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50 influential women in business: profiles

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Irene Charnley, South Africa, CEO, Smile Telecoms
The chief executive of Smile Telecoms is a born organiser. With a trade-union background, Charnley started in the world of business with the creation of the National Empowerment Consortium (NEC), a body aimed at empowering those who apartheid excluded from the commanding heights of the economy. The NEC then bought a 35% share of Johnnic Holdings – where Charnley was executive director – which in turn took a controlling stake in what became South Africa’s leading telecoms company, MTN, helping to drive its listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

And this commitment to sharing wealth has been constant. While at Johnnic, which is now called Times Media Group, she championed the Ikageng scheme, which turned 32,000 previously excluded South Africans into shareholders in Johnnic. And in 2002, Charnley led a R4bn ($296m) management and staff buy in to MTN.

While commercial director of MTN, Charnley spearheaded the group’s expansion through Africa and beyond, anchoring the company’s reputation as the continent’s biggest telecoms player. The entry into Iran, however, did not come without controversy. MTN was accused by rival Turkcell of stealing its licence, something denied by MTN and Charnley.

A brief spell as the unpaid chair of the South African Broadcasting Corporation in 2009 – where she uncovered scandal after scandal – displayed her continued interest in public service. But it was not politics that Charnley pursued after stepping down as executive director at MTN in 2007. Instead, telecoms remains Charnley’s core passion: as chief executive of Smile Telecoms, Charnley has continued to push for expansion. Smile now claims one of the largest 4G networks in Africa, operating in Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and soon in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Elisabeth Medou-Badang, Cameroon, Zone director, Middle East and Africa,Orange
Medou-Badang has steadily climbed the ranks at the French telecom provider Orange. She became CEO of Orange Botswana in 2009 before returning to her home country in 2013 to head up Orange’s operations there. She was named director for the Middle East and Africa this year, a post she hopes to use to spread the digital and mobile-money revolutions even further.

Jalila Mezni, Tunisia, CEO, Société d’Articles Hygiéniques (SAS Lilas)
Mezni shuns the spotlight, but her success in manufacturing personal care products has made her an influential member of the Tunisian business elite and she is one of the few women to run a listed company. SAH got a boost in 2016 when the private equity firm Abraaj acquired a stake, promising to help Mezni expand operations into the West African market. Mezni is now taking some of her fortune and investing it in the private education sector.

Nicky Newton-King, South Africa, CEO, Johannesburg Stock Exchange
The CEO of the continent’s biggest stock market is busy defending her institution after recent financial scandals, including the meltdown of Steinhoff. With that and high-profile corruption cases, she says her focus is on winning people’s trust. In a recent op-ed she lamented: “We have become too sceptical of those in positions of authority […] to trust that anyone would act other than for their narrow self-interest.” She hopes that a turnaround in South Africa’s economy will soon lead to a slate of new listings.

Anta Babacar Ngom, Senegal, CEO, Sedima
The 33-year-old France and US-trained business executive is taking a family business with activities in poultry and real estate to new heights. She joined the company in 2009 and became its boss in January 2016. In that year Sedima ploughed $29m into two new factories, a flour mill and an abattoir. Sedima has operations in Mali, Equatorial Guinea and DRC, and aims to be a top West African agribusiness within a few years.

Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita, South Africa, CEO, IchorCoal
Nyembezi-Heita started her career as an engineer for IBM, but unleashed her full potential when she got into business. After her role as head of investment group Alliance Capital Management, she became CEO of ArcelorMittal South Africa, and now of IchorCoal. She is also chairman of the JSE and the first woman to chair the board of insurance company Alexander Forbes Group Holdings.

Huguette Oyini, Gabon, Deputy MD, BGFIBank
After 16 years at BGFIBank, Oyini took over its second most important post, as deputy to Henri-Claude Oyima. She is in charge of the efficiency of the company’s subsidiaries, a pan-African mission considering that the bank is active in seven African countries. She is also busy with digitalising the bank’s services, and the court case by e-Doley for using its mobile transfer technology.

