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  • The refugee writer from Somalia who influenced Beyonce's new album

    “I tried to make a home out of you/But doors lead to trapped doors.” So begins the first interlude of Beyoncé’s new ‘visual album’. Released on 23 April with a special on HBO, Lemonade features 12 songs – interspersed with words written by Somali-British poet Warsan Shire.

    While the album has whipped up a social media frenzy over Beyoncé’s lyrics, brimming with rage and accusations of infidelity, the quiet moments in between offer a thoughtful counterpoint. The words are those of Shire, a 27-year-old born in Kenya to Somali parents, who published her first pamphlet Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth in 2011 and went on to win the inaugural Brunel University African Poetry Prize in 2013.

    Taking second billing in Lemonade’s production credits for ‘Film Adaptation and Poetry’, ahead of the directors, Shire offers contemplation among shots of a flood, a car-smashing monster truck and a laughing Beyoncé wielding a baseball bat as she strides down a street followed closely by a fireball.

    The songs feature lyrics like “Looking at my watch you should have been home/Tonight I regret the night I put that ring on” – and their immediacy is given added weight by Shire’s poems. “I tried to change/Closed my mouth more/Tried to be softer, prettier – less awake” – uttered as Beyoncé spins under water, her eyes open as if in a trance – is adapted from For Women Who Are Difficult To Love.


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  • 'Congo rumba king' Papa Wemba dies

    Papa Wemba, known around the world as the "king of Congolese rumba", has died after collapsing during a concert.

    The musician fell ill on Saturday while performing at a music festival in Abidjan in Ivory Coast on Sunday. He was 66.

    The cause of his death is not known yet.

    Baudouin Banza Mukalay, culture minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), confirmed his death, calling it a "great loss for the country and all of Africa".

    "He was known as a true trendsetter," Suzana Omiyo, a Kenyan musician, told Al Jazeera.

    "One thing I remember about Papa Wemba was his way of performing and the fact that he was able to take African music to the global map. I believe he was one of the greatest musicians."

    Video footage showed the moment when he slumped to the floor behind a group of dancers before performers rushed to his aid.

    "Papa Wemba wanted to die on stage, that's what he told me two weeks ago when I spoke to him on the phone," Salif Traore, a festival promoter and singer also known as A'Salfo, told the AFP news agency.

    Papa Wemba, whose career spanned five decades, first burst onto the African music scene in the 1960s [Reuters] 

    'The music does not die' 

    The electric performer first burst onto the African music scene in the 1960s and scored one chart-topper after another, fusing African traditions with Western pop and rock influences. 

    In a career spanning nearly five decades, he won many fans across Africa and the French-speaking world.

    Read more at 

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  • New Ethiopian film addresses 'Red Terror' mass killings

    The Ethiopian film industry is growing, though most feature films, especially those shot in the country’s working language Amharic, are based on simple-minded concepts concerning wealth and love.

    It’s hard to find films that delve into historical matters. This could partly be due to a culture which sees history and politics as controversial matters that should be avoided for fear of public backlash or government disapproval.

    Those who dare describe Ethiopia’s often bloody and divisive political history have to contend with painstaking research, expensive finances and the danger that the government’s censor board will cut part of or even the whole film.

    Against this backdrop, a new film, “Ye Negen Alewdlem” (I will not be born tomorrow) has been causing a stir for probing what was probably Ethiopia’s most bloody period, the “Red Terror”, from the mid to the late 1970s.

    Against this backdrop, a new film, “Ye Negen Alewdlem” (I will not be born tomorrow) has been causing a stir for probing what was probably Ethiopia’s most bloody period, the “Red Terror”, from the mid to the late 1970s.

    It began with the 1974 revolution which overthrew the country’s last Emperor Haileselassie.

    Hailemariam Mengistu and the other military officers who led the coup then refused to hand over power to a civilian government, enraging leftist student activists.

    These students launched a campaign of “White terror” for democratic change and the overthrow of the military junta. Hundreds of officials and supporters from the new military government were assassinated.

    The military government retaliated with what was later dubbed the “Red Terror”, eliminating real and imagined enemies of the “revolution” and the country.

    Although no reliable figure exist, scholars have estimated the death toll of the Red Terror at about 150 000, with many others tortured.

    In 1991 the military junta was overthrown by a coalition of rebel groups which prosecuted many of the perpetrators of the Red Terror – many charged with genocide – in mass trials.

    “Ye Negen Alewdlem” – nearly two hours long – is based on a book written by veteran sports journalist Genene Mekuria about youths who used football as a distraction from the claustrophobic fear of the Red Terror.

