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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.




Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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