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Tanzania Chadema party chairman Freeman Mbowe (C) arrives at the party's headquarters after being released from Segerea prison in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on March 13, 2020.

Tanzanian Opposition Leader Freeman Mbowe Arrested Ahead of Protests

Following heavily contested elections which saw President John Magufuli victorious, Tanzanian opposition leader Freeman Mbowe has been arrested alongside other opposition figures. The protests, which were set to take place today, are calling for a vote rerun.

According to Aljazeera, Tanzanian opposition leader of the Chadema political party, Freeman Mbowe, has recently been arrested alongside other opposition figuresGodbless Lema, Isaya Mwita and Boniface Jacob. Mbowe's arrest comes ahead of peaceful demonstrations which were set to take place today in protest of last week's election results. Authorities have since labelled the planned demonstrations as "illegal". Last week's elections saw President John Magufulivictorious with 84 percent of the vote. The opposition have cried foul and called on Tanzanians to protest until a vote rerun is granted.

READ: Deep Dive: Protest Movements Across the Continent

BBC reports that Chadema has alleged that there was tampering with the ballot boxes. This past Sunday, Mbowe said that "We first call for fresh elections as soon as possible." He added that, "We call for continuous, peaceful, countrywide demonstrations until our demands are met."

However, according to independent lawyer, Fredrick Kiweloindependent lawyer, Fredrick Kiwelo, "The election law after the announcement of the results by the National Electoral Commission, doesn't give permission to someone who isn't satisfied by the results". Kiwelo went on to add that, "The law forces you to agree with what has been announced regardless if you're satisfied or not." Additionally, the East African observer team led by former Burundian President, Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, announced that the election was both free and fair.

President Magufuli begins his second term as Tanzania's head-of-state and has promised to continue with the ambitious projects he began in hist term in addition to boosting the country's economy. Magufuli has not provided any comment or response with regards to the opposition's allegations that there were irregularities with the elections.

Music

'Skhanda Republic 3' Is Testament to K.O’s Relentless Staying Power

After 16 years, the legendary South African MC’s pen and musicianship remain sharp-as-ever on his fourth album, SR3.

Never knew, 2022, ngizobe ngisathel’ induku,” veteran South African lyricist and musician K.O raps on “THE CALLING”, from his newly released fourth studio album SR3 (Skhanda Republic 3). While it’s a simple line for an MC with revered penmanship like him, the bar is packed and provides a sneak peek into the rapper’s current state of mind. With more than 16 years in the game, the artist born Ntokozo Mdluli has been through and seen it all.

Really made it back, when these niggas thought it was over. Heart of a soldier, nobody can hold us. Asisenabangani kule game cause a lot of them bogus,” he expresses in the first verse of the song.

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Featured
Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

Meet the Ghanaian Biker Community Led by Women

From riding motorcycles as a hobby to pushing charitable causes, Biker Girls Gh are always in motion.

In Ghana, there is a staunch stereotype that comes with riding a motorcycle. The notion persists that people who ride them are vagabonds, criminals, and social misfits. This mindset has slowly festered and is now deep-rooted in the typical Ghanaian society. Aside from the negatives, there is the fear for life when one mounts a motorcycle and, as such, many Ghanaian homes have been against motorbikes.

Enter Jessica Opare-Saforo, who is redefining what this means with Biker Girls Gh, a women-led biker collective she founded in 2018. In a fairly conservative society like Ghana, to see women riding around freely attracted quite the attention.

However, be it one of indignance or admiration, Opare-Saforo didn’t really care about the conjecture people had about the group. “For me, creating this group wasn’t about what people thought," Opare-Saforo tells OkayAfrica. "OK, if you thought women weren’t supposed to ride. That was your headache, not mine.”

How it all began

motorcycle

Most bikes are manufactured with men’s physique in mind. Women might find it difficult to find the right fit for them.

Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

Biker Girls Gh was created after Opare-Saforo's mother passed away in February 2018. Losing someone she was extremely close to devastated her and she found solace on the wheels of a motorcycle.

“I lost my mother and I figured, you know, I had this passion that I wanted to pursue for the longest time. And I felt you only live once. Why don't you just embark on something that you have always wanted to do?," Opare-Saforo said. "Because time is not given. And, tomorrow's not guaranteed.”

She reached out to Rosina Kwawukume Ashirifie, one of the very few women actively biking at the time. Ashirifie's husband offered biking lessons and Opare-Saforo learned from there. Over time, Opare-Saforo found that being on bike helped alleviate her pain.

“On the motorcycle, you cannot multitask," she said. “So whenever I was on a motorcycle, I didn’t think about her and the pain too much. That helped me cope better. You just learn to live with the pain and hope they are in a better place.”

Biker Girls Gh riding in streets

“Before you officially join the group, we take you out on a fun ride to assess how you ride and also gel with the girls," Opare-Saforo said. "This is done like three times."

Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

She decided then to form a community of women who simply loved riding like herself. Interestingly, she didn’t have to convince women to join. Representation really does matter. Women got the nudge they needed when they saw her — unapologetically being herself — on the motorcycle.

“You would see people on television or maybe on the internet who would ride and you'd think, 'Oh, that's such an interesting sport or an interesting hobby to have.' But you would think it was out of reach," Opare-Saforo said. "'Till you realize your next-door neighbor is a female rider and then you‘re like, 'Oh, wait, it's not so far out of reach.' And then you say to yourself, 'OK, this is something I can do, too.’”

