News Brief

Cuba Now Has Two Black, Female Vice Presidents

Cuba's new government is more inclusive than ever, but will it lead to a real change in race relations in the country?

The Cuban government has undergone a major shift in leadership.

With the appointment of Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermudez as president, this will be the first time in 60 years, that Cuba will not be under the leadership of a member of the Castro family. Along with this major change comes the appointment of more women and Afro-Cubans into governmental positions than ever before, reports the New York Times.

Most notably, three Afro-Cubans women have been appointed vice presidents, Salvador Valdes Mesa as first vice president as well as two women Inés María Chapman and Beatriz Jhonson, who are both engineers from Eastern Cuba. There are a total of three women in the new council.


Though the appointment of women and Afro Cuban people into positions of power is a major milestone for the country, many remain skeptical that this move will quell racial and economic disparities in the country, as many still hold onto beliefs put in place by Castro of Cuba as a post-racial society. Some argue that though these officials are more than qualified, their appointments may be partially for show.

Nonetheless, many view the changes as real progress.

"Yes, it has great significance," Ramón Colas, a black anti-Castro activist living in political asylum in Mississippi told the New York TImes. "The Cuban revolution has historically been white, and seen from the outside as a revolution by white men, where black people were part of the crowd, spectators who were silent or applauded, but never participated."

He says it's up to the black officials to make a conscious decision to speak out against racial inequality, though they will likely face pushback.

"Wouldn't it be great if they used those positions to say, 'As a black Cuban, I am against injustice against black people in Cuba?' " he said. "I doubt that they can do that. They are not allowed. Fidel declared that racism is a problem that ended."

Alejandro de la Fuente, a Harvard University Cuba Atudies professor, told the New York Times that, statistically, the country has seen progress when it comes to closing the gap in life expectancy between blacks and whites and in closing the educational gap as well, though there is still work to be done.

"Even if this was window-dressing, it would mean they feel the need to dress the window in a certain color," he said. "And that is something one would not have said 30 years ago."

Earlier this month, Epsy Campbell Barr became vice president of Costa Rica, making her the first black, female vice president in Latin American history.

Music

Listen to Femi Kuti's New Song 'As We Struggle Everyday'

Femi explains: "'As We Struggle Everyday' is about how hard people work everyday to make ends meet and still go to vote corrupt politicians into power who are meant to be in jail."

Femi Kuti shares his new single, "As We Struggle Everyday," the latest drop from the upcoming double album Legacy +, a joint endeavor with his son Made Kuti.

"As We Struggle Everyday" is a politically-charged afrobeat tune about people having the voting power to hold their 'leaders' accountable, but often failing to do so. Throughout the song, Femi sings "As we struggle everyday We try to find a better way See these leaders wey suppose jail Na him my people dem dey hail."

Femi explains: "'As We Struggle Everyday' is about how hard people work everyday to make ends meet and still go to vote corrupt politicians into power who are meant to be in jail."

Legacy +, which is due out February 5 from Partisan Records, includes a full album by Femi titled Stop The Hate and an album by his son, Made, titled For(e)ward. The pair have previously shared the singles "Pà Pá Pà" and "Your Enemy" off the upcoming release.

Listen to Femi Kuti's "As We Struggle Everyday" below.

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Music

The Sounds of Somali Supergroup 4 Mars

A seminal anthology of 4 Mars, a 40-member Somali supergroup formed in 1977, is coming out via Ostinato Records.

In 2019, Ostinato Records became the first label granted access to the grand Archives of Radiodiffusion-Télévision de Djibouti (RTD), a vault of secrets and stories from East Africa. Below, Ostinato Records founder Vik Sohonie writes about their new release, Djibouti Archives Vol. 1: Super Somali Sounds from the Gulf of Tadjoura.

In 1977, on the eve of independence of the Republic of Djibouti, a small country on the Red Sea in East Africa, a densely packed archive was pieced together in a quiet corner of the national radio. Over the years, it became a premier but largely unknown African archive housing thousands of master reels and cassettes of the finest East African sounds.

It has endured fires and theft of invaluable recordings. Those scars linger on the delicate films of quarter-inch reels and cassette tapes. It remains one of the most expansive, well-maintained archives in Africa—but also one of the most restrictive. For decades, the archive remained off-limits to foreign entities of any kind.

In 2019, after negotiations spanning many years, Ostinato Records became the first label granted access to the grand Archives of Radiodiffusion-Télévision de Djibouti (RTD), a vault of secrets and stories—from East Africa, Somalia, Ethiopia, and of course Djibouti itself.

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21 Amapiano Songs By Artists From Outside South Africa To Stream Right Now

21 amapiano songs from Nigeria, the UK, Mozambique, Namibia, Kenya and Tanzania to stream right now.

By now, it's an open secret that amapiano is being produced outside of South Africa where it originates. Nigerian producers and artists, mostly, have embraced the sound and are creating and releasing their own interpretations of amapiano and amapiano-inspired songs.

The songs have resulted in cross-cultural sounds and collaborations that, in their own way, serve to unite, celebrate and foster an exchange of the electrifying music scenes that exist throughout the continent. As a result, these fusions have seen a number people casually refer to them as "Afropiano, Afro-amapiano etc" or "gengepiano" (gengetone with amapiano).

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President Joe Biden Ends Trump's Muslim Travel Ban

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