Name: Phiona


Bio: Phiona Okumu has written for Y Magazine, Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire, Elle, Straight No Chaser, Shook, Arise, etc. Her favourite Africans are Kenyans, and then Ghanaians. But she's neither. Often she can be found navigating the social media maze to engage with world-wise, afro-centred, Hip-hop predisposed peers. Follow her on

Posts by ophiona:

    Now Watching: “The African” – New Episode of “She is Alex” Web Series

    August 5th, 2015

    Eritrean/American comedian and former Al Jazeera producer Eritria Pitts just recently brought back She is Alex, an autobiographical web series in the vein of Issa Rae’s Misadventures. In this new episode, main character Alex meets up with an old friend Robert brought up in Wisconsin whom after a life-changing experience in Senegal now likes to also be called Femi. The terrible cringe of being “out-Africaned” plays out hilariously.

    You can also watch an interview with Eritria abut She is Alex here.

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    Ruramai Musekiwa presents The Sibahle Poster Series to celebrate phenomenal African women

    August 1st, 2015

    The month of August is here, which in South Africa means a confusing array of spectacle meant to commemorate the day 9th August 1956 when 20,000 South African women marched and petitioned then prime minister calling on his government not to extend the issuing of passes to African women.

    “The Women’s Day march was a political event, a breathtaking example of political solidarity across race, class and creed,” says BD Live columnist (and Afripop Socialite alumnus) Zama Ndlovu in this scathing must-read article. She continues further down, “Instead, you treat this day like it is the offspring of a marriage between Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. You organise a few events, you will profile the very few women who have done well in your organisations, you will selectively quote a few statistics and appease us with the usual “but more needs to be done”, buy us cupcakes, heart-shaped chocolate and copies of Lean In.”

    One of the more genuine and related projects we can get behind is this one by Zim-born artist Ruramai ‘Rudo’ Musekiwa’s Sibahle poster series which she describes as follows: “The Sibahle Poster Series is an ongoing body of work paying tribute to phenomenal African women. The statement it seeks to make, is that our young girls can and should find inspiration right here, within the continent, within our context as a people. Women are the pillars of our society and it is imperative that we pay homage to inspirational women that not only radiate authenticity and passion within their respective crafts, but also understand how their purpose is connected to others (Ubuntu).”

    Alek Wek

    “The posters include images of Lebo Mashile – South African actor, poet and writer; Lupita Nyong’o – Mexican-Kenyan actress and film director and the late Wangari Maathai – environmental activist and nobel peace prize winner, to name but a few. “These are some of the most exceptional and influential African women of today,” explains Musekiwa.

     Sibahle is a growing movement founded by Musekiwa and it celebrates Africanism through the use of creative mediums and activations. It is an eclectic lifestyle brand with the African woman at the helm of its vision.  The word “Sibahle” means: WE ARE BEAUTIFUL. The overarching vision of this movement is that every African person that becomes aware of this space, internalizes this truth: We are beautiful in all our uniqueness.”

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    Afripopmag’s Lynsey Chutel Among The Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young People

    August 1st, 2015

    (photo credit: Lynsey Chutel’s Facebook Profile)

    The Mail and Guardian’s annual list of notable young South Africans is out. Formerly a list of 100 young achievers under the age of 35, it has now expanded to celebrate a cross-section of 200 entries making their mark in politics, law, media, arts and culture, technology, environment, sport and education.

    Previous alumni include the likes of Trevor Noah, Julius Malema and Redi Tlhabi amongst others.

    I couldn’t be more prouder to see our own editor Lynsey Chutel’s name listed among this generation’s movers and shakers. Excerpted from the profile on the M&G site:

    As a Southern African correspondent for Associated Press, Lynsey Chutel is doing everything she set out to do as a teen — write, and work in international relations. “I’ve always wanted to write,” says Chutel, “But my mom felt that if I set out to be an author, I’d starve to death. So journalism seemed the best way to write and still stand a chance of earning a living.” She studied both journalism and international relations, completing her master’s in journalism at Columbia University in the US, and her master’s in international relations at Wits. Her first job in news came through the International Emmy-nominated news satire programme, Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola. In 2011, she was appointed as a newsgatherer at eNCA, later moving up to the role of producer at eNCA’s Africa 360. Here, she had opportunities to travel to a number of African countries and produced features reflecting realities in Africa. She was also part of team of four women directors who produced a documentary on rape in South Africa — from the male perspective.

