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Africa-made luxury loungewear takes on big brands

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For centuries, unfinished materials for clothing manufacture – silk, cotton, hides – have been sold and shipped from Africa to the fashion capitals of the West, such as London, Paris and New York. In return, a small number of ready-to-wear clothes, cheap shoes and second hand garments head back to Africa – at vastly marked-up prices or as charity donations.
Now an ambitious start-up called the Walls of Benin, led by 30-year-old Chi Atanga, a man of Cameroonian descent born in Manchester, England, seeks to break with history by building factories in Africa that make sleepwear and loungewear—comfortable casual clothing that is stylish and sophisticated, suitable for “all night raves, boats, trains and jet planes,” according to the company’s website. Finished items are sold to high-end shops in Europe for their fashion-hungry clientele.
The brand name Walls of Benin refers to the world’s largest man-made structure, which was completed in the 15th century: a system of moats and ramparts designed to defend the ancient Kingdom of Benin, which is Benin City, the capital of present-day Edo State, Nigeria.
Atanga calls himself “chief evangelist,” instead of chief executive officer, of Walls of Benin, and says that the company’s goal is “to spread soft power through culture.”

Taking on the Goliath
Atanga researched and designed the business plan for Walls of Benin. Buoyed by $100,000 seed money from the Portuguese government and an apprenticeship with the Erasmus European Entrepreneur Programme, he was able to finance his dream. “Using his gift for networking, Atanga secured an investment from the Lunan Group, the team behind the well-known brand Fiorelli,” according to facetofaceafrica.com, an online publication.
He is now setting up production operations in a “special economic zone” outside the coastal city of Mombasa, Kenya’s second-largest city.
“Our concept is not about riding the stereotype, Africa-to-Europe, textile/raw materials value chain, but a new paradigm,” he declares. “Can we take on the Goliath Victoria’s Secret on lingerie in Africa?” he asks, and answers with a firm “Yes!”
How will it work? “Our business model is simple: we take the spirit of African print textiles and swap wax and heavy cloth for more luxurious and ecological fabrics,” he says. Kente, Ghana’s famous silk-and-cotton blend, is an example of an African fabric, while silk and Tencel are natural fibres with extra softness and moisture-wicking properties. “We feel fashion brands in top cities in Europe should manufacture some of their wares in Africa and create jobs, and not merely export jeans, suits and other garments to Africa.”
His first trip to Africa as an adult was to Ghana in 2014, and it was an eye-opener. “Everything was bright, vibrant and alive. It amazed me to see African print textiles everywhere. It dawned on me that this was a part of my heritage.
Currently, Walls of Benin operates from Kenya and Rwanda and it is importing silk and Tencel from Portugal. In April 2018, the company partnered with Wildlife Works, a wildlife conservation group based in Kenya, to launch an African production. The hope is to export luxury loungewear made of extra-soft silk and Tencel to Europe and elsewhere. The production is first of its kind on the continent.
Wildlife Works can manufacture a thousand loungewear items per week using digital screen prints. “From the east of Africa to the south of Europe, we are building the value chain,” enthuses Atanga. He believes that the loungewear fashion industry in Africa, once ignored, has a bright future.
Meanwhile, rapid changes are taking place on a continent that a top British supermodel once chided for not having a Vogue magazine. “Africa’s fashion industry is right now super exciting! It is new, at the same time it is centuries old. We are talking about the 55 countries in Africa and huge diaspora populations with billions of dollars of spending power,” says Atanga.

Exciting times ahead
The rise of the middleclass in Africa and partnerships with established foreign brands help boost the fashion industry on the continent. In addition, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a US law that seeks to expand trade and investments with sub-Saharan Africa, “gives duty-free access to the US for selected sub-Saharan African countries,” according to African Business, a leading publication on Africa. American companies are looking to invest in Africa’s fashion industry.
Africans can tap into the $12 billion US loungewear market through AGOA, which was recently extended to 2025, maintains Atanga.
His company helps to create jobs by working with eucalyptus farmers and other suppliers who produce raw materials. Eucalyptus pulpwood is industrially spun to produce fabrics that are breathable and cooling.
Also, a dozen local smallholder Kenyan cotton producers have received specialist textile training from Walls of Benin to spin and twist fibre into yarn, weave and knit the yarn into fabric, and bleach, dye and print the fabric to create fashionable sleepwear.

