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A region looking over its shoulders2 minutes read

Kenya and other East Africa are wary about the invasion of locusts.

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The rains have finally come to East Africa, but now there are locusts to worry about. Photo credit: The Atlantic.

Locusts are famed for their ravaging and destructive nature. Old Biblical accounts describe them as such, and in recent times, they have done little to change that impression, flying across continents and causing damage to agricultural systems.

These pests, known and feared for the amount of carnage they are capable of inflicting on vegetation, are currently darkening the skies across farmlands in Kenya, Ethiopia and other parts of East Africa. Breeding in parts of Yemen and Somalia, they migrate westwards to a climate currently characterised by frequent rainfall.

According to statistics provided by the United Nations, locusts could travel up to 150km (95 miles) in a day and eat their own body weight in greenery. What this means is that a swarm of locusts can eat as much food as 35,000 people in a day. Furthermore, during each three-month breeding cycle a single locust can breed 20 more, giving rise to the massive swarms that are now threatening crops across the East African sub-region.

Kenya, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti are battling the worst locust outbreak in decades, and swarms have also spread into Tanzania and Uganda. The invasion is worsening food shortages in a region where up to 25 million people are suffering after three consecutive years of droughts and floods, worryingly similar to the drought and famine that plagued northern Ethiopia in 1954 which was also caused by locust invasion.

According to pest control experts, the best option is to kill these menacing insects, and while there is the required technology to execute this, the quantity of said technology is debatable: Ethiopia reportedly has only three operational planes to spray insecticides, while Kenya has only five. According to the United Nations, about $76 million is urgently needed to provide more spraying resources in combating these pests.

It’s ironic that after the drought that haunted the region in late 2019, there is now rain which has facilitated the growth of crops, but the rain is not only providing a fertile environment for the breeding of locust eggs, it is also making it harder to spray insecticides. This is because it is more effective to kill locusts in the morning as they usually have little energy before the day warms up, but frequent early morning rain slows down spraying missions, and by the time the planes get close, the swarms are already high up in the air.

It is uncertain how long this pest invasion will last, so the best course of action is for the United Nations to collaborate with the countries in the sub-region, particularly in the provision of more insecticides and more spraying planes. It’s a long season up ahead, and if East Africa is going to repel the danger of a food crisis, these locusts cannot be allowed to win.

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2Baba releases new album “Warriors”

The album is a key offering in the celebration of 2Baba’s 20 Years A King project.

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Award-winning Afropop icon 2Baba has released his new album titled “Warriors” earlier today, February 28. This album is released as part of his 20 Years a King (#20YearAKing) celebration, commemorating the two decades he has spent in the Nigerian music industry.

This new album contains just 13 tracks including previously released singles like ‘Important’, ‘Oyi’ and the Peruzzi-assisted smash hit, ‘Amaka’. The LP also boasts big-name collaborations like Burna Boy, Wizkid, Olamide, Tiwa Savage and Peruzzi. It also features appearances from AJ Natives, Symeca and his daughter HI Idibia.

The production of the album is handled by a galaxy of PBanks, Spelz, Blaq Jeerzy, Bolji Beatz, Speroach Beatz, Richie, Ploops and his longtime collaborator, Jay Sleek.

Interestingly, this is the first 2Baba album that comes with a title track, which also serves as the opener of the full-length project.

On Tuesday, February 25, the celebrated singer held a well-attended listening party for the album at the Artisan Lounge bar, Lagos.

His seventh studio album, “Warriors” is the long-overdue follow up to “The Ascension” which was met with mixed reviews upon its release in 2014.

Formerly known as 2face Idibia, 2baba is one Africa’s most successful artists, winning local, continental and international awards like BET and MTV Europe Music Awards.

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Exporting African sounds into Italy

Nigerian migrants are introducing Afrobeat to one of Italy’s most popular cities

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Nigerians are slowly stamping their authority in Italy's music space. Photo credit: Quartz Africa

Migrating from Africa to Europe is a particularly tricky business. It is usually very difficult to obtain visas, and consequently, many people opt for the long, tortuous route that runs through the Sahara Desert and extends into the Mediterranean Sea. It is a risky journey in many ways, as desperate migrants get robbed, swindled, enslaved or worse still, meet their end in the hot sands and high seas.

There is also the small matter of reputation when it comes to successful migrants. There are those who believe that men and women who manage to avoid death or slavery, and ultimately cross the borders into Italy and Spain, are either involved in drug peddling, prostitution or unsavoury menial jobs like washing up corpses.

There is a small group of people, however, who are slowly changing the narrative. These ones are not only showing that there is more that African migrants can do in Europe, but they are also exporting Nigerian music in all its exotic nature and rich flavour into one of Italy’s major cities.

Palermo, the capital city of the Sicilian province, is slowly becoming the Southern European capital for the world-conquering Afrobeats scene. Social media has given a platform to musicians who can reach a wide audience without institutional support. There are more than a few cities in Italy that are not exactly kind to migrants, but Palermo has gradually become a haven for a number of young Nigerian musicians to hone their craft and attempt to carve a niche for themselves on European shores.

The influx of these musicians has had a significant effect on the city, too. For instance, Ballaro, a small neighbourhood in Palermo, was once known as one of the most dangerous places in Italy, no thanks to the activities of the Mafia. But with the arrival of African and Asian immigrants, the neighbourhood is now revitalised and less prone to crime.

Artists like RayJeezy, Brenex Baba and Thug Money make a living from performing at night clubs across the city. They hope that their hustle ultimately pays off and that they gain worldwide recognition, but for now, they are contributing to the transformation of a city’s music and culture. Things are looking up for the African migrant population in Palermo, and it’s not hard to tell that there will be more where the music came from.

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Entertainment

Netflix Announces First Original Nigerian Series

This comes just after the U.S-based streaming giant launched Netflix Naija.

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Popular media-services provider Netflix has announced the production of its first original African series to be headlined by Nollywood director, Akin Omotoso.

This would be a six-part series that features an all-star Nollywood cast of Kate Henshaw, Ade Laoye, Richard Mofe Damijo, Joke Silva, Fabian Adeoye Lojede, Kehinde Bankole and many others. 

Directed by a team of Akin Omotosho, Daniel Oriahi and CJ Obasi, the series tells the story of a reincarnated goddess who seeks to avenge her sister’s death.

This announcement comes just after the U.S-based streaming platform unveiled Netflix Naija on Tuesday, February 25, 2020.

In a statement with Premium Times, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos revealed that “movies like King of Boys, Merry Men and The Bling Lagosians have shown how much our members love Nigerian movies. 

“So, we’re incredibly excited to be investing in Made in Nigeria stories – bringing them to audiences all around the world.”

Over the past year, Netflix has featured a number of Nollywood movies on its streaming platform. Among such movies include the culturally and commercially successful King of Boys, October 1, The Figurine, Mokalik, and Merry Men. 

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