    Lynsey’s profile can be found here.

    Congratulations to all the young South Africans named here and those also unknown, striving to make this society. Afripopmag salutes you!


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    Get To Know Kenyan Social Techpreneur Judith Owigar

    August 1st, 2015

    All eyes were on Kenya as the POTUS swept into town last week. As expected every little detail surrounding his visit went under the microscope. I’ll be honest, I tried to keep a safe distance from the frenzy but in the end I was reeled in by the fact that it wasn’t just another high level political meet and greet.


    Back in 2009 president Obama launched the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, and his visit to Kenya coincided with the sixth annual event taking place in Nairobi, and aimed at aligning entrepreneurs at all stages of business development, mentors and government. If you were watching the (or present at) the summit you won’t have missed one Judith Owigar, the 28-year-old lady sitting between Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and Barack.

    judith between presidents

    (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Deservedly placed so prominently right at the beginning of the GES, Judith Owigar’s achievements are a testament to the fact that Kenya is a hot bed of innovation for social change (contrary to what CNN would have you believe) .

    In this great NPR feature, she says about African women (in tech), “We need them to see that we are doing it and we enjoy it. You know, you don’t find many African women looking for the spotlight. Most of them tend to hide their awesomeness.”

    So in case you’re wondering, I threw together this quick cheat sheet to get you up to speed with the awesomeness of this young world changer who I expect to continue to see seated at the highest decision-making tables in the future.

    • Judith Owigar is the president and co-founder of Akirachix, a non-profit organisation set up in 2010 that aims to inspire and develop a successful force of women in technology who will change Africa’s future. Its programs are developed to reach young women from promary school right through tot tertiary level, those working in technology and those who wish to have a career in technology.
    • Angela O. Lungati, Linda Kamau, Marie Githinji are her fellow founders. (Read more about all four of them here)
    • Owigar is also the founder of JuaKali - a listing and networking service which creates livelihood opportunities by linking skilled workers from the informal sector with on demand clients. It allows workers to show their expertise on an online platform. The service can be accessed both on web and mobile platforms.
    • While her role at Akirachix is more instructional JuaCali a University of Nairobi MSC graduate gives Owigar the opportunity to roll up her sleeves and put her tech solution skills to practical use.
    • Judith was presented with the “Anita Borg Change Agent Award 2011″ by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology. She has also been honored by the US Embassy in Kenya with the “Unsung Heroes Award”. This was in recognition of the work that Akirachix has done to promote women and in giving them a voice using science and technology.




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    Now Watching: REDRED Balcony TV Performance of ‘For You’ In Budapest

    July 24th, 2015

    M3NSA, the pioneering Ghanaian producer/ songwriter and performer also known for his solo work and conquests with FOKN Bois and Budapest’s seasoned DJ/music producer and instrumentalist ELO, known for his work with Irie Maffia & Sena together are Hungary-based REDRED.

    For Balcony TV here they bass up the streets of Budapest with a rather sweet father-to-child ode For You


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    5 Things I Learned at The MTV MAMAs 2015

    July 21st, 2015

    2015 marks ten years since MTV Base Africa’s first ever broadcast, and the first MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA) staged in Abuja in 2005. For the occasion the stops were pulled out and it showed in the production – a suave, sparkly affair held on Saturday July 18th at Durban’s ICC.

    Ring side at the awards this weekend I picked up on a few things, but these five struck me the most.

    1. Timing is everything

    Being smack bang in the middle of the year, the MTV MAMA suffers from being seasonally out of sync. It’s too far away from the end of the past year to create conclusive awards without seeming dated.  And while African singles tend to have longer shelf lives than average, Dorobucci, this year’s winner of the song of the year came off slightly retro. It’s worth noting the Mavins were present last year to perform the song at a time when it was arguably at its peak.

    P-Square (pictured above) were the rightful winners of the artist of the decade award and put on a typically stellar performance mashing up some of their biggest hits of the last ten years. There’s a less convincing case for their win in the category for Best Group which, as I understand it, ought to speak to the current achievement of said group. And while no one artist or group has enjoyed the Okoye brothers’ steady 18-year (!!!) ascent, let’s face it their finest hour has not been in the last year or two.