Why begin operations in Kenya? Africa Renewal asked Atanga.
“We chose Kenya because, along with Ethiopia, citizens know the value of a homegrown fashion industry. [These countries] have established training centres to educate indigenous entrepreneurs about diversifying into luxury garments.”
Fashion giants such as Sweden’s H&M also have their eyes on Africa’s fashion industry. With support from Swedfund, the Swedish government’s development financing arm, H&M is establishing a textile factory in Ethiopia that will create about 4,000 jobs. Mr. Atanga predicts that with wages rising, many Chinese textile companies will relocate to Africa.
“Monthly wages are rising to $200 per employee in China, while it’s about $120 in East Africa,” he says.
Atanga is pleased that some countries in East Africa want to ban the import of secondhand clothing. Rwanda already has. Tanzania and Uganda were considering the bad, while Kenya seemed poised to but later backtracked on its decision. Angered by the ban, the US is threatening to exclude such countries from AGOA eligibility status. The ban on used clothing “is a masterstroke,” insists Atanga.
Also, relative political stability and the ease of doing business in East Africa is good for investors, according to the young entrepreneur. “In some countries, one must pay bribes to get the necessary business permits, and electricity supply is pitiful,” he says.
Other challenges abound in the textile industry. “Although African textile has an annual value of $4 billion, only 19 per cent of it is branded. We lack adequate finance to patent and effectively secure our fabrics ecosystem. We also don’t want women and children to spend 18 hours in factories while missing out on school,” Atanga adds.
His mixed heritage is inspiring him to use Africa as a backdrop for his investments in the loungewear industry. As a young child he sold bonbons shipped from Cameroon on school playgrounds in Manchester. “I would add my own ‘import tax,’ because they were made in Cameroon. They were a little more valuable, being imported from Africa,” he says, smiling.
“I knew that creating a brand that covers African-made loungewear for sale in Europe could be profitable. This drove me to Portugal to work with high-quality tradesmen, brands and garments, and to East Africa.”
On the luxury price point for the pajama sets, he told face to face Africa, “We think at £195 [$260] we are being fair. Silk is not cheap and we have taken a lot of time and effort to create a luxury product but at the same time keep the retail price accessible.”
For now, Atanga is focused on his passion for making quality clothes in Africa and exporting them to Europe. “I want to create wealth in the fashion industry in an ethical way,” he concludes.


Agencies

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Carnival Calabar holds unity dry run

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More than two thousand revelers converged on Calabar city in Cross River State southern Nigeria for the last round of rehearsals preparatory to the 2018 carnival on the 28th of December.
The last dry run, tagged “Unity Dry run” was flagged off by Professor Ivara Esu, the Cross River State deputy Governor, who invited candidates contesting for the seat of the President to participate in this year’s carnival.
Ivara stated: “This is the final dry run and we can see that the event looks as if the carnival itself is today; which means that we have benefitted from the first and second dry runs and everyone is eager to come and participate in the last dry run.”
“I welcome all our visitors particularly those who have kept faith with us for more years. I seize this opportunity, on behalf of the Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, to specially invite all the presidential candidates of all the political party to come for this year’s carnival,” said Ivara.
He said: “Let them take off that week and come and rest from the campaigns and enjoy themselves. Carnival Calabar does not know any party, any religion or ethnic difference. It is a uniting street party, which encourages unity among Nigerians and Africans.”
Promoting Nigeria
Also speaking, Sabo Saleh the President of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria, said members were participating in the dry run to underscore and study the carnival as well as seek ways to support its growth.
Saleh described the carnival as a tourism product, which has placed Nigeria on the global map as a country to reckon with, noting: “Tourism plays an important role in the economy of any given nation. As a federation of 22 members, we will continue to support Cross River State because it has placed Nigerian tourism on the world global map.”
While urging other states to emulate Cross River, he stated: “This is the biggest tourism product that is coming out of Africa and is driven by the Cross River Government to ensure the growth of the local economy.”
Band Formation
Carnival Calabar was started 14 years ago by former Governor Donald Duke with five bands identified by different colours and competing for 10 million naira.
The five competing bands include sixth time winner Passion 4 identified by green colour; Seagull in red,Bayside adorns blue, Freedom spots yellow and Orange identifies Masta Blasta.
Other such as the Military Drum line and HIT FM bands also participate in the festival to boost relationship with the public as revelers perform for spectators lined up along the twelve kilometres carnival route.

