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Ellen DeGeneres is the Latest White Celebrity to Take a Picture With Smiling 'African' Children

This is getting old, no?

It's a familiar narrative at this point, you know the one: a bright-eyed, maybe even well-meaning, white person travels to "Africa"—no need to name the specific country, of course—for a trip. While there, they make sure to snap pictures with the poor "African" children—remember, no country specificity necessary—to show the great work that they're doing, how life-changing the trip was, and how empathetic they've now become to the suffering of others.

Ellen DeGeneres is simply the latest white celebrity to take part in this tired practice. The talk show host travelled to Kenya and Rwanda last week, in support of her foundation, the Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund. While there she met with Rwanda's president Paul Kagame, took part in a mountain gorilla excursion with the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund, and posted several images of herself enjoying nature and other types of wildlife.


However, one photo in particular is receiving tons of backlash. In the image, which DeGeneres posted on Tuesday, she is surrounded by several children in a rural setting. She didn't specify which country she was in, of course, but wrote "Thank you to all of the amazing people I met on my trip, who helped make it so special," as a caption for the photo.

People, aren't feeling it, to say the least, and are calling her out for posting what many consider overt "poverty porn" and a poster image for "voluntourism."

Folks have been responding to the image on social media, with many arguing that despite whatever Ellen's intentions might have been, the image only reinforces hackneyed tropes about the continent, which are in no way beneficial.

Really though, when will white folks learn?








Photo: Sean Thomas.

The 8 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Femi & Made Kuti, DJ Lag x DJ Tira, Kizz Daniel, Sho Madjozi, James BKS and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our best music of the week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Interview
Image courtesy of Jay Trigga.

Interview: Get to Know Rising Zambian Artist Jay Trigga

Jay Trigga could very well be Zambian music's next big thing—and he's doing it all from China.

Zambia has relentlessly developed a vibrant music scene in recent times, instigating new genres like Zambian Rock (Zamrock), Trapundula (a music genre following the driving element of Kalindula) and putting their own spin on afrobeats. This has all been possible through the collective effort of young Zambian artists wanting to create music that is authentic, different, bold, and purely African.

For 21-year-old Zambian hip-hop artist Jack Lumbeta Kafukwilwa also known as Jay Trigga, the need to showcase Africa to the world through music has been his greatest motivation. "I would define my sound as afro-fusion as it is a mix. I am quite versatile so finding a word to define my sound is tricky because I do trap music as well. In clear terms, my sound is chill, youthful and futuristic," Jay Trigga tells me over our virtual conversation from China where he is currently studying a masters degree in business management.

Following collaborations with Ice Prince and Davido's DMW rapper Dremo, the young star is significantly bent on shooting for the stars in Zambia's music scene. We sat down with Jay Trigga to talk about his journey, new single, his influences in music and more.

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Photo: Courtesy of Radswan

Freddie Harrel Is Building Conscious Beauty For and With the African Diaspora

Formerly known as "Big Hair Don't Care", creator Freddie Harrel and her team have released 3 new wig shapes called the "RadShapes" available now.


Photo: Courtesy of Radswan


The normalising of Black and brown women in wigs of various styles has certainly been welcomed by the community, as it has opened up so many creative avenues for Black women to take on leadership roles and make room for themselves in the industry.

Radswan (formerly known as Big Hair Don't Care), is a lifestyle brand "bringing a new perspective on Blackness through hair, by disrupting the synthetic market with innovative and sustainable products." Through their rebrand, Radswan aims to, "upscale the direct-to-consumer experience holistically, by having connected conversations around culture and identity, in order to remove the roots of stigma."

The latest from French-Cameroonian founder and creator Freddie Harrel - who was featured on our list of 100 women of 2020 - has built her career in digital marketing and reputation as an outspoken advocate for women's empowerment. On top of her business ventures, the 2018 'Cosmopolitan Influencer of the Year' uses her platform to advocate for women's empowerment with 'SHE Unleashed,' a workshop series where women of all ages come together to discuss the issues that impact the female experience, including the feeling of otherness, identity politics, unconscious bias, racism and sexism.

And hair is clearly one of her many passions, as Freddie says, "Hair embodies my freest and earliest form of self expression, and as a shapeshifter, I'm never done. I get to forever reintroduce my various angles, tell all my stories to this world that often feels constrained and biased."

Armed with a committee of Black women, Freddie has cultivated Radswan and the aesthetic that comes with the synthetic but luxurious wigs. The wigs are designed to look like as though the hair is growing out of her own head, with matching lace that compliments your own skin colour.

By being the first brand to use recycled fibres, Radswan is truly here to change the game. The team has somehow figured out how to make their products look and feel like the real thing, while using 0% human hair and not negotiating on the price, quality or persona.

In 2019, the company secured £1.5m of investment led by BBG Ventures with Female Founders Fund and Pritzker Private Capital participating, along with angelic contributions from Hannah Bronfman, Nashilu Mouen Makoua, and Sonja Perkins.

On the importance of representation and telling Black stories through the products we create, Freddie says, "Hair to me is Sundays kneeling between your mothers or aunties legs, it's your cousin or newly made friend combing lovingly through your hair, whilst you detangle your life out loud. Our constant shapeshifting teaches us to see ourselves in each other, the hands braiding always intimately touching our head more often than not laying someone's lap."

"Big Hair No Care took off in ways we couldn't keep up with," she continues, "RadSwan is our comeback.It's a lifestyle brand, it's the hair game getting an upgrade, becoming fairer and cleaner. It's the platform that recognises and celebrates your identity as a shapeshifter, your individuality and your right to be black like you."


Check out your next hairstyle from Radswan here.

Radswan's RadShape 01Photo: Courtesy of Radswan


Radswan's RadShape 02Photo: Courtesy of Radswan


Radswan's RadShape 03Photo: Courtesy of Radswan

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Interview: Reekado Banks Is Coming For Everything

We talk to the Nigerian star about 2020, his latest Off the Record EP, and what his aims are for the future.