Maria Luisa Perdigão-Abrantes, Angola, Director, U.S.-Africa Business Center
The ex-wife of Angola’s former president José Eduardo dos Santos and former chair of its National Agency for Private Investment (ANIP), Perdigão-Abrantes still half-way between business and politics. In 2016 she was appointed a non-executive director of the U.S.-Africa Business Center, a US chamber of commerce programme to increase trade and investments across the Atlantic.

Maria Ramos,South Africa, Chief Executive, Absa (Barclays Africa)
Previously director general of the National Treasury of South Africa, Ramos took over the reins of Transnet in 2004. As chief executive, she restructured and partly privatised the state-owned transports company, before becoming CEO of Absa, which she is taking to the Nigerian Stock Exchange. She also serves on the board of luxury goods holding company Richemont.

Hania Sadek, Egypt, COO, HSBC Bank Egypt
Sadek started her career as head of the IT department of HSBC Egypt in 1983, and climbed the ladder to the very top. Appointed COO in 2010, she is also an executive director of the bank. Her 35 years of banking experience and her deep understanding of the company makes her a powerful woman in Egypt’s finance landscape.

Felleng Sekha, South Africa, Head of regulatory affairs and public policy, MTN
After leaving her executive position at MTN in 2007, Sekha is back to work with the South African telecom company, with a new unit created specifically for the ICT law specialist. She has also been working as a deputy chairperson of the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

Gloria Serobe, South Africa, Founder, executive director of Wiphold and CEO of Wipcapital
A member of various boards such as Sasol Mining and South African arms manufacturer Denel, Serobe is known for her contribution to the empowerment of black women. She founded Wiphold (Women Investment Portfolio Holdings) in 1994, which is majority black- and women-owned.

Heather Sonn, South Africa, Chair, Steinhoff International
Sonn is the former CEO of Legae Securities and president of the South African Association of Investors. In December 2017 she was reappointed to Steinhoff’s supervisory board as chairperson. She has since been busy dealing with the fraud scandal that hit the company in late 2017 and led to the resignation of its CEO, Markus Jooste.

Mama Tajmouati, Morocco, CEO, Ynna Holding
At 81, Tajmouati is the most senior businesswoman on our list. In 2016 she inherited her husband’s empire, comprising more than 30 firms owned by Ynna Holding, of which she was already an active member. The company covers many sectors, such as real estate, construction, hotels, petrochemicals and retail, making its diversity the driver of its growth.

Lamia Tazi, Morocco, Managing director, Sothema
Trained as a pharmacist, Tazi went on to head Sothema, the Moroccan pharmaceutical company founded by her father, Omar Tazi. She has restructured the company’s exports division, while supervising the Dakar factory and launching the production of cancer medications. She is also the new secretary general of the Moroccan Association of Pharmaceutical Industry.

Binta Touré Ndoye, Mali, Managing director, Oragroup
The Malian banker led the Malian and Togolese subsidiaries of Ecobank before arriving at Oragroup, owned by Emerging Capital Partners. Ndoye’s main goal is to amplify the bank’s growth and to widen its customer base from small and medium-sized enterprises to individuals through the digitalisation of its services.

Mary Vilakazi, South Africa, COO, FirstRand
Last July Vilakazi assumed the role of COO of FirstRand, leaving her position as deputy CEO of MMI. The chartered accountant is the first female executive to join the bank’s board and will be responsible for internal audit, regulatory and enterprise risk management, as well as the group’s insurance and rest-of-Africa strategies.

Sharon Wapnick, South Africa, Founding partner, Tugendhaft Wapnick Banchetti & Partners
Wapnick has built her empire both through her father’s wealth and her own hard work. A real-estate mogul, Alec Wapnick founded City Property, of which Wapnick is now a director. She is also the chair of Octodec Investments, a JSE-listed real estate investment trust, and an attorney and senior partner of TWB.

