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John Obi Mikel Learned His Father Had Been Abducted Just Hours Before Nigeria Faced Argentina

"I was told that they would shoot my dad instantly if I reported to the authorities or told anybody," recounts Nigeria's national team captain.

UPDATE:

John Obi Mikel has released a statement, thanking Nigerian police for their efforts in helping rescue his father, and informing supporters that his father has returned home, where he is now recuperating.

Continue for the full story:

Last Tuesday, as soccer fans gathered to watch Nigeria take on Argentina in what would be their final 2018 World Cup match, the Super Eagle's captain John Obi Mikel learned some harrowing news: his father, Pa Michael Obi, had been kidnapped as he headed to a funeral in Southeastern Nigeria.

As Kwesé ESPN reports, despite what he had just learned, Mikel went on to face Argentina, as he was told by kidnappers that his father would be killed if he were to alert authorities just four hours before kickoff. The kidnappers demanded N10 million ($28,000) for his father's safe return.


"I had to shut it out of my head and go and represent my country first. I was told that they would shoot my dad instantly if I reported to the authorities or told anybody," Obi told Kwese ESPN. "I played while my father was in the hands of bandits," he continued. "I had to suppress the trauma. I took a call four hours before kickoff to tell me what had happened."

His father and his driver, who were being held in the city of Egede in Enugu State, spent 6 days in captivity, and were rescued after a "gun duel" took place on Monday between the kidnappers and policemen, which forced the kidnappers to flee and leave the victims behind, the Nigerian Police confirmed in a statement on Tuesday. Obi senior, was taken to the hospital to recieve treatment for injuries he sustained.

Mikel spoke out about the incident for the very first time on Tuesday, revealing that he kept the information from his coach as well as the Nigerian Football Federation.

"I did not want to discuss it with the coach because I did not want my issue to become a distraction to the coach or the rest of the team on the day of such an important game, he said. "So as much as I wanted to discuss it with the coach, I could not do it."

Despite being rocked by such difficult news, the player decided, that at that time, it was best to focus on representing his country on the world stage. "I was confused. I did not know what to do, but in the end I knew that I could not let 180 million Nigerians down."

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Photo: Single cover art courtesy of Emerald East

Rema Welcomes 2021 With New Single 'Bounce'

The Don Jazzy produced track reminds us of why the Nigerian singer-songwriter is topping charts.

Nigerian golden boy Rema took his time on deciding how to start of 2021—and we're glad he did.

The afropop hitmaker is out with his first project of the year, "Bounce", after stunning fans with word of an upcoming album, and the cooks in this kitchen have not disappointed.

Keeping it in the Mavin Records family, legendary producer Don Jazzy sprinkles his magic on the track, while undoubtedly motivating the young singer-songwriter to be his best self. And with this track being like nothing we've heard from Rema before, one could say Jazzy succeeded. "Bounce", fast-paced and fierce, is a love song dedicated to bewitchingly beautiful and blessed bottoms. The candid declaration and hip shaking beat are a force duo and we can't help but love it.

Of the single and collaboration with head honcho Don Jazzy, Rema says, "This record was inspired by the luscious and magnificent body of the African woman. Furthermore, I'm really excited about this tune because it's my first single with the legendary Don Jazzy."

Honestly, when you start the year off with a banger, you get to make songs about butts.

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Photo courtesy of Mariama Diallo

Interview: Sincerely Ria Is Giving Guinean Fashion Its Flowers

And designer Mariama Diallo's NYFW debut celebrates the vibrancy and uniqueness of Guinea and its Fulani culture.

Guinea-born supermodel, actress, and activist Mariama Diallo is a face you've likely seen all over social media.

With modelling campaigns with the likes of Savage x Fenty by Rihanna, Kim Kardashian's KKW Beauty, and features in Vogue, Marie Claire, NYLON magazines, the model is commanding her space in the industry and making her way centerstage. And, Mariama's strong online presence and following has certainly made her a popular member of the global village too.

With the aforementioned achievements under her belt, the 28-year-old supermodel presented herself as an eager and excited talent within the fashion industry. Now, Mariama's talents and ambitions have attracted her to a role behind the scenes. And showing the power of intention, the role has already taken her to places she only dreamed of prior.

Debuting as the fashion designer of self-financed fashion line Sincerely Ria at this year's New York Fashion Week is but a peek into what the model has to show of herself and share with the world.

The new collection, The Oshun, celebrates not only female beauty and the many ways that it manifests itself but also the magic of womanhood. Named after Oshun, the African goddess of femininity, fertility, beauty, and love, the collection is wrapped within the warmth and divinity of its namesake. The brand follows an ethos of inclusivity, community, and the power behind being beautiful because you have decided to be. Challenging the notion that beauty is always to be accompanied by pain, Mariama and Sincerely Ria are celebrating the rejection of beauty and body standards and expectations.

The Oshun line is a nod to the opulence of Mariama's African heritage and Guinea's Fulani culture, with special attention to the use of brilliant colors, exciting designs, and stunning silhouettes. Motivated to be seen and to captivate, the emphasis on Black beauty within the clothing is certainly translated beautifully, however, stylistically available to all. Uniqueness is welcomed and encouraged. And like Mariama says herself, "You deserve to celebrate yourself unapologetically."

The line debuted at New York Fashion Week, very appropriately, on Valentine's Day of this year and love certainly was the theme. Already boasting a following of over 8,000, the brand's instagram account has shown nothing short of praise and excitement for what we've seen from Mariama, and for what's to come.

We spoke with the Guinean supermodel about the journey to Fashion Week and her love for and emphasis on community and shared experiences.

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(Youtube)

The 5 Best East African Songs of the Month (February)

Featuring Rayvanny, Siverstone Barz x Victoria Kimani, Spice Diana x Fik Fameica, and more.

The month of love featured an array of incredible releases from East Africa's pop royalty as well as promising newcomers.

Follow our East African Grooves playlist on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Focalistic Shares Visuals For ‘Ke Star (Remix)’ Featuring Vigro Deep and Davido

Watch the music video for 'Ke Star (Remix)' by Focalistic, Vigro Deep and Davido.