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Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I grew up in the serenity of Jos Plateau. Beautiful mountains. No ethnic divide. As pupils and students we lived on mangoes, tomatoes, oranges, guava, raw sweet potatoes and carrots. We were never hungry because Jos Plateau people had a philosophy that as long you’re entering a farm to source for what you will eat, it was not trespassing.

Jos is also hugely cosmopolitan as a result of the tin mining that occurred during colonial times so

It seems as if a new audience is about to get introduced to Nollywood. What would you like them to know?

The Nigerian film industry is huge and have been serving audiences with compelling stories since the birth of what we now know as Nollywood. I’d like people to know that the industry is getting bigger and better and apart from the big feel-good films we are serving the world, there are other filmmakers they should research and look out for their films. Filmmakers like Abba Makama (Green White Green, The Lost Okoroshi), Nodash Adekunle (The Delivery Boy), CJ Obasi (Hello, Rain), Ishaya Bako (4th Republic), etc, are making enthralling alternative cinema.

When and how did making movies become an integral part of your life?

I was still in film school when I made the short film Mummy Lagos, which is probably Nigeria’s only entry into the Berlinale Talent Campus. That was 2006. The film was such a hit at the festival that a writing mentor asked me if I wanted to work with the BBC. They were coming into West Africa for a big-budget series. This was Wetin Dey.

He linked me up with the iconic John Akomfrah and David Lawson of Smoking Dogs. I had an interview, they saw my sample and that was that. I got into the industry after working on such an important series.

In 2010, as greenhorn filmmakers without a real producer, we applied for the Hubert Bals Fund film grant from theNetherlands and got a digital production grant to make Confusion Na Wa.

The film went on to win Best Film at the AMAAs in 2013 as well as the Jury Prize at the prestigious Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles. As I mentioned earlier, it was one of the very first films from Nigeria to be picked up by Netflix and was a reference point for modern African studies in some American universities. Making that film was important to my growth as a filmmaker.

How long have you been directing for?

I started working professionally since 2006 on BBC’s Wetin Dey. I shot my first film in 2010 with funding from Hubert Bals Fund of International Film Festival Rotterdam. The film was not released until 2013 where it went on to win Best Film and Best Nigerian at the 2013 Africa Movie Academy Awards, the biggest accolade for our homegrown cinema. It also won 2014 Jury Prize at the Pan African Film Festival in LA. So directing for me has been for 14 years now but I have only three released films- Confusion Na Wa, The Lost Café and Oloture.

What has been the general reaction to your new film “Oloture” in Nigeria?

Released worldwide on Netflix on the 2nd of October 2020, Oloture became Nigeria’s first major international crossover film, consistently staying in the top 10 of diverse countries like France, Brazil, Iceland, Oman, Israel, Kenya, Luxembourg, United Arab Emirates, Jamaica and over two dozen countries. After a few days of release, it peaked at number 7 worldwide on the planets biggest streaming platform. Such a incredible attention for an African film.

The reaction in Nigeria has equally been massive. Oloture was number 1 for two consecutive weeks! Most people who saw the film recommended it to their friends and also came on social media to talk about sex trafficking and how Nigeria and the international community should take the issue serious. It has been one of Nigeria’s most talked about films, ever.

 

Is it a true-life story? What propelled you to bring attention to that specific story?

Yes it is loosely based on a true life story inspired by a premium times report and as it is written at the end of the film, other investigative journalists around the world as well.

What would you like viewers to take away from this film?

The international menace of sex trafficking is still huge out there and we need people to channel the anger of how the film ends towards policy makers who have the power to raise awareness and also protect these ladies.

John Boyega has sign a deal with Netflix to produce a slate of non-English language films focusing on West and East Africa

The impact of Netflix on African Filmmaking?

In 2016, Reed Hastings said the most exciting thing about global Netflix is finding local storytellers and giving them a platform. That’s it. We now have a platform to showcase authentic African stories to millions beyond the continent as is the case with Oloture.

 

What would you say are the biggest triumphs and challenges of the Nigerian film industry?

The Nigerian film industry is a huge global phenomenon and we continue to make giant strides internationally but we have our challenges especially filmmakers who are pushing to tell compelling third cinema stories.

