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Nigerians are Skeptical About Emmanuel Macron's Recent Visit

The French president's recent trip to the country has been met with mixed reactions.

France's President Macron recently wrapped a highly-publicized visit to Nigeria, where he met with President Buhari to discuss Franco-African relations, and a range of economic and diplomatic matters. During his two day trip, the leader also held meetings with young African tech entrepreneurs.

The president gave a speech upon his arrival, describing what it was like coming back to Nigeria, where he lived briefly, 17 years ago.

He was also surrounded by notable African figures such as Wole Soyinka and Senegal's Youssou N'Dour at the inauguration of the Alliance Francaise in Lagos on Wednesday.


His trip wasn't all strict politics though, the French president made an attempt to appeal to Nigerians in more informal ways as well. His trip was marked by an appearance at the famous Kuti family-owned New Afrika Shrine, where he was welcomed by Femi Kuti. Macron referred to the Shrine as "an iconic cultural hub."

While there, he was seen enjoyed performances from some of the country's biggest musical talents and was presented with a portrait from 11-year-old artist Kareem Olamilekan. He became the first foreign leader to visit the iconic venue.

A video of Macron saying some phrases in Pidgin has also surfaced online.

There have been mixed reactions to Macron's visit from Nigerians online, but it seems that some remain skeptical. Many believe that the reason for Macron's visit was to curb Nigerian migration into Europe, others are poking fun at the Nigerian government's reported attempt to keep up appearances by paving roads upon Macron's visit.

Read some reactions below:










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Photo by Nipah Dennis.

VP Kamala Harris Signals US Should Invest in Africa

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris has embarked on a three-country tour to reset economic relations between the United States and West Africa.

The United States’ Vice President Kamala Harris has embarked on a weeklong, three-country tour to Ghana, Tanzania and Gambia. The purpose of the trip is to reset the relationship between the U.S. and the three countries. The Biden administration would like to encourage American businesses to invest in African nations to compete with China’s and Russia’s growing economic footholds on the continent.

On Monday, Harris visited Ghana’s presidential palace, also known as the Jubilee House. She promised $100 million in U.S. aid to support Ghana and four other West African countries in curbing instability brought on by insurgencies in West Africa and the Sahel region.

"To help address the threats of violent extremism and instability, today I am pleased to announce $100 million in support of Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire and Togo," Harris said at the news conference with Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo.

This amount is in addition to the $139 million in bilateral support that the U.S. intends to provide to Ghana in 2024, according to Harris’ office and reported by Reuters.

Also involved in West Africa is the Russian private military contractor Wagner Group. The mercenary group with Russian state ties provides security assistance to African nations struggling with insurgencies like the ones Harris pledged assistance to combat. In exchange, Wagner secures agreements for Russia's African interests in natural resources, commercial contracts, and access to strategic locations, such as airbases or ports.

With regard to Wagner’s presence in West Africa, Akufo-Addo said, "It raises the very real possibility ... that once again our continent is going to become the playground for great power conflict.”

China has been heavily involved in Africa’s economy over the last two decades — investing in resources like mining, timber, and fishing, and building infrastructure. The Biden administration is aiming to encourage American competition by strengthening ties with African nations and promoting socio-economic development on the continent. The trip is also intended to fulfill the commitment that the administration made to African countries in the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in December of last year.

Politico reported that Harris’ visit carries high stakes and heavy scrutiny because her primary task will be to convince African leaders that the U.S. wants to invest in their economies earnestly.

The decades-long public perception has been that the African continent has become a playground for handouts and charity from western governments, a political and economic oversight the Biden administration has been attempting to rectify. Harris’ arrival in Africa marks the administration’s most recent efforts to achieve that.

Earlier this year, U.N. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen visited the continent, First Lady Jill Biden visited in February, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken made the trip earlier this month. President Biden plans to visit later this year.
Photo: DSTV

How ‘Big Brother Naija’ Stans Redefined Stan Culture

Hardcore fans of the Nigerian version of the reality show are showing a positive side to fandom that may have been overshadowed in recent years.

A few years ago, just after calls for auditions to appear in the Lockdown season of Big Brother Naija were made, a Twitter user posted a provocative tweet: "Why does Big Brother only seem to appeal to the most rabid and debased people?"The question caused an uproar among many fans of the show, who leapt to defend themselves against the label and unfair generalization. But a lot of the comments that followed did little to disprove the statement made in the initial tweet.

