Photo by Sydney Brown

Shauna Barbosa's 'Cape Verdean Blues' Is a Poetic Exploration Of Movement & Cultural Inheritance

We spoke with the Cape Verdean-American author about the experiences that helped shape her stunning literary debut.

The reason we are where we are now is due to the movement of those who came before us.

For children of immigrants, movement—or the act of leaving one place for another—is the root of our cultural identities; the sole reason why some of us identify as Liberian-American, British-Ugandan and for others, Swedish-Eritrean. Shauna Barbosa, a poet born in Boston to an African-American mother and Cape Verdean father, captures the journeys of her parents and the unique upbringing which came about as a result in her stunning literary debut, Cape Verdean Blues.

Growing up in Boston she was physically surrounded by the culture and customs of each of her parents—her extended family on both sides lived on different floors of the same townhouse. These ultraspecific, yet familiar childhood experiences fostered her knack for writing at an early age. Each experience surfacing once again in Cape Verdean Blues.

The introspective poems explore the nature of leaving—channeling the very essence of movement, as it fluidly runs through universal themes of familial love, relationships, sexuality, community, escapism and even social media obsession. All of that means, that though her poems are deeply nuanced and personal, they have the power to resonate with someone who might wear some other hyphenated cultural identifier other than Cape Verdean-American, just as poignantly. "This book is for everybody," says the author.

We spoke with Barbosa about her childhood, transitioning from journalist to author, her love for hip hop—made obvious by poems named after famous Juvenile lyrics, and DMX cuts—and what she wants readers to take away from her work. Read our conversation below.

Photo by Sydney Brown

This interview has been shortened and condensed for clarity.

Can you tell us more about your Cape Verdean American upbringing and what initially drew you to become a writer?

Okay, yeah so my upbringing was pretty interesting. My mom and dad actually met in the '80s. They met at Polaroid. And Polaroid, I don't know if it was headquartered in Boston at this time, something like that. It was like a few years after my dad had come to America from Cape Verde. They met, they had me and eventually, in Boston, there are like three story homes. And they lived in a three story house and it was like my dad and my grandmother, aunt, uncle, cousins on the third floor. On the second floor, aunt, uncle, cousins. First floor was my mom, my sister, and me.

My mom is African American and my dad is African and I always felt like I was between these two worlds. I feel like I had the best of both worlds, the best of both cultures. My mom making Sunday dinner and then my grandmother upstairs making katchupa, which is a traditional Cape Verdean dish. But I feel like, of course, anytime you're in the middle of something as a kid you grow up and you try to figure out who you are and where you belong and who your friends are, so that happened really early on for me. I took to writing. I feel like it happened really organically. I remember my mom found my diaries and I just used to write some crazy shit.

I was always writing in high school. I used to write a lot of poems, but I can honestly say, I never thought I'd be a poet. I never thought that I'd be labeled a poet. I just never thought that.

How does it feel to be an author? That's a huge deal, making that transition from being a journalist to an author.

It's still all surreal. My cousin she teases me. She'll text me 'hey author, what's up.' And I'm like it's still a weird thing because I feel like I'm still in this very new phase. All of this just happened and I'm really just letting it sink in. But it feels good and it feels good because from what my family tells me, I've always said, I'm going to move to New York, even when I was like ten, I was just like I'm going to move to new York and I'm going to move to California and I'm going to be writing or something. I said this when I was like ten, and I lived in New York for five years and now I'm in California. So life really does come full circle and like all the cliche things that you hear growing up from people, it's real.

Yeah, so it feels good. I have younger siblings one 17, one about to be 13, and one 27. I have an older sibling and it just feels good because they see you can do whatever you want.

Photo by Sydney Brown

I want to know why you titled it Cape Verdean Blues. Why Blues?

There are so many different layers to that. But initially, the book was titled "The Genetics of Leaving." There's actually a poem in the book called The Genetics of Leaving it's about that initial time when an African, when any foreigner, when my grandmother left Cape Verde to come to America and start this life. There's a lot of leaving and there's a lot of going back and forth and there's a lot of reaching over these seas for people that you love and even just longing and reaching to stay connected to a culture that you know you can call yours, and making sure that you bring that with you.

