Irregular migration: Death trap for desperate youths, stakeholder warns

By Juliana Agbo, Abuja

Nigerian youths have been urged to shun all forms of irregular migration in quest for greener pasture and work hard towards the development of themselves and the country.

The outgoing Country Director, Symbols of Hope Project, Dr Lesmore Gibson who gave the charge in an interview with the Nation in Abuja said hundreds of Nigerians are dying daily due to the act of desperation for greener pasture.

Dr Lesmore while noting that the Symbols of Hope Project was initiated by Lutheran World Foundation to focus on reversing the trend of irregular migration in Nigeria, said they will continue to work with the government and other relevant stakeholders to permanently curb the act.

While explaining that countries like Libya, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia among others have zero tolerance for illegal migration, said many young people have lost their lives in deserts and the Mediterranean sea all in quest for greener pasture.

According to him, “many have endangered their lives and many of our young people have been buried in the desert all in their quest for greener pasture.

READ ALSO: Obaseki targets 50 percent reduction in irregular migration, human trafficking

” There are irreversible factors that have forced people to migrate, it could be as a result of conflict or political unrest in some context, but the context in Nigeria is more of economic factors.

“Most of the returnees or victims of migrants smuggling are people who felt that they need to go out in search of a greener pastures. It is a fact that Europe is attractive because things are working there, but it does not mean people should migrate irregularly.

“We are not condemning migration but we are saying irregular migration is bad.

Speaking further, Dr Lesmore said in changing the narrative, they have designed some interventions programmes for potential migrants and those who are contemplating on illegal migration.

“Apart from the advocacy we carry out, we are working on empowering returnees but with emphasis and attention been placed on potential migrants.

“The returnees need to go through psychological and healing process, because most of them return brutalized, also they have been violated in different forms.
We want the narrative to change.

“The project have designed interventions for those purposes, the other dimension is engaging in networking because symbols of hope cannot do every thing.

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Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson breaks silence on father Rocky’s death

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Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson paid tribute to his late father, Rocky Johnson, on Friday with an emotional letter to the WWE Hall of Famer on Instagram.

The “Jumanji” star, who is of Samoan and Black Nova Scotian heritage, shared a video from one of Rocky’s wrestling matches and credited his father for helping him embrace his diverse background.

ALSO READ: I am dying to meet Rihanna – Brownie

“You broke color barriers, became a ring legend and trail blazed your way thru this world,” he said. “I was the boy sitting in the seats, watching and adoring you, my hero from afar. The boy you raised to always be proud of our cultures and proud of who and what I am.”

Dwayne, 47, shared that as he grew older, he realized Rocky had “other deep complex sides that needed to be held and understood,” but said, “That’s when my adoration turned to respect. And my empathy turned to gratitude.”

“Dad, I wish I had one more shot to tell you, I love you, before you crossed over to the other side,” he added. “But you have ripped away from me so fast without warning. Gone in an instant and no coming back.”

The WWE superstar then admitted, “Im in pain. But we both know it’s just pain and it’ll pass.”

ALSO READ: Comedian I Go Save honours three philanthropists at ‘I Go Save Unusual’ concert

Celebrities, including Dwayne’s “Jumanji” co-star Kevin Hart, showed their support in the comments section. “Love you bro,” Hart, 40, wrote with several prayer hand emojis.

Rocky whose real name was Wayde Douglas Bowles died at age 75 on Wednesday. The cause of death has not been revealed.

The Cauliflower Alley Club a pro-wrestling non-profit was the first to confirm the news of his passing on Twitter, writing, “His accolades in this business, all the people he influenced, all his accomplishments, and we are so deeply sorry and wish his family nothing but the most love at this time.”

Source: New York Post

The post Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson breaks silence on father Rocky’s death appeared first on Vanguard News.

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Slaves, nannies, and maids: Oscars value women of colour – in subservient roles | Film | The Guardian

For Oscar voters, what makes a great performance has disturbingly narrow criteria for non-white performers. The observation that people of colour are only ever recognised for playing slaves and criminals, that their stories are only ever seen as important when they deal with tragedy and suffering, does not strictly belong to the unenlightened past. This week’s Oscar nominations prove that such judgments are planted firmly in the present.

The kinds of roles being written for people of colour over the past decade have begun to expand to encompass a wider range of experiences. Just recently we were graced with the luminous Jennifer Lopez as savvy stripper Ramona in Hustlers; newcomer Nora Lum (Awkwafina) as the conflicted granddaughter of a dying matriarch in The Farewell; Lupita Nyong’o in a remarkable two-in-one turn in Jordan Peele’s Us. This all goes without mentioning the incredible performances that never quite picked up steam: Alfre Woodard in Clemency, for instance, or Song Kang-Ho in Parasite. But never mind the fertile pickings. This year the Academy has nominated one person of colour – Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman in Harriet. This outcome is dismaying, partly because it falls neatly into a familiar pattern: a person of colour performing a racially specific form of suffering, the outlier in a sea of white nominees.

