News Brief

Pretoria High School Caves Under Pressure—Suspends Racist Rules on Students’ Natural Hair

“For instance, some educators tell them they look like monkeys, or have nests on their heads.”

Who ever said protesting is a tired practice? I may have been guilty of doubt, but news that the provincial education minister Panyaza Lesufi has ordered the suspension of rules that allegedly discriminate against natural hairstyles at Pretoria High School for Girls in the administrative capital of South Africa gives me renewed hope—at least in social media’s capacity to amplify protest.


A quick bit of background: The school was founded in 1902 for whites-only and continued that way through the apartheid era. It has since become integrated; however African students have alleged teachers at the school have demeaned their natural hairstyles, and banned them from speaking indigenous languages on the campus. That’s why outraged students organized a silent march in protest at the school’s annual Spring Fair on Saturday, which drew armed police response and quickly boiled over to social media under #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh by Monday. The protest even inspired South African renaissance man Modise Sekgothe to pen a poem in their honor, and elicited a tweet from South Africa’s arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa.

And black students at a second school in South Africa, Lawson Brown High, raised their voice in protest for similar discriminatory hair rules.

In response, Gauteng Department of Education released a statement Tuesday, saying it had learned of the black students’ allegations regarding wearing Afros and speaking in African languages after Lesufi visited the school and has called for a formal, independent investigation and review of the Code of Conduct—which by the way, doesn’t prohibit natural hairstyles explicitly, although it outlines details regarding length. This suggests the teachers may have pulled these “rules” out of thin air or at least applied them arbitrarily. Smdh.

The department states on Facebook, “The learners feel that educators use abusive and demeaning language when they address them regarding their hairstyles. For instance, some educators tell them they look like monkeys, or have nests on their heads.” Ridiculous.

A statement on the school’s website adds that the school’s governing body has agreed to work with the department to “resolve the issues which were raised.”

And they had better because this new generation of black girls aren’t playing with racist policies or police—they’re fearless, vocal and magic.

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Image via Wikimedia Commons

Nollywood Actress, Funke Akindele, Arrested for Throwing Party During Coronavirus Lockdown

Naira Marley, who was also in attendance, has also turned himself in according to local reports.

Star Nigerian actress, Funke Akindele, and her husband, rapper JJC Skillz, were arrested on Monday after hosting a party at their home which violated Lagos' coronavirus lockdown order.

The actress came under fire over the weekend, when footage of a party she threw for her husband's birthday began circulating on social media. The clips showed several people, including fellow Nollywood actress Eniola Badmus and Nigerian rapper Naira Marley, gathered inside of Akindele's Lagos home. According to a report from Pulse Nigeria, Marley also turned himself in on Monday for attending the function and will be arraigned.

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Valerie Omari Shines in Apple Music's 'New Artist Spotlight'

Apple Music honors Congolese-born and Cape Town-based musician Valerie Omari as this month's artist to look out for.

Apple Music's "New Artist Spotlight" for this month is Congolese-born and Cape Town-based singer Valerie Omari.

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Interview
Justice Mukheli. Courtesy of Black Major/Bongeziwe Mabandla.

Interview: Bongeziwe Mabandla's New Album Is a Calm Meditation On Relationships

We speak with the South African artist about his captivating new album, iimini, love cycles, and the unexpected influence of Bon Iver.

"I've been playing at home for so many years and pretending to be having shows in my living room, and today it's actually happening," Bongeziwe Mabandla says, smiling out at me from my cellphone as I watch him play songs on Instagram Live, guitar close to his chest.

Two weekends ago, Mabandla was meant to be celebrating the release of his third album, iimini, at the Untitled Basement in Braamfontein in Joburg, which would no doubt have been packed with some of the many fans the musician has made since his debut release, Umlilo, in 2012. With South Africa joining many other parts of the world in a lockdown, those dates were cancelled and Mabandla, like many other artists, took to social media to still play some tracks from the album. The songs on iimini are about the life and death of a relationship—songs that are finding their way into the hearts of fans around the world, some of whom, now stuck in isolation, may be having to confront the ups and downs of love, with nowhere to hide.

The day before his Instagram Live mini-show, Mabandla spoke to OkayAfrica on lockdown from his home in Newtown about the lessons he's learned from making the album, his new-found love for Bon Iver, and how he's going to be spending his time over the next few weeks.

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Interview
Lueking Photos. Courtesy of emPawa Africa.

Interview: GuiltyBeatz Proves He's Truly 'Different'

The Ghanaian producer talks to us about his debut EP, Different, the massive success of "Akwaaba," producing for Beyoncé and more.

GuiltyBeatz isn't a new name in the Ghanaian music scene. A casual music fan's first introduction to him would've likely been years ago on "Sample You," one of Mr Eazi's early breakout hits. However, he had scored his first major hit two years before that, in the Nigerian music space on Jesse Jagz' and Wizkid's 2013 hit "Bad Girl." In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists.

In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists, having worked with the likes of Efya, Pappy Kojo, Sarkodie, R2Bees, Stonebwoy, Bisa Kdei, Wande Coal, Moelogo and many more over the last decade. The biggest break of the talented producer's career, however, came with the arrival of his own single "Akwaaba".

In 2018, GuiltyBeatz shared "Akwaaba" under Mr Eazi's Banku Music imprint, shortly afterwards the song and its accompanying dance went viral. The track and dance graced party floors, music & dance videos, and even church auditoriums all around the world, instantly making him one of Africa's most influential producers. Awards, nominations, and festival bookings followed the huge success of "Akwaaba." Then, exactly a year later, the biggest highlight of his career so far would arrive: three production credits on Beyoncé's album The Lion King: The Gift.

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