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Cote d’ Ivoire bids farewell to DJ Arafat with grand funeral concert

Throughout the night, A-list African stars such as Davido, Sidiki Diabate, Fally Ipupa and Serge Beynaud sang for the music sensation

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Cote d’ Ivoire bids farewell to DJ Arafat with grand funeral concert

Tens of thousands of fans of Ivorian singer DJ Arafat, star of the hugely popular musical genre “coupe-decale” who died this month in a motorbike accident, gave him a spectacular send-off at the country’s main stadium early Saturday.

The overnight funeral concert at the 35,000-capacity Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan began Friday evening and ended early Saturday when Arafat’s body was brought for a final farewell.

Placed in the centre of the football pitch, it drew wild applause. Then the mood turned sombre with fans bursting into tears.

“The ceremony was really moving,” said Raymonde Nguessan. “We have lost a great man.”

Another fan, Samuel Kablan, was in tears as he declared: “Arafat was my life, my source of inspiration.”

Throughout the night, A-list African stars such as Davido, Sidiki Diabate, Fally Ipupa and Serge Beynaud sang for the music sensation, who died aged 33 on August 12 after a motorbike crash in Ivory Coast’s capital city Abidjan.

Cote d’ Ivoire bids farewell to DJ Arafat with grand funeral concert
Nigerian singer Davido leaves after paying his respects to late Ivorian singer DJ Arafat, during his funeral ceremony at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on August 31, 2019. (Photo by SIA KAMBOU / AFP)

Before the ceremony, Ivorian Culture Minister Maurice Bandaman conferred on him the national order of cultural merit for “his immense contribution to the artistic radiance” of Ivory Coast.

DJ Arafat, whose given name was Ange Didier Houon, was one of the most popular African musicians in the Francophone world, and had been referred to as the “king” of coupe-decale (cut and run), an Ivorian form of dance music.

News of his death led to scenes of hysteria among some of his fans and Twitter tributes from fellow artists. President Alassane Ouattara called him “a youth icon and ambassador of Ivorian music and culture”.

Coupe-decale originated in the bars of the lively Rue Princesse in the working-class Yopougon district of Abidjan and clubs and spread across West Africa.

‘Curious about everything’ –

DJ Arafat was due to be buried in the Williamsville cemetery in the working-class Adjame district.

His five children were present at the concert. There was tight security at the venue with some 6,500 security forces deployed across the stadium overlooking Abidjan’s picturesque lagoon.

Cote d’ Ivoire bids farewell to DJ Arafat with grand funeral concert
Ivorian singer Tina Glamour (C- on the giant screen) pays her respects to his late son Ivorian singer DJ Arafat, during his funeral ceremony at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on August 31, 2019. (Photo by SIA KAMBOU / AFP)

State radio and television broadcast the event live and giant screens installed in Yopougon and other working-class areas, as well as the upmarket Cocody-Angre district where DJ Arafat lived.

With a professional recording engineer for a father and a singer for a mother, the young DJ Arafat was well placed to discover musical techniques on the job.

“He toured the studios to learn, he was curious about everything,” said Franck Alcide Kacou, label and publishing manager of Universal Music Africa, a subsidiary of the multinational Vivendi, which produced DJ Arafat’s work from 2013.   

Working as a disc jockey on Rue Princesse, DJ Arafat made his breakthrough with “Jonathan” in 2003, which he followed with a string of other hits.

‘Divisive personality’ –

He “revolutionised coupe-decale by mixing sounds and rhythms. For instance, he was inspired by African traditional music, but also by Nigerian Afrobeat, by rap and by Brazilian funk,” Kacou said. 

“He was also an exceptional dancer and he linked the music he made to new dance forms.”

Such broad interests were reflected on DJ Arafat’s last album “Renaissance”, released in December 2018 and featuring Maitre Gims, Dadju, Davido and Fally Ipupa.

The Ivorian star could also be prone to controversy.

“He had a divisive personality. He was very sensitive, which explains his ‘unfiltered’ reactions and clashes with other artists, which formed part of his musical career,” Kacou said.

