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Former Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril has passed away from the coronavirus.

Former Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril Has Passed Away

Mahmoud Jibril, former leader of the rebel government that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, has died after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Aljazeera reports that the former Prime Minister of Libya, Mahmoud Jibril, has passed away in a hospital in Cairo, Egypt, after having tested positive for the coronavirus.

Jibril was aged 68.


Shortly before the Arab Spring uprisings which eventually led to the ousting of Egypt's long-standing leader, Muammar Gaddafi, Jibril had been the economic advisor to Gaddafi. After joining the revolution, Jibril then led the National Transitional Council as Prime Minister before Egypt held its first free elections in four decades in 2012.

Before Jibril's death, Libya had confirmed 18 coronavirus cases and just one death. Jibril now becomes the second Libyan national to die from the growing COVID-19 outbreak.

Currently, the total number of coronavirus cases on the African continent stands at just over 9000 with at least 445 reported deaths, according to BBC's Coronavirus in Africa tracker. South Sudan is the latest African country to confirm its first case of coronavirus while Ethiopia recently announced its first death from the outbreak. Several African countries including South Africa, Zimbabwe and Nigeria are currently on nationwide lockdowns as part of efforts to curb the spread of the outbreak. Read our rolling coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in Africa here.

Other African public figures who have died from the coronavirus in the past few weeks include Cameroonian Jazz legend, Manu Dibango, former President of Congo, Jacques Joaquim Yhombi-Opango, former president of Marseilles football club, Pape Diouf, former Prime Minister of Somalia, Nur Hassan Hussein, as well as Burkina Faso's Vice-President of Parliament, Rose-Marie Compaore.
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Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Bobi Wine Takes His Fight to Venice

Hoping to attract a broader interest in his mission to end dictatorial rule, the Ugandan musician and politician features in a buzzed-about documentary screening at this year’s Venice International Film Festival.


“I had almost forgotten how to be among stars,” tweeted Bobi Wine, tongue-in-cheek, as he posted pictures of his arrival on the red carpet at the Venice International Film Festival for the premiere of Bobi Wine: Ghetto President. Billed as an ‘observational documentary,’ the film brings Wine’s story – how he rose from the informal settlement of Kamwokya and became a star himself – together with his pursuit of justice and democracy in his homeland of Uganda, to an international audience.

Bobi Wine: Ghetto President is showing out of competition and so isn’t up for the festival’s main prize, the Golden Lion. But that’s not why Wine, aka Robert Kyagulanyi, traveled to Italy, wearing the trademark red beret symbol of his People Power movement. Instead, he’s hoping the film draws attention to a cause he’s been championing for the last 5 years.

“I want the people in the international community to know that somewhere in the world, somewhere in Africa, in a country called Uganda, people are being massacred for what they think,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. Above that, Wine is calling for an end to the support President Yoweri Museveni has received, and wants the international community – specifically the US, which provides aid to Uganda – to be aware of how that money is being used to “undermine human rights and democracy in Uganda.”

Taking the film to a prestigious international festival such as Venice presents Wine with a global platform. In a tweet posted by the Venice Film Festival, he’s quoted as saying, “What is happening in Uganda is terrible. I am glad #BobiWineGhettoPresident will bring it to light. People are voiceless there: they need someone to speak for them.”

The film shows how Wine has endeavored to be that voice, both in song and in speech. It traces the start of his grassroots political campaign in 2017 up to 2021, when he ran against Museveni in the presidential elections, and lost, in what many international organizations deemed was a questionable outcome, with claims of vote tampering and fraud.

Ghetto President is directed by Christopher Sharp, who was born in Uganda, and Moses Buyo, an activist who took over camera duties when the film’s previous camera people left the production. Both Sharp and Buyo knew of Wine through his music and had been fans of the messages he sought to share in his music. Following Wine and his wife, Barbie, with fly-on-the-wall footage, the film immerses the audience in their relationship and the trials its undergone as a result of Wine's political activities. One such attack left Wine seeking treatment from the US for his injuries. Indeed, Buyo, too, has suffered his share of assault in making the film, having been shot in the face with a rubber bullet, and also arrested numerous times, while filming.

A still from the documentary Bobi Wine:

A still from the documentary Bobi Wine: Ghetto President, which is currently playing at this year's Venice Film Festival.

