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Nigeria: Why I Played Strong Sex Scenes in My Latest Film – Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde
June 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

Leading actress, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, has returned to Nollywood. After a three-year hiatus, the 39-year-old is lined up to debut “Alter Ego” alongside Wole Ojo and Jide Kosoko.

PREMIUM TIMES had an exclusive interview with the award-winning actress who has appeared in over 300 films. Omotola opens up about her career, marriage and playing a controversial character inAlter Ego.

PT: You went off the scene for three years. Was this deliberate?

Omotola

Omotola

Omotola: Yes it was. I knew I was going to embark on a break so I starred in a few movies, which have not been released. I shot Blood on the Lagoon with Teco Benson, and another one in London called Amina, which are yet to be released. I got to that point when I felt like nothing was challenging me anymore and I began to feel like my standard was dropping. I went through that period and I knew I needed to stay away and wait for Nollywood to catch up with some of our ideas.

PT: Do you think starring in Chineze Anyaene’s 2010 movie, Ije, in the United States, sort of placed you on a pedestal?

Omotola: Well, I knew cinema movies were the next step for me. After starring in Ije I knew that the industry was not moving fast enough and I knew the only way out for me was to make that sacrifice and just dropout. So I starred in movies that I thought could hold forth for me while I concentrate on other things like building my business. Coming back was hard for me because I was aiming for that movie that would challenge. I was looking for something as strong as or better than Mortal Inheritance. I knew I had to reset my mindset, I was looking for something that would excite me the same way Mortal Inheritance did. I got a lot of scripts and none of them filled that gap. I could have taken up some of them for the sake of money. But I have gone past that point.

Omotola in a scene of Alter Ego

PT: Your fans can’t stop talking about your sex scenes in Alter Ego. Was your husband comfortable with you playing the role?

Omotola: Some of the sex scenes in Alter Ego were downplayed because I’m married. But I won’t play the sex scenes if it wasn’t necessary to be included in the film. I know by starring in this movie that my fans would either hate me or love me forever. While shooting the film, I knew I was doing something quite risky. There are several ways to shoot a sex scene tastefully. I’m all for playing a sex scene convincingly and my husband knows this. I tell my husband, “You know what darling, you married an actor”; and secondly, he is my biggest fan. I tell him, “Do you want me to be great or do you just want me to be good?” He will say, “I want you to be great, sparklingly great”. Then I’ll say, “Ehen, we go love o” and he’s fine with it. He understands but just like every other human being and the professional that he is, he too wants to be convinced that I played a sex scene because it was necessary. I know when he watches movies sometimes he would say, “Did they have to kiss if they were not going to kiss well?”

PT: You got pretty raunchy with your co-stars in your latest movie, Alter Ego. Are you ready for viewer’s criticisms?

Omotola: When I wasn’t even confident, I starred in a movie called a prostitute, which was released 22 years ago. If I didn’t die then, is it now? I’m ready.

PT: Playing a believable sex scene would mean going extra lengths. Do you think Nigerians will embrace such films?

Omotola: You don’t even have to “chop” somebody’s mouth if you don’t want to. If the scene is not about you showing real mad crazy love then you can’t now be showing mouth to mouth kissing or removing of clothes. In Nigerian movies, we have downplayed chemistry. I hope we can bring that back. Back in the day when I shot Mortal Inheritance in 1995, I had to spend time with my co-star, Fred Amata. He was already a renowned director and in those days, directors were revered. So imagine, my director who had directed me in a movie prior now acting as my lover. I was really afraid but we broke the ice by spending time with each other. So, he demystified himself and we had chemistry and you could tell. So, I’m hoping all of this returns to Nigerian movies. So, as professionals, we need to ask ourselves if it is necessary for a movie to have a sex scene and when it is, it should be done well.

Omotola acting a sex scene in the movie Alter Ego

PT: With regards to Alter Ego, how were you able to build some on-screen chemistry with your co-star, Wole Ojo?

Omotola: I was working with Wole Ojo for the first time, so we had to spend time together and we played very rough. I understand the power of being friends with your love interest in a movie so we became like a couple. We ate together and basically just broke down the walls to make sure we were both comfortable with each other and have each other’s backs and interest at heart. So, it spilled into the movie without you even noticing.

PT: Alter Ego appears to be the first Nollywood movie to truly address Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Do you think it would appeal to the Nigerian Nollywood audience?

Omotola: We don’t talk about PTS that much in Nigeria, so, when you see someone that is mentally traumatised, the first thing that comes to your mind is, “this person is crazy!”. We don’t talk about depression in Nigeria. We don’t talk about how it affects children, especially those that have been abused.

When you ask a lot of adults, you might find out that some people have been abused as children. And if we want to tell ourselves the truth, how many of us were actually able to tell our parents about this?

In Africa, it’s always a taboo to say, “uncle, somebody touched me”. They will practically ask you one million questions. “What did you say to him? How were you sitting? What were you wearing?” As if it’s your fault, you become the victim. Alter Ego sets out to address how sexual abuse affects victims as kids and as adults.

 Sometimes, you see people as adults behave in a certain way, but because we have not diagnosed this problem – because in Africa, you are either just crazy and should go to Yaba Left; but we don’t think about the fact that people actually have psychological trauma and that PTSD actually affect Africans. We think it’s an Oyibo disease.

PT: Why were you drawn to Alter Ego?

Omotola: It’s the soul of the movie. It must come quickly in a movie and must also be underlining throughout the film. Some come naturally while some don’t. The movie got me on time because I switch very quickly; so if I read through the first 10 pages of a movie script and I don’t get the story, I get bored. I loved the film from the beginning but it was a diamond in the rough. I knew what was lacking in it. So, I called the director and told him we will have to tear the script apart and rebuild it and he gave me his nod. It takes a big mind to shoot Alter Ego.

