Sports
Photo by Hakeem Adam.

In Photos: This Is What Africa's First Baseball Olympic Pre-Qualifier Looked Like

Burkina Faso establishes themselves as a thrilling prospect at the first African pre-qualifier for the 2020 Olympics.

It's no secret that sporting talent is well distributed among Africans, both at home on the continent and in the diaspora. Across all disciplines including football, tennis, sprinting, long distance running and now to winter sports like bobsled, you will find African athletes displaying stellar physical and mental performances at the top level and simply thriving. Baseball, which has traditionally been an American sport, might soon be the next place where African athletes will display their magnificence.

Back in March at the KOSHIEN Baseball Field in Accra, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Ghana's national baseball teams in locked horns for a chance to qualify for the only African spot in baseball at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The tournament which was organized by the Ghana Baseball and Softball Federation.

Ghana, the host team, were the top-seeded team coming into the tournament, ranked at number three in Africa. With a healthy home support cheering on, the Rising Stars approached the contest with the same fierce spirit of song and dance that their colleagues in football have made the nation known for globally. However, it did not quite come together for them with Burkina Faso, the underdogs, proving to be the much more tactically disciplined opponent, taking advantage of Ghana's lack of pace on the field. The Upright Men, which were also the youngest team, completely dominated the event—beating both teams they faced to top the group and make it to the next round of qualifiers as champions of West Africa. They exhibited a high level of professionalism and teamwork, making intelligent plays to get past the more experienced Ghanaian and Nigerian teams while thoroughly enjoying themselves in the process. Nigeria also recovered from their loss to Burkina Faso on the first day of the tournament and made it through at Ghana's expense, beating them in a closely contested final game.

Regardless of the results, the qualifiers proved to be a great exposition for the sport that is very much on the fringes in these parts. For someone completely new to baseball like myself, it was refreshing to witness the young men from Burkina Faso send the crowd wild with their home runs. Photographing the event gave me a deeper appreciation of the efforts of all involved who are keen to make the most of the opportunities the game could provide them.

It's still a long road ahead to Tokyo, but take a look at the possible African history-makers at the Olympics in 2020 below.

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Film
Photo by Liz Gomis and Aurélien Biette.

'Africa Riding' Is the Series Chronicling the Rise of Skateboarding, Cycling & Rollerblading Culture Among African Youth

We speak with director Liz Gomis on her documentary series that follows young Africans navigating their respective cities on wheels.

Youth culture is a major driving force behind a lot of the social change in African cities that is being amplified by the internet. Whether through music, visual art, performance, sports or fashion, the ideas and passions of the youth are at the heartbeat of a lot of the ingenuity that is engineered to improve lives around the continent. In Africa Riding, a new short documentary series by Liz Gomis and Aurélien Biette, we are invited to observe this heartbeat as it syncs up with the pace of movement in African cities through riding.

The documentary takes us on a ride along through the streets and walkways of Kampala, Accra, Kigali and Dakar as skateboarding, roller blading and cycling are slowly evolving the ways in which we conceptualize navigating our constantly expanding urban environments.

With each episode running under 8 minutes, the seven-part series profiles various characters who are at the forefront of this evolving culture of riding in cosmopolitan African cities, altering ineffective models of movement, as well as providing avenues of the youth to exercise their angst, one kick-push at the time. Produced in 2018 in Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal and Uganda, the series uses various vignettes of the lives of interesting young people actively encouraging riding culture to magnify the wider scope of communities based projects and initiatives that are positively shaping the lives of the youth in these cities through leisure, exercise and discipline.

Photo by Liz Gomis and Aurélien Biette.

We meet characters such as Marion Ayebale in Uganda, a 23-year-old cycling champion and bicycle messenger who tows us along her journey in a male dominated sport, pedaling her way to become a coach of the national team as well as earning a living as a messenger and debunking numerous myths about women riding. We follow Jackson Mubiru as he provides kids on the streets of Kampala with another options through the skate park in built in 2005 to introduce the sport to his community.

The series, which is now streaming for free via Arte TV, a French cultural channel, is a great insight into the contributions of urban youth culture in shaping contemporary African cities in a media landscape that really finds the space to maximize these stories of ingenuity and courage. To learn more about the project and how it can be quite a tasking process to produce such a project that offers a candid cross-section of a positive community based activity, we speak to Gomis—a French/Bissau-Guinean director and journalist to learn more about her attempt to magnify Africa's growing obsession with riding.

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Travel
Photo by Hakeem Adam.

Travel Diary: How Hakeem Adam Fell In Love with Maputo In 10 Days

An OkayAfrica contributor revels in all things art and architecture in Maputo, Mozambique.

In OkayAfrica's latest Travel Diary, our Accra-based contributor Hakeem Adam recently ventured to Mozambique for the first time and shares his experiences through stunning images.

Peaceful, calm, clean, positive energy are the words I've been using to describe my time in Maputo, Mozambique to basically anyone that would listen to me. The Portuguese-speaking Southern-African country was the first I have had the pleasure of visiting in that region and the visual, spiritual and mental experience has provided me with a much-needed contrast to my ideas of an African capital city in many ways.

The enchanting city moves at its own pace, a gentle and graceful saunter that calms and relaxes anyone who has become numb to the non-stop barrage of stress that is symptomatic of most capital cities. In Maputo, the air is clean and refreshing and the weather is mostly warm without it being sticky with humidity. Rather, the strong breeze from the Pacific Ocean keeps everything gentle as you get swaddled in Mozambican hospitality.

ColabNowNow, a 10-day artist residency organized by the British Council, #SouthernAfricaArts and Maputo Fast Forward ( a month-long festival centering the arts in Mozambique), was the reason for my being in Mozambique. The program brought together nine artists from West, East, Southern Africa and the UK to work collaboratively towards producing work with a digital focus. This offered me the opportunity to meet and interact with Mozambican artists as well as explore their studios and hubs.

Very quickly, you learn that art is one things that grounds the city of Maputo as the expression of their creativity is woven into the engineering of their daily lives—from the rich and colorful alchemy of European and tropical architecture lending the city an iconic look, to the amorous and ingénue community of artists, activists, curators and researchers who are actively engineering unique ways and spaces for their expression. Indeed, most of the artists we visited had all designed their homes as active exhibition spaces where their work and pieces from other artists in the same community embellish their living and working spaces.

As a visiting artist, Maputo was a much needed breath of the fresh air that is art from a hectic year. The architectural and design landscape of the city, as well as the mind-blowing work that is going on in the arts scene there were the two things that will forever stay with me.

However, my best description of my time there are highlighted by the images I took.

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Featured
Seun Kuti at Felabration. Photo: OkayAfrica.

The 10 Best African Music Festivals

Here are ten of the best music festivals to experience across the African continent, including both established stages and newer productions.

African music, in all its genres and forms, has one of the largest congregations in the world, with millions of people both on the continent and in the diaspora celebrating their love and connection to their culture through sound. Despite the rapid digitization of our music consumption through the internet and streaming services, nothing will ever beat the experience of live music.

Music festivals have become a great inlet into the arts and cultures of the societies that host them, while offering great potential to local economies and countless business opportunities for African artists to grown their brands. Yet this pivotal part of the music experience on the continent is never really prioritized, despite the vast number of festival with diverse genres available all year round, all over Africa.

Therefore, in no particular order, here are ten African music festivals to bookmark.

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