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Saba Saba day, Yinka’s font, Ghana’s welcome, recycling fashion, evolution of women’s football.͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌ 
sunny Harare
thunderstorms Nairobi
sunny Accra
rotating globe
July 7, 2024


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Today’s Edition
  1. Déjà vu
  2. A personal font
  3. Welcome
  4. Explaining protests
  5. Fashion recycler

Also, how women’s football evolved in Africa.

First Word

Hello! A few weeks ago I had a great conversation about identity for the Limitless Africa podcast with its host, and my friend, Claude Grunitzky. Our discussion went in many different directions but at the heart of it was a debate about how modern African identity evolves away from our fixed national or regional identities. This becomes especially true for people who move to live outside the continent. I discussed what it meant to be a Nigerian outside of the country and how that experience might differ, for instance, from a Togolese like Claude.

But we also touched on how we choose to self-identify and why that can sometimes depend on where we are or the circumstances we find ourselves in. And yet most of the time, we don’t have that choice. A name or an accent will do that for you, and that’s fine too most of the time.

It’s also fine to reimagine or expand your identity as those members of the long-term African diaspora who have reclaimed citizenship in Ghana over the last few years. We were reminded of this in May when Stevie Wonder, a longtime civil rights and pan-African activist (as well as a musical genius of course) took citizenship in the capital city Accra. This week Nana Oye Ankrah looked into how Ghana’s stated ambition to offer citizenship to members of the diaspora have been developed over the last few years.

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Marking Saba Saba day

Since the July 7, 1990 protests organized by Kenya’s opposition politicians, and civil society groups to demand an end to one-party rule. The date, which came to be known as Saba Saba Day — Kiswahili for July 7 — has been significant in Kenyan history, which is replete with moments of political agitation for justice. The administration of the late President Daniel Moi, the country’s second president, conceded to the people’s demands and amended the constitution to restore multiparty democracy. But the peak of the political struggle was marked by the promulgation of the country’s 2010 constitution, which continues to guard its democracy, including freedom of association, expression and protest. Today, Kenyans will mark Saba Saba Day barely a fortnight after the anti-tax protests culminated in the withdrawal of a contentious bill.

Muchira Gachenge in Nairobi


Yinka gets his own font

British Standard Type X/Yinka Ilori

British Standard Type, a London-based organization that creates, publishes, and distributes custom typefaces, has collaborated with British-Nigerian artist/designer Yinka Ilori to create a dedicated font called “Yinka Sans.” The font comes in Yinka Sans Ultra and Yinka Sans Shadow and features Ilori’s traditional bold, provocative and playful visuals, with rounded new letterforms. Ilori, 37, has been one of the UK’s most celebrated artists over the last decade, designing everything from architectural and interior designs to sculpture and furniture. He often makes references to his Nigerian heritage in his work.


Why Ghana has always been home

Ghana Tourism Authority/X

On May 13, the legendary singer/songwriter Stevie Wonder celebrated his 74th birthday in Accra in a special way — by becoming a Ghanaian citizen.

The high-profile ceremony was a reminder of one of the legacies of outgoing President Nana Akufo-Addo, who in 2019 invited the Black diaspora to come “home” in a “Year of Return.” It amplified the West African nation as a major end-of-year holiday destination. He also oversaw a ceremony that granted citizenship to more than a hundred African Americans and Afro Caribbeans.

Since 2017, 268 Americans have obtained Ghanaian citizenship, Ghana’s Director of Diaspora Affairs, Akwasi Awua-Ababio told Semafor Africa. “Most of them see it as a right to restoration of their citizenship and the fact that they are one of us. It is a response to the president’s call,” said Awua-Ababio.

Ghana has been a popular place for settlement, often because many believe their families exited Africa through the forts and castles around Ghana’s coast, Awua-Ababio explained. Others have also been drawn to Ghana’s positioning as a welcoming nation and a gateway to Africa. The majority of those granted citizenship, particularly those in the 2019 group, were already residents of Ghana and merely requested the opportunity to become citizens.

Ghana has long given citizenship to diasporan Africans who have established residency. Former President John Mahama oversaw a naturalization ceremony “restoring” citizenship to 34 diasporan Africans in December 2016, just before he left office. From the founding of the modern nation in 1957, early Ghanaian leaders led by the first president Kwame Nkrumah preached Pan-Africanism, one that transcended the shores of continental Africa.