Photo: La Biennale Di Venezia

Festival director Alberto Barbera called the documentary “powerful” and “unbelievable,” and it’s received positive reviews so far, with Deadline lauding its ‘stirring’ scenes and message of hope. Similar to Sam Soko’s documentary, Softie, which followed Kenyan photographer-turned-politician Boniface Mwangi, the film is also being heralded for the love story at the center of it, between Wine and Barbie, and how they've persisted in the face of numerous violent actions.

While Ghetto President details Uganda and Wine's specific struggle to fight for democracy, some reviewers have noted it holds a message for governments further afield too. The Hollywood Reporter's Daniel Feinberg says its call to action to hold Museveni accountable speaks to the West's need to 'keep an eye on its own democratic virtues too.' In bringing his message to the world, through the form of a documentary that gets people talking, Wine may also find it resonates far beyond Uganda in ways he could not have imagined.

Literature
Photo: Ruvimbo Muchenje

Despite Persecution, Tsitsi Dangarembga Writes On

The award-winning novelist is awaiting judgment, slated for the end of September, on charges of inciting public violence.

Zimbabwean filmmaker, activist and author Tsitsi Dangarembga remains defiant, continuing to write, despite ongoing persecution from the government. She was arrested in 2020 along with another activist, Julie Barnes, while holding placards calling for reform and the release of investigative journalist Hopewell Chin'ono, in the leafy suburb of Borrowdale, Harare.

The President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led regime arrested several prominent activists and opposition party figures to allegedly thwart planned mass demonstrations over poor governance and state-security brutality during the COVID 19 era, in mid-2020. Chin'ono, one of the country’s most prominent journalists, was arrested for exposing a corruption scandal during the pandemic.

Dangarembga, who became the first Black woman winner of the 2021 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade for her creative work and social engagement, has had numerous work opportunities affected by the ongoing trial against her. Although she has been able to go to the UK to attend the Edinburgh International Book Festival and promote her latest publication – Faber and Faber recently released a book of her essays, titled Black and Female, there – she has missed other chances to travel.

As in most developing nations, the arts sector in Zimbabwe does not pay much and most creatives look out for various opportunities for survival in a country hit by economic malaise, shortages of basic commodities and currency crisis. When Dangarembga was released on bail in 2020, surrendering her passport to the police to ensure she would not flee the country was part of her bail condition.

“In the beginning, I was very optimistic that the case would be dealt with speedily,” she says, adding that in December 2020 when she received her passport back to attend her fellowship at the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study in Cape Town, in neighboring South Africa, she did not think the case would have much impact on her work.

The magistrate who ruled in the matter even told her that the charges were not grave. “I received my passport back and no longer reported weekly from December 2020, which was a relief,” says Dangarembga. But she realized her predicament at the hands of the regime in her homeland was far from over when the state took a long time to prepare for trial and kept changing dates.

“It was difficult to adjust my schedule to the court dates. With the creative economy in Zimbabwe being as depressed and specific as it is, I cannot afford to miss any opportunity to earn a living,” she says. “I missed an important teaching job in Johannesburg that I still think about with regret to this day. I love mentoring young African people to tell their stories, whether it be on screen or on paper.”

It is now more than two years since Dangarembga was placed on remand, waiting and going through trials for a case that has yet to be finalized. If convicted, she faces several years in prison. The judgment was due to be delivered on the 26th of August but it was postponed to September 29 because Dangarembga's co-accused did not attend court that day as she was outside the country.

Still, she continues to work on the projects that fuel her fire and further her message. Dangarembga is currently writing a young adult speculative dystopian fiction called Sai-Sai and the Great Ancestor of Fire. “This is the work that has suffered the most from the events of the last two years,” she says. Dangarembga says her concentration on fiction has been affected because the place she writes from is occupied with turmoil about the trial. “However, I was able to work on some screenplays,” she says.

“When the trial began in earnest I did not manage much work at all,” she says. “All my work is generated from my own internal environment as a writer, so the last five months or so have been very difficult for me.”

The 63-year-old writer, born in Mutoko, a town 143 kilometers northeast of Harare, moved to the UK at the age of two. She returned in 1980, before Zimbabwe gained independence from British colonialists. Her first novel, Nervous Conditions, won a Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1989. She is also credited for writing the story that was turned into Zimbabwe’s highest grossing film in 1993, Neria, and three years later, she became the first Black Zimbabwean woman to direct a feature film, Everyone’s Child. Just days before she was arrested in 2020, Dangarembga’s novel This Mournable Body, which is part of a series, was nominated for the prestigious Booker Prize.

