News

Lupita Nyong’o, Akon & Adepero Oduye Celebrate Their African Heritage In ‘I Am an Immigrant’ Campaign

Lupita Nyong’o, Akon and Adepero Oduye join a cadre of celebs in celebrating immigrants’ immense contributions to America as part of the #IAmAnImmigrant campaign.

3.8 million foreign-born blacks, mostly from Africa and the Caribbean, now make up the fabric of the United States, with that number growing steadily. And by 2060, black immigrants will make up 16.5 percent of the U.S. black population, according to the Pew Research Center.


So actresses in Oscar-winning film "12 Years a Slave" Lupita Nyong’o and Adepero Oduye along with Senegalese rapper-philanthropist Akon joined forces with a cadre of celebs such as Kerry Washington, Tracee Ellis Ross, Estelle, and Rosario Dawson to make a video marking June as Immigrant Heritage Month. It's been celebrated for three years, but President Obama made it official last year.

The video, backed by non-profit Welcome.us., pictures Lupita, Akon and Adepero while wearing the campaign’s hashtag slogan #IAmAnImmigrant on their t-shirts, sharing their perspective on why immigrants are integral to the diversity that shapes America’s strength and uniqueness in the world.

“What I think is so wonderful about America is the fact that it’s a society of immigrants,” Nyong'o, also Kenyan star of Danai Gurira's critically acclaimed Broadway play “Eclipsed,” says.

Akon, who grew up in the U.S. besides a brief stint in Dakar as a child, offered his take in solidarity with immigrants’ tremendous contributions to America in the video uploaded Wednesday:

The notion of America not supporting immigrants to me is absurd. When you look at history, America was built on immigrants. You can go as far back as three, four hundred years, it was built by slaves at the end of the day who weren’t from here.

Oduye, also a Nigerian Brooklynite, adds, "To me when I see 'immigrant' and I think 'immigrant', I think strength. I think strong. I think triumph."

Each of the 50 celebrities featured were photographed by “Beasts of No Nation” director Cary Fukunaga.

You can join your favorite celebs in commemorating Immigrant Heritage Month with hashtag #IAmAnImmigrant on social media, use Welcome.us’ custom photo filter and cop an “I Am an Immigrant” tee. To learn more visit here.

Watch the video at the top, and see a snippet of Akon’s interview for the campaign below.

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.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.