    Local government cadres created much of that fear by their all-embracing surveillance of the population and the power of life and death or freedom and imprisonment they were given through the authority to denounce “anti-revolutionaries”.

    The main character is a football coach played by Berhanu Degafe, a veteran entertainment journalist and personality. The coach uses his job as an escape from the danger of forcible recruitment into a local government approved security force.

    He trains his players on roads littered with dumped bodies of “anti-revolutionaries” and anti-government leaflets as he tries to juggle family disapproval with his desire to build a great football team at a dangerous time.

    At a time when every young man not affiliated with government-approved structures risked torture and death, with a round-the-clock curfew in place to monitor illegal activities, it wasn’t long before the football team’s “rising stars” were under government surveillance.

    Eventually many of the young players of the football club are put in jail and tortured, while the coach’s wife urges him to quit his passion.

    But not before one last assignment where his players’ tormentors coerce him into a bizarre match between a government-approved team and his team of rising stars. If he doesn’t agree to the match he will be killed or imprisoned, he knows.

    The match ends with the coach’s team winning against the government favourites, annoying government officials.

    Defiant to the end, the “rising stars” chant anti-government slogans as they’re loaded en route to the prison, from which many would never leave, it is implied.

    While the “Red Terror” period is etched in many people’s minds through personal memories, or tales of survivors or of relatives of the dead, and a “martyr’s monument” in the middle of the capital city Addis Ababa, “Ye Negen Alewdem” is one of the few films to date to turn this particularly harrowing part of Ethiopia’s often troubled past into cinema.

    It must be admitted though that the filmmakers are treading on quite safe ground as the current government ousted Mengistu from power, so as long as the film portrays the Mengistu regime in a consistently bad light – which it does – it should be safe.

    The English sub-titles to the film suggest the producers intend an unusual move, to showcase to an international audience a period which most people outside Ethiopia know very little about. – African News Agency (ANA)



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  • Nigerian wonder artist's work draws international attention

    A young Nigerian Artist has sparked a huge sensation on social media in that country with his art works.35-year-old Olumide Oresegun's paintings are so life-like that people are now comparing some of his paintings to that of the famous Italian polymath, Leonardo da Vinci. CCTV's Deji Badmus went to check things out for himself at Olumide's art studio in the outskirt of Lagos and brings us this report.

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  • 3rd Gumma Film Award Anticipated for a reason

    The highly anticipated Gumma Film Award is around the corner! As one of the film industry’s most well organized award events, Gumma honors and acknowledges actors/actresses, directors, writers and producers works.

    This year will be the 3rd time the event is to be held, making it a strong and singular platform for public exposure and recognition in the film industry.

    This year, 93 films participated in nominations and out of those 26 were presented to a jury of 120 persons; the 26 films competed in 17 categories.

    The lists of nominees are already in, and can be found below:

    Best Actress Nominees

    Edelwork Tassew for her role in “Fikeren Laden”, Etsehiwot Abebe in “Ke Eletat”, Kalkidan Tebebu in “Mistane Kemugn”, Helen Bedelu in “Ye arada lij” and Lidya Moges in “Lamba”.

    Best Actor Nominees

    Girum Ermias in “Lamba”, Girum Zenebe in “Hareyet”, Tariku Berhanu “Wondeme Yakob”, Solomon Bogale in “Aleme” and Dereje Demeke in “And Jegna”.

    Best Supporting Actress Nominees

    Segen Yefter in “Mistane Kemuge”, Addis Alem in “Yewodedu Semon”, Fikerte Dessalnge in “Bemengede Lay” and Arsema Abaynhe in “Lamba”.

    Best Supporting Actor Nominees

    Kassahun Fisaha in “And Jegna”, Mekonnen Lake in “Yefeker Tera”, Eyob Dawit in “Ye Arada Lij”, Alemayhu Belayneh in “Yegeter Lij” and Abebe Wolde in “Aleme”.

    Organized by Ethio Film PLC, the award night will be held on February 29 with a red carpet event and of course featuring, several other films nominated in more categories. Before and after the big night, there will side events such as an orientation night for the nominees as well as workshops held by award winners.

    Promoting the award event, the Gumma team has and continues to maintain an interactive social media presence on facebook and twitter with fans expressing their opinions on their favorite and not so favorite actors and films. The award will also be awarding the public participants with tickets to the award night and maybe even a trip abroad.

    Source: capitalethiopia

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