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The Young Netpreneur for the Week : Temmy Adeleye (MakeUpbyTemmy )

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The #Netpreneur Pick for the Week is Temmy  Adeleye   (makeupbytemmy ), a  29-year-old founder of The Gele Company.

Temmy is also consultant for startup e-commerce and logistics companies.

 

Temmy can be reached on twitter  @te_mi3 .

 

 

 

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Reekado Banks quits Mavin Records

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Nigerian singer, Reekado Banks, whose real name is Ayoleyi Solomon, has parted ways with Don Jazzy’s Marvin Records.
The 25 year-old singer announced his departure from Mavin Records on Instagram, with an emotional note.
He thanked Don Jazzy for the opportunity he gave him when he signed with the record label in 2013.
And Don Jazzy was graceful enough to wish the former protege well in his career.
“Sign small boy …small boy turn big man. It’s been an incredible 5 years. Wishing you nothing but success”.
Reekado post read: “Today I write in tears, not from a place of pain, but of joy and gratitude. A place of bliss and satisfaction because I am more than contented with how far this opportunity has brought me. The last five years have been the most blissful years of my career. The journey has been extremely wonderful and filled with the best experiences.
“I’ve learnt that family is not just about blood ties but about the love, sacrifices and friendship that exist amongst its members. The relationships I have fostered has proved to me that love is thicker than blood. Joining the @mavinrecords family was the best thing to have happened to me in the last decade. @donjazzy took me in and treated me like his own son. I’ll be eternally grateful to him for sacrifices he made towards the growth of my career.
“His selflessness and efforts towards me and the entire Mavin crew is one that is admirable and worthy of emulation. A true KING with a large heart, full of kindness and ready to accommodate even more people. And to the rest of the crew, Our family is a clear example of the saying, ‘We rise by lifting others’. Thank you all for all the times you’ve lifted me at my lowest moments, for the support, the amazing hits and most especially, the LOVE. Taking this bold step and moving on from Mavin Records onto bigger opportunities is something that, though not easy, is absolutely necessary because of my growth. I am very ecstatic about what the future holds and I cannot wait to share with everyone what new opportunities have come. Long Live Mavin Records.”

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Michelle Obama & Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie light up the Southbank stage

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The former First Lady dropped many gems during her inspiration talk with author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

In an exclusive UK event in collaboration with Penguin Random House and the Southbank Centre, Michelle Obama and author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discussed the former first lady’s memoir ‘Becoming’

MICHELLE OBAMA’s highly-anticipated event took place last night (Dec 3) at Southbank Centre’ Royal Festival Hall in London, as she joined author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to discuss her new memoir ‘Becoming’.
The former First Lady spoke to a sold out auditorium to discuss black womanhood, her upbringing on the south side of Chicago, life at the White House plus more, with many stars in attendance including actress Michaela Coel, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, model Adwoa Aboah and news anchor Jon Snow.

