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Google Honors Late South African Child Activist, Nkosi Johnson, With Doodle

Today's Google Doodle celebrates the life and work of Nkosi Johnson, a child HIV/AIDS activist, who passed away at the age of 12.

Today marks what would have been the 31st birthday of South African child activist Nkosi Johnson.

Johnson, whose work focused on raising awareness around HIV/AIDs in the early 2000s, at a time when the disease was still incredibly stigmatised and seen as a "death sentence", passed away from complications related to AIDS at the age of 12.

He was the longest-surviving HIV-positive born child at that time.


Johnson received international attention following his address to thousands of delegates at the 13th International Aids Conference in Durban back in 2001. There, his heartfelt words which centred on dispelling the stigma and superstitions around the illness captured the world. "Hi, my name is Nkosi Johnson," He began. "I am 11 years old and I have full-blown Aids. I was born HIV-positive...Care for us and accept us – we are all human beings. We are normal. We have hands. We have feet. We can walk, we can talk, we have needs just like everyone else. Don't be afraid of us – we are all the same."

He took his message across the world, travelling to an AIDS conference held in Atlanta, Georgia in the US at one point. Following his death, his adopted mother, Gail Johnson, established Nkosi's Haven, a non-profit organisation (NPO) which has carried on his legacy through providing a sanctuary for mothers and children affected by HIV/AIDS.

OkayAfrica spoke briefly to Johnson who, while delighted by Google honoring her son, paints a grim picture not only for the future of Nkosi's Haven, but for NPOs in general based in South Africa. "Where we're at with [Nkosi's] legacy is exhaustion, running out of money...but we're coping."

Tasked with answering what South Africans could do to better the situation, she says, "Non-profits just do such necessary work because they've been established because there's a gap in the community. Every one of the non-profits that I deal with or know of—everyone needs help. While AIDS is now a chronic, manageable disease and people might not think that it's urgent, there are children who are suffering. There are children who are in need and still you have to beg for support. That's a bitter pill to swallow."

Describing her biggest hope for Nkosi's legacy, Johnson concludes by saying, "I hope that we survive...that I can retire in peace. Whoever takes over from me and keeps Nkosi's legacy going, [I hope] that they have the same passion and energy to keep it going because he stood for so much."

To learn more about Nkosi's Haven and how you can support their work, click here.

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Podcast cover art.

Bobi Wine's Release Detailed in Latest Episode of 'The Messenger'

Trauma is the topic on the podcast's latest episode: "The Ballot or The Bullet."

The latest episode of The Messenger is something to behold.

Created by Sudanese-American rapper Bas, The Messenger throws the spotlight on the thunderous circumstances many African countries face, with a close focus on Ugandan politician Bobi Wine.

In his most recent traumatic experience, Wine and his wife Barbara Itungo Kyagulanyi were released from a nearly two-week military house arrest following the ruling of a Ugandan court. Keeping up with current events and circumstances that Wine finds himself in, the latest episode of the podcast recounts the traumatic events that led to Wine's very public abuse and eventual house arrest.

Upon his release, Wine spoke with The Messenger and had this to say, "I want to remind the world that we went in this election knowing how corrupt the staff of the electoral commission is. We saw this through the campaign and the world saw how much was oppressed, how biased and one sided the electoral commission was, and how much it was in the full grip of General Museveni. And therefore we are going to test every legal test, we shall take every legal test. We shall take every legal step. And indeed we shall take every moral and morally proactive, nonviolent, but legal and peaceful step to see that we liberate ourselves. The struggle has not ended. It is just beginning."

Listen to Episode 7 of The Messenger here.

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The 9 Best Nigerian Songs of the Month (January)

Featuring Ayra Starr, Reekado Banks x Tiwa Savage, Femi Kuti, Wizkid, Burna Boy, Joeboy, Yung L, Buju and more

Here are the best, and most noteworthy, Nigerian tracks we had on repeat in the first month of 2021.

Follow our NAIJA HITS playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

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Portait by: Bamby Diagne

Spotlight: Bamby Diagne's 'Afrogile' Is An Ode to The Beauty of African Hair

Through a series of portraits, the project celebrates Afro hair and the beauty of the Black woman.

