News Brief
Photo by Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Youths from Nigerian origin, protest on October 29, 2020 in the center of Madrid, Spain, by police brutality, after the generalized reports of kidnapping, harassment that is taking place in the country of Nigeria.

#EndSARS: UK Parliament Deliberates Sanctions Against Nigeria

The UK government is considering imposing sanctions on Nigeria after receiving petitions from #EndSARS protestors and supporters of the movement.

According to the BBC, the UK government has deliberated implementing sanctions against Nigeria. This comes after parliament received a petition with over 220 000 signatures from #EndSARS protesters who have highlighted the major human rights violations that occurred over the past few weeks in Nigeria. Admittedly, more targeted sanctions against implicated Nigerian officials were debated after much condemnation of the idea of sanctions was also expressed by various parliamentary members.


READ: #EndSARS: Nigeria is a Nation of Elites and 'Everyone Else'

The debate commenced this past Monday evening with a live stream that lasted over an hour. According to Premium Times Nigeria, the debate was led by Theresa Villiers, a member of parliament and the petition committee. Villiers made remarks about the gross human right violations from the Nigerian government during the recent #EndSARS demonstrations. She stated that there was growing distrust of the Nigerian government after President Muhammadu Buhari stated the disbandment of rogue unit Special Armed Robbery Squad (SARS) and pointed out that it was the fourth time this statement had been made since the establishment of the unit.

The UK government is also reportedly looking at withdrawing development funds but some have decried this, claiming it would affect citizens more than the Nigerian officials themselves. The focus of the debate then moved to sanctioning implicated individuals with possible travel bans. According to PulseNG, "They stressed that government officials responsible for the abuse of human rights in the country should be denied the opportunity to enjoy amenities in the UK."

Nigeria has reportedly started carrying out internal investigations and the UK will be monitoring subsequent developments. Villiers closed the debate with the following remarks: "While the minister has failed to make commitments on targeted sanctions, we believe that this will be taken seriously and investigation and justice will be carried out soon."

Watch the UK parliament debate on sanctions against Nigeria below:

E-petitions relating to Nigeria and the sanctions regime - 23rd November 2020 www.youtube.com

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Photo courtesy of BukiHQ Media

Burna Boy Makes His Directorial Debut With New Video for Single 'Last Last'

The African Giant continues to push the envelope, as he teases his sixth studio album, Love, Damini.

Nigerian singer-songwriter Burna Boy has done it again, folks.

The African Giant made his directorial debut this week with the release of his new single, 'Last Last', off of his highly anticipated sixth studio album, Love Damini. The single, a sample of American R&B singer Toni Braxton's hit single 'He Wasn't Man Enough For Me', is but a taste of what the Afro-fusion heavyweight has in store for fans this summer.

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Interview

How Women Are Becoming Decision Makers In Nigerian Music

We speak to five Nigerian music executives who are showing the way forward for women in the industry.

I’m about thirty minutes deep into my conversation with Tosin Sorinola on a Tuesday night in March when the Boomplay Director of Artist & Media Relations tells me something that spikes our conversation.

“Back then you could walk into a meeting with a male colleague and everyone there only wants to talk to the guy. They would ignore you and shelve you aside. The meeting starts and, as a lady, when you speak, the men in the room are shocked, nodding their heads like ‘oh, she’s smart’.”

She’s not the only one saying that. Days later that same week, while speaking to Osagie Osarenz, Director of A&R/Operations (Africa) at ONErpm, she mentions a similar thing. Osagie alludes to making suggestions in a meeting and nobody paying attention.

Talking to Mavin Records’ Director of A&R Rima Tahini, lawyer and entertainment executive Oyinkansola "Foza" Fawehinmi, and Chocolate City Music’s Executive Vice President Aibee Abidoye—they all signal towards a lack of recognition for women in the Nigerian music industry.

What went wrong a decade ago?

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Photo Credit: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Woolmark International Pty Ltd

Mmuso Maxwell Designers on Winning the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation

We met up with Mmuso Potsane and Maxwell Boko, the duo behind South African brand Mmuso Maxwell. We spoke about their upbringing, winning the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation, and more.

After a two year internship with veteran South African designer David Tlale, Mmuso Maxwell was born. The brand, founded by the young duo Mmuso Potsane and Maxwell Boko, has since established a name for themselves in the African fashion industry. With successful works with A-list artists like Beyoncé — on her Black is King album — they continue to set the bar on what it means to be a successful emerging designer brand.

The duo first started to make noise in 2017, when they won the South Africa’s Fashion Week’s Sunglass Hut New Talent Search. Two years later, they came second at the 30 Under 30: The New Stars Arise Fashion Show competition held in Lagos, Nigeria. The duo walked home with $50,000, helping them establish their presence on a global landscape.

Last month, Potsane and Boko won the biggest award of their career: beating out 200 designers throughout the world, they took home the The Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation, after presenting a Merino wool collection for their Autumn/Winter 2022 line.

After their big win, OkayAfrica was able to meet up with the duo and chat about their upbringing, winning the Lagerfeld Award, and more.

How would you describe your Mmuso Maxwell brand?