Regarding Dangarembga’s case, Beatrice Mtetwa, a human rights lawyer, says there can be no doubt that it is persecution under the guise of prosecution. “The constitution provides for the freedom to demonstrate and to petition peacefully and there can be no doubt that a two-women protest could not have been anything but peaceful,” she says. “Dangarembga’s prosecution is, sadly, one of the many cases of abuse using the criminal justice system.”

Kenyan-based award-winning writer, editor and publisher Zukiswa Wanner says the state does not have a viable case. “It is tragic that Zimbabwean authorities are so full of fear that something as simple as a woman marching alone with a placard is seen as inciting public violence instead of it being seen as a request for them to do better by citizens,” Wanner, who's co-facilitated training workshops with Dangarembga around the continent, tells OkayAfrica.

Wanner, who was born in Zambia but raised in Zimbabwe, believes it’s the top government officials who've destroyed the country that should be in prison, not critics like Dangarembga. Upholding human rights, along with drawing attention to women and gender issues, has long been central to the work that has earned Dangarembga praise.

“I think the state targets dissenting voices. Some of those dissenting voices are women’s voices,” Dangarembga says. “I think the effect of taking action against women is particularly shocking because women’s dissident voices are usually not violent. Peaceful protest is a constitutional right in Zimbabwe.” And Dangarembga intends to exercise that right as much as she can.

Featured
Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

Meet the Ghanaian Biker Community Led by Women

From riding motorcycles as a hobby to pushing charitable causes, Biker Girls Gh are always in motion.

In Ghana, there is a staunch stereotype that comes with riding a motorcycle. The notion persists that people who ride them are vagabonds, criminals, and social misfits. This mindset has slowly festered and is now deep-rooted in the typical Ghanaian society. Aside from the negatives, there is the fear for life when one mounts a motorcycle and, as such, many Ghanaian homes have been against motorbikes.

Enter Jessica Opare Saforo, who is redefining what this means with Biker Girls Gh, a women-led biker collective she founded in 2018. In a fairly conservative society like Ghana, to see women riding around freely attracted quite the attention.

However, be it one of indignance or admiration, Jessica didn’t really care about the conjecture people had about the group. “For me, creating this group wasn’t about what people thought," Saforo tells OkayAfrica. "OK, if you thought women weren’t supposed to ride. That was your headache, not mine.”

How it all began

motorcycle

Most bikes are manufactured with men’s physique in mind. Women might find it difficult to find the right fit for them.

Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

Biker Girls Gh was created after Saforo's mother passed away in February 2018. Losing someone she was extremely close to devastated her and she found solace on the wheels of a motorcycle.

“I lost my mother and I figured, you know, I had this passion that I wanted to pursue for the longest time. And I felt you only live once. Why don't you just embark on something that you have always wanted to do?," Saforo said. "Because time is not given. And, tomorrow's not guaranteed.”

She reached out to Rosina Fynn, the executive director of Biker Girls Gh and one of the very few women actively biking at the time. Fynn's husband, a member of Biker Girls, offered biking lessons and Jessica learned from there. Over time, Saforo found that being on bike helped alleviate her pain.

“On the motorcycle, you cannot multitask," she said. “So whenever I was on a motorcycle, I didn’t think about her and the pain too much. That helped me cope better. You just learn to live with the pain and hope they are in a better place.”

Biker Girls Gh riding in streets

“Before you officially join the group, we take you out on a fun ride to assess how you ride and also gel with the girls," Saforo said. "This is done like three times."

Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

She decided then to form a community of women who simply loved riding like herself. Interestingly, she didn’t have to convince women to join. Representation really does matter. Women got the nudge they needed when they saw her — unapologetically being herself — on the motorcycle.

“You would see people on television or maybe on the internet who would ride and you'd think, 'Oh, that's such an interesting sport or an interesting hobby to have.' But you would think it was out of reach," Saforo said. "'Till you realize your next-door neighbor is a female rider and then you‘re like, 'Oh, wait, it's not so far out of reach.' And then you say to yourself, 'OK, this is something I can do, too.’”