She  is an inspiration to many of us. An accomplished career woman, compassionate figure, mother and wife – Obama does it all with style and grace and a dash of frankness that makes you feel as though you can talk to her about just about anything.
Well, that’s how I felt, as I sat in awe in London’s Southbank Centre watching the Harvard grad and the formidable Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in conversation, as they discussed life, love, black womanhood and more.
Speaking to a sold-out auditorium of 2,700, which included 300 school students, the former first lady didn’t hold back as she turned the page on every aspect of her life, addressing her humble beginnings on the southside of Chicago to sitting at some of the most powerful tables in the world.
Below, we’ve listed some of the poignant quotes from our evening with Michelle Obama, which reiterated just why she is black excellence personified:
On her upbringing: “I was fortunate enough to live in a house where we didn’t have much by the way of resources. My father was a working class, blue collar guy and my parents didn’t get to go to college. But that didn’t mean they were not highly intelligent and that’s often the mistake that we make – that working class folk are not highly gifted when a lot of times your situation in life is limited by circumstances you find yourself in.
“We were expected to be excellent and it wasn’t just my mother and father – we grew up with a very big extended family and we lived within a 5 block radius. Each of the children lived with an elder of some sort. We grew up with a great aunt who was strict taskmaster, a piano teacher, and that was the sound of striving that I describe [in Becoming]. I always wanted to keep up with others.
On her mother’s philosophy to parenting: “My mother always said ‘I’m raising adults, i’m not raising babies’. So her philosophy was that we could understand a lot if she took the time to explain. So there was never ‘speak when only spoken to’ – she encouraged us to let our voices be heard.

Michelle Obama speaking at the Royal Festival Hall in London during her visit to the UK to publicise her memoir Becoming, which tells of her personal journey to becoming First Lady and her time in the White House.

One of these things my parents believed was that my voice was relevant and my opinions were meaningful and my anger and frustration was real and that’s something that’s important for parents from any socio-economic background to recognise. My parents saw this flame in me that challenged my aunt robbie and speak up for myself and instead of doing what we often do to girls who are fiesty – which is try and put that flame out and douse it because we’re worried about them not being ladylike or being bossy- they found a way to keep that flame lit because they knew I would need it later on.
On her father’s death: “While his death was sudden, it was always lurking for us because he was the kind of man who wouldn’t get help and was proud and he didn’t believe in doctors, and he didn’t believe in self pity. So I had to watch him get increasingly worse, and I had to learn in myself that I can’t get my father to do what I think he should do, he has to make those decisions on his own.
“I write about the pain of losing him as its an emptiness that I still haven’t gotten over because I think about all he has missed, all that he have us and all that he wasn’t able to see. He didn’t see me walk down the aisle, he didn’t see any of his grandchildren and for him to be as kind, and as strong and as decent, there’s a sense of injustice that goes with losing someone like that for his life to be cut off.”
On her career path and life before the White House: “I’ve learnt to grasp the art of reinvention. I thought I wanted to be a lawyer because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after college so I applied to law school, went to harvard, thought ‘well that should be good’ and turns out I hated law.
“But after that I worked in the city, I was an assistant to the mayor, I ran non-profit organisations – I done so many things and that’s long before I even showed up at the white house. So it’s interesting to me, when people ask me ‘how did you know how to be the first lady?’ as if all my history just disappeared because sometimes that’s what happens when you become the spouse of – you lose yourself in the title of spouse. You have to remind people, i went to Princeton, I’ve done so many things which is why in the book the last third is really the White House years because that’s just a bit of what defines me as a person.
On relationships: “A true partnership requires two whole people. So first of all you have to choose well. You have to choose somebody who is fully formed because love does not form somebody that’s not what love does. Love doesn’t fix brokeness in that way, so you have to choose someone whos already pretty well formed.”
On what’s next after the book tour: “I’m really excited to hear what people are getting from the book. Because I’ve been spending weeks talking about the book – enough of me talking. The next phase, Ii want to sit down and hear, particularly from young people, what is resonating and I think i’ll learn something more about the next phase based on what’s resonating. I will continue to work on girls education for the rest of my life and Barack and I are working on his presidential library and we want that to be a base for leadership development to train the next ‘Michelle and Barack Obama’.

 

 

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William Onyeabor: Industrialist & Afro-psychedelia Pioneer

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William Onyeabor combined life as a serious businessman and prolific experimental musician in rural Nigeria. But in 1985, the music stopped. A New York record label decided to track him down.