PT: You once hinted of plans to build a film village in Badagry in conjunction with your husband. Will it be ready anytime soon?

Omotola: I hope it will be ready next year hopefully. I also began another project on Mobolaji Bank Anthony,Lagos, which is supposed to be annex of the film village first called, Double Doors. So, these are some of the things I was busy putting together when I went off the scene. I have always said that what we need in Nollywood is infrastructure. So, I needed to start building infrastructure.

PT: Do you think the Buhari administration has done enough for Nollywood?

Omotola: I think this government needs to wake up. The sad part is that they go around the world and they brag about Nollywood. That’s why I don’t understand how to brag about something you are not helping enough. They need to understand that Nollywood in itself is a force and it should have its own ministry. We have a problem in Nigeria which is that we are afraid to allow ourselves be great. So, instead of allowing someone who knows his or her onions do the job we put stumbling blocks because of “see finish”. But if a white person comes along, we will support him or her. We need to start supportting ourselves. You will be amazed to know that Nollywood is the second (highest) employer of labour in Nigeria after agriculture. I think if they want to be sincere they will say Nollywood is number one. Why don’t we forget our immediate petty jealousy and begin to invest in this industry?

 PT: You have yet to star in a Yoruba film?

Omotola: I starred in one a long time ago titled No Rival and Oyato. I might be shooting one soon. It’s not a fully Yoruba film; it’s a collaboration. I’m currently reading the script.

Omotola acting in a scene in the movie Alter Ego

PT: How have you managed to reinvent yourself year in year out?

Omotola: I think it’s knowing what matters and being authentic and hoping that your authentic self makes sense. I am blessed that from a very tender age I was able to find God and my Christian values have shaped me. The real me is real; “I no dey form, I no dey do pass myself and what you see with me is what you get.” Somewhere along the line in my career, I deviated because of the distraction of money. Our brothers that were bringing so much unnecessary money into the industry and they were the ones dictating the pace. Thank God that I was able to find my core self back.

PT: Did marrying early boost your career?

Omotola : Absolutely. It’s one of the biggest blessings of my life because I look back now and I am like if I wasn’t married then, will I be married now? I can understand that as a celebrity it is hard, really hard, to get people who really love you for who you are and not because of the image of you that they have in mind. So, I can understand what some of my colleagues are going through because it’s not easy. Having said that, marrying my friend, a very wonderful, powerful man, who is confident of himself, has helped me. It has allowed me have that stability and be able to go out and fly.

PT: What’s happening to your music career?

Omosexy : I want to get back to music so bad and I am coming out viciously and it’s not like I care about what people were saying when I launched my music career.

I hope we can get to that place where we can find a balance. But, I want to do music in such a way that I can be in concert like Barbra Streisand. I want to fashion my career like hers I won’t be a Tiwa Savage because music is her career. So, I can’t compete with her because of movies; but I’ve told people in the past that I almost love music more than movies. That is why I love to express myself a lot in music. I want to build my own place and be in concert and have people come watch me. That’s the way I think I’ll be able to do music.

PT: On a final note, will your son produce your songs?

Omosexy : I would love him to produce me but we fight a lot and I complained a lot about that. But, I now understand that he is very finicky. He knows exactly and I don’t know if we can ever work together because we are both very headstrong. I will love to work with him because he is a very fantastic producer. Anyone who has met him says the same thing and he is the future and I’m not saying this because he is my son. Visit his website and check out his music.

*Allafrica/Premium Times

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Prophet Bushiri shares weekend with Malawi children: Donates K10 million to two orphanages.
June 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

South Africa based billionaire preacher Prophet Shepherd Bushiri jetted in his home country Malawi on Thursday and took time off his busy schedule on Friday to mingle with underprivileged children in capital Lilongwe.

The Man of God, popularly known as Major One, visited two child care centres—SOS Village and Tilinanu Orphanage—where he donated K5 million too each centre.

SOS Village, since its establishment in 1997, keeps an average of 130 children per year while Tilinanu, since its inception in 2005, keeps at least 35 orphaned girls.

Visibly jovial and in high spirits, the Prophet mingled with the children through, among others, engaging them in sports activities, sharing childhood fairytales, doing a Bible Study, singing choruses and, interestingly, being taught how to dance by these ecstatic children.

It was all smiles for the children who, from public confessions, could not believe they were sharing a moment with Prophet Bushiri, a global celebrity preacher leading one of the world’s fastest growing ministry.

The Man of God could not hide his joy with the gesture saying reaching out to the children in need is the greatest pillar not just of his ministry, but also his personal life.

“Every child is special to me—just as my biological children. However, these ones [in child centres] suffers rejection sometimes because they feel they don’t have parents to look into. Some of us come in to fill that gap, to show them fatherly love so that they grow up with the love that every child needs,” he said.

He dismissed media reports that his donations are motivated by political motives.

“I don’t just make donations in Malawi. Recently I was in Nicaragua in Central America where we made so many donations. Are we saying I am also having political ambitions there? What I am doing is just who I am. My joy comes from reaching to those not privileged than some of us. I hope the gesture will be echoed by others too,” he said.

The Prophet hailed SOS Village and Tilinanu for braving the time, ensuring that the children are safe and healthy.

SOS and Tilinanu directors Paul Nyirongo and Gift Mkandawire hailed Prophet Bushiri, marveling his gesture as a point of national retrospection and reflection in matters of children in the country.