The tweet didn’t come out of nowhere. Since the show's reboot in 2017, Big Brother Naija fans had earned a reputation for being vicious; they harassed anyone who was critical of their favorite housemate or passed a comment about them that wasn’t effusive praise. In fact, outside of social media, some ex-housemates had complained about being threatened by fans of a fellow housemate over misunderstandings during their season of the show.

The season that Levelled Up – BBNaija | Big Brother: Level Up | Africa Magicwww.youtube.com

The toxicity of Big Brother fans has remained a constant conversation during the reunion shows. Even when housemates address their fans and ask them to desist from online harassment and bullying, it only seems to fuel their passion even more. “Most BBNaija fans enjoy general banter or what we've come to term as ‘cooking’ when it comes to the show,” AfroVii, a longtime fan and commentator of the show, tells OkayAfrica. “There is however a very small minority that takes pride in being as abusive as they can legally get away with.”

AfroVii, who prefers we refer to her by her Twitter handle, also found the “rabid and debased” tweet dismissive of the show and the entire viewership experience, and set about reclaiming it, ironically, referring to herself as well as other BBNaija watchers as rabid and debased. It soon caught on and became a sort of inside joke with many from the BBNaija fandom community referring to themselves as the R&D, short for Rabid and Debased. “It's a case of, ‘That’s okay, we claim it, what else?’” she adds.

Becoming a Big Brother Naija stan

However, as we know, online harassment and bullying aren’t defining qualities of only BBNaija fans. Stans, as they’re called – after the Eminem track, “Stan,” in which a man details his dangerous obsession with the rapper — can be found across the entertainment board, from music to sport. Excessive fandom can lead to a zealous attachment to the public figure, in which stans take action against anyone who points out flaws or isn’t as adoring of their idol.

Spend enough time on Twitter and you’ll find many examples of fans going overboard to the point of threatening violence towards those critical of their favorites. The neurotic behavior of stans isn't peculiar to Big Brother Naija fans, and so to single them out for being “rabid and debased” is to frame a dishonest narrative. There are a growing number of Big Brother Naija fans who have gone on to use their fandom for good.

From bullying to community-building

An image of former Big Brother Naija contestant Erica smiling at the camera.Former ‘Big Brother Naija’ housemate Erica Nlewedim’s fans call themselves “Elites for Erica.” Photo: DSTV

When Big Brother Naija housemate Erica Nlewedim was disqualified from the game in 2020 over a drunken fit that led to her hurling abuse at fellow housemates, she apologized for her actions and accepted her disqualification in good faith. She had not expected to be embraced by a myriad of fans, who overlooked her hasty actions in the house. Prior to that, she was a fun housemate, the life of the party, and had developed an organic romantic relationship with a fellow housemate that endeared her to millions of viewers across Africa.

“I watched the show and got emotionally attached to Erica, and felt the two initial strikes before the disqualification [were] unfair,” Cynthia Adjes, a fan of Nlewedim’s and ardent viewer of the show, told OkayAfrica. “So when she got disqualified, I was sad and contributed to the GoFundMe.”

The GoFundMe Adjes refers to is a fundraising account that she and many others supported. Disappointed by Big Brother Naija's decision to disqualify Erica, one of her fans, Ehizode Irefo (whose Twitter account is now deactivated), set up a GoFundMe with a target of $100,000 – almost the dollar equivalent of the game's prize money of N30 million. The money was to help her pursue her acting and filmmaking dreams. The GoFundMe netted $66,000.

Today, Nlewedim is one of the biggest celebrities in Nigeria, with over 3 million followers on Instagram and a reality show on MTV Africa. Her fans, who go by the name “Elites for Erica,” have become a kind of social club, going on to help others beyond the BBNaija contestant they love so much. The “Elites for Erica” help share work and educational opportunities for fellow staunch fans, and raise money for projects like the construction of a borehole in an under-served area in Lagos.

A similar situation occurred with 2019 Big Brother Naija housemate Tacha Akide. Having already been issued two warning strikes, she was disqualified when she got into a scuffle with fellow housemate and eventual winner of the show, Mercy Eke. Her fans, the “Tacha Titans,” thought the disqualification was unfair and decided to start a GoFundMe to support her financially. But Akide quickly declined the offer when she learned of it. Her fans still sent money and gifts to her individually. For Akide’s birthday in December 2021, her fans decided to send in donations, some from as early as April of that year – that’s how committed they are.

