A contagious bacterial infection known as “equine strep throat” has killed more than 4,000 donkeys in northern Niger since early December, local officials said Friday.
“Of the 8,392 donkeys affected by equine distemper or equine strep throat, more than half succumbed since the infection appeared in the first 10 days of December,” said the regional authorities in Agadez, Niger’s renowned gateway to the Sahara.
The others survived after being treated for the infection, which hit donkeys in the Ingall area, public television reported.
The government’s minister for pastoral issues, Mohamed Boucha, visited Agadez this week to assess the impact of the outbreak.
“You can see bodies littering the pastureland and the watering holes and there is a real danger of contamination” spreading through the area, he said.
The risk “is even greater” due to the fact that the infection can be transferred between equine animals and also through the pasture itself, given that the treatment of a sick animal can take several weeks, veterinary officials said.
To tackle the outbreak, Boucha invited herders to have their animals immunised “for free” by the government veterinary services.
Donkeys are used by millions of people to get around in Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world.
Official statistics show Niger has a population of more than 1.5 million donkeys.
Several years ago, there were fears the donkey could soon become an endangered species in the region due to the massive number of them slaughtered for their meat or exported to Nigeria which sells their skins to China for use in traditional medicine. But in 2016, Niamey slapped a “strict ban” on all exports and slaughter of donkeys in order to protect them.
The Hiplife Pioneer; The Godfather
Hiplife is a Ghanaian musical style that fuses Ghanaian culture and hip hop. Recorded predominantly in the Ghanaian Akan language, hiplife is rapidly gaining popularity throughout West Africa and abroad, especially in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Germany. Many artistes have successfully ventured into Hiplife and are doing great. Hiplife is highly appreciated in Africa in general but do you know the one who brought about hiplife, the pioneer? Well, meet him.
Reggie Rockstone, born Reginald Yaw Asante Ossei, described as “the Godfather of Hiplife” is a Ghanaian rapper . He was born in the United Kingdom but lived his early years in Ghana in Kumasi and Accra. He has been living in Ghana continuously since he pioneered the Hip-Life movement in 1994.
He pioneered the Hiplife art form and has played an important role in the development of this uniquely African genre in Ghana’s capital Accra. He raps in Akan Twi and English. In 2004, Rockstone won the Kora Award for the best African video and he performed in front of a 50,000-person crowd in Ghana, together with Shaggy. In 2006 he recorded a track with the Jamaican Dancehall singer Beenie Man called “Chukku Chakka” (in reference to Rockstone’s 1999 hit “Eye Mo De Anaa”, which sampled Fela Kuti).
Rockstone is the son of fashion designer Ricky “Ricci” Ossei (Saint Ossei). Reggie Rockstone attended Achimota School. Reggie joined Ghanaian hip hop group VVIP following the exit of Promzy in 2014. Born in the U.K. on April 11th, 1964, Rockstone attached himself to the Hip Hop movement in the early 80’s as a dancer. Travelling on a tri-continental basis (i.e. Accra, New York, London), he broadened his Hip Hop scope. A natural performer and trained actor, he grabbed the mic with no problem when his calling came in 1991. His first ‘fifteen minutes of fame’ came as a dancer in Accra, Ghana in the early 80’s.
His second chance of fame came in 1992-93 as member of one of the top rap groups from London, England. He belonged to PLZ (Parables, Linguistics and Zlang) with Fredi Funkstone, Jay (both from West Africa) & DJ Pogo of the U.K. Number one hits from PLZ included “If it Aint PLZ” and an EP entitled “Build a Wall Around Your Dreams” released on an independent label called “Go For the Juggler.” 1994 became the watershed or turning point in his entertainment career. The rap scene in London was not rewarding enough.
He returned to Accra to encounter a whole generation of people grooving to African-American rhythms, all heavily influenced by the same elements of Hip Hop that he knew all too well. Then, he had an idea! Use the hip hop beats with authentic phat production and lace it with true African dialect; The Akan language of Twi. It became the tool to make such butter classics as “Sweetie, Sweetie”, “Tsoo Boi”, “Nightlife in Accra” and “Agoo” from his debut album in 1997 entitled “Makaa! Maka!”.
He launched on an independent label called KASSA RECORDS that he partly owns, Reggie Rockstone has reached Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians across four continents. Reggie Rockstone is credited as the pioneer of hiplife or Kasahara music in Ghana and like some masters of the art of hip hop, he has proclaimed his retirement and out of retirement several times. Older music critics however give the rightful claim to Gyedu Blay Ambolley who released his official recording in 1973, aside from his amateur rapping years. If Reggie Rockstone made Twi Rap pupular, Ambolley is the originator. His specialty in Asante Twi and is incredibly well versed in English too. He is internationally acclaimed, with several performances throughout West Africa, the UK, France, USA and Switzerland.
In 2013 he was selected to be a judge of the maiden edition of the Glo X Factor Africa along with Onyeka Onwenu and M.I. He was also a judge for the fifth edition of the Malta Guinness Street Dance competition in 2012.
FilmOne and Walt Disney studios have a deal
FilmOne Entertainment, a Lagos-based independent theatrical distributor, has signed an exclusive theatrical distribution agreement with the Walt Disney Company Africa. It’s the first of it’s kind. The agreement will gave FilmOne the exclusive right to distribute Disney films in Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia.