The irony, is sometimes I have to go all the way to Europe to source for money to make a movie because there isn’t a funding body here..

Confusion Na Wa got funding from Netherlands. The Lost Café, produced by Regina Udalor, had support from Norway and France. I have been clamouring for a National Endowment Fund for Arts, an independent federal agency that will fund, promote and strengthen the capacity of artistes by providing opportunities in Artsparticipation.

Investing one naira in the intellectual development of a Nigerian could augment the national revenue more than one naira invested in another field. Many countries provide that opportunity for their filmmakers and I think Nigeria needs to look at that model.

Are there any filmmakers who have particularly influenced your work?

Diverse filmmakers have inspired me but the works of Gaston Kabore, the late Idrissa Ouedraogo, Abderrahmane Sissako, Fernando Meireless and Alfonso Cuaron greatly appeal to me.

What are some of your Favorite African films?

I love Gaston Kabore’s Wend Kuuni and  Buud Yam, Djo Munga’s Viva Riva, Fernando Meireles’ City of God, Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men and a host of other third cinema films.

 

President Donald Trump on Monday said Sudan will be removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism if it follows through on its pledge to pay $330 million to American terror victims and their families, but some hurt in the attacks weren’t happy with the deal.

The compensation is for alleged terrorist attacks on US embassies in both Tanzania and Kenya in 2008. BBC reports that Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok confirmed that the funds have been transferred and is “awaiting confirmation of receipt” from the US. The country is still reeling from over 17 years of civil wars and has been unable to engage in international trade due to having been blacklisted by the US.

Trump tweeted: “GREAT news! New government of Sudan, which is making great progress, agreed to pay $335 MILLION to U.S. terror victims and families. Once deposited, I will lift Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. At long last, JUSTICE for the American people and BIG step for Sudan!”

Gen. Abdel-Farrah Burhan, head of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, welcomed Trump’s announcement as a “constructive step.” He said in a tweet the removal would come “in recognition of the historic change that has taken place in Sudan.”

Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy after a popular uprising last year led the military to overthrow autocratic leader Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. A military-civilian government now rules the country, with elections possible in late 2022.

In an address to the nation, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said getting off the list would help his government benefit from debt relief and access foreign loans and investments, which are seen as the country’s gateway to economic recovery. The country has more than $60 billion in foreign debt, he said.

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“It’s a long way,” he said. “It needs serious planning and hard work to achieve the maximum benefit of this opportunity.”

Once the compensation money has been deposited, Trump is to sign an order removing Sudan from the terrorism list, on which it has languished under heavy American sanctions for 27 years.

Twitter responses have been contrary to Hamdok’s optimism about the payment opening doors for Sudan. Many believe the payment should not have been made in the first place.

Felabration, the annual festival of music and arts commemorating the life and times of Africa’s foremost musical icon, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

This year’s edition themed, ‘Fight to Finish, Fight to Win’ is scheduled to hold virtually from 15 to 17 October.

Due to the COVID-19 realities, the organizers decided to go ahead with the event, adapting to the “new norm.” Felabration 2020 will be running for three days, (not for a week as in the past) on different internet platforms that include, Zoom, Facebook, Youtube, Hip Tv and others.

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This year’s musical guests include Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti, Made Kuti, Niniola, Wande Coal, Joeboy, Antibalas, WurlD and more, who are all on deck to get the crowds moving.

Organised by the Felabration Organising Committee, the week-long musical event is on it’s 22nd trip around the sun, as it was first organised and celebrated by Kuti’s eldest daughter, Yeni, in 1998. And since 2005, the annual event has transformed into seven days of connecting through concerts, carnival parades, lectures, film screenings, art exhibitions, seminars and workshops, all in varying spaces across Lagos. While the festival originated in Fela Kuti’s home country, it quickly became a global celebration as the US, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand and many other countries joined in in later years.

Over two decades after his passing, Kuti’s influences are still clear as day through the growth of the music festival. And his political messages still ring in the ears of those closest to him and his art, “My father’s political views were expressed in his music”, his daughter Yeni says, “You can’t divorce the two. You cannot honour Fela without recognising his social and political activism at the same time.” And the emphasis on ‘Symposium’ this year highlights the importance of African conversations with speakers like Her Excellency Arikana Chihombori Quao, Dr. Vincent Magombe, Dele Farotimi and Kweku Mandelalending their voices towards the conversation around “Colomentality”.