Erivo’s nomination for Harriet, a film that received middling reviews, is not a preposterous decision. Actors are often recognised for individual work that might stand out in an otherwise mediocre film (take Renée Zellweger in Judy). I’m not bothered by the quality of Erivo’s performance. There are far more egregious entries on that front, with the likes of Charlize Theron for Bombshell, or Scarlet Johansson for Jojo Rabbit, reaping nods (have the Oscars ever been a legitimate meritocracy?). Far more worrisome is what Erivo’s nomination suggests about the way Academy voters evaluate performers of colour, who seem to be the most visible, and taken the most seriously, within the trappings of white pity.

That voters overlooked a performance like Nyong’o’s in Us, a chilling interpretation of two sides of the same self, is telling. It doesn’t matter that this performance matches, if not surpasses entirely that of Joaquin Phoenix’s in Joker, even though both actors play, with tremendous physical commitment, psychologically tormented characters in genre films. Instead, the Academy prefers the Nyong’o who starred in 12 Years a Slave (2013), a film in which she is a slave, raped and humiliated. For these efforts, so difficult for the conscience to ignore, she was awarded best supporting actress.

In the last decade, only 14 women of colour were among the 100 women nominated by the Academy for the best actress and best supporting actress awards. There were even fewer men of colour (nine out of 100). That the same types of roles – slaves, nannies, and maids – continue to be the magic ticket to the red carpet, feels particularly ugly considering the range of parts played by white nominees. This year, for instance, the characters of Erivo’s fellow best actress nominees include a Fox newswoman, an icon of classic Hollywood, an aspiring young writer, and a hopeful divorcee. In 2019, Yalitza Aparicio was nominated for her performance in Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma. Aparicio is one of the few Latin American actresses to receive the honour, joining Adriana Barraza as a deported nanny in Babel, and Catalina Sandino Moreno as a drug mule in Maria Full of Grace.




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As moving as these performances are, these films leave a bitter taste as they reaffirm tired conceptions of Latin American women. Aparicio plays a housemaid silently enduring racism and neglect, which recalls another Academy favourite – Tate Taylor’s The Help (2011), which stars Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis as resilient maids, as well! Such slim parameters betray the desire, perhaps even the need by Oscar voters, for a particularly cheap form of pathos, one that simplifies and minimises the experiences of non-white people by placing them on the margins or in the past. Those performances that don’t square with this mould are often considered too “light,” too niche, or too subversive for the Academy, all of which indicates the incredible myopia of its voting body and the thinly veiled racism that guides it.

Perhaps hoping for a consistently diverse pool of Oscar nominees is blind optimism; the more time passes, the anomalous triumphs of films such as Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, feel like a fever dream. By opening up its membership to more women and people of colour, and enlisting diverse talent such as John Cho, Issa Rae, and Tiffany Haddish to present its nominations, the Academy has attempted to create an image of inclusivity. But given this year’s batch of nominees, that commitment has proven to be both superficial and a bad joke.

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Twitter explodes as Davido refuses to ‘rock’ US rapper Meghan

By Praise Olowe

Popular singer David Adeleke, also known as Davido has got Nigerians talking after video of his performance with American rapper, Megan hit the internet.

Davido had mounted the stage alongside American rapper Megan Thee Stallion, who was in Nigeria for a concert.

During the performance, Megan was twerking and the Nigerian singer almost joined her but suddenly stopped and smiled.

Davido seems to have won the hearts of his fans on social media by this act that many describe as “unexpected”.

See reactions below:

A man that respects his woman! Davido a King, I stan. That space between them, na Chioma get am! 😂 https://t.co/ZTYW1jQdN3

— Omoniyi Israel (@_omoissy) December 23, 2019

The level of self control Davido displayed towards Megan is proof that as a married man, no matter how hot the girl is you can still back out or avoid it. It is possible. At that point just think about your sexy wife and children. DAVIDO has shown us the way! Chioma is blessed!😁

— Lawani Friday Esq (@LAWANI_FRIDAY) December 23, 2019

He remembered Chioma, man had to restrain himself. 😂 https://t.co/TF3CpvJrKM

— Kiko (@Ibgreenson) December 23, 2019

The level of self control Davido displayed towards Megan is proof that as a married man, no matter how hot the girl is you can still back out or avoid it. It is possible. At that point just think about your sexy wife and children. DAVIDO has shown us the way! Chioma is blessed!😁

— Lawani Friday Esq (@LAWANI_FRIDAY) December 23, 2019

Megan few centimeters away twerking in your direction and my man Davido was ready to risk it all but nah he stepped back cos Chioma “owned” that space.

