South African Twitter Reacts to DJ Sbu's Speech at Nipsey Hussle's Memorial Site

DJ Sbu claimed to be "Africa's ambassador for hip-hop" but South Africans are asking who sent him in the first place.

DJ Sbu, real name Sibusiso Leope, is a house musician and has for the longest time been thought to be the masked kwaito rapper Mzekezeke. DJ Sbu seems to always be in the limelight and often for what South Africans feel are the wrong reasons. Albeit a prolific and successful entrepreneur, his perceived "antics" at times overshadow that.

Most recently, DJ Sbu made his way to Crenshaw Boulevard and Slauson Avenue in Los Angeles where a vigil was being held for Eritrean-American rapper Nipsey Husslewho was recently shot dead outside his Marathon Clothing store. In a video clip that DJ Sbu posted onto his Twitter page, he's seen with a megaphone amid the crowd and introduces himself as a musician from Johannesburg, South Africa.

In the video clip, DJ Sbu goes on to say, "I'm here as an ambassador for hip-hop music and the culture in the entire African continent. I represent musicians from the whole continent."

Whilst many South Africans have been dragging DJ Sbu, others have jumped to his defense saying that any African is an ambassador for the continent and DJ Sbu's gesture was symbolic of just that.

The musician later responded to one Twitter user asking who elected him as Africa's ambassador by saying:

"Myself. The day you start traveling to other continents only then you will understand that as soon as you leave your country or continent of origin, automatically you represent where you're from. No one has to elect you. Its your consciousness that should kick in."

Photo courtesy of the filmmaker

In her Debut Film, Angela Wamai Confronts Trauma and Seeks Healing

The Kenyan filmmaker chose to explore the heavy subject of sexual abuse for her first feature but that hasn’t stopped audiences from engaging with the film’s pressing themes.

In Shimoni, the accomplished debut feature film by Kenyan filmmaker Angela Wanjiku Wamai, a former schoolteacher, Geoffrey (Justin Mirichii giving a revelatory, intensely layered performance), struggles to reintegrate into society after he is released from prison. Dispatched to the village where he grew up, Geoffrey, who was put away for committing a terrible crime, must begin to reckon head on with the demons from his past.

Shimoni – loosely translated from Swahili as "The Pit" – is a stark but involving drama, shot in ravishing takes and presented with Wamai’s distinct eye for detail and precision. It is a style that she traces back to her successful career as a film editor. Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Wamai attended film school in Havana, Cuba before returning home to set up her professional career. An alumnus of Talents Durban, the Durban FilmMart’s joint development programme with the Berlinale, Wamai has earned editing credits on acclaimed titles such as New Moon directed by Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann and No Simple Way Home by Akuol de Mabior.

Despite the bleakness of its themes, and its confrontation of ethical complexities – or because of these – Shimoni has been a hit on the festival circuit since it first premiered last year at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The film has had well-received turns at the International Film Festival, Rotterdam and at Fespaco, where Wamai received the Bronze Stallion, the festival’s third prize. It makes its U.S. premiere this weekend at the AFI’s New African Film Festival.

OkayAfrica spoke with Wamai via Zoom about the difficulties of making Shimoni, and the cyclical nature of trauma.

SHIMONI Trailer – 2023 New African Film Festivalwww.youtube.com

How did the idea of Shimoni begin taking shape into a practical film?

It was birthed from this idea of a danger that cannot be avoided, and is demanding to be confronted head on. I worked on the writing for a long time because I was also trying to fundraise at the same time. I only seriously started writing in late 2017, early 2018. By 2019, I had worked with a screenwriting mentor for about six months. In 2020, we got some funding from a local investor but then COVID happened and we couldn’t do anything. We didn’t start pre-production until 2021. Because it is a micro-budget production, we had to figure out a smart way to make the film without killing ourselves in the process.

This meant having a short production process bookended by really long pre- and post-production activities. People were taking on dual or even triple roles, just to make it work. For instance, I knew I could take on the baggage of editing the film. We had about two months of rehearsals and pre-production, six months of post while we shot for about 15 days. It was crazy but we were able to finish in May last year.

An image of a man wearing a clerical collar looking unnerving or menacing.Actor Sam Psenien is part of the cast of Angela Wamai’s debut feature, ‘Shimoni,’ which was shot in the Kenyan village of the same name.Photo courtesy of the filmmaker

It makes sense that you talk about rehearsals because there is a precision with the film that suggests you know exactly what you want to say with each scene.