Most bikes are manufactured with men’s physique in mind. Women might find it difficult to find the right fit for them. (Even though Saforo suggests the Kawasaki as ideal for women between 5’5 to 5’8.) And motorcycling is a relatively high-risk hobby; safety is non-negotiable. Biker Girls Gh is stern on safety precautions, which sounds intimidating to the average rider or new rider. But it is a policy they are unwilling to compromise on. Should a member ride without their full gear on three times in a row, the group exercises measures like suspension.

The group doesn’t offer bike lessons and new members must have their own motorcycles as a prerequisite. They must also be experienced riders or ideally be above beginner level. A motorcycling license is also a prerequisite.

“Before you officially join the group, we take you out on a fun ride to assess how you ride and also gel with the girls," Saforo said. "This is done like three times."

Charitable Ladies on the Bike

A group of women in bike group

Biker Girls Gh features bankers, content creators, electrical engineers, managing directors, and CEOs.

Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

A noticeable feature of the group is how most of the women come from different professional backgrounds. There are bankers, content creators, electrical engineers, managing directors, and CEOs. Targeting this peculiar bevy of ladies was deliberate for Saforo. She didn’t want to be like other groups, so standing out was imperative to the group.

“Being able to pull women from various spheres of life helps us and gives us the necessary leverage we need to move further,” she said.

The core objective of the group has always been about riding. But they have also embraced philanthropy. In 2019, they rode all the way from Accra to Prampram where they donated immensely to the Kinder Paradise Orphanage. In 2021, they paid the medical bills of women stuck in the hospital for owing medical fees and donated to prison inmates at Akuse who couldn’t afford healthy meals. They also collaborated with the “Kenkey for the Needy” project in 2022 to provide food for street kids in Accra.

Inspirational sisters spurring each other up

black women with mask

The core objective of Biker Girls Gh has always been about riding. But they have also embraced philanthropy.

Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

The camaraderie and sisterhood in the group is profound, which encapsulate a solid support system that inspire members to be the best versions of themselves.

“Ninety-five percent of the group are in leadership or mid-level roles in their respective careers,” Saforo said. “We have a WhatsApp group where we discuss socio-economic issues, sometimes issues concerning women just to stimulate the sisterhood. Once a month, we meet to have breakfast or lunch to catch up. We do acknowledge that times are hard in Ghana and everyone is struggling. Sometimes you don’t just want to text anything in a WhatsApp group but if you meet your sister you can tell her about it.”

Beyond that, personal friendships are also forming within the group which just firmly grounds the group the more. Biker Girls Gh are currently 17 women and Jessica iterates the fact that she doesn’t care about the number necessarily — all she strives for is quality in the group.

Idahams Wants to Soundtrack Life's Beauty & Battles

From the Island of Bonny to Lagos and now, the world, Idahams has a lot of stories to tell. We speak to him about his immersive and tender debut album, Truth, Love & Confessions.

The south got something to say. Actually, in the sprawling world of Nigerian pop, it has been speaking for a while now, with the likes of Rema, Omah Lay and Ajebo Hustlers riding on the region’s genre-fluid practices to popular acclaim. Another name in that conversation isIdahams, a producer and musician who recently released his debut album, Truth, Love & Confessions. It was a quiet Saturday when OkayAfrica recently spoke with him, discussing stories far broader than the thirteen songs which make up TLC.

“I wanted it to be a different one,” he says about his vision for the project. “Not like what we’ve heard before, you know, something people can always go back to when they want to be inspired, when they want to be emotional, something that can stand the test of time. I didn’t want the sound to be what we’ve heard in the past couple of years, so I took my time.”

Being a producer allows Idahams creative license, and he’s much involved in the sound of Trust, Love & Confessions, too. He usually sends sound frames of what he needs to his collaborating producers, and they work around that vision. “I’m always intentional when it comes to making a song,” he says, placing his potential listeners somewhere in that radar.

A shimmering emotional presence lies at the core of TLC. With its title preceding the ambition, the records are inspired by both true and fictional experiences, all rendered purposefully by Idahams’ fine knowledge of sound. From the glorious opener “Gratitude” which utilizes a church choir to the descriptions of a toxic relationship laden in “Hate That I Love,” the album’s themes follow a progressive path. The production is minimal and exquisite, carrying the personal convictions of Idahams with light, almost watery ease.

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