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Photo by Brad Ogbonna, courtesy of Ibra Ake.

Nigerian-American Artist Ibra Ake Wins Grammy for 'This is America'

The visual artist won a "Best Music Video" Grammy for producing Childish Gambino's viral video.

We were "rooting for everybody African" last night at the 61st Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, and this year we have multiple artists to celebrate.

Aside from the Soweto Gospel Choir picking up their third Grammy for "Best World Music Album" during last night's show for their album Freedom, another win for came when Nigerian-American visual artist Ibra Ake picked up a Grammy for his work on Childish Gambino's seminal "This is America" music video, which—unsurprisingly—won "Best Music Video" at last night's show. The song also won for 'Best Rap/Sung Performance," "Record of the Year" and became the first rap song in Grammy history to win "Song of The Year."

READ: Ibra Ake Is On a Mission To Show African Creatives the Value of Ownership & Telling Honest Stories

Ake, who produced the music video, took to Twitter after his win in celebration. "I can't believe i just won a grammy," he wrote. "'Where is the catch?!' royalty forever."


We spoke with the LA-based artist last August his mission to show fellow African creatives the value of ownership and telling honest stories. "With 'This is America,' for example, It's fun to see the reaction because the distribution is so large; it's so weird to see your ideas disperse on such a large format," he told OkayAfrica about working on the now Grammy-winning project.

"But then again it's kind of crippling sometimes, because everything feels super high stakes. I think we've learned a lot. I think the whole experience has been not normal for sure. I don't want everyone to think what happened is a normal career move. It's been very affirming just to see your ideas, especially in the first time, work out because none of that is the norm. We want to make sure that we're learning constantly and that's important to us."

Major congrats to the artist!

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Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.



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How CKay's 'Love Nwantiti' Became the World's Song

Nigerian singer and producer CKay talks to OkayAfrica about the rise of his international chart-topping single "Love Nwantiti," his genre-defying sound and the reasons behind this era of afrobeats dominance.