Last Known Ebola Patient in Liberia Is Discharged

Liberia’s last Ebola patient was discharged on Thursday after a ceremony in the capital, Monrovia, bringing to zero the number of known cases in the country and marking a milestone in West Africa’s battle against the disease.

Officials in Monrovia, the city where the raging epidemic littered the streets with bodies only five months ago, celebrated even as they warned that Liberia was at least weeks away from being officially declared free of Ebola. They also noted that the disease had flared up recently in neighboring Sierra Leone and Guinea, the two other countries hardest hit by it.

“It was touching, it was pleasing,” Tolbert Nyenswah, the deputy health minister in charge of Liberia’s fight against Ebola, said in a telephone interview about the ceremony. “There was a lot of excitement because we feel that this is a victory.”

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Photo credit: ©Pius Utomi Ekpei (AFP)

Nigeria’s Cafe Neo: hoping to become the African Starbucks

The bright young things and senior managers were in Cafe Neo, on Victoria Island in Lagos, which has been specifically designed to cater to the tastes of “repats”.

Ngozi Dozie and his brother Chijoke created the chain with returning Nigerians in mind, in the full knowledge that years spent abroad alter views, tastes and expectations.

Now the brothers hope to conquer Africa’s major cities with 100 percent African coffee before giants of the business such as Starbucks try to capture the market.

“The demand (in Lagos) is very high. There’s a significant minority of people who love coffee and want to drink coffee but haven’t had access to coffee,” Ngozi told AFP.

The “significant minority” have studied and worked abroad, coming back in their thousands from the United States or Europe as austerity measures kicked in after the global financial crisis.

While they were away, Nigeria – already Africa’s most populous nation with some 170 million people – became the continent’s leading economy – and a country ripe with opportunity.

With economic growth has come an emerging middle class, which has increased six fold to 4.1 million households between 2000 and 2014, according to a recent study by Standard Bank.

A Brief History of Cumbia and its African Roots.

Like many dance and music styles that have emerged and have been popularized throughout Latin America, and in Latin American diaspora communities, Cumbia has its backbone and roots in the culture, traditions and practices of the enslaved Africans brought to this region of the world.

Although there are many forms of cumbia ranging from cumbia Peruana and cumbia Argentina, to cumbia Chilena and cumbia Mexicana (named after the respective countries they emerged from), the heart and origins of traditional cumbian music and culture lie mostly in Colombia’s Afro-Colombian community. Many musicians, dancers, and historians say that cumbia’s percussion represents the African influence, its melodies and use of the gaita or caña de millo (cane flute) represents the Native Colombian influence, and the dress represents the Spanish influence.

Birthed from a cultural style of music known as Folclor Colombiano (Colombian folklore music played by Afro-Colombian musicians), Cumbia has developed to become an amalgamation of musical and cultural blends that reflect the mixed cultural heritage of Colombia. The very word ‘cumbia’ is said to have come from the word “cumbé” which was (and continues to be) a dance form Guinea. In 17th century Colombia, enslaved Africans (mostly from West Africa) would carry out a type of courtship dance that, altered by various influences throughout the years, began being referred to as 'cumbia’ in the 1800s.

Where it began using mostly West African percussion and vocal styles, Amerindian and Spanish instruments, clothing and other cultural traits, as it progressed began to become a more widepsread practice, new adapations of the original form of cumbia were birthed. Cumbia has since become reinvented in both style and sound, leading it become the backbone for various other Latin American music styles. 

(continue reading at Global Conversation, Discover Colombia, Grupo Fantasia)

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AYO OLOPON.

 Ayo is a traditional Yoruba board game, however It is widely played throughout West Africa and the Caribbean. Among its many names are Awalé (Côte d'Ivoire), Wari (Mali), Ouri, Ouril or Uril (Cape Verde), Warri (Caribbean), Wali (Dagbani), Adji (Ewe), Nchọ (Igbo) and Awélé (Ga). A common name in English is Awari or Wari.