William Onyeabor

William Onyeabor was, in the words of his record label, a ‘great Nigerian business leader and mythic music pioneer’. The owner of a successful semolina mill in the town of Enugu, he combined a conventional business career with a side project making vibrantly weird Afrobeat music.
The word ‘mythic’ is an apt description. He never performed live, refused broadcast interviews and was regarded with wonderment and confusion everywhere outside Nigeria. That was until 2008, when a small record label in New York decided to track him down.
Onyeabor released nine albums between 1977 and 1985. In his songs, Onyeabor dispensed cheerful fatherly wisdom about life (‘Good name is better than silver and gold — no-one can fight good name!’) and global issues like religion and war.

When The Going Is Smooth And Good is a 13-minute epic about choosing the right friends, sung over old drum machines, arpeggiators and synthesised organs.
Onyeabor tells us:
‘When the going is smooth and good, many many people will be your friend.
But when the going becomes tough, many many of them will run away.’

‘That’s bad! Very, very bad!’ reply the backing singers.

‘And that is what I mean, and that is what I’m saying!’ Onyeabor agrees.

‘When the going is good, you should keep your good friends
And when the going is bad, you should keep your good friends!’

And on, and on, and on…

When The Going Is Smooth And Good became a classic on Nigerian radio in the 80s. Many years later it would become part of DJ sets at hip clubs in Brooklyn and Dalston, where it entertained a far less Nigerian audience. They nonetheless connected with the song’s universal message and irresistible rhythm.
William Onyeabor’s synth-based bangers mirrored what was happening in the USA, where disco and dance music were taking hold. Only, Onyeabor had developed this style independently — in rural Nigeria.
The cover of his ninth album, Anything You Sow, shows him sitting in his studio — dressed impeccably in a suit and stetson which make him look like an oil baron — surrounded by a selection of synthesizers which rivaled the most advanced American studios. This would have looked like something out of a science fiction film at the time.

Onyeabor had been consistently releasing albums; nine of them in eight years. But suddenly, in 1985, the music dried up. But William Onyeabor’s popularity in Europe and America continued to flourish.
In the vacuum created by the lack of information, rumors swirled about who he actually was. Had he studied cinema in the USSR? Law at Oxford? Did the films he claimed to have made on the sleeves of his records actually exist? Where did all those synths come from? Synthesizers like those weren’t just lying about in early 80s Nigeria. Why had he stopped making music? Where was William Onyeabor?
William Onyeabor was, in fact, busy opening a semolina mill and being crowned West African Industrialist of the Year. He also became ‘Justice of the Peace’ in his home town and chairman of the local football team, Enugu Rangers.
In 2008, New York record label Luaka Bop decided to take up the challenge of putting out a compilation album of Onyeabor’s music. This would require permission and co-operation from the man himself, who hadn’t been heard from in years.

Eric Welles, a label employee, went in search of Onyeabor. His search took him to Enugu, where he noticed Onyeabor had streets named after him. He found Onyeabor living in a huge white mansion on the outskirts of town, full of ancient synthesizers and memorabilia. Wells, who had long been a fan of Onyeabor, was thrilled to be talking to him; the myth made man, the man who some had claimed didn’t even exist. But there was also a problem.
Onyeabor had become a born again Christian, unwilling to talk about anything other than Jesus Christ, especially when it came to his music career. When Welles asked, Onyeabor would only say he had suffered greatly during those years. It reminded Welles of a lyric from Onyeabor’s 1982 The Moon and the Sun: ‘If you treat me bad I’m going to run away and you’ll never find me again.’ What had happened?

Welles stayed with Onyeabor for the next two weeks, during which the two became friends. Onyeabor never did expound on why he stopped making music, but eventually gave Welles his blessing to release the compilation. Luaka Bop, mindful of how hard it had been to find information about Onyeabor, entitled it ‘Who Is William Onyeabor?’ With its release came fresh success, documentary Fantastic Man, and live performances of his music by a specially formed supergroup called Atomic Bomb!, led by Ahmed Gallab of Sinkane and featuring David Byrne.