Maxwell Boko: I think that the perfect description of our brand is that it is inspired by African heritage, but, the most important part is that it is mixed with contemporary culture. It’s basically our point of view of our heritage. We’re modern young people who are living with technology and science, and are influenced by those things. So even if it’s still our African heritage, it’s still our own interpretation.

Mmuso Potsane: Our brand is a modern interpretation of who an African woman is. Our brand sees itself as a global brand, and we do not want to limit it to look like an ordinary African brand, but it is positioned to be like a global brand, while maintaining our African roots, interpretations and experiences.

How did the collaboration between the both of you start?

Potsane: We met during the internship from 2015-2017. At the end of the internship, we decided to bring our pieces together to make one collection because we had similar aesthetics. From there, we just decided to continue onwards as a brand.

That’s interesting. You know, the fashion industry can most times be more competition than collaboration. How are you navigating the times you might have contrasting ideas?

Boko: I think that the reason why we joined forces together is because we had similar tastes in general. What has worked for us over the five years is that we’re not dramatic about our approach to things. It’s not “this or nothing." We’re always open to each other's critiques. We also do not question our individual strengths at all.

Potsane: Yeah, we’ve sort of found a way to agree to disagree. We have somehow found a way to come together to have one vision and objection. So for us, if any of us feels strongly about something, we just give it a chance to see how it plays out. If it doesn’t, we find a way to navigate it.

Mmuso Maxwell designers with Saul Nash

Saul Nash, winner of the International Woolmark Prize, and Mmuso Potsane and Maxwell Boko of Mmuso Maxwell, winners of the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation, celebrate with models wearing their designs.

Photo Credit: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Woolmark International Pty Ltd

How about winning the Woolmark Karl Lagerfeld Innovation Award? How did that happen?

Boko: I mean, we applied, even though I said to Mmuso that Woolmark is something that’ll happen to us, maybe two, three years down the line, and that’s because it’s generally for established designers. I always figured that it’ll happen at a later date for us. So when they reached us to inform us that we were finalists, I thought, “that’s crazy.”

When I saw the other finalists, I thought that there was no chance to win; But as we progressed in the program, I saw why it was the right time for us. It helped us as a brand in terms of making our products. The eight months were very challenging, but the thing that I enjoyed the most was working with local artisans. I think that it’s even one of the reasons we won.

And just on the side, I think it’s very hard for us to see from inside how much of a big deal winning the award is. It’s always our loyal people who help us see and understand it.

How has winning this prize influenced your brand? I mean, how important do you think platforms like this are?

Potsane: I think it’s important because it allows you access to spaces in the industry that are very out of reach for a lot of African brands. It influences and helps us to think more/differently, and just on that level, play by the rules. You’re no longer thinking locally, but internationally. It’s made us more serious about our business and how to run it. People take your work more seriously, so that makes you take it more seriously too.

In terms of funding, it’s something that’s been a struggle. I mean, as a designer, you have to showcase your work and that requires a lot of money for stuff like shows, showrooms, and so on. With the help that we’re getting from the people like Birimian — some sort of investment group for African brands — it helps you ease the stress this induces.

And what are some of the challenges you’ve faced during this? Are there ways you’re now navigating it?

Boko: When we started our brand, there was no initial capital for us to start our brand. But we got a little support, and that made our next challenge be sustaining our coming collections; but recently, our major challenge has been fabric sourcing and production. There are no facilities to produce the quality we aspire to.

Potsane: To navigate these challenges, we really just go with it one step at a time, and also speak with those who can assist with things like this, such as Birimian. In terms of production, we have to come to a compromise to ensure getting the quality we want.

You're a sustainable brand. What are some of the practices you’re doing that makes it sustainable?

Potsane: We utilize local crafts and local artisans. It’s something we’ve always been passionate about since we started our brand. We use homegrown yarns for production, and working with artisans makes us follow the route of slow fashion.

Boko: We’ve always had an affinity for natural fibers since we started. As an African creative, you’re inherently sustainable because we’re not prone to waste. It’s not something we can afford. When we buy fabrics, we buy exactly what we need, and all the things we’ve done so far have been in pre-orders. We do not produce with hopes that someone will buy what we’ve made. All pieces go to our clients.

Are there creatives that inspire the work that you do?

Potsane: The people that inspire our brand, we already currently work with. So people like Tatenda Chidora, a photographer. We also love Tony Gum. She’s an amazing artist. Same as Chloe Andrea and Daniel Obasi. We totally love these people, and are highly inspired by them.

News Brief
Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for MRC)

Watch Burna Boy Close Out the Billboard Music Awards

The Nigerian star played a medley of "Last Last" and "Kilometre."

The 2022 Billboard Music Awards returned last night, Sunday May 15, broadcasting live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

In the big slot of the night, closing out the award ceremonies, was none-other-than the African Giant himself Burna Boy.

The Nigerian superstar, who's coming off a headline-grabbing sold out show at Madison Square Garden, jumped onstage to perform a medley of his brand new single "Last Last" (which just dropped last Friday) and the high-energy "Kilometre" backed by a full band and a drum line.

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