After I started putting my poems together, I'm like oh my god, I write a lot about identity, about my black experience, my Cape Verdean experience, it was just all there and I just felt like there's an inherited trauma. I believe that there's inherited leaving.

I really feel attached to Cape Verdean culture and yeah, the blues of leaving, and I started reading Cape Verdean poets once I discovered them, and this one Jorge Barbosa—who I'm not related to by the way—he writes a lot about this land and just wanting to leave and how the sea can either help you or destroy you and it holds all of your dreams. There's just so much music there and then there's also Horace Silver, a jazz musician, the book is named after his album, The Cape Verdean Blues.

Everything really came together in the most organic way and that's something that I just feel really fortunate to have—something that really just came together.

Are there any other Cape Verdean themes or references in the book that someone who is not familiar with the culture wouldn't have picked up on, particularly the idea of sodade.

The book actually opens up with this poem called "Let" it just goes into Cape Verdean references right off the bat. The second line is "Or Cesaria Évora's voice on Christmas with Sodade on her lips." Cesaria Evora, she's a Cape Verdean singer and one of her most popular songs is "Sodade."

Then there's an Amílcar Cabral reference, who was a revolutionary for Cape Verde. One of my favorite ones is a poem called "Taking over for the 99 and the 2000," and that's something I think Boston Cape Verdeans will read and be like "wow." They'll know it, and hopefully they will feel it. It's really just about growing up on the street I grew up on and just how the dreams of our parents kind of transformed into an Instagram like. I feel like parents have these ideas and they come here and they want the best for their children—and this is not saying that we're not doing our best—but there's this thing that we are caught up in life. That poem is not just for Cape Verdeans, it's really about surveillance and [examining] the people that we grow into and the people that don't get to grow up from where we're from.

"It's really just about growing up on the street I grew up on and just how the dreams of our parents kind of transformed into an Instagram like."

Okay, so I'm not sure if you've put much thought into this, but was there a poem in particular that was like the hardest to write?

No. It's weird because I don't go to poetry first to work through something. I have before in the past. The first few times that I've taken workshops, if I was going through something, there was something I felt strongly about that went straight to the page.

I wanted to be able to see my feelings and situations, or someone else's. I wanted to be able to see it through a different lens and kind of think of different images that these feelings can convey and can represent. By the time I write a poem, it's not hard for me. It's hardened into me. It's writing. I'm still like working it through, but emotionally it doesn't weigh on me. But it's still difficult to write a poem.

Which is your favorite line or poem from Cape Verdean Blues? Or I can tell you one of my favorites and you can just expand on it if that helps.

Okay, I will riff off of your favorite.

It's called: "There's something so deeply gratifying about welcoming your mother into your home and offering her a meal as nourishment and thanks."

Okay, can I just tell you I got teary eyed. The story of this poem is really lame. This poem is definitely one of my favorites but was difficult to write. I was at this Residency on Martha's Vineyard. I took the title actually from a friend, it was her Facebook status one day. She's also a writer, her name is Leah Veaudry.

I think that in terms of the mother in the poem, and in terms of having parents who come from a different generation, you sometimes learn more than them. You learn differently and your palette is different from theirs. I feel like with a lot of my poems, it really just comes back to the body and image, which then comes down to identity.

I also feel that with a lot of my poems, there's always a mother lurking. That poem reminds me of "Strology: Gemini." With [that poem], maybe the speaker's questioning the mother and the mother is the beginning—Africa is the beginning. The sea is also the beginning for a lot of people. I think that is what really what shaped the book organically.

I just feel blessed to have been able to gather all of these different images and ideas to tell a story. We all want to tell a story.

Photo by Sydney Brown

Another part that struck me from your book were the poems with the title "This Is Not For English Speakers" What's the main idea? What's the message behind that?