Three years later, in 2017, Onyeabor died aged 70. Enugu threw him a huge, loud funeral.
Onyeabor gave his first and last broadcast interview in 2014, to 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne. ‘I only create music that will help the world,’ he said.
Through much of his music, above all the silliness of his lyrics and the bouncing, shimmering synthesizers, there is an earnestness to Onyeabor. He sounds as if he is speaking to the world, hoping the world will hear. He had to wait until three years before his death for the word to get out, but it finally did.
I have never, never seen a place like this world we live in
Where money’s spun and named into man
And nothing moves according to plan
Many things are going wrong
And many people are dying
Many more are suffering
And many people are crying
Many more are hungry
This is the wonderful world
Where many things are going wrong
Where many people are suffering
I have never, never seen this kind of world.


 

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AU, AFRIMA HONOURS LAGOS STATE GOVERNOR, AKINWUNMI AMBODE

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The African Union Commission, AUC, and the International Committee of the All Africa Music Awards, AFRIMA, has bestowed the special award of Supporter of the Arts on His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode at the recently concluded 5th AFRIMA, the annual music awards held in Accra, Ghana, on Saturday, November 24, 2018.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode was honoured for his contributions and support towards the growth of arts and culture in Africa. Mrs. Amira Elfadil, Commissioner for Social Affairs, AUC, in her letter to the Executive Governor of Lagos State, she noted “this recognition is in accordance to the pivotal role the Government of Lagos State played as the Official Host City of AFRIMA awards in 2016 and 2017 which impacted on the overall AFRIMA objectives of using the awards platform to unify the African continent, while celebrating its music and cultural uniqueness”.

Honourable Commissioner for Tourism, Arts, and Culture, Lagos State; Steve Ayorinde with Commissioner for Social Affairs, African Union Commission; Mrs. Amira Elfadil

The Lagos State government, under the leadership of Governor Ambode has demonstrated an undeniable commitment to the music and entertainment sector of Nigeria, paving way for the growth and recognition of indigenous talents, promoting the heritage and culture of the people of Lagos state, while expanding the business of arts and tourism in the state.
Representative of the Governor, Honourable Commissioner for Tourism, Arts, and Culture, Lagos State; Steve Ayorinde, who received the award on the governor’s behalf congratulated AFRIMA, AUC, and the government of the Republic of Ghana, “I am pleased to be receiving this special recognition on behalf of the Art loving governor of Lagos State who sent his apologies for not being able to make it tonight, but also sent his warm courtesies, because to him Ghana is also home. We have a saying in Lagos, we say ‘One Lagos’, and he knows that in Ghana too, it is One Ghana”. The Commissioner also noted that nothing has brought Africans closer, bigger than what AFRIMA is doing, and pleased that AFRIMA has moved to a sister city after four great editions in Lagos, and he looks forward to the next editions which he believes will be hosted in Ghana.
The special recognition is a unanimous agreement by the AUC, International Committee of AFRIMA and the esteemed 13-man AFRIMA Jury- made up of African music, media and culture experts from the five regions of Africa (2 representatives each); one from Europe and North America respectively (representing the diaspora) and a representative from AUC to recognize individuals who have contributed to the creative economy of Africa.

Commissioner for Social Affairs, African Union Commission; Mrs. Amira Elfadil, presenting the award to Honourable Commissioner for Tourism, Arts, and Culture, Lagos State; Steve Ayorinde, who received it on behalf of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode

The awards night also saw honours going out to other recipients of the AFRIMA special recognition awards. Other honorary awardees include internationally recognised South African singer, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, who received the 5th AFRIMA Legend Award, and Ghana’s music veteran, Teddy Osei, founder of the famous Osibisa group, an Afropop band created in 1969. Similarly, winners also emerged from the popularised 36 awards categories (regional and continental), where music artiste had to battle it out in each genre to emerge winner of the 23.9k gold-plated AFRIMA trophy. Full list on official AFRIMA website.

Honourable Commissioner for Tourism, Arts, and Culture, Lagos State; Steve Ayorinde on AFRIMA stage after receiving the award on behalf of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode

AFRIMA, in partnership with African Union, is a music property that recognises and rewards the work and talent of myriad of African artists from the old to the new generation of musicians. AFRIMA also stimulates conversations among Africans and between Africa and the rest of the world about the potential of the creative arts for real humanising enterprise on the continent contributing significantly to social cohesion, national, regional and continental integration as well as sustainable development in Africa.


