News

Vanessa Mdee Speaks Out After Being Arrested on Allegations of Drug Trafficking

Tanzanian singer, Vanessa Mdee, turned herself in on Thursday after her name appeared on a list of suspected drug dealers and users.

One of Tanzania's biggest pop stars, Vanessa Mdee, was arrested last Thursday on allegations of drug trafficking, reports Face 2 Face Africa.


After returning home from a business trip in South Africa, the singer turned herself in to authorities after her name appeared on a list commissioned by the Ministry of Internal Security, naming suspected "drug dealers and users."

Mdee, along with a group of well-known Tanzanian musicians and three police officers, were summoned to Dar es Salaam's Central Police Station for questioning.

Nape Nnauye, the countries Minister of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, urged that the crackdown on artists be carried out carefully as to not tarnish their reputations or shame them for their alleged drug use. “They are sick as other victims of drug abuse. The difference is that they have big names and we all know them, but we have to be as compassionate as possible so as to help them win their fight and become sober again,” he said.

It's been reported that Mdee has since been released. Yesterday, she took to Twitter to thank fans for their support.

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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