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Rwanda commemorates 30 years anniversary of genocide

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Rwanda on Sunday, April 7, commemorated the 30 years anniversary of the genocide with solemn tributes to the victims and a resolve that the country must never experience such devastating episode again.

The killing spree in the tiny eastern African country lasted 100 days from April to July 1994 before the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebel militia led by incumbent President Paul Kagame took the capital Kigali. It claimed the lives of an estimated 800,000 people, largely from the Tutsi ethnic group and moderate Hutus, in what has been described as one of the bloodiest massacres of the 20th century.

The genocide was triggered by the assassination of Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana on the night of April 6, when his plane was shot down over Kigali, which triggered the rampage by the Hutu extremists led military and the Interahamwe militia made up largely of Hutus.

The genocide victims were shot, beaten or hacked to death in killings fuelled by vicious anti-Tutsi propaganda broadcast on TV and radio, with at least 250,000 women raped and sexually assaulted, according to UN figures.

But since the end of the genocide and the assumption of office by Kagame, Rwanda has found its footing, becoming one of the fastest developing countries in Africa.

In keeping with tradition, the ceremonies on April 7, the commemoration began with President Kagame lighting a remembrance flame at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where more than 250,000 victims are believed to be buried.

Local media reports that as an army band “played mournful melodies, Kagame placed wreaths on the mass graves, flanked by foreign dignitaries including several African heads of state and former US president Bill Clinton, who had called the genocide the biggest failure of his administration.”

“As part of the weeklong activities, President Paul Kagame will give a speech at a 10,000-seat arena in the capital, where Rwandans will later hold a candlelight vigil for those killed in the slaughter.

“The week of national mourning begins on Sunday and the lineup of events mark the start of a week of national mourning, with Rwanda effectively coming to a standstill and national flags flown at half-mast.

“Music will not be allowed in public places or on the radio, while sports events and movies are banned from TV broadcasts, unless connected to what has been dubbed Kwibuka (Remembrance) 30”.

As part of the healing process instituted by the Kagame administration, Rwandan ID cards do not mention whether a person is Hutu or Tutsi, while secondary school students learn about the genocide as part of a tightly controlled curriculum.

The country is home to over 200 memorials to the genocide, four of which were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list last year.

The memorials house skulls, bone fragments, torn clothing and images of piled up corpses as well as the guns, machetes and other weapons used to carry out the slaughter and each year, new mass graves are uncovered around the country.

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How South Sudanese singer John Frog moved from child soldier to Afrobeats star

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John Frog may be one of South Sudan’s most successful musicians at the moment, but a little over 10 years ago, he was a child soldier conscripted to fight in the country’s civil war at the age of eight.

John Frog was born during the civil war and his parents were soldiers in the SPLA – the Sudan People’s Liberation Army but fortune later smiled on him as he realised his true calling of making music.

Today, the youngster has forged an international reputation and has collaborated with artists from other African countries, including Uganda’s Eddie Kenzo, Bahati from Kenya, and recently, Iyanya from Nigeria whom he featured in his latest song, “My Bed”, with the collaborations placing him as one of the most sought after Afrobeats artistes in Africa.

According to a feature story by the BBC Africa, “Frog is his real name. He was called Aguek, which means frog in Dinka, a language native to South Sudan, because he was a breech baby, coming into the world feet-first.”

“Given that his mother gave birth to him in a remote village with no hospital or doctor in sight, he was lucky to survive, as was his mother.”

Speaking on his experience in the army, John Frog said:

“They didn’t give us a gun yet, until I was 14 – that’s when I was given a gun.

“Every day, every week, there is a fight, so we have to run in the forest, in the water, so it was quite tough for me.”

He confessed that he didn’t go to school and only picked up English from the street.

Frog said he always loved music and even in the forest he would listen to traditional music.

He recalled that it was when he got the opportunity to go to South Sudan’s capital, Juba, where he met other young Africans that he started making music himself.

“We didn’t have enough producers in Juba. The producers who are here are from Kenya and Uganda, so it was a bit hard to know the kind of genre for South Sudanese music, so I decided to do Afrobeats.”

Frog noted that South Sudanese musicians who make the most money are the traditional praise singers.

“They praise people, they praise leaders, praise people who have money, so it’s the quickest way to make money here.

“But my aim is to reach the wider audience. Either this year or next year, I have to be among our brothers who are on top,” he vowed.

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Nigerian moviemakers Funke Akindele, Mo Abudu, Jade Osiberu named in Hollywood Reporter’s Powerful Women in Film list

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Foremost Nigerian moviemakers, Funke Akindele, Mo Abudu, and Jade Osiberu have been named in the Hollywood Reporter’s list of the 40 Most Powerful Women in International Film.

This list which “recognizes women who are bringing stories to a global stage and nurturing new voices despite a disrupted film market,” featured the Nollywood filmmakers as three of the top most powerful in Africa.

The Hollywood Reporter describes the three as the “most powerful African film-makers who have for the past years graced our cinemas with captivating stories and productions.”

“Africa’s production industry faced a setback when Amazon Prime Video left the African originals business. Yet, Abudu, a pioneer in African media, continues to thrive. Her recent project, the short film “Dust to Dreams” directed by Idris Elba, received funding from the African Export-Import Bank’s $1 billion Creative Africa film fund,” it said.

“Abudu emphasizes the need for the international industry to embrace diverse stories.

“In her words, she said ‘We need a systemic shift towards inclusion. Diverse storytelling isn’t just about representation; it’s about unlocking a wealth of untapped creative potential.'”

“Akindele added politician to her roles as actor, writer, director, and producer when she ran for the 2023 Lagos state gubernatorial elections. Though her party lost, her career flourished. Her latest comedy, :A Tribe Called Judah”, which she wrote, directed, produced, and starred in, became the highest-grossing Nigerian movie ever, earning $1.2 million.

“Osiberu, a leading figure among Nigerian producer-directors, created the crime thriller “Gangs of Lagos” for Amazon. Her next film, “Everything Scatter,” follows five young people during a day of protests in Lagos.”

Speaking the the recognition, Abudu said:

“This recognition is a massive win for Nigeria! Seeing our nation celebrated for its incredible storytelling potential is so inspiring.

“I’m incredibly proud to be part of a movement pushing for a more inclusive film industry that embraces the power of diverse stories.”

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