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Presidential candidate for the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PDNS) Mohamed Bazoum gives a speech during a campaign rallye in Diffa on December 23, 2020, ahead of Niger's December 27 presidential and legislatives elections.

Niger's Presidential Election Plagued by Increasing Violence

Niger's presidential election is set for a second race in February following the presidential candidates' failure to secure a majority vote in the recent results.

Niger has reportedly announced that the country will have to run presidential elections again in February, according to Aljazeera. This follows after Niger's election commission released provisional results this past Saturday which revealed that neither of the two presidential candidates had secured a majority vote. The country was set to start off the year with a new president after it held its presidential elections on December 27th of last year.


Read: Cameroon Commences Regional Elections Amidst Opposition Party Boycott

According to France24, Niger's 2020 presidential elections had two main contenders: former president Mahamane Ousmane and Niger's ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum. Niger's election requirements for a presidential win are set at 50 percent of the total vote. Bazoum received approximately 39 percent of the vote while Ousmane managed to secure approximately 17 percent. More than a third of Nigeriens were reportedly expected to vote in the elections despite rising Jihadist and Boko Haram attacks in vulnerable communities. Coincidentally, Aljazeera reports that the election result announcement was followed by an attack in various small regions in Nigeria.

The Nigerien constitutional court is reportedly set to verify the voter count and a presidential runoff between the candidates is set to take place on February 21st. This is the first presidential democratic transition for Niger which has experienced difficult presidential transitions with each preceding president having been removed by a coup. Incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou has decided to step down after serving two five-year presidential terms. Issoufou was also Prime Minister during Ousmane's brief presidential rule between 1993 to 1996.

According to Alljazeera, political analysts have expressed fears of voter fatigue but are also optimistic for the February election. Hopes are that the incoming president will end the continued jihadist attacks which have killed hundreds of people and caused over 500 000 to become refugees, according to the United Nations.

Style
Photo Credit: Victoire Douniama

This Photographer is Capturing the Femininity of Congo’s La Sape Movement

Once a male-centric domain, women in Congo are disturbing the gender boundaries of La Sape, and photojournalist Victoire Douniama wants them recognized.

Even though the African fashion industry is finally getting the recognition it deserves, many under-the-surface subcultures that foster community and creativity expression still exist. One of those subcultures thrive in the Republic of Congo, where Congolese dandy culture, called La Sape (La Societe des Ambianceurs et Personnes Elegantes), finds provenance.

Its history dates back to the early 1920s and 1930s during the period of the French colonial era. Notably, it was a form of protest against French colonialism. La Sape or Sapologie is a movement of unique complexity. It is more than just a catwalk of sapeurs who dress ostentatiously in colorful suits but represents the socioeconomic and political knot that ties the population.

Messani Grace in blue tux

Messani Grace, in a tuxedo. She says: "My husband is a sapeur as well and he is part of the main reason I feel confident to do this because he supports me alot and teaches me all I need to know about fashion."

Photo Credit: Victoire Douniama

Since its inception, La Sape has had a masculine presence. Although women showed interest in La Sape, it was strictly reserved for men. Congolese women were expected to wear African print dresses and be housekeepers. Despite the challenges and backlash, a group of Congolese women kept challenging the status quo, fighting for their style of expression. Today, hundreds of women have joined the movement, dressing in suits, tuxedos, and bow ties.

Victoire Douniama wearing white

As a photojournalist, Victoire Douniama centers her project on female sapeurs because there was a gap in representation by other photographers.

Photo Credit: Victoire Douniama

Documenting these women is Congolese photojournalist Victoire Douniama. Raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, Douniama has always been inclined towards art from a young age. She was inspired by her older sister’s sketchbook. “I was so fascinated by her art and her drawing talent," Douniama told OkayAfrica. "So visual arts has always been a passion of mine." Douniama's gift for drawing was evident by fifth grade and ,during her adolescent years, she developed a passion for photography.

As she settled back in the Republic of Congo, she was struck by the lack of representation of the nation in the media which mostly depicted negative aspects of the country. For Douniama, centering her craft in her native country is important, as it not only represents her roots but also it's an opportunity to use her passion to showcase the rich natural resources and cultures of the Congo. The neighboring country, Democratic Republic of the Congo, has also been a stage for Douniama to practice her work alongside various NGOs.