Rita Maria Zniber, Morocco, CEO, Diana Holding
As CEO of the Moroccan spirits and agribusiness company, Diana Holding, Zniber started off strong, becoming the majority shareholder of French spirits company Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits. Her new goal is to internationalise Morocco’s oldest wine and spirits company, while keeping the whole value chain, from production to distribution, under the strict control of Diana Holding.

Oheneba Ama Nti Osei

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Fola Sheva: ‘My biggest dream is to show vulnerability’

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With hip-hop style but inspired by Coldplay, this Nigerian-born musician uses his songs to tell personal tales

MUSIC WITH A MESSAGE: Fola Sheva’s debut album When The World Turns Story has a strong focus on storytelling, although the musician also likes to add to his narratives with interesting videos

FOLARIN AYENI, popularly known as Fola Sheva, is a storyteller. He makes music that’s all about personal experiences; whether it be his own story, or someone else’s. It’s always a story.
Take his most recent offering – his first studio album, When The World Turns Story. He explains that each track within it is someone’s story.
He says: “Every single person has a story. So, on my album each individual track details a story – from a first-person point of view, second person point of view and so on. It’s all themed around stories.”
While most of his music is sourced from within, he also lives vicariously off other people.
He tells me that an experience doesn’t necessarily have to be his own for him to be able to embody that story. He tells Life & Style: “For example, if you’re talking about the pain behind the horrific act of rape. I haven’t been raped nor raped anyone, but if someone I know goes through that pain, I feel it too, and it becomes my experience just as much as it is theirs.”
Sheva goes on to talk about how he paints his own narrative with his music.
His music will always come with a message. And that’s where he believes he stands out from the rest.
He believes there’s nothing wrong with a good up-tempo song, even if it’s one without much meaning, but he personally has a way he wants to project his work.
Speaking about interpretations within the art of music, he explains that his music videos often tell a different story than his lyrics.
“The good thing about music is that the audio gives you one image, and the visuals can give an entirely different idea than what you imagined while listening to the track.
“Sometimes, the visuals act as an aid to the music. Things you didn’t understand about the song become clearer once you see the video.”
Take his latest single Breathe, for example, a track that’s all about love. He says: “We all love love, don’t we?
“So, the track is all about love, about getting her attention, about expressing feelings for each other.
“As for the video, we had a concept, of wanting a cool feeling instead of a warm feeling.
“So, you see a lot of cool tones like blue. You see me, and the artist being featured, but the video is centred around a girl.
“But even still when it comes to any sort of artform, I try to leave it open to people’s interpretations.”
Moving on to musical style, he explains that his music would lean toward being described as R’n’B and hip-hop.
But it’s not typical of these styles, he explains.
“I like writing hooks and verses. I like rapping. But my biggest dream as far as music is concerned is to show vulnerability.
“For me, it’s always being honest. Whether someone can relate to it or not, it’s about a listener saying, ‘Oh yes, this makes sense’.”
Another thing he hopes for from his listeners is that they listen to whatever he says, whatever he represents – whether that be his lyrics, his stories and even his flaws.
“It’s alright to make mistakes. To be yourself. I want people to know that,” he says.
When it comes to music, Sheva does not want to do what everyone else is doing. Hailing from Nigeria where Afrobeats is the main genre of music, he wants to remain different from the pack.
Asked if he has taken influence from his Nigerian origin, he says he’s still in the process of discovering his influences.
“I was born in Nigeria but spent a lot of time in UK, so I’ve been impacted a variety of sounds and styles. But really it shouldn’t matter where you’re from. Music is just music, even if you don’t understand the language it’s sung in.”
Talking about is inspirations, he listed Dido and Coldplay among his biggest influences. Insofar as a personal role model, his mum takes that title.
He says: “A single mum, hustling and bustling, just being a great support system.”
Sheva, a lawyer by profession, found that when he wanted to follow his dreams of making music, his mother stood with him, and for that she remains his biggest inspiration.

