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WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 30: (AFP OUT) Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks during a meeting with US President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House on April 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. The two leaders are scheduled to discuss a range of bilateral issues and hold a joint press conference later in the day.

#KeepItOn: Nigerians Tweet in Defiance of Government's Twitter Ban

Despite the threat of prosecution, Nigerians continue to tweet about major events happening in the country amid the government's recent Twitter ban.

This past Friday, the Nigerian government officially banned Twitter's operations within the country. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the announcement in Abuja.The move comes after President Muhammadu Buhari's tweet was found to have violated Twitter's community standards and subsequently deleted. President Buhari's tweet was reportedly "[threatening] to punish regional secessionists" just two days prior to the ban.

READ: Nigeria Suspends Twitter After President Buhari's Posts Were Removed

As with many African who are often subjected to intermittent internet shutdowns and social media bans, Nigerians have found a way around the Twitter ban. Using virtual private networks (VPNs) and the more costly fixed broadband, Nigerians in the country have continued to tweet under the online banner of #KeepItOn while also sharing events happening within the country that are seemingly being suppressed during this time. This however, may come at a major personal cost.

Al Jazeera reports that Nigeria's Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, has ordered that those found circumventing the Twitter ban be prosecuted immediately. Details around the prosecution in terms of possible fines or time behind bars, have not been shared as yet.

The Nigerian government has, however, denied that the ban is a result of the President's tweet having been deleted. According to the BBC, they have cited fake news and misinformation as the main cause for the ban saying, "There has been a litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real world violent consequences."

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Photo by Martijn Gijsbertsen via Kakwenza Rukirabashaija

Interview: Kakwenza Rukirabashaija On Being The Hell That The Ugandan Government Created For Themselves

We spoke with the Ugandan author, activist, and lawyer about his tumultuous relationship with a governing body that has no interest in maintaining law and order.

In his 33 years on Earth, Ugandan novelist, lawyer, and activist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija has not known a safe and fair homeland. Born two years after current Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni began his reign of terror in 1986, Rukirabashaija has spent most of his professional career trying to get people to take a real look at the dictator and his actions. The author’s first stab at an expose came in 2020, with the release of The Greedy Barbarian, a fictional recount of the highly-corrupt ruling National Resistance Party and the impossibly illegal things they got away with. The party then, under the instructions of Museveni, ordered the arrest of Rukirabashaija – and the toxic, biased tango began.

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Photo Credit: Omar Marques/Getty Images

We Spoke With African Students Stranded In Ukraine, These Are Their Stories

As Russia and Ukraine go into conflict with each other, thousands of African students have become displaced as their home embassies struggle to get them all out and to safety.

Eastern Europe is at war and the Russia and Ukraine conflict has taken center-stage in world affairs, progressing from benign, out-of-view diplomacy to open-field military attacks. Earlier this week, the world watched in shock and horror as Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an attack on the country of Ukraine. Russia invading Ukraine can be explained from many positions. And while an oversimplification of the issue can arise, it’s not inaccurate to point that Russia is going through these lengths to keep Ukraine out of NATO’s expansion agenda. Thousands of Ukrainian residents are now forced to flee their homes and leave their lives behind. On top of the stress of having to grab your life and go, is the added anxiety of being a foreigner in a country, seeking refugee amongst thousands. With little-to-no concrete communication or solutions from their respective embassies, thousands of African students are stranded in a war-torn Ukraine.

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Culture
Image courtesy of the artist

Spotlight: NK Is The Future and Star of His Own Show

We spoke with the 18-year-old visual artist about creating art from his surroundings and empowering his generation.

In our 'Spotlight' series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists, and more who are producing vibrant, original work.

In our latest piece, we spotlight Ghanaian digital artist NK. The self-proclaimed Afrocentric visual artist's love for drawing and sketching at a young age pushed him to explore the many ways in which modern technology supports and advances creativity. Simply playing around with a popular photo editing app propelled the young artist into a world of self discovery, empowerment, and a keen understanding about how big the Universe we call home actually is. As the digital creative puts it, "I think my interest in space and what could exist outside the world we live in also had an impact on my desire to incorporate futuristic technology with cultural art." Armed with a keen interest in all things Afrofuturist, NK's futuristic eye has gained the teen artist recognition from some of his industry faves, too.

