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My Breasts Are Not Inappropriate: Fighting Google Censorship

An online video company called out Google for flagging videos of bare-breasted women taking part in the Swazi Reed Dance and it worked

An online media company whose mission is to 'preserve and restore African values, dignity and pride through film' recently had its YouTube channel flagged by Google for its video footage of bare-breasted women in a traditional Swazi and Zulu event known as the the Reed Dance Ceremony.

But the company, TV Yabantu did not take the censorship without a fight.

Last week, Lazi Dlamini, the head of TV Yabantu, began organizing protests. He reached out to more than 200 cultural groups in Swaziland to join forces in a campaign to protest what he deemed to be an attack on his culture.

"We don't care about the revenues, we care about the insult to our culture," Dlamini told South Africa's Mail and Guardian.

Three days ago, TV Yabantu released the first of a three part series called "Google Racist Exposed." The videos, all of which have been released, begin with a message to viewers. In bold red letters printed on a black screen, the message begins, "We have not been posting our videos because we are under attack by Google." The message goes on to ask viewers to help them "fight racism and abuse against African women by Google, Facebook, and Instagram." It then accuses the companies of upholding "apartheid racist policies" against African women.

At least a dozen women showed up bare-breasted on a rainy afternoon in Durban carrying protest signs for the first demonstration last Saturday. "Facebook stop deleting our pictures," one sign said, shedding light on the fact that Google isn't the only offender.

Before Google began flagging the TV Yabantu content as "inappropriate for some audiences" and "inappropriate for advertisers," their YouTube channel had 3000-4000 new subscribers per month, according to BBC Africa.

The inappropriate flags may have affected up to 50 videos, stated Dlamini.

But the protests proved effective. Google, which owns YouTube, has removed the flags.

"It was not [Google's] policy to restrict nudity in such instances where it is culturally or traditionally appropriate," a representative from Google told South Africa's The Mail and Guardian.

Dlamini organized the protests only after he contacted Google defending the content's cultural significance, and the company maintained that the videos were in violation of the platform's standards.

See parts two and three below:




Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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