 

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Mr Eazi launches empowering initiative for African creatives

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DAYS AFTER the release of Mr Eazi’s mixtape Life Is Eazi – Vol.2: Lagos To London the Afropop star launched ‘emPawa’’ within Africa – a new initiative set up with one goal; finding the continents next batch of superstars.
The mission is simple, to uncover independent, emerging, talented artists and to provide them with the resources and exposure to launch their own careers.

TALENT SEARCH: Mr. Eazi

By partnering up with key figures in the music scene, Eazi intends to equip the artists with the tools, in-depth industry knowledge, network contacts and the funds to enable candidates to not only achieve their full potential but to also give them the independence to become music entrepreneurs. emPawa is inspired by tech accelerators like 88mph.ac and 440.ng, which Eazi participated in back in 2014.
Speaking on the programme, Mr. Eazi said: “All it took for me to start my career was a video that cost me $1000; a career that has allowed me to tour the world, own a business and employ over 100 people inhouse and outhouse.
“I have funded four videos for artists in the past two years which has created immense opportunities for them. One of those artists was recently nominated for a BET award so this is ultimately the real motivation behind this cause – providing opportunities for emerging artists as well as mentoring them to have the knowledge to become music entrepreneurs like myself”.
HOW IT WORKS
Candidates will be encouraged to submit their work online via Instagram, to be considered and evaluated by Eazi and industry experts. The deadline for submissions is Saturday December 15 2018 and Mr Eazi will then pick 100 artists who will each receive a grant of $3000US.
This funding will be used to produce 100 music videos with a production crew across Africa. From the 100 finalists, 10 will then be picked to fly to South Africa with Mr Eazi to partake in a 3-week incubator programme mentored by popstar Raye and renowned producer Diplo amongst other keys names within the industry. Candidates will also have the opportunity to record their song in a state-of-the-art recording studio and will shoot their video with a professional film crew.
From these 10 finalists, a further few will be selected by Mr Eazi to perform at ‘Ghana Party in the Park’ in London (2019). These artists will take to the stage alongside Eazi and other superstars. This initiative comes from the strong belief that there is wealth in undiscovered talent.
The idea is that with the right collaboration, investment, and experience a handful of artists will have the opportunity to gain exposure and guidance to break into the music industry. In the near future, Eazi aims to open this programme to candidates across the UK and the US.

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Nigerian Leader seeks revival of textile industry

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Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari has pledged the commitment of his administration to revive the ‘good old days’ when the cotton and textile industry employed hundreds of thousands of Nigerians.
Receiving the CEO of Vlisco Group, David Suddens, at the Presidential Villa, on Friday, President Buhari welcomed the proposed investment of $200 million by the company in Nigeria, which will, in turn, create 700,000 jobs.
”I am very much aware of your company’s effort especially your investments in the textile industry, and it is one area that we are trying to develop because it will create employment and boost agriculture. To get cotton to grow again in the country is like going back to the good old days when the textile industry used to employ more than hundreds of thousands of people.
”I am very excited about the prospects of reviving the industry because it will keep farmers busy, create employment which brings more security, help the economy, transfer of technology and of course we have a large market to absorb the products,” the President said.
President Buhari reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to forging a stronger economic partnership with the Netherlands, assuring the Dutch investor that the Nigerian authorities will continue to do the utmost to keep smugglers at bay at borders.
Asia to Africa Switch
In his remarks, Suddens told the President that the 172-year-old company plans to use cotton grown in Nigeria for production.
”I want a new strategy that brings Vlisco manufacturing to Nigeria. I want to change the supply chain from Asia to Nigeria. For the total supply chain for cotton, textile and garment industry from weaving, spinning, printing to retail, we want to use Nigeria cotton and we have already started to encourage the creative industries in the country to find a voice and give them a platform across the world.
”I am convinced that it is time for the textile industry to move from Asia to Africa, ” he said.
Also speaking, the Dutch Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Robert Petri told President Buhari that the company’s visit was a follow-up to his successful visit to the Netherlands in July, during which he met with Chief Executive Officers of Dutch companies.
”Also during that visit, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between our two countries seeking more intensified cooperation. After that visit, there were more successive visits by top Dutch officials to Nigeria. This shows that we are seriously committed to furthering our collaboration,” Petri said.