Her fans would get hashtags to trend every Wednesday to raise awareness about the upcoming birthday. But the generosity continued even after Akide’s special day, and extended beyond her. “Tacha Titans” also began creating hashtags for different purposes.

“For instance, if someone’s had a sudden death in their family, they can use the hashtag to announce it and we will send our condolences,” Mide, a business analyst based in the U.K., who runs the stan account @hourlytacha and prefers not to use a last name, tells OkayAfrica. “And if we can help in any way, we help. Just something to keep the fanbase together, to let everyone know you are not alone in this. You need someone to talk to or if you need help in any way, you can always use the hashtag. You need a job, you never know who's watching and who will reach out.”

She adds, “We had Titans Skills Acquisition in 2020 where one thousand Titans learnt [one] skill or another to help them during the pandemic.”

Sharing the love

While the disqualifications of Nlewedim and Akide may have inspired the generosity of their fans, other ex-Big Brother Naija housemates have also experienced such generosity to various degrees with each new season. Because Big Brother Naija in itself is a competitive show, many times rival fan groups, who want to outdo each other, give or donate according to how much they want to see their favorite housemate succeed.

An image of former Big Brother Naija contestant Tacha smiling at the camera.Fans of former ‘Big Brother Naija’ housemate Tacha Akide have become known for helping others in need of support or encouragement.Photo: DSTV

This rivalry has helped build a community of philanthropy that lives on beyond whatever happens in the house. It’s a community that can have a delible impact. Last year ex-Big Brother housemate Rico Swavey was a victim of a ghastly motor accident that left him unconscious. A last-minute fundraiser was announced and the BBNaija community immediately rallied to send funds that would expedite his treatment when a Lagos hospital demanded an N4.2 million deposit before they could treat him. Swavey, unfortunately, died a few days after the accident.

And fans are capable of providing support to even someone who has zero ties to Big Brother itself, as seen in their charitable services to orphanages and educational sponsorships of those from less privileged backgrounds.

Acts of generosity by Big Brother stans do not, in any way, excuse the online harassment or bullying that many dole out. But there are fans of the reality series that show there’s another layer to this fandom that may get drowned out by online squabbles and Twitter wars.

Photo by Alex Wong via Getty

‘Hotel Rwanda’ Hero Paul Rusesabagina to Be Released From Prison

Paul Rusesabagina, who became renowned for his heroic portrayal in ‘Hotel Rwanda’, has received a presidential-ordered prison commute and will be released.

Paul Rusesabagina, the former hotel manager who saved over 1,200 Rwandans during the 1994 genocide and who was the inspiration behind the 2004 Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda, will be released from prison on Saturday (March 25th). Following a request for clemency, Rwanda’s government commuted the prison sentence of Paul Rusesabagina, who is now 68.

In 2020, the Rwandan government arrested Rusesabagina in Dubai and later transferred him to Rwanda, where he faced charges of terrorism related to his alleged involvement in a rebel group. Following the charges, the Rwandan court sentenced him to 25 years in prison. His sentencing triggered controversy, with some supporters alleging he had been unfairly targeted. In 2022, Rusesabagina’s family sued the government of Rwanda for $400 million, stating that they had "abducted" and illegally imprisoned him. Following Rusesabagina’s conviction, several people speculated that he had been detained because he had previously criticized Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame’s politics.

During Rwanda’s genocide, Rusesabagina worked as a hotel manager at the Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. Despite the violence and chaos surrounding him, Rusesabagina used his influence and resources to protect and shelter over 1,200 Tutsi and moderate Hutu refugees from the Hutu extremists carrying out the genocide. Hotel Rwanda was based on Rusesabagina’s experiences during the genocide, and the film's release catapulted him to fame. In the movie, Rusesabagina was portrayed by Hollywood actor Don Cheadle.

According to spokesperson Yolande Makolo, the sentences of 19 others convicted alongside Rusesabagina will also be released.

"Under Rwandan law, commutation of the sentence does not extinguish the underlying conviction," Makolo told Reuters. “Rwanda notes the constructive role of the US government in creating conditions for dialogue on this issue, as well as the facilitation provided by the State of Qatar."

As reported by Reuters, Rwanda’s ministry of justice also stated that the commutation could be revoked if any released prisoners repeated the offenses.

"If any individual benefiting from early release repeats offenses of a similar nature, the commutation can be revoked, and the remainder of the prison sentence will be served," Rwanda's justice ministry said.

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