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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."

Interview

Amadou & Mariam Forever

We talk to the legendary Malian duo about their rich past, songwriting process and their advice for young African artists with disabilities.

Amadou & Mariam don't require an introduction.

The couple has been making Afro-blues music for over 35 years, drawing inspiration from their home of Mali, for over 35 years.

Their 1999 albumSou Ni Tilé sold 100,000 copies. In 2005, their album Dimanche à Bamako won the French Victoire de la Musique prize for Best World Music Album of the year and the BBC Radio 3 Award for Africa. It also went platinum in France after selling over 300,000 copies. The duo have performed with U2, Coldplay, Blur and many others.

We caught up with them below for a conversation about their rich past, their songwriting process and their advice for young African artists with disabilities, ahead of the duo's performance at the upcoming London Jazz Festival 2021.

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Music
Image: Ian Watts

The New Fela Kuti Box Set is Curated by Femi Kuti & Chris Martin

And they said the perfect holiday gift doesn't exist...

Fela Kuti's 50th anniversary reissues released this year have reminded us why his status as a legend continues to ring true.

Through the year, Partisan Records (the homes of Fela's catalog) has released a number of special reissues, and now Vinyl Box #5 is set to drop just in time for you to be named the coolest gift giver in your friend group. The highly-anticipated fifth installment of vinyl reissues was co-curated by Fela's son, Nigerian afrobeat ambassador Femi Kuti and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin.

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Photo by NurPhoto via Getty Images.

A Year After #EndSARS, Nigerian Youth Maintain That Nothing Has Changed

Despite the disbandment of the SARS units, young Nigerians are still being treated as criminals. We talk to several of them about their experiences since the #EndSARS protests.

On September 12th, Tobe, a 22-year-old student at the University of Nigeria's Enugu Campus was on his way to Shoprite to hang out with his friends when the tricycle he had boarded was stopped by policemen. At first, Tobe thought they were about to check the driver's documents, but he was wrong. "An officer told me to come down, he started searching me like I was a criminal and told me to pull down my trousers, I was so scared that my mind was racing in different ways, I wasn't wearing anything flashy nor did I have an iPhone or dreads — things they would use to describe me as a yahoo boy," he says.

They couldn't find anything on him and when he tried to defend himself, claiming he had rights, one of the police officers slapped him. "I fell to the ground sobbing but they dragged me by the waist and took me to their van where they collected everything including my phone and the 8,000 Naira I was with."

Luckily for Tobe, they let him go free after 2 hours. "They set me free because they caught another pack of boys who were in a Venza car, but they didn't give me my money completely, they gave me 2,000 Naira for my transport," he says.

It's no news that thousands of Nigerian youth have witnessed incidents like Tobe's — many more worse than his. It's this helpless and seemingly unsolvable situation which prompted the #EndSARS protests. Sparked after a viral video of a man who was shot just because he was driving an SUV and was mistaken as a yahoo boy, the #EndSARS protests saw millions of young Nigerians across several states of the country come out of their homes and march against a system has killed unfathomable numbers of people for invalid or plain stupid reasons. The protests started on October 6th, 2020 and came to a seize after a tragedy struck on October 20th of the same year.

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