEDARD SSEGONA - Member of Parliament Uganda IAIN C NEWTON - Founder, Silent B Inc.USA JAMIE DRUMMOND – Co-founder of ONE JAN PETER SCHWAIM – Musician, Composer JESSE HACKETT – Musician JOHN CONGLETON – Musician, Producer JON HASSELL - Musician JOHNNY BORRELL – Musician Razorlight JOJO MAYER – Musician JONATHAN HENDERSON – Artist Management JOSEPH MAYANJA aka Jose Chameleon Musician JULIANA KANYOMOZI – Musician Uganda JULIANI - Rapper, founder Dondora Hiphop City, Nairobi JUSTIN ADAMS - Musician KADIALY KOUYATE – Musician KWEKU MANDELA – Filmmaker LEO ABRAHAMS – Producer, musician, composer LORD WOOD OF ANFIELD – House of Lords UK MARIE KORPE – Co-Founder FREEMUSE & Editor MARKUS DRAVS – Producer MARTIN GOLDSCHMIDT – Co-Founder Cooking Vinyl MASUUZA EDRISA – aka Eddy Kenzo Musician MAURICE BERNSTEIN - President the Giant Step Organisation MAURICE CARNEY – Friends of the Congo MILTON ALLIMADI – Founder Black Star News MONTE – Musician NICHOLAS OPIYO - Human rights lawyer Uganda NICK LAIRDE-CLOWES – Artist The Dream Academy NIKE RANSOME KUTI – Lawyer Nigeria OHAL GRIETZER – Composer ORHAN MASLO OHA – Director of Rock School Bosnia OWEN PALLETT – Composer PEDRO COQUENAO – Musician, Producer PETER GABRIEL – Artist, Producer PHIL HARVEY – Musician Coldplay RAOUL ,MARTINEZ – Author REGGIE WATTS – Musician RICHIE TROUGHTON - Writer RIKKI STEIN – Kalakuta Sunrise Ltd ROBIN RIMBAUD – Musician RUTH DANIEL – Director In Place of War RWAKAFUZI LAUDISLAS - Human rights lawyer SEBASTIAN ROCHFORD – Musician, Polar Bear SEGUN ADEFILA - Founder Crowne Troupe of Africa, Lagos SEUN ANIKULAPO KUTI - Musician STEPHEN BUDD – Director Africa Express, NH7 Festivals. Music Managers Forum STEPHEN HENDEL – Kalakuta Sunrise LLC STEVE JONES – Musician TOM WATSON – Deputy Leader of the Labour Party UK TOUMANI DIABATE – Musician Mali TUNDE ADEBIMPE – Musician, Actor, TV on the Radio VINCENT MAGOMBE – Director Africa Inform International WANLOV the KUBOLOR – Musician Ghana WOLE SOYINKA – Nobel Laureate Nigeria

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Photo Credit: Klaus Vedfelt

How “Japa” Became the Nigerian Buzzword for Emigration

"Japa" is Yoruba for “to run, flee, or escape.” The word takes firm root in the aspiration that young Nigerians have to leave the country for good.

While migration is a natural human experience, an array of circumstances illustrate reasons for relocation. In Nigeria, it’s a serious endeavor, often triggered by economic hardship. In recent years, the pursuit for a better quality of life overseas has taken on an anxious, nerve-tingling quality. Colloquially known as "Japa" — which is Yoruba for “to run, flee, or escape” — the word takes firm root in the aspiration that young Nigerians have to leave the country for good.

It’s both a disavowal of patriotism and a new cultural personality. On TikTok, Japa has been launched as comic material, including nuggets and tips on how to navigate moving to a different country. Tweets about Japa continue to surge. With origins from the 2018 Naira Marley song of the same name, the word has shifted into the lexicon of Nigeria’s young demographic as a marker of discontent.

@anchi_vibes

How did we get here💔😭😭😭 #fyp #viral #anchivibes #getyourpvc #consequencia

“I think there has been a general concern in Nigeria about the increasing desperation of young people to seek greener pastures abroad by any means possible,” Femi Odugbemi, producer of Movement Japa, tells OkayAfrica. The series premiered late in 2021 on Showmax, and sharply mirrors young Nigerians and their sensibilities around survival and emigration.

“What became my motivation for telling the story of Movement Japa is the understanding that beyond the desire for a better life, many young people were also fleeing the country in response to the failure and corruption of public institutions that should serve them."

Japa is a continuum of other mass exoduses and their triggers. Nigeria’s economic downturn in the '80s drove many citizens out of the country to survive. Because of the health sector crisis (unpaid wages, endless strike, and poor infrastructure) doctors are now synonymous with the country’s brain drain.