 

Felabration 2020

You can Join the Felabration Symposium here

 

 

 

Calls grow for scrapping police investigation branch amid accusations of unlawful arrests, torture and even murder

SARS is a branch of the Nigerian police under the criminal investigating department (CID).

The CID is the highest investigating arm of the Nigerian police force.

Many states in Nigeria had a special force tackling violent crimes like kidnapping and armed robbery.

SARS developed from these different forces and now has a nationwide decree under Nigeria’s federal police force to confront violent crimes such as armed robbery, kidnapping and communal clashes.

Nigerian social media has recently been flooded with stories of indiscriminate arrests, torture and even murder by SARS operatives.

Today , the hashtag #ENDSARS is trending worldwide on social media.

The protesters stormed police headquarters across the country with placards inscribed with #Endsars, ‘Nigeria police stop killing us’, and ‘say no to brutal injustice’ among others.

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The Nigeria Police Force is in desperate need of a reform, but so is our idea of power and the responsibilities that come with it. Our military past has not been very helpful, it shows in the way citizens relate with politicians — the one who should serve becomes the one who is served, the people answer to the politicians and not the other way around. This call to #EndSARS is the beginning of a long walk, one that will take decades of angry protests — from citizens who are fed up of being treated as less than they are — and systemic reforms. Police trainings and assessments need to be looked at and reinforced, the force needs more funding than it has gotten in the past, policemen have to become more professional and realise what is at stake if they’re not, erring police officers need to be sanctioned based on the gravity of their offences. A lot needs to be done, but it is good that a movement has begun.

 

 

Along with REMA & more.

The nominations for the 2020 MTV EMA (MTV Europe Music Award) are finally out and this time we have African stars on the spotlight.

“The 2020 MTV EMAs is one of the biggest entertainment stages in the world and this year’s African nominees are undoubtedly making their presence felt globally,” said Monde Twala, senior vice president and general manager of ViacomCBS Networks Africa.

“This affirms our commitment to ensuring that we continue to celebrate our diverse talent on international platforms. Congratulations to all our African nominees on this achievement.”

It’s without a doubt that Master KG is picked for the success of his worldwide anthem Jerusalema. Kabza De Small & DJ Maphorisa see the nod for owning the South Africa’s music scene pushing the Amapiano wave further.

This year’s list seems to be the most contested, African giant and 2019 MTV EMA winner Burna Boy is nominated yet again. Fellow Nigerian rapper, Rema at the age of 20, has also secured a spot. Afrobeats artist Sheeba from Uganda is the only female featured on the list for her song “Nakyuka”. Gaz Mawete is last on the list and flies the banner for Democratic Republic of Congo.

Jerusalema” featuring Nomcebo Zikode has collected over 150 million views on YouTube, countless remixes made from Italy, Germany and Brazil. As if “Jerusalema” was not hot already, a remix featuring Burna Boy was released this year. Master KG released the song in 2019 and it instantly became a hit for its unique Limpopo sound and it was propelled by social media through the #JerusalemaDanceChallenge which saw the whole world participate.

“Jerusalema” is currently the most shazamed song in the world and is being adapted into a short film to celebrate the success of the song and South Africa’s heritage. The nomination is another step to the ever rising success of Jeruselma.

The MTV EMAs will be broadcasted live on the 8th of November 2020 exclusively on MTV and MTV Base. Vote for your favourite African Act here.

Check out the full nominees list below and on MTV EMA.

