News Brief

The EU Is Complicit In the Abuse of Migrants in Libya, Amnesty International Says

The human rights group released a new report that is critical of European governments and their roles in this crisis.

Amnesty International has released a report criticizing European governments for supporting efforts by the Libyan Coast Guard to stop migrants crossing the Mediterranean and returning them to camps in Libya.

The report reveals how the EU's co-operation agreements with Libyan authorities responsible for grave human rights violations, including the Libyan Coast Guard and the General Directorate for Combating Illegal Migration, carry out search and rescue operations and prevent irregular departures.

Amnesty International says the policy has been successful with the number of arrivals in Italy fell by 67 percent since July of this year, but notes that the EU and Italian officials can't claim to be unaware of the grave violations being committed by detention officials and coast guard agents.

"Hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants trapped in Libya are at the mercy of Libyan authorities, militias, armed groups and smugglers often working seamlessly together for financial gain," John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's Europe Director, says in an interview with CNN.

"Tens of thousands are kept indefinitely in overcrowded detention centers where they are subjected to systematic abuse. European governments have not just been fully aware of these abuses; by actively supporting the Libyan authorities in stopping sea crossings and containing people in Libya, they are complicit in these abuses."

The report's findings are based on interviews with 72 refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants in Italy and Tunisia, as well as meetings with Libyan officials.

You can read the full report here.

Photo: Sundance Institute

Four Films We're Most Looking Forward to at Sundance 2023

These titles, selected from a record 4,061 feature submissions, make their premiere at the prestigious film event next year.

Last year's Sundance Film Festival gave us delights such as Nigerian American director Adamma Ebo’s debut feature, Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul, and Oliver Hermanus' Living, a moving retelling of the Kurosawa classic, Ikiru. It also saw the debut of Nikyatu Jusu's Nanny, which went on to win the fest's main prize. The Sierra Leonean American director's film, about an undocumented Senegalese woman who becomes a nanny to a wealthy couple on New York’s Upper East Side, stayed top of mind for many critics in the months that followed after its premiere.

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(Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Why Are Concert Tickets in Nigeria Getting So Expensive?

Criticisms have trailed Asake, Burna Boy, and Wizkid's ticket prices for not being affordable. Industry insiders weigh in on what this means for concert-going in Nigeria.

In 2022, no newcomer artist ruled Nigeria’s music scene like Asake. Almost as if the 27-year-old singer-songwriter blew out of nowhere, his rise to fame came from catchy anthems like "Sungba" and "Terminator," emerging as the next correspondent of street pop.

His debut album Mr Money With The Vibe, released in September, cracked into the Billboard 200 at #66, making it the highest charting debut album from Nigeria. On Apple’s Nigeria Top 100, it became the first album to have all 12 spots occupied. The UK leg of his international tour had tickets already sold out.

So then it’s no surprise that December’s tradition of concert-going in Lagos had enlisted him as a main attraction. He’s leaned into the grittier side of afrobeats, making street slang and Yoruba lyricism sound glamorous. And this is what fans crave for at this year’s Flytime Music Festival, where he would perform as a headliner.

The show promoters, Flytime Promotions, are seemingly the right handlers. Yearly, they host the biggest concert franchise in West Africa, doing so since 2004. At a time where Wizkid, Tiwa Savage and Davido were entering the mainstream in the mid and late aughts, Flytime Music Festival (or Rhythm Unplugged, as known to many), became a crucial entertainment vehicle that brought fans closer to the artists they idolized.

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Photo: KPaparazzi

How Sandi Owusu-Yaw is Building a Slow Fashion Brand in Talensi

Using batik as part of its sustainable materials, the Ghanaian brand makes clothes for adventurous women while preserving an ancient artisanal craft.

In November, Gabrielle Union was at a Clicks store in South Africa to launch her haircare line and beauty range, Flawless. The American actress had been touring African countries, choosing local labels for her outfits. At this stop, she wore a mottled blue batik mullet dress with a back cutout from Talensi, a Ghanaian sustainable brand.

Talensi’s journey to this point goes back many years. Under a different name as Diva Delicious a decade ago, creative director Sandi Owusu-Yaw started by making fortune cookie-shaped woven bags that became widely popular. While still working as a nurse, Owusu-Yaw took opportunities in styling for Ghanaian movies, TV shows, and adverts. It was a side hustle that prepared her for the bigger stakes that would come with entering the fashion world.

