Photo by Paul CHARBIT/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images.

Malian Musician Ballaké Sissoko Seeks Answers From US Customs Officials Following Broken Kora

'These kinds of custom-made koras are simply impossible to replace,' says Ballaké Sissoko.

Renowned Malian musician Ballaké Sissoko is seeking answers from customs officials in the US after finding his kora, a West African musical instrument which resembles a harp, in numerous pieces following a US tour.

According to Sissoko, upon arriving in Paris and opening his luggage, he found a leaflet from US customs officials which stated that they had opened the instrument's case for inspection purposes. However, the leaflet said nothing about the disassembly of the instrument itself.

In a statement recently released by the musician, he says:

"The strings, bridge and entire, delicate and complex sound system of amplification has been taken apart. Even if all the components that have been disassembled were intact, it takes weeks before a kora of this calibre can return to its previous state of resonance. These kinds of custom-made koras are simply impossible to replace. In Mali, the jihadists threaten to destroy musical instruments, cut the tongues out of singers, and silence Mali's great musical heritage. And yet, ironically, it is the USA customs that have in their own way managed to do this."

Sissoko is a contemporary master of the kora who rose to fame in 1999 after featuring on fellow kora player Toumani Diabaté's album "New Ancient Strings". The following year, he then released his debut solo album "Déli" which features his wife and vocalist Mama Draba, among several other musicians.

US customs officials have not yet officially responded to the allegations of having disassembled the instrument.

Meanwhile, many on social media have condemned the act and rallied behind the musician.

Photo by Ransford Quaye.

Fun Places in Accra, Ghana to Visit This Weekend

From Winged Wednesdays at Cachie & Cachie to Open Field Day at Bambo’s Adventure Park, Accra is packed with places to have fun.

This weekend is packed with places to have fun at! Enjoy unlimited wings, sides, and free drinks at a cool new restaurant, or sign up for a “Capture the Flag” paintball tournament with your entire squad. Whatever your choice of fun is, here is a list of places to visit this weekend in Accra, Ghana.

Right from the midweek all through to the weekend, here is a list of fun places to visit in Accra, Ghana.

Winged Wednesdays at Cachie & Cachie

Cachie & Cachie is a budding restaurant and bar located at East Legon, Accra that offers a diverse culinary experience. However, despite their distinct menu we’re here to highlight their signature weekly attraction - unlimited wings! Yes, you heard right, unlimited. Cachie & Cachie offers unlimited wings and sides every Wednesday evening for a flat rate that’s easy on the pockets. Also, show up early for a free mocktail from 6 - 6:30 p.m. only.

Date: Wednesday, 24th May, 6 - 10 p.m.

Venue: Cachie & Cachie, West Legon

Cost: From GHC85

Happy Hour at The Honeysuckle

The Honeysuckle is a popular sports bar themed after the famous British sports bars across the United Kingdom. Well known for its great food and ambiance, The Honeysuckle is regarded as one of the best spots in Accra for after-work leisure. On Thursdays, you can pass by to enjoy discounted food and drinks during Happy Hour. Also, there are multiple Honeysuckle locations in Accra, so take your pick, have a drink, and watch your favorite sports match for your pre-weekend unwind.

Date: Thursday, 25th May, 2-5 p.m.

Venue: The Honeysuckle, all locations

Junkie’s Burgers New Location Launch

If you’re a foodie and you haven’t tried Junkie’s Burgers, what are you doing? Junkie’s Burgers is home to Accra’s Best Burgers, and they’ll be launching a brand new location on Thursday. The new Junkie’s will be at Labone, so pass through for Junkie’s signature Fully Loaded Burger or any burger of your choice. Vegetarian options are also available.

Date: Thursday, 25th May

Venue: Junkie’s Burgers, Labone

Open Space at Kukun

Open Space is a conversation platform that periodically hosts panel-type conversations on intriguing subject matter facing young Africans across the world. It’s comparable to a live podcast, and their events are free to attend. Their mandate is “building and connecting Africans across the world through honest conversations,” and their conversations are intriguing, thought-provoking, and sometimes even humorous. This week’s topic is a hot one, so make sure to tap in for a night of great conversation.

Date: Friday, 26th May, 6 p.m.

Venue: Kukun, Osu

Cost: Free

“In Relation To Light” Exhibition at The Mix Design Hub

Curated by Mamoud Brimah, “In Relation To Light” is a solo exhibition featuring the work of Ghanaian illustrator and artist Michael Badger. The exhibition explores what constitutes true self-expression with a series of surrealist, figurative paintings depicting varying human emotions on a journey toward self-discovery. The artist involves these figurative subjects in an exploration of what it means to stand in the light.

Date: Friday, 26th May, 6 p.m.

