New Role, Same Zeal for Cape Verde’s Washington Envoy Carlos Veiga
April 21, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
It is all about service to my country says Carlos Veiga Ambassador of the Republic of Cape Verde to the USA. In Office for some six months now, Veiga arrived Washington in the twilight of the Obama Administration and ended up been sworn in by President Donald Trump.
With a unique profile, his appointment as Ambassador to Washington, DC, was perplexing to many. A well-respected Lawyer, with stints as Attorney General, President of the ruling party, and Prime Minister for two terms, serving as Ambassador was not something Veiga was looking forward to. With a very close finish in two Presidential runs including one (2001) where he lost by seventeen votes, many thought that Carlos Veiga was done with public office, but then a call came from President Carlos Fonseca for him to be the country’s envoy to Washington, DC, and he accepted the challenge.
What may be seen by some people as a demotion was seen by Carlos Veiga as a choice to continue serving his country as he had done with brio over the years. My appointment and presence in Washington is a symbol of the importance that Cape Verde attaches to its close ties with the USA, said Veiga in a recent interview at his Massachusetts Ave Office in Washington, DC. Cape Verde is considered as a strong ally of the USA with strong partnership on maritime issues, and fighting drug trafficking, Ambassador Veiga said, as he looked forward to deepening the relations.
With a strong diaspora presence, Ambassador Veiga equally a large community of Cape Verdeans to look out for. The U.S hosts about 500,000 people from Cape Verde mostly around New England. Veiga said he was excited about opportunities to interact with compatriots in the diaspora who were the nemesis in his past Presidential runs.
Cape Verde is a very stable country with a solid record in democratic values and principles, Ambassador Veiga said. The country has not known military coups and political transitions have been peaceful, said Veiga as he gave credit to Cape Verdeans for the choice to live and move forward together as a people.
While Cape Verde may not be as resource rich as other African countries, prudent management, and good governance have placed the country firmly on the part of development. There are opportunities to invest in maritime services, new technologies, and financial services, Ambassador Veiga said in making a pitch to US and other potential foreign investors. Cape Verde has one of the most friendly investment climates anywhere in the continent, Veiga continued.
Cited recently for the fifth straight time as one of the world’s “Ten Best Ethical Destinations,” by Ethical Traveler, tourists are guaranteed a most agreeable and fun-filled stay in Cape Verde, said, Carlos Veiga. From the quick visa procedures, to the friendliness of the people, and the unique beauty of the islands and historic sites, Cape Verde should be the country to visit, Carlos Veiga enthused.
Responding to a question about President Carlos Fonseca serving his second and last term, Ambassador Veiga described him as a friend who did great work in the past on the constitution. President Fonseca has made immense contributions on the democratic strides that Cape Verde continues to make, Ambassador Veiga said.
With two unsuccessful presidential bids in the past, Ambassador Veiga was coy about his political future.You never say never in politics, he said, but was quick to point out that the presidency was never a do or die affair for him, but rather a desire to offer the country better leadership at a critical point in its history. The elections are still several years away, and right now, I have been assigned with serious duties to represent my country in Washington, and it is an assignment I have to discharge to the best of my abilities, Ambassador Veiga said.
African Media Agency (AMA) CEO Nominated for New African Woman in Media Awards 2017
April 15, 2017 | 0 Comments
Eloïne Barry, CEO of African Media Agency (AMA) has been nominated for the New African Woman Forum (NAW Forum) awards. The event is taking place in Dakar, Senegal, on 12 and 13 April.
Our offices are located in Dubai (UAE), Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire), Kampala (Uganda), New York (USA) and we have local presence in Johannesburg (South Africa), Nairobi (Kenya) and Lagos (Nigeria). Our team has ten years of experience across the Communications spectrum on a pan-African scale. We intimately understand the diversified and often complex business environment in each African country and guide our clients with best practice on every step of their African journey.
Kenya: Q&a With President Kenyatta As Jubilee Marks 4th Anniversary
April 11, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Capital FM, Nairobi — PRESIDENT KENYATTA: I am very proud to showcase some of the work that my government has done in the first four years of my term. As your President, it is my primary duty to provide the environment necessary for each one of you to fulfill your full potential, and to improve your own livelihood, as well as that of your community, and that of our nation.
Together, we have achieved much that will benefit many, and in a very short time.
QUESTION: What was your vision going into 2013 elections? What did you want to achieve for the country?
PRESIDENT KENYATTA: To understand where you are, and to understand where you are going, you must know where you’ve come from; then you are able to better visualize where you want to be. And I think we’ve come a long way.
Our forefathers came together with the singular aim of having a free, socially inclusive society where our people could govern themselves, and make a future for themselves. They achieved our independence for us. Once we got that independence, somehow we did not internalize that independence as a Kenyan independence; we internalised it as an ethnic independence. So we started to say ‘what about the prosperity of my community?’, ‘what about the jobs of my community?’ We lost the nationalist spirit that actually won us that independence — independence was not won by any singular community, it was won by people coming together and saying we want to govern ourselves; we want a future for ourselves. I believe that the politics that took place after the first 10 or so years of our independence resulted in a situation where, rather than co-exist as Kenyans, we co-existed as ethnic communities. We saw the worst of that in 2007/2008. It is an episode of our national history that is still fresh in our minds.
