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.

News Brief
Photo Credit: irontrybex

Kenyan Senator Sparks Debate About "Period Shaming"

Kenyan Senator Gloria Orwoba received opposition from colleagues after pulling off a stunt to raise awareness around "period stigma."

A Kenyan senator was relieved from her duties at the Kenyan parliament after attending a Senate hearing session wearing a white suit stained with red, in what was a menstrual activism campaign.

The senator is Gloria Orwoba and she is a part of the ruling coalition. On Tuesday afternoon, she was due to table a motion on a bill that would give out free sanitary pads to some of Kenya's underprivileged. During the session, Kenyan senators disrupted Tuesday’s afternoon senate session to draw the Speaker’s attention to Orwoba’s “inappropriate dress code."

In response to the allegations, Orwoba protested that it was unbecoming for members of the parliament to call her out because she was on her menstrual cycle.

“I am shocked that someone can stand here and say that the House has been disgraced because a woman has had her periods,” Orwoba said.

In response to her comment, Amason Kingi, Speaker of the Senate of Kenya, asked Orwoba to change her outfit before returning to the chambers.

“Having periods is never a crime… Senator Gloria, I sympathize with you that you are going through the natural act of menstruation, you have stained your wonderful suit, I’m asking you to leave so that you go change and come back with clothes that are not stained,” Kingi said, according to BBC.

According to The Star, the stain was artificial coloring, and not blood.

While talking to BBC, Orwoba said that she was proud of the stance she took in an effort to dismantle period shame.

"Since I am always advocating against period shame, I thought I should go ahead and walk the talk," Orwoba said.

Following the incident, several senators criticized her stance, stating that it was not appropriate.

Tabitha Mutinda, an active member of the senate stated that she found Orwoba's conduct uncomfortable and inappropriate.

"You don't understand if she's on the normal woman cycle or she's faking it, and it is so indecent," Mutinda said before adding that there were better ways to address the issue.

Orwoba is advocating for a motion that increase government funding for free female hygiene products and menstrual pads in all public schools, and end "period stigma." The incident at the senate building was apart of her advocacy.

In an interview with Hot 96 FM in Kenya, Orwoba said she has received hateful comments on social media since her act. So much so that she talked about stepping away from social media.

“This thing of having thick skin is not for the faint-hearted. In fact, I am really contemplating leaving Twitter…that whole cyber-bullying has gotten to me. It’s intense and it gets to you,” Orwoba said.

Photo courtesy of Drizilik.

Drizilik Is Carving Out a Space For Sierra Leone In the Afrobeats Scene

We speak with Sierra Leonean star Drizilik whose sophomore album, Ashobi, tells the story of Sierra Leone’s unique musical relationship with Africa and includes an appearance from Idris Elba.

I first came across Drizilk in 2019 when he released his "This is Sierra Leone" music video on YouTube—a cover of Donald Glover’s “This is America,” which was also included on his debut album, Shukubly.

Since then, he’s emerged as one of the country’s most exciting new musical talents, earning the moniker of Sierra Leone’s ‘king of new school music.’ The 2021 MTV Africa Music Award 'Listener's Choice' nominee has rocked stages from Freetown to Lagos to London in hopes of capturing the changing narratives around Africa’s music industry, with a Sierra Leonean twist.

Benjamin Menelik George was born in 1994 to a Krio family in the capital, Freetown. For the first ten years of his life, the city experienced many upheavals from the influx of internally displaced people escaping Sierra Leone’s devastating rebel violence in the country’s rural areas. Against all this, Drizilik tells me that music was always in his blood, and that he was inspired to start writing raps following the release of Drake’s 2010 album, Thank Me Later, but the thought of taking music professionally had never come to mind.

“I used my holiday money to buy cassettes just to know what was going on in the music scene outside. Back then I didn’t know I wanted to become a musician, I just enjoyed the music. But one holiday in 2011, my friend won a computer from a lottery and he downloaded the version of a DJ program. Normally we would just play football but that year, I made my first freestyle recording on an instrumental by Fat Joe and J. Holiday. We would record the audio on Windows sound recorder and sync it with the beat to get the record. It felt like something I could perfect.”

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(Nana Fofie/YouTube)

Nicki Minaj Signs Nana Fofie to Her Record Label

During her latest Queen Radio show, Minaj announced the roster of her new record label.

Nicki Minaj has signed Afro-R&B singer Nana Fofie to her record label.

During Minaj’s latest Queen Radio show, which aired on March 3, the American star announced that she had launched her own record label, teasing that the label's name would be revealed at a later date.

While the name of the record label is still unknown, Minaj shared the names of the first set of artists who would be on her roster—and they include Dutch-Ghanaian artist Nana Fofie.

Joining Fofie on the line up are Tate Kobang, Rico Danna and London Hill. During the announcement, Minaj stated hat her record label would sign other genres of artists outside of hip hop.

According to Minaj, she first discovered Fofie on YouTube, and became a fan of her effortless voice after listening to some of Fofie’s mashups to Davido’s songs on the platform.

Fofie joined Minaj on the Queen Radio segment, where the rap icon gave her her flowers, and noted that she originally thought Fofie’s mashups were her original songs.

“Because I thought they were her songs and then the Nigerians came on my comments after and said ‘That’s Davido!.’ Speaking of Nana Fofie, Nicki Minaj mentioned: “ I’ve been obsessed with you for a very long time, and I always promised you when I started … but I didn’t want to, you know, lock you into anything and if I wasn’t ready to do what I needed to do with you, what I think you deserve. You have one of the most beautiful singing voices. One of those effortless, warm voices.”

Hailing from Rotterdam, Netherlands, Fofie has carved out a niche for herself in the genre of Afro-R&B, where she has been making the rules. It will be interesting to see where the ride takes her.

Fofie has released a new single called “Selling Dreams,” a poignant song about love gone awry and the heartbreak that follows. The Dutch-Ghanaian's EP EMDR is slated to be released later in March, 2023.

Watch the music video for “Selling Dreams” below.

Photo by Olukayode Jaiyeola/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Post-Election, Young Nigerians Wonder What Comes Next

The presidential election outcome has left many of the country’s youth feeling more anxious than ever.

As opposition parties in the country contest the election results, many young Nigerians say they’re worried about their future and are considering opportunities to live and study abroad. “Inquiries have maximally increased," Lagos-based serial entrepreneur, Goodluck Raphael tells OkayAfrica. Raphael runs an agency, Eddykurrent, that specializes in study abroad and international travel. “The inquiries have definitely increased by over 200% since the announcement of the president-elect. We have [people] who now want to leave.” In the past week and a half, Nigerians — young ones, especially — have goneon social media to express their displeasure at the recent announcement of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as president-elect and Kashim Shettima Mustapha, as his vice president, by what was seen as a very slim margin.

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