News Brief
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Voters queue to vote at a polling station in Ouagadougou on November 22, 2020, during Burkina Faso's presidential and legislative elections.

Burkina Faso Commences Presidential Elections Despite Jihadist Attacks

Burkina Faso has gone ahead with the country's scheduled presidential elections despite continued attacks from Jihadist groups.

According to EWN, Burkina Faso went ahead with planned elections this past Sunday despite Jihadist threats which resulted in more than a fifth of the country not being able to vote. Additionally, opposition parties have been adamant about unseating current President Roch Marc Christian Kabore. According to Business Day news, Burkina Faso has been facing an unprecedented increase in Al-Qaeda related attacks which have destablised the country.


READ: 10 African Films That Deal With Protest Culture & History

For the first time ever, citizens living outside of Burkina Faso were reportedly allowed to cast their votes. BBC reports that Ivory Coast alone has over 1.7 million potential Burkina Faso voters. President Kaboré cast his vote at a school in Ouagadougou and encouraged people to do the same. Kabore has been president since 2015 and served under former President Blaise Compaoré who was president for three decades. Compaoré was ousted in 2014 and currently lives in exile.

Al Jazeerareports that the elections went relatively smoothly although some polling stations in the eastern region had to be closed because of safety concerns. Jihadists crossing over from Mali entered Burkina Faso about four years ago. Just last week, fourteen of Kabore's military soldiers were killed in a Jihadist ambush for which ISIS later claimed responsibility. Opposition parties have reportedly promised to host peace talks with the terror groups if voted into power. Kabore has reportedly refused this position and instead indicated increasing the number of security and army forces.

Kabore's government signed in a new electoral code this past August. The "extraordinary circumstances" code allowed for presidential and legislative elections to go ahead even if several polling stations cannot open. Opposition parties were dissatisfied by parliament invoking the new code and pledged an unofficial alliance as part of efforts to unseat Kabore in the elections. The change to the electoral code benefits Kabore's political party which has strong support from voters in areas that aren't affected by the violence, including Ouagadougou.

Kabore is, expected to win the election for a second presidential term. His main opposition are Zephirin Diabre, a former finance minister, and Eddie Komboigo, a candidate from the former ruling party. Results are expected to be in by the end of this week.

Popular
Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Bobi Wine Takes His Fight to Venice

Hoping to attract a broader interest in his mission to end dictatorial rule, the Ugandan musician and politician features in a buzzed-about documentary screening at this year’s Venice International Film Festival.


“I had almost forgotten how to be among stars,” tweeted Bobi Wine, tongue-in-cheek, as he posted pictures of his arrival on the red carpet at the Venice International Film Festival for the premiere of Bobi Wine: Ghetto President. Billed as an ‘observational documentary,’ the film brings Wine’s story – how he rose from the informal settlement of Kamwokya and became a star himself – together with his pursuit of justice and democracy in his homeland of Uganda, to an international audience.

Bobi Wine: Ghetto President is showing out of competition and so isn’t up for the festival’s main prize, the Golden Lion. But that’s not why Wine, aka Robert Kyagulanyi, traveled to Italy, wearing the trademark red beret symbol of his People Power movement. Instead, he’s hoping the film draws attention to a cause he’s been championing for the last 5 years.

“I want the people in the international community to know that somewhere in the world, somewhere in Africa, in a country called Uganda, people are being massacred for what they think,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. Above that, Wine is calling for an end to the support President Yoweri Museveni has received, and wants the international community – specifically the US, which provides aid to Uganda – to be aware of how that money is being used to “undermine human rights and democracy in Uganda.”

Taking the film to a prestigious international festival such as Venice presents Wine with a global platform. In a tweet posted by the Venice Film Festival, he’s quoted as saying, “What is happening in Uganda is terrible. I am glad #BobiWineGhettoPresident will bring it to light. People are voiceless there: they need someone to speak for them.”

The film shows how Wine has endeavored to be that voice, both in song and in speech. It traces the start of his grassroots political campaign in 2017 up to 2021, when he ran against Museveni in the presidential elections, and lost, in what many international organizations deemed was a questionable outcome, with claims of vote tampering and fraud.

Ghetto President is directed by Christopher Sharp, who was born in Uganda, and Moses Buyo, an activist who took over camera duties when the film’s previous camera people left the production. Both Sharp and Buyo knew of Wine through his music and had been fans of the messages he sought to share in his music. Following Wine and his wife, Barbie, with fly-on-the-wall footage, the film immerses the audience in their relationship and the trials its undergone as a result of Wine's political activities. One such attack left Wine seeking treatment from the US for his injuries. Indeed, Buyo, too, has suffered his share of assault in making the film, having been shot in the face with a rubber bullet, and also arrested numerous times, while filming.

