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Rwanda Is Sending Officials To Reinforce Countrywide Ban on Skin Bleaching Products

The Rwandan government has called on authorities to seize products from markets in Kigali and across the country.

Rwanda has seriously cracked down on the sale of skin bleaching and skin lightening products in the country, CNNreports.


Its ministry of health, food and drug authority, as well as the standards board have made calls to send officials to seize products from markets in Kigali and in provinces across the Rwanda in lieu of the country's campaign against skin bleaching.

"Operations are being conducted by technical people," Simeon Kwizera, public relations and communications officer of the Rwanda Standard Board tells CNN. "The police is there to oversee only and make sure that all operations are being conducted in a safe way."

CNN adds that the standards board informed the public back in December to be wary of the alternative names for hydroquinone, a bleaching agent that is prohibited in commercial cosmetics.

Rwandan police say over 5,000 banned products have been confiscated from beauty shops across the country so far.

Despite the increased awareness around the dangers of skin bleaching in African communities are being implemented into action, the niche still shows itself to be a cash cow—taking advantage of the impact of self-hate. Revisit the outrage Blac Chyna and Cameroonian singer Dencia sparked when they launched their collaboration skin lightening product in Lagos here.

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Photo Credit: Father’s Day (Kivu Ruhorahoza)

The 10 Best African Films of 2022 So Far

Young new filmmakers are emerging and more African films are being welcomed by the biggest film festivals around the world. Here are the standout African movies of 2022 so far.

We are at the halfway point and it has been an interesting year for African films so far.

Throughout the continent, the box office continues to recover from Covid-19 shutdowns. (Nigeria had its biggest hit ever with King of Thieves, which has raked in more than N300 million.) Young new filmmakers are emerging and more films are being welcomed by the biggest film festivals around the world.

While streaming platforms continue to deepen investments on the continent as they seek to expand their reach. So, when constructing our list of 2022 movies, we had a lot to choose from.

Here are the best African movies of 2022 so far.

Father’s Day (Rwanda)

A struggling masseuse is devastated by the accidental death of her son. A caring daughter contemplates donating an organ to save her ailing father. A small-time criminal drags his young son into his dangerous world. With the poignant Father’s Day, Kivu Ruhorahoza weaves three separate stories set in and around the city of Kigali. Presented with precision and emotional intensity, Father’s Day is a bracing, humane interrogation of the effects of traditional patriarchal systems.

For Maria (Ẹ̀bùn Pàtàkì) (Nigeria)

In Damilola Orimogunje’s stark domestic drama, a first-time mother (a volcanic Meg Otanwa) cannot bring herself to bond with her newborn after suffering a difficult delivery. The filmmaker and his strong cast of actors are able to create a realist piece of cinema that powers through limited resources and shines with intent. With mood, colors, shadows and silences, For Maria (Ẹ̀bùn Pàtàkì) paints a convincing and heartbreaking picture of postpartum depression.

King of Thieves (Nigeria)

This hugely entertaining romp, written and shot in the Yoruba language enjoyed massive crossover success at the Nigerian box office where it became the highest grossing film of the year so far. Directed by the duo of Adebayo Tijani and Tope Adebayo, the ambitious King of Thieves brings to life ancient Yoruba mythology with the story of a once prosperous kingdom caught in the grip of powerful bandit. Employing neat CGI tricks, a parade of hardworking actors and sheer narrative gusto, King of Thieves reaches beyond its obvious limitations.

Juwaa (DRC/Belgium)

A quietly contained drama, Juwaa is the first feature film from Nganji Mutiri, an artist and filmmaker originally from Bukavu who is now living in Brussels. Juwaa is set in both countries and observes a mother (Babetida Sadjo) and her estranged son (Edson Anibal) who are both survivors of a traumatic past as they reconcile and gradually renegotiate the layers of their relationship. Mutiri is working with limited resources and, while his film isn’t perfect, he reaches for big themes and grand ideas.

Lingui, the Sacred Bonds (Chad/France/Belgium/Germany)

The iconic Mahamat-Saleh Haroun returns to his native Chad with this timely and fiercely feminist socio-realist drama that tackles the beast that is abortion rights in a conservative society. Amina (Achouackh Abakar Souleymane) is an independent woman who finds herself in a race against the forces of patriarchy when her fifteen-year-old daughter Maria (Rihane Khalil Alio) gets pregnant. Amina supports her daughter as they try to get an abortion, a procedure that is both frowned upon by Islam and illegal in Chad.

Neptune Frost (Rwanda/USA)

Neptune (Cheryl Isheja), an intersex hacker is guided by magnetic pull to Digitaria, an outcast enclave in the hills of Burundi peopled by rebel hackers. There, they are joined by Matalusa (Bertrand Ninteretse), a miner mourning the loss of a loved one. As these outcasts journey on, they sing, dance, trade ideas and fend off interference from operatives of the state, all the while debating ideas and swapping concerns on what it means to exist on the fringes. Neptune Frost is a radical new vision conceived and co-directed by the duo of Rwandan filmmaker Anisia Uzeyman and Saul Williams.

