News Brief
Photo by MICHELE CATTANI/AFP via Getty Images

Colonel Assimi Goita (center), president of CNSP (National Committee for the Salvation of People) greets invited people at the ceremony of the 60th anniversary of Mali's independence in Bamako, on September 22, 2020, one day after he announced that the transitional presidency would be assigned to a retired colonel, Bah Ndaw, 70 years, ephemeral Minister of Defence in 2014.

Mali Removed From West African Regional Body Until Next Democratic Elections in 2022

Following its latest coup, Mali has been removed from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), without any trade sanctions, after the recently-instated President Colonel Assimi Goïta failed to attend the summit this past weekend.

Mali has reportedly been removed from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). This comes after the last coup attempt, on May 24, where the transitional government's President Bah Ndaw, along with his Prime Minister Moctar Ouane and Defence Minister Souleymane Doucoure, were held in custody by the military. Colonel Assimi Goïta subsequently replaced Ndaw three days later through a questionable court decision. On Sunday May 30, fifteen ECOWAS members reportedly held a summit in Accra, Ghana where a decision to rescind Mali's membership until after the country's democratic election on February 27, 2022 was made. Goïta was invited to the meeting however he, reportedly, did not attend.


This is the second time in nine months that ECOWAS has taken such action against Mali. The first incident was following the violent ousting of then president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020. ECOWAS' latest move is puzzling considering the regional body took the same decision, again. With sanctions in place, however, the country was brought to financial standstill. According to Business Day, without the sanctions neighbouring countries are concerned that the ostracisation of Mali by ECOWAS will influence instability and delay the reinstatement of democratic rule as the country is no longer accountable to the body. Furthermore, the actions could add fuel to the ongoing Jihadist insurgence, in West Africa, that has so far disturbed numerous presidential elections.

According to Africa Report, ECOWAS also called for Mali to appoint a new prime minister in order to carry out the 18-month long transitional government leading up to the 2022 elections. The regional body also reiterated that democratic elections cannot take place after February 27, 2022 as agreed upon. Those who currently hold government positions will not be eligible to run for the next presidential elections.

Read: UN & AU Call for Immediate Release of Malian President Bah Ndaw

ECOWAS seems to have accepted that the military is leading the country, a matter that France is not taking lightly. President Emmanuel Macron warned that France would withdraw all military reinforcements used to fight the Jihadist group as he "could not stand by a country where there is no longer any democratic legitimacy or transition".

Mali's removal from ECOWAS is yet another example of Africa's concerning inability to govern itself, even with regional bodies created to structurally support the continent. This past Tuesday, country leaders erupted into a physical fight at the Pan African Parliament (PAP) over the election of new leadership. The fight reportedly was incited by the conflict between the leaders from Western Africa and Southern Africa; a rotation of leadership was proposed. PAP is a body within the African Union which called for the release of Keita from military custody but ultimately failed to intervene in Mali's coup last week.

Kenya
Photo by TONY KARUMBA/AFP via Getty Images

William Ruto's Presidential Win Clouded by Odinga's Rejection

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga is struggling to deal with his loss to current Deputy President Ruto, and may influence civil unrest.

East African nation Kenya has long been considered one of Africa's most beautiful examples of a stable, democratically led country. But, as we know, all good things must eventually come to an end.

This year's presidential election proved to be the most tumultuous in the country's recent history, as current Deputy President-turned-President elect William Ruto was announced as the victor earlier this week. His opposition, however, is having a hard time adjusting. After news of his loss came out, Kenyan politician and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga declared the election results "null and void", and decided to challenge them in court.

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Music
Photo: Kiss Diouara.

Vieux Farka Touré Finds Truth In His Roots In 'Les Racines'

The legendary Malian guitarist's new album is a journey that has taken him home, bursting with love.