Okay, so maybe almost two years ago, Manuel Da Luz Goncalves my god brother's father and I so we're basically family. He wrote the first Cape Verdean Creole to English dictionary. It was monumental on so many levels.

I remember sitting down with it and reading all of these words that I knew, some that I didn't, and some that I would hear my family speak that I had a different definition of. I think sometimes when you're second generation and you don't speak the language fluently, you hear things differently. So [the poems] "This Is Not For English Speakers" were inspired by that, by reading that dictionary. But also, thinking about growing up, or even now if I'm listening to a Cape Verdean song and someone is like "what does that mean in English?" But when you translate it in English it makes no sense.

So say you want to refer a book to someone and you say "oh, I want you to read this book by so and so, but Harry's translation is better than Shauna's," or [vise versa]. [The beauty of that] is something I'm really interested in and that was where that idea came from. And I'm actually working on more poems from that [perspective].

I saw so many other hip hop references in the book as well, like "How Is It Going Down," that's a reference to DMX song. I feel like a lot of the times rappers are considered poets. What lyricists or songwriters do you look to for inspiration?

I would say Nas, Frank Ocean, Amy Winehouse and Andre 3000 are my go to. Amy Winehouse's writing is incredible. I like to listen to the way she can tell a story from something that seems so simple and minute, I want to be able to take moments like that, and that's what I did with this book.

I'm not Cape Verdean, but as a black woman I identified with a lot of the things you said in the book. Who is this book for, who is your intended audience?

I never set out to write this book only for Cape Verdean. I want everyone to be able to go to it and be open to it. I'm a black woman, so it's just about or culture. I think it's layered in may different ways. If you find something in there, it's yours.


Purchase Cape Verdean Blues here and follow Shauna Barbosa via her website and on Instagram and Twitter.


OkayAfrica and The Narativ Present The Fresh + Festive Holiday Pop-Up Shop

We've curated a group of our favorite black-owned vendors for a festive holiday pop-up in Brooklyn.

The holiday season is officially upon us and you know what that means: it's time to shower friends, family—and yourself—with precious gifts.

While holiday shopping can sometimes be a task, it certainly doesn't have to be. OkayAfrica has teamed up with global luxury design platform The Narativ for The Fresh + Festive Holiday Pop Up Shop to bring you a fun, colorful and chilled out retail experience.

The Fresh + Festive Holiday Pop Up will be a one-stop shop, featuring items from some of our favorite black-owned clothing, jewelry, home decor, food and beauty brands.

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Photo courtesy of Little Havana

OkayAfrica's Guide to December Parties in Lagos and Accra

Where to find the hottest parties in Ghana and Nigeria in December 2018

I arrived at the Little Havana party, just after midnight. We were a short drive in the hills outside Accra, and it was still hot. I walk through the the gardens of the Little Acre Lodge set up with cabanas while coloured lights bounced off the palm trees. Music from the best Afrobeat DJs echoes through the hills. The harmattan haze creates a beautiful ambience and make the cold drinks go down a lot better. And the people! The dancing, the compliments, the great conversations with random strangers; What makes December in Accra truly wonderful is the energy we bring to it.

During December in Accra—or as some affectionately refer to it "Dezember"—parties end when day breaks, and as soon as night falls you get right back to it. If you are about the party life and love travelling, welcome to "Dezember." First of all, to get this straightened out, it's not a physical location or a month exactly. "Dezember" is a period in time—a series of thrilling experiences and moments locked within the tight traffic and unfiltered heat of Accra's streets.

Lagos and Accra have become famously popular during December for the best African parties. In Accra, there are back to back parties for two weeks straight. From night clubs, day parties, house parties, parties in the hills, concerts, themed events and more. International performers and DJs are flown in from all over the world, to play and perform at multiple events.

The Rise of Global Afrobeats

Dj Juls—Photo courtesy of the artist

The spike in interest in December, be it in Lagos or Accra, can't be pinpointed. However, one can identify a general symbiosis between the growth of Afrobeats and the growth in diaspora relations. "'Dezember' has significantly contributed to the growth of afrobeats internationally," says Ghanaian Afrobeats superstar, Kidi.

