News

Obama To Kenyans: Behave During Elections! (Or Else)

Ahead of the Kenyan elections, President Obama recorded a video message for Kenyans urging them to behave


In advance of the rapidly approaching Kenyan election, President Obama has recorded a video addressing Kenyan voters. Obama spent a few seconds in rheumy-eyed reminiscence of good times in Nairobi before getting into the meat of his message: come March 4th, Kenya, do not take it to the streets. Kenyans should forgo the pre and post-election violence of 2007, and put their faith in the rule of law to settle disputes. Obama's statement has been welcomed by current PM Raila Odinga, and presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta.

As ever when the U.S. starts addressing 'developing nations', the issue is paternalism. Rather than an equal "brother", the President comes across as a patronising uncle with a proclivity for yelling high-pitched Swahili greetings and patting lil'uns on the head. The speech settles into its infantalising groove around the .50 second mark when Obama kicks off with the three things "Kenyans must" do, before informing voters that "This election can be another milestone towards a truly democratic Kenya", the word "milestone" recalling the language of baby books. Sitting flanked by the stars and stripes, Obama (and the U.S.) are presumably at the end of the "path to progress" down which Kenya is plodding like the proverbial tortoise. "Come on slowpoke," the U.S. beckons, "do this one right, and you can join the big boys."

The underlying assumption is not only that Obama knows what a "truly democratic" nation looks like, but that America is that nation, and African countries (always on African-time) must scramble their way towards an already established ideal. Even ignoring the U.S's recent sketchy election, the taint of big money makes the idea of the U.S. as a 'perfected democracy' hard to swallow. In the UK (another nation prone to thinking the sun shines out its arse), the Leveson report revealed massive corruption and a tight-knit ruling elite. And while we're talking nepotism and vested power, America's tolerance (and even affection) for its political dynasties (the Bushes; the Kennedy's etc.) is plain weird.

The point? African countries are not slowly maturing from 'childhood' into 'adulthood', but rapidly shifting and changing just like every nation on earth. It's time to put to bed that tired linear logic in which Africans are told to step out of savagery (fighting at election-time) and into civilization (quietly accepting big money and nepotism as politics as usual). And maybe Obama should have acknowledged the incentive for the U.S. to stay in cahoots with whichever candidate is eventually elected: the war Kenya is waging against Al Shabaab in northern Somalia.

Alas, the "path to progress" is lined with speeches like these:

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Interview

Kofi Jamar Switches Lanes In 'Appetite for Destruction'

The Ghanaian rapper and "Ekorso" hitmaker presents a different sound in his latest EP.

The drill scene in Ghana has been making waves across the continent for some time now. If you're hip to what a crop of young and hungry artists from the city of Kumasi in Ghana and beyond have been doing over the past year, then you already know about rapper Kofi Jamar.

Towards the end of November last year he dropped one of the biggest drill songs to emerge from Ghana's buzzing drill scene, the popular street anthem "Ekorso." In the December and January that followed, "Ekorso" was the song on everyone's lips, the hip-hop song that took over the season, with even the likes of Wizkid spotted vibing to the tune.

Currently sitting at over 10 million streams across digital streaming platforms, the song topped charts, even breaking records in the process. "Ekorso" maintained the number one spot on Apple Music's Hip-Hop/Rap: Ghana chart for two months uninterrupted, a first in the history of the chart. It also had a good stint at number one of the Ghana Top 100 chart as well, among several other accolades.

Even though he's the creator of what could be the biggest song of Ghana's drill movement till date, Kofi Jamar doesn't plan on replicating his past music or his past moves. He has just issued his second EP, a 6-track project titled Appetite for Destruction, and it would surprise you to know that there isn't a single drill song on it. Although drill played a huge role in his meteoric rise, he wants to be known as way more than just a drill rapper. He wants to be known as a complete and versatile artist, unafraid to engage in any genre — and he even looks forward to creating his own genre of music during the course of his career.

We spoke to Kofi Jamar about his latest EP, and he tells us about working with Teni, why he's gravitating away from drill to a new sound, and more. Check out our conversation below.

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