Arts + Culture

Michaela Coel Will Be the Keynote Speaker At the Prestigious Edinburgh International TV Festival

The "Chewing Gum" show runner will be the first black woman, and the youngest person ever to give the lecture.

Michaela Coel will give the keynote lecture at this year's Edinburgh International TV Festival, an annual event which brings the biggest names in British television and media to discuss the challenges facing the industry.

With all that Coel has already accomplished in her career, she will now be adding becoming the first woman of color, and fifth and youngest women to give the MacTaggart lecture under her belt.


Michaela is constantly making big moves internationally and domestically on and off-screen, continuously earning the title "the first to..." in front of her name beginning at a young age. Born Michaela Ewuraba O Boakye-Collinson in London, Coel is the proud daughter of Ghanaian immigrant parents. She went from being the only black girl of her year in a Catholic school in London, to becoming the first black women enrolled to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in five years, to dominating the Royal Exchange and National Theaters in London. She gained notoriety by her artistic uniqueness through poetry and storytelling which resulted in becoming a consecutive poetry slam winner, amongst many other awards. Her playwright award for Chewing Gum Dreams turned the dream into a reality as it led to her current Netflix hit series, Chewing Gum.

When in between roles, some of which have been in innovative, popular series' like Netfilx's Black Mirror, and blockbuster titles Star Wars: The Last Jedi, she can be seen sharing words of wisdom. She consistently empowers women of color who are striving toward a career in the media industry, and holds interviews and talks to encourage media honchos to seek more diversity.

The Edinburgh International Television Festival is both a festival and charity to create paths for people of all ethnic backgrounds to enter into the TV industry. As director of Sky Arts & head of entertainment for Sky, Phil Edgar Jones put it on the Edinburgh Festival website, Coel "speaks directly to the next generation of talent coming through the ranks and has something to teach the TV 'establishment' too." So it is no wonder that she was chosen as a speaker this year.

How Technology Is Playing a Crucial Role in the #EndSARS Protests

Young people in Nigeria have successfully managed to use technological innovations to organize and make the #EndSARS protests run incredibly efficiently and easily. This moment will go down in history as a revolution that was birthed via technology.

It has been more than a week since young people in Nigeria took to the streets to demand that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, infamously known as SARS, be scrapped for good. Created in 1992, this police unit was originally set up to beat back armed robbery, the use of firearms and rising cases of kidnappings that grew in the late eighties. However, the unit went rogue, becoming more notorious for its savagery than actual crime-fighting. With a rap sheet ranging from profiling, harassment and assault to, in more extreme cases, slaughtering innocent citizens, these quasi-officers have unleashed terror on the nation for more than two decades.

Their victims are predominantly young Nigerians profiled on appearance—whether they drive exotic vehicles, use the latest gadgets, have their hair dyed or locked, or have piercings. In some cases, working in tech often gets conflated with financial fraud. For people who don't meet the absurd criteria, the mood of the officer can often become the difference between life and death.

Keep reading... Show less
Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Emile YX? Wants to 'Reconnect The String'

The father of South African hip-hop's latest book release is here to teach you about the culture.

As a father-figure in South African hip-hop, there's a lot Emile Lester Jansen, aka Emile YX?, knows. He'll also tell you, there's a lot he doesn't. But the knowledge Emile has gained, over his 3 decades in music, he's always tried to share with others. His latest project is no different. The Black Noise founder is working on a book that identifies the similarities between Bushmen expression and hip-hop, and how this knowledge can help empower anyone who has a love of the culture.

The book, which will be called Reconnect The String, comes on the back of this year's 21st anniversary of the African Hip Hop Indaba, one of the landmark hip hop events in Cape Town created by Emile, which has helped many an artist launch their career. As a teacher and a musician, he's long been involved in using hip hop to uplift communities—first through the seminal group Black Noise, founded in the late 1980s, with its rhymes rallying against Apartheid, and then through the Heal the Hood organization, a non-profit that grew out of the group's efforts to use its love of hip hop to fuel youth development initiatives in townships on the Cape Flats.

Keep reading... Show less
Interview
Photo: Nick Beeba

Interview: Sango's ‘Da Rocinha 4’ Is a Polished & Grinding Take On Baile Funk

We speak with the Seattle-based DJ and producer about his new album and the music bridges connecting Brazil, the US and the world.

It's a common joke in Brazil: once three or more Brazilian people gather together, they will start a WhatsApp group. The producer and DJ Kai Wright, who goes by the alias Sango, is well aware of that. While he is giving this interview through a Zoom call, a sound notification pops from his computer. "Do you hear that?" he says, amidst laughs. "It's WhatsApp, this album was made through WhatsApp groups."

Once and for all, Sango is not Brazilian. "I am an ambassador for that sound, but I am a Black American," he says. "That sound" is baile funk, the most prominent Brazilian electronic and popular music of the past decades. Born in Michigan and based in Seattle, Sango became a beacon for a new strain of baile funk around 2012, when he released the album Da Rocinha—a suite that he revisits in his new release, Da Rocinha 4.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

In Conversation with Candice Chirwa: 'Menstruation is More than Just Bleeding for Seven Days.'

South African activist Candice Chirwa, the 'Minister of Menstruation', speaks to us about what a period-positive world looks like, the challenges menstruators face even in 2020 and her important advocacy work with QRATE.