News Brief

Egyptian Women’s Beach Volleyball Team Rock Hijab & Sleeved Uniforms on the Sand For First Time at the 2016 Rio Olympics

The end of regulation bikinis means team Egypt can play the sport on their own terms.

Egypt’s first women’s beach volleyball team to participate in the Olympics since the sport was added in 1996 made their initial appearance against Germany at the Copacabana venue Sunday night. It was the Egyptians’ first international event outside the African continent where they had won a major title in April and are ranked 15th overall.


All eyes were on the duo Doaa Elghobashy and Nada Meawad as they appeared donning long-sleeves and long-pants out of respect for Egypt’s Islamic culture of modesty. Elgohbashy also wore a hijab that covered her hair, which was permitted in a last minute decision after African Volleyball Confederation chairperson Amr Elmany of Egypt made the ask of the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB). Their uniforms offered a refreshing sight that contrasted the barely-there uniforms of German players Kira Walkenhorst and Laura Ludwig.

"I have worn the hijab for 10 years," Elghobasy tells reporters after losing to Germany 2-0. "It doesn't keep me away from the things I love to do, and beach volleyball is one of them."

It appears women’s beach volleyball at the Rio Olympics and future games won’t only have to count on the sex appeal of teeny-bikini-clad players to draw ratings going forward. Even if U.S. beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings argues lycra two-pieces are better for game play.

Leading up to the 2012 Olympic games in London, the FIVB relaxed its regulations in effort to be more culturally sensitive. The new rule permits uniform "shorts of a maximum length of three centimeters (1.18 inches) above the knee, and sleeved or sleeveless tops."

“Many of these countries have religious and cultural requirements, so the uniform needed to be more flexible,” International Volleyball Federation spokesman Richard Baker explains to The Associated Press.

The adjustment of the uniform regulations is having an impact as participation in beach volleyball is up to 169 countries compared to 143, four years ago.

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.