\u200bTsiba Mary Jane wears blue suit

Tsiba Mary Jane works as a thrift cloth vendor at the market of Mikalou in Brazzaville. He says: “I use my hair as a form of identity, as you can tell my hair is colored green, yellow, and red. Which represents the Congolese flag."

Photo Credit: Victoire Douniama

Her tenacity is certainly unmatched as she navigates her craft in a country faced with various economic challenges, especially since the pandemic. Being an independent photographer under such hurdles can be discouraging for some, but her portfolio speaks for itself. When asked about her secret to success, she said: “You have to develop your own style and clients will hire if it corresponds to their brand."

Of the various projects under Douniama's belt is her photo journal, Les Saupeuse du Congo. For Douniama, La Sape is more than just a fashion statement. She recognizes the political elements of the visuals. The emergence of female sapeurs is revolutionary and, without a doubt, impressive.

“It originated as a political protest during the colonial era and a movement that called for change in Congo Brazzaville and the DRC," Douniama said. “It challenges the conservative role of women in Congo and it normalizes freedom of expression, which is vital for Congolese people to become more open-minded."

Kourissa and her son Okili Dojido

A portrait of Kourissa and her son Okili Dojido at a funeral outside a home at “La tchiemé.”

Photo Credit: Victoire Douniama

As a photojournalist, Douniama centers her project on female sapeurs because there was a gap in representation by other photographers. “I wanted to give the ladies a space to share their experiences and what exactly inspired them to join this movement, and how people within their societal circle responded to this," she said. "Because at some point, this conservative movement was only reserved for men."

This photo project has given her a look into the dynamic of La Saupeuse and their self-fashioning practices. The exuberant sapeuse is in her mid '30s to early '50s. She’s a wife, mother, and can be found in various walks of life as a market vendor, police officer, thrift clothes vendor, or government official. She carves her hair into an undercut or taper fade, with touches of different dye, borrowing masculine-considered accouterments and accessories like smoking pipes, hats, and umbrellas.

In colorful suave suits, these women are overturning gender norms, which require them to dress in traditional “lady-like” attire known as Liputta — a bold move for a conservative country as Congo. For this reason, regardless of how liberal much of society has become, some women are scorned, discriminated against, or even receive backlash.

So, can Les Saupeuse translate into a social upgrade for the lives of Congolese women? As the world continues to interrogate patriarchal standards, it’s a movement that is still forging its identity within the culture. “Many people did not think women can do all of this," Douniama said. "That is why they mostly wanted women to be reserved and submissive."

Film
(YouTube)

10 African Documentary Films You Should Check Out

Featuring Music Is Life, African Moot, Cesária Évora and many more.

For its 24th edition, the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival,running from June 23 to July 3, returns to physical locations in Johannesburg and Cape Town for the first time in two years. OkayAfrica took a deep dive into the festival’s program and presents ten of the most anticipated films playing. You don’t want to miss these titles.

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Photo by Guillermo Gutierrez/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Dozens of African Migrants Killed At Morocco/Spain Border

Thousands of Spaniards have taken to the streets to protest the brutal treatment of those attempting to cross into North African city Melilla this week.

At least 37 African migrants were beaten to death by Spanish authorities for attempting to cross into Morrocco/Spain bordering city Melilla this week. Around 2,000 migrants camped out in the Moroccan mountains and ultimately made their descent on the city's border last week Friday. They were met with unnecessary brutality, as the Moroccan border guards threw tear gas, and crushed and beat those who made it across. Both the African Union and United Nations have condemned the violence, as supporters within Spain protest for those lost.

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(Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

Rise Immortalizes Giannis Antetokounmpo's Story Of Victory

The Greek-Nigerian sports star and his family give the world their sincere story and show us that "When one of us wins, we all win."

Disney+’s RISE is a charming, family-friendly film depicting traumas that one couldn’t fathom. The movie tells the story of Greek-Nigerian basketball superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo (Uche Agada) and his ascent from poverty to National Basketball Association champion. The film retells the years the Antetokounmpo family spent dodging immigration officers, the four children sharing a single bed for years while their parents slept on the couch, and the sacrifices that led to the Antetokounmpo brothers’ domination in the NBA. A harrowing tale of perseverance and dedication to family that could be an empathy-building tool for the sports fans that are attracted to the brothers’ professional escapades.

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