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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

Nigerian first class traditional ruler, Ooni of Ife, makes Hollywood debut

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Nigerian first class traditional ruler, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, has made an incursion into the movie world when he recently made a historic debut in a new Hollywood flick titled “Take Me Home.”

The revered King who played a unique role in the movie that succinctly befits his throne as the custodian of Yorubaland, said his role helped to further accentuate and brings royalty, honour and authority to the silver screen.

Produced by renowned produced by Yoruba historian and filmmaker Dotun Taylor, the film, “Take Me Home” centres on the quest for originality and identity.

According to Taylor, the movie “tells the story of an American girl who became possessed after wearing an African masquerade costume that was stolen during a tour in Ile-Ife.”

“In a bid to save her life, her entire family, guided by the promises of two African immigrants, embarked on a journey that would land them in hot waters.”

“As the spiritual and traditional leader of the Yoruba people now saddled with the responsibility of making supplications to God and the Òrìṣà on behalf of his people, Ooni boldly depicted the rich culture of the Yorubas and its relevance in the western world.”

The epic movie also features top Hollywood actors like Dave Sheridan, Amber Rivette, Felissa Rose, Meji Black, and Nollywood actors Abdullateef Adedimeji and Bayo Bankole (Boy Alinco) among others.

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Uganda Grammy nominee, Eddy Kenzo, using music to pave way for deprived kids

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Ugandan musician and first Grammy Awards nominee from the country, Eddy Kenzo, says he is using his music and status to pave the way for deprived kids in the East African country.

Kenzo who grew up as an orphaned and homeless kid, recounted his story on Thursday, said he used to struggle to persuade DJs to play his songs, but now, is using his success to offer hopes that even the poorest person can triumph.

Kenzo, whose real name is Edrisah Musuuza, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Global Music Performance, said he has only one goal which is to “broadcast his culture to the world.”

“I try to use my culture and what I know to sell to the world. I sell the language that I speak, I sell the music we do here locally and I modernize it and put out the sound that comes from where I come from and it goes global,” the Grammy nominee told entertainment reporters.

Despite growing up underprivileged, Kenzo said he pursued his dreams and made a name for himself with his hit single “Stamina”, which grew to become one of the most popular songs in Africa and dominated the airwaves for months.

And despite his meteoric rise to stardom, Kenzo says he hasn’t forgotten his humble beginnings and is keen to pave the way for others like him.

Through his label Big Talent Entertainment, he now mentors Kampala’s disadvantaged youth to develop their musical talent.

Thirteen years after his big break, Kenzo is en route to take home a Grammy for “Gimme Love”, his 2022 Luganda-English song where he featured US musician Matt B.

“I love who I am, I love promoting who I am. I had to let him do what he does, but I had to make sure that I bring in myself in my own way. I started doing my Luganda and I taught him some of the pass, I told him to do it.

“And then this is what we did. And the message “Gimme Love” it’s all about giving love. Nothing could be better than that,” Kenzo said.

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