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West Africans Would Like To Remind You That They’re Human Beings, Not A Virus

More than 4,500 people have died from Ebola, but people from West Africa say that some of the biggest threats they face have nothing to do with the epidemic, but rather the widespread stigma they encounter daily.

Watch the full video to hear more stories from West Africans who have been stigmatized.

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Self-Taught Nigerian Photographer Zamani Istifanus Captures Everyday Nigerians in Portrait Series.

“Through The Eyes Of An Ordinary Nigerian” is a series of photographic portraits conceptualized by Nigerian 19-year-old photographer Zamani Istifanus of Xamani Studios, a photography and cinematography studio based in Abuja that he launched in September, 2014. 

The series is an attempt by Zamani to capture the struggles of ordinary Nigerians whose realities do not mirror the fact that Nigeria currently has the largest economy in Africa. 

Aside from from the call to attention of the plight and existence of Nigerians who toil day and night, and either live on less than 2 dollars a day or perhaps “never get to eat on some days”, Zamani seeks to use these photographs as manner of dignifying the trades and occupations that fall far out of the glitz and glamour associated with the lives of those who have managed, in whatever way, to gain access to the country’s vast wealth. 

Although Zamani initially began his foray into the arts with graphic design, he gradually began to develop an interest in photography and cinematography. In 2013 he gained admission to study photography at CRAFT film school, Delhi, but was unable to attend due to financial constraints and lack of support from his father. Despite this setback, Zamani was not deterred in pursuing his love of photography and took to the internet to learn this craft, along with cinematography. In doing so, Zamani has manged to both empower himself and create an opportunity for himself to have realize his passion. His self-taught, and self-reliability, approach is an important trait that is also mirrored in many of the trades that Nigerians engage in by means of self-employment, another characteristic represented in this project.

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LADY OYINKAN ABAYOMI.
Lady Oyinkansola Abayomi (also known as Oyinkan) born March 6, 1897 – March 19, 1990, was a Nigerian nationalist and feminist. She is the former head of the Nigerian Girl Guides and founder of the Nigerian Women’s Party.

She went to school at the Anglican Girls’ Seminary in Lagos. She graduated in 1909. She then went to school at the Young Ladies Academy at Ryford Hall, located in Gloucestershire, England. She joined the Girl Guides. In 1917 she attended the Royal Academy of Music in London. She moved back to Lagos in 1920. She became a music teacher at the Anglican Girls’ Seminary. When she returned to Nigeria, she connected with the local Lagos Nigerian Girl Guides Association. Abayomi joined the group and was the first Nigerian woman to serve as a supervisor. She also became active in the education of women and girls in Nigeria, which was not equal to that of men and boys. She joined the Lagos Women’s Organization. She did fundraising and promoting for Queen’s College through the West African Educated Girls’ Club, an organization she founded. It opened in 1927. She was a founding teacher at Queens College. She was the only Nigerian to work there. Around this time she became one of the first women in Lagos to drive a car.
In 1931 the Girl Guides was recognized and given support by the Nigerian government. Abayomi became the chief commissioner for the Girl Guides. She joined the Nigerian Youth Movement in 1935. She wrote an article in the organization’s journal that year, demanding that wealthy women of Nigeria needed to fight for women’s rights and willing to work with women of middle and lower classes for those rights. On May 10, 1944 she founded the Nigerian Women’s Party, at a meeting at her home with twelve women. The organization sought equal rights for women. When Kofo Abayomi was knighted in 1954, Abayomi became known as Lady Oyinkan.

Nigeria will be Africa’s first global superpower

If Nigeria plays its cards right, it could become Africa’s only global superpower. It already has the continent’s biggest economy, a huge military budget and a fair record of regional engagement. By 2040 it will also be the fourth largest country in the world after India, China and the United States.

New research by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) shows that out of Africa’s “Big Five” powerful countries – Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Algeria and Ethiopia – Nigeria is “the African country with by far the greatest capabilities” to play a global role.

Image: Eko Atlantic City artists impression