“But this was also a matter of marketing. Arafat was a genius for communication, he used social media very well.”

Twice winner of the best artist of the year in the Coupe-Decale Awards of 2016 and 2017, Arafat already had recognition across the continent in 2012, when he was named “Best African Artist” in the pan-African Kora Music Awards.

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Environment

Uganda’s teenage environmental activist calls for urgent climate change action

Leah Namugerwa has led a campaign to urge Kampala to implement a ban on plastic bags blighting the country

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Uganda's teenage environmental activist calls for urgent climate change action
Leah Namugerwa, a 15 year-old climate activist, holds a placard next to her father Lukwago Cephas in Kampala on September 4, 2019. - Her activism includes striking around the city with a placard in order to raise awareness about climate change and the environment. She also misses out on school every Friday as a protest and has full support from her dad who is also her manager. (Photo by SUMY SADURNI / AFP)

When Ugandan Leah Namugerwa turned 15 last month, she decided to plant 200 trees rather than have a birthday party, in her latest effort to spotlight environmental damage in her country.

Juggling school, protests, and giving speeches in regional capitals rallying for action to save the planet, she is one of a generation of youths inspired by Swedish environmental activist, Greta Thunberg.

“If adults are not willing to take leadership, I and fellow children will lead them. Why should I watch on as environment injustices happen before my eyes?” Namugerwa said in the Rwandan capital Kigali last week, receiving a standing ovation for her address on the climate emergency.

Back in Kampala, she told reporters she was inspired to do weekly school strikes after becoming aware of her own government’s “inaction” on environmental issues, and discovering Thunberg’s sit-ins outside Sweden’s parliament that led to a global youth movement.

Namugerwa was one of several activists with the Fridays for Future movement to receive this week Amnesty International’s highest human rights award for their work.

Uganda's teenage environmental activist calls for urgent climate change action
Leah Namugerwa, a 15-year-old climate activist, holds a placard in Kampala on September 4, 2019. (Photo by SUMY SADURNI / AFP)

She has led a campaign to urge Kampala to implement a ban on plastic bags blighting the country, and sounds the alarm about massive deforestation as well as prolonged droughts and flooding attributed to climate change.

“What made me get concerned and get involved in this campaign is because of the climate change and effects on our lives, like we have experienced high temperatures as never before, we have experienced flooding… diseases are spreading.

She said young people “have to speak out.”

“If we don’t, our future is not guaranteed. The current leaders will be gone but we shall be there to suffer the consequences of their inactions.”

A real danger –

The first time she held a protest for climate action was a Friday in February this year, on her own in a Kampala suburb.

Uganda's teenage environmental activist calls for urgent climate change action
Leah Namugerwa, a 15-year-old climate activist, holds a placard in Kampala on September 4, 2019. (Photo by SUMY SADURNI / AFP)

“I felt I was doing the right thing and on the right track but to most people including some of my family members it looked to them as weird. They were glancing at me, shaking their heads in disbelief as I held my placards,” she said.

Now, a group of teens join her every week in missing school to hold their strikes on Fridays.

“Some people have criticised me. They say at this age and on Fridays I should be in classroom not on streets holding strikes. Good thing my parents have supported me. They have encouraged me.”

Namugerwa — who will take part this Friday in co-ordinated worldwide climate protests — said she is heartened by rising interest in environmental issues in Uganda.

“Issues about climate change are not given the priority they deserve… but the debate is picking up now with our campaign.”

Another teen activist who has joined her strikes, Jerome Mukasa, 15, said Namugerwa had opened the eyes of young Ugandans to the environmental crises in their country.

“Before the message on climate and environment was not clear to some us but Leah has simplified it to us, that it is real and a danger to all of us.”

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Culture & Tourism

Moroccan TV show suspended for celebrity guest’s boast of “beating his wife”

No legal action has been taken against Miloudi, despite waves of outrage on social media

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TV show banned in Morocco for promoting violence against women
Courtesy: Chada TV, Morocco.

