Welcome to this week’s What’s Trending! We’re excited to share the best snippets of news throughout this week.  Our easy to digest format means you can find out what’s new instantly – you don’t need to worry about missing out if you don’t have time to search for hours through your other favourite blogs,  (though we should be the only favourites!) What’s Trending brings together the best news, events and people on one page. Read on to find out more!

Story of the Week

Lagos, Business and Film

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 The city of Lagos will take center stage at the Toronto International Film Festival [TIFF] Thursday. The commercial capital of Nigeria has been chosen as part of the ‘City to City‘ programme. Each year a city is selected and filmmakers living and working there are showcased. Previous featured cities include; London, Mumbai and Seoul, this year eight Nigerian films will be screened.

“Lagos is entirely unique,” said Cameron Bailey the programme curator in a statement. “The city of Fela Kuti’s music has also given birth to one of the world’s most vibrant film industries.”

“The 1,000 low-budget features ‘Nollywood’ produces each year generate about $1 billion in box office. Now, from that commercial hotbed, a new generation of filmmakers is emerging to both advance and challenge Nollywood.”

For TIFF International Rising Star Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama, global recognition of the world’s second largest film industry has been a long time coming. “It’s about time for Nollywood to start getting the right attention,” the actress told CNN.

“I know our movies get exported, but it almost seemed like it’s because we have [Nigerian] immigrants in different parts of the world. It was still our audience demanding for it. But now a huge film festival like TIFF, this isn’t just Africans in Canada. Now we’ve gotten attention from a major film festival. ”

Human of the Week

Somalia, Film


This week’s amazing human is Fathia Absie, the Somali film maker. Absie was formerly a social worker – she has worked for a number of organizations, including the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services in Columbus, Ohio, the University of  Washington in Seattle, and Voice of America.  In 2013, she joined ECHO, a Minnesota-based non-governmental organization serving immigrant communities.

 In 2011, Absie released her first documentary film, Broken Dreams, centered on youth radicalization and indoctrination. She later began pre-production work on a feature film titled The Secret Recruit. In 2015, Absie released her second film, the fictional narrative The Lobby. It premiered at the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Film Festival in April of the year

In 2014, Absie also published the graphic novel The Imperceptible Peacemaker through the CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. An allegory on vigilante justice, its superhero protagonist and a tech billionaire create a suit that gives him the ability to become an invisible force for good, fighting tyranny and injustice around the world. 

Know a human you think should be featured? Tweet us @Whatsonafrica

Film of the Week

Ahead of Film Africa this Octobermaxresdefault we’re featuring bio’s from some of the films you should be excited about seeing. This week features The Pearl of Africa, a film about love, hate and being transgender in one of the world’s most transphobic places.

Uganda, a small land-locked country in East Africa. Once named The Pearl of Africa by Winston Churchill. A country blessed with its diversity in ethnicity, gender, flora and fauna. Yet in all this richness it struggles to recognise & appreciate this diversity. Enter the life of Cleopatra Kambugu, a 27 year old Ugandan Transgender Woman. She’s biologically born male, but against all odds transitioning into the woman she knows she was born to be.

In the film we get to follow her as she questions gender expression and identity, reshape attitudes and uncover the realities of a people whose existence has been shrouded in myth and prejudice. In a feature length documentary we embark on a life changing journey. We follow Cleo who seeks to shine light on the intricate concepts of her gender identity. She rewrites the story of a transgender woman that has for long been shrouded in darkness and misunderstood.

Dir. Jonny Von Wallstrom Sweden, 2016, 90 mins, English

Have a film you would like featured? Tweet us @whatsonafrica

Start Up of the Week

Kenya, Business

Kenyan startup Shield Finance uses proprietary technology and leverages mobile money to offer underbanked employees affordable salary advances directly to their mobile phones, generating revenue on interest charged on salary advances.

The startup has been gaining acclaim recently at a number of competitions.  In June it came out on top against five other teams at the DEMO Africa pre-pitch event held in Nairobi, becoming the second startup to book its place at the main event in Lagos, Nigeria in September. In July, it was a winner in the finance category at the PIVOT East mobile startups pitching competition in Nairobi.

In August, Disrupt Africa reported Shield Finance raised an undisclosed round of funding from a local angel investor.  Nonetheless, the startup is still looking to raise a seed round of US$350,000 for equity, which will be used to hire sales staff and ramp up its technical capacity in readiness to scale.

Know someone doing something amazing? Tweet us @whatsonafrica

bookBook of the Week (In partnership with AFREADA, Africa’s Literary Magazine

Title: Blackass

Author: A. Igoni Barrett

Furo Wariboko, a young Nigerian, awakes the morning before a job interview to find that he’s been transformed into a white man. In this condition he plunges into the bustle of Lagos to make his fortune. With his red hair, green eyes, and pale skin, it seems he’s been completely changed. Well, almost. There is the matter of his family, his accent, his name. Oh, and his black ass. Furo must quickly learn to navigate a world made unfamiliar and deal with those who would use him for their own purposes. Taken in by a young woman called Syreeta and pursued by a writer named Igoni, Furo lands his first-ever job, adopts a new name, and soon finds himself evolving in unanticipated ways.

Igoni Barrett’s Blackass is a fierce comic satire that touches on everything from race to social media while at the same time questioning the values society places on us simply by virtue of the way we look. As he did in Love Is Power, or Something Like That, Barrett brilliantly depicts life in contemporary Nigeria and details the double-dealing and code-switching that are implicit in everyday business. But it’s Furo’s search for an identity–one deeper than skin–that leads to the final unraveling of his own carefully constructed story.

Purchase here.

Track of the Week


This week’s track comes from the producer Maleek Berry. Maleek Berry has collaborated with many African stars, including Davido, Wizkid, and Iyanya. However in the past few years, the British-born Nigerian artist has stepped out from behind the scenes, and has released some of his best work to date in 2016. Today, Berry shares a new video for upbeat single, “Kontrol,” which finds the singer in a brightly colored room with beautiful women and decorations suited for the beach. Grab your headphones!

What’s your favourite track from the continent? Tweet us @whatsonafrica


What’s Trending is in partnership with AFREADA and Film Africa!


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