Chris (we're using a pseudonym to protect privacy) came to the UK in 2019. Now a GP trainee and doing better for himself, he doesn’t regret his decision to leave. “It was after Youth Service, after finishing my housemanship as a doctor that I decided to relocate because I got tired of the situation in Nigeria like poor healthcare and education," Chris said. "I come from a poor background, and I had to save a lot to help my relocation. I have a couple of friends who are coming to the UK to do their Masters, but also using it as an opportunity to escape Nigeria.”

Ernest Udor, a tech expert who has been in Canada since 2016, now assists Nigerians in leaving the country. Through a WhatsApp group titled Nigerians 4 Canada, Udor informs members of the latest Canadian immigration policies, universities for study, work prospects, scholarships and grants, and so on. “I talk to many young people in the group who want to move to Canada because of the faulty education system in Nigeria and poor funding,” Udor said. “Nigeria has failed them considering the academic strike that has put students at home for several months and jeopardizing their future. I don’t blame them for leaving and even though we usually joke about Japa, we know this is serious at the end of the day.”

Nigerian passport

Photo Credit: Osarieme Eweka

For other Nigerians, their decision to leave the country was sealed after the Lekki Shooting in 2020. In a tragic turn, peaceful demonstrations against police brutality led to several (young) protesters gunned down by soldiers. A movement that rode on infectious patriotism spearheaded by the country’s youths had the same youths drowning in hopelessness afterwards.

“We grew up hearing that we are the future of Nigeria but something died within me when it happened,” Temi Craig, a student who had turned 21 a day before the shooting, told OkayAfrica. “We were nothing to the government and that’s why we were disposable. I couldn’t bring myself to believe in Nigeria any longer. I knew right there that my future was far away from the country.”

Certain factors play into the odds of migration. Socioeconomic background can enable people to relocate, or can make it considerably difficult. While middle-upper class Nigerians experience little to no financial barriers in moving overseas, poor Nigerians usually don’t have the means. It is why class warfare continues to drive many civil protests and strikes in the country.

From a middle class Nigerian family, 37-year-old Imo Ekanem was born in Lagos but raised in Italy. She believes that class status has a role to play. After arriving in Italy in the '80s, because her dad had a scholarship, they stayed back because the quality of life was better. “My dad went to the art university in Tuscany, my uncle was a doctor in Italy, and my aunt started nursing in Italy and continued in New York and others worked in the bank mostly in Nigeria," Ekanem said. "They are not rich but comfortable. Now in Italy there’s a huge wave of African refugees from African countries through the sea, with many Nigerians among the West Africans. I don’t think my family would have done something like that.”

With help from young Nigerians, Japa has gained cultural momentum but it translates differently for millennials and Gen-Zers. Due to better financial outcomes accrued from job experiences and retention, millennials in Nigeria fare relatively better in making the decision to emigrate. On the other hand, Gen-Zers still move through a precarious space of university strikes, comparative unemployment, and low income from entry-level jobs.

Mass relocation comes with consequences. In Nigeria’s Kaduna, 112 doctors are reportedly left on the state’s payroll, which is inexorably failing to bridge the doctor-patient ratio (1:7000) in the country. Beyond healthcare delivery, nation building needs its best hands and Odugbemi strengthens this sentiment: “Human capital is really Nigeria’s biggest asset. We are a young country with over 60% of 150 million under the age of fifty," Odugbemi said. "Effectively the future of the country is dependent on the youth population building the country through their creative energies, their innovation and capacities. Every young person fleeing Nigeria in desperation carries with them a vital place of that future. It is an unaffordable price to pay for inefficient systems, corrupt institutions and poor planning.”

Nigeria city

Photo Credit: Peeter Viisimaa

Nigeria’s upcoming elections in 2023 is the country’s biggest conversation. As such, it is hatching new desires to relocate, as many feel that they are saddled with unattractive choices in presidential aspirants. It has precipitated fear around the elections as a tipping point, a palpable feeling that things could worsen in Nigeria for the next eight years.

However, hope is seemingly seeping back into public imagination with Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s presidential candidate. His biggest supporters are young people who, once more, are being funneled back into patriotism. If Obi wins and produces tangible change, a counterculture would be ignited, one that requires staying back to fix the country’s issues.

Images: Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images; Photo by Joseph Okpako/WireImage; Photo by Burak Cingi/Redferns

This Year's Lost In Riddim Music Festival Is Canceled

The music festival was canceled by organizers as they prepare to come back even bigger and better in the New Year.