As a result of that, some of us who were accused of fanning that incitement felt very, very, very strongly, and thought very deeply. We asked: ‘how could our country — that we all love so much, and that we all wanted so much for — end up in this particular situation?’ Then, working with other individuals, we agreed: ‘look, it is time for us to change the Kenyan narrative’.
QUESTION: So, what was your resolve?
PRESIDENT KENYATTA: Our rallying call in 2013, as many in Kenya will remember, was the fact that regardless of whether we won or lost, we would ensure that we had a country that would not end up in the kind of chaos that we saw in 2007/08, and that no Kenyan would lose their life for who they were. We wanted a country that celebrates our diversity and that works together with the understanding that the issues that confront us don’t confront us because of our ethnicity, but are common to all of us as Kenyans. The only way to solve them is to solve them together. And that was basically the platform on which we launched our campaign in 2013. And, thank God, Kenyans gave us an opportunity to lead this country.
For the 4 years that we have led this nation, we have focused on answering a single question: how do we coalesce this society of 43 communities into one society? We recognised that our new constitution gave us an opportunity to achieve this, through the devolved governments. We made them work, and we were able to reach out and get development into every corner of this country. We ensured that our government was as inclusive as the constitution allowed us to be, because it was the first time, for example, that we were limited in the number of Cabinet Secretaries we could appoint. I also think it gave us the opportunity to pick the best that we could from our country, because so long as you are limited, you have to pick the best. As the national government, our key priority then became, first and foremost, to ensure that in the shortest possible time we got devolution to work so that every single Kenyan, irrespective of what part of the country they came from, could feel the benefits of being a Kenyan.
We also focused on education, recognising that as long as every single Kenyan is able to get proper education, we are beginning to equalise our society.
Many areas got — for the first time — decent infrastructure that could attract industries. (And we have to attract investment outside the main cities: Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, and Eldoret)
We went on a massive programme of building roads, electricity expansion, trying to increase dams in order to get water access, so that a person living in Wajir would have the same benefits as a person living in Nairobi; so that an industry would be attracted to Garissa — because now you are connected to the main grid — just as it would be attracted to Mombasa. We recognised that if we focused ourselves on these, it would ultimately give us an opportunity to achieve what every single Kenyan needed: opportunity.
We are not there yet, but we have started that journey. We have started the process. I believe strongly that if we are allowed to continue with the kind of development we have made so far, then, in a very few years to come, we will have a singular society that looks at issues differently: not from where we come from, but from whom we are as Kenyans.
We will begin to deal with the challenges that face every single Kenyan, the challenges of health, the challenges of education, the challenges of job creation; and once we do that, we then can see ourselves as Kenyans. And once we see ourselves as Kenyans, because we have a government that is dealing with us as Kenyans, we will look to a future where we work together for mutual prosperity and for mutual happiness.
QUESTION: Are you making progress?
PRESIDENT KENYATTA: Well, you also ask yourself where and how you want to get to where you are going. I keep on telling Kenyans: let us have patience; let us focus ourselves on doing things that ought to be done, because if things had been done in years past, we wouldn’t be complaining today.
QUESTION: Some have chided you as a tourist President. How have Kenyans benefitted from your travels beyond our borders?
PRESIDENT KENYATTA: Countries are like people: you cannot make progress on your own. Kenya must work in very close corroboration and cohesion with its neighbours and others in the international community. That is why we have made foreign policy central to our agenda.
We need to ensure that we are on good terms, and have great trading partnerships, with others. We would not attract the kind of investment that we are attracting if we were only talking to 42 million people; we need to be able to talk of a region of 300 or 400 million, because it is that economy of scale that will allow us to attract the kind of investment that we need, in order to create the jobs that our people need. So long as you continue to think inward, you will only slow your quest to achieve your objectives. And that is why my administration has been very keen to improve linkages between Kenya and other nations. Within our region we have been very focused on trying to deepen integration. We have worked very hard, and now we have a single network area for Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, and we are trying to bring on board Burundi, Tanzania and South Sudan. We now have a single tourist visa, so that visitors coming to Kenya can use the same visa to go to Uganda and Rwanda.
Africa: Moreira Chonguica and Manu Dibango Release an Album M&M
April 9, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Socrates Mbamalu*
When two seasoned African jazz musicians come together to play music, what you end up getting is an unforgettable musical experience. Mozambican saxophonist, Moreira Chonguiça collaborated with Cameroonian jazz maestro Manu Dibango in a 10 track album that took five years of discussions. The album titled M & M was released at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival on the 31st of March. The songs are a remarkable mix of well known old jazz standards with an African twist.
South Africa hosted the 18th Cape Town International Jazz Festival, which ran from the 31st of March to the 1st of April, graced by music legends such as Manu Dibango known as the ‘Lion of Africa’, Moreira Chonguica, Kamasi Washington, Judith Sephuma and a host of other jazz stars.
