News Brief

Mauritanian Government Arrests Gay Couple Following Country's First Alleged Same-Sex Marriage

Ten young men, including a gay couple, were arrested after a video surfaced on social media allegedly depicting the country's first same-sex marriage taking place.

Ten young men have reportedly been arrested by the Mauritanian authorities and are awaiting judgement for "acts contrary to morality, committing acts forbidden by Allah and circulating a ceremony of debauchery" according to reports by the AFP.

The arrest comes shortly after a video surfaced on social media allegedly depicting the young men conducting the country's first same-sex marriage.


The video of the alleged wedding ceremony, which is thought to have been shot in the capital of Nouakchott, has been widely shared on social media and caused outrage among conservative (read homophobic) Mauritanians who are opposed to homosexuality.

Despite the arrest of the young men, Mauritanian authorities now claim that their investigations have uncovered the true events depicted in the video—a party. Speaking on local television, Police CommissionerMohamed Ould Nejib referred to the party as "the birthday celebration of a homosexual to which other gays had been invited." The young men remain in police custody.

The Human Dignity Trust reports that homosexuality and any "homosexual practices" including marriage and same-sex intimacy, are still considered criminal in Mauritania which is governed by Sharia Islamic law.

Muslim men who are found guilty of contravening the "Act Against Nature" article of the 1984 Penal Code, are punished with death by stoning while women are sentenced to to up to two years imprisonment in addition to a fine. Mauritania has, however, not enforced the death penalty since 1987.

Mauritania is a part of the 28 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa which still criminalize homosexuality. On the other hand, countries such as Angola and Botswana both decriminalised homosexuality last year.

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Photo by Oupa Bopape/Gallo Images via Getty Images

8 Queer-Owned African Fashion Brands to Check Out For Pride

In honor of pride month, we highlight eight African queer fashion designers and brands putting queer stories on the global map through fashion.

In the last decade, there have been an emergent of fashion designers who aren’t just queer but have aligned their fashion vision with their identity, creating demystifying collections and criss-crossing their concepts and ideologies to represent the inscape of non-conformity, fluidity, queerness and androgyny — whilst maintaining a quick balance with their cultural roots. Despite the numerous fabric experimentations and collections, these designers never forget to tell stories that align with them, especially those that resonate with queer people in queer unfriendly countries.

In honor of pride month, OkayAfrica highlights 8 African queer fashion designers and brands putting queer stories on the global map through fashion.

Rich Mnisi

South African designer Rich Mnisi is part of a new wave of designers putting African stories on the global map. Founded in 2015, the brand Rich Mnisi is immersed at offering fluid expression to gender, celebrating youthful excellence and exploring extremist design elements with minimalist cultural tailoring. For pride month, the brand released a limited edition capsule titled “Out." The capsule visualizes a fine-line between elegance and fluidity whilst boldly emphasizing on the act of struggle and resilience as an outfit.

Udiahgebi

For a fashion brand like Udiahgebi, identity is very important. And offering that form of visibility to femme queer Nigerians is not just a form of visual activism but a detailed story of essence. The brand was founded by Emerie Udiahgebi, a gender non-forming fashion designer who wanted to give queer, non-binary and non-conforming individuals more options to express themselves fashionably. Udiahgebi’s fashion concept is extremely bold, fierce, and unconventional.

Lagos Space Programme

Designer Adeju Thompson fuses traditionalist concepts with genderless possibilities. Founded in 2018, Lagos Space Programme is a gender-neutral fashion brand that enveloped aesthetic designs using local craftsmanship. The brand appreciates West African unique fabric and communicates compelling stories of identity, gender and queerness — a ideology that has garnered them not just audience but earned them a spot at the LVMH prize.

Muyishime

Patrick Muyishime is a fashion innovator. Not only does he know how to source excellent fabrics but his designs are authentically vibrant. Founded in 2016, Muyishime is a Kenyan fashion label that introduces conversations surrounding androgynous and explores aesthetically fabric inventions that commands fluidity, feminine wiles and constructive elegance.

Bola Yahaya

Founded in 2019, Bola Taofeek Yahaya's fashion label aligns thought provoking pieces that elevate the discusses around queer representation, sexuality and feminity. The brands merges sustainability and explore eccentric fabric experimentations.

