News Brief

Ilhan Omar Is the First Woman to Wear Hijab In Congress

The Somali-born lawmaker is one of two Muslim congresswomen sworn into the House of Representatives today.

Illan Omar, the first Somali-American woman elected to congress, made history in more ways than one today when she also became the first woman to wear hijab in congress and one of two Muslim woman sworn into the United States' House of Representatives.

Ahead of her swearing-in ceremony today, the lawmaker took to Twitter to reflect and to celebrate the milestone with a picture of her and her father. "23 years ago, from a refugee camp in Kenya, my father and I arrived at an airport in Washington DC, she wrote. "Today, we return to that same airport on the eve of my swearing in as the first Somali-American in Congress."


Her father also took to social media to share a heart-warming message about the significance of Omar's appointment, writing "It's an honor to have her represent me and our family is so humbled that Ilhan has the opportunity to serve in our democracy. I wish Ilhan's grandfather could be here to witness this historic moment. He will be here in spirit as Ilhan will place her hand on his Quran for the ceremonial swearing in.

Omar and Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Detroit, who is the first Palestinian-American elected to Congress, both made history as the first Muslim women to make it to congress. Tlaib was sworn in with Thomas Jefferson's Quran, and wore a Palestinian thobe during the ceremony. "I like that," she told CNN of being sworn-in with Jefferson's centuries-old Quran. "I like that it's kind of pushing against the stereotype that somehow we're new to this country."

She's inspired other Palestinian women to share photos of themselves in the traditional attire, using the hashtag #TweetYourThobe.


Omar, who recently clapped-back after a Republican pastor complained that "The floor of Congress is going to look like an Islamic Republic," proudly wore hijab in Congress, where hats and head coverings had been banned since 1837—a law which Omar herself pushed to abolish, reports Vox. The law was officially overturned today, allowing for religious garments to be worn in the chambers.

The United States House of Representatives is currently the most diverse that it's ever been in its 230 year history, with 35 new women being sworn in today.

Music

Listen to Femi Kuti's New Song 'As We Struggle Everyday'

Femi explains: "'As We Struggle Everyday' is about how hard people work everyday to make ends meet and still go to vote corrupt politicians into power who are meant to be in jail."

Femi Kuti shares his new single, "As We Struggle Everyday," the latest drop from the upcoming double album Legacy +, a joint endeavor with his son Made Kuti.

"As We Struggle Everyday" is a politically-charged afrobeat tune about people having the voting power to hold their 'leaders' accountable, but often failing to do so. Throughout the song, Femi sings "As we struggle everyday We try to find a better way See these leaders wey suppose jail Na him my people dem dey hail."

Femi explains: "'As We Struggle Everyday' is about how hard people work everyday to make ends meet and still go to vote corrupt politicians into power who are meant to be in jail."

Legacy +, which is due out February 5 from Partisan Records, includes a full album by Femi titled Stop The Hate and an album by his son, Made, titled For(e)ward. The pair have previously shared the singles "Pà Pá Pà" and "Your Enemy" off the upcoming release.

Listen to Femi Kuti's "As We Struggle Everyday" below.

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Music

The Sounds of Somali Supergroup 4 Mars

A seminal anthology of 4 Mars, a 40-member Somali supergroup formed in 1977, is coming out via Ostinato Records.

In 2019, Ostinato Records became the first label granted access to the grand Archives of Radiodiffusion-Télévision de Djibouti (RTD), a vault of secrets and stories from East Africa. Below, Ostinato Records founder Vik Sohonie writes about their new release, Djibouti Archives Vol. 1: Super Somali Sounds from the Gulf of Tadjoura.

In 1977, on the eve of independence of the Republic of Djibouti, a small country on the Red Sea in East Africa, a densely packed archive was pieced together in a quiet corner of the national radio. Over the years, it became a premier but largely unknown African archive housing thousands of master reels and cassettes of the finest East African sounds.

It has endured fires and theft of invaluable recordings. Those scars linger on the delicate films of quarter-inch reels and cassette tapes. It remains one of the most expansive, well-maintained archives in Africa—but also one of the most restrictive. For decades, the archive remained off-limits to foreign entities of any kind.

In 2019, after negotiations spanning many years, Ostinato Records became the first label granted access to the grand Archives of Radiodiffusion-Télévision de Djibouti (RTD), a vault of secrets and stories—from East Africa, Somalia, Ethiopia, and of course Djibouti itself.

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21 Amapiano Songs By Artists From Outside South Africa To Stream Right Now

21 amapiano songs from Nigeria, the UK, Mozambique, Namibia, Kenya and Tanzania to stream right now.

By now, it's an open secret that amapiano is being produced outside of South Africa where it originates. Nigerian producers and artists, mostly, have embraced the sound and are creating and releasing their own interpretations of amapiano and amapiano-inspired songs.

The songs have resulted in cross-cultural sounds and collaborations that, in their own way, serve to unite, celebrate and foster an exchange of the electrifying music scenes that exist throughout the continent. As a result, these fusions have seen a number people casually refer to them as "Afropiano, Afro-amapiano etc" or "gengepiano" (gengetone with amapiano).

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President Joe Biden Ends Trump's Muslim Travel Ban

President Joe Biden has done away with the 2017 Muslim travel ban enforced by the former Trump administration. The travel ban included several African and Middle Eastern countries.