According to a press statement, the two African saxophonists began discussing a list of songs in February 2015. In March 2015, Moreira flew to Paris to rehearse with Dibango’s band comprising of – Cameroonians, Jacques Conti Bilong on drums, Guy Nwongang on percussion, Justin Bowen on piano-keyboards and Guy Nsangué Akwa on bass guitar and Valérie Belinga on vocals. From France, Patrick Marie-Magdelaine on guitar, Isabel Gonzalez on vocals and two-time Grammy award-winner – for his work on Zawinal Syndicate – Paco Séry on sanza (more commonly known as the mbira).
Commenting on the 10 track album, the 83 year-old Dibango said, “The idea and perseverance for this album came from Moreira! We have been friends and collaborating for about 15 years. It is a very nice album, for which I took great pleasure in writing the arrangements, an African re-reading of the music made in the USA: the return of the “boat” on African soil”.
“I hope that those who listen to it will take as much pleasure as we did when it was recorded in Paris. We had sought, Moreira and myself, an atmosphere of peace and serenity where only music is the Master. So we invite you to listen, dance and vibrate body and soul,” Dibango added.
Commenting on the latest project, Moreira said in a statement, “I am honoured and humbled by the opportunity and circumstance created by “Papa Manu” to express, experiment, sometimes in a very disruptive manner, the rhythms and grooves that I have never heard; the chords and melodies that I never thought I would record; the meals, talks and jokes that we shared whilst building this historical storm”.
The album was recorded at Ferber Studios in Paris, France under engineer Guillaume DuJardin and was mastered at Milestone Studios in Cape Town, South Africa by Murray Anderson.
Chonguiça produced the album, he performs on alto and soprano saxophone and the arrangements with the exception of Track 1 and 10 are by Dibango who performs on the vibraphone and saxophones.
The songs on the 10 track album include, “Blues for Africa”, “Tutu”- a tribute to Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, Desmond Tutu, “Unga Hlupheki Nkata” – a soft romantic ballad, “Night and Day”, and “Nonto Sangoma”.
Cameroonian Beauty Mimi Mbah Hits Back At Racist Twitter Troll
April 9, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Socrates Mbamalu*
Social media stood in support with Mimi Mbah, a 19 year-old Cameroonian aspiring model, who was featured on Africa Beauties, a Twitter page showcasing beautiful Africans worldwide after she received a racist comment saying she would be hotter if she was lighter. This Is Africa caught up with her to discuss her experiences in the U.S. and how she handles racist comments.
Social media took a stand with Mimi Mbah, a 19 year-old Cameroonian aspiring model, who was featured on Africa Beauties, a Twitter page showcasing all the beautiful Africans worldwide.
When Mimi’s picture was featured, Twitter went in overdrive. After some positive comments on her picture, a racist post popped up which read, “if she was lighter, she’d be fire”. Mbah responded to the message, and gave a perfect answer, which has since gone viral. She said, “No thanks, I wouldn’t trade my skin colour for the world! Still fire though,” ending her response with a smiley.
Mbah who’s been in the U.S. for about six years was born and grew up in Yaoundé. With many of her family and childhood friends still in Cameroon, she told This Is Africa that her heart will always be in Cameroon. Since coming to the U.S. Mbah says she has found it difficult to adjust to the lifestyle change, racial diversity, personalities, accents among many other individual, social and cultural nuances. The challenges haven’t deterred her from enjoying life in the U.S. and the many opportunities abound.
Before the racial troll incident, Mbah says she hasn’t experienced major issues because of her blackness, but she’s received absurd and ignorant comments disguised as compliments such as “you’re pretty for a dark skinned girl.” She says she tries not to give hateful people the reaction they’re seeking. Her afro, which she says she’s gotten compliments for still gets her some negative comments, which she never allow to affect her. “I don’t like letting people put a damper on my positivity or happiness,” she added.
We applaud the brave young woman for taking a strong stance against racist trolls.
Nigeria: Singer Mo Adeniran Wins the Voice UK
April 5, 2017 | 0 Comments
Mo Adeniran, 21-year-old Nigerian singer, has emerged the winner of the 2017 edition of The Voice, United Kingdom.
“After months of stellar performances, battle rounds and public votes, Mo Adeniran was crowned the winner of The Voice UK during Sunday night’s live final,” according to Dailmail UK.
Flabbergasted as the result was announced, Adeniran looked on in shock whilst his mentor, singer and Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson, immediately burst into tears of happiness.
Adeniran who worked night shifts at a hotel prior to the show, came to the show with his best friend, Max Vickers, who made it through to the semi-finals.
He beat other contestants with his rendition of Iron Sky which had the judges turning their chairs. His victory left him in shock while his mentor, Hudson, burst into tears of joy.
Adeniran who scooped the title with winning performances of Paolo Nutini’s Iron Sky and Unsteady by X Ambassador looked stunned as host Emma Willis announced his name.
He thanked his mentor, Hudson, for her support.
“An amazing thank you to the most phenomenal person I have ever met, thank you Jennifer,” he said.
Adeniran’s stirring performance of “Unsteady” had Hudson struggling to contain her emotions.
Blinking back tears, she told him: “Mo, we feel your heart.
He won praise from all the coaches, with Gavin Rossdale gushing: “You have the voice of a generation.”
The star was then placed back into social services and his turbulent family life led him to go off the rails as a teen.
This came to a head when Mo lost his close pal in 2015 after he died from a drug overdose.