That is one of the things that comes out of working with a micro budget, you have to be extremely thorough and precise. My style is minimalism, and I guess this comes from my editing background. I do not like cutting, the less I cut the happier I am. I knew we needed to get exactly what we needed ahead of the shoot so we worked with the actors, particularly the lead, Justin [Mirichii] for a long time doing rehearsals.

It is a difficult story, and he needed to be vulnerable. We spent a lot of time just figuring out his emotional palettes in every scene, breaking them down and trying to understand his motivations. We also worked on the storyboard for a long time. The DoP [director of photography], Andrew Mungai, was involved with these conversations. The sound person, as well, so when we were shooting, we knew exactly where the characters were at each moment in time. That is where the precision comes from.

Shimoni captures rural living so acutely; the sense of community, but also the inability to stay out of the next person’s business.

As a filmmaker, I want to avoid cities because we have seen Nairobi enough, let’s move on! I grew up in the city so whenever my mum tells me stories about growing up in the village, it feels like a really nice place with lovely, ordinary-seeming people. But when she really gets into the stories and the gossip, I am like, “Oh my God, so dramatic!” I was interested in how the villagers are so close and connected, and have meetings, and come out to help one another. But there is also this other side that is totally ratchet, and they all know each other’s business. That duality fascinates me.

For ‘Shimoni,’ director Angela Wamai worked with actors, including Justin Mirichii, for two months doing rehearsals to get exactly what she wanted for the shoot.

An image of a man sitting in the dark, wearing gumboots, looking forlorn.For ‘Shimoni,’ director Angela Wamai worked with actors, including Justin Mirichii, for two months doing rehearsals to get exactly what she wanted for the shoot.Photo courtesy of the filmmaker.

The church is also particularly influential in rural communities like the one where Shimoni is set, and you do not run away from this.

The film is about sexual abuse. And we cannot ignore the Catholic church’s history, or complicity in this scourge. But beyond religion for a moment, it is often easy to speak out about wrongdoings elsewhere while ignoring similar behavior in our own immediate circles. I wanted to explore the concept of public versus private crimes. With the public crimes, the church is willing to confront them, and we have the Bible and the ten commandments to guide us. But when it comes to a thing like sexual abuse, no one wants to deal with that, and so it stays private.

This I find disingenuous because if I hurt you – physically or emotionally – it is the same thing, you are hurt. I wanted to make that commentary about the church in Africa because I feel like there is an inertia when it comes to dealing with sexual abuse. But I also wanted to avoid the cliché of having the priest be the central perpetrator. Because whether it is the priests being perpetrators or the silence of the church enabling perpetrators, I feel like it is the same hurt.

The story is quite bleak, I must say, do you fear you are going to lose audiences?

I still am quite worried because I know people who come to the movies want to feel some sense of closure, and it is debatable if this film has offered this closure by the end. I spent nine years researching Shimoni, and I recall speaking with a particular survivor about his experience. He was abused at about age eight, and when I spoke with him, he was in his forties, but he was still not in a good place.

His marriage was falling apart, and there was still a lot of trauma there. Thinking about him and all of the other stories I came across, there is a tragedy there in the silence that we embrace as Africans. When we tell people they must never speak about their trauma, that is like negating its existence and denying it ever happened. So I felt it would be very insincere to insert a neat, happy ending.

(Kwesi Arthur/YouTube)

Ghanaian Rapper Kwesi Arthur Shares Visuals For ‘Pain Interlude’

Watch Kwesi Arthur’s inspiring new video for his latest single “Pain interlude.”

Kwesi Arthurhas released the music video to his song “Pain Interlude.” The visuals, which were entirely shot in black-and-white, chronicle the life of a boxer who goes through challenges, but ultimately overcomes due to his consistency and grit. The record “Pain Interlude” is a continuation of the Ghana music artist's journey as someone who's building his career and cementing his signature sound.

Kwesi Arthur, born Emmanuel Kwesi Danso Arthur Junior, hails from Tema, a metropolis in Ghana. The rapper, singer and song-writer first gained widespread attention with his 2017 single "Grind Day," which became an instant hit in Ghana and earned him several award nominations. Since then, Kwesi Arthur has released several successful projects, including his debut EP, Live from Nkrumah Krom in 2017, which features the hit single "Grind Day (Remix)" featuring Sarkodie and Medikal. He has also collaborated with other notable African artists such as Nasty C, Mr Eazi, and Davido.

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Photo by Adedamola Odetara

Places in Lagos to Have Fun this Weekend

Discover weekend events in Lagos, from beach parties, film screenings, and art exhibitions to nightlife.

After a frenzied guber election season, Lagos is back to normal. If you’re looking for fun places in Lagos, we've got you covered. Obi’s House was a blast on Monday, the weekly club party by DJ Obi held at the Hard Rock Cafe. For the art heads, Rele Gallery is extending the group show for “Bodies! Bodies! Bodies!” till March 25, featuring works from contemporary Nigerian artists.

