News Brief

Prominent Zimbabwean Activist Sheds Light on Current Crisis

Doug Coltart, a vocal activist and human rights lawyer based in Harare, speaks to Okayafrica about what's currently happening in Zimbabwe.

A few days ago, the Zimbabwean government issued a directive to major cellular network providers Econet and TelOne to disable the internet and all access to social media. The directive was an attempt to prevent any information from spreading outside the country's borders with regards to the nationwide protests which have led to the deaths of at least five people and the injury of at least twenty-five others.


Okayafrica spoke to prominent Zimbabwean activist and human rights lawyer Doug Coltart who is currently based in Harare, the capital city, about the status of the nationwide protests which have now entered into their fourth day. Several Zimbabweans have been killed and numerous others wounded in what has turned into a deadly showdown between frustrated citizens and armed forces. The 2016 #ThisFlag movement leader Evan Mawarirewas arrested and is still being detained. Yesterday, Zimbabwe's opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) made a plea for South Africa to intervene in the escalating crisis.

Coltart speaks of the horrific brutality being unleashed by Zimbabwean soldiers and police, tales of Zimbabwean citizens who have been dragged from their homes and arrested whilst President Emmerson Mnangagwa has still not released any official statement.

Doug, can you just give us an overview of what's currently happening right now?

Sure. So for the past few days there has been a national shutdown or stay-away called for by the CPU, which is the largest trade union in Zimbabwe. People stayed away to protest against the deteriorating economic situation in the country. Some people did go out into the streets and demonstrated as well.

In response to this, there has been brutality that we haven't seen in past decades. There's been a total internet shut down for several days. We now have partial internet, but social media is still being shut down by the state. The state is denying that they shut the internet down while the service providers are saying that they were compelled to shut down the internet by the state. Under the cover of this internet blackout, the military has been going from door-to-door bashing down people's doors, dragging them out of their homes and beating them in the streets. People have been shot in the street.

Hundreds of people are currently in police custody and there seems to be a real military operation going on throughout the country. Last night, I was out in a small village called Goromonzi about 50 kms from Harare and at that police station, the military literally came in and took control of the police station. They started manning the booth of the police station and there were about about 20 soldiers. Some in uniform, others in plain clothes and some wearing balaclavas and carrying rifles. They literally took over the operations of the entire police station in what seemed to be an attempted abduction of my clients, some teachers who'd been arrested. Fortunately, we managed to get the teachers into the custody of the police and in police cells and they were safe. We're now back in Goromonzi. It is a very serious state crackdown on all forms of dissent at the moment.

And Doug, the military and the soldiers that you're speaking of, these are the same soldiers with whom just a few months back, Zimbabwean citizens were marching down the streets in celebration after the removal of Robert Mugabe, correct?

Yes, absolutely. That march was the 18th of November, 2017. People came out to celebrate the end of the Mugabe-era and we thought that it might bring about something new. Of course at that stage, which was right in the middle of the military coup, no one knew what the outcome would be: whether Zanu-PF would retain power or there would be some sort of transitional arrangement to cure the coup and usher in a new democratic dispensation. Unfortunately, it's been the former. Zanu-PF, and particularly the military, have entrenched themselves and this regime is proving to be just as brutal, if not more brutal than that of Mugabe and equally, if not more, incompetent at resolving the economic crisis.

Has there been any word from President Emmerson Mnangagwa on the current nationwide protests that are happening?

Not that I am aware of. Of course, we've had an internet shutdown, so information sharing has been quite difficult on our side.

Of course.

However, there have been a number of statements by the government, essentially blaming all of the violence that occurred on the main opposition party, the MDC alliance, even though the shutdown was not called for by the MDC alliance. Of course, bearing in mind that number one, those who did call for the shutdown urged people to remain peaceful and number two, while there has been some regrettable violence from protesters, the vast majority of the violence has been meted out by soldiers and police officers killing and beating people.

Listen to the short interview below.



Some of the commentary provided by Coltart on his Twitter page.




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!

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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Norberto Cuenca via Getty Images.

Kenya Says Its Banning LGBTQ+ Content

According to the acting head of the Kenya's Film Classification Board (KFCB), all movies with LGBTQ+ content are illegal in the country.

The acting CEO of the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB), Christopher Wambua, has announced that all movies containing LGBTQ+-related content are now illegal in the country. Wambua also said that the country is against LGBTQ+ relationships.


"As we rate and classify content, we also consider other applicable laws. If there is any content that normalizes, glorifies same-sex relationships, our position in Kenya has always been to restrict and not to broadcast, exhibit or distribute that kind of content within the borders of the country," Wambua said. Wambua also said that while there are multiple platforms highlighting sam-sex content online, the Kenyan government is actively taking action to block access to the content in Kenya. According to Wambua, the KFCB authority is currently working with streaming powerhouse Netflix to ensure that access to LGBTQ+ movies and series are barred within Kenya.

"Most of them are restricting; because of our discussions with Netflix, they are curating their classification system that is very aligned with our laws with the view of ensuring that in future once we sign the agreement, some of this content is not visible at all within the republic," Wambua said.

Kenya is not the first country to state that it would not condone LGBTQ+ content. Earlier this year, Egypt joined six other Arab countries to call out Netflix and Disney+, and demand that certain types of "offensive" content be restricted from airing in their countries. This was understood to be in reference to media that featured members of the LGBT+ community within those countries.

Kenya has had a long history of barring content with LGBTQ+ characters and storylines. In 2018, Kenyan authorities banned 'Rafiki,' a film that profiled the love story of two women, citing that the production promoted lesbianism. Last year, the KFCB also banned the documentary "I am Samuel," a storyline about a gay Kenyan man. Kenya's law strongly forbids LGBTQ+ and Section 165 of its Penal Code highlights the legality of code in detail.

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