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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.

Culture

Davido sues baby mama for child custody

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Nigeria’s Afrobeats sensation, David Adeleke, popularly known as Davido, has dragged one of his baby-mamas, Sophia Momodu, the mother of his first child, Imade, to court, seeking custody of their daughter.

In the suit marked LD/1587PMC/2024, filed at the Lagos State High Court on his behalf by his lawyers, Dr Olaniyi Arije and Okey Barrah, the multiple award winner is seeking, among other prayers for an order granting joint custody of the child.

In the alternative, the singer prayed to the court for “an order granting to the applicant unfettered and unrestricted access to Miss Imade.”

The originating motion was supported by a 44-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Davido himself.

Davido narrated that though he had a relationship with Momodu that led to the birth of their child on May 14, 2015, the relationship had ended some years ago “while we resolved to take care of our child as biological father and mother.”

“That it is on record that I have been responsible for the payment of all the school fees of my daughter to provide her with the best education possible and to meet all her educational needs without a hitch,” the “Unavoidable” singer said.

Continuing, the summons said:

“That I have also been providing money for the rent of the apartment where the respondent resides with our daughter.”

He added that as a result of the love he had for Imade, he purchased and offered the mother a N200m worth apartment in a condominium gated community with a swimming pool and 24-hour power and water supply at Oniru, Victoria Island, Lagos. An offer he claimed was turned down.

“The respondent rejected the offer to stay and live at the above-described secured Oniru apartment, which had been purchased already, but demanded that I continue to pay N5,000,000 annually for a rented facility as my own contribution towards my daughter’s accommodation.

“I bought a Range Rover Sport Utility Vehicle for the use of the child and the respondent to meet the transport needs, including transportation of the child to and from school, etc.”

He however, stated that sometime last year, he received a call from her daughter’s school that Imade had been absent for two weeks, and upon his inquiry from Momodu, “She began to make excuses and complained that the Range Rover SUV was not in a good condition, however, she refused to inform me about that.”

“That sequel to the information about the said condition of the vehicle, I provided another vehicle, Highlander SUV, and in addition, the sum of N5.8m as requested by her for the repair of the Range Rover SUV, making it two vehicles in the custody and use of the respondent and our daughter.”

“I also made commitments to pay for living expenses, the fees of the nanny to our child, provide medical and health care, insurance, periodic international travel expenses and tickets.

“That notwithstanding my efforts in the overall interest of my daughter, the respondent has continued to make outlandish and Utopian demands to frustrate me.”

Davido also listed other demands allegedly made by Momodu.

“The respondent, among others, is demanding that I should pay the nanny she hired the sum of $800 per month, and that the total sum of $19,600 per annum be paid as a lump sum.”

He further claimed that despite his contribution towards ensuring a better life for their daughter, “the respondent has continued to show me unwarranted cruelty, inflicting so much pain on me.”

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Ghanaian designer Dede Ayite becomes first black woman to win Tony Award for Best Costume Design

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Ghanaian costume designer, Dede Ayite, has become the first black woman to win an award for Best Costume Design of a play at the 2024 Tony Awards which held at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center in New York.

Ayite picked the prestigious award for her work on the now-closed “Jaja’s African Hair Braiding.”

The show which opened in October 2023 and closed the following month is set in a bustling Harlem salon where West African immigrant hair braiders create masterpiece hairstyles for local women amid uncertain circumstances that ultimately face the community to confront being an outsider in a place they call home.

While speaking during her acceptance speech, Ayite, who was also nominated in the same category for her work on “Appropriate” and in the best costume design of a musical category for “Hell’s Kitchen”, said it was a huge honour to be the first black woman to win the award.

“People like me that are just starting out and aren’t sure and are fearful and just don’t know what it’s going to take, and you don’t know how to find that step to take you forward, so I’m just hopeful that this moment says, ‘Just keep at it.’

“You know, tell the stories that matter to you, tell the story that you find value in, and the moment will meet you. That’s what’s happening for me right now,” she said.

“It’s not just about me, but we did it: the community that supports me, the community of people that love me each day and cheer me on. For me, I just feel like it’s not just about me right now. It’s the community. It’s that we have done it together.”

The 77th Tony Awards was held on June 16, 2024, to recognize achievement in Broadway productions during the 2023–24 season.

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