On his part, Mkandawire—who is running Tilinanu which her departed mothers started in 2005 as part of her selfless cause to help an orphaned girl child—appealed to the Prophet to soldier on the spirit, arguing it symbolizes God’s love of humanity.

*Maravi Post

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African Solutions Are Needed For African Problems-Prophet Shepherd Bushiri on his Corporate Side
June 21, 2017 | 17 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

We need to sit down as a continent and build reasoned, African based solutions to our problems, says Prophet Bushiri

We need to sit down as a continent and build reasoned, African based solutions to our problems, says Prophet Bushiri

In just two years, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri Founder of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG), says his Ministry has registered over 300,000 new members. But why is the ECG such a crowd puller in so short a time? Blending the spiritual needs of his followers, with skills to navigate daily challenges  with success seems to be the winning recipe.

“We do not just preach, in words and deeds, the gospel of the living Jesus Christ. We also teach and empower people on how to face daily economic challenges of their lives through entrepreneurship programmes and also skills development,” says Prophet Bushiri.

With headquarters in Pretoria, South Africa, Prophet Bushiri says in addition to his spiritual work, he has the vision to seek African solutions to African problems.

While many may be familiar with the religious side of Prophet Bushiri, the man of God has a rapidly growing business empire with the Shepherd Bushiri Investments. From aviation to real estate, farming, financial, education and IT services, Prophet Bushiri is slowly but steadily carving a niche for himself in the African business landscape.

‘At the ECG, We Don’t Attract Billionaires, We Produce Billionaires,’ says Prophet Bushiri of the sustained efforts to also boost the  entrepreneurial skills of his followers.

Mr Shepherd Bushiri, thanks for accepting to grant this interview could you start by introducing yourself, who is Prophet Shepherd Bushiri the man of God, and Entrepreneur?

Thank you for affording me this opportunity to speak with you. I truly appreciate you taking time out of your schedule for this.

I am a Malawian born Man of God currently based in Pretoria, South Africa. I am married to Prophetess Mary Bushiri and we have two beautiful daughters.

I am the founder of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) and its headquarters is in Pretoria South Africa.

In just two years in South Africa, the church has achieved over 300 000 registered members just in South Africa.

Further, we have branches in Africa, Europe, Australia and North and South America.

Prophet Bushiri with his family, his wife plays a leading role in running SBI

Prophet Bushiri with his family, his wife plays a leading role in running SBI

I often get asked: Why is your ministry growing fast? Simply put, it is because we do not just preach, in words and deeds, the gospel of the living Jesus Christ. We also teach and empower people on how to face daily economic challenges of their lives through entrepreneurship programmes and also skills development. People are able not just to read and hear about the word of God; they also see, live and experience it.

You are President of Shepherd Bushiri Investments (SBI), can you tell us about your group, and how it has evolved over the years to what it is today?

We started with a vision of creating structures and systems that could empower young Africans with skills development and employment. This vision has turned into a reality.

Today, we own and manage a number of business entities under Shepherd Bushiri Investments (SBI). We are in Travel and Aviation for VIP’s and Presidents, through SBI Airways, where we have four jets that allow for comfortable air travel at affordable rates. We are in financial services where our Trading and Stock Exchange Services industry specialists provide comprehensive, integrated solutions to the Banking & Securities, Insurance, and Investment Management sectors.

We are also in Real estate where our industry practice providing world-class standards of differentiated residential and commercial property services and delivery. Hospitality Services. Currently, we own Sparkling Waters Hotel and Spa, situated in the heart of South Africa’s Magaliesburg Mountains, it is a luxurious three-star hotel, the ideal holiday or conference venue. Further, we are also in Mobile Telecommunications Services through one of SBI’s largest group of specialists providing cutting-edge mobile services specifically designed for PSB Network members.

SBI Airways, has four jets that allow for comfortable air travel at affordable rates

SBI Airways, has four jets that allow for comfortable air travel at affordable rates

Other entities include: SB University, SB Mining, SB Mobile Network, SB Trading Exchange Platform, SB Media, SB Real Estates and SB Agriculture.

How did you get the seed money or capital and at what point did the big break come for the SBI Group?

After I began my ministry in Malawi, I realised that for a ministry to go far, I needed more money. Besides that, I am a father, a husband and a family man. I needed money to take care of my family. Using my small savings from personal endeavours, family assistance and well-wishers I ventured into farming. I was growing and selling maize on a family land—by the way, maize is Malawi’s staple food. I started saving and investing every fortune I got from my maize sales. With days, my investments began to grow. These profits afforded me the opportunity to be where I am today.

The key word is ‘saving’ and ‘investing wisely.’

There are definitely other business ventures of yours that we are not aware, is Prophet Shepherd Bushiri willing to share them with us?

SBI businesses are the ones stated above.

What ties do you have with your home country of Malawi and any projects you have carried out there?

I am a proud and patriotic Malawian. I go to Malawi often on philanthropic work. We distribute relief maize to the poor, we go to prisons, we reach out to the sick, the orphans and the elderly.

Malawi is a beautiful and friendly nation. It is my home.

What are some of the challenges you faced growing the group, and how will you describe the business climate in Africa, atleast in countries where you currently do business in?

Well, challenges of doing business—ranging from corruption, dwindling consumer buying power and soaring taxes—will always be there. SBI, however, is turning them into success by advancing a business and investment culture that puts the clients first. Africa is a great continent with great potential. Opportunities are many and I think they will always be there.

What I envision, of course, is an Africa with African solutions—be it politics, economics and social life. We need to sit down as a continent and build reasoned, African based solutions to our problems.

