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The 9 Best East African Songs of the Month

Featuring Diamond Platnumz, Vanessa Mdee, Cherrie, Victoria Kimani and more.

Kick off the second half of the year with these picks from East Africa's finest.

Read ahead for our selections.


Victoria Kimani "Should Be"

This month Victoria Kimani dropped "Should Be," the second single from her latest project Afropolitan. The Kenyan afro-pop singer shows off her vibrant fashion sense in the music video as she sings about men who fail to meet her standards for love.

Diamond Platnumz ft. Rayvanny "Iyena"

Amidst all the rumors surrounding Diamond Platnumz marriage to Zari Hassan, fans were shocked to see the Tanzanian heavyweight releasing the music video for "Iyena" which featured his former wife. Nonetheless, Diamond and Rayvanny still manage to capture our hearts with the romantic bongo-flava track.

Khaligraph Jones Testimony 1990

Kenya's most skilled rap-star Khaligraph Jones finally released his debut album, Testimony 1990, this month. The 17-track album is a top-quality listen with features from other popular African artists like Mr. Eazi, Ycee and K.O.

Vanessa Mdee "Unfollow"


Vanessa Mdee begs her man to unfollow a particular girl on Instagram over a contagious S2kizzy-produced beat.

Meddy ft. The Ben "Lose Control"

Meddy is one of Rwanda's biggest artists and this month he returned to the scene with "Lose Control," an afro-pop track that's already dominating the airwaves in his home country.

Octopizzo "Young Puffy"

Kenyan rapper Octopizzo has definitely come a long way. After posting a lengthy Instagram message and a throwback photo of his early rap days, the rapper released the visuals for "Young Puffy," a trap-influenced track celebrating his rise to fame and success. Well in!

Mbosso "Nadekenzwa"

Wasafi artist Mbosso serves a taarab-influenced Swahili love ballad with "Nadekezwa,"

Cherrie "Känns Som 05"

Even if you don't understand Swedish, it won't be hard for you to enjoy Cherrie's smooth R&B music. The talented singer of Somali descent just released her brand new album, Araweelo, and with songs like "Kanns Som 05" on it, we know it's definitely worth the listen!

Lava Lava "Gundu"

Produced by WCB Wasafi's in-house master producer, Lizer Classic, "Gundu" by Lava Lava is a luscious blend of bongo flava and dansi and it's very easy on the ears.

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(Original movie poster for Bed of Thorns)

First All-Female Made Film in Uganda Wins Art House Prize in UK

Bed of Thorns, a movie about gender-based violence, takes home the Africa Focus Award.

This weekend saw a film from Uganda, Bed of Thorns (#Tosirika), claim the Africa Focus Award at the London Art House Film Festival. The film, directed and produced by Eleanor Nabwiso, tackles the subject of gender-based violence by weaving together the many tales of abuse within a circle of women as they prepare for their friend's wedding—not knowing that she, too, is being abused by her soon-to-be-husband. Comedian Martha Kay and media personality Malaika Tenshi made their film acting debuts to help tell the tale. The film also featured an all-female crew for the first time in Ugandan history.

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Asa's 'Lucid" album cover

Asa Releases Her Highly-Anticipated New Album, 'Lucid'

Listen to the celebrated Nigerian singer's first album in five years.

After a five year hiatus Asa, one of Nigeria's most celebrated artists, has released her fourth studio album Lucid.

The 14-track album, includes the previously released singles "Good Thing" and "The Beginning" which the singer dropped earlier this year to positive reviews.

The singer and songwriter took to social media to thank fans for their ongoing support over the weekend, writing "I have looked forward to sharing this with you for sometime now but I wanted it to be special, that much I owe you. For being with me from the beginning, thank you from my soul. I hope this makes you happy, brings you joy and somehow, you can find yourself in these songs."

She also shared a live studio performance of the album's first track "Murder in the USA,' check It out below.

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Cellou Binani/Getty Images

Several People Have Been Killed During Protests in Guinea

Guineans are protesting against changes to the constitution which will allow President Alpha Conde to run for a third term.

At least five people have died during protests in Guinea's Conakry and Mamou after police opened fire on them, according to Aljazeera. The protests come just after President Alpha Conde instructed his government to look into drafting a new constitution that will allow him to remain in power past the permissible two terms. Conde's second five-year term will come to an end next year but as is the unfortunate case with many African leaders, the 81-year-old is intent on running for office yet again.

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Photo by Hamish Brown

In Conversation: Lemn Sissay On His New Book About Re-claiming the Ethiopian Heritage Stolen From Him by England’s Foster Care System

In 'My Name Is Why,' the 2019 PEN Pinter award winner passionately advocates for children in the institutional care system, and in turn tells a unique story of identity and the power in discovering one's heritage.

It took the author Lemn Sissay almost two decades to learn his real name. As an Ethiopian child growing up in England's care system, his cultural identity was systematically stripped from him at an early age. "For the first 18 years of my life I thought that my name was Norman," Sissay tells OkayAfrica. "I didn't meet a person of color until I was 10 years of age. I didn't know a person of color until I was 16. I didn't know I was Ethiopian until I was 16 years of age. They stole the memory of me from me. That is a land grab, you know? That is post-colonial, hallucinatory madness."

Sissay was not alone in this experience. As he notes in his powerful new memoir My Name Is Why, during the 1960s, tens of thousands of children in the UK were taken from their parents under dubious circumstances and put up for adoption. Sometimes, these placements were a matter of need, but other times, as was the case with Sissay, it was a result of the system preying on vulnerable parents. His case records, which he obtained in 2015 after a hardfought 30 year campaign, show that his mother was a victim of child "harvesting," in which young, single women were often forced into giving their children up for adoption before being sent back to their native countries. She tried to regain custody of young Sissay, but was unsuccessful.

Whether they end up in the foster system out of need or by mistake, Sissay says that most institutionalized children face the same fate of abuse under an inadequate and mismanaged system that fails to recognize their full humanity. For black children who are sent to white homes, it often means detachment from a culturally-sensitive environment. "There are too many brilliant people that I know who have been adopted by white parents for me to say that it just doesn't work," says Sissay. "But the problem is the amount of children that it doesn't work for."

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