Mike Carter, who was one of Mo’s band mates, battled with an addiction to painkillers which he was taking for chronic back pain.
Tragically, Mo suffered another personal loss when his friends from the band Viola Beach died in a car crash last year.
The band were to play at a tribute concert for Mike before the accident in Sweden which killed Kris Leonard, River Reeves, Tomas Lowe, and Jack Dakin.
Adeniran was congratulated by his fellow contestants, Jamie Miller and duo, Into The Arkas as confetti fell on the stage.
His mentor, Hudson, who could not control her tears, tweeted her delight at his win.
She wrote: “Now that I’m kinda done crying … .OMG!!!!!! CONGRATS @imjustcalledmo #Teamjhud #TheVoiceUk”.
He is now headed to the studio to record his winner’s EP.
`Ten Things to Know About Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Candidate for WHO-Director General’
April 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
In May this year, the World Health Organization (WHO), the world’s premier international public health agency, will elect a new Director-General to lead the organization when Dr. Margaret Chan steps down in July. The importance of this role, cannot be underestimated. Pandemics, pollution, poverty and war all add to the complexity of preserving the health of the world’s almost 7 billion citizens.
A cool head, informed professionalism, and high-level organizational experience will be needed. While three candidates remain in the nominee field, Dr. Tedros Adhanom of Ethiopia – a champion for global health priorities both nationally and internationally – stands as the most experienced, visionary, and veteran `problem-solving’ leader to take on this most important public health position.
Why? Here are ten things you might not know about Dr. Tedros and his candidacy:
1. Over three decades, Dr. Tedros demonstrated a unique mix of political leadership and hands-on public health experience.
2. As Ethiopia’s Minister of Health he has greatly improved health outcomes in a country/region hardest hit by many of the world’s biggest health challenges; his comprehensive agenda of reform dramatically transformed the country’s health system.
3. Dr. Tedros increased access to health care with limited resources and community engagement, using primary health care as a platform; investing in critical infrastructure, expanding the health workforce and initiating pioneering financing mechanisms.
4. By overseeing the training/deployment of 38,000 health extension workers, (a `health development army’) his efforts created a community-based system with nearly 3 million women at its core; leading to a seven-fold increase in health professionals and a capacity increase of doctor training from 3 medical schools to 33 schools.
5. Under Dr. Tedros leadership, the Ministry of Health developed an integrated, household-based information management system which documents the health history of each family member; resulting in improvements in data collection, monitoring and evaluation.
6. Health insurance in Ethiopia now provides people in both the formal/informal sectors with full coverage of health services; leading Ethiopia to be the first country to sign a global compact with the `International Health Partnership’.
7. Dr. Tedros also helped establish the pooled MDG Health Fund, facilitating the allocation of ear-marked/disease-specific funding to address pressing health needs.
8. With the establishment of `Ethiopia’s Pharmaceutical Supply Fund Agency’, Dr. Tedros instituted transparent and accountable business processes, ensuring the availability of a reliable supply of affordable, quality-assured medicines.
9. Dr. Tedros showed impressive leadership and broad understanding of valuable partnerships/relationships as Board Chair, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB & Malaria; Board Chair, Roll Back Malaria Partnership; Board Co-Chair, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health; and Chair, UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board.
10. In being elected to lead the WHO, Dr. Tedros will make history as the first African to head the organization.
In a lifetime of service, Dr. Tedros Adhanom has used his proven political, diplomatic and negotiation skills to continue to build a healthier world for all people – a goal he will undoubtedly work towards when elected to be the next Director-General of the World Health Organization.
Dr. Tedros will be travelling in your part of the world soon and is available for phone and print interviews. For reference, the WHO election will take place on May 23rd in Geneva, Switzerland at the 70th session of the World Health Assembly.
Africa: Opio – the Ugandan Writing Jokes for Trevor Noah and the Daily Show
April 3, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Daniel K. Kalinaki*
Joseph Opio has always been serious about comedy. So serious, in fact, that he walked away from a promising newspaper job in Kampala, borrowed a large sum of money, and went to America to try and make people laugh.
Some people end up in comedy the way a drunkard stumbles into a previously unknown tavern on his way home. Others linger in comedy, waiting for an opportunity to move on to acting or a proper job. For Opio, comedy was the journey and the destination.
We meet in a small busy restaurant in mid-town Manhattan after a live recording of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Opio’s fortunes are closely hitched to the South Africa-born comedian’s wagon but he has laced his bootstraps himself.
The making of Opio
He had been one of the best A-Level students in Uganda and, after reading a law degree Opio had landed a job with a major audit firm in Kampala. But the life of stuffy suits did not sound appealing and he had been drawn to comedy in his early teens when he watched Bernie Mac and ‘The Original Kings of Comedy’.
He had dabbled in sports journalism at the New Vision newspaper in Kampala where he landed a sub-editing job at 17 while still a student, but the newspaper world, away from the sports pages, was full of grim news stories.
“Instead of complaining I decided to vent using comedy,” says Opio. The result was a comedy show, LOL Uganda, on Urban TV, a small station in Kampala, which Opio wrote, edited, directed, produced and presented.
Although only in his 20s and despite the show being only mildly popular on a small, start-up station, Opio quickly became, he says, the highest-paid television presenter in the country.
