Today in #TheLagosReview

MI Abaga, Banky W, Dede Mabiaku, Others Make A stand Against the Social Media Bill.

In the wake of yesterday’s concerted effort to shutdown the Hate speech bill, popularly known as the ‘Social Media Bill’ by selected members of the citizenry, the bill which had already passed the first stage, received a quiet blow when from a cross section of 60 members of the citizenry, only two spoke in support of it.

Today celebrities gathered at an event organized by creative agency Tasck in collaboration with music superstar, MI Abaga in a town hall type session where the bill in question was analyzed and the rhetorics behind its far-reaching implication demystified.

Influential personalities like MI, Dede Mabiaku, Kate Henshaw, Banky W and the CEO of Osiwa took turns to expatiate on what the proposed bill entails and the consequences of having such a bill in play in the current socio-economic landscape.

Dotun, Dina and Folu storms and Jeff of BBNaija sat in panel sessions facilitated by MI and addressed the reasons why they as individuals were endorsing fight.

The take away from the event was clearly reiterated by Banky W, as he insistently rehashed the need to take action at the level where we currently are.

  1. Send a message to your government rep.
  2. Register to vote.
  3. Commit to serve in your community.

Taking small, measurable steps is a more noble gesture than just spotlighting the problems.

African films take centre stage in Luxor, Egypt

…as Ayorinde joins Kabore, Ndiaye, others on the Jury

The cozy resort city of Luxor in Egypt is playing host to the cream of sub-saharan and Arab-African filmmakers as the Luxor African Film Festival gets into full swing.

It is the ninth edition of the festival meant to provide a convivial platform for filmmakers from across Africa and the African diaspora.

The festival formally opened on Friday night with an open-air ceremony by the Nile river where notable filmmakers, including the Haitian-born actor, Jimmy Jean-Lewis, who is the special guest of honour, were celebrated.

The Wonder Box by Egyptian filmmaker, Emad ElBahat, formally opened screenings at the festival on Saturday night.

“As Luxor African Film Festival nears its first decade, it has achieved some of its goals, of which is the return of African cinema to Egypt as well as the return of the Egypt film to the people of Africa, all under the slogan of LAFF,” says Sayed Fouad, President of the festival.

According to him, the Luxor festival under the slogan “African Cinema From the Globe” and via the “Diaspora Films Competition” is expanding its domain to embrace all African filmmakers, within Africa and abroad, in a step towards reconnecting the African creative’s throughout the world with their enchanting mother continent, Africa.”

Organised annually by the the Independent Shabab Foundation, a non-profit organisation, the Luxor African Film Festival exemplifies the Egyptian government’s resolve to support the motion picture industry with state apparatus.

As such the festival is also being organised under the auspices of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Youth, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cinema Professions Syndicate in cooperation with the government of Luxor.

Nigeria’s Steve Ayorinde, former Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism Arts and Culture and Publisher of The Culture Newspaper (TCN) is on the main Jury of the festival along with the father of contemporary Burkinabe film industry, Gaston Kabore; Moroccan director, Saad Chraibi; Egyptian actor, Mostafa Shaban and the Burkinabe actress who was the only African on the Jury of Cannes Film Festival in 2019, Meimuna Ndiaye.

The Jury will select the festival’s three main prizes from the 11 films featuring in the main competition.

Aside The Wonder Box, other films in contention for honours include Gold Coast Lounge by Ghanaian director Pascal Aka; Fataria by Tunisia’s Walid Taaya; Desrances by Burkina Fasso’s Apolline Traore and Senegal’s entry for the Best Internation Film at the last Academy Awards, Atlantique by Mati Diop.

Others are Innocent(e) by Cameroonian debutant director, Lea Maple Frank Thierry; Jusqu’au bout by Ivorian director Hounsou Yao Hyacinthe; Fragile by Egyptian Ahmed Rashwan; The White Line by Namibian Desiree Kahikopo; Nati’s Father by Senegalese director Mamadku Dia and Moges Tafesse’s Enchained from Ethiopia.

Several other films are competing in the documentary, short films and African diaspora sections.

The festival runs till Friday March 12 with an awards ceremony.

