Tens of thousands of fans of Ivorian singer DJ Arafat, star of the hugely popular musical genre “coupe-decale” who died this month in a motorbike accident, gave him a spectacular send-off at the country’s main stadium early Saturday.
The overnight funeral concert at the 35,000-capacity Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan began Friday evening and ended early Saturday when Arafat’s body was brought for a final farewell.
Placed in the centre of the football pitch, it drew wild applause. Then the mood turned sombre with fans bursting into tears.
“The ceremony was really moving,” said Raymonde Nguessan. “We have lost a great man.”
Another fan, Samuel Kablan, was in tears as he declared: “Arafat was my life, my source of inspiration.”
Throughout the night, A-list African stars such as Davido, Sidiki Diabate, Fally Ipupa and Serge Beynaud sang for the music sensation, who died aged 33 on August 12 after a motorbike crash in Ivory Coast’s capital city Abidjan.
Before the ceremony, Ivorian Culture Minister Maurice Bandaman conferred on him the national order of cultural merit for “his immense contribution to the artistic radiance” of Ivory Coast.
DJ Arafat, whose given name was Ange Didier Houon, was one of the most popular African musicians in the Francophone world, and had been referred to as the “king” of coupe-decale (cut and run), an Ivorian form of dance music.
News of his death led to scenes of hysteria among some of his fans and Twitter tributes from fellow artists. President Alassane Ouattara called him “a youth icon and ambassador of Ivorian music and culture”.
Coupe-decale originated in the bars of the lively Rue Princesse in the working-class Yopougon district of Abidjan and clubs and spread across West Africa.
‘Curious about everything’ –
DJ Arafat was due to be buried in the Williamsville cemetery in the working-class Adjame district.
His five children were present at the concert. There was tight security at the venue with some 6,500 security forces deployed across the stadium overlooking Abidjan’s picturesque lagoon.
State radio and television broadcast the event live and giant screens installed in Yopougon and other working-class areas, as well as the upmarket Cocody-Angre district where DJ Arafat lived.
With a professional recording engineer for a father and a singer for a mother, the young DJ Arafat was well placed to discover musical techniques on the job.
“He toured the studios to learn, he was curious about everything,” said Franck Alcide Kacou, label and publishing manager of Universal Music Africa, a subsidiary of the multinational Vivendi, which produced DJ Arafat’s work from 2013.
Working as a disc jockey on Rue Princesse, DJ Arafat made his breakthrough with “Jonathan” in 2003, which he followed with a string of other hits.
‘Divisive personality’ –
He “revolutionised coupe-decale by mixing sounds and rhythms. For instance, he was inspired by African traditional music, but also by Nigerian Afrobeat, by rap and by Brazilian funk,” Kacou said.
“He was also an exceptional dancer and he linked the music he made to new dance forms.”
Such broad interests were reflected on DJ Arafat’s last album “Renaissance”, released in December 2018 and featuring Maitre Gims, Dadju, Davido and Fally Ipupa.
The Ivorian star could also be prone to controversy.
“He had a divisive personality. He was very sensitive, which explains his ‘unfiltered’ reactions and clashes with other artists, which formed part of his musical career,” Kacou said.
“But this was also a matter of marketing. Arafat was a genius for communication, he used social media very well.”
Twice winner of the best artist of the year in the Coupe-Decale Awards of 2016 and 2017, Arafat already had recognition across the continent in 2012, when he was named “Best African Artist” in the pan-African Kora Music Awards.
Ghana Signs 5-Year Deal With Afro Nation
The Ghanaian government has reportedly signed a new five-year deal with the organizers of Afro Nation. According to this agreement, the much-celebrated music festival will be held annually in Ghana till 2025.
This was revealed via a tweet by Gabby Otchere Darko, a close aide to President Nana Addo and a leading member of the NPP.
“Ghana signs a five-year deal for Afro Nation to be hosted annually in Ghana. Fantastic news for traders and ravers! #UKAfricaInvestmentSummit #ChristmasIsGhana #GhanaBeyondTheReturn,” he shared.
The 3-day concert which held 27th between 30th December 2019 featured some of Africa’s biggest stars including Davido, Shatta Wale, Wizkid, Stonebwoy, Burna Boy, Zlatan Ibile, Naira Marley. Mayorkun and Kofi Kinaata. It was also headlined by popular American singer and rapper, 6lack.
5 Albums We Are Excited About In 2020
Building up on the success of the previous year, 2020 promises a lot of amazing music.
2019 was quite an interesting year for African music. Heralded by Nigeria’s Afrobeats, records out of the continent penetrated the Western markets and sparked impressive engagements across the world.
Burna Boy’s album “African Giant” secured a Grammy nomination and also topped the end of the year lists of many international publications. Beyoncé also featured an all-star cast of some of the biggest names across the continent on her “The Lion King.” Of course, this helped to reintroduce them to new markets and thrust their names in global music conversations.
Building up on the success of the previous year, 2020 looks to promise a lot of amazing music. Here is a list of the five albums we are excited to get our hands on in 2020.
