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Living The Dream Life: Africa’s Next Top Model Bello Frasher On His Journey to the top and 2020 vision
January 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

The Cameroon born Bello Frasher has taken the fashion world by storm

Impossible it is to walk downtown Washington DC, Paris, Canberra or some exotic destination in Europe and not catch billboards or posters adorned with Bello Frasher, a superb model who might just be the next big thing the fashion industry is bracing for.

The Cameroon-born international sensation has over the years groomed himself and is now taking the Fashion industry by storm.

A brand influencer with distinction, catalog model, brand ambassador and face of CONNAISSEUR PARIS,Bello Frasher squeezed time off his hectic schedule to talk about his career and plans for 2020  with Pan African Visions.

Why modelling and the fashion business?

My love for fashion started from childhood. I have always love to look good and I always stood out among my friends. I will wear something and my friends will want to  know where I got it from hence that’s how I developed a passion for modeling and luckily for me, the camera loves me

What have your experiences been so far, may we know some of your challenges, success stories and deceptions?

Modeling is a very challenging field that I will say to get into you must be passionate about it. Especially being a male model, sometimes you got to change around strangers in an open space. Though things are getting better now, its still a very discriminatory field. As an African or black in New York trying to break into the fashion world which is predominantly white, I faced a lot of challenges ranging from my color & even my sexual orientation. But the fashion industry opens doors to a lot of fun opportunities, I get to travel around the world and mingle with high profile personalities. 

You are the face of CONNAISSEUR PARIS , can you shed light on this fashion label and the nature of your collaboration?

CONNAISSEUR PARIS is a European men fashion brand that started about six years ago with our head office in Paris and branches in several states in America. As the global face, I represent the brand in and out of the States. I’m the poster boy you will see on billboard ads in Paris & other locations and even on the website. I speak on behalf of the brand & host fashion shows to showcase our products. 

Why CONNAISSEUR PARIS when with the reputation you’ve built top players in the industry are after your business?

What most people don’t know is I did not start my fashion career with CONNAISSEUR Paris before Joining the team, I used to work for H&M as well as a catalog model for their summer look book and with top man. 

Bello Fraher is the brand Ambassador and face of the famed fashion label CONNAISSEUR PARIS

I choose CONNAISSEUR Paris because they were not just offering me a job but they were bringing me on board as part of the team. Beside the brand is true to itself by always putting the customer first and providing them with the best quality & high fashionable Italian fabrics at an affordable price

How challenging was it for you to get a breakthrough in this line of business here in the West coming all the way from Africa?

The higher you climb up the fashion ladder be it as a model, designer or fashion brand it becomes more difficult because the industry is almost completely white. So, imagine 

being a black-own fashion brand competing with some of the big fashion brands. They couldn’t have it and they tried everything to kick us out of business because they were scared of the high value of our products and its affordable price. Who won’t want to pay less for a high-quality suit! 

In terms of remuneration, how lucrative has the modelling business been for you and is Bello Frasher comfortable telling us what income bracket he is on or what it takes to get his services?

I will tell others not to go into modeling for money. It has to be a passion and of course your passion will always bring you money if you channel it properly. It’s a passion for me, I love what I do. So, I will say it’s very lucrative if you are passionate it and it makes you happy. I can’t put a price to happiness and if anyone requires my service, hit my PR team up and you will find out that I’m very affordable.

As challenging as it it is,the fashion industry opens doors to a lot of fun opportunities around the world, says Bello Frasher

You’ve inspired a lot of young people who some of whom are looking to emulate your path, what advise do you have for them, any tips for success?

Not everyone tends to discover their true potential or what they are passionate about. To the young ones out there, if you truly know what you are passionate about, don’t give up. Believe in yourself even if people around you say you can’t make. Be consistent & hard working and that passion of yours be it modeling or whatever will take you places.

Modeling requires staying fit and in shape, what is your own recipe for that?

Hahaha my recipe for staying fit is knowing your body well. I’m a pescatarian meaning I don’t eat meat. I don’t drink alcohol; I eat very healthy and I drink a gallon of water a day. You see! I didn’t talk about workout because it’s the last on my list. So, the secret of staying fit is what goes into your body then you can work out to torn the physique.  

Exposure from your career certainly earns you lots of female admirers, how you cope with attention from female fans…

Hahaha who no like Better thing! Honestly this exposure and the fame has tamed me. I get a lot of attention especially private messages but I don’t get carry away by that. I have been handling it well with no pressure lol,

You are also into acting and a budding TV sensation. Should we expect any movies from you to hit the big screens soon?

My acting career is still very young but I’m grateful for the opportunities and the path fashion has open for me. I’m currently in negotiation  with some movie directors in Nigeria  in Nigeria and I’m working with the director of Fatal Attraction for a role on his show on TVone.

