News Brief

Rape has Been Declared a National Emergency in Sierra Leone

President Julius Maada Bio made the announcement following calls on stricter punishment for sexual violence crimes.

According to BBC Africa, Sierra Leone has declared rape a national emergency following a string of horrific sexual violence cases involving minors. Assaults of minors account for up to one third of all cases of sexual violence in the country.

After hearing a young Ebola survivor detail how she was repeatedly raped, President Julius Maada Bio said:

"With immediate effect, sexual penetration of minors is punishable by life imprisonment. My government will ensure that men who rape have no place in society and also any man who rapes will be jailed forever so that a single rape becomes the last rape.''

Over the past three years, rape statistics have reportedly been increasing in the country with over 12 000 cases reported in 2017. In December of last year, the state launched a campaign entitled "Hands Off Our Girls" which sought to enforce stricter punishment for perpetrators of sexual violence particularly against minors. The campaign was spearheaded by the country's First Lady, Fatima Bio.

Speaking about the campaign, First Lady Bio said:

"Any man who rapes or places any form of violence against women and girls is not a real man and doesn't fit in any decent society. Almost all girls who are raped are most likely to drop out of school. If the girl child is forced into early marriage, the bride price lasts only for two months. But if the girl child is cared for until she finishes her education, the benefit to the parents lasts forever."

Activists in the country have lamented how many cases actually go unreported. And when they are reported, the perpetrator is prosecuted and sentenced to between 5 to 15 years in prison. A 56-year-old man who raped a 6-year-old last year, was given a pathetic one year prison sentence.

President Bio has called on Sierra Leone to restore dignity and pride back to its women and young girls.

Photo by Martijn Gijsbertsen via Kakwenza Rukirabashaija

Interview: Kakwenza Rukirabashaija On Being The Hell That The Ugandan Government Created For Themselves

We spoke with the Ugandan author, activist, and lawyer about his tumultuous relationship with a governing body that has no interest in maintaining law and order.

In his 33 years on Earth, Ugandan novelist, lawyer, and activist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija has not known a safe and fair homeland. Born two years after current Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni began his reign of terror in 1986, Rukirabashaija has spent most of his professional career trying to get people to take a real look at the dictator and his actions. The author’s first stab at an expose came in 2020, with the release of The Greedy Barbarian, a fictional recount of the highly-corrupt ruling National Resistance Party and the impossibly illegal things they got away with. The party then, under the instructions of Museveni, ordered the arrest of Rukirabashaija – and the toxic, biased tango began.

Keep reading...Show less
Photo Credit: Liam Daniel/Netflix

Ifeanyi Okwuadi On Helping Design the Stunning Looks on 'Bridgerton'

Ifeanyi Okwuadi is one of the designers who worked on the second season of Netflix's hit show 'Bridgerton.' We spoke to the designer about his creative journey.

The second season of Bridgerton, Shonda Rhime’s smash Netflix series, was released last week. This season clasped onto the interests of viewers through a variety of ways, from the alluring make-up to the steamy sex scenes to the dramatic suspense. Bridgerton is easily Netflix's most popular show.

A big reason for the show's success is the fashion, which displays a wide array of lavish gowns and jewelry. For this season, Netflix partnered with the British Fashion Council to commission three young POC designers to create the stunning looks. The three winners would go on to be mentored by fashion designer Jenny Packham, creating costumes that were hugely inspired by the regency era (which Bridgerton takes place in.) Ifeanyi Okwuadi, a British-African, was one of the designers.

Born to a Sierra Leonean mother and Nigerian father, Okwuadi, 27, studied textile design at Ravensbourne University in London. He’d worked for Cat and the Dandy, a well-known costume designer in the English capital, although he had wanted to be a footballer. His emerging top as the winner of 2021 Hyères Fashion Festival cemented his presence in the industry, and has since granted him access into multiple spots, including being one of the designers to work on Bridgerton.

We spoke to Okwuadi about his journey and his work on the second season of Bridgerton.

Ifeanyi Okwuadi stylist

Born to a Sierra Leonean mother and Nigerian father, Okwuadi, 27, studied textile design at Ravensbourne University in London.

Photo Credit: Ifeanyi Okwuadi,

What was growing up like? Did you have an interest in fashion?

So, I was born in North West London and my childhood was nothing close to fashion. I just wanted to go out and spend time with friends playing football or hanging out, to be honest. I also had a strong female presence in my life, and that also helped to direct me.

How then did the transition come, moving from football to fashion? These industries can be quite distinct.

Around year 16, when I was in college, I took a gap year. During this time, I thought about my real passion, and what I wanted to end up doing. Academically, I was an IT person, but I found that it was very competitive, and I was losing my patience with it. I thought about how I liked to sketch — not necessarily clothes, but people and things around me. I then took up a two month short course at Central Saint Martins. From there, my teacher took a particular interest in my work, and that’s how fashion essentially began for me.

I remember you said you’re extroverted. What other personalities do you have, and how are you infusing them in your works?

I listen to a lot of music, and that sort of provided a kind of basis and foundation for my work. It also helps and guides my thought processes. I go out a lot to these exhibitions and art galleries where I also find inspiration. I like talking to people, but not necessarily in very big social settings.

