News Brief
Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

President Muhammadu Buhari of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Nigeria Extends Twitter Ban To  Public and Private Broadcasters

The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has officially enforced the Twitter ban on both private and public broadcasters. This, shortly after Twitter removed a controversial tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Nigerian government's ban against the popular social media platform Twitter now includes private and public broadcasters. The order follows days after Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari banned Nigerian citizens from using Twitter. This after the popular social media platform had deleted his tweet for allegedly inciting violence. Buhari denied that his tweet was prompting violence against Nigerians residing in the east region, and has since been on a maddening rampage which, in turn, has infringed on Nigerians' freedom of speech.

In a strategic political move, Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo Olu has alluded that the ban is a temporary suspension and suggested that it would be mitigated by Twitter opening up an office in Nigeria where over 40 million Twitter users currently reside.


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

According to Peoples Gazette, the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) issued a statement on Monday, June 7, calling for an end of all activities that undermine Nigeria and to immediately "suspend the patronage of Twitter". The ban also prevents the creation of new handles, and using Twitter for user generated content (UGC). Nigerian citizens haven't shied away from speaking out against the ban, and are now using VPNs to access to Twitter. According to The Verge , Buhari reportedly threatened to persecute citizens who dared to defy the ban, most of whom have been tweeting under #KeepItOn.

Twitter has been an empowering platform for many citizens and social justice movements, alike. Towards the tail end of 2020 the #EndSARS protests against the increasing force of Nigeria's police brutality was catapulted by social action onTwitter and, in so doing, garnered much-needed attention and support from international activists such as Martin Luther King III.

In April 2021, Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey announced that Ghana had been selected as the ideal destination for Africa's first Twitter headquarters. The news came as a surprise considering that many had placed their bets on either Nigeria or South Africa. According to Peoples Gazette, Olu confirmed that Nigeria was still unhappy with Dorsey's decision as seen in his response to the Twitter ban.

"So in the period of suspension, let's sit down, if we have 40 million users of micro-blogging user and they chose to take their investment to country with five million users, it speaks to the reason why we also need to have that conversation with them so that perhaps if they have an office here things would have been done along quicker and better."

On June 4, 2021 Buhari shared an insensitive tweet which threatened to deal with "those misbehaving" in Eastern Nigeria, a callous reference in Nigerian history where over three million Igbos where killed during the Biafran civil war. Oddly enough, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture subsequently announced the indefinite Twitter ban on Twitter!

Africa In Your Earbuds
Photo by: Kin Kwesy

Mr Eazi Releases 'Patek' With DJ Tárico & Joey B

Mr Eazi has returned with an Amapiano anthem.


Oluwatosin Ajibade, better known as Mr Eazi recently joined forces with Mozambique's Dj Tárico and Ghana's Joey B to release "Patek." The track marks the singer's first time testing on South Africa's buzzing Amapiano sound, which has now become a global phenomenon.

Mr Eazi spontaneously recorded an early version of the song in South Africa earlier this year. An earlier-released snippet of the song also inspired a lot of TikTok background soundtracks and that pushed the singer to complete the song. The Nigerian artist has been the mastermind behind hit songs like “Pour Me Water,” “Skin Tight” and “Leg Over.” He has also worked with global superstars like Beyoncé, Bad Bunny and J Balvin. He is also the pioneer behind of Banku music, a sound that merges Ghanaian highlife music and Nigerian chord progressions.

"Patek" is a breezy and dreamy tune that is primarily carried by Mr Eazi and Joey B’s vocals while DJ Tárico’s tune highlights the amapiano sound. In discussing the record, Mr. Eazi describes the song as a fun track that merges different parts of culture and sound.

“It’s really not that deep,” said Mr Eazi. “It’s a fun song that I can’t wait to perform. And it’s got Nigeria, Ghana and Mozambique all together on one track.”

“Patek” comes on the heels of the singer's recent 2022 releases “Legalize and“Personal Baby,” as the singer gears up to release his 2023 album, he is expected to roll out more singles in the coming months.