The hard working and multi talented Bello Frasher is slowly but steadily making a foray into the movie industry

What other plans does Bello Frasher have for 2020 and his career, in what ways do you think you can improve and any other big dreams you will like to achieve?

I entered this 2020 with some big paid ads’ partnership. I will be doing a lot of paid collaboration with big lifestyle this year and I’m excited. I’m starting for this 2020 with a personal project to give back to less privileged kids, orphans and internally displaced people from the English party of Cameroon. I will be in Cameroon in March for this initiative called #bfgives2020 and I have a gofundme to raise $5,000 for this project.

I will be doing a media tour in Cameroon during this time. My desire is to work with big brands in Cameroon like MTN, Guinness, Camtel, orange and the rest. You will be seeing me a lot on the cover of fashion magazines this year. So many goals and dream to achieve this year and I’m excited because I see a clear path to success.

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A Tale of Courage, Resilience & Hope For Justice in Wendy Bangura’s “Tears, Trials, and Triumphs”
January 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

With roles in successful  movies like Entrapped, Blood Brothers, Koming from Africa, Twisted Brain, Royal Dilemma 2, Diary of a serial Killer, Njidika in America, Busted Life, Greedy Realtor, and Ekei among many others, Award winning actress Wendy Bangura  has carved a niche for herself on the International and African film scene. From her native Sierra Leone to stardom in the USA, it has been an agonizing tale of heart-breaking experiences, courage, and resilience for the sultry actress chronicled in  her book titled “Tears, Trials, and Triumphs.”

According to Wendy Bangura, the book is a true-life story of the unexpected tragedy that struck her family during the calamitous civil war of the 90s in Sierra Leone. In the book, Wendy Bangura shares the tears, and tribulations she went through and how prayers, great determination, hope and big dreams ultimately led her to triumph in the face of all odds.

Wendy’s triumph is a reminder to always have faith, believe in divine providence, have hope, work hard and even the worse adversity would be overcome

While she talks a lot about the divine provision of God, Wendy Bangura dedicates her triumph to the memory of her late father Captain Hancil Bangura, a man she considers as her hero. The man described in the book as noble, hardworking, generous, patriotic, and a most loving husband to his wife and kids was summarily executed on 29 December 1992. Captain Bangura, Quartermaster of the Sierra Leone Army was executed alongside 29 other individuals without a trial or any due process.

Accustomed to living a stress-free life with all the pecks from her doting father, Wendy’s world came crashing. She gives graphic details of family activities on the day of the incident up to the point where a group of soldiers came and took her father to the military headquarters for a meeting. A meeting he never came back from.

Initial efforts by the family to get answers yielded no fruits, no one had answers for anything. To make matters worse, her family was not only placed under house arrest, but everything was also carted away by the power drunk soldiers. Vehicles were seized, property confiscated, and bank accounts frozen.

Wendy Bangura dedicates her triumph to the memory of her late father Captain Hancil Bangura, a man she considers as her hero

For the young girl that Wendy Bangura was, the experience was traumatizing. A good Samaritan working in the military learnt of additional plans by the military government to further hurt the family and facilitated their escape.

Later in the book, Bangura says several sources eventually fingered a certain Sergeant Musa of the NPRC regime as the brain behind the killing of her father and other Northerners in the army as a way of trying to restore Southern (Mende) rule. The book details the reign of terror of the NPRC and its eventual collapse.

From 1992 when tragedy struck to 1997 when the family had the opportunity to move to the USA thanks to the Diversity Visa Lottery program, Wendy Bangura sheds light on the challenges faced by her family to survive. While  Bangura again gives top credit to divine providence for the survival of her family under the miserable conditions which stood in stack contrast to the princely life they had when her father was alive, a number of benefactors are equally acknowledged for been there for them.

While Wendy and her family may have braved the ordeal, their hope for some form of justice remains largely unfulfilled. In January 2013, a delegation of families of victims of the December 1992 massacre led by Julius Bombay Kamara Jr son of the Former Inspector General of Police James Bombay Kamara tabled their case before then President Ernest Bai Koroma.

Under the canopy of the 29 Memorial Foundation for Justice and Development. The group indicated that the families had suffered for so long and it was time  to serve justice by atleast seeking to get the truth of what actually happened. From the book, we learn that President Koroma attributed inaction to the politicization of the issue. He assured the families that he understood their emotions and sorrow and pledged to do all in his second term to address the issues ……

Despite the palpable pain and sorrow manifested by Wendy Bangura in the book, one can see in her the proud and patriotic flare she probably inherited from Captain Hancil Bangura. For those who know nothing about Sierra Leone, the book gives 101 lessons on the rich history and culture of that West African country. From the people to its own tales of slavery, colonial legacy, and checkered political history, Bangura gives the reader a good feel of the history of her country.

