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2019 International Women’s Day Celebrations Is All About Balancing

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The 2019 International Women’s Day is tackling a strong topic under the theme #BalanceforBetter. Come Friday 8th March 2019, women around the globe will echo their need for balance. This year, the annual event aims to create awareness on gender inequality and the need to celebrate women’s achievements.  According to the International Women’s Day (IWD) website,

“Right now is a great and important time in history to do everything possible to help forge a more gender-balanced world. Women have come a long way, yet there’s still more to be achieved.”

From seminars to business master classes to pop-up art shows, the focus will be on innovative ways to advance gender equality. Areas, particularly in need of gender equality, are sustainable infrastructure, access to public services, and social protection systems.

The Sustainable Development Goal

The origin of the International Women’s Day dates back to 1909 when thousands of women marched in New York to demand fair wages. The United Nations officially declared March 8 International Women’s Day in 1975. The urgent need for gender equality led to its inclusion in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 5 is to “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. To achieve Planet 50-50 by 2030, transformative shift and new solutions will be required. Innovation and technology have great prospects in bridging the gap and disrupting structural barriers. However, statistics in the digital divide shows that women are underrepresented.

From mobile banking to the Internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), it is importer to consider the experience of women when designing and implementing technologies that will shape future societies.

International Women’s Day event across the world

Different events will be held simultaneously across the globe to commemorate the International Women’s Day. Far away in Europe, Amsterdam will host the “Youth Tech Fest”. Girls between the ages of 12 and 18 will learn how to develop apps, write codes and more.

The International Women’s Day will be celebrated in more than 35 cities across the United States. Atlanta will host the International Women’s Day Tea Party for small-business owners. At Washington Square Park in New York, a small celebration will offer women flowers with inspirational messages.

International Women’s Day celebration will also hold across major cities in some African countries. In Nigeria, there will be a Walk for equality and better in Abuja as well as a Just Kick It! – aside Women Football Tournament on March 9. The International Women’s Day Picnic will also hold on March 9 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Celebrating IWD online

You may not be able to make it to IWD events if your country doesn’t host the celebration. However, you can still participate online. The organizers want everyone to be a part of the celebration. Women are encouraged to strike a pose with their hands open to represent a balance between men and women. They are to post the picture on social media with the hashtag #BalanceforBetter.

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Books

3 Nigerian Authors Make The 16 Author Longlist For The Most Prestigious Literary Prize In The UK For Women

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L-R: Diana Evans, Oyinkan Braithwaite, Akwaeke Emezi

The Women’s Prize for Fiction is the most prestigious literary prize in the United Kingdom. Formerly known as the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the prize goes to female authors of any nationality for full-length English novel published in the United Kingdom the preceding year. There are 163 entries this year but the judges painstakingly cut it down to 16. However, three Nigerian authors (Oyinkan Braithwaite, Akwaeke Emezi, and Diana Evans) made it to the longlist.

The Women’s Prize for Fiction was founded in 1996. The inspiration for the prize was prompted by the 1991 Booker Prize which sidelined female authors in the six shortlisted books. However, that year it was on record that sixty percent of books were by female authors. That event made journalists, librarians, booksellers, agents, and publishers to take action.

About the prize and judging panel

The winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction will go home with £30,000 and a bronze sculpture, ‘Bessie’. Consequently, this year’s award ceremony will take place on June 5 in Central London. This year’s judging panel consists of Sarah Wood (a digital entrepreneur), Leyla Hussein (campaigner and psychotherapist), Dolly Alderton (author, broadcaster, and columnist), and Arifa Akbar (journalist and critic). The chairperson of this year’s judging panel is Professor Kate Williams. In a statement after the release of the longlist, Williams said,

“I am thrilled to share this longlist – 16 incredible books by a diverse group of women, from the UK and countries across the world, all brilliant stories that sweep you into another world. Each of them has been a privilege to read, and they have taken us into places a million miles from each other, exploring the lives of women and men in so many different but utterly compelling ways.”

