Photo via TONL

Your Ideology Is A Shithole

Trump is the figurehead for an international system that depends on an 'enfeebled' Africa in order to rob the continent it of its riches. Here's how it works.

Donald Trump thinks Africa is a country, and a "shithole" at that.

At a meeting in the White House last week on immigration Trump asked lawmakers "Why are we having all these people from 'shithole' countries come here?"—referring to Haiti and "Africa"— before suggesting the US take more immigrants from countries like Norway. In previous meetings Trump has said that Haitians "all have AIDS" and that Nigerian immigrants would never "go back to their huts" if allowed into the US

The latest outburst is the most naked indication of his white supremacist ideology so far—a view of the world that combines open racism with austerity. With Trump, moral decency takes a back seat while access to water, food, housing, healthcare and security are thrown out the window. What matters to him and his kind is that the rich get richer and consequently the poor get poorer.

With the new tax bill, Americans are seeing at home the exploitation they and other rich nations have been exporting across the world for centuries.

The Makings of a Crisis

On the African continent, this philosophy of exploitation has led to a sweeping migration crisis with citizens of various countries leaving their homes in search of basic economic security. Many of these migrants aspire to work in what they see as the functioning economies of the global north—though contrary to popular belief the vast majority migrate within Africa. This has led to an estimated 400,000 to 1 million migrants languishing in North African ports seeking European passage—a situation that is one of the root causes of the Libyan slave trade.

Africa is arguably the richest continent on earth home to everything from oil and gas to precious stones, valuable minerals and unparalleled naturescapes. In fact, the continent has three of the five fastest growing economies in the world. A study released in May 2017 by several campaign groups calculated that "the countries of Africa are collectively net CREDITORS to the rest of the world, to the tune of $41.3 billion in 2015."

They calculated that in 2015, African countries received $161.6 billion in foreign loans, personal remittances and aid in the form of grants "yet $203 billion was taken from Africa, either directly – mainly through corporations repatriating profits and by illegally moving money out of the continent – or by costs imposed by the rest of the world through climate change." How this translates is that vastly rich nations are sold off to foreign interests and multinationals vis-a-vis the facade of government to government aid.

A Web of Shit

In August this last year UK Conservative Party's own Trump-like figure, Boris Johnson made a trip to Nigeria replete with photos pointing at maps and cradling little black babies. This trip was to the northeastern region ravaged by the islamist terrorists Boko Haram. Nigeria is one of the largest aid recipients of the UK. Myriad crises abound; though some 2 million Nigerians have been displaced by islamist sect Boko Haram in the northeast since 2009. A significant number of whom ended up in Libya's slave camps. Northeastern Nigeria is also in the grips of famine with millions of lives at risk.

This is how the game works across Africa: man made crisis ensures (legit or bullshit, it doesn't matter), aid flows in, free money for bureaucrats, nominal fixes of humanitarian crisis and human or natural resources extracted (people, minerals or otherwise). Repeat.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, claims a whopping $15 billion was stolen from the military's public purse by the previous administration via fraudulent arms deals. The underfunded military weakens security in the northeast battling Boko Haram only driving migrants to Libya or other dangers. Then in October last year, President Muhammadu Buhari fired two very high ranking politicians for stealing a combined $50 million that would have helped the war ravaged north east rebuild and deter insurgents.

These places that Trump calls "shitholes" are exploited—wealthy nations deliberately trapped in a loop of underdevelopment. Indeed, British oil interests get free reign in Nigeria. The oil rich nation recently recovered $85 million from an oil licence deal, "mistakenly" deposited in Britain. In November 2017 Amnesty International acquired internal documents pointing to complicity by UK's Royal Dutch Shell in crimes committed by the Nigerian military during the 1990s to suppress peaceful protests that killed 80 people, plus torture and rape with almost 600 homes burned. The people were protesting years of oil spills poisoning the land and water. When public officials pocket aid money and it's quid pro quo for foreign investors—fuck the people.

Another example from the other side of the continent is Kenya. For years, Kenya has had a cozy relationship with American military operations in the region. In 2011, they launched a proxy war in Somalia under the guise of suppressing islamist group Al Shabaab. They now boast the 11th most powerful military in Africa. Between 2012 and 2022 the US, EU and The UK will provide easily $4 billion plus in aid to Kenya. And like clockwork, in December 2017, after two years of work on over 125 judiciary cases regarding missing public funds called "the list of shame", they were thrown out leaving "tens of billions of public funds lost or unaccounted for."