Venue: The Mix Design Hub, Osu

Cost: Free

Dance Class at DWP Academy

For a dose of fun, great vibes, and some physical activity this weekend, you can sign up for a dance class at DWP Academy. Dance With a Purpose Academy is Accra’s most prominent dance studio, located at East Legon. DWP Academy dancers have featured in Beyonce music videos, performed alongside Usher at international festivals, and more. If you’re passionate about dance, DWP Academy is definitely a place to check out.

Date: Saturday, 27th May, 12:20 - 3:30 p.m.

Venue: Lizzy Sports Complex, East Legon

Cost: GHC50 for a session

The Awakening Live Recording Concert with Akesse Brempong

For fans of contemporary Christian music, there’s an event for you as well! Akesse Brempong, one of Ghana’s leading voices in the gospel music scene is hosting a live recording concert called “The Awakening: Anthems of Revival.”Other top gospel voices are on the bill as well, such as Pastor Isaiah Fosu Kwakye Jnr., MOG Music, Efe Grace, and Kofi Owusu Peprah, so it promises to be a night of gospel music excellence and one you definitely don’t want to miss.

Date: Saturday, 27th May, 4 p.m.

Venue: Empowerment Worship Centre, Achimota

Cost: Free, but register to attend

Vine Brunch

Vine Restaurant is a premium restaurant, bar, and lounge located at Labone. They offer a choice selection of continental and African dishes and drinks, and on Sunday you can catch the Vine Brunch for premium cocktails and mouth-watering dishes prepared by master chefs all throughout the day. Trust me, there’s no brunch like a Vine Brunch.

Date: Sunday, 28th May, 12:30 - 9 p.m.

Venue: Vine Restaurant, Labone

Open Field Day at Bambo’s Adventure Park

Bambo’s Adventure Park is a recreation center located at Labone, Accra. On the last Sunday of every month, they host Open Field Day, a fun games event. Their arena-style paintball tournament is the main attraction, however, there will be loads of other activities, as well as music, food, and drinks. Play capture the flag with a team of friends, or relax and unwind with board games at Bambo’s Adventure Park this weekend.

Date: Sunday, 28th May

Venue: Bambo’s Adventure Park, Labone

Cost: GHC180 per head


Interview: Nevermind the Legend Talk, Wande Coal Just Wants To Make Good Music

We talk to the Nigerian icon about his fourth studio album, Legend Or No Legend, his much-awaited collaboration with T-Pain, and being the blueprint for Afrobeats.

There is no Mount Rushmore of Afrobeats without Wande Coal. If there ever was an emblem for the hallmark of Afrobeats as we know it today, that emblem would have his face on it.

When Afrobeats slowly evolved from its hip-hop and R&B influences, shepherded by forerunners 2face and D’banj, Wande Coal emerged with arguably one of the most defining imprints on the Nigerian pop scene: his 2009 debut album, Mushin 2 Mo’hits.

Released under the Don Jazzy & D’Banj led Mo’hits record label, Mushin 2 Mo’Hits shot Wande Coal to instant superstardom, spawning hit singles such as “You Bad”, “Kiss Your Hand”, “Bumper To Bumper,” and much more. The sixteen-track album also set the blueprint for Afrobeats melodies, delivery, and the overall soundscape, eventually setting the stage for the rise of pop-icons such as Wizkid, Davido, and more.

It would take another six years after his debut before another Wande Coal album would see the light of day. After a drawn-out departure from Mo’Hits Records to start his own imprint, Black Diamond Entertainment, and an intermittent presence within the music scene, Wande Coal released his critically-acclaimed 2015 sophomore album, Wanted.

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Photo: Jay Sentrosi

The Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring new African music from Mr Eazi, DJ Edu, Rema, Asake, Olamide, Adekunle Gold, Kel-P and more.

Every week, we highlight the top Afrobeats and African music releases through our best music column, Songs You Need to Hear.

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

Read ahead for our round-up of the best new African music tracks and music videos that came across our desks this week.

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Arts + Culture
Photo by Mosa Hlophe/Netflix.

5 Standout Moments From ‘Young, Famous and African’ Season 2

The return of the Netflix reality show sticks to its template, but trades more screen time for bigger, buzzier moments.

The second season of Young, Famous and African doubles down on its original conceit.

By throwing in new cast members (Fantana, Bonang Matheba, and Luis Munana), bonds and alliances of the first crew are further tested. The private jet rendezvous between Diamond Platnumz and his love interest Fantana is how the season ends. And while there are no cliffhangers — will there even be a third season? — the show returns with bigger moments that are worth taking stock of.