It’s interesting that you’ll say that you're not a huge fan of big social settings, because you won the Hyères Fashion Festival in October. And, from what I gather, there were a lot of fashion execs there.

I was so much into what I was doing, immersed in it and getting the most out of it. I have been working on that collection for almost six years — the themes, the concept and ideas on what the collection would be based on. Presenting the collection on the day was when I actually realized how big of an occasion it actually is. I heard my name, and that’s when it kinda hit. It was a fantastic experience and one that I’ll definitely recommend.

In what ways has winning influenced your brand?

It’s done a lot actually. The level of exposure and resources I'm able to access is mind-blowing. The different people and doors that are now open is something I never really considered would happen. I mean, I’ve tried to always put in the work, but I really thought I’ll be in the background doing what I do.

Bridgerton netflix show

Bridgerton is easily Netflix's most popular show.

Photo Credit: Liam Daniel/Netflix

Can we talk about the Bridgerton collection? How did it happen, and what was the process?

So, I’m a British Fashion Scholar, and Netflix proposed a project for scholars to design something. They had us propose some ideas, and I was a fan of the show from season one. I had watched it, so I had some ideas on what it's about — the tailoring, the regency era. I was motivated to propose some ideas, and when I did, they loved it and took it up.

How did you manage to translate your inspiration to clothes?

Being able to meet the actors of the show and interacting with them on their characters really helped inform my process of design. I also did look a lot into the regency period. Interesting enough, a year before this was proposed, I was looking into the regency era for personal knowledge. So, I already had that. I checked the dress code, the people, how it has been modernized, and so on. I also check on contemporary films and how the clothes' silhouettes and shapes have changed. Then, I worked with Wedgewood to focus on the family of Bridgerton, their distinctive motifs, and how the family dressed.

What were the most exciting processes for you during this project?

I think it’s seeing the clothes in the real world. It was very difficult working on them, but it was a different feeling watching the characters wear them. The reactions from people were also really great, and I congratulate myself and the team for pulling it off.

I would like to know what your hopes are for the future?

I really hope to present and propose a new approach for menswear. I want men to wear something that is relevant for today, but also has some sort of substance behind it. I hope that I am not only able to design beyond clothes, but also produce ideas and ways of thinking. I want people to wear clothes, and have other people learn about what their interests are from merely seeing what they wear. I hope that my brand isn’t just about logos, but I also want to put my identity into it, and use it as a way to storytell and be an activist.

Image by @signaturebyKam

Listen: Mádé Kuti Pleas For 'No More Wars' In Latest Single

The Grammy nominated singer-songwriter blends easy listening with a powerful message in his first drop of 2022 so far.

Nigerian musician Mádé Kuti has released his first single of the year, and it comes with an important message.

The latest of the Kuti dynasty to break into the music scene, Grammy-award nominated Mádé releases his new single 'No More Wars', via Partisan Records. The groovy track is the first in a series of singles the singer will be releasing before the end of the year. It's the first time we've heard from Kuti since he joined his father, world-renowned Afrobeat ambassador Femi Kuti, on their joint venture 'Legacy +'.

Keep reading...Show less

Fireboy DML On Embracing His Inner 'Playboy,' Stepping Outside & Learning to Let Go

On Playboy, Fireboy moves further away from his previous records and embraces the mainstream afrobeats sound hinted in recent hits like "Peru" and "Bandana." We sit down with the Nigerian star to talk about his new album.

“I would like to discuss my forthcoming album only, nothing else. That is where my headspace right now.”

Nigerian superstar Fireboy DML draws up the rules of engagement as soon as we get on a Zoom call. The notoriously reticent singer, fresh from enjoying the biggest year of his musical career, powered by the international breakthrough of his single "Peru," is checking in from London. The city has become somewhat of a second home for him of late and it is here that Fireboy is ensconced while getting ready to kick off promotional activities for his third studio album, Playboy, which arrived last Friday.

The 14-track album comes almost two years after Fireboy’s last pop effort, Apollo ,which in turn was released about nine months after his stellar debut, Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps. On Playboy, Fireboy moves further away from his previous records and embraces the mainstream afrobeats sound hinted in recent hits like "Peru" and "Bandana," with newbie Asake.

He tells OkayAfrica about putting the album together below.

Keep reading...Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox


Spotlight: NK Is The Future and Star of His Own Show

We spoke with the 18-year-old visual artist about creating art from his surroundings and empowering his generation.

Nigerian-American Jackie Aina Catches Flames For Insensitive New Candle

The s-candle burns bright on Twitter as the Youtuber's 'Sòrò Sókè' candle sparks fury over the political meaning behind the name.

'Ile Owo' Director Dare Olaitan on Exploring the Human Condition Through Film

Director Dare Olaitan talks about his filmmaking process and his attempt to re-educate the audience on the impact of unchecked capitalism.

Listen to Fireboy DML's New Album 'Playboy'

Featuring "Bandana," "Peru," "Playboy" and many more hits.


The 8 Best East African Songs of the Month (July)

Featuring Zuchu, Bien (of Sauti Sol), Harmonize x Spice, Julixn Drizzle, and more.