In our 'Spotlight' series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists and more who are producing vibrant, original work. In our latest piece, we spotlight Bamby Diagne, a Paris based Senegalese portrait photographer channeling his own process of growth, self-discovery and a lifelong alliance with Black women through his art. The name 'Afrogile', stems from a wordplay between "Afro", "Agility" and "Fragility". Framed as 'An ode to the beauty of African hair', Bamby and his talented team have created a projected bathed in optimism, African resilience and identity. Read more about the passion and importance of his work below, and stay up to date with the artist on Instagram and on his website.


Responses have have been edited for length and clarity.


Describe your background as an artist and the journey you've taken to get it to where it is today.

I was born and raised in Dakar, Senegal before moving to Paris at the age of 8. As long as I remember, I have always been attracted to images, whether it be drawings, sculptures, photos, videos, basically anything visual. My mother was a painter and an interior architect. Some of my most vivid memories from my childhood and adolescence are those times when she used to come back home with a new piece of art she had drawn. I'm also a huge fan of manga, I used to draw a lot in my teens and all these inspirations ended up rubbing off on my digital work. I progressed to photography and video after initially starting out in graphic design at the Internet and Multimedia Institute. I fell in love with my first camera through urban exploration 4 years ago and from then I never left it.

What are central themes in your work and how have you told the story this time around?

As an artist, it is now more than ever, a critical time to engage and start speaking out on subjects that matter to me. Black women have always been an inspiration to me. Growing up in Dakar, where most of the social decisions within the family were made by the mothers and grandmothers, I always had the utmost respect and admiration for their role even though it is not as recognized and highlighted on a bigger scale. Image and representation plays a big part in the way we perceive ourselves and our place in society because we compare ourselves, whether it be consciously or unconsciously, to the people we see. Photography is a portal, and I am fully aware of its powerful influence on perception.

I never really had a central theme on which to base my visuals and that's something I tend to want to change. For a long time, I have explored myself through photography. I liked what I was doing and I didn't really wonder why this or that visual spoke to me, I let myself be carried away by what I saw and what my instincts dictated. Visualizing my creation beforehand now helps me get more satisfied with the final result. It is only in my last few series that I have been trying to bring more of a social dimension to my work. Whether it's diverting current events and making them a subject of discussion, or doing a more introspective work in relation to my own perception of the microcosm that surrounds me.

Can you talk about your use of colours, hairstyles and jewellery in this project?

I had the chance to work with the talented Oldie Mbani, Shenna Rochas and Aurore Jorgensen on the make up, hairstyling and accessories respectively. It is in consultation with them that I created the overall aesthetics of the project. The whole concept of Afrogile revolves around hairstyles and the use of objects as accessories on them, that's why the rest of the tones had to be neutral enough, close to the body colours. We were looking for an elegant aesthetics and it is quite naturally that we chose for each model, clothes which corresponded most to their identity, to the aura which they exude.

Aurore Jorgensen did me the honor of lending me the handmade jewels of her brand Soleils d'Afrique for the occasion. 'Cauris' are one of the most famous symbols of Africa. They represent power, prosperity and fit perfectly with the positive and enthusiastic note I wanted to bring to the project.

How has the pandemic affected you creatively?

The pandemic as well as the multiple confinements were a wake-up call for me. For a long time, I have taken in the things of daily life, the will to want to gain an audience, develop a certain clientele as a self-entrepreneur, improve my visibility etc... Paradoxically, it is this planetary event that is supposed to be anxiety-provoking and the source of many economic problems that took me out of this survival mentality. I was brought back to myself, forced to refocus and redefine my goals, my passions, my life choices. That's when I decided to see things differently, to change my priorities and focus more on my well-being instead of betting my future on decisions with arbitrary consequences. It is precisely at that moment that I shifted my thought process, both in terms of my vision of the profession I practice but also in terms of the time and energy I would devote to myself, which inevitably led to new inspirations and a rebirth of my passion for photography.


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Here is the Performance Lineup for the 2021 MTV Africa Music Awards Kampala

The 2021 MTV Africa Music Awards has announced their exciting performance lineup featuring Nasty C, Wizkid, Diamond Platnumz and more.