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Photos: Burna Boy Brought His 'African Giant' Energy to NYC's Historic Apollo Theater

The artist preformed to a sold-out crowd on Friday night, running through several hits and encouraging fans to love people before it's too late.

Burna Boy was in full "African Giant" form on Friday night, when he took over Harlem's historic Apollo Theater for a sold out show, marking his return to NYC ahead of his highly-anticipated, upcoming set at Coachella.

While the artist follows in the steps of fellow African acts Salif Keita, Sarkodie, and Black Coffee, who've all sold-out shows at the Apollo, he is the first Nigerian artist to have accomplished this feat. The storied venue has also hosted legends the likes of Fela Kuti and Miriam Makeba in the past. The occasion felt special—like a sort of cementing of the cultural influence of Nigerian pop.

The seats of the close-knit space filled quickly as the night's hosts entertained the well-dressed and energetic crowd with the usual Ghana versus Nigeria banter. The lively audience chose to ignore the theater's signature velvety red seats in favor of standing and jamming out to the string of now decade-old "afrobeats" classics played by DJ Buka ahead of Burna's arrival.

A few openers later and Burna Boy hit the stage in a confident stride, triumphantly scoping out the jam-packed crowd before reaching down to meet fans' expectant hands.


Photo by Emmanuel Sasu Mensah Agbeble

He opened his hour-and-a-half long set with "Heaven's Gate," his 2018 collaboration with Lily Allen, before jumping into the 2013 banger "Yawa Dey."

This was followed by performances of nearly every track from his celebrated 2018 album Outside, throwing in renditions of one-off releases like "Deja Vu" and "Hallelujah" in between, as well as earlier fan-favorites including "Like to Party," "Don Gordon" and the heavily Fela-inspired "Soke."

He brought out British-Nigerian rapper Dave for a performance of their recent collaboration "Location,"as well as choreographer and 100 Women Honoree Izzy Odigie who showed off her impressive zanku during "Killin' Dem."

Photo by Emmanuel Sasu Mensah Agbeble

Of course, the song on everyone's mind was "Ye," the anthemic hit, which closed out the night. As if on cue, the audience went into an uproarious sing-along as soon as the beat dropped, leaving Burna with little work to do besides holding out his microphone in the crowd's direction.

Before the show's end, the artist called for a moment of silence and (phone) lighters raised in honor of Eritrean-American rapper Nipsey Hussle and Kolade Johnson, who was killed by Nigeria's Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) last Sunday. It was clear that the fickleness of life and the importance of cherishing loved ones was on Burna's mind, even during the cheerful occasion. 'Whoever you love, tell them you love them at all times," said the artist in a parting message. "Cause you don't know when life is going to end and you're never going to see them again...make sure you do it as much as you can because when you're gone and you can't do it anymore, you're going to feel like a dickhead for not doing it now."

Check out more photos from the show below, by photographer Emmanuel Sasu Mensah Agbeble.

Photo by Emmanuel Sasu Mensah Agbeble

Photo by Emmanuel Sasu Mensah Agbeble

Photo by Emmanuel Sasu Mensah Agbeble

Dave performing with Burna BoyPhoto by Emmanuel Sasu Mensah Agbeble


Photo by Emmanuel Sasu Mensah Agbeble

Photo by Emmanuel Sasu Mensah Agbeble

Photo by Emmanuel Sasu Mensah Agbeble

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"La valse des mailles" by Noella Elloh

Photos: 'Weaving Generations' Confronts Environmental Destruction in Côte d'Ivoire

The photo series, by artist Noella Elloh, advocates for collective responsibility around the "environmental question" across the continent by highlighting the threat it poses to a village of fishermen in Abidjan.

Noella Elloh is an Ivorian photographer and contemporary visual artist whose work contemplates identity, culture, environment and the role each play's in the stories of people across the continent.

Her latest work "Weaving Generations" centers on members of the fishing village of Blokosso, located in the center of Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire's largest city. According to the artist, its themes include familial ties, urbanization, and the hazardous effects of environmental degradation, an issue that directly impacts the fishermen's livelihoods. "Today, instead of fishes, the fishermen's nets thrown in the water come back up with waste," says Elloh. "The Ebrie fishermen find themselves with the mesh of their nets torn down by scrap metal. Domestic, chemical, and Industrial wastes are also found in their nets. The depth of the lagoon decreases due to sedimentation. Rising waters are gradually making pieces of the land disappear."

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Photo: Tjeerd Braat. Courtesy of Marieme.

The 11 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Bas, Ycee, Major League, Moonchild Sanelly, Niniola, Indigo Stella, Fireboy DML, Marieme and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our best music of the week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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University lecturer and activist Doctor Stella Nyanzi (L) reacts in court as she attends a trial to face charges for cyber-harassment and offensives communication, in Kampala, on April 10, 2017. (Photo by GAEL GRILHOT/AFP via Getty Images)

Jailed Ugandan Activist, Stella Nyanzi, Wins PEN Prize for Freedom of Expression

The outspoken activist, who is currently serving a prison sentence for a poem she wrote about the president's mother's vagina, won for her resistance "in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her."

Stella Nyanzi, the Ugandan academic, activist, and vocal critic of President Yoweri Museveni has been awarded the 2020 Oxfam Novib/PEN International award for freedom of expression, given to writers who "continue to work for freedom of expression in the face of persecution."

Nyanzi is currently serving a 15 month sentence for "cyber harassment" after she published a poem in which she wrote that she wished "the acidic pus flooding Esiteri's (the president's mother) vaginal canal had burn up your unborn fetus. Burn you up as badly as you have corroded all morality and professionalism out of our public institutions in Uganda."

According to the director of PEN International, Carles Torner, her unfiltered outspokenness around the issues facing her country is what earned her the award. "For her, writing is a permanent form of resistance in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her," said Torner at the award ceremony.

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Photo: Ben Depp.

Watch Yilian Canizares & Paul Beaubrun's Beautiful Video For 'Noyé'

"Cuba and Haiti come together to share the love and heritage of our deep rooted culture and spirituality."

Yilian Canizares and Paul Beaubrun connect for the serene "Noyé," one of the highlights from Canizares' latest album, Erzulie.

The Cuban singer and Haitian artist are now sharing the new Arnaud Robert-directed music video for the single, which we're premiering here today.

"Noyé is a song that comes from our roots," Yilian Canizares tells OkayAfrica. "Inspired by the energy of love. The same love that kept Africa's legacy alive in the hearts of Haiti and Cuba. We wanted to do a stripped down version of only the essential pieces from a musical point of view. Something raw and beautiful where our souls would be naked."

The striking music video follows Canizares and Beaubrun to the waters of New Orleans, the universal Creole capital, where they sing and float until meeting on the Mississippi River.

"Noyé is a cry of love from children of African descent," says Paul Beaubrun. "Cuba and Haiti come together to share the love and heritage of our deep rooted culture and spirituality."

Watch the new music video for "Noyé" below.

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