A still from the documentary Bobi Wine:

A still from the documentary Bobi Wine: Ghetto President, which is currently playing at this year's Venice Film Festival.

Photo: La Biennale Di Venezia

Festival director Alberto Barbera called the documentary “powerful” and “unbelievable,” and it’s received positive reviews so far, with Deadline lauding its ‘stirring’ scenes and message of hope. Similar to Sam Soko’s documentary, Softie, which followed Kenyan photographer-turned-politician Boniface Mwangi, the film is also being heralded for the love story at the center of it, between Wine and Barbie, and how they've persisted in the face of numerous violent actions.

While Ghetto President details Uganda and Wine's specific struggle to fight for democracy, some reviewers have noted it holds a message for governments further afield too. The Hollywood Reporter's Daniel Feinberg says its call to action to hold Museveni accountable speaks to the West's need to 'keep an eye on its own democratic virtues too.' In bringing his message to the world, through the form of a documentary that gets people talking, Wine may also find it resonates far beyond Uganda in ways he could not have imagined.

Literature
Photo: Ruvimbo Muchenje

Despite Persecution, Tsitsi Dangarembga Writes On

The award-winning novelist is awaiting judgment, slated for the end of September, on charges of inciting public violence.

Zimbabwean filmmaker, activist and author Tsitsi Dangarembga remains defiant, continuing to write, despite ongoing persecution from the government. She was arrested in 2020 along with another activist, Julie Barnes, while holding placards calling for reform and the release of investigative journalist Hopewell Chin'ono, in the leafy suburb of Borrowdale, Harare.

The President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led regime arrested several prominent activists and opposition party figures to allegedly thwart planned mass demonstrations over poor governance and state-security brutality during the COVID 19 era, in mid-2020. Chin'ono, one of the country’s most prominent journalists, was arrested for exposing a corruption scandal during the pandemic.

Dangarembga, who became the first Black woman winner of the 2021 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade for her creative work and social engagement, has had numerous work opportunities affected by the ongoing trial against her. Although she has been able to go to the UK to attend the Edinburgh International Book Festival and promote her latest publication – Faber and Faber recently released a book of her essays, titled Black and Female, there – she has missed other chances to travel.

As in most developing nations, the arts sector in Zimbabwe does not pay much and most creatives look out for various opportunities for survival in a country hit by economic malaise, shortages of basic commodities and currency crisis. When Dangarembga was released on bail in 2020, surrendering her passport to the police to ensure she would not flee the country was part of her bail condition.

“In the beginning, I was very optimistic that the case would be dealt with speedily,” she says, adding that in December 2020 when she received her passport back to attend her fellowship at the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study in Cape Town, in neighboring South Africa, she did not think the case would have much impact on her work.

The magistrate who ruled in the matter even told her that the charges were not grave. “I received my passport back and no longer reported weekly from December 2020, which was a relief,” says Dangarembga. But she realized her predicament at the hands of the regime in her homeland was far from over when the state took a long time to prepare for trial and kept changing dates.

“It was difficult to adjust my schedule to the court dates. With the creative economy in Zimbabwe being as depressed and specific as it is, I cannot afford to miss any opportunity to earn a living,” she says. “I missed an important teaching job in Johannesburg that I still think about with regret to this day. I love mentoring young African people to tell their stories, whether it be on screen or on paper.”

It is now more than two years since Dangarembga was placed on remand, waiting and going through trials for a case that has yet to be finalized. If convicted, she faces several years in prison. The judgment was due to be delivered on the 26th of August but it was postponed to September 29 because Dangarembga's co-accused did not attend court that day as she was outside the country.

Still, she continues to work on the projects that fuel her fire and further her message. Dangarembga is currently writing a young adult speculative dystopian fiction called Sai-Sai and the Great Ancestor of Fire. “This is the work that has suffered the most from the events of the last two years,” she says. Dangarembga says her concentration on fiction has been affected because the place she writes from is occupied with turmoil about the trial. “However, I was able to work on some screenplays,” she says.

“When the trial began in earnest I did not manage much work at all,” she says. “All my work is generated from my own internal environment as a writer, so the last five months or so have been very difficult for me.”

The 63-year-old writer, born in Mutoko, a town 143 kilometers northeast of Harare, moved to the UK at the age of two. She returned in 1980, before Zimbabwe gained independence from British colonialists. Her first novel, Nervous Conditions, won a Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1989. She is also credited for writing the story that was turned into Zimbabwe’s highest grossing film in 1993, Neria, and three years later, she became the first Black Zimbabwean woman to direct a feature film, Everyone’s Child. Just days before she was arrested in 2020, Dangarembga’s novel This Mournable Body, which is part of a series, was nominated for the prestigious Booker Prize.