How does Prophet Bushiri balance his pastoral duties with the corporal responsibilities he has at the SBI?

Time management is essential for all works that one does but most importantly is having a strong team. Fortunately, our team is excellent.

Any biblical precedent for this blend of spiritual duties and corporate interests which seems to be working for you?

If you read the Bible, you will note that men of God were rich including Abraham says Prophet Bushiri in response to the vilification of men of God "blessed with fortune"

If you read the Bible, you will note that men of God were rich including Abraham says Prophet Bushiri in response to the vilification of men of God “blessed with fortune”

I need to emphasise here that there is a tradition of vilifying Men of God whom have been blessed them with a fortune. There is this perception that Men of God are not supposed to be involved in business, to get rich, for instance. I don’t know where this perception comes from, but, if you read the Bible, you will note that men of God were rich including Abraham. It really sets a good example but then you do not just get rich. You must be a great worker—something which I am.

What is the reaction of your Church members to the business successes of their leader and for those who will want to register the same what message do you have for them?

My congregants are heavily encouraged with my success in business. They see me as a source of hope and also the definition of succeeding in doing business even when you are a Christian.

With the motto ‘At ECG, We Don’t Attract Billionaires, We Produce Billionaires’, I aim to transfer knowledge and skills of doing business in my congregants through the Monday Evening Service called the Diplomatic Service. During this weekly service, I train my congregant on how to begin, grow and manage a business using Godly ways.

I am telling you we are making unprecedented progress!

Africa has witnessed a proliferation of churches, and the opulence in which the Pastors or owners of some of the mega churches live is at odds with the everyday toil and pain of their follows, how do your own followers feel about your wealth, how do you feel when in all the wealth you have followers who live in misery, and what is your response to criticisms that religious leaders like you exploit followers for selfish ends?

At ECG, We Don’t Attract Billionaires, We Produce Billionaires,’ says Bushiri

At ECG, We Don’t Attract Billionaires, We Produce Billionaires,’ says Bushiri

Wealth comes from God—it’s a blessing, a gift that we are all born with. What matters is to listen to God for He is the one who has the keys to unlock it for us. The key thing is PRAYER and hard work.

I have never been involved in exploiting my church members. What they contribute to ECG is for the growth of the ministry—not my personal life. This is the reason I started venturing in business so that I do not meet my needs using money from church.

From your take Prophet Bushiri, how can Africans make the distinction between real and fake prophets, genuine men of God and adventurers?

I am a Man of God, heavenly ordained. I cannot speak for others. I feel it’s the sole responsibility of God to make that distinction.

We end with business which was the main thrust of the interview, what projects will the SBI Group be working on  in the years ahead?

We are interested in growing our entities and expanding to almost every country in Africa. We also want to support more especially—the elderly, orphans and youth.

 

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David Oyelowo Demands The Horrors Of Human Trafficking In Africa ‘Must Change’
May 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

He tells HuffPost he’s on a mission to eradicate human trafficking on the continent and around the world.

By Brennan Williams*

David Oyelowo is serious about inspiring positive change in the world.

GEANCO In addition to his scholarship for girls in Nigeria, Oyelowo says he wants to extend his humanitarian efforts to combat the global epidemic of human trafficking.

GEANCO
In addition to his scholarship for girls in Nigeria, Oyelowo says he wants to extend his humanitarian efforts to combat the global epidemic of human trafficking.

The actor will be honored on June 4 by the Diamond Empowerment Fund, a nonprofit co-founded by Russell Simmons, with the Diamonds Do Good International Vanguard Award. The award, which will be given to Oyelowo during the organization’s annual awards gala in Las Vegas, recognizes his achievements in the arts and in the educational empowerment of vulnerable girls in Nigeria.

Oyelowo told HuffPost that he prefers projects that showcase Africa’s overlooked history, such as “United Kingdom,” which highlighted Botswana’s role as a leading diamond-producing nation. In that film, Oyelowo plays Botswana’s first president, Sir Seretse Khama.

“My passion is really behind any African story that highlights the transcendent beauty and just the amazing quality of Africa and its people,” Oyelowo told HuffPost. “So whether it’s in ‘United Kingdom’ or whether it’s in ‘Queen of Katwe’ or other projects that I’m at the inception stages with, that’s what I’m fundamentally interested in and it just so happens that Botswana’s success story is tied into diamonds.”

The actor, who was born in England to Nigerian parents, adds that in addition to highlighting Africa’s abundant culture on the silver screen, he also wants to change the negative perception of Nigeria ― specifically as it pertains to the marginalization of women.

“One of the stories that isn’t a success story of course is surrounding the Chibok girls and what’s going on with Boko Haram, and what’s going on with the marginalization of women generally, not just in Nigeria, but on the African continent and around the world,” he said. “So for me, it’s about highlighting the great story, but also trying to change the narrative around the negative, because those are things that can and must change.”

ALBERT L. ORTEGA VIA GETTY IMAGES
David Oyelowo and his wife Jessica Oyelowo and children arrive for the premiere of Disney’s “Queen Of Katwe.”

Aside from his David Oyelowo Leadership Scholarship for Girls in Nigeria, the actor says he wants to extend his humanitarian efforts to combat the global epidemic of human trafficking.

“Going beyond the borders of Nigeria, human trafficking, modern-day slavery, sex trafficking, these are really disgusting things that are going on in society,” he said. “A lot of them are dealing with girls being pulled out of Africa. It’s happening within the continent itself. Even here in Los Angeles ― the San Fernando Valley, where I live ― it’s one of the worst hubs for human trafficking in the country.”