Best Video
Billie Eilish – everything i wanted
Cardi B – WAP ft Megan Thee Stallion
DJ Khaled – POPSTAR ft Drake starring Justin Bieber
Karol G – Tusa ft Nicki Minaj
Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande – Rain On Me
Taylor Swift – The Man
The Weeknd – Blinding Lights

Best Artist
Dua Lipa
Harry Styles
Justin Bieber
Lady Gaga
Miley Cyrus
The Weeknd

Best Song
BTS – Dynamite
DaBaby – Rockstar ft Roddy Ricch
Dua Lipa – Don’t Start Now
Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande – Rain On Me
Roddy Ricch – The Box
The Weeknd – Blinding Lights

Best Collaboration
BLACKPINK, Selena Gomez – Ice Cream
Cardi B – WAP ft Megan Thee Stallion
DaBaby – Rockstar ft. Roddy Ricch
Justin Bieber – Intentions ft Quavo
Karol G – Tusa ft Nicki Minaj
Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande – Rain On Me
Sam Smith, Demi Lovato – I’m Ready

Best Pop
BTS
Dua Lipa
Harry Styles
Justin Bieber
Katy Perry
Lady Gaga
Little Mix

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Best Group
5 Seconds of Summer
BLACKPINK
BTS
Chloe x Halle
CNCO
Little Mix

Best New
BENEE
DaBaby
Doja Cat
Jack Harlow
Roddy Ricch
YUNGBLUD

Biggest Fans
Ariana Grande
BLACKPINK
BTS
Justin Bieber
Lady Gaga
Taylor Swift

Best Latin
Anuel AA
Bad Bunny
J Balvin
Karol G
Maluma
Ozuna

Best Rock
Coldplay
Green Day
Liam Gallagher
Pearl Jam
Tame Impala
The Killers

Best Hip Hop
Cardi B
DaBaby
Drake
Eminem
Megan Thee Stallion
Roddy Ricch
Travis Scott

Best Electronic
Calvin Harris
David Guetta
Kygo
Marshmello
Martin Garrix
The Chainsmokers

Best Alternative
blackbear
FKA twigs
Hayley Williams
Machine Gun Kelly
The 1975
twenty one pilots

Video for Good
Anderson .Paak – Lockdown
David Guetta & Sia – Let’s love
Demi Lovato – I Love Me
H.E.R. – I Can’t Breathe
Jorja Smith – By Any Means
Lil Baby – The Bigger Picture

Best Push
AJ Mitchell
Ashnikko
BENEE
Brockhampton
Conan Gray
Doja Cat
Georgia
Jack Harlow
Lil Tecca
Tate McRae
Wallows
YUNGBLUD

Best Virtual Live
BTS – Bang Bang Con: The Live
J Balvin – Behind The Colores Live Experience
Katy Perry @ Tomorrow Land – Around The World
Little Mix – UNCancelled
Maluma – Papi Juancho Live
Post Malone – Nirvana Tribute

 

Since March, we’ve all watched as the coronavirus forced the closures of nearly every border around the globe. Countries around the world are starting to welcome back tourism by reopening their borders to international travelers. After nearly six months of lockdown, South Africa is one of the latest countries on that list.

‘We are ready to open our doors again to the world,” South African president Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement announcing the decision, “and invite travelers to enjoy our mountains, our beaches, our vibrant cities, and our wildlife game parks in safety and confidence.”

High-risk travellers: are those who come from countries with higher numbers of COVID-19 infections and reported deaths compared to South Africa.

Medium risk travellers: are from countries with relatively equal number of infections and death toll to South Africa

Low risk travellers: obviously originate from countries with lesser number of infections of COVID-19 and death toll than South Africa.

Leisure travellers from high-risk countries will not be permitted, amongst them includes the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

“Travellers intending to visit the country will be expected to produce a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test that is not older than 72 hours from the time of departure from the country of origin to South Africa. This test must be conducted by a certified medical practitioner and should have the name and signature of the practitioner who conducted such test,” said Pandor.

Upon arrival in the port of entry, the traveller will be screened for any COVID-19 symptoms or for contact with people who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.

Travellers will also need to provide proof of accommodation address should they need to self-quarantine at the time of arrival in the country.

Should the traveller display any COVID-19–related symptoms or been in contact with an infected person(s), they will be expected to take a mandatory COVID-19 test. This test will be at the traveller’s cost. If the COVID-19 test comes back positive, the traveller will be subjected to a 10 day quarantine at a designated site. The accommodation at a quarantine site will be at the traveller’s cost.

However, South Africans are able to travel to any country that currently allows travellers from the country to visit.

