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Egypt’s renovation of Baron Palace sparks online outcry2 min read

Mnay have faulted repair works as being misrepresentative of the building’s history and materials to be of poor quality

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Egypt's renovation of Baron Palace sparks online outcry
Ongoing restoration works at the historic "Le Palais Hindou" (also known as the "Baron Empain Palace") built by in the early 20th century by Belgian industrialist Edouard Louis Joseph, Baron Empain, in the classical Khmer architectural style of Cambodia's Angkor Wat, in the Egyptian capital Cairo's northeastern Heliopolis district. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

Egyptian authorities have defended renovation works at a historic Cairo palace after the site’s new look sparked mockery on social media.

The site, dubbed the Baron Palace, was built between 1907 and 1911 by wealthy Belgian industrialist Edouard Empain. 

The baron also spearheaded the development of the surrounding upmarket neighbourhood of Heliopolis.

Built in a style reminiscent of the Cambodian Hindu temple of Angkor Wat, the striking building set amid lush gardens has long since fallen into disrepair.

READ: Biblio-art: How Polish artist adorns Egyptian monastery with Christian designs

But work to restore the building has sparked outcry.

Many have taken issue with white marble additions to the building’s rosy pink stone exterior, saying the materials are of poor quality and not in keeping with the original style.

One Twitter user asked:

“Who is the fool behind the restoration of Egypt’s palaces? Our heritage is being systematically destroyed.”

A Facebook page called Egyptian Historians chided officials for the “warped” restoration.

Egypt's renovation of Baron Palace sparks online outcry
Ongoing restoration works at the historic “Le Palais Hindou” (also known as the “Baron Empain Palace”) built by in the early 20th century by Belgian industrialist Edouard Louis Joseph, Baron Empain, in the classical Khmer architectural style of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, in the Egyptian capital Cairo’s northeastern Heliopolis district. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

“Be honest with yourselves and admit that you ruined it… you are literally demolishing our monument”, a post on the group’s page said.

READ: Tutankhamun gilded coffin receives restoration in Egypt

Antiquities Minister, Khaled El-Enany dismissed online criticisms as “fake news”.

“I didn’t hear one word of truth in all these social media comments,” he said in a statement.

His ministry said the colours of the palace had faded from weather damage over many years.

“The restoration is a real dream and we will breathe life into this abandoned landmark,” Enany added.

WATCH: Egypt begins restoration of Tutankhamun’s coffin

General Hisham Samir, who heads up the ministry’s engineering branch, said the colours were “correct and are backed up by historical sources.”

The works began in July 2017 in co-operation with the Belgian government and will cost 100 million Egyptian pounds (over $6 million), the statement added.

Samir told reporters that the work is expected to be completed by year’s end with plans to open the building to the public by early 2020.

Egypt’s multitude of historical monuments and buildings are a major draw for tourists, though the country has often faced accusations of neglecting these sites.

READ: Contents of two ancient pyramids unveiled in Egypt

The government has recently launched various restoration projects to stimulate tourism, a key sector that has suffered in recent years due to political insecurity and sporadic jihadist attacks.

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Art

Burna Boy’s “Africans Unite” concert in South Africa cancelled following outrage

Organizers announce the cancellation of the Africans Unite Concert in South Africa as tension mounts 3 days the concert

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Burna Boy's "Africans Unite" concert in South Africa cancelled following outrage
Burna Boy at the 2019 BET Awards on June 23, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images/AFP

Barely 3 days to the Africans Unite Concert in South Africa, the organizers have withdrawn Burna Boy from the Concert and cancelled the concerts in Cape Town and Tshwane where he was expected to perform.

The organizers announced the new development in a media statement on Wednesday. 

According to the organizers, the decision to withdraw Burna Boy from the Concerts and cancel the Cape Town and Tshwane concerts was reached after extensive engagement with Burna Boy’s management team.

The reason for the sudden cancellation of the shows is the tension that has arisen from the protests and threats of violence by a group of South African artistes under the auspices of Tshwane Entertainment Collective.

The group had vowed to boycott the show if the Nigerian Afrobeat singer was allowed to step in South Africa let alone perform at the 2-day concerts. 

Read: South Africans protest against Burna Boy’s performance at the Africans Unite Concerts

“The decision to cancel the Africans Unite Concert comes after the call from the Tshwane Entertainment Collective to boycott the Africans Unite concert in Tshwane.

With the increasing threats of violence from other unfortunate segments of the public and without any government intervention, Phambili Media and Play Network Africa were prompted to take the threats and warnings seriously, as the safety of all artists and attendees could not be guaranteed.

“We then decided to cancel the concert. The safety of all attendees, artists and crew comes first.” the Africans Unite Concert organizers said.

Meanwhile, Burna Boy has remained resolute in his decision not to apologize to the aggrieved group, Tshwane Entertainment Collective for his anti-xenophobia comments.

“Demand apologies from your real enemy” Burna Boy said. 

Remember the genesis of the quagmire started when Burna Boy made a tweet via his Twitter handle in which he urged Africans living in South Africa to defend themselves from the attacks during the latest xenophobic attacks in South Africa

The tweet did not go down well with some South Africans who saw it as an incitement of violence against the South African people.