Intended or not, Wendy Bangura equally gives the reader a reason to be curious about visiting Sierra Leone. From its healthy cuisine, the unparalleled beauty of its women, spectacular beaches, great view of the Atlantic Ocean, Bangura’s description of Sierra Leone is one of a country that lovers of tourism must add to their list. The depiction of Sierra Leonians as Killers in the movie Blood Diamond is wrong says Bangura.

“It is hard to see my people scorned by the world when the majority of us are peaceful, fun-loving, and God-fearing people,’ she writes.

The multi talented Wendy Bangura does is not only a famed actress but a talented producer as well.

Wendy Bangura who has equally produced successful movies like The Unforgettable Words ends the 142-page book with pictures of her family and some of her works. The book is easy to read. Been the fiercely ambitious and goal getter that Wendy Bangura is, one would not be surprised if someday the book is adapted to film.

As Sierra Leone continues its march forward from the chaotic past with despicable acts from the civil war, Bangura’s book is a reminder that nothing should ever be taken for granted. It is a call for introspection on values that should guide a modern society, a society where tribalism has no place, a society which recognizes and encourages hard work, one where people are not sentenced and killed without trial and one where justice delayed is justice denied. Wendy’s triumph   is a reminder to always have faith, believe in divine providence, have hope, work hard and even the worse adversity would be overcome.

Tears, Trials, and Triumphs,” is available on Amazon , and other online book distribution networks.For information on how to get autographed copies from the author, contact bwendy2012@gmail.com

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A Wellness and Sexual Revolution in Nigeria with Omoshola’s Empire
January 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

Omoshola’s Empire is a unique blend of Day spa and sexual wellness spa, stepping in to meet the challenges of today’s major skin and sexual crisis.

Today’s man/woman is one who is mindful of not just how they appear but also their health, fitness and sexual lifestyle.

Some relationships and even marriages fail because couples don’t talk about sex and what they can do to improve their libido or ensure mutual satisfaction.

Founded by Deborah Erioluwapo, Omoshola’s Empire offers curated beauty, grooming, and wellness services to help you look and feel your best. It is a place where our customers can find inner peace, talk to certified professionals about ways to improve their sexual relationships without inhibition or embarrassment, while escaping the stress of work or personal life. So that every time clients walk through our doors, they will breathe a little easier knowing they can totally relax, take their mind away from work and will be treated in the best ways possible.

At Omoshola’s Empire, we help our client’s experience the benefits of sexual wellness and Massage Therapy, including reduced pain, improved circulation, increased immune efficiency, enhanced focus, and more. A member of our team is always on hand to assist you with booking and scheduling your appointments for consultations and treatments appropriately. We prefer to attend to clients by appointment via phone or through our website. But
we also attend to customers who walk into our offices without any previous appointments.

At OMOSHOLA’S EMPIRE our goal is to ensure every relationship or married couple enjoys the full benefits of general well being.

* FOR QUESTIONS & INQUIRIES:omosholaaa@gmail.com

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Gambia: Gov’t, Diaspora agree to advance Development
January 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Senior Government officials and Diaspora meeting

Banjul, The Gambia January 8, 2020 – A high level meeting between permanent secretaries, senior government officials from departments and other agencies, and the GK Partners have been considering ways to implement a shared vision of the the need to significantly advance The Gambia.

The meeting, presided over by the Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service, Muhammad B.S. Jallow, was convened at the State House on Wednesday, January 08, 2020. It discussed strategies to decentralise focal persons for the Migration and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Programme of the National Development Plan( NDP) in all sectors across government.

The MSDG project is part of the NDP, and many of the activities within it are part of the flagship programme. As part of the GK Partners’ agreement with Gambia government, there is a whole month dedicated to celebrating the country’s diaspora which is considered its eight region.

“Besides the creation of a Diaspora Directorate at Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there has been some pronouncements at both policy levels and non-state actors to realising the set objectives of the MSDGs. Now, it is thought prudent to set up focal points for this programme across all government sectors,” Secretary General, Mr. Jallow told the meeting.

GK Partners have been organising annual diaspora forum for the third executive year this year. This new strategy will ensure that there is decentralisation of the programme throughout government institutions.

Professor Gibril Faal, the Director of GK Partners and the Migration and SDGs Programme in The Gambia project, explained that the programme came through extensive consultation.

The programme has widely consulted the Diaspora, the business community, NGOs and government through meetings, workshops, webinars, and online researche. It tried to understand how the government can engage the diaspora to partake in the NDP in an enhanced manner.

“We spoke to them on the difficulties and practical challenges they face in their attempts to engage with development policies and practice in The Gambia,” he said.
   