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie breaks the gender mould

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Born in 1977, Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of the key global-feminism advocates. She is a prolific young writer who achieved remarkable success with her books in English. She won many prestigious awards and scholarships, and her critically-acclaimed titles received good reviews from several international critics and authors. She is also one of the most popular and renowned African authors and her work has been translated into over 30 languages.

Adichie’s bibliography entails three novels and one short story collection. She is not only an excellent author, but also a key speaker at many international conferences and lectures that addresses women’s issues and feminism. The Arabic edition of her book titled ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ was recently published by ‘Rewayat’, an imprint of Kalimat Group (KG). It is a short and flawless book, an eloquently-argued essay adapted from the 2013 TEDx talk of the same title, which addressed Africa’s key issues.

Translated by Lamis Bin Hafez, Adichie’s essay addresses feminism and the hurdles that prevent women from getting their rights. Through simple yet powerful prose, she succeeded in addressing the most important issues that women face from around the world, particularly in Africa.

The Ted talk began with a story of her childhood friend Okoloma Maduewesi, who was a person whom she could really argue and laugh with, and truly talk to. He died in the notorious Sosoliso plane crash in Nigeria in December of 2005. He was also the first person to call her a ‘feminist,’ and it wasn’t meant as a compliment. She was 14 years old then and unaware of what the word meant. Today, she defines that as a defining moment that ignited her thoughts about women and the struggles they faced. Particularly because women in the African continent suffered many hardships, often berated by men and do not play any active role in the community. Ever since, she developed a vision: to be an instrumental voice that defends women’s rights and act on behalf of all suppressed and marginalised women, playing an exceptional role in defending women at global cultural platforms.

Substantiating the defence of women’s rights, Adichie wrote another book titled ‘Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions’. The Arabic edition of the book was recently published by Rewayat. The book is a powerful statement on feminism and entails 15 recommendations written as a letter to a childhood friend, who asked her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Adichie gives invaluable suggestions supported by facts and detailed information about the right way to empower daughters and enable her to become a strong, independent woman.

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Missing African Mona Lisa painting resurfaces

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The Nigerian Mona Lisa, a painting lost for more than 40 years and found in a London flat in February, is being exhibited in Nigeria for the first time since it disappeared.
“Tutu”, an art work by Nigeria’s best-known modern artist, Ben Enwonwu, was painted in 1974. It appeared at an art show in Lagos the following year, but its whereabouts after that were unknown, until it re-surfaced in north London.
The owners – who wished to remain anonymous – had called in Giles Peppiatt, an expert in modern and contemporary African art at the London auction house Bonhams, to identify their painting. He recognized Enwonwu’s portrait.

African Mona Lisa: Long-lost portrait of Nigerian princess remains a mystery

“It was discovered by myself on a pretty routine valuation call to look at a work by Ben Enwonwu,” said Giles Peppiatt, director of contemporary African art at Bonhams. “I didn’t know what I was going to see. I turned up, and it was this amazing painting. We’d had no inkling ‘Tutu’ was there.
How it got there remains a bit of a mystery, Peppiatt said.
“All the family that owned it know is that it was owned by their father, who had business interests in Nigeria. He traveled and picked it up in the late or mid-70s.”
The family put the portrait up for sale, and it was auctioned for 1.2 million pounds ($1.57 million) in February to an anonymous buyer. The sale made it the highest-valued work of Nigerian modern art sold at auction.
“Tutu” was loaned to the Art X Lagos fair, held from Friday to Sunday, by Access Bank, the organizers said in a statement. Peppiatt said Access arranged the loan but is not the painting’s owner.
“‘Tutu’ is referred to as the African ‘Mona Lisa’ by virtue of this disappearance and re-emergence, and it is the first work of a modern Nigerian artist to sell for over a million pounds,” said Tokini Peterside, the art fair’s founder.
The original Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, was stolen from the Louvre in 1911. The thief, Vincenzo Peruggia, eventually took it to Italy, where it was recovered and in 1914 returned to the Louvre.
The Nigerian painting is a portrait of Adetutu Ademiluyi, a grand-daughter of a traditional ruler from the Yoruba ethnic group. It holds special significance in Nigeria as a symbol of national reconciliation after the 1967-70 Biafran War.
Enwonwu painted three versions of the portrait. One is in a private collection in Lagos, while Peppiatt is hunting the third in Washington D.C., the expert said. Prints first made in the 1970s have been in circulation ever since and the images are familiar to many Nigerians. Enwonwu died in 1994.

