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CNN African Voices marks 10 years, celebrates Femi Kuti, Chimamanda

Chimamanda

African Voices, a magazine programme of the Cable News Network (CNN), this week marks its 10th anniversary by hosting three creative icons including scion of the late legendary Afrobeat king, Femi Kuti; world-class writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Sanaa Hamri, a television and music director. The programme is sponsored by telecommunications giant, Globacom.

While the duo of Kuti and Adichie have their roots in Nigeria, Hamri is Moroccan.

In the last one decade, CNN has used African Voices as a platform to promote exceptional and talented Africans in different spheres of life, giving voices to authentic African inspirational stories which otherwise would have been drowned in the cacophony of global voices.

Born Olufela Olufemi Anikulapo Kuti on 16 June 1962, Femi Kuti, is a Nigerian musician who was birthed in London and raised in Lagos as the second child but eldest son of Fela whose grandmother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, was a political campaigner, women’s rights activist and traditional aristocrat.

Having inherited his father’s passion for music and activism, Femi’s musical skills were honed in his father’s band, Egypt 80, where he played the saxophone and keyboard since he was 16. He formed his own band, Positive Force, in 1986.

His foray into the international musical scene started in 1988 when he was invited by the French Cultural Centre in Lagos and Christian Mousset to perform at the Festival d’Angoulême (France), the New Morning Club in Paris and the Moers Festival in Germany.

Femi has retained his father’s political zeal which he fuses into high energy funk, jazz and traditional African-fuelled songs bordering on political corruption, oppression of the populace as well as poverty which have remained endemic in the land of his birth.

Adichie, 41, described in The Times Literary Supplement as “the most prominent” of a “procession of critically acclaimed young Anglophone authors [who] are succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature”, is a Nigerian novelist, writer of short stories and non-fiction.

Her written works include Purple Hibiscus (2003), Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), Americanah (2013), the short story collection, The Thing Around Your Neck (2009), and the book-length essay, We Should All Be Feminists (2014). She received the MacArthur Genius Grant in 2008 and her most recent book, Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, was published in March 2017.

She was nominated for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2002 and won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize: Best First Book (Africa) in 2005 among other awards.

Hamri is a Moroccan-American film, television, and music video director who has directed music videos for musicians including Prince, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, and Sting. She is reputed for her 2010 film Just Wright and the 2008 movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, as well as for her music video for the Nicki Minaj song Super Bass.

Her works have been described as “[offering] alternative representations of black women that productively engage with and even challenge usual stereotypes, even as they use and conform to mainstream cinematic conventions”.

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