Content Provided By Tayo Adesokan, Ms.
Media Officer @Afrimawards

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‘Black Panther’ star appointed UN Goodwill Ambassador

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Danai Gurira will support gender equality and women’s rights with the UN

APPOINTED: Danai Gurira

DURING THE global annual advocacy campaign, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (25 November – 10 December), UN Women have announced that actor-playwright Danai Gurira will be their new Goodwill Ambassador.
The Zimbabwean-born talent will lend her name to highlight gender equality and women’s rights, as well as bringing unheard women’s voices front and centre.
“UN Women is delighted to welcome Danai Gurira in her new role as Goodwill Ambassador to support our work on gender equality,” said Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
“As an author, playwright, actor and activist in pursuit of women’s empowerment and gender equality with her sharp human rights lens, she is uniquely qualified to communicate and inspire. She recognises the challenges of intersectionality and will connect with the diversity of women living on the margins of society.”
“I am honoured to join the UN Women family today,” said Gurira. “My passion for women and girls has been my focus in the narratives I create as well as the roles I have been able to play. I have always sought to push the boundaries and tell the stories of those who are often marginalised and unheard.
“My own advocacy for women and girls has made me deeply aware of UN Women, I have experienced the work of this organization on the ground as well as internationally, and I am delighted to partner with them to amplify many more stories from around the world, and give a voice to those who are working relentlessly to make gender equality a reality.”
“We are at an urgent time, a time where our participation is crucial to ensure that all women and girls, no matter where they live, where they grow up or where they work, are in a world where their potential can be fully actualised; a world of true equality,” she added.
Gurira is best known for her role in Black Panther and in the hit AMC show The Walking Dead. Throughout her career, she has played characters who are diverse, and is a critically acclaimed award-winning writer who works to bring the voices of unheard women, often survivors of violence, to the front and centre.

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Welcome the app-ostles – Tobi Olujinmi

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Faith-based content goes mobile as the W Talk network gets ready to launch entertainment app.

Tobi Olujinmi says the W Talk app should be a great success, providing the young women of Christianity with TV series and podcasts relating to their lives

AN ENTERTAINMENT and faith network which provides inspirational content for Christian women is gearing up to launch an app.
W Talk, founded in 2014, will launch the international faithbased app on December 14 in Upper Clapton, east London.
As with everything W Talk, it is the brainchild of Tobi Olujinmi. She will be interviewing Wendy Alec, founder of God TV and a pioneer of Christian television, as part of the launch.
Tobi is a 30-something Christian, who is also a speaker and teacher. She gave up her work as a lawyer to establish the W Talk website four years ago and now has high hopes for the app.
“I’m a smart, forward thinking woman,” she said.
“I have opinions on politics, I have views on financial affairs, I’m a wife who’s interested in cultivating a better marriage, a mother who thinks childcare fees are astronomical. I’m a businesswoman who cares about her career… and my faith informs all my decisions. Where’s my outlet?
“I’m excited because the W Talk brand – through the app, online platform and live events – will fill this gap. I anticipate that the app will be a great success mainly because the team is largely made up of everyday women telling the stories of everyday women.”
Aimed mainly at millennial Christians, the app provides women with engaging faithbased content from scripted television shows to podcasts and interactive discussions with its community element.
SPIRIT
Eniola Aluko, former member of England women’s football team, and currently a member of Juventus FC Women, is an ambassador for the W Talk brand.
As a Christian, Eniola welcomes the app.
She said: “My faith in God is my energy when I don’t have any, my navigation when I feel lost and my centre when I feel disorientated with the trials of life.
“I try as much as possible to be led by my inner spirit because I know God only wants what is best for me.
“An outlet like W Talk is so crucial for like-minded inspirational women to share our experiences and achievements in unity. It can only bring further experience and inspiration to all of us.”
Many young professional Christian women find some faith-based content is cheesy, unrealistic and unrelatable. But the team at W Talk hopes to tell real stories, which will more widely appeal – to both the devoted and non-Christians.
The app has four main sections – shows, podcasts, devotionals and community discussion – designed for the modern woman exploring her faith and spirituality.
With religion and faith always being an important aspect of a person’s belief system and millennials being an expressive generation, it’s an exciting time for such an app and platform to exist.
Visit eventbrite.co.uk to buy tickets for the app launch event on December 14.

