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Every Athlete Who Won Gold for Bahrain at the 2018 Asian Games Was African-Born

The wins have reignited a conversation around the poaching of African-born athletes in Asian countries.

The Asian Games took place last week in Indonesia and the small island country of Bahrain took home a whopping 10 gold medals at the 2018 games—all of which were won by African expats.

According to the AFP, out of the 12 medals won, all 10 of the country's individual gold medals were earned by athletes from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya and Morocco.

Bahrain has long recruited African talent by granting citizenship to high-performing foreign athletes. This practice sparked controversy during the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, and is warranting a similar reaction now.

To some, the poaching of African athletes means that their home countries miss out on their best athletes because other nations are willing to pay more. For many African athletes, competing for foreign nations that offer increased financial rewards for their skill seems like a no-brainer.

READ: How Countries Poach African Athletes To Win Olympic Medals

India finished at number eight in the overall medals tally, and many have blamed Bahrain's seemingly unfair recruiting practices and the dominance of African-born athletes for their country's losses. According to First Post, seven of India's wins were delivered under foreign coaches.


While many have complained that the practice creates an uneven playing field, offering citizenship on the basis of athleticism is a completely legal practice. It's also worth noting that much of the criticism surrounding the enlisting of African athletes by foreign teams are based on stereotypical assumptions about the physical capabilities of black bodies.

"They are more powerful and athletic," said Chinese athlete Su Bigtianduring the 2014 Asian Games. "Physically we are at a disadvantage."

With all their success, it seems that countries like Bahrain have no incentive to stop recruiting African-born athletes. During the Rio Olympics,Pablo Uribe, wrote that the practice was not likely to end any time soon, and two years later, his statement stands.


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Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Listen to Burna Boy Feature On Popcaan's New Song 'Aboboyaa'


Renowned dancehall artist Popcaan has released his album Great Is He, via OVO Sound, and it features none other than Burna Boy.


Jamaica's Popcaanhas shared his anticipated album Great Is He, and the body of work features Nigerian superstar Burna Boy on the track "Aboboyaa."

The album showcases the Jamaican musical giant's signature dancehall sound, while also exploring the depth of genre's versatility. In addition to featuring Burna Boy, Great Is He includes features from OVO Sound's boss Drake, Jamaica's Chronic Law, and Toni-Ann Singh, among others.

On "Aboboyaa," the two musical powerhouses merge their signature rhythmic melodies and intonations in a way that is both compelling to listen to on the first listen, and in turn inspires a second and third listen.

Ever since he released his debut album in 2014, Popcaan has become an international dancehall sensation, and his repertoire includes a list of impressive features.

His album Forever, which was released in 2018, debuted at number two on Billboard’s Top Reggae Albums. Commercially, Popcaan has made a mark on the music scene too. His last project FIXTAPE — which included “Twist & Turn,” the mesmerizing dancehall hit featuring Drake and PARTYNEXTDOOR — has garnered over 191 million streams and continues to receive accolades from outlets like Pitchfork, who described the body of work as “a testament to his place at the forefront of the genre.”

"Aboboyaa" is not Popcaan's first international collaboration. In the past, the Jamaican icon has worked with several international music acts including Davido, Jamie xx, Young Thug, Gorillaz, Kano, Jorja Smith and a host of others. He also founded Jamaica’s annual Unruly Festwhich brings stars across the globe to experience Jamaican culture.

Listen to "Aboboyaa" featuring Burna Boy below.

Listen to Popcaan and Burna Boy's "Aboboyaa"

Photo: Nabil Elderkin.

The Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Popcaan x Burna Boy, Bongeziwe Mabandla, Mr Eazi, Baaba Maal, Pheelz and more.

Every Friday, we highlight the top releases through our best music of the week column, Songs You Need to Hear. Here's our round-up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks.

If you like these music lists, you can also check out our Best Songs of the Month columns following Nigerian, Ghanaian, East African and South African music. If you missed them, check out our music lists for the Best of 2022 here.

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Photo: The Sundance Institute

In his Imaginative Debut Feature, Walé Oyéjidé Brings Together Elements of His Life’s Work

The Nigerian American director has long used the tools of his multi-hyphenate trade to expand the ways Africans are seen. Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, 'Bravo, Burkina!' gives him a larger canvas on which to paint.

Whether it’s employing asylum seekers to model his designs or adding his flair to a piece of pivotal clothing that the late Chadwick Boseman wore in Black Panther, Walé Oyéjidé has always been about using whatever elements he can to push the ways Africans have traditionally been portrayed. What he hinted at in his short film After Migration: Calabria (available on the Criterion Channel), which tells the story of two refugees settling in Italy, he now gets to explore further in the feature debut, Bravo, Burkina!

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