Tourism in Africa: Here are the countries on the continent that are currently open to tourism.

Here is the list of high-risk countries:

  • Albania
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Austria
  • Bahrain
  • Belgium
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Columbia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Ecuador
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Greece
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Honduras
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Jamaica
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Luxemburg
  • Maldives
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • Nepal
  • Netherlands
  • North Macedonia
  • Oman
  • Palestine
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico
  • Qatar
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Slovakia
  • Suriname
  • Switzerland
  • Ukraine
  • United Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • USA
  • Venezuela

Data for the mentioned countries will be reviewed every two weeks, and categories may change based on the data.

All visas that may have expired during the lockdown period remain valid until January 31, 2021.

Three airports will be opened and operational for international air travel. These airports are OR Tambo International (in Johannesburg, Gauteng), Cape Town International (in Cape Town, Western Cape) and King Shaka International ( in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal).

 

PLANET AFROPUNK: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE IS BLACK is set for October 23-25

As people rally across the world for Black liberation, AFROPUNK, the world-renowned festival and movement, is using technology this year to bring together the largest virtual gathering of the worldwide Black creative community in one, curated online space for the first time in its 15-year history. The festival will be free, and attendees will have the opportunity to donate to organizations such as Black Futures Lab, Color of Change, Movement for Black Lives, Equal Justice Initiative, Fair Count, and The Bail Project.

The festival will feature “digital destinations” including interviews and lectures from Black voices, an immersive art gallery, an exploration of Black hair “through the eyes of creators, innovators, visionaries and artists,” and socio-political discussions about prison reform, the criminal justice system, and systemic racism. Festival-goers will also be offered access to curated menus from Black-owned restaurants in North America.

With this year’s festival taking place just ten days before the US 2020 presidential election, the intent of these conversations will be to bring momentum to community engagement, find collective solutions to long-standing issues affecting the Black community and to, most of all, encourage the AFROPUNK community to vote.

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PLANET AFROPUNK will create new ways to experience the next generation of Black creativity, music and culture through the support of this year’s many partners, who will power AFROPUNK’s iconic digital destinations, alongside BOSE, who will be fueling the music for AFROPUNK’S festival on the Pink Stage.

PLANET AFROPUNK’S 2020 line-up will be announced in the coming weeks and will feature headline artists from around the world.

The festival will be streamed at PLANETAFROPUNK.com with exclusive content on Facebook Live from October 23 to October 25.

 

Diversity is what makes South Africa one of the most beautiful countries in the world. With 11 official languages, each culture embraces the essence of what it means to be an African through food, music, dance and fashion..

Heritage Day was originally known as Shaka Day, in commemoration of King Shaka Zulu. In 1996, during an address marking Heritage Day, former President Nelson Mandela said:

“When our first democratically-elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation.”

Heritage Day is celebrated on the 24th of September and it recognises and celebrates the cultural wealth of  South Africa. South Africans celebrate the day by remembering the cultural heritage of the many cultures that make up the population of South Africa. Various events are staged throughout the country to commemorate this day.

This Heritage Month, we take a look at some of the traditional clothing worn by South Africans.

Xhosa

Xhosa regalia. Picture: lwaziphotography

For Xhosa women, the most common traditional wear is umbhaco. It is a long skirt and apron made from printed or embroidered fabrics. The Xhosa attire includes beaded necklaces, called ithumbu.

Zulu

Worn by married women as a sign of respect to one’s husband and his family, isicholo is a flared disk-shaped hat. This hat is accompanied by a thick, cowhide skirt which has been softened with animal fat and charcoal, called isidwaba.

Isicholo. Picture: Instagram/@zulu_traditional_love

Men wear a front apron, known as an isinene, and a rear apron, ibheshu, to cover the genitals and buttocks

Ndebele

This culture is big on colours and beads. Worn by married women, idzila is an accessory placed around the neck, arms, and legs. Their colourful blanket, umbalo, is also for married women. And then there is the signature beaded headband known as amacubi.

The main item of clothing for men is an iporiyana. Decorated with beads, it hangs on the neck. They also wear animal skin called karos to keep warm.

