The Ebola outbreak has slowed across West Africa but every new infection continues to threaten millions of lives. This fatal disease claimed 7 000 lives by the end of 2014 in just Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Lione. Overcoming this complex emergency challenged governments and international aid organisations and brought fear to the rest of the world.
This inspiring story of a girl in Sierra Leone who loses her parents to Ebola visualises the truly devastating effect of the disease, but also the courage of everyday heroes who help fight the outbreak.
Last month, Liberia was finally declared Ebola-free. However, the deadly virus will not truly disappear until there is no longer active transmission in affected neighbouring countries.
Sheldon Yett, Unicef‘s representative in Liberia, cautioned that the region could not afford to let its guard down. “Having achieved zero cases is the first step, now the challenge is to remain at zero. The threat won’t be over until there are no more cases in neighboring Sierra Leone and Guinea.” He also added, “In the longer-run there is a need to rebuild a better health system, with the capacity to identify and respond to any future outbreaks, be it Ebola, measles or pertussis,” said Yett.
Getting to zero is now a reality as long as we see a sustained commitment throughout 2015 in the fight against Ebola. Liberia is now clear. Now it’s time for Guinea and Sierra Leone to #GetToZero.
Singers Victoria Kimani from Kenya, South African Judith Sephuma, Waje from Nigeria, Vanessa Mdee from Tanzania, Arielle T from Gabon, Gabriela from Mozambique and Selomor Mtukudzi from Zimbabwe have now recorded Strong Girl to address the gender inequality that they believe goes hand-in-hand with poverty.
The song is inspired by a recently released report by ONE, an advocacy organisation that aims to fight extreme poverty and preventable diseases – particularly in Africa – titled Poverty is Sexist: Why girls and women must be at the heart of the fight to end extreme poverty.
Gender gap and vicious cycles
The campaign’s tagline, according to Sipho Moyo, ONE Africa’s executive director, is a reflection of the reality of our society. “What we have found is that the barriers that disadvantaged women and girls [face] are essentially structural, whether you are talking from a political point of view or economic one.”
ONE’s research shows that working women in the least developed countries are three times more likely to be in vulnerable employment than women elsewhere, and that in every country on the continent there are more girls than boys who are not attending school.
According to ONE’s research, only a little more than 20% of poor rural girls in Africa complete primary education, while fewer than 10% finish lower secondary school.
“In agriculture, female farmers are more likely to produce much less, acre to acre, compared to men, which is what we call the gender gap in agriculture.
“Why is that? It’s because they don’t have access to financial resources or credit, and in order to get credit you need collateral and women often don’t have the titles for the land they are farming on. So it becomes a vicious cycle of impoverishment.”
Together, an African sound
Selomor Mtukudzi, Harare-based singer and daughter of the respected musician Oliver Mtukudzi, echoed Moyo: “As women our gender already puts us at a disadvantage and we are forced to work harder. Women back home in Zimbabwe are hard-working but don’t get as much as they deserve. Women reap half of what their male counterparts are reaping.”
Mtukudzi believes Strong Girl and the ONE campaign will draw attention to the voices of women and persuade African leaders to empower women.
ONE chose to work with female musicians who have a notable influence in their respective African countries, and who would help popularise the Poverty is Sexist campaign at grassroots level.
Strong Girl is produced by Nigerian songwriter and musician Cobhams Asuquo. The music video, which features Nigerian actress Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, was recorded last month and shot at the University of Johannesburg campus. Asuquo is known for his work with Nigerian singer Asa on her hit songs Jailer and Fire on the Mountain.
“Each singer wrote her own verse in the song,” says Sephuma. “The sound is very West African but we each added a different feel to the song, which in the end brought out an African sound.”
The song will be used to promote the Poverty is Sexist campaign globally, and will be officially launched in Nigeria, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa during the World Economic Forum for Africa and the African Union Heads of State Summit in June. This year marks the AU’s Year of Women’s Empowerment.
Petition for the world to invest more in women Strong Girl, however, is just one facet of the campaign. Moyo says the plan is to lobby policymakers so that when the AU leaders meet in June, they’ll be able to come up with a strong declaration against gender discrimination.
Policy forums around the continent will be held, where civil society organisations, women’s groups and members of parliament will hold discussions about polices that are in favour of women, and the real challenges on our continent. Policy recommendations will be made based on the major issues that arise from the discussions and will be sent to the AU.
There will also be a petition that people can sign online, that will call on world leaders to fast-track the fight against inequality and injustice by investing more in women and girls if the world is to end extreme poverty by 2030.
For more information on the campaign visit one.org.
The South African Broadcasting Corporation’s Vuyo Mvoko and his crew were robbed of their belongings seconds before they could cross live from Milpark in Johannesburg on Tuesday. He was reporting on Zambian President Edgar Lungu’s arrival to Milpark hospital.
Mvoko and the SABC team were robbed of their cellphones and a laptop, but thankfully were not harmed.
Here is the live footage, which clearly shows the muggers, and an SABC News interview with Mvoko about the incident.
You either love sci-fi movies or you hate them – but a sci-fi love story based in Ethiopia? That’s sure to pique everyone’s curiosity.
Directed by Miguel Llansó, Crumbs is a a Spanish-Ethiopian co-production that premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in January.
From Indie Wire: “Crumbs tells the story of diminutive superhero Gagano (played by Daniel Tadesse), a junk collector, who embarks on a ‘surreal epic journey’ that’s set against ‘post-apocalyptic Ethiopian landscapes’. He’s had enough of collecting ‘valuable crumbs of a decayed civilisation’, when a spaceship that has been hovering high in the sky for years, starts showing signs of activity, and Gagano has to overcome his fears – which includes a witch, Santa Claus and second-generation Nazis – to find out that the world isn’t quite what he thought it was.”
The first official trailer for The Nairobians, a forthcoming television series from award-winning Kenyan director David “Tosh” Gitanga, has started making the rounds online. Gitonga’s debut film, Nairobi Half Life, a crime drama about a young actor from the upcountry trying to make it big in the capital, was Kenya’s first ever Oscar submission, and, according to its producers, the most successful theatrical release for a local film in Kenya.
“We keep saying crime is wrong, but are we really looking at why there is crime?” Gitonga said in a 2012 interview with CNN. With his next project, Gitonga re-visits the theme of crime in Nairobi. Though there isn’t much information available about the forthcoming crime drama’s premise, its gritty and fast-paced trailer offers an enticing look at the 26-part series which delves into the seedy underbelly of Nairobi’s organised crime syndicates and the world of illegal ivory trading.
The Nairobians is set to feature an ensemble cast of Kenyan actors, including Daniel Weke, Brenda Wairimu, Paul Ogolo and Antony Ndung’u (who previously worked with Gitonga in Nairobi Half Life). No official date has been announced for the series.
Jennifer Sefa-Boakye for okayafrica, ablog dedicated to bringing you the latest from Africa‘s New Wave.