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Africa On TV: The Borgen Edition

Danish political drama Borgen heads to Africa for an episode, and the results are far nuanced


In European and American political drama, there comes a time for the "Africa" episode. It's a sign that the leader in question is committed to the "big issues", namely famine, poverty, war, genocide. Thankfully, all of these can be found in one place: the basket-case that is Africa on TV.  It took the writers of acclaimed Danish political drama Borgen a season and a half to take us there, but in Season 2, episode 7 Danish Prime Minister, Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen) dons her khaki skirt suit and heads to Kharun, a fictional country overrun by civil strife.

Our sympathetic Danish leader wants to spread peace on Earth by negotiating a settlement between the Muslim north and the secessionist Christian South, but this is serious political drama, so there are also some material incentives for Nyborg's intervention. The conflict has interrupted oil extraction by Denmark's biggest tycoon. Add to this her crappy numbers in the polls, and you have the confluence of big money and self-interest that is the stuff of political wet dreams. With democracy, the rule of law and a healthy dose of secularism in her outstretched hands, Nyborg marches to Kharun to end religious strife, and while she's at it, notch up some humanitarian brownie points and restore the country's faith in her leadership. Here are the highlights:

The minute they hit the continent, the clouds of dust begin to billow. Nyborg has gone to meet the leaders of Kharun, but there isn't a single city, or even village in sight. This is like filling a show about Britain's political strife with images of the Lake District rather than shots of Parliament. HIC SVNT LEONES.

But there are a few citizens of Kharoun knocking about. Silhouettes in the dusty landscape, they look like mad bad gunslingers. Rather handily though, they double as mechanics, for when the bad roads mess up your 4x4.

More mad, bad men — this time the country's leaders (not a single African woman in this episode on nation building). Naturally they disagree over religion, land and oil.  There's not much to redeem Borgen's portrayal of these two presidents, except that they're so cliched it's a little bit funny.

From the Islamic north is Omar Al-Jahwar (Abdi Gouhad), a scheming Oxford alum wanted by The Hague for war crimes. His rival, Jakob Lokoya (Femi Elufowoju Jr.) is leader of the Christian south. He appeals to the Danes because he doesn't wear a turban, he speaks English and deploys buzzwords like democracy, progress, even referring to one of the Danish delegates "Uncle". But wait....

...there's a catch. After a winning speech about making "South Kharun a shining example for all of Africa" Lokoya, announces with an eerie smile “there are no homosexuals in South Kharun.” This utterance has precisely nothing to do with any of the storylines and its inclusion makes me wonder whether there wasn't some kind of African despot checklist the writers were trying to fulfill. I don't think we need to go into why such cartoonish sketches of African leaders are foolish, but we addressed the problems with understanding Africa as "naturally homophobic" just a week ago.

Despite less than progressive views on both sides of the conflict, the Danes persuade both leaders to come to Denmark for negotiations. When it turns out that North Kharun has been swindling oil revenues it comes as little surprise. In Africa, C is for Corruption.

Despite this (and other) setbacks to the peace process, the Danes decide to use the small matter of North Kharun's swindling as political leverage to close the deal, and the episode ends with faith restored in Nyborg's leadership. It's an accurate portrayal of how Western politicians use humanitarian causes to further their political capital at home, but the underlying message — that only with Danish (read: European) intervention can African leaders resolve their African squabbling –goes unquestioned. Instead, the Danes own democracy, and contrary to what the naughty Muslim patriarch thought, this progressive Western woman has taught both of them a thing or two.

Nul points: It's an otherwise stellar series, but Borgen wins zero prizes for groundbreaking portrayals of Africa.

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(Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Rejoice! WhatsApp Places New Restrictions on Chain Messages to Fight Fake News

To combat the spread of misinformation due to the coronavirus outbreak, users are now restricted from sharing frequently forwarded messages to more than one person.

The rise of the novel coronavirus has seen an increase in the spread of fake news across social media sites and platforms, particularly WhatsApp—a platform known as a hotbed for the forwarding of illegitimate chain messages and conspiracy theories (if you have African parents, you're probably familiar). Now the Facebook-owned app is setting in place new measures to try and curb the spread of fake news on its platform.

The app is putting new restrictions on message forwarding which will limit the number of times a frequently forwarded message can be shared. Messages that have been sent through a chain of more than five people can only subsequently be forwarded to one person. "We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful," announced the app in a blog post on Tuesday. "In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organize public moments of support for frontline health workers."

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The Nigerian rapper shares a gritty new track from his latest album 'Deal With It.'

Phyno is back with his latest, "Osa Ga Eme," the latest single from his fourth studio album Deal With It.

The track is a gritty banger, with a catchy hook that sees the MC delivering rapid rhymes in his native Igbo. The energetic music video features several hip-hop dancers who deliver standout performances as they move along to the songs lyrics. The video was directed by Unlimited LA.

READ: The 10 Best Nigerian Songs of the Month

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Sarkodie Hits Hard With His Latest Single 'Sub Zero'

The Ghanaian heavyweight rapper shows up with the fire bars over an Altra Nova-produced beat.

Sarkodie has dropped a new aggressive track in the shape of "Sub Zero."

"Sub Zero" follows the star Ghanaian rapper as he throws back criticisms that have come his way from other rappers with his own ice cold flow. The new track was produced by Ghanaian beatmaker Altra Nova and mixed by PEE On Da BeaT.

"Sub Zero" follows Sarkodie's turn-up single "Bumper," which dropped bak in February.

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8 South African Hip-Hop Battles We’d Love to Watch

After Tweezy and Gemini Major's battle, we'd like to see these ones next.

Last week, Gemini Major and Tweezy, two of South African hip-hop's super producers hopped on the trend of the Instagram Live beat battle started by Swizz Beatz and Timbaland, amidst the lockdown enforced to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Much to the delight of fans and industry mates alike, Tweezy and Gemini Major showcased their best productions, with many realizing and marveling at the fact that they're the two foremost producers responsible for multiple hits in the South African hip-hop industry for the past 10 years.

South Africa's hip-hop scene has a wide range of producers who have shaped the sound of the country's scene over the years since the 90s and 2000s, to the current crop. Taking that into account, we bring you eight pairs of producers we would like to see go against each other in an IG Live beat battle.


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