He explains, "People come and hear these fresh jams and take it with them when they leave".

Kidi who was booked for over twenty shows last December , has added a similar number of shows to his calendar this December.

DJ Juls, a UK producer and DJ by way of Ghana, also relates the boom of Afrobeats to December festivities.

"I think the artists really work on dropping riddims around Christmas time," the award winning DJ says, "There's always one song that everyone loves, and people who travel down get to experience the hype of that song. When everyone goes back home the DJs just run with it. It gets more popular and in the long run boosts local artists' chances of going on tour or doing little gigs here and there. It's then up to the artists to build on that hype."

Africa Taking Hold of its Narrative

Afrochella—Photo courtesy of Edward Adjaye

The trigger for the number of flights being booked for December can be attributed to a number of things. The internet and the ways we document our day to day lives could be one. Africa taking a hold of its narrative has done more good for the continent than most international publications. University students spot their friends balling in clubs in Lagos or Accra, having the time of their lives on Snapchat or Instagram stories, and want the same experience.

Edward Adjaye, one of the organizers of Afrochella, an afrobeats centered festival in Accra, believes it's all about the experience.

"People used to come (to Accra) and do nothing, but clubbing," he says "but now there are festivals and parties in the hills and day parties. So many options outside of just clubbing."

The annual festival, Afrochella which Adjaye hosts has its date scheduled within the depths of the season for a reason.

"Throwing Afrochella in 'Dezember' helps, because the festival is mainly about the promotion and celebration of Afrobeats and the culture as a whole," he reveals, "'Dezember' is the season where everyone; from diaspora to first timers, most likely visit Ghana and are ready to party".

OK, now what's next?

The conversation, however, must go beyond leaving the club at 8am and sipping coconut juice on private beaches. "Dezember" creates an amazing bond between Africa and the rest of the world; one based on relationships. How can the opportunity be fully realized?

"Event organizers need to stop looking at each other as competition and help each other with everything; from sharing information and promotion," says Adjaye, "Everyone eats when everyone succeeds. Also, the big brands need to put up more, in terms of sponsorships and collaborations with event organizers. Everyone wins only when everyone works together, pretty much."

Kidi shared a different perspective, focusing more on the national benefits of this blossoming relationship.

"If 'Dezember' is properly marketed, it'll generate a lot of revenue for our tourists sites and event organizers," he says. "Carefully planned activities, shows, exhibitions and markets can be organized, because these people are here to have a good time."

DJ Juls believes "Dezember" has formed a brain of its own. The only way to benefit from it, is to capture the opportunities it presents.

"A lot more people flock to Ghana over the Christmas and the summer. An estimated 75,000 people are expected in Ghana this year," DJ Juls says. "That means business opportunities and networking."

He however lays bare a pressing negativity to Dezember, "Only negative I guess is traffic and over capacity venues. Kills the vibe sometimes." Pack your bags! We're going for Dezember!

If you're heading to Dezember, here are some events and places you shouldn't miss:

December Events in Accra, Ghana

Mr Eazi's Detty Rave 2017—Photos courtesy of Detty Rave

Afrochella—The day festival on the 29th of December, celebrates afrobeats and the culture surrounding it through music concert, art installations and exhibitions and fashion. Buy tickets at afrochella.com/tickets

Detty Rave—The annual Mr Eazi-curated concert hosts international musicians from around the world in a rave like no other. Get tickets for the 28th December concert at dettyrave.com

Little Havanna—A party thrown in the hills on the outskirts of Accra, Little Havanna lives up to its name. Endless drinks, amazing people and back to back music from the best DJs.

The Day Party—Think Gossip Girl parties, but with Ankara designs and champagne flutes.

