News Brief

Cameroonian NBA Star Joakim Noah Skipped a Team Dinner With West Point Cadets Because He’s Against War

NBA star Joakim Noah cited his anti-war beliefs as the reason he skipped the New York Knicks' annual team dinner with West Point cadets.

On Thursday, NBA star Joakim Noah skipped his team’s annual dinner at the West Point Military Academy and purposefully missed a speech from a retired Army Colonel. Although he assures reporters it wasn’t about taking a stand or launching a protest, he did so because he’s against war.


“I have a lot of respect for the kids who are out here fighting. But it’s hard for me to understand why we have to go to war, why kids have to kill kids around the world,” Noah is reported to have said. “So I have mixed feelings about being here. I’m very proud of this country. I love America but I just don’t understand kids killing kids around the world.”

The 31-year-old star center and lifelong Fela Kuti fan is the son of Cameroonian−French singer and tennis great Yannick Noah and the grandson of Cameroonian football star Zacharie Noah, who still lives in Cameroon. Noah has referred to himself as an “African player.”

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Speaking with reporters about missing the West Point dinner, Noah maintained that he’s not anti-troops. “It's just not comfortable for me to see kids going out to war and coming back having seen what they've seen, having done what they've done,” he added, according to ESPN. “It's sad for me because they're just sent out for things that I don't really want to get into it to be honest with you. It's hard for me."

Noah also mentioned that he's put off by nationalistic pride as a whole. "I'm not a very patriotic person, to be honest. I don't understand the whole flags, supporting flags. I'm more into supporting people," he told reporters.

"I think it's a very important time right now,” added Noah. “I think it's great athletes are taking a stand. But it has to be about more than that. This country's out of control. Kids killing kids. And it has nothing to do with, people are talking about the anthem but that's not the point. There are things that need to be fixed."

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said he supports Noah’s decision. "That's his right. He wants to be a part of the team group and do everything the team is doing. He just didn't feel comfortable (attending the dinner)," Hornacek is also reported to have said. "We're not going to pressure him into doing that. We had the speaker who I thought was fantastic. I told him, maybe we can get a little copy, if there's a copy of the speech, just so he can hear some of it. That's his right."

For more on Noah, watch the former Chicago Bull discuss Fela and knowing his own roots in the Okayafrica TV video below.

Interview

Interview: Terri Is Stepping Out of the Shadows

We talk to the Wizkid-signed artist about the story behind the massive hit "Soco" and his latest Afro Series EP.

Certain afrobeats songs have made in-roads in international markets and paved the way for the genre's ceaselessly-rising widespread recognition. Among these history-defining songs were D'banj's "Oliver Twist," Tekno's "Pana," Davido's "If" & "Fall," Runtown's "Mad Over You," and of course, Wizkid's "Soco." Wizkid released "Soco" under his label imprint, Starboy Entertainment in March 2018, and the song spread like wildfire across Africa and beyond. "Soco" was an Afro-pop wonder delivered at a time when the 'afrobeats to the world' movement was gathering steam, further cementing its electric nature. The Northboi-produced song was co-signed by celebrities across the world like Rihanna, Cardi B, and Paul Pogba and has accrued well over a hundred million streams across streaming platforms worldwide.

"Soco" was not only a trailblazer amongst mid-2010s afrobeats records, it was also the introduction of the first Wizkid-signed artist, Terri. Just weeks before "Soco" was released, Terri was discovered by Wizkid's longtime producer, Mutay, who saw him covering the song "Oshe" on social media.

Before "Soco," Terri Akewe was well on his way to fame. At fifteen, he had performed at street carnivals in his neighbourhood and, one time, was carried all the way home by neighbours after winning a Coca-Cola sponsored singing competition. Before his life-changing meeting with Wizkid, Terri had a seven-track EP ready for release, as well as a viral song titled "Voices." "One time I was on set with the video director T.G Omori, he told me that 'Voices' was the first time he heard of me" Terri tells me as we settle on a plush couch at his home in Lagos.

Regardless of Terri's initial career trajectory; signing to a label headed by afrobeats' biggest superstar was bound to accelerate his musical journey, and at the same time, cast a huge shadow of expectation on his career, especially given a debut as spectacular as "Soco." With his latest EP, Afro Series, powered by the sensational single "Ojoro," one thing is clear: Terri is stepping out of the shadows into his own spotlight and he is doing it on his own terms.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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