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Missing a beat: Music stars absent from Nigeria’s vote campaign

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Missing a beat: Music stars absent from Nigeria's vote campaign

Nigeria’s Afrobeats resonates all over Africa, and in the West, where young people sing and dance to the rhythms of Burna Boy, Wizkid and Tems.

But when it comes to the presidential election on February 25, when Africa’s most populous democracy votes for a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, its singers have gone silent.

Nigeria often makes headlines because of the Boko Haram insurgency and jihadist groups in the northeast.

But the country is also the continent’s largest economy and birthplace of a musical genre that is soaring globally.

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Afrobeats legends Burna Boy and Tems have won Grammy Awards.

Tickets to see Wizkid and Davido in some of the world’s largest concert halls are regularly sold out.

And others rack up millions of views on TikTok and collaborate with US popstars like Chris Brown, Justin Bieber and Drake.

These celebrities are loved as much as Nigerian politicians are hated.

The latter are seen by many Nigerians as impossibly corrupt and responsible for the country’s, woes from a lack of electricity to poor healthcare and education.

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Almost 40 percent of registered voters are under the age of 35, yet the ruling party’s candidate, Bola Tinubu of the APC is 70 and the main opposition leader Atiku Abubkar of the PDP is 76.

“Afrobeats stars have a huge influence on the youth. The presidential candidates don’t,” said Oris Aigbokhaevbolo, a music journalist.

But, he adds: “Big stars try their best to avoid politics, especially (in) this presidential election.”

‘Watershed moment”

Afrobeats was born in the 2000s, inspired by a mix of styles, including the music of legendary Fela Kuti, who fought his entire life against Nigeria’s corrupt leaders, and from US pop.

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“Back in time, Afrobeats singers were more political. But when Afrobeats became big business, lyrics changed,” said Aigbokhaevbolo.

Davido (C), one of the genre’s major stars, was at the World Cup closing ceremony

Until recently, songs were all about capitalism or “Naija”, which celebrates success and expensive cars, or about cheesy love and female conquests.

But mass youth-led #EndSARS protests that rocked the country in late 2020 have changed things.

“EndSARS was a watershed moment,” said the journalist.

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SARS was a controversial anti-robbery squad that became a symbol of police brutality. It spurred a movement demanding better governance.

Many Afrobeats stars came out in support of #EndSARS, either on social media or at protests themselves.

Burna Boy purchased giant billboards with the slogan #EndSARS on them.

Many Nigerian Afrobeats stars backed the #EndSARS protest movement in 2020

Davido took to the streets of the capital, Abuja, and knelt down in front of police officers.

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Wizkid, who was in London at the time, also supported the cause by joining protesters in the UK diaspora.

After the movement was violently repressed, many artists paid homage to victims of the crackdown.

Burna Boy released a song called “20.10.2020” in reference to the day where the army and police cracked down on peaceful protesters in Lagos.

But since then, the stars have gone silent, no longer publicly supporting candidates or encouraging people to register and get their permanent voter’s card (PVC).

“They are not involved,” said Osikhena Dirisu, director of programmes at The Beat radio.

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Wizkid did speak out on one occasion about the election in a wide-ranging interview with British newspaper The Guardian.

“All these old men are going out of power this time,” he said of the candidates. “They need to go to an old people’s home and chill out.”

Younger touch

“It bothers me. They were supporting EndSARS and now none of them call the youth to collect their PVC or endorse the candidate of the youth, Peter Obi,” said Ifiy, a 30-year-old Nigerian at a recent rally for the candidate.

Obi, a 61-year-old former state governor, enjoys the support of many young people, including those who were part of EndSARS. He has become a credible challenge to Tinubu and Abubakar.

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Apart from P-Square, twin artists who became popular in the 2010s with their title “Alingo”, there are few musicians who openly support Obi, according to Dirisu.

They avoid getting into politics, Aigbokhaevbolo said, because “in Nigeria, you don’t want to have enemies in power”.

On the other hand, politicians need Afrobeats. “You can’t campaign without music in Nigeria,” said Aigbokhaevbolo.

During rallies, the latest Afrobeats tunes are blasted from loudspeakers, often without any copyright agreements.

Campaigning for the February 25 election is coming to a close

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The popular songs provide much needed entertainment to motivate the crowds of supporters or people paid to be there, before candidates arrive.

Music also gives the politicians a more human touch, and even a younger touch, like Tinubu, who went viral when he started dancing to the popular song “Buga” by Kizz Daniel.

Some artists who are still unknown internationally use the opportunity of rallies to make money, like Portable, who played for the ruling party, or Timi Dakolo for the opposition.

Criticised on social media, both responded that they take cash wherever they can find it. 