Nao Serati

Founded by South African designer Nao Serati Mofammere in 2014, the fashion brand Nao Serati explores the versatility of gender and the fine margin of sexuality whilst finding its balance with their South African heritage. Mofammere wants his brand to explore masculinity and the different ways it takes to wear a fragile look.

Vangei

Lolu Vangei has different recipes to gender fluidity and she has used fashion to express that. Founded in 2018, Vangei is a fashion label that unites modern ideology of afro-centricism to produce pieces that dismantle cliched ideas about gender.

Mayetobs

There is no explaining the sort of talent Emmanuel Tobiloba possesses. Founded in 2020, Mayetobs' eccentric approach in reinstating androgynous norms is interesting. From oversized pants that speaks of fabric maximalism to fast flowing robes, the fashion brand is an ode to redefining modern masculinity.

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Photo: Getty Images

Africa's Bookstagrammers are Carving Out a Space for the Continent's Authors

Growing communities of social media users, spread all over the continent, are evolving into a major powerhouse for African literature.

As Beyoncé and Pharrell Williams’ hit song, ‘Water’ plays overhead, Nokukhanya Ntsaluba sits in front of a bookshelf at her home in South Africa, red lipstick highlighting her luminous smile, as she holds up, in quick succession, five of her favorite books by African writers.

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Photo By Adedamola Odetara for OkayAfrica

Photo Series: Vic Mensa's Pilgrimage to Ghana

OkayAfrica traveled with Vic Mensa as he visited his father's childhood home, Koforidua. Here's a behind-the-scenes look about what happened.

Back in December, American rapper Vic Mensa went on a pilgrimage back home. The rapper was in Accra, Ghana for his historic Black Star Line Festival, which he was co-hosting with longtime friend and fellow rapper Chance the Rapper.

But, on a hot day before the festival, the rapper traveled two hours from Accra to Koforidua to visit his extended family. There is a lot of history in Koforidua. Highlife trailblazer Chief Kofi Sammy grew up there. Not only was he founder of the famous Okukuseku International Band but Sammy also had a long and fruitful relationship with Afrobeat legend Fula Kuti.

He also happens to be Vic Mensa's uncle. And part of the reason Vic took this trip is to convince Sammy to join him on stage at the Black Star Line Festival in Accra, in front of 50,000 fans. However, while there, Vic made sure he had time to connect with his extended family.

It was a special, intimate moment. One OkayAfrica was lucky enough to witness firsthand. Check out our photo gallery of Vic Mensa's pilgrimage below.

Photo By Adedamola Odetara for OkayAfrica

In December 2022, Vic Mensa took a trip to visit his uncle, legendary Highlife artist Chief Kofi Sammy. It’s about a two hour drive from Accra to Koforidua. A bit longer when you factor in Vic stopping for some of his favorite snacks.

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Photo: Etan Comics

Ethiopia’s First Superhero Comic is Going Global

Etan Comics is launching a kids version of the kickstarter-backed title, which will be published in 11 languages.


After the successful release of their graphic novel, Jember, Etan Comics is teaming up with the non-profit Open Hearts Big Dreams (OHBD) to launch a special collaboration. Etan is working with the Seattle-based organization, which has produced over 700 bilingual early-reader titles, to turn Jember into a bilingual kids book that's based on the award-winning graphic novel.

The release of the book coincides with Black History Month, and will be launched in 11 different languages, including Amharic, Arabic, French, Greek, Igbo, Kiswahili, Spanish, and Wolayta. Jember was first published in hardcover format in October 2022, and after its release it garnered +$12K pre-orders on Kickstarter. The comic book is designed to help emerging readers build their reading confidence, and learn more about African cultures and languages. Created and written by Beserat Debebe, it was illustrated by Yonatan Solomon and Michael Okoroagha.

Jember is being turned into a bilingual kids book that's based on the award-winning graphic novel and will be available in 11 different languages.

Photo: Etan Comics

Beginning in mid-February, the books will be available globally on Amazon and IngramSpark. They will also be available at Walmart, Target, Barnes & Noble, and in public libraries shortly after.

With the release of Jember, Etan Comics aims to make African stories accessible to global readers. The collaboration will also help Ethiopian children, who make up 40% of the Ethiopian population, to be empowered through the story, which speaks to the rich cultural heritage of the Ethiopian history.

With this development, Etan Comics has joined the growing list of new generation of African comic book creators who are sharing African culture through comics to engage readers with various parts of the continent's history.

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