No Simple Way Home (Kenya/South Africa/South Sudan)

For Akuol de Mabior’s debut feature length film, she turns inwards to her family’s legacy and grapples with difficult questions. What is the meaning of home? And what duty does she owe her people as a child of renowned politicians and freedom fighters? Born and raised in exile, de Mabior follows her mother and sister in South Sudan as they play their parts in nation building.

Silverton Siege (South Africa)

It is Silverton, Pretoria in 1980. And three armed activists of the ANC’s uMkhonto we Sizwe faction take a bank hostage. It ends in tears. Forty-two years later, these freedom fighters were immortalized in this splashy Netflix caper directed by Mandla Dube. Starring Thabo Rametsi as the leader of the group, Silverton SiegeSiege benefits from Dube’s eye for periodic detail and his affinity for setting up brisk action scenes. The film works best and delivers the thrills when it doubles down on the action set pieces.

Tug of War (Vuta N’Kuvute) (Tanzania/South Africa/Qatar/Germany)

The first Tanzanian film to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is an adaptation of a hugely popular Swahili novel by author Shafi Adam Shafi. Co-written and directed by Amil Shivji (T-Junction), Tug of War is a visually appealing saga about a pair of star-crossed lovers caught up in the throes of the British occupation of Zanzibar. A young revolutionary fighting for self-actualization of his homeland falls for a rebellious Indian-Zanzibari woman fleeing an arranged marriage. Can they make it work?

We, Students! (Central African Republic/France/DRC/Saudi Arabia)

Rafiki Fariala was a student of Economics at the University of Bangui when he decided to film his experiences and those of his friends as they struggled to graduate in one of the most challenging places on the continent to be a student. Rough around the edges but oddly charming, We, Students! is the end result of Fariala’s efforts. The film received its world premiere at the Berlinale and tells a familiar story of systemic corruption, preying lecturers and depressing campus living conditions. Triumphing above all these challenges is the indomitable will of the students.

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Interview: ‘Neptune Frost’ Is Here To Make You Question Everything You Think You Know About Film

Co-directors Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman make their film debuts with this futuristic, gender-bending, musical call to freedom.

Within the first 20 minutes of Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman’s ‘Neptune Frost’, we’re met with a harrowing story that so many on the continent are familiar with. The exploitation and disregard for Black bodies is an age-old tale, however, the first sighting of the film’s fantastically futuristic technology is your first warning that you have no idea what you’re about to get yourself into.

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Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

Meet the Ghanaian Biker Community Led by Women

From riding motorcycles as a hobby to pushing charitable causes, Biker Girls Gh are always in motion.

In Ghana, there is a staunch stereotype that comes with riding a motorcycle. The notion persists that people who ride them are vagabonds, criminals, and social misfits. This mindset has slowly festered and is now deep-rooted in the typical Ghanaian society. Aside from the negatives, there is the fear for life when one mounts a motorcycle and, as such, many Ghanaian homes have been against motorbikes.

Enter Jessica Opare Saforo, who is redefining what this means with Biker Girls Gh, a women-led biker collective she founded in 2018. In a fairly conservative society like Ghana, to see women riding around freely attracted quite the attention.

However, be it one of indignance or admiration, Jessica didn’t really care about the conjecture people had about the group. “For me, creating this group wasn’t about what people thought," Saforo tells OkayAfrica. "OK, if you thought women weren’t supposed to ride. That was your headache, not mine.”

How it all began

motorcycle

Most bikes are manufactured with men’s physique in mind. Women might find it difficult to find the right fit for them.

Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

Biker Girls Gh was created after Saforo's mother passed away in February 2018. Losing someone she was extremely close to devastated her and she found solace on the wheels of a motorcycle.

“I lost my mother and I figured, you know, I had this passion that I wanted to pursue for the longest time. And I felt you only live once. Why don't you just embark on something that you have always wanted to do?," Saforo said. "Because time is not given. And, tomorrow's not guaranteed.”

She reached out to Rosina Fynn, the executive director of Biker Girls Gh and one of the very few women actively biking at the time. Fynn's husband, a member of Biker Girls, offered biking lessons and Jessica learned from there. Over time, Saforo found that being on bike helped alleviate her pain.

“On the motorcycle, you cannot multitask," she said. “So whenever I was on a motorcycle, I didn’t think about her and the pain too much. That helped me cope better. You just learn to live with the pain and hope they are in a better place.”

Biker Girls Gh riding in streets

“Before you officially join the group, we take you out on a fun ride to assess how you ride and also gel with the girls," Saforo said. "This is done like three times."

Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

She decided then to form a community of women who simply loved riding like herself. Interestingly, she didn’t have to convince women to join. Representation really does matter. Women got the nudge they needed when they saw her — unapologetically being herself — on the motorcycle.

“You would see people on television or maybe on the internet who would ride and you'd think, 'Oh, that's such an interesting sport or an interesting hobby to have.' But you would think it was out of reach," Saforo said. "'Till you realize your next-door neighbor is a female rider and then you‘re like, 'Oh, wait, it's not so far out of reach.' And then you say to yourself, 'OK, this is something I can do, too.’”

Most bikes are manufactured with men’s physique in mind. Women might find it difficult to find the right fit for them. (Even though Saforo suggests the Kawasaki as ideal for women between 5’5 to 5’8.) And motorcycling is a relatively high-risk hobby; safety is non-negotiable. Biker Girls Gh is stern on safety precautions, which sounds intimidating to the average rider or new rider. But it is a policy they are unwilling to compromise on. Should a member ride without their full gear on three times in a row, the group exercises measures like suspension.

The group doesn’t offer bike lessons and new members must have their own motorcycles as a prerequisite. They must also be experienced riders or ideally be above beginner level. A motorcycling license is also a prerequisite.

“Before you officially join the group, we take you out on a fun ride to assess how you ride and also gel with the girls," Saforo said. "This is done like three times."

Charitable Ladies on the Bike

A group of women in bike group

Biker Girls Gh features bankers, content creators, electrical engineers, managing directors, and CEOs.

Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

A noticeable feature of the group is how most of the women come from different professional backgrounds. There are bankers, content creators, electrical engineers, managing directors, and CEOs. Targeting this peculiar bevy of ladies was deliberate for Saforo. She didn’t want to be like other groups, so standing out was imperative to the group.

“Being able to pull women from various spheres of life helps us and gives us the necessary leverage we need to move further,” she said.

The core objective of the group has always been about riding. But they have also embraced philanthropy. In 2019, they rode all the way from Accra to Prampram where they donated immensely to the Kinder Paradise Orphanage. In 2021, they paid the medical bills of women stuck in the hospital for owing medical fees and donated to prison inmates at Akuse who couldn’t afford healthy meals. They also collaborated with the “Kenkey for the Needy” project in 2022 to provide food for street kids in Accra.

Inspirational sisters spurring each other up

black women with mask

The core objective of Biker Girls Gh has always been about riding. But they have also embraced philanthropy.

Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

The camaraderie and sisterhood in the group is profound, which encapsulate a solid support system that inspire members to be the best versions of themselves.

“Ninety-five percent of the group are in leadership or mid-level roles in their respective careers,” Saforo said. “We have a WhatsApp group where we discuss socio-economic issues, sometimes issues concerning women just to stimulate the sisterhood. Once a month, we meet to have breakfast or lunch to catch up. We do acknowledge that times are hard in Ghana and everyone is struggling. Sometimes you don’t just want to text anything in a WhatsApp group but if you meet your sister you can tell her about it.”

Beyond that, personal friendships are also forming within the group which just firmly grounds the group the more. Biker Girls Gh are currently 17 women and Jessica iterates the fact that she doesn’t care about the number necessarily — all she strives for is quality in the group.

Idahams Wants to Soundtrack Life's Beauty & Battles

From the Island of Bonny to Lagos and now, the world, Idahams has a lot of stories to tell. We speak to him about his immersive and tender debut album, Truth, Love & Confessions.

The south got something to say. Actually, in the sprawling world of Nigerian pop, it has been speaking for a while now, with the likes of Rema, Omah Lay and Ajebo Hustlers riding on the region’s genre-fluid practices to popular acclaim. Another name in that conversation isIdahams, a producer and musician who recently released his debut album, Truth, Love & Confessions. It was a quiet Saturday when OkayAfrica recently spoke with him, discussing stories far broader than the thirteen songs which make up TLC.

“I wanted it to be a different one,” he says about his vision for the project. “Not like what we’ve heard before, you know, something people can always go back to when they want to be inspired, when they want to be emotional, something that can stand the test of time. I didn’t want the sound to be what we’ve heard in the past couple of years, so I took my time.”

Being a producer allows Idahams creative license, and he’s much involved in the sound of Trust, Love & Confessions, too. He usually sends sound frames of what he needs to his collaborating producers, and they work around that vision. “I’m always intentional when it comes to making a song,” he says, placing his potential listeners somewhere in that radar.

A shimmering emotional presence lies at the core of TLC. With its title preceding the ambition, the records are inspired by both true and fictional experiences, all rendered purposefully by Idahams’ fine knowledge of sound. From the glorious opener “Gratitude” which utilizes a church choir to the descriptions of a toxic relationship laden in “Hate That I Love,” the album’s themes follow a progressive path. The production is minimal and exquisite, carrying the personal convictions of Idahams with light, almost watery ease.

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