On Saturday, Femme Fest returns this year, the women-led festival that has been a cultural staple since 2018. Sweat-It-Out, the Lagos collective hosting EDM parties, are still on a break since January. They come back in April, and we hope they return with a better experience.

Those looking for outdoor fun should be a little wary, though. The rains are creeping in and could show up when you least expect.

Silent disco party with House of Oni and Palazzo Lagos

Friday, March 24, 7pm

Silent raves, quiet clubbing, or silent disco are becoming a thing with Lagos nightlife. Hosted by Palazzo Lagos and House of Oni, join them this Friday and party with three yet-to-be-announced celebrity DJs. House of Oni has been sponsoring and curating silent events for a while. They are also involved with a non-silent pool party the next day, which brings us to the next lined-up event.

Venue: Dr Abayomi Finnih Park by Opebi Link Bridge, Oregun

Cost: From N3K

Party at The Good Beach

Saturday, March 25, 2pm

The Good Beach is one of the newest beaches in Lagos, with a vast idyllic space to relax and unwind. Come ready to dive, lounge, and party in your swimsuits and speedos.

Venue: Plot 10B, Water Corporation Road, trinity Avenue, Victoria Island

Cost: N5K

Exhibition at Rele Gallery

Now till Saturday, March 25, 2 p.m.

Musa Ganiyy, Daniel Obasi, Ayanfe Olarinde, Yemi Osokoya, Jimi Agboola, Adaeze Omari, Dennis Onofua, Ojo Ayotunde, and Laja are the diverse artists whose works will be shown for an extended period at the Rele Gallery, ending on Friday. Titled “Bodies! Bodies! Bodies!,” the group exhibition brings distinct perspectives on exploring the body through the lens of politics, sex, spirituality, love, and history.

Venue: 32D, Thompson Avenue, Ikoyi

Cost: free

Femme Festival 2023

Saturday, March 25, 2 p.m.

It’s still Women’s Month, and no better way to celebrate than taking yourself to this year’s Femme Festival. It promises to be as exciting as past editions. Shop at the experiential vendor village from female-owned brands, party to a rotating set of female DJs, get entrepreneurial skills at the workshops, and discover a lineup of musical talents that includes Melissa, Bloody Civilian, Candy Bleakz, SGaWD, Qing Madi, and Winny.

Venue: Harbour Point, Victoria Island

Cost: From 5K for students (disclaimer, student ID needed)

Sunday at Ilashe

Sunday, March 26, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Beach parties in Lagos haven’t been the same since Sunday at Ilashe. For their Love Island-themed edition happening on Sunday, the venue will switch from Ilashe beach to Barva Beach, with hopes to attract a new, fun-seeking crowd.

Venue: Amuwo Odofin, Ilashe

Cost: From N30K

Night of Shorts

Saturday, March 25, 6 p.m.

Put together by Take One Productions, treat yourself to the screening of the anthology project Love, Life & Family. From young, undiscovered filmmakers, it will feature several short films like Onajite, Ukulo Iyi, A Moment’s Peace, Kill the Imposter, and Naked Woman. A red carpet starting by 5 p.m. gives the event an interesting flair.

Venue: Ozone Cinemas, Yaba

Cost: From N4K

Francophonie celebration at the Alliance Française de Lagos

Saturday, March 25 at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 26 at 2 p.m.

In partnership with the Bulgarian, Swiss, and Belgian embassies, Alliance Française Lagos will be celebrating the diversity of francophone cultures with a two-day screening of films from Belgium: Infinite Garden (2017, Romance), Last Dance (2022, drama/comedy), and L’employée de Mois (2021, thriller/crime).

Venue: 9, Osborne Road, Ikoyi

Cost: free

Fresh pastries at Maison Kayser

Have a taste of Paris in Lagos by enjoying artisanal baked goods at Maison Kayser. From exotic creations to French classics, the bakery which doubles as a bistro offers freshness and quality, even with its gourmet foods. It’s also big enough to accommodate the kids in the play area.

Venue: 9, Osborne Road, Ikoyi

Cost: free

Dining at Amazonia Lagos

Break away from traditional restaurant experiences, and indulge in the rainforest-inspired environment of Amazonia Lagos. Have cocktails in goblin totem cups, with the sounds of water mimicking rainfall, the gentle rustle of leaves, harmonized chirping of birds, and the occasional roar to give you a dining experience close to nature.

Venue: 5, Adeola Hopewell Street, Victoria Island

Cost: free

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