Davido just scored a screamer of over 70 yards!

Nigerian men 5-0 Menascum FC.

— Omoniyi Israel (@_omoissy) December 23, 2019

Just when we taught that the Match was over, Davido scores a Dying Minute Freekick late in 2019 to give Nigerian Men a deserved 8-0 win over “Men will embarrass you” FC. He saw Megan’s ass, remembered Chioma & stayed Far Away.

Nigerian Men Dont Cheat FC Feasting

— King Nonny 👑 (@Zaddy_nomso) December 23, 2019

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ActionAid Nigeria advocates death penalty for corrupt officers

As Nigerians join the rest of the world to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day, Mrs Ene Obi, Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), has advocated for a death penalty for corrupt officers in the country.

Obi was speaking in Abuja on Monday, during a rally to mark the day which has the theme: “United Against Corruption. My constituency, my project.”

She regretted that many people, who had looted the economy, were moving freely in their houses and even sitting in the parliament, urging Nigerians to stand up against such characters.

She called on public officers owing salaries to do the needful so as not to encourage people to get involved in corrupt tendencies.

According to her, the government should ask themselves how many hospitals and schools they have built to improve the society.

“We are standing here today because many women are dying in our hospitals due to the poor healthcare system; many young Nigerians are in the universities without allowances.

“We are standing here today because somebody gave us scholarship. Many years ago, our colonial masters gave scholarships to build human capital that will build Nigeria. The story is different today.

“What is happening to our education? Our public schools have been rendered almost powerless. Many people have so many houses; why do you have so many houses when you can sleep on only one bed at a time?

“We stand here to say that all those who are found guilty and charged for corruption should be brought to book.

“I want to advocate that those who are looting the economy should be sentenced to death if found guilty.”

Obi, however, called on the Nigerian government to stand against corruption, especially since President Muhammadu Buhari had vowed to fight the menace.

She, therefore, said that corruption should be fought from all fronts, and called on those in government, who had been indicted in corruption cases, to step down from office.

ALSO READ: FG recorded significant successes in fight against corruption — TUGAR

Mr Newton Otsamaye, Manager, Strengthening Citizens Resistance Against Prevalence of Corruption (SCRAP-C) project, an NGO, said that there was the need for a consensus to end corruption in the country.

“We are collaborating with civil society groups, ICPC, NOA so that we can have collective engagement to end corruption.

“As Nigerians, we are tired of living without water, hospitals, good roads and transparent government. We are here to join other voices to end corruption in our government, Churches, families, schools, parliament and executive.”

Otsamaye called on communities to report abandoned projects in their various constituencies to ICPC.
Mrs Rasheeda Okoduwa, Director, Public Enlightenment, ICPC, in her remarks, said that corruption should be fought to a standstill from the home before it spread to the wider society.

She emphasised the need for Nigerians to report corruption cases to ICPC to enable it bring those involved to book, saying that there was no hiding place for corrupt officers.

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Collapses: The Venice Biennale and the End of History | Art Practical

Collapses: The Venice Biennale and the End of History

The 2019 Venice Biennale feels like the end of everything: the end of art tourism, the end of vacations, the end of the beach and the climate of pleasure. With bad news about the climate crisis worsening every day, the nationalistic turn of governments from the U.S. to Britain to Italy to India and Brazil, it’s unclear whether the liberal ideology that produces world-scale cultural events like the Biennale can hold much longer, or whether the economic or ecological structures of global tourism can continue to support it. The liberal democratic order of free markets and free will is undermined around the globe by violent nationalism and economic protectionism. The Biennale exhibition, May You Live in Interesting Times, offers little but a hollow scream in opposition. The whole thing feels a bit like buyer’s remorse, a magnum opus from a lapsed believer in Francis Fukuyama’s promise that we’d reached the End of History.1

Arthur Jafa

Joint Italy-EU military vessel with helicopter, Piraeus Port, Greece, August 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

