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Sudanese-Australian PEN World Voices Participant, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Denied Entry Into the US

The author and activist says that US immigration sent her back within just a few minutes of looking at her case despite traveling on an Australian passport.

Sudanese-Australian mechanical engineer, broadcaster, author and Muslim activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied, was turned down by US immigration in Minneapolis on Wednesday after arriving in the country to attend the PEN World Voices Festival.

Abdel-Magied was due to speak at the festival in New York next week for an event called "No Country For Young Muslim Women," but was denied entry upon her arrival in the States, The Guardian reports. Authorities claimed that Abdel-Magied lacked the correct visa for entry, though the author noted in a statement released on Tuesday, that she had travelled to the US using the same visa before.

"I have previously travelled to the United States on the visa that I sought entry with on this occasion," read Abdel-Magied's statement. "I am not seeking advice and working to resolve the issue as soon as possible. I appreciate the interest and concern and look forward to future travels in the United States."


As she was being sent back, Abdel-Magied live tweeted what was happening. "Within a few min of looking at my case the border security person - Officer Herberg looking at my case she announces: 'we're sending you back!" she wrote in one tweet. Also sharing that her phone and passport had been taken away during the ordeal. "Oh, and they still have my passport. Apparently I can't be trusted with it until I'm in a foreign country because, as Officer Blees said, 'planes get turned away back way too often and then..."

PEN America's CEO Suzanne Nossel released a statement yesterday in response to the incident, describing PEN's mission and pointing out the very purpose of Abdel-Magied's appearance was to advocate for Muslim women and girls. She called on Customs and Border Patrol to allow her entry into the country in order to attend the event.

We are dismayed that an invited guest to our annual PEN World Voices Festival in New York, which starts on Monday, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, herself the founder of an organization called Youth Without Borders, was turned away by US Immigration officials in Minneapolis, reportedly had her phone and passport seized, and was put back on a plane to Amsterdam. Abdel-Magied is an advocate of the rights of Muslim women and refugees and is a citizen of Australia, travelling on that country's passport. The very purpose of the PEN World Voices Festival, founded after 9/11 to sustain the connectedness between the U.S. and the wider world, is in jeopardy at a time when efforts at visa bans and tightened immigration restrictions threaten to choke off vital channels of dialogue that are protected under the First Amendment right to receive and impart information through in-person cultural exchange. We understand that Yassmin was traveling on a type of visa that she had used in the past for similar trips without issue. We call on Customs and Border Patrol to admit her to the U.S. so that she can take her rightful place in the urgent international conversation to take place at the Festival next week.
Photo by Dereck Green/Gallo Images/Getty Images

AKA Announces Social Media Break After Fiancé Nelli Tembe's Passing

South African rapper AKA has shared that he will be going on a social media hiatus as he mourns the tragic death of his fiancé Nelli Tembe.

South African super rapper AKA has reached out to the public for the first time since the tragic death of his fiancé Nelli Tembe two weeks ago. Supamega released a public statement stating that he had relinquished his social media accounts to his management team to allow himself time to mourn. The statement comes a week after Anele Tembe, affectionately known as Nelli, was laid to rest.

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Interview: Terri Is Stepping Out of the Shadows

We talk to the Wizkid-signed artist about the story behind the massive hit "Soco" and his latest Afro Series EP.

Certain afrobeats songs have made in-roads in international markets and paved the way for the genre's ceaselessly-rising widespread recognition. Among these history-defining songs were D'banj's "Oliver Twist," Tekno's "Pana," Davido's "If" & "Fall," Runtown's "Mad Over You," and of course, Wizkid's "Soco." Wizkid released "Soco" under his label imprint, Starboy Entertainment in March 2018, and the song spread like wildfire across Africa and beyond. "Soco" was an Afro-pop wonder delivered at a time when the 'afrobeats to the world' movement was gathering steam, further cementing its electric nature. The Northboi-produced song was co-signed by celebrities across the world like Rihanna, Cardi B, and Paul Pogba and has accrued well over a hundred million streams across streaming platforms worldwide.

"Soco" was not only a trailblazer amongst mid-2010s afrobeats records, it was also the introduction of the first Wizkid-signed artist, Terri. Just weeks before "Soco" was released, Terri was discovered by Wizkid's longtime producer, Mutay, who saw him covering the song "Oshe" on social media.

Before "Soco," Terri Akewe was well on his way to fame. At fifteen, he had performed at street carnivals in his neighbourhood and, one time, was carried all the way home by neighbours after winning a Coca-Cola sponsored singing competition. Before his life-changing meeting with Wizkid, Terri had a seven-track EP ready for release, as well as a viral song titled "Voices." "One time I was on set with the video director T.G Omori, he told me that 'Voices' was the first time he heard of me" Terri tells me as we settle on a plush couch at his home in Lagos.

Regardless of Terri's initial career trajectory; signing to a label headed by afrobeats' biggest superstar was bound to accelerate his musical journey, and at the same time, cast a huge shadow of expectation on his career, especially given a debut as spectacular as "Soco." With his latest EP, Afro Series, powered by the sensational single "Ojoro," one thing is clear: Terri is stepping out of the shadows into his own spotlight and he is doing it on his own terms.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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Interview
Photo: Black Butter/Sony UK.

Interview: JAE5 Is Crafting London's Distinct Diasporic Sound

We talk to the buzzing producer about his Grammy win alongside Burna Boy, his work with J Hus and the ever-looming influence of Ghana.

When tales about the origins of hip-hop come into the cypher, the hyperfocus is almost always about the culture being born out of a unique and profound struggle that centers Black and Indigenous youth in the Bronx. First and second generational youth with roots in both the English and Spanish-speaking Caribbean, who in spite of their deteriorating environment — at the time some of the most impoverished streets in North America — learned to harness the power of creative ingenuity as a form of survival.

We can, arguably, deduce then that the original purveyors of this music that was made from scratch — quite literally — weren't actually intending on making music that could speak for or represent a people and their stories. No. I'd wager the first DJs worrying the vinyls on Uptown blocks, and the first MCs spitting outside corner bodegas were simply living, relishing in the little joy they could manifest for themselves. Two-stepping and waving braggadocio hands in the few darkened spaces that welcomed them.

For JAE5 (born Jonathan Mensah) one of today's most prolific producers on the other side of the Atlantic, creating a fresh UK sound that in many ways is an expression of contemporary African British youth, it was not intentional. It was simply inevitable.

"I lived in Ghana for three years. J Hus grew up around a lot of Ghanaians. All of our friends are African and our parents are African," he shares. "So even when we were trying to make music from the UK, it would always have an African influence because that's what we grew up listening to and that's who we are. So I don't think anything was intentional. It's what it is."

With origins in Ghana and a coming-of-age set in London, JAE5 first became known as the genre-splicing beat machine behind J Hus' intoxicating songs, including the summer smash of 2017 "Did You See" off his Common Sense album. Having executive produced J Hus' entire debut album, JAE5 made a name for himself as the East Londoner developing a distinct diasporic sound combining elements of hip-hop, afrobeats and afro-fusion.

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Joeboy Recruits Kwesi Arthur on Remix of 'Door' & Music Video

Joeboy enlists Kwesi Arthur on the new remix to his single 'Door' and shares the accompanying visuals.