News Brief

South Africans Will be Sitting in the Dark for Most of the Year

Rolling blackouts may lead to taps eventually running dry and job losses soaring.

Last month, South Africans thought the power crisis in the country could not get any worse after the national power utility, Eskom, implemented stage four load-shedding for the first time ever. However, as rampant corruption and negligence continue to plague Eskom, it has been announced that load-shedding will continue for the next six months and may even escalate to stage five and six load-shedding.


On the 8th of May, South Africans will be voting in the national elections and it seems likely that even this will be carried out in the dark. Although President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Eskom would be unbundled into three separate entities in a long-term effort to rescue it, it seems not much will change in the short-term.

READ: South African Youth on 2019 Elections: "The ANC can no longer self-correct"

South Africans are reluctantly becoming accustomed to the absence of electricity in their homes. This is nothing especially new, however. A considerable number of impoverished South Africans, 25 years into the country's democracy, is still without running water and electricity.

After the ruling African National Congress (ANC) failed dismally to reign in rogue and corrupt employees and senior management at Eskom, load-shedding has disrupted businesses, the supply of water and communication lines. With winter set to begin in a few months, South Africans are understandably under duress and of course, the poor will be hardest hit.

In a country where poverty, unemployment and inequality are incredibly high, the effect of rolling blackouts are dire. Businesses are losing income on a daily basis and struggling to attend to their expenses, loans being chief among them.

Speaking on the matter, CEO of the SA Chamber of Commerce, Alan Mukoki, said:

"If you default on your loan, it effectively means you no longer have sufficient revenue to pay for many of your other costs and the likelihood is that you are going to have to dismiss staff because if you don't do that you are going to lose your business."

READ: Corruption is Literally Leaving South Africa Without Any Lights

Interview
Photo: Shawn Theodore via Schure Media Group/Roc Nation

Interview: Buju Banton Is a Lyrical Purveyor of African Truth

A candid conversation with the Jamaican icon about his new album, Upside Down 2020, his influence on afrobeats, and the new generation of dancehall.

Devout fans of reggae music have been longing for new musical offerings from Mark Anthony Myrie, widely-known as the iconic reggae superstar Buju Banton. A shining son of Jamaican soil, with humble beginnings as one of 15 siblings in the close-knit community of Salt Lane, Kingston, the 46-year-old musician is now a legend in his own right.

Buju Banton has 12 albums under his belt, one Grammy Award win for Best Reggae Album, numerous classic hits and a 30-year domination of the industry. His larger-than-life persona, however, is more than just the string of accolades that follow in the shadows of his career. It is his dutiful, authentic style of Caribbean storytelling that has captured the minds and hearts of those who have joined him on this long career ride.

The current socio-economic climate of uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrusted onto the world, coupled with the intensified fight against racism throughout the diaspora, have taken centre stage within the last few months. Indubitably, this makes Buju—and by extension, his new album—a timely and familiar voice of reason in a revolution that has called for creative evolution.

With his highly-anticipated album, Upside Down 2020, the stage is set for Gargamel. The title of this latest discography feels nothing short of serendipitous, and with tracks such as "Memories" featuring John Legend and the follow-up dancehall single "Blessed," it's clear that this latest body of work is a rare gem that speaks truth to vision and celebrates our polylithic African heritage in its rich fullness and complexities.

Having had an exclusive listen to some other tracks on the album back in April, our candid one-on-one conversation with Buju Banton journeys through his inspiration, collaboration and direction for Upside Down 2020, African cultural linkages and the next generational wave of dancehall and reggae.

This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.

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