Both the main exhibitions and the various national pavilions feature more women and artists of color this year than any previous. Diversity is manifest with respect to types of work, interests, materials, biographies, and ages of the artists on view. Curator Ralph Rugoff states that “[the artists’] work grows out of a practice of entertaining multiple perspectives: of holding in mind seemingly contradictory notions, and juggling diverse ways of making sense of the world.”2 Diversity and multiplicity appear here to be set up as counternarratives to universalism, the ideology that has historically governed the international contemporary art discourse. But is this in fact the case? Fukuyama says, “The spectacular abundance of advanced liberal economies and the infinitely diverse consumer culture made possible by them seem to both foster and preserve liberalism in the political sphere.” If, as Fukuyama suggests, there are  “fundamental ‘contradictions’ of human life that cannot be resolved in the context of modern liberalism, that would be resolvable by an alternative political-economic structure,”3 diversity is not one of those contradictions. Rather, pluralism reinforces the “common ideological heritage of mankind,”4 while fascism’s resurgence around the globe and the popular embrace of nationalist identity are more of a contradiction in light of the realities of international markets. This is the turn of events that market utopians like Fukuyama failed to anticipate.

Rugoff never comes off as a utopian, given his pervasive air of weary detachment. Rather, the exhibition transmits how it feels to watch the ascent of Donald Trump and the unfolding catastrophe of Brexit from the “all-knowing,” cool remove of the contemporary art insider—omniscient, yet impotent, and unable to divest from toxic habits. George Condo, Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, Christian Marclay, and Arthur Jafa channel an anxiety bordering on panic. Construction, shipping, air travel, commerce, monuments, the body, gender—all once fixed as concepts in the Western imagination, with clearly associated positive values, are now invoked by artists such as Yin Xiuzhen, Nicole Eisenman, Slavs and Tatars, and Martine Gutierrez as hazardous, unstable, and volatile. Nowhere is this instability more evident than in the work of Mari Katayama, a Japanese artist whose self-portraiture tableaus tease the boundary between agency and objectification. These artists, more than the comparably straightforward representation advanced by artists like Zanele Muholi, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, or Gauri Gill, capture the zeitgeist of not just the show but the present time. Our historical moment is monumentally catastrophic, and the usual serious response to extremism doesn’t seem to be working. Instead, the images range from abject to absurd.

astronaut

Indios antropófagos: A Butterfly Garden in the (Urban) Jungle. Peru Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

Especially relevant are the artists who toy with the fetishization of Indigenous bodies and cultures for Western consumption. Within the main exhibition curated by Rugoff, Gutierrez situates her U.S.-born Latinx, trans body within a series of photographic landscapes, Body in Thrall, that challenge touristic notions of indigeneity, cultural authenticity, and romanticized poverty around non-white people. She occupies diverse personas, from a film noir femme fatale to the terrifying Aztec deity Tlazolteotl, “Eater of Filth,” always negotiating the high fashion aesthetics of desire with a subversive decolonial aggression. Similar themes and tactics appear in Indios antropófagos in the Peruvian Pavilion, curated by Gustavo Buntinx, in which historical artifacts from the Spanish colonial era and large mosaic tile works by Christian Bendayán depicting frolicking Indigenous youth come together in a scathing critique of cultural tourism. In the French Pavilion, curated by Martha Kirszenbaum, artist Laure Prouvost references the oceans and the sea life projected to die out by 2048, only 29 years into the future, with a number of glass animals seemingly cast into the sea floor, strewn across a landscape of refuse and discarded technologies.

Back in the real world, there’s no way to excise or sequester the beautiful parts into a future that can outlast the very real catastrophes happening now. The overwhelmingly urgent need for a complete lifestyle change played in my head over the week following my visit to the Biennale, as I recuperated from a difficult personal and professional year on a seven-day Greek Islands cruise with my young children, partner, and parents. Looking over the waters where thousands of migrants have drowned, from the top deck of a massive, yet outdated, luxury vessel, I considered how the looming climate crisis creates a condition of simultaneous enjoyment of the modern world that is all around us, and a mourning for its obvious and inevitable loss. Is this the end of curating? The traditional role of the curator as guardian of the world’s collected treasures seems as irrelevant as the contemporary job of mounting resource-heavy exhibitions for an international crowd of jet-setters. Conceptualism has begun to rot from the head, as when Rugoff controversially chose to include Christoph Büchel’s installation of a salvaged boat that, in 2015, sank in the Mediterranean with more than 800 people aboard. I reflected on this watery tomb, recommissioned as a tourist attraction, while looking out across Piraeus port. In the distance, a military troop (jointly operated by Italy and the European Union) performed exercises atop a warship in a city where anti-immigrant attacks are on the rise. In the seventeenth century, the Venetians gained and lost control of Athens in a rivalry with the Ottomans. Today, it seems the EU’s primary objective in the Mediterranean is to sever thousands of years of interconnection between these three regions. Two years ago, the regenerative promise of art as a universal cultural good was undermined when documenta 14 recreated the financial dynamics of German austerity policies in Athens, Greece afresh. Debts went unpaid, workers uncompensated, all in the name of “fiscal responsibility” that nearly shuttered the sixty-year-old event for good. What better outcome ought we to expect this year from an art event born out of universal nationalism?