“So it’s on our doorstep, and it’s international. And if you’re a father of children, really it’s a thing that young people are being subjected to by those who prey upon them,” the actor continued. “It’s unthinkable to think about what’s going on out there. So anything and everything I can do, and my colleagues can do, to eradicate this is what I’m interested in.”

Sometimes with Hollywood specifically, we tend to rush after the buzzy, glamorous, attention-seeking initiatives and it’s not sustainable.”David Oyelowo

As many as 17,500 people are trafficked into the country every year, according to estimates from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with an estimated 21 million people trafficked around the globe.

And, according to the United Nations, sexual exploitation is the most common form of human trafficking in the world, and women and girls make up the largest proportion of victims.

Oyelowo is committed to reducing these startling statistics, regardless of public recognition.

JASON LAVERIS VIA GETTY IMAGES
Oyelowo encourages more of his peers in entertainment to commit themselves to humanitarian movements in order to see real change.

“I think that’s one of the problems with our society in general. And sometimes with Hollywood specifically, we tend to rush after the buzzy, glamorous, attention-seeking initiatives and it’s not sustainable,” he argued. “Anything that is for instant gratification for yourself will not last. This is a problem in terms of what’s going on in Nigeria, and specifically the marginalization of women.”

“If you’re looking in Hollywood, it’s not as egregious and injustice as sex trafficking and human trafficking but, when you look at sexism within the film industry, we have these moments when everyone pays it attention and then people forget,” he said.

Rather than participating in an occasional initiative for instant gratification, Oyelowo encourages more of his peers in entertainment to commit themselves to humanitarian movements in order to see real change.

“I’m a big believer in not focusing in on the big moment, but on the movement,” he said. “The movement is something that has to be perpetual. Once I attach myself to something I try to focus on it and not let go until the job is done, regardless if the cameras are on or not.”

“I think if more of us do that, the more will actually get done,” he added.

*Source Huffpost

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Ethiopia’s Tedros wins WHO race, first African to get top job
May 23, 2017 | 0 Comments

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former health minister and foreign minister, received more than half the votes in the third round.

Ethiopia’s Tedros wins on third ballot

* Offers more geographical representation of WHO jobs

By Stephanie Nebehay and Tom Miles*

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

GENEVA, May 23 (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus won the race to be the next head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday, becoming the first African to lead the United Nations agency.

The former health minister and foreign minister received more than half the votes in the first round and eventually won a decisive third-round election to beat Britain’s David Nabarro to the job.

“It’s a victory day for Ethiopia and for Africa,” Ethiopia’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva Negash Kebret Botora told Reuters before Tedros, as he is widely known, was to take the floor at the WHO’s annual ministerial assembly.

Six candidates had stood to take the helm at the WHO, which is tasked with combating outbreaks and chronic diseases.

The job has never before been earned through a competitive election and health officials from all over the globe thronged the assembly hall in the U.N.’s Geneva headquarters where voting took place behind closed doors.

Tedros will begin his five-year term after Margaret Chan, a former Hong Kong health director, steps down after 10 years on June 30. Chan leaves a mixed legacy, after WHO’s slow response to West Africa’s Ebola epidemic in 2013-2016, which killed 11,300 people.

In a last pitch before voting began, Tedros had appealed to ministers by promising to represent their interests and to ensure more countries got top jobs at the Geneva-based WHO.

“I will listen to you. I was one of you. I was in your shoes and I can understand you better,” Tedros told the ministers. “I know what it takes to strengthen the frontlines of healthcare and innovate around the constraints.”

Tedros was widely seen as having the support of about 50 African votes, but questions about his role in restricting human rights and Ethiopia’s cover-up of a cholera outbreak surfaced late in the race, threatening to tarnish his appeal.

Nabarro, a WHO insider who has worked for 40 years in international public health, had pitched himself as a “global candidate”.

Chan, in a speech on Monday, urged ministers to tackle inequalities as a “guiding ethical principle”.

“Scientific evidence is the bedrock of policy. Protect it. No one knows whether evidence will retain its persuasive power in what many now describe as a post-truth world,” she said.

*Reuters

 

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Gabon’s Aubameyang ends Bundesliga season as top scorer
May 21, 2017 | 0 Comments
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang lifts the trophy as the Bundesliga's top-scorer with 31 goals

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang lifts the trophy as the Bundesliga’s top-scorer with 31 goals

Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck a late penalty for Borussia Dortmund on the final day of the season to finish as the Bundesliga’s top scorer with 31 goals.

Aubameyang scored twice to help Dortmund beat Werder Bremen 4-3 – his first coming three minutes before the break and his second from the spot in the 89th minute.

It put the 27-year-old one goal ahead of Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski who failed to score in the German champions’ 4-1 win over Freiburg.

Aubameyang becomes only the second African player to win the golden boot in Germany after Ghana’s Tony Yeboah achieved the feat twice whilst playing for Eintracht Frankfurt – in the 1992-93 season and the following year in 1993-94.

Borussia Dortmund’s victory over Werder Bremen gave them a third place finish in the Bundesliga and secured their automatic spot in the Champions League group stage.

*BBC

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Ghana: How I Got to Johns Hopkins – First Ghanaian Neurosurgeon Resident
May 21, 2017 | 0 Comments

Photo: The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Nancy Abu-Bonserah (file photo).

Photo: The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Nancy Abu-Bonserah (file photo).

Nancy Abu-Bonserah, the first Ghanaian and only black female to gain admission to Johns Hopkins University to read neurosurgery has revealed that her self-driven passion to achieve more propelled her to where she is now.

