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Burundians gather during political rallies.

Burundi Continues with Massive Political Rallies Despite COVID-19 Outbreak

The Burundian government insists that elections scheduled for next month will go ahead as planned.

Massive political rallies in Burundi have sparked health concerns amid the growing coronavirus outbreak, according to the BBC. While Burundi has since closed its borders as part of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, the political rallies being held ahead of the May elections threaten to undermine many of the preventive measures already in place. However, the government insists that the national elections will continue as scheduled.


This past Monday, Burundi's ruling CNDD-FDD party led by President Pierre Nkurunziza, kicked off their election campaign event in Gitega while the main opposition, the National Congress for Liberty, held theirs in Ngozi province.

While authorities have alleged that Burundians who attended the massive rallies were provided with buckets of water along with soap, it is unlikely that every individual was able to sanitise their hands. Despite the World Health Organisation (WHO) having strongly recommended social distancing in the form of varying lockdowns, this is not the case in Burundi.

The country's first-division Vital'O FC football team is still continuing with scheduled fixtures for the league.

National elections are set to take place next month on May 20th. However, in addition to the health concerns, there are also mounting safety concerns as reports of violence by security officials are on the increase. Lewis Mudge, the Central Africa Director at Human Rights Watch (HRW) says, "These elections will be accompanied by more abuses, as Burundian officials and members of the Imbonerakure are using violence with near-total impunity to allow the ruling party to entrench its hold on power."

According to reports by Aljazeera, the HRW has documented killings, disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and the harassment of perceived political opponents over the past six months.

Currently, there are 15 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Burundi with at least one reported death.

Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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