But it was not enough.
“Most people want to be the biggest fish in the small pond,” he says, “and the problem with [many] Ugandans is thinking small.”
His first big break
Opio’s first break came during a visit to South Africa to attend a reception for the Late Night Show comedy. He met the right people and made such an impression with his jokes during the chitchat that he was invited back to work on the South African comedy circuit. Within a month of moving to South Africa he had become the first foreigner to win the Nando’s Showdown, a stand-up comedy face-off in Johannesburg.
Opio was tempted to lay down roots and try to make a comedy career in Johannesburg but he learnt that the SA show he had written some jokes for on his earlier visit had been nominated for an international Emmy and its host, Trevor Noah, had moved to America to try his luck on a bigger stage.
Coming to America
Never short of confidence, Opio returned to Uganda, worked on a screenplay, looked for money and applied for a visa to America. Soon after, armed with a fistful of borrowed dollars and a suitcase of dreams, Opio landed in New York.
They had never met but Noah had heard about Opio in the SA comedy circuit and they hit it off immediately, chatting from 8pm to 3am.
A few months later, Noah was handed The Daily Show, replacing Jon Stewart. Although Noah had, by that time, spent six years playing the stand-up circuit in America, it was a gamble by Comedy Central to put a foreign comedian with a distinctive accent (and who speaks six languages) in one of the most coveted late-night TV seats.
To add to the complexity, Noah decided to give the show a more global appeal, embracing diversity and bringing in writers who knew about American issues, but also about the world. Opio was hired as one of the writers.
What it is means for Opio
His impact was almost immediate, lampooning Donald Trump, then a long shot in the Republican primaries, as potentially America’s first African president in the mould of former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin – but it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
Nightly ratings dropped as American audiences struggled to come to terms with the exotic humour and accents on the show. Fortuitously, Trump would become the gift that kept on giving and as he gained momentum in the presidential race, so did the show in the nightly ratings.
It has more non-white viewers and its overall viewership has become younger and more diverse, as it spreads out across platforms and geographical boundaries.
As the show rises, so have Opio’s fortunes; he paid off the loan within weeks of being hired and he describes living in Manhattan, where he rents an apartment, as “mind-blowing”.
We find a tiny table in the crowded restaurant and Opio orders a cappuccino. I order a draught beer. It is a popular pit stop for the workers on the show including Noah (he doesn’t show this evening) and Opio points out some of his fellow writers.
“Everyone at work has an Emmy,” he says, looking around the dimly-lit bar.
“Except the new guys.” It can only be a matter of time.
New developments and the future
Opio and his fellow writers on The Daily Show have been nominated for the 68th annual Writer’s Guild of America awards next month in the comedy category. Just joining the Guild is an achievement in itself, Opio says, pointing out that it has 300 members while the National Football League has 3,000 players.
“There is a higher statistical chance of joining the NFL than the Writer’s Guild.”
It is a long way from Kampala to Manhattan but Opio’s journey might still have some miles in it, from the east coast to Hollywood, with dreams of writing movies, screenplays and sitcoms. It is a journey with many stops and a constant loop of challenging oneself.
“That’s how you know that you are growing – when you look back at things you did a few months ago and you are embarrassed.”
Does he not worry about failing? About the career he turned his back to?
“If I can go and perform at the same club as Chris Rock and I am not laughed out of the place then I’ll take my chances,” he says. “If you are rejected at Barcelona you can always go back to Mamelodi Sundowns,” he adds in a football reference to the Spanish side and a smaller club in South Africa.
“My family has always been proud of me,” he adds suddenly, with introspection. “Being good in school helped, that’s probably why I have no self-doubt – it is something I’ve never had.”
He speaks a lot, and quickly, his mouth a wrestling arena between an American and a thick Ugandan accent. I ask if the Ugandan accent makes it easier for him to write jokes rather than perform them in stand-up comedy clubs.
“There are only two things Uganda has given me,” he says bursting out with laughter, “a bad accent and trouble at immigration…”
“Seriously though,” he adds, “As a Ugandan you have to fly just to get what an American gets by just walking. You already have an accent, so you have to make sense when you speak.”
I pick up the tab and we walk out into the crisp autumn night. We shake hands and I watch Opio as he walks towards the bright lights of mid-town Manhattan. It is not Fifth Avenue and there is no walking cane by his side but you can hear it in his accent when he talks; Joseph Opio is a Ugandan in New York. He’s hungry, ambitious and funny as hell.
Joseph Opio is a Ugandan now based in New York. He is the former host of the political satire talk show LOL Uganda since 2014.
Opio and his fellow writers on The Daily Show have been nominated for the 68th annual Writer’s Guild of America awards in February in the comedy category.
In November 2014, Opio met Noah at the Comedy Cellar in New York, a popular venue for comedians trying to get into the business.
Opio’s first break came during a visit to South Africa to attend a reception for the Late Night Show comedy.
Song thankful for support following return to Cameroon
April 3, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Leocadia Bongben*
The former Liverpool player was taken ill in October 2016 when he suffered a brain aneurysm and was hospitalised in Yaounde where his condition stabilised before he was taken to Paris.