— Nana Oye Ankrah in Accra, Ghana


Kenyan thinkers on the protests

Reuters/Monicah Mwangi

The world’s attention has turned to Kenya over the past few weeks, as youth-led protests forced the government to drop unpopular tax proposals and announce cuts to public spending. For those watching from around the world, the protests can be better understood through the lenses of some of Kenya’s prolific writers. They have been thinking about what the recent events mean for the country, its frustrated youth and President William Ruto.

In the first part of a three-part series on the Kenyan protests, Georgetown University professor Ken Opalo harks back to Ruto’s populist ‘Hustler’ presidential campaign in 2022, his miscalculations once in office, and the legitimacy crisis he now faces. For The Guardian, Kenyan writer and political analyst Nanjala Nyabola argues that the Ruto administration “must change tack” in dealing with the protesters. She highlights the fiscal decisions that triggered the protests, the wider discontent among the youth, and the political implications of Ruto’s decisions.

Writing for The Elephant, Rasna Warah emphasizes the significance of the Gen Z-led protest movement and its place in Kenya’s history. Noting the movement’s organic growth and its disassociation with politicians and ethnic groups, she says it will “lead the people’s revolution in Kenya.”

Martin K.N. Siele in Nairobi


When it’s okay to recycle fashion

Courtesy: Africa Fashion Up

South African fashion entrepreneur Rich Mnisi won the “Best Designer Africa” award at this year’s Africa Fashion Up competition held in Paris. The jury recognized him for his creations featuring eco-friendly materials such as recycled wool and silk. The competition was founded by Share Africa, a platform supported by major industry players including Balenciaga and Galeries Lafayette. It brought together top designers from countries around the continent, including Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa and Mauritania.

Continental Weekend

Weekend Reads

Happi Raphael/Creative Commons license

🌍 A new book traces the history of women’s soccer in Africa from initially being banned through to today’s growing numbers of fans and broadcasting potential. Sports communication professor Chuka Onwumechili, author of Women’s Football in Africa, explains the historical development of the women’s game in Africa and the barriers women’s sports continue to face on the continent.

🇿🇼 Traditional healers in Zimbabwe are streaming healing sessions and cleansing ceremonies to global audiences on TikTok and Facebook, Chris Muronzi reports for Al Jazeera. This is, however, causing consternation among critics concerned that some healers could use social media to fleece unsuspecting individuals seeking help.

🇧🇯 The growing connection between violent extremists in Benin and Nigeria is cause for concern. Bandits from northern Nigeria are crossing over into northern Benin, buying up property and recruiting young men. For African Arguments, Kars De Bruijne highlights the need for Benin and Nigeria to counter the threat by strengthening cross-border cooperation.

Patriotic Alliance/X

🇿🇦 The unusual rise of South Africa’s newly-appointed sports minister Gayton Mckenzie, a former gangster turned politician, is the subject of a profile by the BBC. The Patriotic Alliance, the party he leads, won nine seats in the May elections and has now become a minority member of the newly appointed government of national unity with the African National Congress, Democratic Alliance, the Inkatha Freedom Party, and several other parties.

🇹🇿 Trophy hunting of elephants in the Amboseli ecosystem along the Kenya-Tanzania border threatens to negatively impact local communities and their livelihoods, 24 scientists say in a letter published by the journal Science. According to the scientists, five male adult elephants with tusks weighing more than 45 kg were shot by trophy hunters in Tanzania in late 2023 and early 2024.

Week Ahead

July 8 –11 — The 41st annual Southern African Transport Conference will be held in Pretoria, South Africa.

July 8-12 — The Pan African Youth Convention will be hosted by the Youth Bridge Kenya at the Kenya School of Government, Nairobi.

July 10 — Zimbabwe will host India for the third T20 International of their five-game series to be played at the Harare Sports Club.

July 9-10 — The 2024 World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology will be held in Gbarnga, Liberia, bringing together professionals to exchange knowledge.

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— Yinka, Alexis Akwagyiram, Martin Siele, Muchira Gachenge, and Alexander Onukwue