Christine Wertheim

Halil Altindere, Space Refugee, 2016. May You Live in Interesting Times, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

An explicitly utopian impulse is fugitive in May You Live in Interesting Times, but it manifests in the intersection of art, science, and technology. Margaret and Christine Wertheim’s Crochet Coral Reef raises awareness about preservation of the oceans through a crowdsourcing practice that combines mathematical learning with environmentalism and craft. Tavares Strachan’s meditation on African American astronaut Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr., locates metaphysical discourse about the afterlife within a scientific conversation about space travel—where elsewhere Halil Altindere complicates this view with the tale of Syrian cosmonaut Muhammed Ahmed Faris and his persecution by the state. Ryoji Ikeda bathes us in cleansing white light and describes a massive, thunderous universe of data that takes breathtaking shape before our eyes. Hito Steyerl’s This is the Future is a post-internet pastorale in which computer vision is applied to the Venetian landscape to depict a state of perpetual, dreamlike futurity in which the present persistently refuses to resolve into view. The protagonist of Steyerl’s installation seeks out a garden that she had previously hidden in the future in order to protect it from the ravages of the present.

The song of the Lithuanian Pavilion Sun & Sea (Marina) still rings in my ears:

“When my body dies, I will remain,
In an empty planet without birds, animals and corals.
Yet with the press of a single button,
I will remake this world again”

The finale of Sun & Sea (Marina) details the 3D printing of facsimiles of species in widespread collapse, taking comfort in their simulated resurrection as one would in the cold rays of a dying sun.

Greek Islands

Sun & Sea (Marina), Lithuanian Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

The gentle tenor of the apocalyptic visions in Sun & Sea (Marina) perfectly encapsulates the feeling of living at the outside edge of the story of the human species on planet Earth, with the knowledge that history as we know it may well be about to end because our species is one of millions undergoing collapse. The emptiness of our endeavors is invoked by Shilpa Gupta, whose wildly swinging metal gate hammers an effigy of national borders into a gallery wall. Otobong Nkanga’s drawings in acrylic on crayon reference the mechanical, industrialized nature of exploitation in the 21st century. Unlike the bees, whose society is organized around abundance, we humans have engineered systems to maximize our suffering. If humankind can truly lay claim to a common ideological heritage, as Fukuyama once argued, we have only ourselves to blame for our impending end.

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Reports:Anglican Church dying in Canada | P.M. News

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Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver Canada: the membership number and attendance going southwards

There are now just 357,123 members of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC), compared to the 1.3million members in 1962.

The alarming fall in the membership and the poor attendance in church, have sparked fears that the church may cease to exist by 2040.

In contrast, the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is on the verge of overtaking the ACoC in attendance, reports Anglican.Ink

“There is no sign of any stabilisation in our numbers; if anything the decline is increasing,” noted the Rev. Dr. Neil Elliot in a statistical report presented to the Canadian House of Bishops. “Some had hoped that our decline had bottomed out, or that programs had been effective in reversing the trends. This is now demonstrably not the case.”

The report includes the first comprehensive set of official statistics since the early 2000s. Data confirms anecdotal stories from across much of the Canadian church that Anglican Christianity is vanishing there.

In 1962 (the height of Anglican participation) the ACoC reported more than 1.3 million members, out of a total Canadian population of approximately 18 million, seven percent of Canadians affiliated with the Anglican Church. By 2017, Canada’s population had risen to more than 35 million (+94%) but only 357,123 members were counted on the rolls of the Anglican Church there, 1 percent of the population.

Attendance is one objective metric when evaluating church vitality. Figures for baptism, marriage, and total number of clergy are also relevant. According to the ACoC report, the church listed 5,441 baptisms in 2017 (down from 13,304, or 59%, in 2001) and 2,071 marriages the same year (down from 6,009, or 66%, in 2001) and 3,491 clergy (down from 3,675, or 5%, in 2001).

As David Jenkins of the Anglican Samizdat blog wrote, the Anglican Church of Canada is declining faster than any other Province within the worldwide Anglican Communion other than TEC, which has an even greater rate of decline.