Burna Boy later deleted the controversial tweet.

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Lifestyle News

Militia leader gets life sentence for mass rape in DR Congo

Frederic Masudi Alimasi, also known as Kokodikoko, was found guilty of “crimes against humanity including rape

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A Congolese warlord was sentenced to life imprisonment on Tuesday for leading the mass rape of hundreds of people in the country last year, following accusations by the Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege’s foundation.

Frederic Masudi Alimasi, also known as Kokodikoko, was found guilty of “crimes against humanity including rape, poison, torture, murder, and sexual slavery”, the head of the military tribunal in Bukavu city said. 

Kokodikoko is the leader of the Raia Mutomboki militia, a group that has terrorised civilians in the two Kivu provinces in the Democratic Republic of Congo for the last 25 years.

The militia is accused of raiding the village of Kabikokole during the night of February 8, 2018. The trial has been ongoing since mid-September in South Kivu province. 

“They took more than 100 women hostage… to rape them one after another,” said the Panzi Foundation of Mukwege, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year for helping women recover from rape.

AFP heard testimonies from victims who supported the accusations in March 2018, including from two women aged 19 and 36 and a ten-year-old girl, hospitalised at Panzi Clinic near Bukavu, which treats female rape victims. 

“The Congolese state is incriminated for failing in its sovereign duty to protect and secure the population,” the Panzi Foundation said.

Two other militiamen were sentenced to 15 and 20 years in prison and two others were acquitted on Tuesday. 

Damages must be paid to the 307 victims, the court said. 

One of the defendant’s lawyers, Ester Bashugi, said they would appeal the verdict. 

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Entertainment

Wizkid and Uzowuru win Soul Train Awards

Ayo Balogun (Wizkid) and songwriter, Michael Uzowuru win renowned Ashford and Simpson Songwriters’ Award alongside others

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Wizkid and Uzowuru win Soul Train Awards
Wizkid is pictured before the MTV Africa Music Awards 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa on October 21st, 2016.

Nigerians do not cease to make us proud both at home and abroad. This time, the news spotlights Nigeria’s own Starboy, Ayo Balogun (Wizkid) and the songwriter, Michael Uzowuru.

The duo won the 2019 Ashford and Simpson Songwriters award on Sunday, 17 November 2019.

They won the renowned Ashford and Simpson Songwriters’ Award alongside Beyonce Knowles, Carlos St. John, Adio Marchant, Blue Ivy Carter, Anathi Mnyango, Richard Isong and Saint Jhn for their efforts in the Beyonce’s song ‘Brown Skin Girl’.

The event was held at the famous Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.

Wizkid and Uzowuru win Soul Train Awards
Nigerian-American songwriter and producer, Michael Uzowuru. (File photo)

Below is a list of some of the categories, nominees and winners of the annual award:

Rhythm & Bars Award:

21 Savage feat J.Cole, A lot

Cardi B, Money (WINNER)

DaBaby, Suge

Meek Mill feat Drake, Going Bad

Megan thee  Stallion feat DaBaby, Cash

Best New Artist

Summer Walker (WINNER)

Lucky Daye

Mahalia

Nicole Bus

Pink Sweats

YK Osiris

Best R&B/Soul Female Artist

H.E.R. (WINNER)

Ari Lennox

Beyonce

Lizzo

Mary J. Blige 

Summer Walker 

Best R&B/Soul Male Artist

Khalid (WINNER)

Anderson Paak

Bruno Mars

Chris Brown

Daniel Caesar

Tank

Others include:

Album/Mixtape of the Year

Cuz I Love, Lizzo (WINNER)

Shea Butter Baby, Ari Lennox

Indigo, Chris Brown

Ella Mai, Ella Mai

I Used To Know Her, H.E.R.

Free Spirit, Khalid

Song of the Year

No Guidance, Chris Brown feat. Drake (WINNER)

Before I Let Go, Beyonce

Shot Clock, Ella Mai

Talk, Khalid

Juice, Lizzo

Girls Need Love (Remix), Summer Walker feat. Drake

Video of the Year

Lizzo, Juice (WINNER)

Alicia Key, Raise A Man

Beyonce, Spirit

Childish Gambino, Feels Like Summer

Khalid, Better.

Read: Burna Boy wins Best African Act at the EMAs

Congrats to Wizkid and Michael Uzowuru. Michael Uzowuru is a Nigerian songwriter and producer who has written songs for some of the biggest artists in America. 

Other than ‘Brown Skin Girl’, Uzowuru is also credited to have written songs like ‘Days Like This’ by Goldlink featuring Khalid, and ‘Mood 4 Eva’ by Beyonce featuring Jay-Z and Childish Gambino.

For Wizkid, this is the 4th award he has won in 2019. Others being MOBO Awards for the Best International Act, Artiste of the Year and Best West African Artiste categories.

The ‘Ojuelegba’ crooner is also expected to win big at the 2019 AFRIMA Awards which will be held from the 20-23 November 2019.

He has been nominated in 4 categories.

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