Most bikes are manufactured with men’s physique in mind. Women might find it difficult to find the right fit for them. (Even though Opare-Saforo suggests the Kawasaki as ideal for women between 5’5 to 5’8.) And motorcycling is a relatively high-risk hobby; safety is non-negotiable. Biker Girls Gh is stern on safety precautions, which sounds intimidating to the average rider or new rider. But it is a policy they are unwilling to compromise on. Should a member ride without their full gear on three times in a row, the group exercises measures like suspension.

The group doesn’t offer bike lessons and new members must have their own motorcycles as a prerequisite. They must also be experienced riders or ideally be above beginner level. A motorcycling license is also a prerequisite.

“Before you officially join the group, we take you out on a fun ride to assess how you ride and also gel with the girls," Opare-Saforo said. "This is done like three times."

Charitable Ladies on the Bike

A group of women in bike group

Biker Girls Gh features bankers, content creators, electrical engineers, managing directors, and CEOs.

Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

A noticeable feature of the group is how most of the women come from different professional backgrounds. There are bankers, content creators, electrical engineers, managing directors, and CEOs. Targeting this peculiar bevy of ladies was deliberate for Opare-Saforo. She didn’t want to be like other groups, so standing out was imperative to the group.

“Being able to pull women from various spheres of life helps us and gives us the necessary leverage we need to move further,” she said.

The core objective of the group has always been about riding. But they have also embraced philanthropy. In 2019, they rode all the way from Accra to Prampram where they donated immensely to the Kinder Paradise Orphanage. In 2021, they paid the medical bills of women stuck in the hospital for owing medical fees and donated to prison inmates at Akuse who couldn’t afford healthy meals. They also collaborated with the “Kenkey for the Needy” project in 2022 to provide food for street kids in Accra.

Inspirational sisters spurring each other up

black women with mask

The core objective of Biker Girls Gh has always been about riding. But they have also embraced philanthropy.

Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

The camaraderie and sisterhood in the group is profound, which encapsulate a solid support system that inspire members to be the best versions of themselves.

“Ninety-five percent of the group are in leadership or mid-level roles in their respective careers,” Opare-Saforo said. “We have a WhatsApp group where we discuss socio-economic issues, sometimes issues concerning women just to stimulate the sisterhood. Once a month, we meet to have breakfast or lunch to catch up. We do acknowledge that times are hard in Ghana and everyone is struggling. Sometimes you don’t just want to text anything in a WhatsApp group but if you meet your sister you can tell her about it.”

Beyond that, personal friendships are also forming within the group which just firmly grounds the group the more. Biker Girls Gh are currently 17 women and Opare-Saforo iterates the fact that she doesn’t care about the number necessarily — all she strives for is quality in the group.

Photo by: Yuri Kriventsoff

Moroccan Government Issues First Permits For Legal Cannabis Production

This marks the first time the Arab country is issuing these permits.

The Moroccan government recently gave 10 farmers permission to grow cannabis legally. This marks the first time the country will issue permits following the legalization of cannabis production last year.

According to the Institute of Security Studies, Morocco is part of a growing group of African countries who would like to position itself as a booming international legal market for cannabis. This new legal development will allow farmers in the northern mountain regions of Taounat, Al Houceima, and Chefchaouen to grow cannabis that will meet the legal market's demand. Before now, cannabis had been widely cultivated in Morocco illegally; however, the law passed by the Moroccan parliament last year does not permit the use of cannabis for recreation. The national agency, which regulates cannabis activity in Morocco, issued the permits and said that farmers would be encouraged to increase legal cannabis production to meet the demands of the market.

According to the Morocco World News, the Moroccan government is optimistic that this new development will help to improve the lifestyles of farmers, and increase their livelihoods amid a growing legal global market for the element. The global cannabis demand is growing and is projected to reach over US$ 100 billion in the next five years. If more African countries legalize legal cannabis, the industry could be worth more than $7 billion by 2023.

Because of Morocco's close proximity to Europe, it could potentially become a leading legitimate cannabis exporter. In 2020, Moroccan farmers collectively experienced a drastic income dip that fell from approximately $497 million a year in the early 2000s to less than $321 million dollars in 2020, according to an interior ministry study last year.

Before the legalization was implemented, Moroccan farmers indicated that they wanted the implementation to be sped up. In an earlier statement, Mohamed Abbout, head of the Rif Mountains Association said that the legalization would be a step in the right direction for the country

"Farmers are desperate when it comes to the drug trade,’ said Abbout. ‘That's why they're waiting for the legalization, so we can create a medicinal market."

Arts + Culture
Photo: Anh Trần

South African Artist Simnikiwe Buhlungu on Creating the Sound of Dreams

The internationally-acclaimed multidisciplinary artist is the youngest participant at this year's Venice Biennale, where she is showing her latest work. But, as she tells OkayAfrica, she wants her art to be viewed beyond the parameters of age.

South Africa's Simnikiwe Buhlungu is the youngest artist at this year's International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. But Buhlungu, who hails from Johannesburg, would almost rather speak about anything else — from her daily uniform (all black) to her favorite music (Gospel) and what future passions she wants to pursue (beekeeping).

The 59th International Art Exhibition features Buhlungu's project: And the Other Thing I Was Saying Was: A Conver-something, an interactive sound installation which plays recorded sounds from various sources and explores the relationship between theremins, electronic musical synthesizers, and our bodies.

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