Kenyan singer, Maya Amolo, named first-ever Fresh Finds Africa artist by Spotify
23-year-old Kenyan alternative R&B artist, Maya Amolo, has been announced as the first-ever Fresh Finds Africa artist by audio and media streaming provider, Spotify, as part of its programme tailored to specifically spotlight and develop emerging independent artists from across the continent of Africa.
The Swedish company, in a statement on Wednesday while making the announcement, said the programme is centered on its Fresh Find playlist, and “focuses on helping emerging artists to learn and grow by giving them the tools for long-term and sustained career success.
“The Fresh Finds playlist serves as a launchpad for up-and-coming artists to get exposure, while also catering to fans and industry tastemakers who want to discover fresh new talent,” the streaming company said.
The Nairobi-born Maya, cut her musical teeth on SoundCloud while collaborating with Internet producers to create ‘Sad Boi’ tunes including ‘U Wanna’ and ‘Where Tornados Flew,’ which propelled her to top of her career and an artist to be reckoned with in Africa.
Her powerful vocals quickly and soft harmonies quickly amassed her a dedicated listenership and grabbed the attention of local producers and musicians, according to her citation on the Spotify platform.
Speaking on making Maya the first Fresh Finds artist from Africa, Spotify’s head of music for Sub-Saharan Africa, Phiona Okumu said:
“Spotify has always been committed to connecting fans to up-and-coming artists and the music they love. The Fresh Finds programme is an enhanced version of that.
“For an upcoming artist like Maya, these figures promise an increased audience and opens her up to new opportunities which might not have been possible without Fresh Finds.
“Fresh Finds Africa will be a monthly programme, with a new artist selected every month by the Spotify music team, and forms part of Spotify’s continued commitment to support the African music industry, through initiatives such as Equal and Radar,” Okumu said.
Maya’s first body of work, Leave Me At The Pregame, which was released in mid-2020, takes the listener through a melodious journey of self-acceptance and healing.
She has gone on to establish herself as one to watch, having been covered by NPR, The Native Mag, Okay Africa and Tangaza Magazine.
She is set to release the first single from her forthcoming project on March 31.
Kenyan govt to convert ‘evil cult’ forest into a memorial site
The Kenyan government says it plans to convert the Shakahola Forest, where bodies of over 250 members of a Christian cult led by Pastor Paul Mackenzie were exhumed, into a national memorial.
The eastern African country was thrown into a frenzy in April when some followers of the pastor reportedly died after he instructed them to starve to death so they could meet with Jesus.
Kenya’s Interior Minister, Kithure Kindiki, who disclosed the intentions of the government at a press conference on Tuesday, said once the recovery of the bodies buried in the 800-acre forest was complete, the forest would be “turned into a place of remembrance so that people won’t forget what happened there.”
The minister added that the government had enough evidence to prosecute the leader of the cult and the main suspect, Pastor Mackenzie, on charges of genocide after he allegedly convinced his followers to fast to death in order to go to heaven.
“Most of the victims, including children, died of starvation but some were strangled, beaten, or suffocated,” Kindiki said, quoting autopsy reports.
Kindiki said investigations had shown that the cult’s activities extended beyond the Shakahola Forest, adding that investigations had extended to the larger 37,000-acre Chakama ranch in the area.
“Security roads are being constructed to provide access to the expansive area as search and rescue operations and investigations continues,” he said.
Scientists discover world’s oldest burial site in South Africa
Scientists in South Africa say they have discovered the oldest-known burial site in the world “containing remains of a small-brained distant relative of humans previously thought incapable of complex behaviour,” world-renowned palaeoanthropologist, Lee Berger, who led the team of researchers, said on Monday.
The find was announced by the University of the Witwatersrand, the National Geographic Society and the South African National Research Foundation, and published in the journal, eLife.
It challenges the understanding of human evolution which is normally held that the development of bigger brains allowed for the performing of complex functions.
Berger said the research team uncovered evidence that “members of a mysterious archaic human species buried their dead and carved symbols on cave walls long before the earliest evidence of burials by modern humans.”
“The brains belonging to the extinct species, known as Homo naledi, were around one-third the size of a modern human brain,” he said in a statement while announcing the result of the discovery.
“These revelations could change the understanding of human evolution, because until now, such behaviors only have been associated with larger-brained Homo sapiens and Neanderthals,” he added.
According to the palaeoanthropologist, the team discovered several specimens of Homo naledi, a tree-climbing, Stone Age hominid, buried about 30 metres (100 feet) underground in a cave system within the Cradle of Humankind located in Johannesburg, which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“These are the most ancient interments yet recorded in the hominin record, earlier than evidence of Homo sapiens interments by at least 100,000 years,” Berger wrote.
Before the discovery, the oldest burials previously unearthed were found in the Middle East which contained the remains of Homo sapiens and were around 100,000 years old.
But the South African find reportedly dates back to at least 200,000 BC.
“These discoveries show that mortuary practices were not limited to H. sapiens or other hominins with large brain sizes,” Berger said.
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