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Life & Style

Is Cheryl dating Michael B Jordan? Fans convinced after ‘sexual tension’ on Graham Norton Show

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Cheryl fans are convinced that the singer is “dating” Michael B Jordan after their “chemistry” on the Graham Norton Show.
The former Girls Aloud singer joined Norton for a chat about her new single Love Made Me Do It.

Discussing her musical break with the host, Jordan interjected “time flies”, leaving Cheryl flustered as she stopped mid-sentence.


As the audience laughed, the actor joked: “What happened? What did I miss?”

Fans were immediately convinced that the muted exchange was the sign of something going on between the pair.
One wrote: “#grahamnortonshow oh wow. Look at the way Michael b Jordan and Cheryl are looking at other …. seen it here first.”
Another tweeted: “Well, Cheryl and Michael B.Jordan make a rather beautiful couple don’t they? Definitely a bit of sexual tension there #grahamnortonshow.”
A third wrote: “Why am I shipping Cheryl and Michael B Jordan?”

 

Cheryl, 35, recently claimed that she was “done with men” after several failed relationships, saying she only has room for son Bear in her life.

Chatting to Jessie Ware on her podcast Table Manners, she said: “I know what I want in life, but in the romantic area, I am not as evolved.
“That area has stopped. It’s not happening anymore. It’s the end. It’s the end.”
Creed star Jordan, 31, has more of a low-key love life but recently hinted to American GQ that he is single, despite previously being linked to model Ashlyn Castro.
He said: “I’m very mature and advanced in a lot of areas of life. Dating may not be one of them.”

 

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Life & Style

Chief Daddy Premiere: Nigerian Traditional Attire Outshines

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Nigerian celebrities stepped out in their traditional attire for the premiere of EbonyLife’s latest film, ‘Chief Daddy’.
The cast members and guests alike, took the theme ‘Opulently Nigerian’ seriously and showed up representing various ethnic groups in the country.
Fashion influencers and media personalities, Toke Makinwa and Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, who represented the Yoruba and Igbo cultures respectively, led the park of beautifully tailored traditional pieces.
Actor, Stan Nze showed up representing the Igala tribe with actresses, Inidima Okojie, Ini Edo and Toyin Abraham looking elegant in their Edo, Efik and Yoruba costumes respectively.

L-R Ebuka Obi-Uchendu and Toke Makinwa at ‘Chief Daddy’ premiere

Also, actress Omoni Oboli tapped her Benin roots, filmmaker, Kunle Afolayan wore a Kembe set while newly wedded couple, Ibrahim Suleiman and Linda Ejiofor stepped out in avant-garde traditional pieces.
The premiere was also attended by actresses, Shaffy Bello, Chioma Akpota, Uche Jombo and actors, Richard Mofe-Damijo and Falz the Bhad guy who religiously followed the theme.

L-R Stan Nze and Inidima Okojie at ‘Chief Daddy’ premiere.

‘Chief Daddy’ is centered on the life of an extravagant and larger-than-life billionaire industrialist, Chief Beecroft, who is known to be a pillar of the society.
All seems well in the Beecroft household until Chief Daddy passes away and suddenly the ‘wheels begin to turn’ and things go awry.
The film stars Nollywood veterans and new faces including, Nkem Owoh, Bisola Aiyeola, Ini Edo, Joke Silva, Dakore Akande, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Folarin Falana and Patience Ozokwo.
The movie, which will be in cinemas from Dec. 14, was written by Bode Asinyanbi and directed by Niyi Akinmolayan.

 

 

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Ogene Anuka Aguleri

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