It also explored the difficulties faced by actors on the ground who are on the receiving end of dealing with the diaspora. That is why the programme is developed in such a manner that opportunities and challenges on both sides have been recognized.

The commonality and the shared vision is the fact that there is consensus that The Gambia needs to significantly move towards advancement. It becomes a question of what each actor can do towards this objective, Faal explained.

“Given that there is so many diverse and difficult things to do, it leaves much room for innovation and complementary action rather than undue competition,” Professor Faal concluded


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Government sign the IATA Billing and Settlement pact
December 1, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Uzman Unis Bah

The Sierra Leone Government has signed the Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) with the International Air Transport Association (IATA); an Agreement for the establishment of a single standard interface for invoicing and payment between travel agents and airlines.

A system Operating in 181 countries, the BSP is set to facilitate and simplify the selling, reporting and remitting procedures of IATA Accredited Passenger Sales Agents, as well as improve financial control and cash flow for its approximately 400 participating airlines.

Signing the agreement, the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Kabineh Kallon described the initiative as a laudable venture that will create the enabling environment for tourism and trade to blossom, adding further that the government of Sierra Leone spends an annual fortune on foreign travel due to huge variances in ticket sales to the same destination. 

“Having a BSP in Sierra Leone will allow for the domestication of global standards that ensures the security and reliability of funds among participants in the air travel and trade value chain. It will also enhance accountability in revenue management for the National Revenue Authority and the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority (SLCAA),” the Minister said. 

In his statement, the Director General of Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority (SLCAA), Moses Tiffa Baio said the signing of the BSP agreement is a testament of government’s commitment to make the aviation industry competitive in the sub-region. He added that the BSP is another step taken to reduce air ticket burden on Sierra Leoneans as it strives to stabilize the fluctuation of the exchange rate.

“I am happy to announce that Sierra Leone is the first country to sign the BSP agreement within the Sub-region. The BSP will provide immense benefit for the government and the people of Sierra Leone in that it provides predictability, certainty and sanity for ticketing, reporting and remittance generated from Foreign Travel Tax (TAX) and other taxes levied on airlines, travel agents and other aviation service providers,” he said. 

“The BSP will not only benefit travel agencies, but also the country and those tourists who would want to visit Sierra Leone. While we commend the SLCAA Boss for his effort, we assure the government of Sierra Leone that the BSP will be a success,” John Rogers, Head of Sierra Association of Travel Agencies (SLATA) said.

The Secretary of the Board of Airline Representatives (BAR), Edgar Lacle thanked the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, noting that it is a step in the right direction. He assured the government and the people of Sierra Leone of the board’s continued support to not only BSP initiative, but also any project that seeks to develop the aviation industry.

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Minister’s Report Beams a Light on the Fiasco of the Education Ministry
December 1, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Uzman unis Bah

Moinina David Sengeh - Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education
Moinina David Sengeh – Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education

Freetown, Sierra Leone, a report by the newly appointed minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Moinina David Sengeh has shed light on the derelict condition of the ministry.

In his report, the minster highlights urgent needs for rehabilitation of the structure itself, and the need to upgrade the wash system of the ministry, which is in fiasco.

Sengeh compiled a report on what obtains at the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), days upon bearing the portfolio of a full cabinet minister; in the report, shocking revelations highlighted a failing system; consequently, years of failure in the educational system.

The report highlights issues the Minister observed in and around the Ministry surroundings, including but not limited to trash all over the building, broken furniture, abandoned equipment, no system of operations and poor sanitation facilities.

Relating to the attitude of the workers, Minister Sengeh stated in this report that staff were idling around the ministry, watching Movies in the office and speaking Krio, a local dialect, which is not the country’s official language of communication. “Staff speak krio mindlessly in the office, there is no resource library and staff do not have access to (haven’t read) policy document of MBSSE” the report states.

“The report shed a beam of light on poor staff attendance, “About half of all senior management were not at their desks between 10:40AM to 12:30PM. In addition to the Permanent Secretary who asked for permission to travel that morning, and the head of human resources, there were entire teams that were absent from their units including Informal Learning, it was also apparent that many senior technical leaderships were out of the country/office at the time” the report reads.

The minister recommends the allocation of resources to swiftly, rectify some of the issues he has outlined. As the report concludes, “if the ministry cannot solve these problems, it can’t lead a transformation in education”. Education is the flagship priority of the New Direction government.

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Sierra Leone :SLBL bids Farewell to former Managing Director
November 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Laurent Bukasa, M D Designate, Daaf Van Tilburg with SLBL staff and guests at the event
Laurent Bukasa, M D Designate, Daaf Van Tilburg with SLBL staff and guests at the event

Former Managing Directorthe Sierra Leone Brewery Limited (SLBL), Daaf Van Tilburg ,has been seen off in style with well-attended farewell cocktail in his honour at the Sierra Light House in Aberdeen, Freetown

Speaking at the event, the former MD thanked everyone for their presence adding that it is very nice that he was able to  have  farewell together with everyone in the company adding that he grateful for the opportunity to serve them well during his three years.

