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The Black Women Who Made Big Strides in France in 2018

Yes, this was a bad year for many reasons, but we can still celebrate the black women who rose to prominence

Back in 2015, a group of Black women activists appeared in the French media: les afrofems. They were and still are, fighting against police brutality, for better inclusion in the media and to destroy harmful sexual stereotypes surrounding black women among other worthy goals. Since then, more influential Black women have gained a bigger representation in the media. And, even better, some of the afrofems activists, like Laura Nsafou and Amandine Gay, have made films and written books to bring more diversity to the entertainment industry.


2018 has, in many ways, been a year where black women made strides in France, at least in terms of culture. From winning Nobel prizes, to having best selling books and being on top of the charts, Black French women have showed that, no matter how much France wants to keep them under the radar, they're making moves. And, no matter the tragedies and terrible events that have shaped the year, it is something worth celebrating.

France's New Queen of Pop Music

We begin with Aya Nakamura, France's new queen of pop music. Her song Djadja was a summer hit. Everyone from Rihanna, to the French football team who successfully won their second world cup, sang it. Her sophomore album "Nakamura" has been certified gold in France and is still on top of the charts. She is the first French singer to have a number one album in the Netherlands since Edith Piaf in 1961. The last time a black woman was as visible in pop music was in 2004, with Lynsha's single "Hommes...Femmes".

Nakamura has received a huge backlash, mostly due to misogynoir—misogyny directed towards black women where race and gender both play roles. From a French presenter butchering her African first name despite the fact that he can easily pronounce words like "Aliagas", to online trolls calling her ugly and manly when a picture of her wearing no makeup surfaced, to people complaining that she is bringing down the quality of the entire French pop music industry, Nakamura responds to her critics gracefully. Her music is not groundbreaking but her album is full of catchy songs with lyrics using French slang she masters so well that she came up with her own words like "en catchana" (aka doggy style sex). And most importantly, many black girls and women can finally see someone like them in the media getting the success she deserves.

The Nobel Prize Winner

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Another Black French woman has broken records this year: the Guadeloupean writer Maryse Condé who won the Alternative Nobel Prize, a prize meant to replace the Nobel Prize in Literature, after the scandal that the Swedish Academy of Literature faced last year. Condé wrote her first novel at only 11 years old and has been prolific ever since. A former professor of French literature at Columbia University, she has published more than 20 books since the 1970s, exploring the complex relationships within the African diaspora. "Segu", her most famous novel, is about the impact of the slave trade and Abrahamic religion on the Bambara empire in Mali in the 19th century. Condé's work is radical and she remains committed to writing feminist texts exploring the link between gender, race and class, as well as exploring the impact of colonialism. Condé is a pillar of Caribbean literature and it's taken long enough for her work has been acknowledged by the Nobel prize committee.

The Children's Books Writers

From Comme un Million de Papillon Noir

And finally, 2018 has been the year where France's children's literature industry has finally understood how important, for the public, writers and publishers, being inclusive and diverse was. From Laura Nsafou's Comme un Million de Papillon Noir, a best selling book about a young black girl learning to love her natural hair which sold more than 6000 copies, to Neiba Je-sais-tout: Un Portable dans le Cartable, the second book of Madina Guissé published this year after a successful crowdfunding campaign, there are more and more children's and young adult books with non white protagonists. In France, there are still no stats about how diversity is doing, but in America, in 2017, only 7 percent of writers of children's literature were either Black, Latino or Native American.

There's still much to accomplish in France for the Black community to have better representation in the media, politics and all walks of life, but important strides have been accomplished this year, and it make me hopeful for what 2019 and the following years have in store.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Global Citizen x OkayAfrica: The Impact of Conflict on Children

An estimated 1.4 million children have been hit by schools closing in the Tigray region of Ethiopia amid conflict and crisis. Here's how that's impacting Ethiopia's children.

In times of conflict and war, school-aged children could have their futures defined by whether or not they can access education amid ongoing violence.

Ethiopia's northern region of Tigray is in the midst of a war that has impacted millions of lives and affected neighboring regions, Amhara and Afar. The war — which has forced citizens to flee, has tipped the region into famine, and has barricaded humanitarian aid from reaching the most vulnerable — has now been going on for about 11 months.

As the beginning of the school season draws nearer, safely reopening schools, making education accessible, and protecting children from the impacts of violence in the affected regions is a priority for aid agencies.

