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The Five Eritrean Players Who Disappeared Before Football Tournament Semi Finals Are in Hiding

The five players who are a part of the Eritrean under-20 team say they are living in 'great fear and danger'.

UPDATE 10/31: The five soccer players from Eritrea's under-20 team, who disappeared from their hotel before the semi-finals of the regional Cecafa Under-20 Challenge Cup tournament, have told the BBC that they are currently in hiding and living in fear of their collective safety. Hermon Fessehaye Yohannes, Mewael Tesfai Yosief, Simon Asmelash Mekonen, Deyben Gbtsawi Hintseab and Girmay Hanibal, are afraid to return to Eritrea amid reports that they will receive "serious punishments" after their team lost to Kenya in the semi-finals of the tournament held in Uganda at the beginning of this month.


The players have issued a plea to the public saying, "We need to be safe, so anyone who cares about us, I want to say to them please help and get us out of this country." They also added that, "We are changing houses week after week, we are living underground."

This is not the first (or the last) time that Eritrean soccer players have fled while participating in an international tournament. Thousands of Eritreans continue to flee the country as a result of human rights abuses and what has been declared compulsory service in the national defense force for an indefinite amount of time. Kimberly Motley, the American lawyer currently representing the players has said that they have applied for asylum and are awaiting a response from the UN refugee agency.

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The Eritrean u-20 team lost their semi-final match against Kenya today. No surprise there, as they were playing minus their top goalkeeper Girmay Hanibal and four other players who disappeared from the team hotel earlier in the week. The missing players are reportedly seeking asylum in Uganda, this year's host country for the Cecafa tournament.

According to the BBC, when the players did not show up to train on Tuesday, the Eritrean coach Haile Efrem Alemseghed told officials they "were sick." According to the Ugandan Daily Monitor, the five players are Hermon Fessehaye Yohannes, Mewael Tesfai Yosief, Simon Asmelash Mekonen, Deyben Gbtsawi Hintseab and Hanibal.

Thousands of Eritreans have fled the country in recent years, attempting to flee human rights abuses and compulsory and indefinite national defense service. Eritrea has also just been announced to be the world's most censored country by the Committee to Protect Journalists, topping North Korea.

This is not the first time this has happened. In fact, the Daily Monitor reports that the Eritrean government requires athletes competing abroad to put up several thousand pounds before leaving the country in order to guarantee they come back. But, apparently, the payment tactic doesn't always work as both the BBC and Daily Monitor point out multiple instances of absconsion. Ten declined to return home from a World Cup qualifying match in 2015. In 2013, nine players and the coach disappeared in Kenya. In two different instances in 2010 and 2011, 13 Eritrean players disappeared while playing in Tanzania–many were later granted refugee status and asylum in the US and UK. 2009 saw the entire Eritrean national team defect and seek asylum in Kenya.

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Image courtesy of Daily Paper

Wekafore Releases Fela Kuti Inspired Collab With Daily Paper

The one-of-a-kind 'The Spirit Don't Die' capsule collection celebrates African heritage and a hope for a brighter future.

Amsterdam-based African streetwear brand Daily Paper has joined Nigerian fashion brand Wekafore in creating a unique capsule collection of note. The 'The Spirit Don't Die' collection is inspired by fashion and Nigerian activism icon Fela Kuti, but celebrates the bountiful beauty, potential, and heritage of Africans.

Nigerian designer Wekaforé Maniu Jibril, owner, and designer of the Wekafore brand has been hot since his 2013 debut. The brand has gone on to become a great success within the realm of West African fashion. Wekaforé represents a newer, more fearless generation of African designers and their latest collaborative collection tells the tale.

Daily Paper x Wekaforé 'The Spirit Don't Die' collectionImage courtesy of Daily Paper


The two popular brands share a rich history and intention to further African fashion's reputation in the world, as well as as a shared desire for raw necessity, organic growth, and authentic community engagement, development and, support. The fashion brands are making it known that street and casual wear are more than we once thought - fashion can be inclusive and fun. The stars truly aligned to bring us this partnership guided by similar core values and the hunger to celebrate Africa and her diasporas through fashion.

The Fela Kuti-inspired collection is filled with distinctive and bold pieces, honoring Africa's past while paving the way towards the future. Wekafore is known for their clear integration of West Africa's 1970's cultural golden age, and this limited collection speaks to those themes, making it a no-brainer to dedicate the line to the legendary King of Afrobeat, whose style never disappointed. It's clear to see how Kuti's influence inspired the exciting and vibrant creative renaissance seen in the collection. On using Kuti as his muse, Wekaforé says, "Like Fela, the pieces are very punk, very psychedelic, and very African at the same time. And that represents me 100%. And I think being able to speak that way through a platform like Daily Paper is a testament to contemporary African consciousness."


Image courtesy of Daily Paper

Daily Paper x Wekafore 'The Spirit Don't Die' Collection

Check out more of Daily Paper x Wekafore's collection 'The Spirit Don't Die' collection here.

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