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Sketch therapy: These Central African kids are drawing to recover from PTSD4 minutes read

Drawing helps children to express what they are feeling. It shows what children cannot say out loud -psychologist

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Sketch therapy: These Central African kids are drawing to recover from PTSD

The scratching of crayons on paper fills the air as the children at Lazare camp in war-ravaged Central African Republic draw scenes from daily life.

They draw armed men. Armoured vehicles. And they use red. Lots of red.

In a makeshift tent, glasses perched on her nose and her feet in the dust, psychologist, Mamie Nouria Meniko pores over the creations -an indicator of the children’s mental health, and a much-needed outlet.

“Their problem is that they suffer daily exposure to violence,” she says.

The 43-year-old Congolese runs a Red Cross programme at the displaced people’s camp to identify and help kids suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Drawing helps children to express what they are feeling. It shows what children cannot say out loud,” Nouria Meniko says.

“Sometimes, some of them start crying as soon as they start drawing.”

Years of violence –

The town of Kaga Bandoro housing the camp is a case study for the instability and violence that plagues the CAR.

Some 330 kilometres (about 200 miles) north of the capital Bangui, the town lies on a strategic junction of routes used by nomadic cattle-herders.

For five relentless years, Kaga Bandoro was in the hands of armed groups -militias who control four-fifths of the troubled country.

Typically claiming to defend specific ethnic groups or religions, the militias fight for resources and carry out extortion and acts of violence. 

In a nationwide population of 4.5 million, thousands have lost their lives, nearly 650,000 have fled their homes and another 575,000 have left the country, according to UN figures as of December last year.

Many children have seen beatings, rape or murder. Some have seen their homes invaded, their parents humiliated, hurt, abducted or killed. 

In Kaga Bandoro, relative calm returned last month with the arrival of the armed forces after the government and 14 warlords signed a peace pact in February -the eighth in a series of treaties.

For now, at least, the militiamen are confined to their base, although sporadic violence continues on the outskirts of town.

Troubled kids –

The Red Cross programme has enabled Nouria Meniko to identify 233 children aged five to 15 who bear symptoms of PTSD.

Seated on a mat, she asks a group of six children: “Who had a bad dream last night?” Three hands are raised.

Holding her little sister on her lap, 10-year-old Florine confides her nightmare. 

“My mother and father came to pick me up but I told them I couldn’t come,” she says. Her parents were killed in 2013 by the Seleka, a mainly Muslim armed group.

To help the children manage their trauma, the psychologist teaches them breathing and relaxation techniques.

“When I feel bad, I do these exercises and I think of a nice meal,” says Florine, whose name has been changed to protect her identity.

Dead father –

To her right sits 12-year-old Herve, attending his third therapy session.

Herve’s drawings always show the same things: pickup trucks with machine guns mounted on the back. A body in a river. A hand in a well. A house on fire, with his dad inside.

“I have to draw to get the images out of my head and be able to sleep,” he says.

Herve’s mother, widowed by the Seleka in 2013, says the sessions have helped the boy and her relationship with him.

“Before, he used to cry all night. This week, he’s only woken up five times.”

The therapy also helps parents understand why a child may be craving attention or behaving aggressively.

“Before, when he didn’t obey me and did something silly, I used to hit him,” Herve’s mother admits.

“I didn’t understand. But now I know why he did that, and we talk to each other.”

‘Vicious circle’ –

Professor Jean-Chrysostome Gody, the head doctor at Bangui’s paediatric hospital, says mental problems linked to conflict are widespread in a country that has been gripped by violence since 2003.

But the issue is also taboo.

“It’s a real public-health problem,” Gody says. “Untreated trauma can cause depression and even lead to violence -it fuels the vicious circle.”

Children such as Florine and Herve who have witnessed extreme violence have a lifelong burden, adds Nouria Meniko.

“We can’t wipe out anything,” the psychologist says with a sigh. “What we try to do is to help them live with the trauma.”

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Entertainment

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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