Song returned to Yaoundé to a rapturous welcome on Saturday where he was met by dignitaries, friends and family.
“I’m going to say thank you to the people, to God and President Paul Biya and his wife because he did everything to keep me in a good way,” Song told reporters on his arrival at the Yaoundé Nsimalen Airport.
“And people in Cameroon, I’m going to tell them ‘thank you’ for everything they did when I was in my situation.
“To come out of a heart issue without a scar, I am thankful to God and the Cameroonian people. I am healthy thanks to the doctors, I underwent three aneurysm operations,” Song added.
The 40-year-old joked that his return to Cameroon was “not an April fool” and said he could not recall the moment he fell unconscious last October.
“I don’t remember what happened, but after my situation I’ve seen a lot of things. People have told me what happened. So I’m very happy to come back and I want to say thank you to all the people.
“When I opened my eyes the first reflex was to touch my head and I realised something was wrong, I was very far and I thank God for his mercy,” Song told the throng of journalists.
Bernadette Song, Rigobert Song’s mother, was elated at seeing her son.
“To be here to celebrate the return of Song, I am overwhelmed with happiness. I joked that he left like a passenger without a ticket, but today he has come back on his feet. I thank Cameroonians and the presidential couple for loving him so much.”
Poueni Francoise, a friend who went to Paris to bring Song back to Cameroon, described how seriously ill the former Indomitable Lion was.
“I was there when Song arrived at Pitie-Salpetriere (in Paris), operations followed immediately and he spent 40 days in a coma.”
Now, although appearing lean and with his famous hair much shorter, Song displayed his usual jovial nature.
He acknowledged the Indomitable Lions’ triumph at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations and that his reception at the airport reminded him of the special welcome he and his former team-mates received after winning the 2000 and 2002 Nations Cups.
“The Lions came back with the trophy, what again, a retired person?” Song joked.
As for his future plans, Song said he wanted to continue working as a coach for Cameroon’s football federation having undergone a series of tests to determine his fitness.
“I’m going to continue my job. I’m ok now. I don’t have a problem. My problem is in the past now. It’s another situation. I’ll continue to work normally.
“I will start preparing the CHAN (African Nations Championship) set to take place in four months.”
Ponderables and Imponderables of President Kagame’s AIPAC Trip
March 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
-A strong showing for the Rwandan leader on Africa’s AIPAC debut
By Ajong Mbapndah L
On Sunday morning, March 26, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda became the first African head of state to address the annual gathering of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, one of the most influential lobbying groups in Washington. Also on the program Sunday morning was former British prime minister Tony Blair. Later in the day, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and former Canadian prime minister Stephan Harper addressed the conference.
AIPAC’s annual policy conference takes place this year from March 26 through March 28 at the Washington Convention Center. In 2016, 20,000 people attended and every presidential candidate (except for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders) spoke at the event, as did then-Vice President Joe Biden. Each year it attracts top U.S. government officials, key congressional committee chairmen and powerful senators, military officers, journalists, and wealthy philanthropists who have an interest in Israel and U.S.-Israel relations. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and advisor, Jared Kushner, is a long-time participant in AIPAC activities and he will be there as his father-in-law’s eyes and ears.
During the past five years, AIPAC has spent more than US$14 million on lobbying the U.S. federal government. In what looks like a tactic in a “charm offensive,” Kagame will be looking among the AIPAC attendees to find lobbying services that have an inside track with the new Trump administration. According to available public records from the U.S. Department of Justice, since 2014, Rwanda has already been spending a minimum of US$45,000 per month – more than US$540,000 per year – on lobbying and public affairs services in the United States. Sources in Washington and Kigali suggest that Kagame is prepared to spend double that to cozy up to the new Trump administration.
Kagame’s invitation to AIPAC stemmed from a sense of affinity between the Israeli and Rwandan peoples, who have both suffered from genocide. There was another motivation in Kagame’s visit to Washington, however: to shore up his relations with the new Trump administration, which has close ties to AIPAC through Kushner (the Orthodox Jewish husband of Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, another close West Wing adviser), and to Israel itself, through Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who did not hide his support for Trump over Clinton during the raucous 2016 presidential campaign.
With the departure of the Obama administration, Kagame has lost his key patrons in the U.S. government, including former National Security Advisor Susan Rice (who, in the private sector, represented the Rwandan government as a consultant in the early 2000s) and former Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who made her reputation as an Africa analyst by writing about the Rwandan genocide of the 1990s. Her book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, brought Power to the attention of Barack Obama and eventually to her ambassadorship in Turtle Bay.
Recognizing that Africa is a low priority for the Trump administration’s “America first” foreign policy, Kagame will use his short trip to Washington in meetings with opinion influencers, such as think-tank experts and Africa policy makers from previous administrations. For instance, Kagame is scheduled to speak in a closed-door meeting at the prestigious Atlantic Council on Monday, March 27. The event is hosted by Dr. J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa program at the council, who is widely touted to be the next Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, succeeding Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who has left the State Department for a pre-retirement fellowship at Georgetown University. (Thomas-Greenfield is likely to be among the 30 or so experts who attend Kagame’s presentation at the Atlantic Council, along with other former assistant secretaries like Herman Cohen and Constance Berry Newman.)