    The same would go for D’banj taking home the Evolution Award, explained by the organisers as follows: “a new category honouring established artists who have made an indelible mark on African and global music culture, taken African music to new territories around the world, pushed the boundaries of creativity, and shaped the soundscape of contemporary Africa.” Oliver Twist was four years ago…

    2. Hip-hop is having a moment

    It says something that Best Hip-hop is the only definitive music genre-based category (Best Pop and Alternative is too awkward to count). In the MAMAs’ history this is probably the most visible that African Hip-hop acts and songs have been across regions. One of the night’s strongest performances came from Best Hip-hop nominee KO who commanded the stage with exceptional skill.

    3. Some categories made more sense than others

    Best Live (which I am not sure always existed) is probably the most true to life category when talking about the African urban music scene where sales figures are impossible to quantify and generally underwhelming.

    On the other hand, longstanding linguistic region-based awards have always felt counter-intuitive – given the chance I believe people rate music firstly based on how it makes them feel even before they can understand what’s being said. Best Lusophone, Best Francophone etc in trying to make the awards more inclusive tend to achieve the opposite by othering music that really deserves more mainstream attention. I’d argue for instance that Cameroonian Hip-hop artist Jovi rhymes circles around Best Hip-hop winner Cassper Nyovest and over way better beats too, but being consigned to the Best Francophone corner the chances are greater that he won’t transcend his French-speaking following on this platform.


    4. It’s always hit or miss with the Non-African talent

    Black-ish star Anthony Anderson had his work cut out for walking the path where last year’s Marlon Wayans walked and stumbled…  He turned out to be a safe bet, making sure not to offend anyone, getting the tricky pronunciations right. He was obviously well briefed.

    Neyo did what Neyo does. That Vegas-style EDM R&B, all flash and high energy… he was gracious enough to let Nigerian up-coming singer Seyi Shayi tag on to the end of it so there was that.

    Jhene Aiko, a mixtape singer at best, whispered inaudibly through a 3–song medley that threatened to bring the crowd to a standing slumber.

    5. Wizkid was robbed

    It wouldn’t be a music awards show without that one glaring omission which translates into a pain point for rounds of outraged post-match discussions that follow. In the case of MTV MAMA 2015 it was the absence of Wizkid. To be fair, his nomination for Song of the Year Award with Show You The Money wasn’t going to win. It’s a smash of a single and a milestone one for him as it showed him add a new style to his repertoire, but within the heavily contested category it wasn’t the best one. Elsewhere his other nomination Best Male (which went to Davido) was really any of the nominees’ for the taking. What we really needed was a rousing crescendo (the complete  opposite to the bizarre abrupt ending the show had instead) in which the most talked about young African artist that week suitably concluded MTV Base Africa’s ten-year anniversary spectacular with the hottest song of the past 12 months. With any luck it will be next year’s Song of The Year.

    Get the full list of MAMA 2015 winners here

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    Get to Know: Pink Oculus

    March 4th, 2015

    Sounds like: All the fierceness you’d expect in the love child of Janelle Monae and Azaelia Banks.

    The low-down: First off, you can’t help but notice Pink Oculus (Esperanzah Denswil) is absolutely beautiful. Not just by looking at her but hearing the cocksure lyrics by the Dutch/Surinamese newcomer whose manifesto reads: “I Write, I Produce, I Slay”. Her impression on Belgium’s premier Hip-hop tastemaker Lefto landed her an invitation to perform at one of STROMAE’s post-concert shows.

    The verdict: The menacing guitar on Pink Oculus’ 2013 debut single Sweat in which she exchanges words with her own alter ego, strikes a similar chord to that on D’Angelo’s 1000 Deaths. A song so gutsy and funky we anticipate nothing but goddess levels from her debut album when it comes.

    The take-away: Watch the just-dropped new single for Overdue.




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    Watch: Asa’s New Video ‘Satan Be Gone’ + Her Video Interview With Bloomberg TV

    February 23rd, 2015

    After you’ve watched the video for Satan Be Gone, the lead single for her album Bed of Stone watch singer/songwriter Asa describe how she toiled through the old writers’ block only to discard an entire album in order to arrive at her latest work.