Vieux Farka Touréembraces his heritage on his new album Les Racines. Translated as 'The Roots,' the new album rings out with the traditional northern Mali sounds of Songhai Music made famous by his late father, Ali Farka Touré. As the son who has spent a lifetime establishing his own identity as a musician, it took the lockdowns of the Covid pandemic for Vieux Farka Touré to reconnect with the 'desert blues' and create a record that yearns for his people to come together in a country that is troubled with the ceaseless violence of tribal and ethnic tensions. Les Racines is a journey that has taken him home, bursting with love.

The 41-year-old singer and guitarist had to battle for his father's acceptance to allow him to follow in his footsteps. The blessing, finally being given when Ali Farka Touré laid down tracks on his son's eponymous debut album, Vieux Farka Touré, in 2007. His father's initial reticence has had a long-lasting impression on the choices Vieux Farka Touré has made throughout his career. Pushing the boundaries of Western African music with collaborations with musicians such as Dave Matthews, jazz guitarist John Schofield and an album with American singer-songwriter Julia Easterlin, he has until now ploughed his own furrow.

On Les Racines, a host of world-class musicians from Mali, West and Central Africa and the U.S including Amadou & Miriam,Moussa Dembelé, Marshall Henry and Cheick Tidiane Seck help deliver the album's message in a way that he explains is to "not abandon the past."

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Featured
Photo Credit: Klaus Vedfelt

How “Japa” Became the Nigerian Buzzword for Emigration

"Japa" is Yoruba for “to run, flee, or escape.” The word takes firm root in the aspiration that young Nigerians have to leave the country for good.

While migration is a natural human experience, an array of circumstances illustrate reasons for relocation. In Nigeria, it’s a serious endeavor, often triggered by economic hardship. In recent years, the pursuit for a better quality of life overseas has taken on an anxious, nerve-tingling quality. Colloquially known as "Japa" — which is Yoruba for “to run, flee, or escape” — the word takes firm root in the aspiration that young Nigerians have to leave the country for good.

It’s both a disavowal of patriotism and a new cultural personality. On TikTok, Japa has been launched as comic material, including nuggets and tips on how to navigate moving to a different country. Tweets about Japa continue to surge. With origins from the 2018 Naira Marley song of the same name, the word has shifted into the lexicon of Nigeria’s young demographic as a marker of discontent.

@anchi_vibes

How did we get here💔😭😭😭 #fyp #viral #anchivibes #getyourpvc #consequencia

“I think there has been a general concern in Nigeria about the increasing desperation of young people to seek greener pastures abroad by any means possible,” Femi Odugbemi, producer of Movement Japa, tells OkayAfrica. The series premiered late in 2021 on Showmax, and sharply mirrors young Nigerians and their sensibilities around survival and emigration.

“What became my motivation for telling the story of Movement Japa is the understanding that beyond the desire for a better life, many young people were also fleeing the country in response to the failure and corruption of public institutions that should serve them."

Japa is a continuum of other mass exoduses and their triggers. Nigeria’s economic downturn in the '80s drove many citizens out of the country to survive. Because of the health sector crisis (unpaid wages, endless strike, and poor infrastructure) doctors are now synonymous with the country’s brain drain.

Chris (we're using a pseudonym to protect privacy) came to the UK in 2019. Now a GP trainee and doing better for himself, he doesn’t regret his decision to leave. “It was after Youth Service, after finishing my housemanship as a doctor that I decided to relocate because I got tired of the situation in Nigeria like poor healthcare and education," Chris said. "I come from a poor background, and I had to save a lot to help my relocation. I have a couple of friends who are coming to the UK to do their Masters, but also using it as an opportunity to escape Nigeria.”

Ernest Udor, a tech expert who has been in Canada since 2016, now assists Nigerians in leaving the country. Through a WhatsApp group titled Nigerians 4 Canada, Udor informs members of the latest Canadian immigration policies, universities for study, work prospects, scholarships and grants, and so on. “I talk to many young people in the group who want to move to Canada because of the faulty education system in Nigeria and poor funding,” Udor said. “Nigeria has failed them considering the academic strike that has put students at home for several months and jeopardizing their future. I don’t blame them for leaving and even though we usually joke about Japa, we know this is serious at the end of the day.”

