News Brief

Ghanaian-American Speedskater Maame Biney Speaks on Breaking Barriers In this New Video

The 18-year-old made history as the first black woman to qualify for the U.S. Olympic speedskating team, and now she's focused on bringing home the gold.

As the Winter Olympics opening ceremony is only days away, we get to know Maame Biney, the 18-year-old speedskater who will be competing for team USA in short-track speed skating in the PyeongChang Games.

Biney made history in December when she qualified for the U.S. Olympic speedskating team—making her the first black woman to do so.

"Being the first African American girl on this Olympic team is really awesome because that means that young African American girls, or any other race for the matter, could go out there, find an ice rink, skate and try it out," she says in a video with CNN, "You could be the next Olympian, which is an awesome thing to be."


We also get introduced to Biney's father in the clip—who noticed Maame's curiosity in the sport when she was only 5 years old. Nevertheless, her story is nothing short of inspiring.

"I'm breaking barriers—and I'm just embracing that," she says.

Watch the clip below:

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Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

Travel Diary: The Warmth & Beauty of Senegal is Unparalleled

In OkayAfrica's latest Travel Diary, Nigerian photographer and storyteller Sope Adelaja heads to Senegal to learn what it's like to embrace the "Teraanga" lifestyle.

After about 10 hours of flying and stopovers I landed in the city of Dakar, Senegal at about 11pm. I approached immigration to have my passport stamped and then proceeded to get my luggage. I immediately noticed that almost everyone spoke French and very few people understood English. I understand little French, so I knew then that it was going to be a struggle. With the help of Google Translate, I was able to then negotiate and hire a cab to drop me off at my residence for the night.

Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

The language barrier was not as much of as an obstacle as I thought it would be. This largely had to do with the generosity and warmness shown by the community during my visit.

Senegal is known as the “ Land of Teraanga." Teraanga, which is a Wolof word, is often defined as meaning “ hospitality." But that is a very loose way of translating it. It's so much more complex than that. It is a process of discovery and expression. It is a way of Life. Teraanga is aimed at showcasing a narrative of hospitality and beauty that exists across different cultures.

Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

Unity over adversity is a running theme of Saint-Louis, a town located on an island at the mouth of the Senegal river. It is an outstanding example of a colonial city by its natural setting and colonial architecture which gives it a distinctive appearance and identity. (These features are why the island is on UNESCO's World Heritage Site list.)

Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

Saint-Louis is a city that will charm you. Beyond tourism, this community has come to embody its resourceful spirits. A big part of the way of life is fishing. It is the main occupation of people living in Saint-Louis, also known to the locals as Ndar.

Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

When shooting in Africa, it’s easy to lean on visual crutches — like ornate jewelry or bright, striking clothing. But that’s only skimming the visual surface of the community of people. Digging deeper requires an extended stay, as well as collaborating with locals who have grown up in the area.

Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

In the course of digging deeper, i discovered Ndar had a lot more to offer beyond beautiful aesthetics, very rich culture, and history it holds strong remains of past colonial times.

Next up was Gorée Island and the destination is an exceptional testimony to one of the greatest tragedies in the history of humanity: slave trade. Even with its complicated history, Over the years, Gorée Island has become a well known destination, with figures like Nelson Mandela and even Unisted States President Barack Obama and his family visiting the island.

Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

Storytelling is so powerful. And as a photographer, it's my intent to show the warmth, beauty, and hospitality of Africa across different regions. I strongly believe we as people of Africa have a responsibility to further shape the narrative of Africa’s unique culture and people.

See more photos from Senegal below.

Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja


Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

Photo via Mavin Records

The 9 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Mavin Records, Asake, Stormzy x Amaarae x Black Sherif, Fally Ipupa, Pheelz x French Montana, and more.

Every Friday, we highlight the top releases through our best music of the week column, Songs You Need to Hear. Here's our round-up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks.

If you like these music lists, you can also check out our Best Songs of the Month columns following Nigerian, Ghanaian, East African and South African music.

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Listen to Baaba Maal's New Single "Yerimayo Celebration"

The Senegalese legend announces his new upcoming album, Being.

Senegalese icon Baaba Maal has announced a new album, Being, coming next year on March 31st.

This will be Baaba Maal's first project in almost seven years and will serve as an extension of his undeniable legacy over the past four decades. The Senegalese musician partnered with producer and multi-instrumentalist Johan Karlberg for the body of work and spent time piecing it together across Brooklyn, London and Senegal.

While discussing the album and the impact of his birthplace on his sonic direction, Maal stated that home played a big part in his creative process.

“However far I travel, whatever direction, I will always return home,” said Baaba. “It is the nomadic nature. To wander, but to return home, eventually. Home is where you start from, where you begin to learn what really matters, and home is where you finish. Podor is the perfect place for me when I need some time to think, to see my music with a fresh eye, to surprise it, snare it, catch it unawares as if coming across it for the first time.”

The lead single on the album, “Yerimayo Celebration,” is an introduction to a collection of songs that sees Baaba Maal calling for people to both honor tradition and deal with new technology, as they face up to an ever-evolving world. The track features Cheikh Ndoye on bass and Momadou Sarr on percussion—and is a percussion-loaded, feel-good tune.

While discussing his upcoming seven-track project, Maal said that each song will have its very own unique DNA. “Each song of this album has its own personality. A song is like a person. It has a life, name, a character, and it has a position in life,” says Maal. “I think that’s what makes this album so powerful - it is totally about now and where I am now, the dreams I have of the past and the future.”

On May 30th, 2023 Baaba and his band will perform at the Barbican in London for the first time in 20 years and fans who pre-order the album from Bandcamp can access the artist pre-sale for tickets.

Watch the visualizer for “Yerimayo Celebration,” below.

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