In addition to making music, Mr Eazi founded emPawa Africa, a talent incubator program that creates opportunities for African artists, and was featured on CNN,Rolling Stone,Billboard andForbes for its strategy in expanding African music globally. Mr Eazi has garnered over 3 billion streams, making him one of Africa's most streamed artists. Watch the visualizer to "Patek" below.

News Brief
Photo: Geo Davis

Nigeria's NATIVE Records Partners With Def Jam Recordings

The Lagos and UK-based NATIVE Records, music division of the NATIVE network, will sign and develop new talent.


Def Jam Recordings has entered into a joint exclusive partnership with NATIVE Records. The recent venture was announced by Tunji Balogun, the Chairman & CEO, Def Jam Recordings, Seni ‘Chubbz’ Saraki and Teni ‘Teezee’ Zaccheaus, Co-Presidents and Co-Founders of NATIVE Networks.

Balogun has had a lot of commercial success, and was instrumental in spearheading the careers of renowned artists like Wizkid and Tems, who have been at the forefront of pushing the African sound to the forefront. In their joint collaboration, both companies with use their years of expertise and acumen to develop African talent and place more African artists on the global music stratosphere.

Native Records is a Black-owned platform that was founded in 2016 by Saraki and Zaccheaus with Shola Fagbemi, Addy Edgal and Suleiman Shittu. It operates as the music branch of Native Networks and is dedicated to amplifying the voices of underrepresented African artists, and has been a driving force in the Afrobeats movement. The collaboration with Def Jam Recordings, an affiliate of Universal Music Group will synergize Afro-centric sounds and artists with mainstream hip hop, contemporary R&B, soul and pop artists and their management.

In a public statement, Tunji Balogun said that the partnership was an authentic deal that would open doors for new talent.

“As we build a culture here at Def Jam that connects the best in the global black music diaspora - from hip-hop and R&B to reggae, afrobeats and more — clearly some of the best, most vital, interesting and cutting-edge new artists and sounds in music today are coming out of the continent,” said Balogun. “Seni, Teni and the Native crew have their fingers on the pulse of what's truly happening in the scene, as an engine for discovery, and as a hub for creators and artists. I’ve been a fan of their platform, and have been connected to the guys for some time. Our partnership feels authentic and natural, and I believe we’re going to discover and develop some amazing talent together.”

Film
Photo: Cyrille Choupas

Alice Diop On Using Film to Center Marginalized Stories

The French director, whose latest film Saint Omer has been selected by France as its submission for the Best International Picture race, is known for her nuanced portraits of humanity.

“When I hear myself through Nicholas, I find me [sic] too radical!” French filmmaker Alice Diop jokes during our conversation, after hearing some of her words and thoughts filtered through her translator Nicholas Elliott.

Diop was responding passionately to a question about the tensions in France between holding onto assimilation policies and embracing a more modern ethos of inclusion and diversity. She is tying her argument to the radical leaning of French republicanism, which is very, very different from the conservative spirit embraced by the Republican party in the United States, where she is expected to appear in October to present her latest film, Saint Omer at the New York Film Festival.

Saint Omer marks Diop’s transition to fiction after seventeen years working as a documentary filmmaker. The film, which won the Grand Jury prize and best debut feature prizes recently at the Venice Film Festival where it debuted, is a wrenching legal drama that follows a young novelist Rama (Kayije Kagame) covering the trial of an immigrant mother accused of infanticide.

Before her triumph at Venice, Diop was in New York to promote the MUBI release of her latest documentary, We (Nous), which premiered at the 2021 Berlinale, where it won the Encounters Grand Prize. The film chronicles a disparate group of people, including an immigrant mechanic and a writer from the Parisian suburbs, and places their lives in connection to the RER B commuter train cutting through the city from the north to south. Diop makes We (Nous) a personal declaration of belonging, weaving footage from her family archive and trailing her sister, a home nurse, at work as she provides care for her patients.

Diop, who is a first-generation daughter of immigrants from Senegal had a wide-ranging chat with OkayAfrica about her films, belonging to French society, and her reasons for prioritizing the stories of the marginalized.

Interview has been edited for length and clarity.

In We (Nous), you are telling these seemingly unrelated stories without obvious connections. What is the common thread linking these stories or people together?