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Reham Khan deflects criticism over marrying younger guy

Reham Khan deflects criticism over marrying younger guy

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Reham Khan deflects criticism over marrying younger guy

Appearing in Hafiz Ahmed’s podcast, Reham Khan addressed criticism on her marriage with a younger boy.

Talking about it, she said, “When people see me, they say, ‘Oh, she married a younger guy,’ but they don’t know that I was first married to a man who was 16 years older than me.

Then, I married a man who was 22 years older than me. So, why don’t they criticise men for marrying younger women?

And as a woman, if I am a divorcée, it becomes a tag, but men, despite getting multiple divorces and engaging in multiple marriages, are never labeled”.

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Talking about whether she allows her husband for a second marriage, she said, “I am not in favour of men having multiple marriages simultaneously.

If my husband wants to marry again, he will have to leave me. I agreed to marry him after seeing the divorce papers.”

Reham Khan is a brilliant host, writer and a social media influencer who began her career from international media as a weather reporter.

She, later on, shifted to Pakistan where she became a prominent Pakistani news anchor.

Reham Khan became a known figure after her marriage to former PTI founder.

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The marriage didn’t last longer. It was Reham Khan’s second marriage.

In December 2022, Reham Khan tied the knot with Mirza Bilal.

Reham Khan is currently spending time in Pakistan with her husband.

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Saheefa Jabbar speaks out against tossing money at weddings

Saheefa Jabbar speaks out against tossing money at weddings

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Saheefa Jabbar speaks out against tossing money at weddings

Model Saheefa Jabbar Khattak has shared her stance on some degrading customs prevalent at wedding parties.

Known for her proactive engagement, she criticised certain customs that perpetuate demeaning portrayals.

She said this in the context of weddings where people as a tradition toss a deck of money in the air.

This act symbolises wealth, and it is intended to be donated to the less fortunate.

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However, Saheefa Jabbar strongly disapproves of this tradition. She stated: “It is the happiest day of your life and your family.

“I understand that I wish nothing but lifelong happiness and a great future ahead.
With this, I would like to add that it doesn’t have to include less privileged individuals picking up money from the ground and bending in front of you.”

According to her, the spectacle of individuals scrambling to grab the money perpetuates an undignified and degrading portrayal of those in need.

She continued: “When you have millions of followers on various platforms, it’s important to conduct yourself with responsibility.

“Putting an end to such customs and traditions is something we people with influence should focus on and the responsibility lies with you.”

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She has raised her concerns over such matters in the past as well and viewers highly respect her for her sensitivity.

One person said: “This is why I love Saheefa. She always talks about important things that no one even pays much attention to.”

Another wrote: “They did this at my wedding too.
“I feel so guilty as I remember little children, barefoot, trying to get the money before anyone else does.”

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London Fashion Week show at British Museum irks Greece

London Fashion Week show at British Museum irks Greece

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London Fashion Week show at British Museum irks Greece

The Greek Minister of Culture, Lina Mendoni, expressed her anger late on Saturday after a London Fashion week show took place in front of the Parthenon Marbles at the British Museum.

Designer Erdem Moralioglu chose the impressive setting of the Athens Parthenon sculptures showroom at the British Museum to present the autumn winter 2024 collection of his eponymous brand Erdem, inspired by Greek singer Maria Callas and her interpretation of the opera Medea in 1953.

“By organising a fashion show in the halls where the Parthenon Sculptures are exhibited, the British Museum, once again, proves its zero respect for the masterpieces of Pheidias,” Mendoni said in a statement.

“The directors of the British Museum trivialize and insult not only the monument but also the universal values that it transmits. The conditions of display and storage of the sculptures, at the Duveen Gallery, are constantly deteriorating. It is time for the stolen and abused sculptural masterpieces to shine in the Attic light,” she added.

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The sculptures were taken from the Parthenon temple at the Acropolis in Greece in the early 19th century by British diplomat Thomas Bruce, the earl of Elgin.

Athens maintains the marbles, which are a major draw for visitors at London’s British Museum, were stolen, while the UK claims they were obtained legally.

The 1963 British Museum Act prohibits the removal of objects from the institution’s collection.

But officials at the museum, which is under pressure to repatriate other foreign antiquities, have not ruled out a possible loan deal.

Late November, a diplomatic spat raised eyebrows when Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed his “displeasure” over UK counterpart Rishi Sunak’s last minute cancellation of a bilateral meeting set to discuss their long-running dispute over the Parthenon Marbles.

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At issue for London was the Greek leader’s comments in a BBC interview a day before the meeting about ownership of the 2,500-year-old marbles.

Sunak was allegedly angry about Mitsotakis’s comments that having some of the marbles in London and others in Athens was like cutting the Mona Lisa in half. 

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