Barbara Neely, creator of first African-American mystery series protagonist, dies age 78

Neely’s Blanche White series, while it contained just four books, made history by using the the “invisibility” of domestic workers and women of color as its pivotal plot device.
Neely’s Blanche White series, while it contained just four books, made history by using the the “invisibility” of domestic workers and women of color as its pivotal plot device.(Marion, Ettlinger)
Barbara Neely, the award-winning mystery novelist who created the first ever black protagonist in mainstream American publishing, died after a short illness, her publisher confirmed Monday.

She was 78.

Neely’s Blanche White series, while it contained just four books, made history by using the the “invisibility” of domestic workers and women of color as its pivotal plot device, the Associated Press noted. The series “had at its center a nomadic amateur detective and domestic worker who uses the invisibility inherent to her job as an advantage in pursuit of the truth,” AP said.

Fellow mystery writers are mourning the passing of the writer whom the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) awarded its 2020 Grand Master designation.

“She was an inspiration, a trailblazer, and a remarkable talent and voice whose loss is deeply felt,” the MWA said in a statement. “We are grateful we had the opportunity to let her know how much she meant to the mystery community before she left us. Her talent and memory will live on forever in her wonderful books. She will be missed.”

Her publisher, Brash Books, noted that Neely also wrote short stories appearing in anthologies, magazines, university texts and journals, and was an activist who “designed and directed the first community-based corrections facility for women in Pennsylvania and was the director of Women for Economic Justice, a Boston-based women’s advocacy organization.”

In addition, Neely produced radio shows for Africa News Service and hosted the Commonwealth Journal, a weekly interview program broadcast weekly on the University of Massachusetts Boston radio station, Brash said. Her activism earned her several awards.

Her writing, too, pushed past mystery into political and social commentary, her works tackling violence against women, racism, class boundaries and sexism, AP said.

Neely’s first short story, “Passing the Word,” was published in Essence magazine in 1981, according to AP. Neely was born in Lebanon, Pennsylvania in 1941 and earned a master’s at the University of Pittsburgh, AP reported. She passed away on March 2, Brash said.

Her Blanche White series includes “Blanche on the Lam” (1992), “Blanche Among the Talented Tenth” (1994), “Blanche Cleans Up” (1998) and “Blanche Passes Go” (2000), all listed on her author page at Brash.

Author Jacqueline Woodson Returns To Ghana

Jacqueline Woodson is the author of “Brown Girl Dreaming” and “Another Brooklyn,” among other books.

Jacqueline Woodson is the author of “Brown Girl Dreaming” and “Another Brooklyn,” among other books.

Jacqueline Woodson is the author of more than two dozen books, including “Brown Girl Dreaming,” which won the National Book Award in 2014, and her latest novel, “Red at the Bone.”

Last year, she traveled to Ghana to participate in that country’s “Year of Return” Initiative. The effort encourages members of the African diaspora – including African Americans – to come to Ghana for a year and try to reconnect roots that were severed during the Atlantic slave trade.

Woodson felt an immediate connection to the country and its culture. But she remained mildly skeptical about the activities promised by the initiative and wrote about it in The New York Times.

Ghana’s Year of Return website celebrates “the cumulative resilience of all the victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.” It promised everything from a welcoming World Music Festival to a Natural Hair Expo to a First Bath Of Return and Naming Ceremony in which participants, as is custom for African babies, are bathed, given African names and presented to their extended African family. While these events sounded interesting and somewhat moving, it was not the way I wanted to see Ghana for the first time. I wanted the circumstance rather than the pomp. I wanted truth.

She joined us to talk about the experience — the first time she ever set foot on the African continent.

Kambon: Teach black power movement in schools

A nation could have a revolutionary moment, but if the lessons learned from that moment are not adhered to and taught to younger generations, the cause and reasoning for that revolution could fade, and the indoctrinations of what oppressed people in the first place, could rise again.

These were the thoughts of Khafra Kambon, retired chairman of the Emancipation Support Committee and one of the leaders of the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC), during the black power movement of the 1970s. He spoke over the weekend at the National Library in Port of Spain Friday, on the black power movement which came to a head 50 years ago.