“I am standing here with mixed emotions as I have got a great next career opportunity for which I am grateful. But I am also very sad to leave beautiful Salone, the nice people of Sierra Leone and all of you. I want to let you know that my family and I had a fantastic time in Sierra Leone,’’he said.

He added that if he looks back, he is  very proud of his  three-year tenure in Sierra Leone thus thanking everyone for the great work they have done for the company during his reign .

“Let me please take you through all what has been done. As a team, we made fantastic improvements. We invested over 35 Million Euro   in the brewery. As you can imagine, the implementation of such a programme, whilst running the business, is complex but our team did it very well. The brewery is now fully modernized with extended capacity. But along with the investments, we also very much invested in our people and organization which has been steadily growing in the last year. More than 95% of our employees are Sierra Leonean and it is amazing how they have developed and adopted modern state of the art technology. One example, our state-of-the-art canning line is now 100% ran by young and promising Sierra Leonean engineers and technicians. This is fantastic,’’Tilburg said.

Tilburg went to say , for their consumers, they  invested in their brands and  that they all look refreshed and modern stating that they have also  introduced innovations like STAR citron, Trenk Dark Malt Energy and Amstel International Lager beer and a full can format portfolio, the first of his kind which is very much appreciated by everyone thus the reason they invested a lot in  their  sales team, bars, restaurants and event sponsorships working  together with their  distributors to provide the best service while at  the same time invested a lot of time and effort in sorghum development and our communities via different Corporate Social Responsibility projects.

“I would also like to give a special mention to the Management team of Sierra Leone Brewery but also to all the members of staff who did a tremendous job together. Thank you to my team for organising this farewell party, I wish you all well and I look forward to hearing of your continued successes,’’

Laurent Bukasa, M D Designate SL Brewery Limited,  in his maiden speech at the cocktail , showered huge thanks to Daaf for a great welcome and introduction stating that it was a great pleasure to have joined Sierra Leone Brewery Limited, which is part of the HEINEKEN Group.

“I consider myself fortunate to have been given this opportunity to join an organization with such a fine reputation and good will for its quality products/services/ and contribution to national development and that of communities in this beautiful country, Sierra Leone. I am indeed happy to be here in Freetown and to face a new opportunity,’’ he said.

He added that the Managing Director position offers new and exciting platform to him and that he is  looking forward to do the job.

“Prior to coming to Sierra Leone Brewery Limited, I have worked for HEINEKEN over 23 years. My background entailed a lot of experience in the field of Marketing and Sales. The last position I held was, Corporate Affairs Director of the HEINEKEN Brewery in DR Congo. At HEINEKEN, we are partners for growth and development in any country in which we operate,’’ Bukasa explained.

Bukasa further said as a Managing Director, he promise to maintain all these links and useful engagement with stakeholders including the government of Sierra Leone,  Distributors,  suppliers, Chamber of Commerce, Association of Manufacturers, Employers Federation, Sorghum Farmers and Marketers Association, MCCU and all other partners adding that they will continue with their  trajectory to invest on capacity and quality to meet the demands of the market.
“For our consumers, we are committed to good services at all times. I want to confirm to you that my team and I will keep an open-door policy and continue with our strategy to be a best in class in Sierra Leone. I pray for your support during my tenure with useful and positive engagement. With this, I am looking forward to having an opportunity of engaging you all,’’

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South African women demand Death penalty for rape
November 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Women in South Africa have petitioned the presidency over their dead penalty request. (photo: CNN)
Women in South Africa have petitioned the presidency over their dead penalty request. (photo: CNN)

A petition spearheaded by women in South African which demands the introduction of death penalty for rape perpetuators and other offenses against women is gaining momentum and has garnered more than 600,000 signatures.

This follows the conviction in August this year of Luyanda Botha, who raped and murdered 19-year-old student Uyinene Mrwetyana when she went to pick up a parcel at the Cape Town post office where he worked.

He was handed three life sentences but women in South Africa say its not enough. They are requesting that for taking one’s life, Luyanda Botha and others like him should pay with their lives.

The petition tabled to the office of the president seeks to punish perpetuators so as to deter violence and Crimes against women in South Africa which they say is “an uncontrollable, vicious cycle where women and children are sexually assaulted and murdered with little to no justice for the ones that are left behind to pick up the pieces.” 

The petition which seeks to hit one million signatories so as to advance their demand insist its time to joined forces “to bring back the death sentence for crimes against women and children in the Hopes of saving this great country” 

South Africa rates of femicide –intentional killing of women and girls — is one of the highest globally when compared with other countries where data is available, according to Professor Rachel Jewkes, director of the What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls global program.