The fairytale vow renewal between Annie and 2Baba Idibia was season one’s highlight, leaving a sweet aftertaste as viewers watch the next installment. South Africa is again the geographical stage on which our A-list stars trot from Johannesburg to Cape Town for high-budget meet-ups. Beach picnics, boat brunches, and a mountainside excursion expands the country’s outdoor experience this time.

In a surprise turn of events, Annie and Swanky’s exemplary friendship is now a bed of animosity. The details surrounding their relationship’s downward slide is kept under wraps, only teased in bits to maintain technical suspense. Zari, Diamond’s baby mama, is still at the nexus of most conflicts as the old group absorbs new characters.

With nine episodes, themes like surrogacy, slut-shaming, and male vulnerability mop out some of the cultivated vanity the show is steeped in. While it follows the rules of reality TV archetypes, the show might have developed its own charming pulse. Here are the moments that made a huge impression on us.

2Baba’s wayward opinion on cheating

2Baba’s marriage to Annie might as well be the show’s plot engine. The couple’s outsize celebrity is interesting all by itself, and factoring in their beleaguered marriage is just god-tier reality material. A little recap: 2Baba first appeared later on in season one. In a communication loop that Annie wasn’t aware of, he flew from Nigeria to South Africa to surprise her. A romantic evening becomes an event in the run-up to their vow renewal, celebrating a decade in matrimony.

2Baba’s fostering children with other women is already public knowledge, but the revelations at the time had put a huge strain on Annie. Annie getting married again to him was supposed to signal a new blissful beginning. In episode three, though, during a dinner put together by Andile, 2Baba dropped a bombshell. To paraphrase: he said men are wired to cheat and everyone at the table looked quietly shocked.

Nadia might have stoked him on, but his comments at this juncture in time demonstrated a lack of respect for his wife, who was sitting next to him. What he said traveled as soundbites on social media, with many inclined to believe he will always be a philanderer.

Swanky Jerry’s Questionable Style

As one of Africa’s top stylists, Swanky Jerry as a cast member fits so well in the visual aesthetic of Young, Famous and African. Having styled a vast number of African A-listers, the show now holds up a mirror to how Swanky would style himself. From heeled boots, capey jackets, and oversized shades to monogrammed handbags, he does love arriving fashionably late when meeting other cast members.

However, his style in season two has been a little amiss. His penchant for overdressing, for one, especially in the diary room with the Ndebele choker he accessorizes with almost anything. At a basketball court with the guys, Swanky showed up swathed in a blanket, causing DJ Naked to ask in amusing disbelief, “Who wears a blanket to a basketball game?”

The same sentiment reared up at the beach, with the women, where Swanky arrived overdressed and Kayleigh couldn’t help but point it out.

Luis accused of slut-shaming and misogyny

Newcomer Luis Mutana from Namibia is trying to settle into the group. He’s developed a bit of a romantic interest in Fantana, a new face and a dancehall artist from Ghana, courting her for dates. A misunderstanding between Luis and another new character Bonang Matheba, a South African media personality, which happened way before the show, prompts a get-together to allow them to meet face to face.

This happens in episode four. Fantana is explaining to the group Diamond’s interest in her, expressing autonomy to do whatever she wants, when Luis politely says he doesn’t want her to have a sex scandal whereby society sees her as a slut. Her music is far more important, according to him.

Bonang is slighted by this. And although she makes a good point of showing the misogynistic double standards around what women can’t do with their bodies, she frames Luis’ civil advice as direct slut-shaming without giving him room to explain himself.

Luis’ Surrogacy Pursuit


His story makes me so sad ☹️#youngfamousandafrican #realitydrama #netflix #bigbrothertitans

While Luis is still much of an outsider, he’s been able to confide in someone. Enter Khanyi, who he tells that he’s considering finding a surrogate. On the surface, the reason for Luis’ need for a surrogate is so strange. And when the information leaks to other members of the group, Luis is seen as a creep.

He’s severely misjudged. It’s only when Andile sits him down for a talk that we get to see the whole picture. Excommunicated from the church for having sex on Big Brother Africa, he was also prohibited from talking to friends and family members who go to the same church. As such, he craves family. A child in this case, whether the mother is involved or not.

It’s the only time we see Luis emotionally vulnerable, and it’s possible because Andile created a safe environment for him to do so. The depiction of male vulnerability was commendable.

Annie and Swanky’s Fallout

Aside from their bonds as Nigerians, Annie and Swanky’s iron-cast friendship predates the show. In some way, their dynamic has been a mood barometer of the overall group’s dynamic. Their fallout, as we saw over a handful of episodes, reverberated into their relationships with other cast members.

What caused a rift between them is too long to unpack, but their friendship spiraled into something cold and unrecognizable. The first attempt to set aside their differences was unsuccessful. After Andile stepped in, acting as a mediator, their friendship was mended back. And it turned out to be the most emotional moment of the season.

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