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Image courtesy of Johan Hugo.

Lazarus Is the Malawi Street Musician Fighting Against the Persecution of People With Albinism

His new single is "Ndife Alendo" is out now and a documentary will premiere at Tribeca Film Festival.

Lazarus is a street performer based in Malawi whose story is both beautiful and dark. His music came into the eyes of producer Johan Hugo (The Very Best) when his friend sent him a clip of Lazarus performing in a shopping center in his home of Lilongwe with his homemade banjo.

As a person with albinism, Lazarus suffers a lot of senseless persecution in Malawi. "People with albinism in that part of Africa are hunted, killed or mutilated for their body parts," Johan explains via e-mail, "which some people think are magical, and are sold on black market for big money for witchcraft. It's a massive insane problem."

In order to shed light on the issue, the producer, who's worked with the likes of Baaba Maal and Mumford & Sons, decided to take on the project of recording an album with Lazarus. Johan traveled to Malawi alongside a documentary crew that included the Oscar-nominated, Emmy winning director David Darg and Bryn Mooser.

Together, they tracked down Lazarus, who they found still playing on the street to support his wife and two kids, who also have albinism. They recorded an album of Lazarus' songs with little extra production and the help of Johan's fellow member of The Very Best, Esau Mwamwaya, and a choir. Everything was recorded outdoors in the outskirts of Lilongwe. th

The album, Stomp On The Devil, will feature tracks that blend Lazarus' traditional Malawian style with modern folk. You can check out its lead single "Ndife Alendo" below. It comes paired with a remix by Moroka.

The Lazarus documentary is set to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April.




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Rodger Bosch/AFP via Getty Images

A Malawian High Court Orders Lifting of Government Ban on Dreadlocks in Schools

The order comes after a Rastafarian learner with dreadlocks was barred from being admitted into a Malawian school by the government.

A Malawian High Court in Zomba has ordered that a learner be admitted into Blantyre Girls' Primary School after her admission was barred because of her dreadlocks. The court has also ordered that the school make up for the classes the learner has missed and provide any other necessary support they may require.

While the case itself is still ongoing, the court order now requires that the government allow learners from the often marginalised Rastafarian community to be admitted into schools without having to have their dreadlocks removed.

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Poster for the documentary Lazarus. (Courtesy of Johan Hugo)

Watch the Award-Winning Documentary About Lazarus, Malawian Street Musician Turned Global Music Activist

The musician uses his music as a platform to fight for the rights of people with albinism like himself.

Lazarus. His name came from the blisters and burns he suffered as a newborn on his parents' backs as they worked in the fields. As an albino in Malawi, his parents didn't have any sunscreen or protection—the other children didn't need it. From physical pains like that one to mental and emotional difficulties, Lazarus Chigwandali has endured much in his lifetime and has since dedicated his life to using music to fight against the persecution of people with albinism. You can now watch that journey as a documentary, entitled Lazarus, was made available to the public yesterday via The New Yorker.

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Yilian Canizares & Paul Beaubrun in "Noyé." Photo: Ben Depp.

The 13 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Makwa x Maraza x AKA, Joeboy, Zlatan, Nadia Nakia, TOBi x The Game, Yilian Canizares, Aewon Wolf and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our best music of the week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Trump Plans to Extend Travel Ban to Nigeria, Tanzania, Sudan, Eritrea & Three Other Countries

Here's what the travel ban could mean for these nations.

On Tuesday it was announced that Donald Trump's administration plans to extend its infamous travel ban to include seven new countries, many of them in Africa.

The countries named on the list, include Nigeria, Tanzania, Sudan and Eritrea, as well as Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, and the Eastern European nation of Belarus. Politico first broke the news.

According to The Washington Post, the move would likely not be a complete ban on citizens looking to enter the US, however it could place various visa restrictions on some government officials and on those seeking certain type of visitor and business visas.

Some nations could also be banned from participation in the diversity travel lottery program, which grants green cards. Trump has threatened to sack the program in the past.

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