News Brief

Here's What You Need to Know About Rwanda's Presidential Election Tomorrow

Will Paul Kagame serve a third term in office? Most likely.

The 2017 Rwandan presidential election takes place tomorrow, August 4, and many are calling it a shoe-in for the incumbent president, Paul Kagame, who's held office since 2003.


Kagame's main opponent is Frank Habienza the founder and chairman of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, who's running on a platform of improved social services for Rwanda's rural communities.

Last week, the election's only female candidate Diane Shima Rwigarawas disqualified from the race after fake nude photos of her appeared online. It's believed that this was done by members of the Kagame-led ruling party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

"President Paul Kagame will eventually be crowned as an undisputed king of Rwanda and will continue to rule the country in a climate of fear and lack of fundamental freedoms," she wrote in an essay published in the Washington Post.

"By extending his 23 years in power, Kagame is denying Rwandans an opportunity to experience the first-ever peaceful transition of power in their country. The millions of Rwandans who will go to the polls will not be exercising their democratic rights, but rather, will be participating in a forced and staged ceremony that will be more like a coronation exercise than a democratic election.

Both her and Habienza, as well as many on the international stage have accused Kagame and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) of using covert methods to intimidate opponents and force them to drop out of the race.

Kagame's bid for a third term in office was approved in a 2015 referendum, which also cut presidential terms from seven years to five—though the latter will not be put into effect until 2024. Though Kagame has popular support in the country, many have expressed discontent with what is widely considered a hamper on democracy on his part.

Kagame has made public attempts to assuage these fears over the past years, and his affinity for social media and technology has often led to a .

"You requested me to lead the country again after 2017," he said in a 2016 speech announcing his third run for presidency. "Given the importance and consideration you attach to this, I can only accept. But I don't think that what we need is an eternal leader."

Supporters of Kagame and the RPF showed up in large numbers for a presidential rally on Tuesday.

Interview
Photo: Jolaoso Adebayo.

Crayon Is Nigeria's Prince of Bright Pop Melodies

Since emerging on the scene over two years ago, Crayon has carved a unique path with his catchy songs.

During the 2010s, the young musician Charles Chibuezechukwu made several failed attempts to get into a Nigerian university. On the day of his fifth attempt, while waiting for the exam's commencement, he thought of what he really wanted out of life. To the surprise of the thousands present, he stood up and left the centre, having chosen music. "Nobody knew I didn't write the exam," Charles, who's now known to afro pop lovers as Crayon, tells OkayAfrica over a Zoom call from a Lagos studio. "I had to lie to my parents that I wrote it and didn't pass. But before then, I had already met Don Jazzy and Baby Fresh [my label superiors], so I knew I was headed somewhere."

His assessment is spot on. Over the past two years Crayon's high-powered records have earned him a unique space within Nigeria's pop market. On his 2019 debut EP, the cheekily-titled Cray Cray, the musician shines over cohesive, bright production where he revels in finding pockets of joy in seemingly everyday material. His breakout record "So Fine" is built around the adorable promises of a lover to his woman. It's a fairly trite theme, but the 21-year-old musician's endearing voice strikes the beat in perfect form, and when the hook "call my number, I go respond, oh eh" rolls in, the mastery of space and time is at a level usually attributed to the icons of Afropop: Wizkid, P-Square, Wande Coal.

"My dad used to sell CDs back in the day, in Victoria Island [in Lagos]," reveals Crayon. "I had access to a lot of music: afrobeat, hip-hop, Westlife, 2Face Idibia, Wizkid, and many others." Crayon also learnt stage craft from his father's side hustle as an MC, who was always "so bold and confident," even in the midst of so much activity. His mother, then a fruit seller, loved Igbo gospel songs; few mornings passed when loud, worship songs weren't blasting from their home. All of these, Crayon says, "are a mix of different sounds and different cultures that shaped my artistry."

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