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Death of the Man in the Iron Mask | History Today

At the end of July 1669 the French Secretary of State for War, the Marquis de Louvois, wrote to the governor of Pignerol prison telling him to expect a new inmate, one ‘Eustache Dauger’. The instructions were unusually thorough and involved housing the prisoner in a room with double doors to prevent anyone hearing him. Only the governor was to see the prisoner, bringing him food, water and whatever else he needed. If the prisoner spoke about anything other than his needs, he was to be immediately killed.

Dauger arrived at Pignerol in late August and remained there until he had to travel with the governor to his new appointment at the Exiles Fort in Piedmont in 1681. In May 1687 the governor moved again, this time to Sainte-Marguerite, an island just off Cannes. It was during this journey that rumours began to spread that there was a prisoner wearing an iron mask to keep his identity secret. More rumours spread about who that prisoner could be, from Louis XIV’s younger twin to Charles II’s illegitimate son. Some favoured a disgraced French general or one of the participants of l’Affaire des Poisons – a scandal involving black magic and poisonings which threatened to engulf the king’s mistress.

The following year the governor was on the move again, this time to the Bastille, taking Dauger with him. One of the jailers noted that the prisoner did indeed wear a mask when there was a danger of anyone seeing him, but it was of black velvet, not iron. Orders remained that Dauger was to be killed if he spoke to anyone about anything other than his immediate needs.

Whatever it was that Eustache Dauger knew, or the king thought he knew, he took that secret to his grave, dying at the Bastille on 19 November 1703. He was buried the next day under the name ‘Marchioly’, having spent the last 34 years of his life in captivity. His identity is still not agreed upon among historians.

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OPINION: Death and the legacy of Fela Kuti – Vanguard Allure

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Death, many people say, can be the biggest career move and for proof they point to Michael Jackson who was mired in debt at the time of his death but whose estate is now worth millions and millions more than he made while alive.

Death has always fascinated pop culture, especially when the dead is famous or infamous and young to boot. Think Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse and Jean-Michel Basquiat. These rock stars captured the popular imagination, blazed bright like a meteor then fizzled out like shooting stars.

The phenomenon of dying young has been so analysed that someone came up with the 27 Club – a constellation of famous people who died at the age of 27 from drug overdose, alcohol addiction, car or plane crashes as well as suicide or homicide.

Most of them are white (Hendrix and Basquiat no), most of them American. But has death ever boosted the career or renown of an African celebrity? The answer is yes and the most famous must be Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the iconic musician, jazz aficionado and fiery activist who was a thorn in the flesh of successive military regimes.

Fela died 22 years ago at age 59. He was nowhere near 27 and by that time had adult children – Yeni, Femi and Shola (who died young). He was world-renowned and celebrated and hounded at home. His residence was famously known as Kalakuta Republic (named after the prison cell he occupied while incarcerated at Kirikiri prisons). His cell was called Calcutta but Fela corrupted it to Kalakuta.

His residence so named was raided on February 18, 1977 by what reports say were over 1,000 soldiers. Denizens of the commune including some of his wives were beaten and raped and the building burnt down but not before his aged mother was thrown out of the window. She died from her injuries.

But the loss of his mother and his republic did not diminish Fela’s stridency. He remained militant to the very end dying from complications arising from HIV/AIDs just four months after he left prison.

He was as well known for his music as he was for his activism and today when a musician or celebrity of whatever stripe is conscious people liken him or her to Fela.

But how did death boost Fela’s career? Alive, Fela was mercurial and tempestuous. His albums were mostly one-song albums that sometimes lasted for over 20 minutes. His intros were famous for featuring call and response choruses and then long jazz pieces that seemed to go along for interminable moments. Radio stations found him a nightmare and attempts by music labels to re-master and cut short his songs for the new CD technology were rebuffed. The only close examples in contemporary western music would be ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, the Queen song from the 1975 album A Night at the Opera which clocks in at 6 minutes and then Tubular Bells, Mike Oldfield’s 1973 studio album which extends to 49 minutes.

Fela was, therefore, a peculiar kind of musical artist with an oeuvre that was as potent musically as it was politically. For Fela, music was a weapon and one he wielded in many ways as if it was the lasso of truth with which he whipped the military and autocrats and kleptocrats into line.

His music was critical of soldiers whom he called zombies but soldiers loved to listen to his music because it was also critical of the government and often plumbed the depths of the pervasive social malaise and political morass.

Fela’s music was a leveller and had an uncanny ability for transcending class and gender, moving fluidly between the mainland and island and breaching class strictures. Visitors to the Africa Shrine in what is now Computer Village in Ikeja, where Fela played live sets every Friday when he was not on tour would find bank CEOs and messengers dancing and smoking as they listened to Fela’s music. The shrine was a democratic locale where music was a unifying factor.

