News

The Rwandan Government Has Banned Cartoons That 'Humiliate' Government Officials

The sharing of such cartoons is now considered a criminal offense, punishable by jail time.

The Rwandan government doesn't seem to find political cartoons the least bit funny.

The government, led by president Paul Kagame, has revised a penal code making the sharing of cartoons that "humiliate" government officials a criminal offense, punishable by up to two years in prison, or a fine of up to one million Rwandan francs ($1,152), reports Quartz Africa. Any "inflammatory" content aimed at the president, however, could lead to a fine of 7 million Rwandan francs and between five to seven years of jail time.

"Any person who, verbally, by gestures or threats, in writings or cartoons, humiliates a member of parliament when exercising his/her mandate, a member of the Cabinet, security officers or any other person in charge of a public service in the performance or in connection with the performance of his/her duties, commits an offence," the law says.


It is not yet known if people who share cartoons on social media will be affected by the new law, reports ABC News.

According to IOL News South Africa, the Rwanda Journalist Association has strongly contested the ban, calling it a blow to media profession as well as an infringement on the freedom of the press "In the trade of journalism, cartoons are by nature humorous. Leaders may perceive them negatively or as humiliating even when they're not," said the association's executive secretary Gonza Muganwa.

International observers have also called the move an attack on journalists' and citizens' freedom of expression.






Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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