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President Buhari mourns Sunny Odogwu

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President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with the Odogwu family on the death of Chief Sunny Odogwu, the Ide Ahaba of Asaba.
President Buhari also extends heartfelt condolences to the good people of Asaba and the Government of Delta State on the passage of their illustrious son and respected elder statesman.
The President joins them in honouring the memory of the versatile businessman, who remarkably contributed to the socio-economic development of his immediate community, state and the nation, drawing from his extensive experience as an accomplished industrialist, entrepreneur, publisher and philanthropist.
The President affirms that through his vast business networks, range of skills and perspectives, the late Chief Odogwu demonstrated deep understanding and commitment in empowering indigenous businesses, encouraging entrepreneurship and creating thousands of employment opportunities for Nigerians.
President Buhari prays almighty God to comfort the family, friends and business associates of the deceased, and grant his soul eternal rest.

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Arinzé Kene: ‘I’m proud of where I’m from’

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The actor and playwright discusses paying homage to the streets where he grew up and how falling in love and having his heart broken helped him.

COMPLEX CHARACTER: Arinzé Kene is returning to the role of Raymond, which he first played in 2009, with more maturity in the film adaptation which co-stars Michaela Coel

 

IN BEEN So Long, Arinzé Kene is charm personified. His chemistry with Michaela Coel is captivating and authentic, which makes sense knowing that the two have been friends for years.
Working together was a dream come true for the them both, something they had talked about as teenagers.
“It’s a dream working with Michaela. I got to go to work with my mate every day. “We always wanted to make something together. We didn’t know that it would happen this way getting to play opposite each other but, yeah, it was cool.

LONDON LOVE STORY: Arinzé Kene with Michaela Coel in Been So Long

SMITTEN
“Michaela and I already have a shorthand and we just had fun on set, we had lots of jokes.”
In the film adaptation of the stage musical of the same name, Kene plays Raymond.
He’s fresh out of prison when he meets single mum Simone, played by Coel, and is instantly smitten. Although they don’t get off to the best of starts, and there are some serious bumps along the way, it’s impossible not to be compelled to want them to end up together after their meet-cute.
Kene’s portrayal of Raymond is wonderful. He comes across extremely at ease with playing this complex character.
His performance is the product of talent, life experience and a familiarity with Raymond, having first played him in 2009 at The Young Vic.
Reflecting on returning to the role, he said: “I had to play all of that stuff without having actually experienced it. For example, being damaged goods, which is what Raymond is, I had to just imagine what it felt like.
“At that time, at the age of 21, I hadn’t had my heart broken… I’d never also been in love by that point and so these were things that over the years I’ve experienced.
“I’ve had my heart broken a number of times, I’ve been in love a number of times and so I was able to come back to Raymond with a little bit more life experience to lend that to my performance.”
With two black leads who are one another’s love interests, and several other prominent black cast members, Been So Long is refreshing – but not just because of the number of black actors and the weight of their roles.
It’s that their stories are not an explanation or examination of blackness. It might be lost on some, but there’s something extraordinary in the ordinary. Kene said: “I love stories where we’re not explaining ourselves, you know what I mean? We’re not like putting other people in our shoes.
“I think we have the right to just tell a story just because and Been So Long is definitely a film that does that. It tells a story just because – a beautiful one at that.”