In Kagame’s speech to AIPAC, he stated that “Until all ideologies which justify killing as a patriotic duty are defeated our world is not truly safe. Not for us, not for anyone.” Yet his appearance before the 20,000 “friends of Israel” at the Washington Convention Center came on the heels of reports from the Democratic Republic of Congo that Rwandan militias under the banner of the FARDC had beheaded more than three dozen Congolese police officers. The Rwandan-backed, Tutsi-staffed FARDC has also been implicated in the kidnaping of American aid worker Michael Sharp and the assassination of Swedish UN expert Zaida Catalan.
These events stand in odd juxtaposition to Kagame’s urging in his AIPAC speech that, “together with friends like the United States, we must call for renewed global solidarity against the reckless efforts to deny genocide and to trivialize the victims.”
According to one African Analyst, Kagame’s presence in Washington and meeting with prominent advisors to the White House suggests he wants to claim the inside track against other leaders in the Great Lakes region, so that Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza, for instance, will have to play a game of “catch-up” to obtain the attention of the Trump administration and retain the political and logistical support those countries have received from the United States infighting regional terrorism. (Both Uganda and Burundi have deployed hundreds of troops to Somalia as participants in AMISOM, the AU Mission in Somalia.)
Even in the absence of his old friends Susan Rice and Samantha Power, Kagame has enough political savvy to sniff out new allies in the unconventional Trump administration, whether it is in the still-to-be-staffed State Department or the White House National Security Council – or even in the Pentagon, which more than two decades ago took Kagame under its wing to train him and his comrades-in-arms to end the genocide and take over the Rwandan government.
Praised by many who give him credit for the changing fortunes of Rwanda and scorned by critics who see growing dictatorial tendencies, Kagame has emerged as a champion of African solutions to African problems. His latest leadership role is a commission under his watch to come up with reforms to boost the economic viability of the African Union. One of the few African leaders to have spoken to President Trump so far, Mr Kagame is also the first leader to be hosted by Washington in a high profile event since the new U.S Administration took office.
Star studded Kgalagadi Soul to tour SADC for workshops and performances
March 20, 2017 | 0 Comments
Kgalagadi Soul is a collaboration of three top artists – Mumba Yachi of Zambia, Sereetsi from Botswana and Austebza a South African. The trio has acquired a wealth of experience wowing their fans all over the world on big and small stages. Kgalagadi Soul will present a rich repertoire drawn from the trio’s individual projects using one international band comprising musicians from Congo (Nseka Bienvenu – guitar), South Africa (Bokang Kupa – keyboards), Zimbabwe (Leroy Nyoni – drums) as well as the USA (Terry Lewis – saxophone) that makes the tour a strong collaborative affair.
Kgalagadi Soul will be doing workshops during the tour in cities they will be performing at to share their knowledge with young and aspiring musicians. The one-day workshops will be structured in this way:
Sereetsi whose 83 page four string folk guitar instructional book/CD has been approved by Botswana Education Ministry to be taught in schools, will be leading the workshops. He will be teaching the technique of playing a modern guitar on four strings. A tradition originally used by herdboys on a self-made tin guitar.
Mumba Yachi will be sharing his experiences in the international music business scene.
Austebza will also share her experiences as a performer, a session musician and a bandleader as a woman in the tough music industry.
MUMBA YACHI is a folk musician born in Mokambo, a border town with the DRC Congo. He developed interest in music at a tender age while listening to his mother singing in a church choir and his father playing his various records of African musicians
Mumba Yachi seriously involved with music after spending just one day at the university. He quit university to follow his music call. He has been active on the music scene since 2009 and has released four albums – I am Lenshina (1st May 2015), Mongu Rice (2013), Mokambo (2012) and Inspire Me (2010).
Mumba Yachi has won several awards in the Zambian music scene
including Best Traditional Album for his Mokambo album and Best Live Recording Album for I am Lenshina album. He has become a household name in Zambia and is considered the leading voice in traditional/folk music of his generation. He is also a UN Ambassador for Gender Equality.
He has already collaborated and shared the stage with a number of well known artists such as Femi Kuti, Mokoomba, Hugh Masekela, Joss Stone, Mama Sibongile Khumalo and Hope Masike. He recently shared the stage with Sereetsi and the Natives and Jonathan Butler in Gaborone.
SEREETSI has just won four awards out five nominations at the BOMU Awards 2016. He is considered a pioneer on the cultural landscape in Botswana. His 83 page guitar instructional book/CD on the local folk guitar tradition entitled The Solo Four String Guitar of Botswana is a groundbreaking first. He continues to present workshops on the folk guitar tradition in Botswana and internationally. His book has been assessed and approved for use in schools by Botswana’s education ministry.
Only over a year after the release of his debut album, Four String Confessions, the act has already shared stages with established names like Jonathan Butler, Oliver Mtukudzi, Caiphus Semenya, Jaziel Brothers, Letta Mbulu and McCoy Mrubata. Sereetsi is the first Botswana act to embark on a month-long tour of South African (2016).
