Arts + Culture

Interview: Activist Juan Elias Chebly

Interview with activist Juan Elias Chebly in the lead up to the 9/23 conversation on Millennial Factivism at the UN.

On Monday September 23rd we'll be joining ONE, Transparency International, and the United Nations Millennium Challenge in presenting an interactive conversation on people-powered, technology-facilitated activism (Millennial Factivism). In the lead-up to the event we've been getting to know the panel of activists. Below we speak with expert on sustainable development as well as Global Youth Advocate for the UN Millennium Campaign, Juan Elias Chebly.

OKA: What issues are you most interested in seeing the upcoming General Assembly take up?

Juan Elias Chebly: Greater emphasis on hearing the voice of the people. In other words, inclusion in finding concrete sustainable development goals, with poverty and human development at their core.

OKA: In terms of activism, do you have a specific action you could recommend that our readers take on? For example, is there something we all can be doing in our every day lives that could have a social impact?

JEC: Humility is key, not humility of rags but of knowing our limitations, and of being able to listen to people. It is time for policy makers and academia to consider the voice of the people. It is not enough to think of the single mother in Kenya when drafting a new development agenda, we need to reach out and listen to what matters most to her. We need to put aside competition and self interest, to make way for cooperation and common interest. Mother Teresa once said: “If you don’t live to serve, you don’t deserve to live”.

OKA: What was the most effective (if any) instance where music influenced politics, or of music + activism? And secondly, who is your current favorite musical artist?

JEC: Live Aid, Moscow Peace festival. For some reason I think the safe answer here is U2. Ha! I will listen to anything with a good beat to it, but I enjoy Bon Jovi’s optimistic take on rock and roll.

OKA: What new developments – policy-wise, technological, or other – are you most excited about?

JEC: Technologies for Sustainable Development. More specifically, the MY World Global Survey for citizens, where the Data revolution of our time becomes a practical and powerful tool for inclusion and accountability. It is a ground-breaking solution to meaningful inclusion because it is a space for all human beings to express their dreams and their expectations, by telling policy makers what matters most to them in real-time. It is an accountability tool because we hear directly from people, so they can ultimately hold their governments accountable to their promises. The data visualization and analytics gives us an incredible amount of stories, and is the place to start if we really want an inclusive development agenda by “we the people.”

Join us this Monday 9/23 at the UN for an interactive conversation on Millennial Factivism. For more from the activist panel check out our interview with Nigerian socioeconomic/political activist and blogger Japheth Omojuwa.


Sarkodie Is Not Feeling Any Pressure

The elite Ghanaian rapper affirms his king status with this seventh studio album, No Pressure.

Sarkodie is one of the most successful African rappers of all time. With over ten years of industry presence under his belt, there's no question about his prowess or skin in the game. Not only is he a pioneer of African hip-hop, he's also the most decorated African rapper, having received over 100 awards from close to 200 nominations over the span of his career.

What else does Sarkodie have to prove? For someone who has reached and stayed at the pinnacle of hip-hop for more than a decade, he's done it all. But despite that, he's still embracing new growth. One can tell just by listening to his latest album, No Pressure, Sarkodie's seventh studio album, and the follow-up to 2019's Black Love which brought us some of the Ghanaian star's best music so far. King Sark may be as big as it gets, but the scope of his music is still evolving.

Sonically, No Pressure is predominantly hip-hop, with the first ten tracks offering different blends of rap topped off with a handful of afrobeats and, finally, being crowned at the end with a gospel hip-hop cut featuring Ghanaian singer MOG. As far as the features go, Sark is known for collaborating mostly with his African peers but this time around he branches out further to feature a number of guests from around the world. Wale, Vic Mensa, and Giggs, the crème de la crème of rap in America and the UK respectively all make appearances, as well as Nigeria's Oxlade, South Africa's Cassper Nyovest, and his fellow Ghanaian artists Darkovibes and Kwesi Arthur.

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