Brief bio of the Nigerian authors and summary of their stories

Oyinkan Braithwaite

Oyinkan Braithwaite is a Kingston University graduate of Creative Writing and Law. In 2016 her story was part of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlist. “My Sister, the Serial Killer” explores the tale of Korede, whose younger sister Ayoola kills her boyfriends in the name of self-defense. Korede loves her sister and finds it difficult reporting to the police. All that changes when Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede is in love with the doctor and doesn’t want him to be one of Ayoola’s victims. However, saving one will mean sacrificing the other.

Diana Evans

Diana Evans is a Nigerian-British novelist living in London. She has three novels to her name. “Ordinary People” follows the tale of two couples at the brink of revolution or surrender. Everything changes when Melissa gives birth to a new baby. Michael still loves her but is finding it hard to stay faithful. In the suburbs, Stephanie and Damian are happy with their three children until the death of Damian’s father.

Akwaeke Emezi

Akwaeke Emezi is an Igbo and Tamil writer. “Freshwater,” tells the story of Ada, a child prayed into existence. Her parents struggle to contain the contradictory and volatile spirits within her. While in college an assault leads to crystallization of her selves. Subsequently, Ada’s life takes a dangerous and dark dimension.

The longlist

Books and their authors that made it to the longlist this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction include;

  • The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
  • Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton
  • My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • The Pisces by Melissa Broder
  • Milkman by Anna Burns
  • Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
  • Ordinary People by Diana Evans
  • Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  • Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lilian Li
  • Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn
  • Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
  • Praise Songs for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden
  • Circe by Madeline Miller
  • Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney

Freshwater is first non-binary inclusion

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi earlier in 2018 won the Quartz Africa’s as the best African book. The inclusion of Emezi’s ‘Freshwater’ is the first time a non-binary trans author will make it to the long list of the Women’s Prize for Fiction. The same day of the longlist announcement, the competition judges published an editorial believed to put an end to the controversy surrounding the inclusion of the novel on the list. Reacting to the novel, one of the judges, Arifa Akbar said,

Emezi’s novel takes the conversation about female-only spaces and non-binary identities out of an often inward-looking, white, Western enclave, to give it new meaning.”

Past African winners

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the only African to have won the coveted Women’s Prize for Fiction (then Orange Prize for Fiction). The multiple-award-winning writer took home the prize in 2007 for her novel, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’. If Oyinkan Braithwaite, Akwaeke Emezi or Diana Evans should win, it will be the second time the prize will come to Africa. The announcement for the shortlist will be on April 29.

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Events

FESPACO 2019 highlights and Winners

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The 26th edition of Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la télévision de Ouagadougou (FESPACO) has come and gone leaving valuable memories and lessons behind. Hitherto, the biennial event of international renown promotes African cinemas. However, this year’s edition also marks the 50th anniversary of the celebration. The weeklong event ran from February 23rd to March 2nd.

During the festival, a statue of ex-Burkina Faso president, Thomas Sankara was unveiled. The five meters high bronze statue was built close to where he died. Till date, Sankara holds a dear position as an icon of pan-Africanism. He also played a prominent role in the success of the Pan-African Film and Television Festival in Ouagadougou (FESPACO). Present for the unveiling ceremony were dignitaries within and outside the country. This includes former Ghanaian president, John Rawlings and Burkina Faso’s President, Roch Marc Christian Kabore. Reacting to the monument Rawlings said,

“We have emotions on this site but we need to capitalize on these emotions to move forward. Those who fell here remind us that we are fighting for freedom and justice”.

Roundtable on African women in the cinema industry

Various reputable side events happen at FESPACO events. Consequently, one of the events at the 26th edition was the roundtable on African women in the cinema industry. Held on the 4th day, high-profile dignitaries including Espérance Nyirasafari, Rwanda’s Minister for Sports and Culture were in attendance. The theme of the roundtable was “50 years of FESPACO: 50/50 for Women, equality, and diversity in African Cinema”.