The Throwback Party—Hosted by DJ Juls and DJ Neptizzle, the throwback party is back to back hip hop bangers that rocked the 2000s on New Year's Day. Buy tickets at ayatickets.com/events/throwback-new-years

Manifestivities—Rapper Manifest hosts some of his favourite Musicians at the Bukom Boxing Arena for an exciting experience. Rap battles, DJ battles, performances and more are the highlight of this 23th December event. Get tickets at ayatickets.com/events/manifestivities

BHIM Concert—Dancehall musician Stonebwoy takes up the challenge to fill the 15,000 capacity Fantasy Dome on the 28th of December. With performances from Morgan Heritage and other musicians, this event promises to be one for the books. Find tickets at ayatickets.com/events/bhim-concert

Rappaholic Concert—Get drunk off back to back hits from the rap maestro Sarkodie at his annual Rappaholic concert on Christmas Day at the Conference Centre.

Liquid Gold—Private club Front/Back opens its doors on 31st December for Liquid Gold party. A night of opulence, wealth and unhinged partying.

M.A.D. Fest—The burgeoning rapper, Ayat, hosts the annual Music of African Descent (MAD) festival at Madina Number 1 Park, on the 22nd of December. For the third time the show will host top rappers like Medikal, Edem, Teephlow, Akan, Kwesi Arthur, Worlasi and Manifest.

Crusade 3—The thriving Ghanaian collective La Meme Gang host their 3rd concert at Crystal Park. Performing songs off their just released album "Linksters", along with artists featured on the tape.

The Magna Carter—Villa Grace chef hosts guests to a Hip hop themed lunch on December 22. Endless chutes of champagne will be available.

December 2 Remember—The annual music concerts hosted at the International Conference Centre comes back again this year. Enjoy hits from your favourite Ghanaian musicians back to back. Dress code is blue denims and a white top.

The Loud Concert—The annual girls only concert takes place on the 21st of December at the National Theatre. With award winning singer Efya headlining, it promises to be remarkable.

Lokkofied—Concept store and art hub Lokko 08 celebrates its 10 year anniversary with an insane party. Accra's best DJs, drinks food and music in abundance, it definitely sounds like the type of party to look forward to. Happening at Lokko House on 22nd December.

Sabolai Radio Music Festival—The annual music festival celebrating indie and alternative musicians from across Africa returns this year at an unusual new location. Catch teh crew at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange on the 12th to 15th of December. Tickets available at accradotaltradio.com

Ghana Rocks—The popular annual show makes a comeback after a hiatus with an impressive lineup. Local artists like Kuami Eugene, Kidi and more with be joined by international acts like Jidenna, Burna boy and more. Happening at the Fantasy Dome on 29th December 2018.

Accra Gidi Cookout—Grab a barbeque and enjoy the sounds from around the world spun by DJs like Juls, Vision DJ Loft and more.

Promiseland—Rising afropop star King Promise, headlines his own show on December 15th at Crystal Park.

Pine x Ginja—Enjoy dancehall, reggae and full blown jamaican and island vibes at the PinexGinja party, at Crystal Park. Tickets available at Eventbrite.

Nostalgia—A celebration of the best hits of the 2000's in one night! Happening on the 15th of December at Bosphorous Rooftop, this party looks like the perfect start for the Dezember activities.

T.I.N.A Festival—Fuse ODG hosts the first ever This is New Africa (T.I.N.A) festival to celebrate the unique African culture through music, fashion and food. Happening on the 4th of January at the Fantasy Dome. Get tickets at ayatickets.com/events/tina-festival

Fast Food Festival—Accra Fast Food Festival is calling out all foodies for the ultimate cheat day. Enjoy an assortment of Accra's favourite fast food joints and the best tunes at this all day event on the 22nd of December at the Accra Fast food festival.

A Taste of Christmas—Accra's nomadic Chef, Biishville invites all to a culinary experience on Christmas Eve. Fine wining and dining, complete with a dinner party and endless proseccos. Limited seats available to grab one by making a reservation at biishville@gmail.com

Brunch at the Palm—Food blog Taste Tales hosts guests to a food and mimosa filled brunch on the 30th of December. Enjoy live jazz and DJ sets at this foodie haven. Tickets available at Eventbrite.