“We have three women killed every day by a husband or a boyfriend in South Africa, and this is much higher than in many countries. It’s much higher than it is in Europe or Australia,” she said.

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Gambia Music Union Clarifies ‘Peace Project’ by Gambian Musicians
November 14, 2019 | 0 Comments

Strongly advice artistes to distance themselves from politic

By Bakary Ceesay

Gambia Music Exco
Gambia Music Exco

The Music Union of the Gambia has reacted to the ‘Peace Project’ initiative by a group of Gambian musicians, presented to President Adama Barrow assured the full support of the state.


The musicians called on the president Adama Barrow over the weekend at State House to present the project with the hope enlisting the support of the state in promoting national unity, social cohesion, and harmony through the power of music.


Barrow said: “This peace project is very important; there can be no progress in the absence of peace and stability. As President, I and my government will support this project to its success. I have a mandate to the Gambian people and therefore take ownership of this project’’

However, on Tuesday in a press release from the Music Union of the Gambia is aware of the recent visit of a few Gambian Artists to the Office of President. We understand its was arranged and facilitated by President Barrow’s Youths For National Development together with Lamin Cham (DJ Champion Sounds)

The Artistes that were present went there at their own will on contract basis by the above mentioned bodies and had nothing to do with Gambian Artists or Music Union as a whole.

They presented a “Peace Initiative” Project which the Union isn’t against, we believe Maintaining Peace is key and the first step towards developing any nation and Gambia is not an exception to that fact.

What we are against is siding / working / affiliating with any political groups, parties or political related gatherings in the name of Gambian Artist or Musicians.

We believe there are right channels such as our line Ministry Of Youth & Sports or Ministry Of Tourism & Arts/Culture to facilitate such projects together with The Music Union Of The Gambia and National Centre for Art and Culture.

The Union is made up of different Artistes/Musicians with different tribes, backgrounds and political views, What brought us together is the music and we want to keep it that way.

Due to the present situation of the country, The Timing of the meeting and the Body Facilitating the meeting didn’t sit well for a lot of Artistes & the executives of The Music Union. Our believe is in order to strengthen the Music Union as an institution which has an executive with a mandate.

The Music Union Of The Gambia advices artistes to distance themselves from politics and if one wants to take part should do it on its own will and not in the name of Gambia Artists / Musicians / Music Union.

Our Music Industry lacks structure which we have been struggling to put in place and we believe working with the government could make this possible but only if its Channel to the right institutions/ offices.

We want to use this opportunity to inform all artists that the Executive will in a few weeks call on congress. We are equally happy to report that the constitutional Review committee will report on the drafted constitution for adoption and election of yet another executive to run the affairs of The Gambia Musicians Union in the years to Come. In the spirit of Peace and the Development of Gambia we salute you.

Peace

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Internet freedom and access on the decline in Zimbabwe
November 12, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Statistics from three publications released over the last few weeks paint a sober picture of internet access, use and freedom in Zimbabwe. A combination of factors have contributed to a drop in the number of Zimbabweans that use the Internet, while on the other hand, archaic and undemocratic laws continue to restrict free expression and access to information on online platforms, according to the Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe (MISA).

   According to MISA-Zimbabwe, the first publication in exposing the challenges forgoing is the Abridged Postal & Telecommunications Sector Performance Report for the Second Quarter of 2019, which reported a decline in internet users in Zimbabwe. 

  According to the report produced by the industry regulator, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), at the end of December 2018 62.9% of Zimbabwe’s population had access to the Internet. By the end of June 2019, this figure had dropped to 57.2%.

   A major contributor to the drop in internet usage rates is the increasing cost of mobile data and connectivity fees. Accordingly, the statistics reveal that at least 95% of Zimbabweans access the internet via their mobile devices using mobile data from mobile network operators such as Econet, Net-One, and Telecel. Recent months have seen steep increases in mobile data costs across all three mobile networks while user income level have largely remained stagnant forcing internet users to prioritise spending on other services besides the internet.

   MISA-Zimbabwe says that any drop in internet usage is worrying given the fact that the platform is an enabler for the enjoyment of other fundamental rights such as the right to free expression, access information and other seemingly distance rights such as the right to education and the freedom of association and assembly.

  “Furthermore, if an increase in national internet usage contributes to the growth of a country’s economy, it must be true that a decrease in the number of internet users will also contribute to a reduction of a country’s national income and economic growth,” MISA said.

  It is added that while MISA Zimbabwe took a stand against internet shutdown in Zimbabwe in January 2019, they are worried that the cost to access in now shutting out users from enjoying their constitutionally granted rights, specifically under section 61 and 62 on free expression and access to information.