Update 08/17: And another one bites the dust.

This year's Lost in Riddim international music and art festival has been canceled, according to a statement shared via the event's official Instagram page. What would have been the Bay Area's delicious groove fest to end off of summer 2022, the raincheck has left both concert-goers and event organizers, Sol Blume, in distress. Performances from the likes of Burna Boy, Wizkid, Major League DJs, Davido, legendary Jamaican rapper Sean Paul, were set to set the stages on fire over this year's Nigerian Independence Day weekend. We trust that they'll come back even stronger after some time to regroup.

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Photos
Image courtesy of the Institute Museum of Ghana

Spotlight: Nigerian Artist Festus Alagbe Is Unmasking Your True Identity

We spoke with the visual artist on identity and letting your intuition guide you to success.

In our 'Spotlight' series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists, and more who are producing vibrant, original work.

In our latest piece, we spotlight Nigerian visual artist Festus Kehinde Alagbe. The painting major comes from a family of creatives and entrepreneurs and uses his life experiences and understandings to reflect messages back to the society to which he belongs. Acknowledging his strengths and choosing to focus his energy on his creative pursuits, Alagbe uses the concept of 'masking' to reveal the hidden meaning behind the norms that society has placed upon us. Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem 'We Wear The Mask', acts as a great inspiration for the young artist, as his understanding of human nature led him to portray his artistic subjects as unmasking and masking whichever expression they believe will suit the mood. Alagbe's work also illustrates how the everyday person copes with the harsh realities of life on Earth.

We spoke with the artist about his current spot in Ghana's Noldor Artist Residency, allowing yourself to learn more about your craft, and the pressure that comes with identity.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Describe your background as an artist and the journey you've taken to get it to where it is today.

My artistic journey began in childhood: I was born into a family that holds entrepreneurs and creatives in high esteem. And we're all creative -- my parents were fashion designers, and, likewise my twin brother.

I’m an instinctive artist. I have always wanted to express my imaginations and experiences in a visual form -- either on a two-dimensional surface or in three-dimensional form. That which I can not express with words, I want to express as messages that people can learn from, relate with, and encourage society. But, knowing that instincts aren't enough, I joined The Polytechnic, Ibadan's Department of Art and Design as a painting major to be mentored and become a professional Artist. I became a full-time artist when graduated from school.

I’m currently a Visiting Fellow at the Noldor Artist Residency in Accra, Ghana.

What are the central themes in your work?

I capture different bisected facial expressions to represent time and seasons in the form of masks. I believe that the range of expressions that a face creates is not the true identity. Facial expressions are subject to the situation of society. “We wear the mask that grins and lies, it hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,” says a poem titled “We Wear The Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar.

The true Identity is hidden inside every individual. The characters you exhibit will be determined by the kind of seeds you sow into yourself -- either love or hatred. I use flowers to capture love, passion, seasons, and transient time. The elements I use in the back are biomorphic and fluid in shape, depicting structures and institutions in the world. I also capture and depict Black bodies bursting through with floral elements, referring to the optimism that lies with the pain of being Black, depicting a sense of growth and resilience in the face of ubiquitous racial prejudice and adversity largely faced by people of color. And the flowers bursting through different genders captures different emotions and expressions.

What is your medium of choice, and why?

I use various mediums to express myself, like acrylic, oil, charcoal, etc. I use different mediums as a professional artist because I don’t want to be limited to a medium before I can express myself.

Recently, I uses oil to detail my subject (faces) and acrylic for the background because it dries faster and can be controlled easily.

How has the pandemic affected you creatively?

It has actually affected me in the area of market value and the unavailability of materials to work. But all glory to God for today.

Can you describe your artistic relationship with ‘Afro-futurism' and 'Surrealism’?

I’m a surreal artist of African origin. So, my artistic practice is based on surrealism from an African perspective to address some situations or issues in society at large. I strike a balance between realism, fantasy, and imagination. Afrofuturism addresses themes and concerns of the African diaspora through technoculture and speculative fiction, encompassing a range of media and artists with a shared interest in envisioning Black futures that stem from Afro-diasporic experiences. While Afrofuturism is most commonly associated with science fiction, it can also encompass other speculative genres such as fantasy, alternate history, and magic realism. These are what make my practice relate to Afro-futurism.

Can you talk about your use of colors and jewelry in your art?

I use dark skin tones and colors to depict Black faces with bodies, and I use monochrome colors to explore abstract landscapes as my background. And the abstraction elements in the back are biomorphic and fluid in shape which is the representation of structures and institutions in the world and society.

Image courtesy of the artist

'Split Intent' 2022


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