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The Ndlovu Youth Choir Just Scored a Deal with Simon Cowell

The America's Got Talent judge and his company have offered to sign the talented choir.

Two weeks ago, South Africans were rooting for the Ndlovu Youth Choir to win America's Got Talent (AGT) and the coveted million dollar prize as well as a chance to be a headline act in Las Vegas. While the group lost to the crowd favorite, Kodi Lee, they received an incredibly warm welcome when they returned to South Africa and were even gifted R1 million (USD 66 000) by Thandi Moraka, the member of the executive council (MEC) for Limpopo's Department of Arts and Culture. Yesterday, in an interview with Radio 702, choir director Ralf Schmitt revealed that AGT judge Simon Cowell and his company had offered to officially sign the Ndlovu Youth Choir.


There's a reason why contestants on AGT and it's British spin-off want to impress Cowell. Not only is he usually the toughest judge on the panel but he's also been instrumental in promoting the music careers of artists such as Susan Boyle and Leona Lewis as well as groups including Westlife, Little Mix, Il Divo and Fifth Harmony. Most recently, the insanely talented South African choir is now on his list of stardom.

Speaking about the deal, Schmitt said that, "We are very excited that Simon Cowell and his company have exercised their option to sign the choir and together with Sony Music in South Africa are working on exciting projects." He added that, "It is a wonderful compliment to these young people because he wouldn't do that if he didn't think there is a future for them and the work they have done."

While the details of the deal itself have not been made clear as yet, we're certain that the future of the Ndlovu Youth Choir is bright.

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Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.



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