However, Burkina Faso First Lady, Sika Kabore, Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism of Burkina Faso, Abdoul Karim Sango, and Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay also participated at the round table. At the “Visit Rwanda” stand, First Lady Kabore said,

“I am highly impressed by what Rwanda has achieved in such a short period of time. These beautiful pictures on the walls make you want to visit Rwanda.”

The Golden Stallion of Yennenga Award

Joe Karekezi wins the Golden Stallion of Yennenga Award

The high point of the festival is the award of the Golden Stallion of Yennenga. Twenty movies made the shortlist for the award. However, Joel Karekezi’s “The Mercy of the Jungle” took it home. Karekezi is a Rwandan director and the movie discusses the DRC war through the eyes of two soldiers lost in the jungle. Consequently, Belgian Marc Zinga also won the best actor for his role in the movie.

“Karma” by Egyptian director, Khaled Youssef scooped the second prize. “Fatwa” by Tunisian director Ben Hohmound took the third prize. Fatwa explores the emotions of a father who finds out his son was a jihadist after his death.

Ecobank Foundation Sembène Ousmane Prize

The Ecobank prize at the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou Film Festival (FESPACO) goes to the movie judged to portray the most positive image of Africa. However, the prize is only exclusive to countries where Ecobank operates. “Miraculous weapon” director, Jean-Pierre Bekolo won a bronze trophy and XOF 5,000,000 ($8500) for winning the award. Reacting to the award, the Chief Operating Officer of the Ecobank Foundation, Carl Manlan said,

“I have no doubt that Ousmane Sembène, who is rightly… one of Africa’s greatest authors and as the ‘father of African film’, would have been thoroughly engrossed by the storyline of “Miraculous weapons” and how it displays Africa in a positive light.”

Full list of winners

  • GOLDEN STALLION: The Mercy of the Jungle by Joel KAREKEZI (Rwanda)
  • SILVER STALLION: Karma by Khaled YOUSSEF (Egypt)
  • BRONZE STALLION: Fatwa by Mahmoud BEN MAHMOUD (Tunisia)
  • BEST ACTOR: Marc Zinga in The Mercy of the Jungle by Joel KAREKEZI (Rwanda)
  • BEST ACTRESS: Samantha Mugatsia in Rafiki by Wanuri KAHUI (Kenya)
  • THE BEST SCRIPT: Regarde-moi (Look at me) by Nejib BELKHADI (Tunisia)/Keteke by Peter SEDUFIA (Ghana)
  • BEST IMAGE: Mabata Bata by Joao Luis SOL DE CARVALHO (Mozambique)
  • BEST SOUND:  Karma by Khaled YOUSSEF (Egypt)
  • THE BEST MUSIC: Sew the Winter To My Skin  by Jahmil XT Qubeka (South Africa)
  • BEST SET: Desrances by Apolline TRAORE (Burkina Faso)
  • BEST EDITING: Mabata Bata by Joao Luis SOL DE CARVALHO (Mozambique)
  • OUMAROU GANDA PRIZE FOR BEST FIRST FEATURE: Jusqu’à la fin des temps Yasmine Chouikh (Algeria)

COURTS-METRAGES FICTION

  • GOLDEN FOAL: Black Mamba by Amel GUELLATY (Tunisia)
  • SILVER FOAL: Une place dans l’avion by Khadidiatou SOW (Sénégal)
  • BRONZE FOAL: Un air de Kora by Angèle DIABANG (Sénégal)

DOCUMENTARY CATEGORY

  • GOLDEN STALLION: Le loup d’or de Baolé by Aïcha Boro (Burkina Faso)
  • SILVER STALLION: Au temps où les arabes dansaient by Jawad RHALIB (Morocco)
  • BRONZE STALLION: Whispering Truth To Power by Shameela SEEDAT (South Africa)
  • DIASPORA PRIZE PAUL ROBESON: Meu amigo Fela (Mon ami Fela) by Joel Zito ARAUJO (Brazil)