Sereetsi has also played Chicago, USA, Planeta World Music Festival in Gothenburg, Sweden, the Mahika Mahikeng Jazz festival for two years in succession, Kgalagadi Jazz Festival and the Cultural Calabash Fest in Durban, South Africa. This is in addition to a busy festival and corporate gig schedule in Botswana. Among festivals Sereetsi & the Natives has played in Botswana are the Maun International Arts Festival, The Hamptons International Jazz Festival, Son of the Soil and the President’s Concert.
Born in Krugersdorp and bred between Boons and Mafikeng, AUSTEBZA is a vibrant, energetic, incredible musician. She started her music career after her parents couldn’t afford to pay her university fees, but she has always been involved in music throughout her middle and high school. She then went to join the music department at the Mmabana Cultural Centre in Mafikeng, where she learned how to play the acoustic guitar.
Austebza has just landed the musical directorship of Feather Awards 2016. She has also worked with various artists such as HHP, Gang of Instrumentals, Maxhoba., Wanda Baloyi, Swazi Dlamini, KB Motsilenyane. While working with these top musicians, Austebza managed to travel Nigeria, Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, USA, Germany, Namibia, Jamaica.
Her debut album, Make a Difference has been well received. She is constantly performing with her band around South Africa.
The Kgalagadi Soul Tour 2017 is supported by an ANT Funding Grant from Pro Helvetia Johannesburg financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
30 March – Pretoria – African Chef – Performance
31 March – Pretoria – Bentley’s Country Lodge
04 April – Gaborone – Maitisong Festival – Workshops and performance
05 April – Pretoria – Solomon Mahlangu Arts Centre
13 April – Kuruman – Kgalagadi Jazz Festival – Workshops
15 April – Kuruman – Kgalagadi Jazz Festival – Performance
02 May – Johannesburg – Wits School of Arts – Workshops
03 May – Pretoria – Tshwane School of Music – Workshops
17 May – Durban – UKZN Jazz Centre – Performance & workshops
More shows to be confirmed.
For Kgalagadi Soul Bookings and Media enquiries:
Africa: New Head of AU Commission
March 14, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Cristina Krippahl*
New African Union Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat officially takes up his post on Tuesday. But who is Faki and what does he stand for?
A seasoned diplomat and politician, 56-year-old Moussa Faki Mahamat is no stranger to the challenges presented by the top job he was elected to on January 30. He is seen as the architect of Chad’s nomination to the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member and also of the country’s presidency of the AU in 2016. He headed the AU Commission on Peace and Security at the Nairobi summit in 2013, which was dedicated to the fight against terrorism. Above all, as a former Chadian prime minister and current foreign minister he has had a decisive say in all the military and strategic operations his country was and is engaged in: Libya, Mali, South Sudan and Central African Republic, the Sahel and the Lake Chad region.
His election as chief executive of the AU thus indicates a very likely reorientation of AU policies towards issues of peace and security on the continent, Liesl Louw-Vaudran of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria told DW: “His country, Chad, is well known for seeing itself as a sort of champion of military intervention.”
His predecessor, South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, was severely criticized for neglecting the pressing issues on the crisis-riven continent, preferring to concentrate on longterm plans of prosperity for Africa, not to mention her own political career at home. Moussa Faki, on the other hand, has already left a mark in the fight against terrorism, most notably as chairman of the council of ministers of the G5Sahel, a military anti-terror alliance made up of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, of which Ndjamena is the driving force.
His election to the AU Commission is likely to please both Europe and the United States of America, who support Chad in the fight against Boko Haram and other jihadist groups. Chad is also the headquarters of the French counterterrorism operation in the Sahel, Operation Barkhane.
Democracy not a priority
But not everybody welcomed the news. Doki Warou Mahamat, a Chadian who coordinated the campaign against Faki’s election, told DW: “Moussa Faki is on the payroll of a dictatorship. The Chadians are in a state of mourning. You have to clean up your own act before starting somewhere else.”
Moussa Faki is reputed to be very close to President Deby who was reelected in April 2016 for a fifth consecutive term. The outcome was widely criticized because of serious irregularities. Deby has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1990. Both are members of the Zaghawa ethnic group. Analysts note that Deby succeeded in placing a man he trusted at the helm of the AU on the same day that he handed over the rotating presidency of the organization to Guinea, showing the extent of Chad’s influence in the AU and on the continent.
Reforms in the offing
Nevertheless, Faki’s election was not a foregone conclusion. Internal rifts in the AU were highlighted in July 2016 when no candidate won the necessary two-thirds majority at a previous attempt to elect a chairperson, forcing Dlamini-Zuma to stay on for an extra six months. And early this year it took seven rounds of voting before Faki emerged as the winner ahead of Kenya’s Amina Mohamed, long considered the favorite.
While campaigning, Faki, who studied law in Brazzaville and Paris, said that as head of the AU Commission he would want a continent where “the sound of guns will be drowned out by cultural songs and rumbling factories.” While he promised to put development and security at the top of the agenda during his four-year term, he might also want to go ahead with at least some of the reforms deemed necessary to make the organization more effective. “The AU chairperson should be able to make a stand and authorize the sending of AU troops in crisis situations. At the moment, the Commission is sort of beholden to the decision of the 55 member states. Basically, the Commission’s hands are tied,” expert Liesl Louw-Vaudran said. Being a man accustomed to power and who expects to be obeyed, it is likely that Faki will want to change that.