#Okay100Women

SONA JOBARTEH

OkayAfrica's 100 Women celebrates African women who are making waves, shattering ceilings, and uplifting their communities.

Men have been traditionally associated with the kora instrument,  for the past seven centuries in West Africa. This ancient practice did not stop Sona Jobarteh from mastering the art, and mesmerizing her fans all over the world with her talent.


Jobarteh remains one of the continent’s most distinctive instrumentalists and performers, who is credited as a singer-songwriter. Some of Jobarteh vocals appeared in the Hollywood film, Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom and she composed music for the film score for Motherland: The Score.

Since the release of her 2011 acclaimed album, "Fasiya", the singer has focused on managing a school she co-founded, Amadu Bansang Jobarteh School of Music, which is named after her late grandfather who was a master griot and one of Gambia’s leading kora players.

Jobarteh has made history as a first female kora player, and continues to enrich the lives of those who hear her music, and look up to her as a teacher and community leader.

—JO

Spotlight
Photo by NurPhoto via Getty Images.

A Year After #EndSARS, Nigerian Youth Maintain That Nothing Has Changed

Despite the disbandment of the SARS units, young Nigerians are still being treated as criminals. We talk to several of them about their experiences since the #EndSARS protests.

On September 12th, Tobe, a 22-year-old student at the University of Nigeria's Enugu Campus was on his way to Shoprite to hang out with his friends when the tricycle he had boarded was stopped by policemen. At first, Tobe thought they were about to check the driver's documents, but he was wrong. "An officer told me to come down, he started searching me like I was a criminal and told me to pull down my trousers, I was so scared that my mind was racing in different ways, I wasn't wearing anything flashy nor did I have an iPhone or dreads — things they would use to describe me as a yahoo boy," he says.

They couldn't find anything on him and when he tried to defend himself, claiming he had rights, one of the police officers slapped him. "I fell to the ground sobbing but they dragged me by the waist and took me to their van where they collected everything including my phone and the 8,000 Naira I was with."

Luckily for Tobe, they let him go free after 2 hours. "They set me free because they caught another pack of boys who were in a Venza car, but they didn't give me my money completely, they gave me 2,000 Naira for my transport," he says.

It's no news that thousands of Nigerian youth have witnessed incidents like Tobe's — many more worse than his. It's this helpless and seemingly unsolvable situation which prompted the #EndSARS protests. Sparked after a viral video of a man who was shot just because he was driving an SUV and was mistaken as a yahoo boy, the #EndSARS protests saw millions of young Nigerians across several states of the country come out of their homes and march against a system has killed unfathomable numbers of people for invalid or plain stupid reasons. The protests started on October 6th, 2020 and came to a seize after a tragedy struck on October 20th of the same year.

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