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Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

In Photos: A Sultry Evening Celebrating OkayAfrica's 100 Women at NYC's Top of the Standard

Here's what went down at our evening of community and celebration in this photo story.

OkayAfrica recently took over New York City's Top of the Standard to praise this year's 100 Women honorees for a sultry evening of community and celebration.

Over 350 VIPs and past honorees including Flaviana Matata, Maria Borges, Abrima Erwiah, Jojo Abot and Susy Oludele gathered for delicious bites and custom Courvoisier cocktails—like the Courvoisier French 75 (Courvoisier VS, lemon juice, simple syrup, Brut champagne, and garnished with a lemon twist).


The crowd also got down to sets by female African DJs—including DJ AQ, Niara Sterling and Sydney Love. South Africa's own and our fabulous 2019 honoree Moonchild Sanelly blessed the room with a high-energy performance, having guests on their feet well past midnight. Some of the esteemed women honored this year that joined us for the evening include Isha Sesay, Penda N'diaye, Soull and Dynasty Ogun, Besidone Amoruwa and more.

As you've seen in this year's campaign, our amazing honorees are being recognized for their impact and influence as change agents and innovators in their respective industries.

"Every March, OkayAfrica is dedicated to celebrating 100 women across the continent and diaspora for the work that they've done," Rachel Hislop, editor-in-chief of OkayAfrica, says, addressing the audience at the soiree. "This year, our celebration encapsulates around youth culture—where we celebrate 100 women who use their power to push those who are the future of Africa and the world. Thank you to our honorees for allowing us to celebrating you."

Revisit the illustrious evening through the images below, thanks to photographers Noemie Marguerite and Hannan Saleh.

Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

DJ Niara Sterling. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

2019 OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree Charlene Akuamoah. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

Justine Skye in Studio 189. Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

2019 OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree Penda N'diaye. Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

2017 OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree Maria Borges. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

Young Paris, Maria Borges and friends. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

2019 OkayAfrica 100 Women honorees Dynasty (left) and Soull (right) Ogun. Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

Livelle Collins. Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

El Lewis. Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

Ade Adeniran. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

Rachel Hislop, OkayAfrica's editor-in-chief. Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

2019 OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree and guest artist Moonchild Sanelly. Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

Moonchild Sanelly. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

Photo by Noemie Marguerite.

Abiola Oke, CEO and publisher of OkayAfrica with 2019 OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree Isha Sesay. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

Jojo Abot, Poizon Ivy the DJ and Moonchild Sanelly. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

2017 OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree Flaviana Matata. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

Abiola Oke and TK Wonder. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

Sira Kante. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

Peju Famojure. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

2018 OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree Susy Oludele. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

OkayAfrica, Okayplayer and 100 Women staff (L-R): Oyinkan Olojede, Ivie Ani, Nadia Nascimento, Antoinette Isama, Bisi, Jasmine Michel, Sinat Giwa. Photo by Hannan Saleh.

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Angelica Nwandu Is Launching 3 New Original Series on The Shade Room

The premier Instagram-driven platform covering all things black celebrity gossip is venturing into original programming.

Angelica Nwandu is set to take the impact of her platform The Shade Room to another level with new original programming, Variety reports.

The Nigerian-American founder and media mogul of the premier Instagram-driven publication covering all things black culture and celebrity gossip will be launching three new original series on the platform later this year.

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In Photos: This Is What OkayAfrica 100 Women's First Event of the Month Looked Like

OkayAfrica 100 Women 2019 honorees Clemantine Wamariya and Soull and Dynasty Ogun, along with curator Neema Githere, imparted fulfilling words on personal storytelling in a panel discussion at Okay Space.

We've hit the ground running to celebrate our third iteration of this year's fabulous OkayAfrica 100 Women honorees and Sunday marked our first auxiliary event of the month, bringing the sentiments and purpose of the list to life.

Peeling Back: The Art and Origin of Personal Storytelling was a panel discussion moderated by 2019 honoree and author Clemantine Wamariya. In conversation with curator Neema Githere and fellow honorees Soull and Dynasty Ogun of L'Enchanteur, the women shared with an intimate gathering of supporters in Okay Space their own origin stories, how their narratives are ever-evolving, and how they anchor and surround themselves with the people—past and present—who are interwoven with their journeys.

Throughout the month of March there will be more opportunities to gather in community to amplify and uplift the 2019 honorees (and each other). Keep tabs on the events page via the OkayAfrica 100 Women website—and don't forget to RSVP for updates.

Take a look at images from the gathering, provided by Nerdscarf Photography, below:

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The 12 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

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Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

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Photo courtesy of CNOA

These Colombian Civil Rights Activists Are Fighting to Make Sure Afro-Colombians are Counted in the Census

When 30 percent of Colombia's Black citizens disappeared from the data overnight, a group of Afro-Colombian activists demanded an explanation.

It was the end of 2019 when various Black organizations protested in front of the census bureau—The National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (DANE)—in Bogotá, Colombia to show their dissatisfaction about what they called a "statistical genocide" of the black population. The census data, published that year, showed 2.9 million people, only 6 percent of the total population of the country, was counted as "Afro-Colombian," "Raizal," and "Palenquero"—the various terms identifying black Colombians.