“I slipped in, if you ask me,” Owusu-Yaw says, describing how she got into fashion. She has a science background, but designing has been a constant part of her life. “I have always used fashion as a creative outlet. It has been a highly fulfilling space for my creative mind and adventurous spirit and that’s why Talensi is such a blessing to me.”

Actress Gabrielle Union wearing a blue Talensi dress, with her hands in her pocket, looking at the camera.

Sandi Owusu-Yaw wants to see more high-profile people, like Gabrielle Union, in Talensi pieces.

Photo: KPaparazzi

In her eyes, the rebrand from Diva Delicious to Talensi was necessary. “We had matured to a new audience and we wanted something native but still fresh. Talensi is the rebirth of our vision," she says.

This brand’s contemporary awareness takes form in its chic, playful tailoring that flatters the female body. Tiered skirts, knotted pants, maxi dresses, metallic eyelets skirts, and double breasted blazers with brass buttons inspired by tribal masks come in vibrant colors.

An image of Sandi Owusu-Yaw smiling at the camera

Talensi creative director Sandi Owusu-Yaw has a science and nursing background, but designing has been a constant part of her life.

Photo: @vineimagery

All pieces are handmade in Ghana, with as much ethical consideration as possible. Batik has remained the brand’s core staple, bringing in a flair of artisanal craftsmanship in its design process. This way, it stays connected with local communities while empowering their livelihoods.

Even before the rebrand, Owusu-Yaw always preferred handmade raw materials sourced from her local community. “Judging from the fact that a good percentage of African textiles are imported and not necessarily made in the continent, I became drawn to the tie-dye and batik production," she says. "The colors in the process had a way of inspiring what piece I want to make or pattern I want to cut."

Production of the clothes starts with a visual representation through curated design sketches. Then a toile or initial mockup is created, which allows for corrections and adjustments, and it's further developed into the final product.

“We make limited quantities in the beginning to test the market and depending on the response, we can go ahead to mass produce or have limited editions,” says Owusu-Yaw.

This underscores Talensi as a slow fashion brand, operating on a minimum to zero waste policy. But the brand hasn’t been without challenges. As the African fashion industry continues to make huge strides and draw global attention, retail infrastructure and shipping services are becoming an important bridge between local businesses and overseas customers.

An image of Talensi fashion, seen on a smiling model who is wearing a dress with multiple prints

Sandi Owusu-Yaw describes the Talensi woman as someone who isn’t afraid to take “small risks every day with fashion.”

Photo: Talensi/Sandi Owusu-Yaw

While there’s a growing presence of e-commerce marketplaces on the continent, not all share the same objective. For some, the business model skews towards fast fashion, and brands like Talensi can’t keep up. “Consumers of fast fashion are used to getting items unrealistically fast,” says Owusu-Yaw. “Shipping is the main challenge we have since all our items are made here in Ghana, and a majority of our customers are in North America and Europe.”

For now, Talensi items can be ordered from their primary website as a direct-to-consumer approach. Alternatively, their brick-and-mortar store is situated in the most popular commercial neighborhood at No. 20, Koi Street, Osu, Accra. Talensi also retails at Etsy, with efforts in the pipeline to stock products on Wolf and Badger soon.

“I love them all,” says Owusu-Yaw, on what she considers as her favorite Talensi piece. “However, right at this moment, I love how our batik silk pants set looks on every woman that buys it. It works well as leisurewear but you can definitely dress it up. I live in them, basically.”

The creative director recalls that it took persistence to see Gabrielle Union wear Talensi, messaging her stylist until it happened. Union is only a drop in the vast number of international celebrities that have been seen wearing African brands at high-profile events. But Owusu-Yaw wants to see more high-profile people in Talensi pieces. “All of them. Ava DuVernay, Rihanna, Tracee Ellis Ross, Tiwa Savage, Marsai Martin, Issa Rae,” she says.

Owusu-Yaw describes the Talensi woman as someone who isn’t afraid to take “small risks every day with fashion.” And dressing women has helped her become more like this, too. “I didn’t know what the world had in store for me but I knew the woman I wanted to be - independent, strong but vulnerable. And writing each chapter of my free spirited life. So I thought if I could inspire a woman to dare to be who she wanted to be, then she could be it while confidently showing up for her[self]…of course in a Talensi outfit.”

Owusu-Yaw aims for Talensi to transcend from a clothing line into a lifestyle brand. That way, she - and her fashion label - would get to touch different aspects of people’s lives.

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