  The second publication is the Affordability Report 2019 published by the Alliance for Affordable Internet. The Affordability Report states that a lack of competition in the broadband sector leads to the high cost of broadband in low-income countries such as

Zimbabwe among others. In the same report, Zimbabwe slipped one position down in the Affordability Drivers Index (ADI) to position 53 of 61 countries covered in the report.

   The Affordability Report calls upon policymakers such as Parliamentarians and regulators such as POTRAZ to play a role in formulating policies and regulations respectively that supports healthy broadband markets that are affordable to the majority of citizens within a given country.

  Poor policies such as high taxation of the telecommunications sector can effectively drive up connectivity costs. For example, local mobile network operators pay an estimated 65 cents out of every dollar they make to various government entities in the form of taxes and contributions to sector specific funds such as the Universal Service Fund. These multiple taxes and costs are passed on to the consumers of telecommunications services.

  The third publication is the Freedom of the Net Report published by Freedom House. This report states that the state of Internet freedom has globally been on the decline for the past nine years. Zimbabwe is however, cited as one of the five countries which have experienced the greatest decline in Internet freedom in the past year. This decline is largely due to the six-day long Internet shutdown experienced by Zimbabwe in January this year and arrests as well as harassment of dissenting voices online.

    The report found that Zimbabwe’s Internet space is partly free.

Other factors that have led to a decline in the enjoyment of Internet freedom in Zimbabwe include the existence of laws in the country’s Criminal Law Code that criminalise fair enjoyment of the right to free expression. In 2019, a number of people have been arrested for sharing messages that are said to undermine the authority of the President over social media platforms.

  The Freedom of the Net Report indicates an increase in the number of authoritarian governments that use internet based technologies and social media in particular to push their agenda that sometimes is in the form of misinformation campaigns. Since early 2018, the Zimbabwean social media space has seen an increase in social media accounts that express pro-ruling party sentiment.

   “There is nothing wrong with social media users expressing views in support of the political party of their choice. However, Zimbabwe has seen a significant increase in social media accounts that use pseudonyms and make use of generic stock images downloaded from the internet for their account profile images. This is exacerbated by rumours that political parties are investing in groups of social media users to defend that political party’s interests. These social media networks employ harassment and trolling to shut down any criticism of their political parties,” MISA said.

  According to MISA-Zimbabwe, the three reports indicate that a number of cost and policy related factors affect access to the Internet. The media organisation also says that they also show that the policy framework determines the level of enjoyment of rights and Internet freedoms. The reports also indicate that Zimbabwe has its work cut out in order to ensure a safe and affordable Internet for all.

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Gambia’s Dancehall Artist Explore Europe with Positive Vibes
November 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

ENC, alias Worldvibe General one of Gambia’s finest reggae dancehall artiste is currently on European where he played three successful shows in Germany in the cities of Duisburg, Bremen and Karlshue.

He is booked to perform in Italy, Malta, Finland and Austria, the tour is organised by Masta Lion Promotions, ENC this Friday he will be performing in Finland Helsinki

Masta Lion Touray, ENC’s tour manager said that;”Gambian Dancehall Superstar ENC is fully loaded to explore Europe from 31st October to 7th December 2019.

According to him, they are preparing for five shows in Italy, one in Malta and one in Austria

“We’re calling the entire Gambians and beyond to show some love and support the movements in promoting and exposing our music to global audiences,” the Brikama born veteran DJ said.

ENC Di Real (real name Essa Colley) is a reggae and dancehall artist from The Gambia. He was born in 1988 and ventured on the country’s music scene in 2005. In early 2006, he released two singles called ‘Money’ and ‘Nyamabakawass’. Some of the songs on the album received huge local airplay from the country’s DJs such as Fire Man and Dj G Faal.

In 2008, he participated at a TV show music competition called Gamcel Chart and made it to the final top ten. In 2009, he started deejaying and this gave him the opportunity of becoming a radio presenter on West Coast Radio. He introduced a dancehall show on radio called Back Stage Show. The platform allows young upcoming artists to get exposure by giving them a huge airplay and exclusive interviews.

Between 2010 and 2011, he released songs such as ‘Money’, ‘Nyamba Kawass’, ‘Spotlight’, and ‘December Energy’. In 2012, he did a collaborated with Amie Dibba on ‘Wanna Love You’ and Aria, a Jamaican dancehall artist on a song called ‘Rough up The Party’. In 2012, these songs made the star to make it to the international dancehall mainstreams in the world. That same year, he represented his country at the South America’s festivals held in Venezuela.

In 2012, he dropped a first dancehall mixtape called ‘Triple Action’. The project features 25 tracks which were presented and mixed by Rico Vibes. In 2013, he launched a 17-track mixtape called ‘Girls Segment’.