The day was also used for the opening of the Black Power revolution exhibition which included books and submissions which described the moment in TT history.

With that statement, he called for better education on local African and East Indian history, and the history of the plight of the African and East Indian in TT to be taught in schools, and commemorated.

“In the case of what was referred to the black power movement of 1970, it is called a revolution because the change in fact was revolutionary. Masses of people expressed their deep discontent with fundamental issues that they were faced with at the time.”

The discontent, Kambon said, led to organised resistance and uprising against the state and other institutions responsible for the conditions that society were by and large rejecting. A series of events leading up to 1970, created a change in the spirit and the thinking of the society and how we thought of our condition in society.

“And that is why when 1970 came along we had already had a build up in the consciousness of people.”

He said what people learned about themselves and their history was distorted and now TT doesn’t have books that correct these distortions. He recalled complaints over the publications of a schoolbook which highlighted Valentine’s day and Halloween as holidays but not Emancipation Day.

“I cannot believe that someone sat down and decided that they would not put Emancipation Day in the school books. I think it is just the way we think. I think we overlook the things that are important to some sections of society. These things I see as reversals of some of the gains of 1970.”

“In my opinion, and based on the information that I looked at the situation for Africans in 2020 and going forward will slide more if we don’t do anything about it.”

“In the Indian communities there are institutions to keep instilling a sense of pride and sense of knowledge of their history. The black community does not have that, and if we do not get it in the formal institutions we are at a very serious disadvantage,” Kambon said.

Why South Africa should resist US pressure to extend copyright terms.

The current term of copyright in South Africa is life-of-the-author plus 50 years. But the US is pressuring South Africa to extend the term to life-plus-70. Since the US is a net exporter of copyrighted media, like songs, books, and movies, US copyrights earn billions in revenue yearly. The US wants to prolong this trade imbalance as long as possible and deny foreigners free access to older US works.

Research I have done shows that caving in to this demand would be bad for South African consumers. This is because copyright term extensions prevent works from entering the public domain and being republished for the public benefit. The negative effect on the availability of titles is palpable and dramatic.

Just as important, keeping books under copyright imposes a direct cost on the public in terms of higher prices.

South Africa is poised to adopt a Copyright Amendment Bill that aims to modernise its 1978 Copyright Act and ensure protection of the creative industries. But the proposed amendments are fiercely contested and the US has been adding to the pressure.

A change to extend the terms of copyright would benefit the US, which exports far more copyrighted works to South Africa than it imports.

I conclude from my analysis that fewer books will be available to South Africans and the books remaining under copyright will be more expensive if the country gives in to US pressure to extend its copyright term.

On the other hand, data from the US, Canada and the UK suggest that limiting the ability of South African authors to transfer their copyrights for longer than 25 years may have significantly positive effects on the availability of works. So-called “author-reversion” statutes don’t shorten the term of copyright, but rather switch ownership back to the author after a set term of years (the current reversion term in the US is 35 years).

The research
In a recent issue of the South African Intellectual Property Journal, I summarised data collected on the effect of the 20-year copyright term extension in the US.

The data show that the decision imposed a significant welfare loss to the US public. My study showed that when books fell into the public domain, they were much more likely to be in print as new editions on online retailer Amazon. A random sample of over 2,000 Amazon books showed fewer than 30 new editions originally published in the 1980s were in print, but over 150 new editions from 100 years earlier – the 1880s – were on offer.

A yet-to-be published study of Canadian book markets showed a similar pattern. Canada has the same copyright term as South Africa. A sample of Canadian book titles from the 1880s, 1890s and 1900s were in print at about an 85% rate, while a sample of titles from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s were in print at a rate under 30%.

Yet-to-be published UK data confirm the gains in availability associated with public domain status.

In South Africa, my study of bound volumes for sale showed the copyrighted volumes selling for an average of US$17.74, while the public domain titles averaged US$14.44. The higher price for bound volumes approximates the size of the royalty the publisher of a copyrighted book usually pays to an author.

But the need to pay a royalty to the author of a copyrighted book cannot explain the price difference found in ebook markets.

