News Brief

Nigerian Literary Icon Gabriel Okara Has Passed Away

The famous writer is regarded as the first "Modernist Poet of Anglophone Africa."

Nigerian literary giant, Gabirel Okara, known as the first English language African writer, passed away in his sleep in Port Harcourt on Monday. He was two months shy of his 98th birthday.

Okara, referred to as the "Nigerian Negritudist," for his involvement in the Francophone-led intellectual movement, rose to prominence in 1964, following the release of his celebrated debut novel, The Voice, an experimental book in which he translated his native language of Ijaw into English. He was also a poet, playwright and a scriptwriter for national broadcasts. According to The Sun, many of Okara's manuscripts were lost during the Nigerian Civil War.


The writer was born on April 24 1922 in the present-day Bayelsa State of Nigeria, He went on to study journalism at Northwestern University in 1949, before discovering his talent for poetry in 1953 when he won an award at the Nigerian Festival of Arts for his poem The Call of the River Nun, according to BBC Africa.

Amongst his most celebrated poems are Piano and Drums, You Laughed and Laughed and Laughed, and The Fisherman's Invocation.

His death is a major loss to the African literary world, and the second this month following the passing of the prolific Ivorian writer Bernard Dadié, a leader in the negritude movement.

Tributes from fans and readers, including Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari, have been pouring out in remembrance of the renowned writer all morning. Many are sharing personal memories of how his work has influenced them.







News Brief
Still from Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim's TED Talk

Watch Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim's  TED Talk on How Indigenous Knowledge Can Help Fight Climate Change

The Chadian activist—and one of OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020—says traditional knowledge, as practiced in her native Mbororo community, is one of the keys to combatting climate change.

In a new TED Talk, climate activist, geographer and one of OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, discusses the role that indigenous knowledge can play in combatting climate change.

During the 13-minute talk, Ibrahim emphasizes how the exploration and acceptance of various knowledge systems–including those that fall outside of the scope of typical scientific research–can add to our understanding of ways to protect the environment. "I think, if we put together all the knowledge systems that we have -- science, technology, traditional knowledge -- we can give the best of us to protect our peoples, to protect our planet, to restore the ecosystem that we are losing," says Ibrahim.

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Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach.

South Africans Condemn Police Brutality During National Lockdown

A number of videos have emerged on social media allegedly showing the intimidation and assault of several Black South Africans by law enforcement.

South Africa recently began a nationwide lockdown in an effort to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has been deployed across the nation to aid the police in ensuring that the rules of the lockdown are upheld. However, disturbing footage has emerged on social media allegedly depicting law enforcement agents assaulting Black South Africans.

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Image by Sabelo Mkhabela.

This Is What It Takes for South African Musicians to Succeed Abroad

Jeremy Loops, Shimza, Moonchild Sanelly and GoodLuck discuss what it took to build their names overseas.

Disclaimer: The conversation which this piece makes reference to took place before the COVID-19 pandemic hit South Africa.

"I said it for 10 years that I'm going to work with Beyoncé, and everybody laughed for those 10 years. And I said it with conviction. Today, I'm on a Grammy-nominated album [on a song] with Beyoncé right now," says Moonchild Sanelly referring to the song "MY POWER" in which she's featured in alongside Busiswa, Nija, Yemi Alade, Tierra Whack and of course Queen B herself. The track is a fan-favorite from the Lion King: The Gift soundtrack album curated by Beyoncé. Moonchild is pulling out these receipts to elaborate a point she just made about self-belief which helped her build a career that's recognized globally, a feat very few South African artists have achieved.

A few of those artists— Jeremy Loops, Shimza and Juliet Harding (a member of the versatile electronic band GoodLuck)—are on the podium alongside Moonchild during the Midem Africa Conference in Langa, Cape Town towards the end of February. The four musicians are in conversation with Trenton Birch, musician and founder of Bridges for Music Academy, sharing their secrets to breaking into the highly competitive and advanced music markets of mainly Europe and the US.

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