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Venda

The Vavenda wear munwenda, a multi-coloured striped cloth that comes in two pieces – a top and a bottom. It is paired with beads such as lutomola tsie, mapala, tshithivho vivho, zwifudzi, magidipho, and makunda. They also have musisi, a skirt-like garment made from the munwenda material.

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Tsonga

The most iconic clothing item in the Xitsonga culture is xibelani. It is a knee-length skirt typically worn by Xitsonga women. It is made from a bolt of cloth, a fabric called salempur, about 18m long. They also have a top called a yele that they wear with a tightly fitting T-shirt.

Tsonga culture, people, language, music, food and traditional attire

Swati

The Swati culture is complex as their clothing style varies according to age and gender. Some items are reserved for specific ceremonies, such as the incwala or the umhlanga (reed dance).

However, married women wear skin aprons and skin skirts. They also have another apron they wear under the armpits; after the birth of their first child they put the same apron over one shoulder and style their hair in a bun. Married men wear loin skins.

Tswana

Tswana women wear an apron called a khiba, with a skirt called a mosese. Men wear a kaross, a blanket made from animal skin, to cover up.

Basotho

They wear a traditional Basotho dress called the seshoeshoe. However, a statement piece is the Basotho blanket, worn by both men and women over the shoulders.

VISIT HERITAGE SITES IN SOUTH AFRICA

Did you know South Africa is home to nine world heritage sites and many more national heritage sites? A heritage site is categorised as a place with cultural and historical importance. The World Heritage Sites are:

  1. Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa in Sterkfontein
  2. Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape in Limpopo
  3. Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape in Northern Cape
  4. Robben Island in Western Cape
  5. Cape Floral Region Protected Areas in the Western and Eastern Cape
  6. iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal
  7. Vredefort Dome in the Free State
  8. uKhahlamba / Drakensberg Park in KwaZulu-Natal and Lesotho
  9. Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains in Mpumalanga

South Africa’s nine World Heritage Sites offer a diversity and abundance of cultural and natural values that encapsulate the value systems of the country.

Heritage Day is a public holiday in South Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

Before it celebrates its 55th anniversary of independence from British rule in November 2021, the prosperous West Indies nation will make history by becoming the first country in almost three decades to sever ties with the British royal family and become a republic.

Queen Elizabeth II, who is the head of state in the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, including Canada, Australia and New Zealand, will be dropped as monarch by Barbados next year. The Caribbean nation will be the first country in nearly 30 years to make such a move, but they are more than ready.

“The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” Barbados Governor General Sandra Mason said in a speech on Tuesday. “Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving.”

The plan is to be fully sovereign by the country’s 55th anniversary of its independence next November, and it is something that can definitely be achieved.

According to CNN, a spokesperson for the royals informed them that the process is in the hands of Barbados and its citizens. Such moves have been made in the past, with Mauritius being the last to do so in 1992.

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Why Barbados wants to become a republic

After Barbados became independent in 1966 after 341 years of British rule, it chose to retain a formal link with the British royal family, as did other self-governing Commonwealth nations such as Canada and Australia.

However, the decision to not sever ties completely was not without controversy, and even the first prime minister of Barbados, Errol Barrow, said that the country should not “loiter on colonial premises”. In 1998, a constitutional review commission in the country recommended that Barbados become a republic. Before Prime Minister Mottley, the move was also championed by her predecessor Freundel Stuart.

So, this week’s announcement does not come as a surprise to Britain, and both the British royal family and the UK foreign ministry have reacted by saying that the decision was up to the people of Barbados.

The Caribbean nation is, however, expected to remain a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the 54-nation club of mostly former British colonies which is led by the queen, and includes India.

The Governor-General of Barbados, who represents the Queen at formal events, said in the Tuesday speech on behalf of the nation’s ruling government, “Barbadians want a Barbadian Head of State. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving. Hence, Barbados will take the next logical step toward full sovereignty and become a Republic by the time we celebrate our 55th Anniversary of Independence.”

 

In our ‘Black Artist To Watch’ series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists and more who are producing vibrant, original work.