In August, 2015 he founded World Vibe Records to help local musicians produce good and quality music.

ENC Di Real became opened the annual Open Mic Festival. He has worked on a number of projects by other artists. He featured on songs such as ‘Soccalyoso Rhythm’, ‘Nice Again Rhythm’, ‘One Step Rhythm’ and ‘Nice Up Rhythm’.

In 2018, he release his debut album called ‘VICTORY’ comprise of 12 tracks. He is gearing up to launch a new EP called Cloud on 14th of December 2019 at Willy’s night club in lamin village.

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Nigeria:Paradigm Initiative Launches Learning Lab for Digital Rights and Inclusion
November 7, 2019 | 0 Comments

LAGOS – 5 November 2019 – Today, Paradigm Initiative is thrilled to announce that its first Digital Rights and Inclusion Learning Lab (DRILL) will begin operations in February 2020, and will operate from its new headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria.

DRILL has a mission to host innovative learning around digital rights and inclusion in Africa, and serve as a space for both practice and reflection. The Learning Lab will involve, and connect, different stakeholders and create dialogue amongst researchers, social innovators, policymakers and actors, the private sector, as well as civil society.

As a lighthouse for digital rights and inclusion advocacy in Africa, learning activities will take place at the Lab in order to evolve new thinking on digital rights and inclusion strategy for Africa. There are a variety of activities that will take place, including, but not limited to, focused future-facing research; presentations; ecosystem meetings and discussions focused on digital rights and/or inclusion hosted within the ecosystem; and general communication about the lab’s activities.

DRILL will offer a space for big thinking, evaluation of digital rights and digital inclusion programs, and future-proofing ecosystem activities. DRILL will host innovators, researchers and/or entrepreneurs-in-residence at the PIN HQ so they can host biweekly ecosystem/sector meetings (to share insight/ideas), biweekly presentations (to share outcomes of their research and/or work) and work with the Executive Director to record a monthly DRILL podcast on topical issues.

“There are both enormous challenges and opportunities for realizing the ambitious task of creating an inclusive, healthy, safe and open Internet in the coming decade for all Africans, including marginalized and vulnerable populations such as women and girls, people with lower income levels or living in rural communities, sexual minorities, the elderly and persons with disabilities,” said ‘Gbenga Sessan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative. 

“Connecting the next billion, who mostly live on the African continent, requires not only technological and commercial innovations, but also new models of collaboration among all stakeholders,” he continued. 

He added, “The selection process for the DRILL Fellowship will be supported by an External Advisory Group made up of ecosystem leaders, including Alberto J. Cerda Silva (Ford Foundation), Anriette Esterhuysen (Association for Progressive Communications), John Dada (Fantsuam Foundation), Nnenna Nwakanma (World Wide Web Foundation), and Oreoluwa Somolu Lesi (Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre), who will help shape the program and work with the PIN team to review Fellowship applications.”

The inaugural fellowship of the Digital Rights and Inclusion Learning Lab will start in February 2020. The fellowship will be open for a period of three months at a time, but can be renewed for another three months, depending on planned activities and joint reviews between the Fellows and PIN. 

“As a mid-career fellowship, potential candidates will be expected to have had a minimum of 5 years’ experience as technology or social innovators, researchers, policy experts, and/or entrepreneurs,” said Emmanuel Vitus, Communications Officer at Paradigm Initiative. 

In his words, “Paradigm Initiative will cover costs associated with learning activities at the Digital Rights and Inclusion Learning Lab and provide office space, an opportunity to be embedded within our team, access to the ecosystem, and feedback on projects throughout the duration of the Fellowship.”

Applications are open via the Paradigm Initiative website, www.paradigmhq.org/drill, until December 20, 2019.

About Paradigm Initiative

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) is a social enterprise that builds ICT-enabled support systems and advocates for digital rights in order to improve the livelihoods of under-served young Africans. The organization’s digital inclusion programs include a digital readiness school for young people living in under-served communities (LIFE) and a software engineering school targeting high potential young Nigerians (Dufuna). Both programs have a deliberate focus to ensure equal participation for women and girls.  

The digital rights advocacy program is focused on the development of public policy for internet freedom in Africa, with offices in Abuja, Nigeria (covering the Anglophone West Africa region); Lome, Togo (Francophone West Africa); Yaoundé, Cameroon (Central Africa); Arusha, Tanzania (East Africa) and Lusaka, Zambia (Southern Africa). 

Paradigm Initiative has worked in communities across Nigeria since 2007, and across Africa from 2017, building experience, community trust and an organizational culture that positions us as a leading social enterprise in ICT for Development and Digital Rights on the continent.

Paradigm Initiative is also the convener of the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF), a pan-African bilingual Forum that has held annually since 2013. 

*Paradigm Initiative

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