And sure as shit with all this money coming in for a "war" in a notoriously fickle region, resources start getting extracted. In 2012 a Canadian oil company started drilling untapped reserves in Somalia and prospects of offshore drilling remain promising for the United States--not to mention access to oil and goods from the Persian Gulf. Kenya also discovered untapped oil in the north in 2012, as well as, Britain's Tullow Oil this year. Poor indigenous locals on these lands are skeptical of the benefits of drilling. In this climate 40% of Kenyans live in poverty, endure unprecedented terrorist attacks since the Somali invasion began, and increased migration to Gulf countries where they can face horrific abuse. The human toll on Somalis is no better, as famine is underway. Money flows in, bureaucrats line their pockets, resources are extracted and the money leaves once again, into foreign bank accounts or toward the profits of French champagne growers. Meanwhile African debt goes up and the people lose-out once again.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is perhaps one of the most notorious examples of the art of shoveling shit. Even hit show Mr. Robot gets it when they featured DRC in a global conspiracy between the US and China to control vast resources. Today, the beleaguered diamond rich Kasai region is in the throws of a conflict between rival militias, one backed by the Congolese government. Christian charities and the U.N. estimate over 3,000 killed, boys and girls captured as soldiers, pervasive sexual assault, some 1.3 million people locally displaced and others fled to Angola while famine is imminent—like in northeast Nigeria and Somalia. Most uprooted Congolese remain as IDPs or seek shelter in Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi but the minority go West.

Like Nigeria and Kenya, billions of dollars of aid money from USAID and EU flows to DRC. The U.N. has a whopping 19,000 regularly stationed officers throughout the country to manage neverending conflicts. DRC is the singularly richest place on earth worth a reported $24 trillion dollars in natural wealth. That's Trillion with a "T". It can mean life or death over diamonds in Kasai or the illegally mined, conflict minerals coltan and tantalum that power ALL the world's electronic devices. Citizens with an average salary of $400 a year and 4.1 million internally displaced live in a country where GDP has tripled over the last decade. The DRC is an emblem of Western greed and brutality, African corruption and cruelty, heart shattering misery and jaw dropping wealth.

So while the American president might denigrate those immigrants from the "shitholes" of the world, he misses the point that foreign nations and corrupt African leadership directly benefit from an enfeebled Africa—a continent of otherwise enormous wealth and dignity. In 2018 it's high time for the neocolonial powers that be to stop subsidizing terrible leadership in Africa through foreign aid while pretending their naked racism goes unnoticed. And it's time for rank and file Africans to take conscious and conscientious control of our destiny. We've got the natural wealth to make it happen and everybody knows it but us.


This Is What Rotimi's 'Walk With Me' EP Listening Party Looked Like

The Nigerian singer held an intimate listening party on the eve of the release of his new EP, 'Walk With Me,' at Brooklyn's Okay Space.

Walk With Me, Rotimi's new and highly anticipated EP, dropped Friday—giving us a seven-track peek into who the singer and actor truly is sonically.

The night before, the Nigerian-American crooner gathered over 100 tastemakers and day-one supporters to Brooklyn's Okay Space—the shared gallery space between Okayplayer and OkayAfrica—for an intimate listening party celebrating the release, as well as his music video for "Love Riddim" which also dropped this week.

The night was simply a vibe—folks enjoyed libations and bites from The Suya Guy, with sounds by DJ Tunez. Rotimi opened the gathering up with a thoughtful prayer, with the music video reveal to follow. The singer then walked the audience through each track from Walk With Me, opening up about the creative process of how each track came to life.

Following, Rotimi engaged in an even more in-depth Q+A session with OkayAfrica's arts and culture editor, Antoinette Isama, where he touched on his experience touring with Wizkid back in 2011, his thoughts on the continued rise in popularity afrobeats is having in mainstream music, his hopes for the future and more. Tunez then ran the EP back when the party ensued, as the project is full of tracks that are worthy of being on repeat.

Listen to Walk With Me below, and be sure to take a look at photos from the listening party by Nerdscarf Photography.

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CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 16: Director Ladj Ly and Almamy Kanoute attend the photocall for "Les Miserables" during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival on May 16, 2019 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

How To Survive Cannes Film Festival As a Black Filmmaker

A film festival is intense by nature, but Cannes is a whirlwind.