#BeCurious—Hosted by the afrocentric movement Tribvl, #BeCurious is the last of the groups monthly parties. With strictly afrobeats music and an afro-inspired theme, #BeCurious is the party to be at if you want to party. Happening at Cleaver House on the 30th of December. Buy tickets on Eventbrite.

Twist—Start your night right inside the coveted Accra club. The bouncer may not let you in for absolutely no reason at all, but it's always amazing once you're inside.

Bloom Bar—Pre-game at Accra's open air bar. Split their signature drinks with friends and enjoy fine selection of chill music.

The Woods—A chill, relaxed bar perfect for just hanging out with friends and getting away from all the Accra city mess. The perfect hideout within the heart of Accra.

Sky Bar—A rooftop bar on top Accra's Villagio apartments. It's perfect for quiet drinks and cool vibes.

December Events in Lagos, Nigeria

Catch DJ Tunez in Lagos—Photo: OkayAfrica

‪Simi Live in Lagos—The songstress sets December off with her silky voice at the Eko Hotels in Lagos on the 9th of December.‬

AG Live—Adekunle Gold promises a golden experience at his 3 day show. Catch him on the 13th, 14th or 15th of December at Terra Kulture in Lagos. Buy tickets at nairabox.com

‪King Coal live in Concert‬—The Afrobeats king made a comeback this year with some amazing music. Now you get to watch him live perform his music with some favourites at Eko Hotels. Check out Wande Coal's show on the 14th of December in Lagos. Buy tickets at nairabox.com

‪Mayor of Lagos Concert—Mayorkun‬ takes over the Federal Palace Hotel in Victoria Island for his Mayor of Lagos concert. 14th of December is one for music lovers.

Pretty World—‪New school Nigerian musician Pretty Boy D-O‬ headlines his first show on the 17th of December at Artisan, Victoria Island. Get tickets at pluggrecords.ng/prettyworld/

‪Wizkid VIP Experience Night—Afrobeats king Wizkid brings all the heat home to Lagos, Nigeria for his Wizkid VIP Experience Night. Seats available for only 5000 VIP guests at the Eko Hotels, Lagos.

‪The Beat FM Christmas Party—Top Nigerian radio station The Beat FM hosts a myriad of musicians at this years Christmas concert. Featuring performances from musicians such as Lil Baby, Kojo Fundz, Lotto Boys, Kizz Daniel, Mr. Eazi, Peruzzi, Teni The Entertainer and more. Federal palace is the place to be on December 19th for this once in a lifetime event.

Blackout Lagos—DJ Tunez hosts the popular New York party, Blackout in Lagos on the 20th of December at Hard Rock Cafe. Featuring artists such as Sarz, Wizkid, Reekado Banks and more.

‪Urban Music Fest—Nigeria's premiere music festival ‬brings in the best from the city of Lagos on to one stage. Join Wande Coal, Niniola, Tiwa Savage, DBanj and more at the Eko Atlantic. Tickets available for the 2st December to 23rd December event at: Naijaticketshop.com

Flytime Music Festival‬—Flytime Music Festival‬ kicks off on the 21st of December with the annual Rhythm Unplugged Concert featuring Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Davido and more. It is followed by a Bobby Brown and Bell Biv Devoe headlined concert on the 22nd of December, and climaxes with an Olamide Live event on the 23rd of December. Get tickets at flytimetv.com

Afrobeat Fest—Celebrate the best of Afrobeats at the Afrobeat Fest with Patoranking, Timaya, Runtown, Tekno, Mr Eazi, Femi and Seun Kuti, on the 22nd of December at the Eko Suites Hotel. Tickets available at naijaticketshop.com

Made in Lagos—Wizkid ‬headlines his second event this December in Lagos on the 23rd with the Made in Lagos concert. Performing artists include Tiwa Savage, Mr Eazi and more. Tickets available at naijaticketshop.com

Olamide Live in Concert—The Motigbana hit maker Olamide‬ headlines his own show at the Eko Atlantic Hotel on the 23rd of December with a host of other amazing performers.