For many years, Afro-Colombians have been considered the second largest ethno-racial group in the country. Regionally, Colombia has long been considered the country with the second highest number of Afro-descendants after Brazil, according to a civil society report.

Why did the population of Afro-Colombians drop so drastically?

Afro-Colombian, Black, Raizal, and Palenquero civil-rights activists protesting erasure of Afro-descendants in front of the census bureau.

Last year, a crowd of activists gathered in Bogota to protest what they saw as erasure of Black communities in the Colombian census.

Photo courtesy of CNOA

In the latest national census report from 2018/2019, there appeared to be a 30.8 percent reduction of the overall group of people that identified as Black, Afro-Colombian, Raizal, and Palenquero, as compared to the 2005. After this controversial report, an Afro-Colombian civil rights organization known as the National Conference of Afro Colombian Organizations (CNOA), officially urged DANE to explain the big undercounting of the black population.

This wasn't a small fight. Representatives who hold the special seats of Afro-Colombians in Colombia's congress asked the census bureau to attend a political control debate at the House of Representatives in November 2019 to deliver an accountability report. "The main goal of doing a political debate was to demand DANE to give us a strong reason about the mistaken data in the last census in regard to the Afro population," said Ariel Palacios, an activist and a member of CNOA.

At the debate, the state released an updated census data report saying that, almost 10 percent of the Colombian population—4.6 million people out of 50.3 million—considers themselves Afro-Colombians or other ethnicities (like Raizal, and Palenquero). But despite DANE trying to confirm the accuracy and reliability on the latest census report it was clear that, for a variety of reasons, Black people were missed by the census. The state argued that their main obstacles with data collection were related to the difficulties of the self-recognition question, as well as security reasons that didn't allow them to access certain regions. They also admitted to a lack of training, logistics and an overall lack of success in the way the data collectors conducted the census.

How could they have counted Black populations better?

Afro-Colombian, Black, Raizal, and Palenquero civil-rights activists playing drums in front of the census bureau.

Drummers performing during a protest against the Colombian census bureau's erasure of Afro-Colombians from the 2018 census.

Photo courtesy of CNOA

These arguments were not reasonable for the civil rights activists, partially because the state failed to properly partner with Afro-organizations like CNOA to conduct or facilitate extensive informational campaigns about the self-identification questions.

"CNOA has worked on self-recognition and visibility campaigns among the Afro community and this census ignored our work," says priest Emigdio Cuesta-Pino, the executive secretary of CNOA. Palacios also thinks that the majority of Afro-Colombians are aware of their identity "we self-identify because we know there is a public political debate and we know that there is a lack of investment on public policies."

That's why it is not enough to leave the statistical data to the official census bureau to ensure that Afro-Colombian communities are fully counted in the country. And the civil rights activists knows that. They made a big splash in the national media and achieved visibility in the international community.

Thanks to The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a human rights organization, Palacios traveled to D.C to meet with Race and Equality institution and a Democratic Congressman. "We called for a meeting with representative Hank Johnson to talk about the implementation of Colombia's peace accords from an Afro-Colombian perspective but also to address the gross undercounts of its black population," says Palacios.

For the activists at CNOA, the statistical visibility of the Black population is one of their battles. They have fought for Afro population recognition for almost two decades. "Since the very beginning CNOA has worked on the census issue as one of our main commitments within the statistical visibility of the Afro-Colombian people," says priest Cuesta-Pina. Behind this civil organization are 270 local associations, who work for their rights and collective interests.

The activists want to raise awareness on identity. Because according to Palacios, "In Colombia, there is missing an identity debate—we don't know what we are. They [the census bureau] ask if we are black, or if we are Afro-Colombians. But what are the others being asked? If they are white, mestizo or indigenous?" Palacios believes that for "CNOA this debate is pending, and also it is relevant to know which is the character of this nation."

Afro-Colombian Populations and the Coronavirus

Afro-Colombian, Black, Raizal, and Palenquero civil-rights activists use mock coffins and statistics to protest erasure of Afro-descendants

Colombian civil-rights activist insist that undercounting Afro-descendants can have a real impact on the health of Afro-Colombian communities, especially during the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

Photo courtesy of CNOA

Even though the state recently "agreed with to give us a detailed census report" and make a different projection with the micro data, says Palacios, now with the Covid-19 emergency, CNOA and the government has suspended all meetings with them, including cancelling a second congressional debate and the expert round table meeting to analyze the data.

Unfortunately, it is exactly in situations like the Covid-19 emergency where data analysis and an accurate census report would have been useful. According to the professor and PhD in Sociology Edgar Benítez from Center for Afro Diasporic Studies—CEAF, "Now it is required to provide a reliable and timely information on how the contagion pattern will spread in those predominantly Afro regions in the country and what is the institutional capacity in those places to face it," says Benítez.

He adds that this information is "critical at the moment because the institutional capacity is not up to provide it at the current situation". That's why the Center for Afro Diasporic Studies plans to work with DANE information from the last census. According to Benítez, "We are thinking of making comparisons at the municipal level with the information reported in the 2018 Quality of Life Survey, in order to have a robust and extensive database as possible on the demographic, economic and social conditions of the black, afro, Raizal and Palenquera population in Colombia."









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