Speaking in an interview on GH0ne said motivation from the people around her also contributed to her achievement as her passion has always been to study medicine.

“At every stage in that stage I was interested in medicine. When I went to college I kept that dream going. I did a lot of research, I did a lot of shadowing to see what doctors do and to see if I will still have the interested in doing the same things. I went to John Hopkins to do my medical training and it confirmed my desire to be a part of the medical profession. Neurosurgery came in a little later,” Nancy Abu-Bonserah revealed.

Nancy Abu-Bonserah is a young Ghanaian who found herself in the United States at the age 15 because her father was transferred there for work.

She attended Hanan School in Madina and continued to the Herman High School in the United States for her High School education and then furthered on to the university.

She has been living in Maryland, US for the past 11 years and hopes to give back to her society after her training when she gets the opportunity and the means.

 “I hope to go back to Ghana over the course of my career to help in building sustainable surgical infrastructure,” she said.

“I want to be remembered for serving my community, whether it is through providing quality surgical care or helping mentor the next generation of surgeons”.

Related: How ‘dark Genius’ Ailes Reshaped US Television News

She is the first Black female to be granted the opportunity to be a resident at the Johns Hopkins’ Neurosurgical department which only admits 2-5 residents.

Nancy Abu-Bonserah is expected to train as a resident neurosurgeon at John Hopkins for next 7years

*Ghanastar/Allafrica

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Nigeria: Fela’s Costumes for Induction Into Hard Rock Memorabilia Collection
May 20, 2017 | 0 Comments

Photo: Premium Times Fela Kuti.

Photo: Premium Times
Fela Kuti.

Late Afrobeat maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s costumes will take a fitting place among other world music greats on the renowned Hardrock Cafe Music Memorabilia Collection on May 25.

The singer’s famous children, Yeni, Femi and Seun Kuti will hand over costumes worn by Fela, including pieces of clothing and shoes to representatives of Hard Rock International in Lagos.

Also to be donated are original Fela evergreen album covers whose designer, veteran artist, Lemi Gharioku, will also be in attendance.

Lemi is known for listening to and digesting Fela’s music, then expressing his reaction in Fela’s album covers design. Lemi has designed over 26 Fela album covers.

Coinciding with the 20th anniversary of Fela’s death, a two-part ceremony is slated to hold at Hardrock Café Lagos.

It begins by 3p.m. with an induction ceremony to be witnessed by late Fela’s friends, entertainment bigwigs and corporate Nigeria.

The ceremony will climax by 7p.m. when Femi Kuti with his Positive Force band and Seun Kuti with his Egypt 80 band hit the stage for a pulsating night of Afrobeat music.

One major highlight of the induction will be the release of a new song dedicated to the late Afrobeat maestro by 2-time Grammy Award-winning artiste, Lekan Babalola.

 The song entitled “Mr. Lakaye” (Tribute to Ogun) is produced by Will Angelero (New York – UK based Producer) and co-produced by Lekan Babalola.
 In addition, artist, Fola David will do a live speed painting of Fela on stage.

Other legends whose souvenirs are on the Hard Rock Memorabilia Collection include King Sunny Ade, Quincy Jones, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, Prince, and Bob Marley among others.

The Hard Rock Café induction is being put together by talent agency, Temple Management Company after brokering a similar donation last year by juju maestro King Sunny Ade (KSA).

 TMC’s Head of Entertainment, Mark Redguard said, “The Hard Rock Induction event once again reinforces the influence that the great Fela Anikulapo-Kuti still commands twenty years later. We at TMC are delighted to be identified with another historic occasion that further develops and memorializes the Nigerian Music industry worldwide”

Fela’s historic music journey began in 1958 when his parents sent him to London to study Medicine but he opted for Trinity College School of Music.

Fela formed his first band Koola Lobitos in 1961, providing the fodder for a movement that morphed into Afrobeat, a combination of elements of traditional High Life, Rock, Funk and Jazz.

Fela’s music became the voice of the hopeless and a constant thorn in the flesh of successive military governments.

Some of his popular albums include Open & Close (1971), Gentleman (1973), Confusion (1975), Expensive Shit (1975), Zombie (1976) ending with Confusion Break Bones (1990).

 *Premium Times
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The man who brokered the deal to release the Chibok girls
May 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
Zannah Mustapha

Zannah Mustapha

In our series of letters from African journalists, novelist and writer Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani profiles the lawyer who brokered the release of 82 women captured by Nigeria’s militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

When 57-year-old Zannah Mustapha arrived for the handover of the 82 Chibok girls freed from Boko Haram after three years in captivity, a militant read out the girls’ names from a list.

One by one, the abducted schoolgirls, now women, lined up along the outskirts of a forest near Kumshe town, on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon. Each of them was covered from head to ankle in a dark-coloured hijab.

“I went ahead of the Red Cross. They [the militants] brought the girls to me,” said Mr Mustapha, the lawyer from Borno state in north-east Nigeria.

Some of the 82 released Chibok girls wait to meet Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (not pictured) at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Nigeria 07 May 2017.Image copyrightEPA
Image captionMr Mustapha says the girls started singing for joy when they got into Red Cross vehicles

He has been mediating between the government and militants for the release of the Chibok girls and for an end to the Boko Haram insurgency.

In 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari told the media that his government was willing to negotiate with “credible” leaders of Boko Haram for the release of the girls.

More than 200 of them were abducted a year earlier from the north-eastern town of Chibok, sparking global outrage.

Previous attempts had failed, with different groups coming forward, each claiming to be the militants in possession of the missing schoolgirls.

It was Mr Mustapha who succeeded in convincing the Nigerian authorities that this particular group should be taken for what they say, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu told me.