We spoke with the 18-year-old visual artist about creating art from his surroundings and empowering his generation.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.


Describe your background as an artist and the journey you have taken to get to where it is today.

I grew up with an interest in art and drawing. I loved to draw and sketch, usually with both pen and pencils, whatever was interesting around me. I would make compositions of items within my surroundings and paste them on the walls of my parent’s rooms. My interest in the digital world peaked around the ages of 14 and 15 -- I've always been intrigued by astronauts and futuristic technology. I started digital art in 2017 when I created 2D pieces on the PicsArt app on a phone at home. Eventually, I gained access to the Adobe Photoshop software.

Artists like David Alabo, Beeple, Basquiat, and Juan Carlos Ribas inspired me and also made me think of what I could achieve if I tried. I spent a lot of time watching tutorial videos and related content online to be able to develop my skill. Initially, I created my pieces by combining a number of stock images and online resources to create an entirely new fictional scene. Around early 2020 I had a creative block and was desperate to find new sources of inspiration. Over time I came to the realization that my inspiration surrounded me and that I shouldn’t have to force creativity. I did more research on Afrocentric art and stepped out of my comfort zone to create my first Afrocentric pieces, “Gateway to Paradise” and “Modernization”. These pieces attracted a lot of attention and also the smArt magazine which granted me my first interview and magazine feature opening the door to new relationships in the creative industry, various opportunities, and collaborations.

What are the central themes in your work?

My work is mainly centered around the expression of development in the Black experience and empowering African Culture. I try to factor in Afrofuturism and Afrocentrism in making my pieces whether it’s how my models are dressed, their accessories, or represented by items that surround them. My pieces are intended to put forward the message of creating brighter futures and realities where Africans thrive. This helps give my pieces in themselves an identity.

How did you decide on using a digital medium for your art?

Even though I do draw and sketch, I also feel very comfortable using digital software which to me offers endless possibilities. I believe that using digital media as an African artist helps bridge the gap between technology and cultural art, directly falling in line with my field of interest, Afrofuturism.

How has the pandemic affected you creatively?

The start of the pandemic in 2020 was devastating. A lot happened during that period. It was during the lockdown that I made the decision to transition into creating Afrocentric art. We were made to take a break from school, which freed up a lot of my time. I had the time to research, watch tutorials and practice more. It might have been one of the most defining years for me as an artist. It also granted me a larger audience as everyone was made to work from home. I actually learned a lot and worked hard during that period and this led to my work improving massively.

Can you describe your artistic relationship with ‘Afro-futurism’?

Afrofuturism is a theme I can really relate to as a young African. It's our responsibility to contribute to our development as a people. I think my interest in space and what could exist outside the world we live in also had an impact on my desire to incorporate futuristic technology with cultural art. I like to think of what we can achieve, the seemingly impossible things, and then I pour out those thoughts and ideas into my art and that is why I immediately fell in love with Afrofuturism. We are the future, the stars of our own show.

Can you talk about your use of colors and accessories in your art?

The most dominant figure in my pieces is usually the black figure/model which usually stands out as the main subject. Regarding the backgrounds, I usually try to make a scene with colors to create a particular mood or in some of my pieces to complement the clothes of the model, usually African prints. They range from solid backgrounds to gradients and various sky textures. I use different cultural accessories both for beautification and also to provide that Afrocentric feel and message. I love to use various beads, bracelets, and traditional cloths with interesting textures to convey these messages of who we are as Africans and where we come from.


Artwork by NK

"Cultural Adornment"

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Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for YouTube Beauty

Nigerian-American Jackie Aina Catches Flames For Insensitive New Candle

The s-candle burns bright on Twitter as the Youtuber's 'Sòrò Sókè' candle sparks fury over the political meaning behind the name.

We didn't think this week we would see drama from a candle release. But here we are.

Nigerian-American Youtuber Jackie Aina has angered the Nigerian online community after the latest release from her lifestyle candle brand Forvr Mood. The candle, titled"Sòrò Sókè" which translates to "Speak Up", has the Nigerian community up in arms as the saying was originally used during the inhumane #ENDSARS saga that saw the Nigerian government willfully gun down peaceful protesters.

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