Black Artist To Watch: Mafalda Vasconcelos was born in South Africa but grew up in Mozambique. Mafalda’s work is inspired by the symbolism and spiritualism of her Mozambican culture. Her process is about spiritual self-discovery, identity, cultural exploration but also about love and admiration for ancestry and womanhood. Her art is not just a spiritual quest but also a way of exploring emotions and how they relate to identity.

Read more about the inspirations behind his work below

Tell us about the first moment you knew you wanted to be an artist? How would you describe yourself as an artist?Mafalda Vasconcelos

I have never wanted to be an artist per se, I have always been creative and wanted to pursue a creative career through which I could make things with my hands. I never thought that art was a possibility, but I am grateful that I have become an artist. Art to me is not just a spiritual quest but also a way of exploring emotions and how they relate to the subconscious.

You were born in South Africa, grew up in Mozambique before moving to Australia. How do you incorporate Africa to your art and how does Africa inspire your work?

I grew up surrounded by Mozambican women and African art, in Mozambique. My mother and her family are from the Nharinga ethnic group from the north of Mozambique. This was a very small ethnic group and due to assimilation, most of their culture was lost and not documented. I create work that is inspired by these women but also as a way to connect to our culture and my ancestors. Ancestral heritage is a very important aspect of most African cultures, including my own, which I try to honour by creating portraits based on spirits and energy rather than real human figures.

In addition, I draw or paint female figures as a reference to the Divine feminine that the black women in my life represent. Africa, the continent is also a feminine and nurturing figure and my work always depicts her in an allegorical way. She represents me and my ancestors.

Traveler

Do you have a favourite piece that you’ve created?

Nolwandle is my favourite, I kept her to myself. I also love the new mini paintings I have been creating based on the concept of duality.

How has the current pandemic affected you as a creator?

The current pandemic has provided me with an opportunity to really look within and reflect on my creative process and focus on my art. It has allowed me to explore and experiment with themes and techniques that I wouldn’t otherwise have tried. We are currently in a very strict lockdown in Melbourne and basically all I can do is create from my home studio, which I am very fortunate to have. Making art has become a spiritual practice that keeps me sane and motivated.

#BlackArtistToWatch: Meet Nneka Jones From Trinidad and Tobago

What is one creative resource you can’t live without?

Books. The most important part of my process is visual research, I use books as a source of inspiration and guide. I can’t imagine creating without that important part of the creative process. The books that inspire me the most are books about African art and African spirituality.

Art can change one’s perspective on the world. Are there certain ideas that your works try to introduce, suggest, or communicate to the viewer?

My work is about spiritual self-discovery, cultural exploration but also about love and admiration for ancestry and womanhood. I hope that the viewer is drawn to the imagery I create but most importantly, I hope that they feel the love that I try to pour into the canvas. The interpretation of art by the viewer is personal and relates to each one of our experiences, which I find interesting. The work I create is not so much about thought but about human emotion and as long as the viewer is feeling something when looking at my portraits, I am happy.

if you could sit down and have a meal with one artist/designer/musician in the world, Who would it be and why?

I would absolutely love to sit down with Dr. Maya Angelou. I have so many spiritual questions that I want to ask her. Other than that, I would just love to sit with ordinary people like my great grandmother Faneta. I would ask her about her life, which I find so interesting, more so than any artist or musician.

 

What is the best gallery or museum for art lovers in Australia?

NGV in Melbourne or Mona in Hobart are in my opinion, the best ones to visit.

What are you reading or watching at the moment?

I am reading Divine Inspiration by Phyllis Galembo and Robert Farris Thompson.

Do you consider a country’s art galleries when you select your travel destinations? If you could take an artistic tour across one country in the world, where would you go?

I am more interested in culture and people than in art galleries. I find that most art galleries are not often representative of the culture within a country or even the people. But I do try to visit art galleries wherever I go.

If I could do an artistic tour of a country, it would be Mozambique. I would visit every little town from Rovuma to Maputo, learning more about my country and the cultures within the ethnic groups of Mozambique. I was back there in January and visited a few places which I hadn’t been even though I lived in Mozambique for 20 years. I learnt so much about myself, my story and my people and it was life changing. I think those are much more enriching experiences for me as they relate more to my theme of work.

Visit her website to learn more about her and her work