One of the freed womenImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThe freed women will now have to rebuild their lives

“He had dealt with them in the past and they keep to their word,” he said.

Mr Mustapha’s role as a mediator dates back to his founding the Future Prowess Islamic Foundation School in 2007, to provide free Islamic-based education to orphans and the poor.

When the Boko Haram insurgency erupted in 2009, the school offered admission to the children of soldiers and government officials killed by the militants, as well as those of militants killed by the state.

NigeriaImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThe 82 met the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari after they were rescued

Mr Mustapha then sought the assistance of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which began providing free meals to the pupils.

He also encouraged parents to form an association which would reach out to other widows and convince them to send their children to his school.

The ICRC soon extended its humanitarian services to the mothers, providing them free food and other items every month.

“This was at a time when the wives of Boko Haram militants were being arrested and their houses demolished, so Boko Haram saw me and the ICRC as neutral parties,” Mr Mustapha said.

During the previous government of President Goodluck Jonathan, former President Olusegun Obasanjo visited Maiduguri, the epicentre of the insurgency, to intervene in the escalating crisis.

He then set up a group to discuss peace with Boko Haram. Mr Mustapha was included in it because of the relationship he had forged with the families of Boko Haram militants.

After the Swiss ambassador to Nigeria paid a visit to the Future Prowess school in 2012, he arranged for Mr Mustapha to go to Zurich and Geneva to receive formal training as a mediator.

“We were already trying to negotiate peace with Boko Haram before the Chibok girls were kidnapped,” Mr Mustapha said.

The initial negotiation was for a batch of 20 Chibok girls to be released.

But, as a sign of commitment to their relationship, Boko Haram added an extra woman, whom Mr Mustapha said was their gift to him, hence the number 21.

Michelle Obama tweets a picture of herself highlighting the #BringBackOurGirls campaignImage copyrightOFFICE OF THE FIRST LADY
Image captionThe kidnapping provoked global outrage in 2014 including from Michelle Obama

When they were released in October 2016, she was chosen by Boko Haram to read out the names of the other 20 women from a list.

Mr Mustapha said the 21 women were lined up and asked by Boko Haram militants if they had been raped. They all said they were not.

When a militant approached a woman who was carrying a baby, she said that she was pregnant at the time of her abduction, having got married a few weeks earlier.

The baby girl in her arms, she said, was her husband’s child.

For some reason, Boko Haram, a group that has cultivated a reputation for brutality, wanted it to be known that it was only after the women “agreed” to get married that the militants had sexual relations with them.


Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani:

Adaobi Tricia NwaubaniImage copyrightADAOBI TRICIA NWAUBANI

“I felt that I have done something that is worth saying to the world that I have done this,” Mr Mustapha said.


This process of lining up the women, pointing at each one and asking the same question, was repeated at the beginning of May when 82 more women were released.

One of about seven Boko Haram militants, who accompanied them, went from woman to woman asking: “Throughout the time you were with us, did anyone rape you or touch you?” Mr Mustapha said, adding that each of them replied in the negative.

None of the second batch of 82 captives came with a child.

But one had an amputated limb and was walking with crutches, an injury she sustained, according to what Mr Mustapha was told, during Nigerian military air strikes against Boko Haram.

‘They all ran’

“You are free today,” Mr Mustapha announced to the 82 women after all the names were called out.

“They all smiled,” he said.

He believes that their subdued reaction was as a result of the presence of the militants, all armed with guns, some wearing army camouflage uniforms and boots.

Mr Mustapha then took some photographs with the women. The militants also had their video camera on hand and recorded the event. ICRC vehicles eventually arrived.

“When I told them to go to the cars, they all ran,” Mr Mustapha said. “Immediately they entered the vehicles, they started singing for joy. Some shed tears.”

Mr Mustapha has received a number of accolades for his work with Future Prowess School. He was a finalist for the 2016 Robert Burns humanitarian award, given to those who have “saved, improved or enriched the lives of others or society as a whole, through self-sacrifice, selfless service, hands-on charitable or volunteer work, or other acts”. He was also given a 2017 Aurora Prize Modern Day Hero award, for those whose “life and actions guarantee the safe existence of others”.

However, he described handing over the 82 freed girls to the Nigerian government as “the highest point in my life”.

“I felt that I have done something that is worth saying to the world that I have done this,” he said.

*BBC

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New Caf president Ahmad refuses to accept a salary
May 9, 2017 | 0 Comments
Ahmad won the Caf presidential election in March, ending Issa Hayatou's 29-year reign

Ahmad won the Caf presidential election in March, ending Issa Hayatou’s 29-year reign

The new Confederation of African Football (Caf) President, Ahmad, says he has refused to accept a salary from African football’s governing body.

His election in March ended Cameroonian Issa Hayatou’s 29-year reign.

“I’ve refused a Caf salary for the simple reason it doesn’t respect good administration,” he told BBC Sport.

“The salaries of all Caf employees, from administrators to the executive committee and president, all have to be transparent.”

The 57-year-old from Madagascar held his first senior Caf meetings on Monday ahead of the Fifa Congress on Thursday 11 May.

Key among the topics being discussed are how to reform Caf.

“The reform of the administration is a very important point – everyone must know what is happening” said Ahmad.

“First we must review the standards of management so that we can apply the reforms.

Ahmad, who goes by a single name, says there is much work to be done – in lots of areas – to make Caf work “as it should.

“I’m sorry to tell you when I was part of the Caf Executive Committee there was no separation of powers – the judicial body, the executive one and the congress – and we have to respect the independence of each body,” he continued.