Under the new deal, FilmOne will distribute titles from all of the Walt Disney Studios divisions, which include Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios, Searchlight Pictures and Blue Sky Pictures.
The deal came at a time when fans have been starved of theatrical releases of Disney films due to Covid-19 which led to a shutdown of cinemas. Cinemas were badly hit by the pandemic, they recorded an N8 billion revenue loss. But as restrictions have been eased and cinemas in Lagos have reopened, cinemas goers can anticipate the release of Disney films such as ‘Mulan’, ‘The New Mutants’, ‘The King’s Man’, ‘Death on the Nile’, ‘Black Widow’, ‘Soul’, ‘Free Guy’, and ‘The Last Duel and Eternals’.
The agreement, which took place effective from September 1, indicated the growing interest in the African film market, particularly Nollywood which is reputed as the number one film industry in the continent. Walt Disney Company Africa is one of such international companies that are committed to forming partnerships in the West African region.
Directors of FimOne, Kene Okwuosa, Moses Babatope and Craig Shurn jointly said in a statement;
“We are proud to be Disney’s film distribution partner for West Africa and see this as the beginning of an exciting new chapter for both companies in the region. Our expertise and knowledge of the market, coupled with the unrivalled quality of Disney’s titles, will drive box-office growth for many years to come,”
The Walt Disney Studios is an American film and entertainment studio, and one of the four business segments of The Walt Disney Company. Based in Burbank, California, the studio is best known for its multi-faceted film divisions. Founded in 1923, it is the fourth-oldest and one of the “Big Five” major film studios.Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures distributes and markets the films produced by these studios. In 2019, Disney posted an industry record of $13.2 billion at the global box office. The studio has released six of the top ten highest grossing films of all time worldwide, and the two highest-grossing film franchises of all time. The Walt Disney Studios is a member of the Motion Picture Association (MPA).
The Senior Vice-President and General Manager of The Walt Disney Company Africa, Christine Service, added that: “With their in-depth knowledge of the region and expertise in bringing theatrical releases to fans, we are thrilled to welcome FilmOne as our distribution partner for this territory.”
With this new deal, FilmOne is taking its place as the foremost independent distributor of theatrical content in anglophone West Africa and largest distributor of premium Nigerian cinematic films in the world. Their partnership with Disney Africa adds to a list of high-profile relationships with industry leaders such as Warner Brothers, Netflix, Empire Entertainment (South Africa) and Huahua (China).
Rungano Nyoni, Aspiring actress turned Director
Rungano Nyoni is a Zambian-Welsh director and screenwriter. She is known for the film I Am Not a Witch, which she wrote and directed. The film won Nyoni the BAFTA for Outstanding Debut in 2018 and has also garnered accolades from international film festivals. Her 2009 film, The List, won the Welsh BAFTA Award for Best Short Film.
Nyoni was born in Lusaka, Zambia to Merill Mutale (née Nyoni) and Thomas Nyoni. They chose to name her Rungano, which in the Shona language native to Zimbabwe means “storyteller”. When she was nine years old her family migrated to Wales.
She attended the University of Birmingham, where she received a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Business Studies. After finishing her studies at the University of Birmingham, Nyoni decided to study acting at the University of the Arts London as it had always been her dream to become an actress. During her time there she was drawn to scripting and to work behind the camera, but retained her desire to act. She went on to complete her master’s degree in Drama and in 2009, graduated from Drama Centre London with a master’s degree in Acting.
Nyoni has stated that her first influence into film was the Elfriede Jelinek’s novel The Piano Teacher, which she had chosen from the library because of the picture on the cover. She has stated that the novel’s 2001 film adaptation is one of her favourite films and that she “wanted to be just like Isabelle Huppert” as her performance “had a huge effect on me. I quickly realized that I couldn’t be like Isabelle Huppert because I’m not a very good actor, but I was still curious about the directing. That was a big turning point for me, realizing that if directing is done very well it can have a real effect on people.”
In 2006 Rungano released her first film Yande (meaning “My Great Happiness” in Bemba), which she wrote and shot on black and white super 8mm film. The film deals with fashion and African women who westernized their appearance and mannerisms in order to conform to an “ideal.” She released her next two short films, 20 Questions and The List in 2009; the latter won a BAFTA Cymru Award in 2010.
Her fourth film, Mwansa the Great, was released in 2011 and was selected to screen at over 100 international film festivals. It was well received at the festivals and won over 20 prizes and was nominated for a 2012 BAFTA Award. Nyoni often collaborates with her partner Gabriel Gauchet and in 2012 a film directed by Gauchet and written by Nyoni, The Mass of Men, premiered at the Locarno Film Festival, where it won the Golden Leopard Award. Like Mwansa the Great, the film was selected to be shown at over 100 film festivals and also garnered over 50 prizes. This was followed up by her 2014 short Listen (Kuuntele), which received the Best Short Film Award at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.
In 2017 Nyoni released her first feature-length fiction film, I Am Not a Witch, which was selected to screen at the Directors’ Fortnight of Cannes Film Festival 2017. This film went on to win Nyoni the awards for Best Director and Best Debut Director at the 20th British Independent Film Awards in 2017.
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