Cannes Film Festival is one of the world's most prestigious gatherings bringing celebrities, filmmakers and actors claiming to celebrate the world's best film. Although the festival is way behind Sundance or the London Film Festival regarding diversity efforts, it remains the place to be if you're a filmmaker—especially a Black one.

I, myself, am a Black French filmmaker who was invited to Cannes as part of their scheme for young film lovers—3 Days in Cannes—open to anyone between the ages of 18 and 28. The scheme, which launched in 2018, requires young hopefuls to write a cover letter showing their passion for film. It ultimately gives young people the opportunity to discover the international selection of films showed at Cannes.

READ: Black Women Are the Future of French Cinema—When Will Cannes Catch Up?

Being in Cannes for the first time was a wonderful experience, but it can be tough to navigate as a Black filmmaker if you're not prepared for it. So, here are top tips.

1) Don't be a person of color—especially if you're Black (Just kidding. But still.)

Cannes is a beautiful, posh city in the south of France. It is part of the Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur, an administrative region where the far right party Rassemblement National (formally known as the National Front) hits record-breaking highs. Despite the fact that the festival is incredibly international, at times it can feel pretty racist, like a sunny, idyllic version of 1960s Alabama, where a party of more than one Black person gets routinely rejected from some clubs/bars/restaurants. On top of that, the staff and some of the security working at the festival can be incredibly aggressive and rude to you and in French. If you don't understand it, it's even more confusing.

To avoid it, try to stick to the official Cannes parties, or hang out in international hotels like the Miramar or the Radisson Blu Hotel—which are used to an international crowd. You can also stick to parties at the various country pavilions near the Film Market.

2) Stick to the African Pavilion

At the festival, most countries have their own pavilion. But because the festival believes Africa is a country, all 54 countries are gathered in one pavilion. This pavilion also includes the Caribbean, since Jamaica, as life would have it, is also an African country. In the African Pavilion, there was even talk on how to submit films if you're a filmmaker of Indian descent (despite the fact that India had its own pavilion).

You're not African? That's okay, no one cares. Pan-Africanism is still alive, I guess? Thankfully, out of the many pavilions, I did find the African Pavilion was the best one the most welcoming and whose schedule was the most open and clear. Because Cannes is such an exclusive festival, most of the parties and talks won't be communicated outside of those who are supposed to attend.

The African Pavilion, however, requires you to sign up to their newsletter. You then access their app where you can see the schedule, the talks to attend and the party they planned. The only downside is that they were understaffed, so some talks and events were cancelled last minute and with limited communication.

If you're a Black French filmmaker, speaking English is a must to get the most out of the pavilion. If you're an English-speaking filmmaker, try to make friends or meet people who speak French, as some of the talks/discussions might not have professional interpreters.

Also, go to the events organized by diversity in Cannes. Now, if you're a Black filmmaker who would rather not stay in the community for fear of being pigeonholed? Unless you're part of a talent scheme run by the festival...good luck getting others to support you.

3) Be ready to WAIT to see films and to party

On average, I waited 1 hour 40 minutes for each film I wanted to see in the official selection program. And I purposely chose not to see the famous ones like the Pedro Almodóvar or Quintin Tarantino's films. I also waited almost two hours to see a film from the Un certain regard selection and didn't get in—despite my pass. Now, Un certain regard has the most highly sought after films, even more so than the Competition, because they tend to select the best among indie international films. To get in for sure, you need a "Un certain regard" pass, so they need to invite you themselves. Even if you have a ticket at the counter, you might not get in unless you wait two hours (standing) or choose to attend the early screening or the late ones (and still, you should be ready to wait 1 hour for these).

You need a pass AND a ticket to see the films from the official selection and walk the red carpet up to the Grand Théatre Debussy. For the ACID, Director's fortnight, Semaine de la critique, and the Official selection's films not shown on the red carpet, you just need a pass—and to be ready to queue for at least 45 minutes.

I wouldn't recommend getting the Cannes cinephile pass as it has a low priority. I saw people waiting 2 hours to see a film and not getting in, while people with professional Black passes arriving 10 minutes before the screening walking past them. Because the Cannes festival is for professionals, they have, unfortunately, priority over members of the public.

