Chris From 'The Wire' Runs For Africa

Gbenga Akinnagbe, or "Chris" from The Wire is running the 26-mile NYC Marathon on Sunday Nov. 6th to support All For Africa and their "Palm Out Poverty" initiative in Africa. Every $20 pledged to Gbenga's AFA running team will plant one palm tree on the continent. We caught up with him to check out his project and get word on life after the greatest tv show of all time.

OKA: What is the "Palm Out Poverty" project?

GA: It's about planting over a million palm trees throughout the continent of Africa. Palm tree oil is heavily traded and very lucrative in Africa - and it grows quickly. The palms trees are on land that is allocated to non-profits on the ground, so the non-profits have a funding source of their own.

OKA: What is All For Africa?

GA: It's a non-profit based out of New York that I've been working with for a few years. I believe international aid to Africa has been one of the most detrimental forces to the continent but AFA is different because it supports local economies.

OKA: How have you trained for the marathon?

GA: I've been running my ass off. I haven't for the past few days because I injured my right foot. It's not broken but I'm experiencing tendinitis.

OKA: Are you still going to run the marathon?

GA: Hell yes! It still hurts a great deal but I'm definitely going to run. Just have to figure out how. I've been training to get a decent time but I might be a little slower now.

OKA: What are you working on these days?

GA: I was doing a show called A Gifted Man and then I returned for another episode of Nurse Jackie this season (pictured below). I'm floating from show to show right now.

OKA: Do you miss The Wire?

GA: Yes and no. I think it ended at a good time. It was a very rare thing. It went out the way it was supposed to: under-watched and under-appreciated in it's time - but then beloved by masses afterward.

OKA: What African music are you listening to right now? Especially to train for the marathon?

GA: I went to Nigeria for the first time this past December and by chance i ended up hanging out with a whole bunch of cool African musicians like M.I (I really dig his music) and his brother Jesse Jagz. My cousin is a rapper here in The States by the name of Wale. I consider him an African musician, and I dig his music. I'm really excited for his new album.

OKA: What's your connection to Africa?

GA: My whole family is Nigerian, they're from the Ondo State a few hours outside of Lagos. I was the first one born in The States. I grew up eating Nigerian food in a very Nigerian household in Maryland. To me, Africa is like Israel, once you've been there, it infects you, it calls you, you just have to go back.

OKA: Do you plan to go back soon?

GA: I would love to. While I was there I got my passport because I want to spend more time there. Work has kept me Stateside but hopefully I can go back again in December.


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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