Regarding Dangarembga’s case, Beatrice Mtetwa, a human rights lawyer, says there can be no doubt that it is persecution under the guise of prosecution. “The constitution provides for the freedom to demonstrate and to petition peacefully and there can be no doubt that a two-women protest could not have been anything but peaceful,” she says. “Dangarembga’s prosecution is, sadly, one of the many cases of abuse using the criminal justice system.”

Kenyan-based award-winning writer, editor and publisher Zukiswa Wanner says the state does not have a viable case. “It is tragic that Zimbabwean authorities are so full of fear that something as simple as a woman marching alone with a placard is seen as inciting public violence instead of it being seen as a request for them to do better by citizens,” Wanner, who's co-facilitated training workshops with Dangarembga around the continent, tells OkayAfrica.

Wanner, who was born in Zambia but raised in Zimbabwe, believes it’s the top government officials who've destroyed the country that should be in prison, not critics like Dangarembga. Upholding human rights, along with drawing attention to women and gender issues, has long been central to the work that has earned Dangarembga praise.

“I think the state targets dissenting voices. Some of those dissenting voices are women’s voices,” Dangarembga says. “I think the effect of taking action against women is particularly shocking because women’s dissident voices are usually not violent. Peaceful protest is a constitutional right in Zimbabwe.” And Dangarembga intends to exercise that right as much as she can.

Sports
(Photo by Youssef Loulidi/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Morocco Advance to the Round Of 16 in the World Cup

Morocco join Senegal as the second African country make the knockout stages at Qatar 2022.

Morocco have officially joined the string of African countries who have been excelling at the FIFA World Cup.

By beating Canada, 2-1, the North African country finish at the top of their Group F, besting strong footballing countries like Belgium and Croatia, and advancing to the last 16 teams in the World Cup.

During the game against Canada, the Moroccan side strategically capitalized on its opponents' mistakes, especially those from Canadian defender Steven Vitória and goalkeeper Milan Borjan. At the height of the game, Vitória attempted to pass the ball back to Borjan at the same time that Youssef En-Nesyri was giving chase. Borjan left his net to play the ball but En-Nesyri’s seamlessness with the ball overpowered him and gave Hakim Ziyech the leeway to easily score a goal from a distance.

By half-time against Canada, Morocco was already in the lead, with strong indications pointing to the possibility that they would push through the knockout round. The win came with an eruption of celebration from fans who witnessed the team win at Al Thumama Stadium in Qatar.

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News Brief
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Burna Boy Tops 2022 African Streams on Both Spotify & Apple Music

The Nigerian star dominated African streaming lists across both platforms.

On Wednesday, November 30th, Spotify announced its 2022 Wrapped campaign and personalized user experience. In line with that, the music streaming powerhouse also revealed the top songs, albums, and podcasts that dominated the playlists of its 456M listeners around the world.

With the rise of Afrobeats and Amapiano this year, also came the domination of some of Africa’s leading artists and based on the numbers that Spotify put out, Burna Boy was leading the pack. The African Giant dominated the list as The Top African Artist Streamed Globally, Top African Artist on Spotify, and Top Songs Streamed Across Africa ("Last Last").

Spotify's Top Breakout Artist in Africa this year was Asake and the Top African Songs Streamed Globally was the ever-present "Love Nwatiti" by Ckay.

Apple Music also released a list of the top songs and albums for 2022, and again, Burna Boy topped the list. The release of his sixth studio album Love, Damini generated massive critical acclaim and the leading single “Last Last” quickly a global anthem.

According to Apple’s analytics, the album was the most streamed on Apple Music Nigeria, Apple Music Ghana and Apple Music Kenya in 2022. It is also the third most streamed album on Apple Music South Africa in 2022.

According to Phiona Okumu, Head of Music, Spotify Africa, the Spotify Wrapped campaign is also an opportunity for African artists to continue to thrive both home and abroad.

“As always, we also have our Wrapped creator experience for podcasters and artists. With access to their own individualized Wrapped microsite experience, creators can dive into all the ways in which their fans listened this year. We are so excited to continue to support the growth of these artists globally and at home,” said Okumu.

The “Ye” singer has continued to push boundaries and like many of his successful peers in the African music scene, have shown the world that African music, art and talent can push global boundaries and make the world listen.

Following numerous sold out tours, including an eye-popping headliner show at New York’s Madison Square Garden, it is not difficult to see why the afrobeats heavyweight continues to thrive and put Africa as a whole on the map.

Graphic provided by Spotify.


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