Wizkid – Made In Lagos
Ever since the release of his international project, “Sounds From The Other Side,” fans across Africa have been clamouring for the release of Wizkid’s fourth full-length, “Made in Lagos” which he himself has been teasing for quite a while title. Last year, Wizkid took to his Instagram to tease snippets of a couple of songs expected to be on the project. And with the official release of his 2019 singles, ‘Joro’ and ‘Ghetto Love’, fans and general music lovers are fully ready for the long-teased Wizkid project this year.
Khaligraph Jones – TBA
Coming off his big win at the 2020 Soundcity MVP Awards, picking up the Best Hip-hop act trophy over heavyweights like Sarkodie, Kwesta and Falz, the time is ripe for a new album Kenyan rapper. Popular for his distinct rapid-fire flow, Khaligraph Jones has been at the helm of Kenya’s hip-hop over the years. With the anticipated follow-up to his 2018 debut album, “Testimony 1900,” he’d seek to reassert his dominance this year in the region and the continent.
Adekunle Gold – Afropop
2019 witnessed a turning point in Adekunle Gold’s artistry and public image. With releases like ‘Young Love’ and Before You Wake Up’ in 2019, Adekunle Gold’s sound has morphed into something more pop-centric, substituting the traditional African sound for something more synthetic. The singer has also been more expressive with his fashion and outlook. This, therefore, makes his next project “Afropop” one to look out for, as we’d love to find an Adekunle Gold shed his signature sound for something more pop and trendy.
Sho Madjozi – TBA
South African rapper, Sho Madjozi was one of the most exciting acts out of the continent last year. Coming off the success of her 2018 debut album “Limpopo Champions League,” the singer went on to release her hit record ‘John Cena’, a song even the WWE superstar himself approves. Sho Madjozi went on to enjoy an amazing press run that kept her in everyone’s face. And now, she has built up so much hype around herself that her fans across the continent are waiting for what she plans to release next.
Shatta Wale – TBA
Undoubtedly one of Africa’s most controversial superstars, Ghana’s Shatta Wale is one known for his consistency across his album. Ever since 2016, not a year has gone by without a project from the self-crowned dancehall king. And given the quality of his stellar 2018 and 2019 releases, “Reign” and “Wonder Boy,” many are already wondering what king Shatta would come up with next.
Sniffing out the menace called poaching
The role of man’s best friend in the war against poaching
There is an old saying that borders on hunters learning to shoot without aiming, since birds have learned to fly without perching. In the same vein, as perpetrators of illegal activities devise new ways to escape detection and punishment, those dedicated to apprehending them need to, in turn, implement new methods to remain one step ahead. The war against wildlife poaching still rages on as the years roll by, but in recent times, poachers and smugglers have had to deal with a new adversary: man’s best friend.
In hunting for hides, skin, horns and tusks, these people, whose life’s work is to put wildlife at risk for material gain, have deployed all sorts of modern weaponry in furthering their cause, but now they will have to deal with dogs, too. Deployed in various locations across six African countries, there are scores of these dogs, who have helped in tracking down smugglers and traffickers with their efficiency in sniffing out elephant tusks, rhino horns and pangolin scales.
Since Canines for Conservation, the programme initiated to involve dogs in the fight against wildlife poaching, kicked off in 2011, there have been 400 seizures of illegal wildlife products. These days, wildlife authorities in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Botswana and Cameroon require employees to be skilled in dog handling. Employees who take up the handling of dogs undergo training programmes which stretch for up to 10 weeks, and they are also carefully matched with the dogs that they would be working with.
Wild animals are being poached on a massive scale, with millions of individual animals of thousands of species worldwide killed or captured from their native habitats. Poaching poses a growing threat to elephants, rhinos, and other charismatic animals. Some animals, such as birds, reptiles, and primates, are captured live so that they can be kept or sold as exotic pets. Slaughtered animals, on the other hand, have commercial value as food, jewellery, decor, or traditional medicine. The ivory tusks of African elephants, for example, are carved into trinkets or display pieces. The meat of apes, snakes, and other bush animals is considered a delicacy in parts of Africa.
Poaching has devastating consequences for wildlife. In some instances, it’s the primary reason why an animal faces a risk of extinction. This is the case with the African elephant, more than 100,000 of which were killed between 2014 and 2017 for ivory. Poaching has also had a catastrophic impact on rhinos, with more than a thousand slaughtered a year for their horns.
Training these dogs to top levels of detecting takes about 4 to 5 months. All the wildlife products they are required to sniff out are hidden in various ways, from wrapping ivory in jars of coffee to putting a lion’s tooth in a thermos. The dogs sniff luggage and cargoes at airports, and the Canines for Conservation programme, aware of the tactics employed by traffickers, works closely with airport authorities in the countries where the dogs are deployed. These canine partners, whose role in fighting wildlife poachers over the years has been acknowledged, are also fed specially, and are kept in kennels and large spaces where they can relax.
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