COURTS-METRAGES DOCUMENTAIRE

  • GOLDEN FOAL: Against all odds (Contre toute attente) by Charity Resian NAMPASO/ Andréa IANNETTA (Kenya)
  • SILVER FOAL: Zanaka-Teny Nomen’i Felix (Ainsi parlait Félix) by Nantenaina LOVA (Madagascar)
  • BRONZE FOAL: Tata Milouda by Nadja HAREK (Algeria)

SERIES TV

  • FIRST PRIZE: Petites Histoires, Grandes Vérités (PHGV) by Ambrose B. COOKE (Ghana)
  • SECOND PRIZE: Blog by Akre Loba Diby MELYOU (Côte d’Ivoire/Ivory Coast)

COMPETITION ANIMATION

  • FIRST PRIZE: Briska by Nadia RAIS (Tunisia)
  • SECOND PRIZE: A kalabanda ate my homework by Raymond MALINGA (Uganda)
  • JURY AWARD: Da Tsysy Da by Tojo Niaina RAJAOFERA (Madagascar)

SCHOOLS CATEGORY

  • FIRST PRIZE: Incompris by Jaurès KOUKPEMEDJI from l’Institut Supérieur des Métiers de l’Audiovisuel (ISMA) – Bénin
  • SECOND PRIZE: Maison de retraite by N. Ismaël Césaire KAFANDO from l’Institut Supérieur de  l’image et du Son/ Studio Ecole / ISIS/SE – Burkina Faso

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Beauty

Reigning Miss Ireland International Has Big Plans For Zimbabwean Youths

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Miss Blessing Mutamba is on the spotlight as the winner of Miss Ireland International contest. In addition to the award, the 23-year-old also won the Best-In-Interview and Miss Photogenic awards held on the side. She pledged to use her new position to lend a hand to youth empowerment programs in Zimbabwe. On February 21, 2019, she paid a visit to the Zimbabwean Ambassador to the UK, Retired Colonel Christian Katsande. The statement released by the embassy following her visit read,

“Ambassador Katsande highly commended and congratulated Miss Mutamba and took the opportunity to exchange views with the newly crowned Miss Ireland International on how she could contribute in promoting tourism, sports, arts, culture and trade and investment opportunities in Zimbabwe.”

The reigning queen was in the company of her mother Mrs. Netty Mutamba. The remaining statement from the embassy read,

“The parties agreed to explore ways to assist working with the sports cluster in fundraising for the Zimbabwe Netball Team scheduled to participate at the World Netball Cup Tournament in Liverpool in July 2019.”

Mutamba’s childhood and career

Miss Blessing Mutamba, the crowned Miss Ireland International

Miss Mutamba spent her early childhood in Ireland. She went ahead to study Creative Enterprise at Southampton Solent University where she bagged first class honors. She recently bagged a master’s degree in Entrepreneurship from the Falmouth University. Apart from chasing a career in pageantry, Mutamba works at the International Stock Exchange as an Assistant Analyst.

Mutaba also featured on the cover of December 2012 edition of GBG Magazine. In 2009, she also made it to the final of the Face of Models United. Among the awards in her archives include Runner up Miss Collegiate Ireland and Miss African Spirit Most Photogenic.

Impacting the life of Zimbabwean Youths

Often times, crowned beauty pageants talk about programs without giving hints on how to achieve them. However, Mutamba says she will lobby entrepreneurship experts, managers, and global companies to support her youth mentorship programs. The aim of the program will be to empower youths to become self-reliant and entrepreneurs. This will also impact positively on the country’s economic recovery efforts. Mutamba thinks pageantry has grown beyond just showing off beautiful clothes. In her words,

“They’re now more about empowering women, giving them a voice and a platform, rather than just walking around in a pretty dress. I have learnt a lot of different things about teamwork, humility, staying humble but more importantly feeling comfortable in myself.”

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