Ebook prices of books eligible for download in South Africa from Random House Canada, which has the same copyright term, were also collected, and the findings are dramatic. A sample of titles showed the average price of copyrighted ebooks to be $12.53 and the average for the public domain titles, in the same Vintage Classics collection, cost on average $6.76.

A broader sample of 432 non-Vintage Classic Canadian titles showed an even greater ebook pricing discrepancy: C$1.89 for public domain books and over C$11 for copyrighted titles.

Different rules in different countries
Currently in South Africa, the heirs of an author regain control over all the author’s copyrights in year 25 after their death. Famously, this reversion provision was successfully used by the heirs of Solomon Linda, a South African composer, in their suit against Walt Disney when they regained the copyright in his composition, M’Bube (The Lion Sleeps Tonight). Disney had failed to realise that the last 25 years of the copyright in the song were owned by Linda’s daughters and not the music publishing company they contracted with.

The US has long had a more author-friendly rule. This allows authors or their heirs to terminate the transfer of a copyright 35 years after the transfer.

Data from US book markets suggest strongly that beneficiaries of the termination right (authors or their heirs) use it to bring older books back into print with independent presses. A study of over 1,900 US titles found that as many as 20% of in-print titles were available because of the US termination right.

Canada and the UK have provisions similar to the current South African law. They also show an uptick in book availability associated with their reversion schemes.

Strengthening authors’ rights is not a universal panacea to alleviate the massive public cost associated with copyright term extension. But it would appear to be a step in the right direction. The Canadian parliament is also currently considering a 25-year reversion or termination. If it passes, South Africa should find it easier to fend off US complaints about the similar South African proposal.

John Boyega Teams With Netflix On Slate Of African Movies.

Star Wars actor John Boyega is teaming with Netflix via his UpperRoom banner to develop non-English language films focusing on west and east Africa.

UpperRoom said it “will develop film projects based on stories, cast, characters, crew, literary properties, mythology, screenplays and/or other elements in or around African countries.”

“I am thrilled to partner with Netflix to develop a slate of non-English language feature films focused on African stories, and my team and I are excited to develop original material,” commented Boyega. “We are proud to grow this arm of our business with a company that shares our vision.”

“Africa has a rich history in storytelling, and for Netflix, this partnership with John and UpperRoom presents an opportunity to further our investment in the continent while bringing unique African stories to our members both in Africa and around the world,” said David Kosse, VP of international film at Netflix.

Netflix has been looking to grow its content out of Africa. Two weeks ago, a high level delegation from the streamer went to Lagos to announce their first Nigerian series before traveling to South Africa to launch the streamer’s first African original, Queen Sono, a six-part drama, which launched worldwide at the end of February.

Boyega co-founded UpperRoom in 2016. As we revealed last year, Boyega has also boarded the South African crime thriller God Is Good as executive producer and is overseeing the film’s soundtrack through his UpperRoom Records label.

BYU professors produce first Congolese-American film

Colon Assany, second assistant director, holds the production slate as Moyindo Mopongo, Brandon Ray Olive, and Jospin Kapata get ready to film an action scene in the movie “Heart of Africa.” (BIMPA Production, Congo Rising and Purdie Distribution)
It all started with letters.

Margaret Young and her husband, Bruce, were serving in the Provo MTC in 2007 when Margaret started writing different missionaries, including Aime Mbuyi, a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Youngs had no idea that this small service would set them on course to co-produce the first Congolese-American feature film — and the first Latter-day Saint feature film to be produced in Africa by Africans.

Aime Mbuyi and his wife, Steffy, after their sealing in the Accra, Ghana Temple in 2014. (Aime Mbuyi, Congo Rising and Margaret Young)
Margaret learned that Mbuyi had originally been part of a revolutionary group before converting to the Church. She was fascinated by his story and felt it deserved to be told. When she attended Mbuyi’s wedding in 2014, she was introduced to Tshoper Kabambi, who would help shape her dream into a reality.

Kabambi was a young man who was looking to restore cinema to the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2017, he accepted Margaret’s offer to direct a film detailing Mbuyi’s story. The movie became the first ever to be directed, acted and shot in the DRC by native Congolese.

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