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Last to abolish slavery, Mauritania still hunts anti-slavery activists

The institution of slavery, though abolished some 37 years ago in Mauritania, still has significant scars on the country’s landscape

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The institution of slavery, though abolished some 37 years ago in Mauritania, still has significant scars on the country’s landscape.

The effect of the discredited practice came to the fore recently as two anti-slavery activists freed from prison in Mauritania vowed an all-out fight to rescue their nation from one of the world’s worst slavery rates, saying jail and torture were no deterrent.

Mauritania was the last nation to abolish slavery, outlawing it in 1981, and more than two in every 100 of its people still live as slaves, according to the 2018 Global Slavery Index.

Human rights groups say government made no effort to stamp it out and arrests people who speak out against it.

Abdallahi Matallah Saleck and Moussa Biram were jailed for their alleged role in a protest and charged with inciting riots and rebellion. They spent two years in a remote desert prison where they say they suffered horrible abuse.

“They tortured us, they did everything they could so we would back down. But we will never, ever back down,” Biram told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Less than a week after being released, both were back on the streets of Nouakchott, encouraging fellow members of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) to stay strong.

“The fight has just begun,” Biram said adding he is not in good health and has injuries from torture and beatings. “I can’t even stand up because of my legs which people hit with batons.”

A government spokesman said allegations of torture were false and an independent body called the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture had visited the detention site in 2017 and found no human rights violations.

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Government previously denied making arbitrary arrests and said that it prosecutes “unlawful and unregistered organisations that provoke riots, chaos and insecurity.”

Because government refused to register the IRA as an organisation, the men could be jailed at any time, said Francois Patuel of Amnesty International.

“We know we’re not safe, but we are not afraid,” Saleck told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“This is our country no matter what and we have to fight against discrimination and slavery,” he said.

Slavery in Mauritania follows racial lines, with black descendants of ethnic groups from the country’s south typically enslaved by lighter-skinned Mauritanians.

Some Mauritanians are born into slavery and spend their lives as domestic or farm workers.

Culture

Ghanaian chef fails to break cook-a-thon world record

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An attempt by celebrity Ghanaian chef, Failatu Abdul-Razak, to break the Guinness World Record for the longest cooking marathon by an individual, has come to an end as the GWR says she violated the “rest break rules”.

Abdul-Razak had, in January, embarked on the task of breaking the world record of 119 hours and 57 minutes held by Irish chef, Alan Fisher.

She began the cook-a-thon at midnight on January 1, initially aiming to reach the finish line on the morning of January 5, but however ended the marathon on January 10, recording an overwhelming 227 hours, which appeared to have broken the world record.

However, in a statement on Sunday, the co-ordinator of Abdul-Razak’s challenge, Kafui Dey, said that her attempt at breaking the record “unfortunately fell short of meeting the stringent guidelines set forth by Guinness World Records.

“A statement from the Records Management Team cited a violation of the rest break rules, resulting in an unsuccessful attempt,” Dey said.

Also in a statement, GWR acknowledged Abdul-Razak’s efforts and encouraged future record proposals.

“We commend you for your tremendous efforts with this record attempt. We hope you can still be very proud of what you have achieved,” the statement stated.

Abdul-Razak who responded to the development in her own statement, expressed profound gratitude to her supporters and Ghanaians in general.

“While the outcome may not be what we anticipated, I am deeply thankful for the unwavering support from our sponsors and partners, as well as the encouragement from our fans. Your backing has been instrumental throughout this journey.

“Although this attempt did not result in a world record, it has been an invaluable experience. I am proud of the dedication and hard work put forth, and I am committed to continuing to push boundaries in the culinary world,” she added.

Abdul-Razak’s attempt to break the world record had caused widespread excitement across the West African country with top celebrities and politicians, including Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, lending her their support.

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Culture

Nigerian Afrobeats singer Asake in big trouble for controversial new video

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Nigerian Afrobeats sensation, Ahmed Ololade, popularly known as Asake, has come in for strong criticism as Christians in the country have lambasted him for allegedly making a mockery of Christianity in his latest video, “Only Me”.

In the viral video directed by top music director, TG Omori, Asake who is a Muslim, is seen dressed in priestly attire depicting a Catholic priest, while sitting behind a table altar.

Asake also dons a Christian regalia with a halo around his head while throwing at his dancers, also dressed up on Christian regalia.

The dancers are are also chanting the track’s refrain, repeating “we get money” over and over again, which critics say is a satire about charismatic preachers.

The video which was premiered on Thursday, has, however, generated wide criticised on social media with many calling for it to be banned as they see it as an insult to the Christian religion.

Those against the video have taken to social media to register their anger and condemnation.

An angry user on X fired the first shot when he wrote:

“Asake keeps disrespecting the Christian faith in his music videos.”

“Asake is mocking Christians with his blasphemous music video,” another user wrote on X.

“Shame on you man. I’m a big fan of your music but the depictions in this your latest video are absolutely insane” another said.

“Please bring down this video. This is an insult to our Christian faith. Do your music but respect people’s religions,” yet another angry fan wrote on Instagram.

This is, however, not the first time the Grammy-nominated singer will get himself into trouble for his use of Christian imagery in his music videos.

Last year, Asake came under a barrage of attacks for the video for “Bandana” which depicted black goats sitting in a church with people in the pews, each with a flame above their heads.

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