News Brief
Photo by Ali Balikci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

Prime Minister of Somalia Hassan Ali Khayre and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (not seen) hold a joint press conference after their meeting in Ankara, Turkey on October 26, 2017.

Somalia Shuts Down Internet Amid Prime Minister's Vote of No Confidence

Central and Southern parts of Somalia are facing internet shutdowns shortly after the surprise ousting of Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre.

According to Somali Affairs, President Abdullahi Mohammed Farmaajo has enacted the removal of Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kharye after a unanimous parliamentary vote of no confidence. Power struggles allegedly caused by Khayre's ambitions to be president have bred tensions between the two parties and resulted in a cabinet split before the national elections set for February 2021. Mahdai Mohamed Guled has now replaced the former Prime Minister. The announcement of the cabinet change was quickly followed by widespread internet shutdowns across Somalia.


READ: Benin Enforced an Internet Shutdown on the Same Day as Uncontested Elections

Residents in Mogadishu and other towns across the country have reported an internet shutdown since early this morning. This, however, is not the first time the country has faced the problem. Back in 2017, the country went completely offline because of damage to a major undersea cable. Somalia has faced civil unrest for more than two decades and elections are held in a formal but outdated style. President Farmaajo, who was elected in 2017 after two rounds of voting, stated that he wanted a "satisfactory" election process for 2021.

Former Prime Minister Khayre previously led negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for financial aid as the country tackled a locust invasion and the novel coronavirus pandemic. Khayre's efforts led to a 50 billion dollar loan to assist the financially unstable country although it did not meet the requirements owing to outstanding debt and rampant political corruption.

Opposition party, Forum of National Parties, responded with concern to the recent ousting of the Prime Minister stating that, "The president is breeding political chaos that will be difficult to manage," as reported by Reuters. These concerns also follow allegations that President Famaarjo is attempting to extend his presidential term.

Spotlight
Photo Credit: Tony Karumba

UN Says Somalia Is Facing Its Worst Famine in Years

According to the United Nations, Somalian children are currently being admitted for medical treatment for malnutrition every minute in the East African country.

The United Nations recently shared that Somalia is facing severe famine. And, as a result, the organization will be setting a new target of over $2 billion in funding needed to tackle the issue. The UN says that Somalia has not experienced a famine of this magnitude in over half a century.


In a conversation with reporters, James Elder, a UNICEF spokesperson, said that the situation is dire and is showing no sign of getting better in the near future.

"Things are bad, and every sign indicates that they are going to get worse. Without greater action and investment, we are facing the death of children on a scale not seen in half a century," Elder said.

Earlier this year, Elder spoke to the media about the growing concerns of Somali children suffering from malnutrition.

Earlier reports noted that about 500,000 Somali children under the age of five were expected to experience extreme levels of malnutrition and face the risk of death. Elder also said that nutritional resources centers across Somalia were already at their maximum capacity and could not accommodate more children.

"We've got more than half a million children facing preventable death. It's a pending nightmare," said Elder at the time, during a Geneva news briefing. "You've got critically ill children who, without treatment, may die in a matter of hours."

Following a string of consecutive failed rainy seasons, crops and livestock have been adversely affected, and this has thrown the country further into the depths of extreme hunger.

Elder saidElder said that although Somalia has faced similar hardships in the past, this is beyond what happened in the past.

"When people speak of the crisis facing Somalia today, it has become common for frightful comparisons to be made with the famine of 2011 when 260,000 people died," Elder said. "However, everything I am hearing on the ground — from nutritionists to pastoralists — is that things today actually look worse. In 2011, after three failed rains, the affected population was half of what it is now, and the overall conditions — rain and harvest — were on the mend. Today, it's been four failed rains, the forecast for the fifth rains is looking pretty grim, and the affected population is twice the size of 2011."

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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.

Style
Photo: Adedamola Odetara

The Best Street Style from Chanel’s Debut Show in Dakar

From breezy silhouettes and bold colors to monochrome dressing, these were some of the stand-out looks from those attending the French house's Métiers d’art showcase.

There's a buzz in the Senegalese capital and an upbeat mood on the streets -- thanks in large part to Chanel unveiling its Métiers d’art collection on Tuesday. In the lead-up to the French luxury house's history-making show in Dakar, Dakar Fashion Week had just closed out with an all-white afterparty at the Phare des Mamelles, and a three-day cultural program to engage local creatives across art, film, and music captivated visitors and locals alike.

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