The link is a very personal vision that I have of French society. It is a vision that is at once a dreamed vision but also something already there and not many people see. It is about what can unite people who appear to be so different in a single territory or country. And in a sense, the thread is one that I am weaving myself. It doesn’t exist as such but something very subjective.

In terms of constructing the film, what was the starting point for you?

It started from the book, The Passengers of the Roissy Express published in France about 30 years ago. It is a nonfiction book in which the writer, François Maspero takes the RER B train and follows it to the last stop. This is the train that has the peculiarity of crossing all of the Paris banlieues (low-income suburbs) from north to south. Now these are very different areas that have a great diversity of populations that really express the complexity of French society. I read this book, and it gave me the framework for using the name of the train to describe these very different territories.

A still from the film, We (Nous) of train tracks.

We (Nous) chronicles a disparate group of people, including an immigrant mechanic and a writer from the Parisian suburbs, and places their lives in connection to the RER B commuter train cutting through the city from the north to south.

Photo: Mubi

At what point does your family come in and how do you weave them into the narrative?

This film is a composition of the singularities of the many different people who live and work in France, and my family is part of that history. That is why I wanted to use our family archive in the film because it is a symbolic way of inscribing these traces of my family, and people like them, who are not shown in the constitution of French society. The archive, for me, completes a missing part of French history. I have so little in terms of archives of my family. I have only less than 17 minutes of images of my mother and everything that I have is in this film. That is something very painful; the lives that my parents had were not necessarily appreciated. These were lives that were not epic or did not have the right narratives. At least that was the feeling that I had because the people that I saw on television, in films and novels were not like me. They did not have my history or background, so I grew up with that absence. And I think that is why I became a filmmaker, to repair the violence of having this unrepresented life.

In a sense, this film, and your entire career has been about adjusting this narrative?

Absolutely. This question touches me because this is at the very heart of my filmmaking. I have done this work ever since the desire came upon me to do it, as a way to not succumb to the anger. My new (fiction) film, Saint Omer is focused on Black women, and is inspired by my mother, and it made me realize how much I needed to do this. I want to add up their bodies in film and in history.

Film, for me, is not a space for entertainment, it is a space for revenge and self-care. Saint Omer is not about the banlieues at all. I believe that people from the banlieues have every right to make films that are not about the banlieues. It is about maternity, and I have every right to talk about maternity because it is a question that is relevant to Black women, as much as it is to white women. I am speaking from my own body, and I think the closer I am to myself, the more likely I am to touch other people.

In the film, you talk about not paying into the family fund that ensures you are buried back home in Senegal. Was coming to this realization difficult?

Exile is not just measured in economic gain; it is also a loss that I cannot even qualify. This relationship to the land where you will be buried, I find it a beautiful thing to choose where you are going to die. But the most concrete way of saying where you belong is to say where you are going to be buried. And for me to say it publicly the way I did was for me to cut myself off. I have a 13-year-old mixed race son who was born and lives in France. I speak French, I don’t speak Wolof. I go to Senegal twice a year at most. I am a Frenchwoman.

Now, I am a very particular kind of Frenchwoman; I am a Black woman with colonial history so the most concrete way for me to be French is to say I am going to be buried where my son lives, or where he is most probably going to live. And that’s not a choice between France and Senegal that I am making, it is a way of saying that I am in harmony with where I am. But it does separate me forever from the place where my parents came from. It is hard to think about, even in this conversation with you. It is the entire complexity that is raised here: of the path of immigrants, of the trajectories of coming and of going, of where you are. It is something that is so complex and intense that merely signifying it is already an achievement. It is also a very universal question.

A still from the film We (Nous) of the filmmaker sitting at a table with an interviewee.

Alice Diop and Pierre Bergounioux in a pivotal moment from We (Nous).

Photo: Mubi

And when you put yourself in the frame by the end of the film, are you completing this tapestry that you are sewing?