“There is a big tendency to monopolise power in the executive committee.

“It has to be reviewed and reformed with new statutes for Caf so that everyone can concentrate on their proper tasks.

Ahmad has also voiced concerns about the popularity of their flagship Africa Cup of Nations tournament saying it’s in danger of being overshadowed by the African Nations Championship (CHAN) which is for locally based players.

He says in light of these concerns, there will also be a full review of all the Caf competitions, and as such, a symposium will be organised to discuss the future of the events.

“The symposium will be made up of representatives from all parts of African football so we can discuss what we are going to do in all the competitions – Afcon [Africa Cup of Nations], CHAN, the youth tournaments and the women’s events,” he explained.

Ahmad said he was particularly keen to address issues such as dwindling numbers of spectators at recent tournaments, and players increasingly finding themselves in compromised situations with their clubs during Nations Cups.

“We need to take into account their situation. We must ensure that the Nations Cup doesn’t destroy their careers,” he insisted.

“So we are going to review all of that and we will take a decision that suits everyone so that this competition is valued again and attracts more resources and attract bigger audiences in Africa.”

Ahmad also spoke about giving more power to the presidents of the individual federations, describing them as the “Sovereign Body” – who “have to make the big decisions for the confederation.”

Ahmad has promised to arrange a new Caf congress in due course in order to validate the proposed changes.

He also wants to look at the re-investment of Caf resources to aid the development of football across the continent, stressing that “Caf is not here to make money to enrich itself.”

*BBC

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Omeruo says he may have to leave Chelsea for first team football
May 8, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Oluwashina Okeleji*

Nigeria international Kenneth Omeruo has yet to play for Chelsea since signing in January 2012

Nigeria international Kenneth Omeruo has yet to play for Chelsea since signing in January 2012

Chelsea defender Kenneth Omeruo says his priority is to play first-team football on a regular basis and admits he may have to leave Chelsea to do that.

The 23-year-old Nigeria international has yet to play for the Blues since signing in January 2012 and is out on loan for a fourth time – this time at Turkey’s Alanyaspor.

Omeruo, who won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria,admits he is unhappy with his situation.

“It might happen that I get to play for Chelsea but it is no longer my immediate priority,” Omeruo told BBC Sport.

“You have no idea how frustrating it is to always go out on loan,” added the Nigeria defender.

The season-long move to Turkey was a swift return to the Super Lig for centre-back Omeruo after another loan stint at Kasimpasa last term.

He was a regular in the Kasimpasa side, making 26 appearances, but the Turkish club could not take up the option to buy him at the end of his loan spell.

And it is unlikely Alanyaspor could make the switch permanent because last August Omeruo signed a contract extension with Chelsea, keeping him on the club’s books until July 2019.

Despite watching his compatriot Victor Moses establishing himself under Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge this season, Omeruo concedes he may have to look elsewhere for regular football.

“Last season I had an opportunity to go to one of Turkey’s biggest clubs [Besiktas] but the deal collapsed two days to the end of the transfer window,” he added.

“This season I was lucky I could find a place where I could still play because they want me to come to Alanyaspor.

“My priority is to play at the top, to find a place where I get to play regularly.

“Next season will be interesting because I’m looking to be in one of the top leagues, so we’ll see what happens.”

Omeruo joined Chelsea from Belgian side Standard Liege and has since been on loan at ADO Den Haag in Netherlands and twice at English side Middlesbrough.

Despite not making a competitive appearance for Chelsea, Omeruo was called up by Nigeria for the first time in January 2013 and went on to play at that year’s Africa Cup of Nations and Confederations Cup and at the 2014 World Cup.

*BBC

 

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Medhi Benatia: Juventus player stops interview after hearing ‘racist’ insult
May 8, 2017 | 0 Comments
Medhi Benatia joined Juventus on a season-long loan from Bayern Munich last July

Medhi Benatia joined Juventus on a season-long loan from Bayern Munich last July

Juventus’ Morocco defender Medhi Benatia cut short a post-match television interview after claiming to hear a racist insult in his earpiece.

The France-born player, 30, was speaking to Italian broadcaster Rai after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Torino.

“What stupid person is speaking?” said Benatia before ending the interview.

The incident comes a week after another Serie A player, Pescara’s Sulley Muntari, walked off the pitch after claiming he was being racially abused.

Benatia, who is on loan at Juventus from Bayern Munich, has not commented publicly on what happened during the television interview.

The broadcaster has since apologised and promised to find out who made the “unacceptable” comments.

“Rai is sincerely saddened by the deplorable episode of racism involving the Juventus player during the broadcast of Champagne Football,” it said on Sunday, adding that the insult had not been heard by the viewers.

Benatia has made 17 league and cup appearances for Juventus, who are closing in on a sixth successive Serie A title and are in the Champions League semi-finals.

Juventus released a statement, saying: “Following the regrettable insult Medhi Benatia heard through his earpiece during Calcio Champagne, Juventus Football Club wishes to express its concern over the incident.

“While acknowledging the Rai statement expressing solidarity, everyone – and the player first and foremost – deserves an explanation about what occurred.”

Meanwhile, Muntari was an unused substitute as relegated Pescara lost 1-0 at home to fellow strugglers Crotone on Sunday.

The former Portsmouth and Sunderland player was cleared to play after a one-match ban he received for protesting against racist abuse in last weekend’s match at Cagliari was overturned.

Muntari was initially booked for dissent, then received a second yellow card for leaving the field.

Before the ban was overturned, former Tottenham striker Garth Crooks called on players in Italy to strike in protest against Muntari’s punishment.

 *BBC
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