It is also important to note how Fela’s music is at home in the mouths of the rich as well as the poor with men from different sides of the track laying equal claim to the man, musician and prophet.

Fela’s death was devastating but in dying, Fela seemed to step across the threshold from legend into myth. His death many say made his children instant millionaires and then his music re-mastered and available widely on CD spawned a whole new generation of fans, many of them not yet born or mere toddlers when Fela transited from this realm.

Today, Afrobeat, the musical genre he pioneered, is played across the world from Portugal to the UK, the US to Spain. Books have been written about him, documentaries shot and a Broadway show has travelled the world presenting Fela as maverick musician, activist and prophet.

But Fela’s reputation has been cemented and augmented more by a hybrid sound, a derivative christened afrobeat and made popular by young African musical artists who have evolved a whole new sound described by the poet and music Dami Ajayi as having begun with the Kennis music group, D Remedies.

According to Dr. Ajayi – “Afrobeats is perhaps the biggest cultural export from West Africa to the rest of Africa and the world. There is little doubt that this music of both Nigerian and Ghanaian origins will continue to enjoy mainstream global prominence.

Afrobeats went mainstream in Nigeria about two decades ago when D Remedies, released their hit song, Shako Mo, under Kennis Music label. The song sampled instrumentals from MC Lyte’s Keep On Keeping On, which also, interestingly, sampled Michael Jackson’s Liberian Girl. With that connection, one can easily link Afrobeat auspiciously to the late King of Pop.

Today, Afrobeats, a fusion of Hip-Hop and African rhythms, has since eschewed overt Western influences in favour of African idioms and musical traditions. Highlife, Juju, Fuji, Apala, Makossa, Sokous and Afrobeats have become cannon fodder for this music and the benefits are multidirectional. Ultimately, one can argue that Afrobeats is making the old new.”

But what has become clear is that many of the biggest Afrobeats stars have adopted Fela Kuti as both muse and creative forge. This year again as we celebrate the life and times and legacy of Fela Kuti during the weeklong Felabration at Freedom Park and beyond, we will be reminded that his death has made him more relevant than he ever was alive and a bigger musical brand to boot.

The list is long but Uzoma Ihejirika writing in thelagosreview attempts to put it all in perspective – “Founded 21 years ago by Yeni Anikulapo-Kuti, Felabration presents an opportunity to acknowledge Fela Kuti’s contribution through Afrobeat, the genre of music he pioneered. His jazz-inspired, robust sound continues to spark a creative flame in the hearts of Nigerians—both admirers and detractors— who no matter what cannot ignore Fela, the man and the musical icon.

That creative flame continues to burn in contemporary Nigeria even amongst artistes who were not born or were mere children when Fela became an ancestor. These artistes have made the Afrobeat genre a foundation upon which to speak about their fears, their frustrations, and their joys.”

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CATTLE DECAPITATION – Death Atlas – HEAVY Magazine – Music, Interviews, Reviews, Podcasts, Shop, News and more…

Captivating, confronting, engaging, excruciating but most of all honestly extreme. Exactly as it should be! This is a brief introduction of feelings and emotions that gripped me intensely the first time, plus all ensuing times I’ve listened to Cattle Decapitation’s 2019 masterpiece and easily my album of the year so far, Death Atlas.

Absolutely never a band to shy away from confronting their audience, it has always been Cattle Decapitation’s intent to be unrelenting and unrepentant in their extreme metal mastery. They have never made apologies within their bleak yet truthful message over the course of their past two albums, Monolith Of Inhumanity [2012] and The Anthropocene Extinction [2015] of the plight of the world and our destructive patterns and habits as a pathetic human plague destined for extinction. 

Death Atlas opens with the prologue “Anthropogenic- End Transmission”. A monologue draped by a soundscape of desolation. A fog of despair lures us into the foreshadowing world of Death Atlas as seen through the lens of Cattle Decapitation…And then the magnificently catastrophic “The Geocide” drops like a nuclear bomb on the senses, clearly setting the bleak scene yet malevolent pace at which Cattle Decap wish to, as a means of sonic visualisation, deliver their uplifting message of human extinction. “The Geocide” is the perfect opener to slate the thirst of Cattle Decapitation fans and a deathly sigh of relief shall emanate from your parched throats as you are decimated with familiar territory.

“Be Still Our Bleeding Hearts” is a pummeling fuck machine of emotion! Clearly at the beginning of the track there is nothing but hatred , yet early on there is an ebb and flow of musical brilliance and dichotomy within the band that sees them battling one another to cohesively bind eachother forming a perfect incoherent tragedy. So the song is aptly titled “Be Still Our Bleeding Hearts”. A third of the way in, the chorus kicks in and here we hear vocalist Travis Ryan’s first stunning attempt at clean extreme vocal clarity with decipherable lyrics to paint a picture of what is presented before us. 

