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South African Actor Charles 'Big Boy' Maja Has Passed Away

Tributes are pouring in for the beloved actor who starred in the popular South African television drama 'Skeem Saam'.

South African actor and former radio broadcaster, Charles Maja, has passed away according to reports by TimesLIVE. Affectionately known as "Big Boy", the name of the character he played on the popular local drama series Skeem Saam, the actor reportedly suffered a fatal stroke earlier this morning while in the northern province of Limpopo. He was just 54.


Skeem Skaam, which was written by Winnie Serite, first aired in October of 2011. It immediately resonated with South Africans who could relate to the lives and backgrounds of many of the characters. The plot of the drama series focuses on young South Africans who are often thrown into adult situations. It explores, among many other themes, adolescence, coming-of-age, independence and parents learning to navigate "empty nests".

Maja was known for his dedication to the craft with people sharing numerous tales of seeing him rehearsing his lines even as he rode as a passenger in a taxi. His mentor Paul Rapetsoa describes the actor saying, "As a trained stage actor myself I taught Charles in radio dramas, you are act like in a stage or TV show." Rapetsoa added, "He was always hungry to learn. Even when he got a job in Skeem Saam he told me. His death is a big lost to our industry."

Tributes have been pouring in from South Africans on social media for Maja since the news of his death emerged. From sharing stories of their favorite "Big Boy" funny moments to describing how the actor's life impacted the lives of those around him, it's clear that the loss to not only the South African television industry but to the country as a whole, is a tremendous one. Robala ka kgotso.

Read some of the heartfelt tributes below:






Photo: Spark Creative

Meet the Ghanaian-British Designer Behind Janet Jackson's Latest Cover Look

For her most recent cover shoot, Janet Jackson donned a headpiece co-created by Ghanaian-British designer Chrissa Amuah, who tells us more about how she finds inspiration in her parents' homeland.

After rocking a LaviebyCK design by Cameroon's Claude Kameni in her 2018 'Made for Now' music video, Janet Jackson has turned to another talented African creative for her latest look. On the February 2022 cover of Allure Magazine, in which Jackson talks about executive-producing her documentary, Janet, the multiple Grammy-winning artist is pictured wearing an Ògún headpiece, co-designed by Ghanaian-British textile and furniture designer, Chrissa Amuah.

"I’ve always been a fan and respected her craft and work ethic,” Amuah told OkayAfrica. “For Ms Jackson to wear the Ògún in promotion of her new documentary sends a powerful message of enduring brilliance, integrity, and walking in the strength of our true voices.”

Of Ghanaian, Togolese, and Beninese heritage, Amuah was born to Ghanaian parents in London and draws inspiration from the Ghanaian Adinkra symbol in her work as the founder and Creative Director of AMWA Designs, a luxury homeware and interiors brand established in 2014. Making her international debut at the Milan Design Week, she gained worldwide acclaim in 2015, and a few years later, was named “Consumer and Luxury Rising Star” at the 2017 Black British Business Awards.

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BRYAN THE MENSAH On His Debut Album ‘Road to Hastafari’

The Ghanaian rapper narrates the journey of his career in a candid debut laced with personal stories.

BRYAN THE MENSAH is one of the new school acts from Ghana who’s been doing it for a minute. Ever since the arrival of his debut EP in 2017, he was quickly recognized as one of the rising acts in the Ghanaian music scene with a fresh and unique sound—a contemporary rap act but one who fluidly moves between rap, pop, alternative, and fusions of the three, and does so effortlessly.

From then until now he's released four projects in total, all EPs including his critically acclaimed debut Friends with the Sun. His most recentwas 2020’s Not Going Outside, which saw the rapper employ the coronavirus pandemic as its underlying theme. Now, the rapper has decided to level up with the release of his debut album Road to Hastafari.

Bryan actually announced as early as five years ago in that he would be releasing his debut project in 2021, and just before the year came to an end he made good on that promise with an earnest, spirited offering.

As far as full-length projects from contemporary Ghanaian artists come, Road to Hastafari is in a class of its own. Twelve tracks long, with features by M.anifest, buzzing Ghanaian newcomer Black Sherif, Nigerian rappers A-Q and PsychoYP, and rising singer Titi Owusu, RTH is not the conventional African sound. Here, the self-assured rapper with a precise, melodic flow makes it clear that he’s not like anyone else, and he’s not trying to be.

But the album isn’t built on just sonics alone. Road to Hastafari is an album full of personal stories from the rapper that speaks to his journey so far, from family to his love life, and even tales of disrespect that he’s encountered in the music industry. And who better to tell those stories than the rapper himself? We invited BRYAN THE MENSAH to speak to us about his debut album, and the stories behind its creation.

Check out our conversation below.

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Photo: Phumi Morare

These African Films Scored 2022 NAACP Image Award Nods

A host of African talent has made the cut for the list of this year's NAACP Image Awards, which will take place as a socially-distanced affair next month.

Come February 26th, the winners of this year's NAACP Image Awards will be announced in a two-hour live TV special, hosted by Anthony Anderson. And a number of African filmmakers could be among them.

Streaming giant Netflix has garnered the most nominees for this year's NAACP Image Awards, which will mark the 53rd edition, leading across both the motion picture and television categories. The Harder They Fall leads the film side of the awards, with 12 nods, while the biopic about Aretha Franklin, Respect, starring Jennifer Hudson as the late icon, has scored six. The film, helmed by South African director, Liesl Tommy, as her feature debut, also scored a nomination for outstanding ensemble cast in a motion picture. Tommy herself earned a nomination for outstanding breakthrough creative category, alongside the likes of Amir "Questlove" Thompson, for Summer of Soul, and Jeymes Samuel, director of The Harder They Fall.

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