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Sahle-Work Zewde Becomes Ethiopia's First Female President

The former diplomat was chosen for the ceremonial role in a unanimous vote by parliament on Thursday.

In yet another history-making move, Ethiopia's parliament has chosen former top diplomat, Sahle-Work Zewde as the country's new president, making her the first woman to serve in the position and the only current female head of state in Africa.

Her appointment comes after the landmark decision, spearheaded by reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed last week, to appoint 50 precent of Ethiopia's cabinet positions to women.

President Zewde was sworn in by a unanimous vote during the second Special Joint Session of Ethiopia's two houses of parliament on Thursday, reports Al Jazeera. She takes on the largely ceremonial position, following the unexpected resignation of former president Mulatu Teshome.


During her speech in parliament the new head of state urged members to work towards peace in the nation, especially for the sake of women. "I urge you all, to uphold our peace, in the name of a mother, who is the first to suffer from the absence of peace."

Zewde has served in several high-level diplomatic positions throughout her career. She was the head of the UN office to the African Union immediately before her appointment. Prior to that she head of peace-building in Central African Republic for the UN, and she served as an ambassador for Ethiopia in Senegal and Djibouti, according to BBC Africa.

"In a patriarchal society such as ours, the appointment of a female head of state not only sets the standard for the future but also normalises women as decision-makers in public life," wrote the prime minister's chief of staff, Fitsum Arega on Twitter.

The symbolic decision is being celebrated by Ethiopians and international observers, who are expressing pride at the progress being made in the country's political sphere towards gender inclusion.











Interview
Image courtesy of Jay Trigga.

Interview: Get to Know Rising Zambian Artist Jay Trigga

Jay Trigga could very well be Zambian music's next big thing—and he's doing it all from China.

Zambia has relentlessly developed a vibrant music scene in recent times, instigating new genres like Zambian Rock (Zamrock), Trapundula (a music genre following the driving element of Kalindula) and putting their own spin on afrobeats. This has all been possible through the collective effort of young Zambian artists wanting to create music that is authentic, different, bold, and purely African.

For 21-year-old Zambian hip-hop artist Jack Lumbeta Kafukwilwa also known as Jay Trigga, the need to showcase Africa to the world through music has been his greatest motivation. "I would define my sound as afro-fusion as it is a mix. I am quite versatile so finding a word to define my sound is tricky because I do trap music as well. In clear terms, my sound is chill, youthful and futuristic," Jay Trigga tells me over our virtual conversation from China where he is currently studying a masters degree in business management.

Following collaborations with Ice Prince and Davido's DMW rapper Dremo, the young star is significantly bent on shooting for the stars in Zambia's music scene. We sat down with Jay Trigga to talk about his journey, new single, his influences in music and more.

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Photo: Courtesy of Radswan

Freddie Harrel Is Building Conscious Beauty For and With the African Diaspora

Formerly known as "Big Hair Don't Care", creator Freddie Harrel and her team have released 3 new wig shapes called the "RadShapes" available now.


Photo: Courtesy of Radswan


The normalising of Black and brown women in wigs of various styles has certainly been welcomed by the community, as it has opened up so many creative avenues for Black women to take on leadership roles and make room for themselves in the industry.

Radswan (formerly known as Big Hair Don't Care), is a lifestyle brand "bringing a new perspective on Blackness through hair, by disrupting the synthetic market with innovative and sustainable products." Through their rebrand, Radswan aims to, "upscale the direct-to-consumer experience holistically, by having connected conversations around culture and identity, in order to remove the roots of stigma."

The latest from French-Cameroonian founder and creator Freddie Harrel - who was featured on our list of 100 women of 2020 - has built her career in digital marketing and reputation as an outspoken advocate for women's empowerment. On top of her business ventures, the 2018 'Cosmopolitan Influencer of the Year' uses her platform to advocate for women's empowerment with 'SHE Unleashed,' a workshop series where women of all ages come together to discuss the issues that impact the female experience, including the feeling of otherness, identity politics, unconscious bias, racism and sexism.

And hair is clearly one of her many passions, as Freddie says, "Hair embodies my freest and earliest form of self expression, and as a shapeshifter, I'm never done. I get to forever reintroduce my various angles, tell all my stories to this world that often feels constrained and biased."

Armed with a committee of Black women, Freddie has cultivated Radswan and the aesthetic that comes with the synthetic but luxurious wigs. The wigs are designed to look like as though the hair is growing out of her own head, with matching lace that compliments your own skin colour.

By being the first brand to use recycled fibres, Radswan is truly here to change the game. The team has somehow figured out how to make their products look and feel like the real thing, while using 0% human hair and not negotiating on the price, quality or persona.

In 2019, the company secured £1.5m of investment led by BBG Ventures with Female Founders Fund and Pritzker Private Capital participating, along with angelic contributions from Hannah Bronfman, Nashilu Mouen Makoua, and Sonja Perkins.

On the importance of representation and telling Black stories through the products we create, Freddie says, "Hair to me is Sundays kneeling between your mothers or aunties legs, it's your cousin or newly made friend combing lovingly through your hair, whilst you detangle your life out loud. Our constant shapeshifting teaches us to see ourselves in each other, the hands braiding always intimately touching our head more often than not laying someone's lap."

"Big Hair No Care took off in ways we couldn't keep up with," she continues, "RadSwan is our comeback.It's a lifestyle brand, it's the hair game getting an upgrade, becoming fairer and cleaner. It's the platform that recognises and celebrates your identity as a shapeshifter, your individuality and your right to be black like you."


Check out your next hairstyle from Radswan here.

Radswan's RadShape 01Photo: Courtesy of Radswan


Radswan's RadShape 02Photo: Courtesy of Radswan


Radswan's RadShape 03Photo: Courtesy of Radswan

Interview

Interview: Reekado Banks Is Coming For Everything

We talk to the Nigerian star about 2020, his latest Off the Record EP, and what his aims are for the future.

Joy is a theme that Reekado Banks keeps returning towards. In an arduous year additionally defined by landmark movements across the world, the 26-year-old musician born Ayoleyi Hanniel Solomon has managed to find pockets of happiness wherever he can. It has not always been easy to maintain that perspective in a year such as this.

After opening the 2020 at full speed with a series of tour dates, determined to kick off the second part of his career properly, COVID-19 struck. And with Nigerian borders closed for a while, the musician had to stay put in Gabon for much of lockdown and its immediate aftermath. "That time was a period for me to grow personally and I really took my time to do that," he shares during our Zoom call.

Much of his growth, as a person and musician, is trackable on Off The Record, the recently released seven-song extended play that has been a little over a year in the works. "Off The Record was conceived in 2019," he admits. The result of all those months of tweaking and delays is a delightful display of Reekado Banks' new-found penchant for minimalist production that accentuates the range of his serene vocals, giving way to stellar collaborations with Tiwa Savage on "Speak To Me," and Harmonize on "Mama."

Still, Reekado is quick to warn that he's only getting started, making mention of the stash of music that he still has to choose from even as he continues to write more songs. The aim is to come for everything he has always wanted. "Right now, I really just want more and the hunger is crazier," he says with all seriousness at the tail-end of our conversation.

Below, we talk about 2020, life, Off The Record, and what his aims are.

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Femi & Made Kuti Create Their 'Legacy +' With New Two-Album Project

The son and grandson of Fela Kuti pay their respects to the legend by honouring his music styles through their own.