News Brief

#FreeErickKabendera Speaks Volumes about Tanzania's Approach to Political Dissidents

The investigative journalist is among many government critics to disappear.

Since assuming power back in 2015, Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli and his government appeared to be putting other African leaders to shame with their attempts to "clean up" office. However, over the past few years, Magufuli's rule has become more restrictive and laden with heavy crack downs on any form of dissent be it from citizens and opposition parties in general.

Erick Kabendera, an investigative journalist and freelance reporter in Tanzania, is reportedly the latest target of the Tanzanian government.


Yesterday, Kabendera was forcibly taken from his home in Dar es Salaam by unidentified men claiming to be policemen taking the journalist to the Oysterbay Police Station, according to the BBC. However, the men were not dressed in any official uniform and also refused to identify themselves.

The men also confiscated mobile phones used to record the incident by Kabendera's wife as well as his neighbors, IOL reports. The journalist's whereabouts remain unknown and a social media storm in the form of #FreeErickKabendera has resulted where people are demanding that the government disclose Kabendera's location and provide reasons for his alleged prosecution.


Muthoki Mumo, the Sub-Saharan Africa Representative from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) commented on the matter saying, "The manner in which this journalist was taken, by men claiming to be police, is very ominous and further evidence that the press is not safe in President John Magufuli's Tanzania." He added that, "Authorities must immediately disclose if they are holding Erick Kabendera, and for what reason, and ensure the journalist is returned safely to his family."

It's been speculated that an article that Kabendera wrote for The East African last week, where he criticized the current government and their approach to any political dissent, may have been the reason for his abduction.

Back in November of 2017, investigative journalist Azory Gwanda, also went missing after he covered the killings that were happening in the district of Kibiti. He has never been found. While there have been global efforts to raise awareness around his disappearance, the Tanzanian government recently hinted that the journalist may be dead.

Read more about the disappearances of other media personnel under Magufuli's rule here.

Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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