In Britain, opportunities for black actors to sink their teeth into exciting, career-defining and lucrative roles – and ones that aren’t explicitly tied to stereotypical blackness – are still nowhere near as commonplace as they should be, so it’s no surprise that so many have flocked to Hollywood for more challenging and satisfying work. Is it on Kene’s mind?
“I love working with people here. I think, as an actor, when it comes to roles, there’s no denying that at the moment the difference is like night and day between the types of roles available for you if you are a black actor in America – really big, meaty roles just as good as any other that’s going – whereas over here there aren’t as many of those.
GENTRIFICATION
“I don’t blame anybody who wants to go over there to try their luck. [For] myself, it’s an open door. America isn’t going anywhere, Hollywood’s not going anywhere – but I love London.”
As much as Been So Long is a story centring on the love between two characters, it’s also a love letter to London.
The city’s identity, and that of those who live in it, is beautifully intertwined with the storyline. It’s something that Kene loves about the film and working in Britain.
“As a storyteller, as a writer, quite a lot of my stories take place in London or in England, anyway, or they’re quite London-centric. For example, Misty [Kene’s play] is, definitely.
“I couldn’t have written it about any other city in the world and although gentrification is happening the world over, in nearly all the major cities in the world, specifically I’ve spoken about London so I wanted it to come on here.
“It would be a dream for it to move around the world but to have it here it makes me very proud.
“I’m proud of where I’m from, where I grew up, anyway, and Been So Long is another great opportunity to pay homage to the streets where I’ve grown up.”

Been So Long is available to watch on Netflix now.

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Fola Ayeni : ‘My biggest dream is to show vulnerability’

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With hip-hop style but inspired by Coldplay, this Nigerian-born musician uses his songs to tell personal tales.

Fola Sheva’s debut album When The World Turns Story has a strong focus on storytelling, although the musician also likes to add to his narratives with interesting videos

FOLARIN AYENI, popularly known as Fola Sheva, is a storyteller. He makes music that’s all about personal experiences; whether it be his own story, or someone else’s. It’s always a story.
Take his most recent offering – his first studio album, When The World Turns Story. He explains that each track within it is someone’s story.
He says: “Every single person has a story. So, on my album each individual track details a story – from a first-person point of view, second person point of view and so on. It’s all themed around stories.”
While most of his music is sourced from within, he also lives vicariously off other people.
He tells me that an experience doesn’t necessarily have to be his own for him to be able to embody that story. He tells Life & Style: “For example, if you’re talking about the pain behind the horrific act of rape. I haven’t been raped nor raped anyone, but if someone I know goes through that pain, I feel it too, and it becomes my experience just as much as it is theirs.”
Sheva goes on to talk about how he paints his own narrative with his music.
His music will always come with a message. And that’s where he believes he stands out from the rest.
He believes there’s nothing wrong with a good up-tempo song, even if it’s one without much meaning, but he personally has a way he wants to project his work.
Speaking about interpretations within the art of music, he explains that his music videos often tell a different story than his lyrics.
“The good thing about music is that the audio gives you one image, and the visuals can give an entirely different idea than what you imagined while listening to the track.
“Sometimes, the visuals act as an aid to the music. Things you didn’t understand about the song become clearer once you see the video.”
Take his latest single Breathe, for example, a track that’s all about love. He says: “We all love love, don’t we?
“So, the track is all about love, about getting her attention, about expressing feelings for each other.
“As for the video, we had a concept, of wanting a cool feeling instead of a warm feeling.
“So, you see a lot of cool tones like blue. You see me, and the artist being featured, but the video is centred around a girl.
“But even still when it comes to any sort of artform, I try to leave it open to people’s interpretations.”
Moving on to musical style, he explains that his music would lean toward being described as R’n’B and hip-hop.
But it’s not typical of these styles, he explains.
“I like writing hooks and verses. I like rapping. But my biggest dream as far as music is concerned is to show vulnerability.
“For me, it’s always being honest. Whether someone can relate to it or not, it’s about a listener saying, ‘Oh yes, this makes sense’.”
Another thing he hopes for from his listeners is that they listen to whatever he says, whatever he represents – whether that be his lyrics, his stories and even his flaws.
“It’s alright to make mistakes. To be yourself. I want people to know that,” he says.
When it comes to music, Sheva does not want to do what everyone else is doing. Hailing from Nigeria where Afrobeats is the main genre of music, he wants to remain different from the pack.
Asked if he has taken influence from his Nigerian origin, he says he’s still in the process of discovering his influences.
“I was born in Nigeria but spent a lot of time in UK, so I’ve been impacted a variety of sounds and styles. But really it shouldn’t matter where you’re from. Music is just music, even if you don’t understand the language it’s sung in.”
Talking about is inspirations, he listed Dido and Coldplay among his biggest influences. Insofar as a personal role model, his mum takes that title.
He says: “A single mum, hustling and bustling, just being a great support system.”
Sheva, a lawyer by profession, found that when he wanted to follow his dreams of making music, his mother stood with him, and for that she remains his biggest inspiration.