Nigerian passport

Photo Credit: Osarieme Eweka

For other Nigerians, their decision to leave the country was sealed after the Lekki Shooting in 2020. In a tragic turn, peaceful demonstrations against police brutality led to several (young) protesters gunned down by soldiers. A movement that rode on infectious patriotism spearheaded by the country’s youths had the same youths drowning in hopelessness afterwards.

“We grew up hearing that we are the future of Nigeria but something died within me when it happened,” Temi Craig, a student who had turned 21 a day before the shooting, told OkayAfrica. “We were nothing to the government and that’s why we were disposable. I couldn’t bring myself to believe in Nigeria any longer. I knew right there that my future was far away from the country.”

Certain factors play into the odds of migration. Socioeconomic background can enable people to relocate, or can make it considerably difficult. While middle-upper class Nigerians experience little to no financial barriers in moving overseas, poor Nigerians usually don’t have the means. It is why class warfare continues to drive many civil protests and strikes in the country.

From a middle class Nigerian family, 37-year-old Imo Ekanem was born in Lagos but raised in Italy. She believes that class status has a role to play. After arriving in Italy in the '80s, because her dad had a scholarship, they stayed back because the quality of life was better. “My dad went to the art university in Tuscany, my uncle was a doctor in Italy, and my aunt started nursing in Italy and continued in New York and others worked in the bank mostly in Nigeria," Ekanem said. "They are not rich but comfortable. Now in Italy there’s a huge wave of African refugees from African countries through the sea, with many Nigerians among the West Africans. I don’t think my family would have done something like that.”

With help from young Nigerians, Japa has gained cultural momentum but it translates differently for millennials and Gen-Zers. Due to better financial outcomes accrued from job experiences and retention, millennials in Nigeria fare relatively better in making the decision to emigrate. On the other hand, Gen-Zers still move through a precarious space of university strikes, comparative unemployment, and low income from entry-level jobs.

Mass relocation comes with consequences. In Nigeria’s Kaduna, 112 doctors are reportedly left on the state’s payroll, which is inexorably failing to bridge the doctor-patient ratio (1:7000) in the country. Beyond healthcare delivery, nation building needs its best hands and Odugbemi strengthens this sentiment: “Human capital is really Nigeria’s biggest asset. We are a young country with over 60% of 150 million under the age of fifty," Odugbemi said. "Effectively the future of the country is dependent on the youth population building the country through their creative energies, their innovation and capacities. Every young person fleeing Nigeria in desperation carries with them a vital place of that future. It is an unaffordable price to pay for inefficient systems, corrupt institutions and poor planning.”

Nigeria city

Photo Credit: Peeter Viisimaa

Nigeria’s upcoming elections in 2023 is the country’s biggest conversation. As such, it is hatching new desires to relocate, as many feel that they are saddled with unattractive choices in presidential aspirants. It has precipitated fear around the elections as a tipping point, a palpable feeling that things could worsen in Nigeria for the next eight years.

However, hope is seemingly seeping back into public imagination with Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s presidential candidate. His biggest supporters are young people who, once more, are being funneled back into patriotism. If Obi wins and produces tangible change, a counterculture would be ignited, one that requires staying back to fix the country’s issues.

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Images: Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images; Photo by Joseph Okpako/WireImage; Photo by Burak Cingi/Redferns

This Year's Lost In Riddim Music Festival Is Canceled

The music festival was canceled by organizers as they prepare to come back even bigger and better in the New Year.

Update 08/17: And another one bites the dust.

This year's Lost in Riddim international music and art festival has been canceled, according to a statement shared via the event's official Instagram page. What would have been the Bay Area's delicious groove fest to end off of summer 2022, the raincheck has left both concert-goers and event organizers, Sol Blume, in distress. Performances from the likes of Burna Boy, Wizkid, Major League DJs, Davido, legendary Jamaican rapper Sean Paul, were set to set the stages on fire over this year's Nigerian Independence Day weekend. We trust that they'll come back even stronger after some time to regroup.

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