In a sense. My appearing with my Black woman’s body in the frame, next to this writer Pierre Bergounioux, in his office is a way for me to get revenge for my father for the 40 difficult years he spent working in France. There is a point in the film when I ask my father if spending these years in France has been positive or negative, and he says it’s been a positive gain overall. But I have the intuition that for his daughter to be able to go to university and do things that as a working man, and my mother as a cleaning woman, never had the opportunity to do, and then to show myself in the frame next to this white writer in the film that I am making -- that I have invited the writer to -- I think that shows something about French society and what it can allow. And that repairs, to some degree, the pain that my parents experienced by coming here to offer me a life that they could not have.

Translation by Nicholas Elliott.

Culture
Image courtesy of the artist

Spotlight: Obou Gbais Is Painting The Story of His Life

The artist is reimagining Cote D'Ivoire's history through modern, contemporary language and his latest project "Man Dan"

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 Ivorian artist Obou GbaisAKA Peintre Obou. Obou's remarkably detailed style of painting comes after years of training and educating himself in all things Cote D'Ivoire. The artist's work mirrors the society found in the aftermath of the Ivory Coast's political-military unrest, putting paint on the harsh conditions he witnessed in capital city Abidjan. The emotive expressions donned on the Dan masked faces speak to Obou's acknowledgment of his people and the shameful conditions forced upon them due to a war that didn't involve them. As the artist puts it, "The main theme is the human condition, the characteristics, major events, and situations that make up the essence of human existence", and tapping into his ancestry allows the talent to soothe all aspects of his identity, one paint stroke at a time.

We spoke with Obou about the importance of learning from those who are where you wish to be, and finding authenticity.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.


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

I was born in the West of the Ivory Coast and studied in Abidjan, the capital. My ambition to become an artist started at a young age, and knew that I would pursue it in high school, and then when I went to college. I worked hard at improving myself -- and to form myself as well as my art -- and in 2012, I obtained my BA in Art. Two years later, I attended Abidjan's National School of Fine Art and from that moment, I really started to practice and educated myself in the world of art.

For five years I attended painting workshops with teachers who were also artists and who exposed me to the creation of the "perpetual". I learned a lot from them and it allowed me to open my work up to constructive criticism, which today has given me a certain openness of mind on art and the ability to continuously renew myself.


What are the central themes in your work?

My work is the story of my life -- my environment, my culture, my love stories, my traumas. My daily life. The main theme is the human condition, the characteristics, major events, and situations that make up the essence of human existence. I talk about my life, my city and also the people who live there. The element that defines me today is the Dan Mask. I have reappropriated the mask of my ancestors to create a contemporary language. In my work, I reconcile my contemporaries with their ancestral cultures by writing my story in a series of works. Generally, one sees masked crowds, one finds demoiselles of my city Abidjan. Couples and family scenes are perceived with the Dan mask and take the center of interest.


What is your medium of choice, and why?

I am sensitive to all mediums and supports but generally gravitate towards those that allow me to better transcribe the story I am telling. It's enriching for me to keep experimenting with new materials in order to be able to tell new stories. I work mostly with brushes, acrylics, and collages, but also with my hands and natural materials like earth, which give my artwork even more authenticity.

How has the pandemic affected you creatively?

The pandemic has affected my creativity in a productive and positive way. I suddenly had more time alone at home to concentrate on my work and try out new elements and methods. Many people had to limit themselves to a minimum during this time, which can be inspiring, especially for artists. Already this is a time in our lives when we were condemned to wear masks and my work is about people wearing masks. It allowed for some connections with my outside world. The series of confined people in their homes and on the streets was a testimony to the realities of that period in Abidjan.


Can you describe your artistic relationship with 'Afro-futurism' and 'surrealism'?

I consider myself as an Afro-futurist because I use, like all young people today, new technologies such as social networks to talk about my culture and share my creations with the world. Putting my country on the world stage through my work and especially my history. I would say that I consider myself a realist and not a surrealist, just by what I transcribe in my daily life -- I speak about real facts with real forms.


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

The colors and jewelry are elements that appear at different times. There have been times when my work was quite dark with minimal color. And also periods when I feel a lot and peace which are symbolized in my work with quite fresh colors which give emotions.



Image courtesy of the artist

"Dan Love" 150x150 cm 2022 by Obou Gbais

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