A Moroccan television show has been suspended for allowing a celebrity guest to boast on air of “beating his wife”, the country media authority said Wednesday.

“Whoever doesn’t beat his wife is not a man,” popular singer Adil El Miloudi said in June on a Chada TV show, Kotbi Tonight, drawing laughter from a fellow guest, actor Samy Naceri, and host Imad Kotbi.

“In Morocco, this is normal, anyone can do what he wants with his wife, hit her, kill her,” he insisted after  Kotbi jokingly said: “It’s forbidden to hit one’s wife all over the world.” 

Miloudi’s remarks amounted to “justification for violence against women, an express incitement to violence, presented in a positive way as a sign of virility… or even recommended behaviour”, the High Authority for Audiovisual Communication (HACA) said in a statement.

In response to this “explicitly violent speech”, the host adopted a “playful tone” and allowed his guest to repeat his call for violence against women”, it added. The media authority said Kotbi Tonight was to be suspended for three weeks.

So far, no legal action has been taken against Miloudi, despite waves of outrage on social media in reaction to his comments. Misogynistic and sexist attitudes are commonplace in Morocco and rarely condemned by authorities.

Last year, HACA penalised a Chada FM radio show after a commentator said on air that “women who are the most exposed to uterine cancer are those who resort to prostitution or adultery”.

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Culture & Tourism

Ake festival 2019: A festival of arts and books

The preservation of African culture gave birth to the Aké Arts and Book Festival

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Ake Festival 2019 partners News Central
A panel session with speakers discussing at the Ake Festival

What happens when two Afro-optimist giants and pioneers of African cultural advancement form a partnership to host the biggest cultural and artsy event on the continent?

You guessed right. An invitation to an authentic African experience. From October 24-27, the 7th edition of the Aké Arts and Book Festival will take place in Lagos, Nigeria’s economic capital. News Central will, this time, bring you all the action live from the venue.

Themed “Black Bodies: Grey Matter”, this year’s edition will feature book chats, readings, panel discussions, art exhibitions, films, music, theatre and many more creative expressions through black bodies that genuinely tell the African story.

The Ake Festival –  News Central Story

In the royal town of Ake, Ogun State, South-Western Nigeria, the birthplace of Professor Wole Soyinka, Africa’s first recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, a passion for the preservation of African culture gave birth to the Aké Arts and Book Festival.

For 6 years, the festival, founded in 2013 by renowned Nigerian writer, Lola Shoneyin has converged Africa’s brightest and most artistically creative minds to engage in pro-African discourse.

And this year, News Central hopes to infuse the “Africa. First.” narrative, an important piece in the Ake Festival puzzle for a successful celebration of Africa in all of her uniqueness.

What does Africa. First. mean for Ake Festival?

In a recent interview, Lola Shoneyin revealed her delight in partnering with News Central, a frontier media platform that puts Africa and Africans in the driver’s seat of our stories.

“I love Africa. First…and I love it because it really resonates with me.”

Lola Shoneyin

Africa. First. is a movement by Africans and for Africa! It seeks to put the conversation on African culture and power back on the front burner.  The African culture is vibrantly expressive, uniquely diverse, progressively modern and enviably embodied in Black Bodies and Grey Matter.

Our boldness and power are sourced from the blood of great inventors, mighty rulers and pioneers of civilisations that courses through our veins. African power is rooted in this transfer and it is our responsibility to protect and prolong it.

News Central is proud to pioneer this movement and shared vision to promote the African culture and power at events such as the Aké Fest, using our balanced and Afro-optimist media platform in making these stories accessible to Africans.

As our Director of Content and Programmes, Becky Muikia puts it:

“We give them a voice on a pan-African scale.”

Becky Muikia

Africa, now is your time!

Promoting, amplifying and celebrating the African experience is at the heart of the Aké Festival and News Central partnership.

For four days, come witness a full blend of Afro cultural immersion and untold stories told by hundreds of writers, poets, dancers, artists, film-makers, and other creatives. Join us on this shared journey by registering to attend here Aké Festival.

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All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

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