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    Listen+Download: Temi Dollface’s New Single ‘Just Like That (Story)’

    October 29th, 2014

    Back like you never heard before, the drama soul queen Temi Dollface part raps and part sings on this Just Like That (Story) - the first single off her forth-coming EP. Listen to and download the track below she composed, arranged and and co-produced with producer Jo Pee.

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    Watch: Okmalumkoolkat’s Chris Saunders-Directed New Video

    August 27th, 2014

    The second video off Okmalumkoolkat’s 4-track Holy Oxygen I EP produced by LuckyMe signing Cid Rim and Affine labelmate The Clonious. This collaboration came to life during the Viennese producers’ South African tour with stops in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

    The video for Allblackblackkat was directed by Chris Saunders who will celebrate the premiere of the SA-NYC fashion/photography exhibition NOT x Chris Saunders in early September.

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    Spoek Mathambo’s Fantasma Share Track from Forthcoming ‘Eye of the Sun EP’

    August 27th, 2014

    Fantasma have shared the first song from their forthcoming Eye of the Sun EP set for release 3rd November via Soundway Records. Premiered via The Quietus, Sefty Belt features the mesmerizing vocals of guest artist JOSIAHWISE IS THE SERPENTWITHFEET.
    Fantasma, the latest project of South African innovator and creative pioneer Spoek Mathambo, is a five-man collective which weaves together electronica, hip-hop, traditional Zulu maskandi music, shangaan electro, South African house, psych-rock and punk to form a unique, original and fresh hybrid.
    The godfather of ‘Bacardi House’, producer DJ Spoko joins with former Machineri guitarist André Heldenhuys, drummer Michael Buchanan and maskandi multi-instrumentist Bhekisenzo Cele to complete the line up.
    Fused by Spoek Mathambo’s futurist vision, Fantasma pulls inspiration from all corners of South Africa: the sounds and spirits of townships and cities as well as the rural countryside.
    Fantasma’s debut album will be available early next year and a series of live European dates will be announced shortly.

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    Watch 'Power-Ups', The New Video From Sammus

    August 25th, 2014

    Directed by Jay Sprogell (Complex, Fader, Spin, Vibe), Power-Ups is the first video from upstate NY producer + rapper Sammus’ latest kickstarter-backed EP, Another M (June 2014).

    Armed with Sprogell’s characteristically stunning visuals, the video finds Sammus doing some slick space age shit talk over a self-produced soundbed of classic southern trap blended with her signature expansive 8 bit synth sound, all while stuntin’ on a stoop rocking an anything-but-typical accessory in this tribute to Metroid.


    Listen to Christian Rich’s ‘Better To’ Featuring DWNTWN

    May 19th, 2014

    It’s hard to believe it’s already been 5 years since Afripopmag first caught up with the twin sibling artist duo Christian Rich, at the time on the eve of their 2009 album The Decadence. Kehinde and Taiwo Hassan have not let up in anyway. You might have picked up their names in the credits for albums by Drake, Chris Brown, Childish Gambino, Earl Sweatshirt and Denitia and Sene among others. The focus returns entirely for the gifted duo whose charming sumery single Better To features fellow LA dwellers DWNTWN and has us fully anticipating a full-length record.

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    Patoranking Features Tiwa Savage on His “Girlie ‘O’” Remix (Listen+Download)

    May 19th, 2014

    Patoranking, the Nigerian reggae/dancehall artiste that hit us with two enormous tracks (Alubarika and Girlie ‘O’)

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    has returned with a remix to his second hit single. Girlie ‘O’ Remix features Mavin Records’ sultry first lady Tiwa Savage, is produced by WizzPro and is downloadable here. Have a listen to it below.

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    Badi and Youssoupha Rep Kinshasa on ‘#234′ (Listen+Download)

    May 13th, 2014

    Badi features in this tag team I’ve wanted to see happen for some time with the mighty Youssoupha (who, by the way, makes a welcome first-time entry into MTV Base Africa lexicon as he is nominated in the Best Francophone category). In case you’ve not worked it out already, 234 is the international dialling code for Kinshasa. The song is meant for a new compilation on the way titled Talents 2 Kin. The two muse darkly about their home country Congo and Africa as a whole, sampling Congolese musical giant Franco Luambo’s classic ‘Massu’. I’m told Badi intends to pursue same direction, repurposing golden age Rumba for his forth-coming. A good look if you ask me. Meanwhile Youssoupha is in studio also working on his next, Negritude. Expect heat!

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