‪Rare. Live—The Nigerian alternative sweetheart Odunsi‬ the Engine is set to thrill audience to music from his newly released album Rare. at the Hardrock Cafe. This event will take place on the 24th of December.

All Black Everything—Celebrating ten years of this phenomenal annual Christmas party on the 25th of December at the landmark event centre. Don't forget to come dressed in all black.

Island Block Party‬—The organizers of Mainland Block party bring the all day rave to the Island on Christmas eve. Buy tickets for the premiere event at mainlandblockparty.com

Eat Drink ‬Festival—As if all the Christmas meals are not enough, Sterling Bank fills up Lekki Coliseum with food vendors for the two day food festival. Join other foodies on the ‪26th and 27th of December at the Eat Drink Festival.

Burna Live—The king of vibes, Burna Boy‬, headlines his show Burna Live at the Eko Hotels on ‪26th of December. Performing his classics as well as songs from his 2018 album 'Outside', Burna Live promises to be unmissable.

Copacabana—Copacabana promises an endless summer with this sunny rave at Tickle Bay on the ‪26th of December.

Positive Vibes Only—If you love Champagne showers, the PVO party in Lagos on the 27th of December assures you of endless bubbly and of course, positive vibes.

Native Land—Music and Pop culture magazine Native Mag hosts their annual Native Land concert at the Muri Okunola Park on December 28th. ‬Last year's event hosted UK musician Skepta, Not3s, Mayorkun, and more. Excited to see this year's lineup.

‪Palm Wine Music Fest—The boys of Showdem Camp round up an amazing musical year with the alternative music festival of the year. Happening at the Muri Okunola Park on December 29th, Palm wine Fest looks like alternative music haven.

Mainland Block Party—The monthly mainland rave ends the year with a bang on the 31st of December with one last throwdown. Get tickets at mainlandblockparty.com

Photo courtesy of Pearl Thusi

Quantico Actress Pearl Thusi Will Star in the First Original African Series by Netflix

It's the first of many original shows aimed at African audiences says the streaming giant

South African actress Pearl Thusi, best known as our beloved Black Pearl, will be starring in Netflix's first African series Queen Sono. This comes after the company's recent announcement that it wants to produce more Afrocentric content as it looks for emerging markets for international growth opportunities.

In an interview with South Africa's Independent Online Vice President of International Original Series for Netflix, Erik Barmack says, "We are excited to be working with Kagiso and Pearl, to bring the story of Queen Sono to life, and we expect it to be embraced by our South African users and global audiences alike."

Thusi made the announcement in a tweet this morning:

The star of ABC's Quantico will be starring alongside her Catching Feelings colleague, Kagiso Lediga, who created the series. The series will follow a badass female spy tackling challenging missions and her own personal life within a South African agency. Thusi took to Twitter to express her excitement about the series set to be released next year saying, "I'm so proud and grateful for everyone that made this happen. This was a dream of mine as a little girl. Let's make history."

In Photos: Pearl Thusi Speaking at OkayAfrica's Next 100 Summit

Thusi is a prominent South African actress who has starred in local productions such as Isidingo, Happiness is a Four-Letter Word and Catching Feelings. She is one of few South African actresses to make it internationally, having landed a role in the US-based series Quantico. Last year in an interview with OkayAfrica for our annual 100 Women honours, of which she was a recipient, Thusi shared one of her philosophy's about success:

"Show people results, and maybe show them preparation later, but don't ever share your dream before you've actually covered the seed and watered it."

Queen Sono is set to hit screens in 2019.

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The Best Ghanaian Songs of 2018

Here are the 23 best Ghanaian tracks of the year featuring La Même Gang, KiDi, Juls, Efya, Sarkodie, M.anifest, Kwesi Arthur, Kuami Eugene and many more.