The addition of a second guitarist in Belisario Dimuzio, complimenting Josh Elmore, adds a new found songwriting element expanding the ability of more pronounced and accentuated razor slicing clarity and lead breaks rarely touched on on previous Cattle outings. The songs are harsher and thicker (courtesy of new bass player Olivier Pinard) in dimension and scope which, thanks to the incredible production capabilities of long time Cattle producer Dave Otero who has managed to produce one of the best death metal albums for this decade. 

“Vulturous” rumbles in like an imminent, destructive tsunami. Slow and full of groove it pulses with murky intent before the arrival of a wall of noise and armageddon  is erected to sand blast our ears with scathing hate. The groove that follows the previous moments is nothing short of incredible.  “Vulturous” is a song in chapters that engulfs the listeners in many emotions that is hard to honestly decipher at such an early point within the album. Following is the brief intermission of catastrophic memories of Death Atlas so far, “The Great Dying”, is a dialogue of themes we’ve already heard and are without question not done with yet. The female reader is un-subtly framed by thick choking sounds swirling around her as she warns of more unrelenting chaos to follow. Which bleeds into the first glimpse we got of Death Atlas nearly three months ago – “One Day Closer To The End Of The World”. Classic Cattle Decap! A galloping tirade of brilliant malevolence. Whilst there seems to be nothing but enormous tragedy as the main protagonist of Death Atlas, this album is Ryan’s first where he truly utilises his singing talent for the first time. And it seems as though he finds it as a means to promise albeit fruitless. You can truly get a firm grip on why Travis is without question one of the best, most gifted and diverse metal vocalists on the planet. His voice paints a myriad of pictures and emotions it is so easy to get lost in the images depicted and visualised thanks to his medium of choice. 

Out of “One Day Closer To The End Of The World” into our second unearthing of what you’ll hear on Death Atlas was “Bring Back The Plague”. Summoning the rage and clarity before us, this track embodies the album title’s true nature. No mincing words or apologies for lack of discretion. This track epitomises all that Cattle Decapitation are! Intelligent, thought provoking and unapologetic!

 An album full of idealistic hope – Negative optimism or nihilistic positivity, Death Atlas runs through a universe of unachievable hope via tales of our race’s unrepentant and destructive tendencies upon our planet and own lives regardless of our best laid plans to right the wrongs we have willingly adopted as a standard method of self-imposed annihilation. As Travis Ryan has stated recently on his thoughts of Death Atlas, we need look no further than the last twenty minutes of the album to hear their best yet bleakest work. I’ve given you enough detail as to how undeniably and simply perfect Death Atlas is. Your task is to now delve into its extreme brilliance and emerge on the other side forewarned and well equipped to make a difference.

Simply, if the five members of Cattle Decapitation were the last men living on this planet, it will be because they exemplify and harnessed the will through every extremity the world inflicts upon itself and they were chosen to write the soundtrack and script to the demise of the population they graciously loved but we’re forced to mourn due to complacency and self disregard!

Whilst Monolith of Inhumanity and The Anthropocene extinction were both incredible feats of extreme metal leading Cattle Decapitation up to this point, it is undoubtedly obvious underneath all their foreboding and tragic notions contained therein were precursors to what is heard within Death Atlas. Make no mistake that as we metal fans near the end of this decade and closer to our end, Death Atlas is a superbly crafted, perfect album delivered by Travis, Josh, David, Belisario and Olivier which will for many years to come be Cattle Decapitation’s shining light disguised as a tragic legacy.

Death Atlas, courtesy of Metal Blade is out on Black Friday – November 29th and can be pre-ordered here

DON’T MISS CATTLE DECAPITATION’S 2020 AUSTRALIAN TOUR

THURSDAY 13TH FEBRUARY – THE BRIGHTSIDE BRISBANE

FRIDAY 14TH FEBRUARY – THE FACTORY THEATRE, SYDNEY

SATURDAY 15TH FEBRUARY – CAMBRIDGE HOTEL, NEWCASTLE

SUNDAY 16TH FEBRUARY – THE BASEMENT CANBERRA

WEDNESDAY 19TH FEBRUARY – MAX WATT’S MELBOURNE

THURSDAY 20TH FEBRUARY -PELLY BAR, FRANKSTON

FRIDAY 21ST FEBRUARY – ENIGMA BAR, ADELAIDE

SATURDAY 22ND FEBRUARY – AMPLIFIER BAR, PERTH

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