Now, with the parties at Cannes, word on the street is that they are not as legendary as they used to be. Even if you get invited to one, you still need to wait an hour. It's not because they are over capacity, but rather they feel the need to pretend that they are. Unless you're a VVIP. And if you're one, why are you reading my article?

Anyway, despite not being as glamorous as they used to be, they remain so exclusive that if your name is not on the list, you might need to sell your first born to attend.

Thankfully, you can avoid it by being smart. When I arrived in Cannes, I was dead set on going to parties to network. Since almost all of them are invite only, I went to the parties at the pavilions, like the UK one, the American one (which costs 20 euros because Americans are always about their money) and the African Pavilion—that were kind enough to facilitate networking by introducing me to fellow filmmakers. God knows how talking to strangers and building new relationships can be difficult, and they made it easier.

4) Make friends with distributors or people working for the Mayor's office

The whole point of the festival is to sell films. Tickets are sparse for most people, so some badge holders wear their Sunday Best and stand outside the grand theater, holding signs asking for tickets. It makes sense that distributors are incredibly powerful, since they have the power to buy and sell films internationally. They are given way too many tickets that should be given to people waiting for hours outside.

So, if you make friends with distributors, they will always have a handful of spare tickets, even for the big ones that everyone wants to see. They also have tickets for the big parties as well. Press badge holders also have priority since they are responsible for a film good or bad media coverage. So they have a handful of tickets too.

People working for the Mayor's office also have tickets because they work closely together since the festival brings so much revenue to the city. Make friends with them, as well as film students and you'll get tickets. Don't know where to find them? Social media is your friend.

There is also another way to get tickets to films: the staff. For example, I couldn't get tickets to see Mati Diop's Atlantiques. I walked to the ticket counter and saw a Black woman with a great hairstyle. My instinct KNEW I had to tag along. I asked her if she needed help. She was looking for the same tickets. We asked someone at the ticket office if they could help. They said they had nothing. But one of the staff members saw us and said she could try to help us. She came back with two tickets and that's how I got to see the film. I got lucky and was cunning. So be nice with the staff, they can help.

5) Be ready for anything

A film festival is intense by nature, but Cannes is a whirlwind. Since you're spending so much time waiting and walking from venues to venues, you won't have time to eat unless you bring food you've made before hand. You're not allowed to eat inside the theaters and if you walk the red carpet, you food is thrown out beforehand. You can try buying food and drinks in the morning and finish it by the time you walk the red carpet. I'd advise buying it at a supermarket like the pricey Monoprix. Or the nearby McDonald's. It's cheap, warm, almost always open and a great way to socialize! Young filmmakers, as well as those from Britain and the States will come to McDonald's to eat since it's one of the places they know best. Why not strike up a convo there?

Also, don't forget your power bank. Your phone will get out of battery for sure, especially if you post content on social media.

Finally, despite its reputation, the festival is incredibly badly organized. You will be told that your badge is not allowed to watch films at other selections, or you would be given the wrong directions and will be lost in the croisette on your way to see an obscure film.

Chill, be ready to walk and use Google Maps. And enjoy!


Julie Adenuga: "There Are Young Artists In Nigeria Who Are Changing the World"

In an exclusive interview, the Beats 1 radio presenter opens up about her Nigerian heritage, documenting Homecoming in Lagos, and London being an important hub for afro-fusion sounds.

Julie Adenuga sits at the intersection of two continents.

As an affable tastemaker who transforms banal interviews into engaging conversations with some of the most famous artists in the world, Julie is leading the global dialogue on new music from her daily radio show, which broadcasts to over 100 countries.

The North London native of Nigerian descent hails from a musical family, her brothers are artists Skepta and JME, and has risen from the underground as a self-taught presenter on former pirate radio station Rinse FM to being one of three lead DJ's with her Beats 1 show on Apple Music.

A champion of homegrown talent in the UK and across the African diaspora, Julie is a purveyor of the afro-fusion genre, as is evident in her recent Homecoming documentary, which captured the fresh innovators from the Lagos music scene, and her DON't @ ME club nights, which has featured Ghetts, Lady Leshurr and The Compozers as residents.

Chosen as one of OkayAfrica's 100 Women celebrating extraordinary women from Africa and the diaspora, we speak with the presenter and broadcaster on owning her Nigerian identity, the responsibility of spreading afrobeats and why London is a key location for the genre.

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