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Chad's President Idriss Deby Itno (L) decorates general of the Chadian contingent in Mali Oumar Bikimo (L) and his second-in-command major and son of the president Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno (C) during a welcome ceremony, on May 13, 2013, in N'Djamena.

Son of Late Chadian President Idriss Deby to Take Over

Following the recent death of Chadian President Idriss Deby, the country's military has announced that his son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, will take over as interim president.

Chadian President Idriss Deby succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday, April 20, following a confrontation with armed rebels in the capital of N'Djamena, north of the country. The late head of state was recently re-elected into office for a sixth term after he had already spent the last three decades ruling the the North African country. According to Chad's transitional military council, the 68-year-old's son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, will take over as interim president.


READ: Tanzanian President John Magufuli Has Died

According to Al Jazeera, Chad has now entered a period of political uncertainty. However, the nexts steps have reportedly been set out by the current governance structure in place, the National Council of Transition. Chad's constitution has been suspended with the intention of replacing it with a transitional charter, a nationwide curfew has been imposed in addition to a 14-day mourning period, among several agenda points.

The transition period is set to continue for the next 18 months after which "free and democratic" elections will take place, according to the BBC. At just 37-years-old, Deby now becomes the youngest head of state on the continent.

However, news of Deby's appointment has angered the rebels responsible for his father's death. The rebel group, which is known as the Front for Change and Concord in Chad, or FACT) is based in Libya and has clashed regularly with Chad's military. In a recent statement issued by the group, they said, "Chad is not a monarchy. There can be no dynastic devolution of power in our country." They went on to add that, "The forces of the Front for Change and Concord are heading toward N'Djamena at this very moment. With confidence, but above all with courage and determination."

Fears of further violence in the country are admittedly high.

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.

News Brief
Photo: Ayra Starr/Orienteer.

Ayra Starr & Kelly Rowland Connect For Ultra Sultry "Bloody Samaritan" Remix

"I've always been a huge fan of Kelly Rowland, and when this came up, I could barely keep in the excitement," mentions the young Mavin Records star.


Ayra Starr has joined creative forces with Kelly Rowland to create a remix of her "Bloody Samaritan" record. The Mavin Records artist has been putting effort into her craft, and her recent collaboration with Rowland is an indication of her growing musical prowess.

Connecting with Rowland, who is a music icon, is another step in the right direction for the young Afro-pop star. The initial release of "Bloody Samaritan" was a well-received record that amassed over 60 million TikTok views and was also featured on BBC Radio's 1Xtra—the remix is equally as enjoyable. Although it retains the sound of the original song, it has its unique ambiance, which fuses elements of Afrobeats, Afro-pop and smooth R&B.

Starr continues to rise in the global music scene and her recent collaboration with Spotify has the potential to skyrocket the musical influence of the newcomer globally. Artists like Starr are increasingly pushing the envelope as it relates to collaborating with bigger names in the music world, which was something that was not as rampant a few years ago. While discussing the collaboration, Starr shared her excitement about the record and her admiration for Rowland.

"I've always been a huge fan of Kelly Rowland, and when this came up, I could barely keep in the excitement! While recording this, Kelly made me feel so comfortable and relaxed, something I really appreciate," said Starr. "She was super amazing! and I was able to hold my own alongside a legend, and I can't wait to share this new music with you all!"

Although Ayra Starr is one of the youngest artists in the Afro-pop world, she has already been making a solid impression among fans and music analysts. In an NME piece, the publication described Starr as “the teen leading her generation’s sonic revolution.” Her stage presence, confidence, and overall "je ne sais quoi" essence have proven that the Gen-Z pioneer is ready to continue to put her name and genre on the map.

Listen to Ayra Starr and Kelly Rowland's "Bloody Samaritan" remix below!

Music
Photo courtesy of the artist.

The 10 Best South African Songs of the Month (September)

Featuring AKA, Nasty C, K.O, Blaq Diamond, Musa Keys, and more.

Here are the South African songs and music videos that caught our attention this month.

Check out more of our Best Songs of the Month lists from Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and East Africa. You can also follow our weeklySongs You Need to Hear roundup for the best new music.

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