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Life & Style

Nicki Minaj signs Nigerian musician as first official artiste

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Nicki Minaj has signed Nigerian singer/producer Parker Ighile as her first official artist. The “Super Bass” singer broke the news on her Twitter a few hours ago.The pair was first spotted together, hand-in-hand, in London a few days ago.

Parker Ighile

They have since recorded a track titled “Hell Yeah” featuring and produced by Parker. It will feature on Nicki’s upcoming album due for release on Monday 19 November.
Parker Ibrahim Ighile (born March 1, 1990), better known as Parker Ighile, is a British producer, rapper, singer and songwriter. He was born in London, England. He is currently signed to American musician Nicki Minaj’s record label.

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Life & Style

Nollywood Actress, Yvonne Jegede And Husband Welcome Their First Child

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Popular Nollywood actress, Yvonne Jegede, who had on February 8, 2017, got married to an actor and son of the late veteran actress, Bukky Ajayi, has welcomed her first child.

View this post on Instagram

The greatest gift ever…Congratulations my Queen💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💋💋💋💋💋💋💋💋💋💋💋💋💋💋💋💋💋💋 @Regran_ed from @yvonnejegedefawole – Baby X, When i first laid my eyes on you, heard your cry and felt your heartbeat, i developed an unconditional love. I never knew i could witness an angel on earth, you are so beautiful X. From the moment you were handed to me, i felt something new awakened inside my heart. You have brought me so much joy I cannot explain. I promise to give you everything i have. Hold unto my hand and never let it go, i will cross any ocean before i let you down. I know someday you'll grow into someone who will shine super bright for the world to see because you are a star, don't let anybody tell you otherwise because there's no dream in this world that you cannot achieve. Thank you for choosing me as a channel to come into this world, it is a privilege I will never take for granted. With love, Mamma 🌹 #MyGreatestAchievementIsHere #ALetterToMyFirstChild #MyMostPreciousGift #TheNewTitleMummy #GratefulHeart #Testimony #Miracle #Nov1 – #regrann

A post shared by teamyvonnejegede (@team.yvonnejegede) on

According to unverified reports, the little baby is a boy.

The beautiful screen star took to her Instagram account on Thursday, November 1, 2018 to share the good news with fans and family members.

When i first laid my eyes on you, heard your cry and felt your heartbeat, i developed an unconditional love. I never knew i could witness an angel on earth, you are so beautiful X.

From the moment you were handed to me, i felt something new awakened inside my heart. You have brought me so much joy I cannot explain. I promise to give you everything i have.

Hold unto my hand and never let it go, i will cross any ocean before i let you down. I know someday you’ll grow into someone who will shine super bright for the world to see because you are a star, don’t let anybody tell you otherwise because there’s no dream in this world that you cannot achieve.

Thank you for choosing me as a channel to come into this world, it is a privilege I will never take for granted.

With love,
Mamma.

#MyGreatestAchievementIsHere #ALetterToMyFirstChild #MyMostPreciousGift #TheNewTitleMummy #GratefulHeart #Testimony #Miracle #Nov1″

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