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Popular television show divides Senegalese over sexual taboo-breaking claims4 minutes read

The show has also already been cautioned by the state’s media watchdog for being too racy.

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Popular television show divides Senegalese over sexual taboo-breaking claims
A child watches an episode of the TV serie "Maitresse d'un homme marie" (Mistress of a Married Man) in Dakar. (Photo by Seyllou / AFP)

Cheikh hoists his second wife Mareme onto his shoulder and carries her to their rose petal-covered bed, where he lays her down. 

The frolicking couple embrace and….what happens next is left to the viewer’s imagination as the camera suddenly switches to a pair of white slippers, the bedroom door closes and the scene ends.

In soap operas in other parts of the world, such coy depictions of sex would be considered unremarkable, even dreary.

But in conservative Senegal, where even an on-screen kiss is rare, the self-described monitors of public morality are in uproar.

The show — “Maitresse d’un homme marie” (“Mistress of a married man”) — has also already been cautioned by the state’s media watchdog for being too racy.

But defenders say the soap takes a desperately-needed look at relationship issues such as male abuse, the pain experienced by abandoned spouses and a woman’s right to sexual pleasure.

Popular television show divides Senegalese over sexual taboo-breaking claims
The “Maitresse d’un homme marie” (Mistress of a Married Man) serie’s director, Baye Moussa Seck, looks on during the recording of an episode in Dakar on May 25, 2019. -(Photo by Seyllou / AFP)

“Maitresse d’un homme marie” follows five young women characters, all strong-minded, freewheeling city dwellers.

Some start affairs with married men and — as in the case of Mareme — end up marrying them.

‘Cast judgement’  –

In Dakar’s Sicap Liberte 3 district, the Sene family is glued to its TV for the twice-a-week show.

In between adverts blaring out the virtues of a brand of local rice, bubbly single mother Rose condemns the threat of censorship hanging over her favourite programme.

“Maitresse”, she says, holds up a mirror to hypocrisy and inequality in Senegal.

“Men who criticise the series are the same ones who have mistresses and what they do to them is far worse than what you see on the screen,” she said.

“They cast judgement on the women (in the show) because they are single, because they are in charge of their lives,” said Rose.

“In Senegal, if you are not married by the time you are 30, you are not a good woman. In this country, it doesn’t matter even if you’re a huge success, if you’re not a man, you’re nothing.”

Slapped –

Launched in January, the show goes out at prime time on the commercial channel 2STV and is also avidly followed on YouTube, where each episode is watched between one and two million times.

Devotion to the series is such that one actor was slapped by an elderly woman while exercising.

“She told him, ‘Stop drinking and look after your family’,” the show’s executive producer, Kalista Sy, recounted, with a giggle.

Senegal is predominantly Muslim — mostly following the Sufi strain — where public displays of affection or sex outside marriage are frowned upon.

Within weeks of the series’ launch, a powerful Muslim NGO, Jamra, asked the country’s audiovisual watchdog, the CNRA, to crack down.

After deliberation, the CNRA on March 29 allowed the series to continue provided there were “corrective measures” to the script. Without these changes, the show would have to be screened late at night, or face being banned altogether.

Everything seemed to be going fine until the 34th episode — the scene of Cheikh and Mareme canoodling on the marital bed.

“They crossed the red line. They offended a large proportion of Senegalese by broadcasting virtually pornographic content during the blessed month of Ramadan,” Jamra’s Mactar Gueye told reporters.

“It is unthinkable that this apology for fornication and adultery continues in this form,” he said, in an interview at his home where a giant TV screen was turned on to a telenovela channel showing soap operas.

Sexual emancipation –

The female characters on “Maitresse” often bear the brunt of the moral messages — on-screen marriage-breakers, for instance, are verbally lashed by friends and family for their behaviour.

Popular television show divides Senegalese over sexual taboo-breaking claims
Halimatou Gadji (C), who plays Marieme in the Senegalese television serie “Maitresse d’un homme marie” (Mistress of a Married Man), speaks with Ndiaye Cire Ba (L), who plays Djalika and the script-girl, Adama Diallo (R) during the recording of an episode in Dakar on May 25, 2019. -Mareme. (Photo by Seyllou / AFP)

But for Senegalese feminist activist Fatou Kine Diouf, this finger wagging has had less impact on viewers than the theme of sexual emancipation.

“The series shows women who are in charge of their sexuality. It will never get directly shown on screen but everyone is talking about it. In that respect, the series is really powerful.”

The soap opera’s set is a joyful buzz of actors, technicians and makeup artists, working up to 12 hours a day, six days a week.

In a tired voice, Sy, the executive producer, says that male hostility, religious objections and technical hitches are her daily challenges.

“But when young women watch the show and identify with characters that are like them, they are deeply touched,” she said.

“And nobody can take that away from us.”

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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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