"As schools prepare to reopen in early October in most parts of the country, in Tigray and the bordering regions of Afar and Amhara, where the conflict has expanded, education remains at a standstill," Director of Education Cannot Wait, Yasmine Sherif, told Global Citizen.

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How Beauty Boy, Enioluwa Adeoluwa, Is Shattering the Expectations of Masculinity In Nigeria

Affectionately known as Lipgloss Boy, Enioluwa has become one of the most popular influencers in Nigeria — and he's done so without conforming to the notions of masculinity or imposed limitations on what a man should be able to do.

In November 2020, Enioluwa Adeoluwa uploaded a video of himself talking direct-to-camera about indecisive admirers who kept wasting his time on pleasantries instead of properly shooting their shots. The twenty-five-second video featured Enioluwa, with a durag tied around his head, switching between English and Yoruba, dramatically punctuating his woes all while applying lip gloss.

The video instantly went viral.

When Enioluwa uploaded the video, he had no idea he was about to become an internet sensation. Enioluwa, a then 21-year old Marketing Masters student living in Lagos and working as a content creator for a fintech company, was surprised at how many people related to the video. Adeoluwa began posting short self-filmed videos of himself often while applying lip gloss. Sometimes reacting to someone else's video, other times giving hilariously lousy advice to his followers, or just poking fun at dating tropes and talking about life, relationships, and skincare. These videos quickly gained traction and were going viral almost daily. Enioluwa became an internet friend to many, offering advice and skincare tips with a big smile.

Today, Adeoluwa, who turned 22 this past July, has almost 300 thousand followers on Instagram, more than 320 thousand followers on TikTok, a late-night show, and has worked with multiple leading global beauty and lifestyle companies. Even with all this success, Enioluwa hasn't lost what made him unique: a relatable and casual air that is rare among influencers. Enioluwa still prefers to bring out his phone and lip gloss to make a quick video where he complains or rants about things or people. It is his commitment to remain funny, relatable, and even chaotic that endears him to his followers. To them, despite his success, Enioluwa has remained the crop top wearing boy-next-door who puts on lip gloss while reminding them they are the prize and they should cut off anyone who doesn't treat them as such.

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News Brief
Photo: Getty

Here's What You Need To Know About The Political Unrest In Sudan

Thousands have been protesting the Sudanese government over the weekend, supporting the military's plans for a coup.

Sudan's transitional government is in turmoil as thousands of citizens conducted a sit-in protest against them, over the weekend. A group of Sudanese citizens have called on the military to disestablish the nation's current government, as the country struggles with the greatest crisis they've seen since the end of former dictator Omar al-Bashir's controversial ruling, two years ago. The weekend's pro-military protests come as anti-military protestors took to the streets earlier this month to fight for civilian-ruled laws.

Military-aligned demonstrators assembled outside of the famously off-limits entrance of the Presidential Palace located in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum on Monday. Gatherers set up tents, blocking off access to two main intersections, cutting off access to the capital for those inside. Police attempted to wave off crowds with teargas, with Khartoum state officials saying they had, "repelled an attempted assault on the seat of government," in a statement issued Monday.

The assembly was called for by a coalition of rebel groups and political parties that support Sudan's military, accusing the civilian political parties of mismanagement and monopolizing power under their ruling. Demonstrations began on Saturday, but Sunday's gathering saw a lower attendance. According to Reuters, by Monday afternoon, thousands, between 2,000 - 3,000, had returned to voice their concerns. 52-year-old tribal elder Tahar Fadl al-Mawla spoke at the helm of the sit-in outside of the Presidential palace saying, "The civilian government has failed. We want a government of soldiers to protect the transition." Alongside a 65-year-old Ahman Jumaa who claimed to have traveled more than 900 kilometers (570 miles) from Southern region Nyala to show his support.

Protesters are demanding the appointment of a new cabinet that is "more representative of the people who participated in the December 2019 revolution that eventually led to the ousting of former president Omar al-Bashir", Al Jazeera reported from Sudan. Protesters headed towards the Presidential Palace, where an emergency cabinet meeting was being held when they were met by police forces.

Pro-civilian political parties have plans for their own demonstration on Thursday, the anniversary of the 1964 revolution that overthrew Sudan's first military regime under Ibrahim Abboud and brought in a period of democracy that the country still struggles to uphold.


Sudanese Twitter users shared their thoughts online, with many drawing similarities between the current unrest and other political crises the nation has faced.


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