This week, we have trending news from all over Africa and beyond. There’s so much happening from day – day so What’s Trending? focuses on bringing the most interesting news to you across African business, development, politics and culture – especially trending news and individuals to look out for.

We have some brilliant music in store for you, which includes beautiful visuals centred around Pantsula, a form of South African dance born from the need to express through the oppressive Apartheid Era. It’s gaining more and more attention – a recent example is through the work of North London rapper Little Simz in the amazing video “Gratitude” featuring the Hics and the recent protests in SA.

Whilst last week’s book of the week was more academic in it’s approach, this week we have a popular Nigerian novel for you to get your head into. Read on for your weekly instalment of What’s Trending!

Story of the Week:

Rio Olympic: Culture clash? Or the unifying power of sport?

Egypt, Culture


If you’ve been tuned in to the Rio Olympics so far, you’ll already be up to date with the controversy surrounding the Women’s volleyball match between Egypt and Germany. A sea of opinions flooded social and mainstream media as the world debated as to whether Egypt’s team uniform, which covered the legs and arms also including a hijab, could be seen as a culture clash in comparison to Germany’s uniform which followed a bikini format.

The Times labelled this occurrence as a “culture clash“. The Daily Mail “a massive cultural divide” between “the cover-ups” and “the cover-nots“. The Sun said the cultural divide was not “massive” but “colossal“.

The pictures of Egypt’s women’s beach volleyball team playing Germany went viral on the internet alongside agitated discussion as to whether Eqypt’s uniform choice was appropriate or not.  Whilst the relevance of the topic at all suggests how low the general public’s tolerance is for diversity between cultures, many individuals chose to focus on the similarities during the match rather than the differences – not at all thrown off by the difference between player’s outfit preferences.

Hijab vs bikini thing aside, how much of a ‘culture clash’ is it really if you are both playing women’s beach volleyball at the Olympics?” tweeted columnist Ben Machell.

According to the BBC Africa, CNN’s Bill Weir described it on Twitter as an Olympic Rorschach test, asking: “Do you see a culture clash? Or the unifying power of sport?

What’s your perspective? Culture clash? Or the unifying power of sport? Tweet @WhatsOnAfrica

Human of the Week:

Painter of the Invisible: Daniela Yohannes

Eritrea, Ethiopia, Culture 


What’s On Africa have been following Yohannes for a while, ever since she won the 2015 Film Africa Artwork competition with her visually stunning, thought provoking work. Known as the Painter of the Invisible on Instagram, the Ethiopian/Eritrean artist who works from her studio in Paris, describes her work as a creation that “resonates with her acute cultural sensitivity to the often unseen dimensions of life”.

Born in 1982, she recieved a BA (Hons) in Illustration from Kingston University (2004).  After this, she gained experience in the field, before deciding to make the transition from digital to material canvases in 2010. Today, she says her practice combines painting, collage and illustration techniques.

From first sight, Yohannes’ work lingers behind the eyes long after it’s been witnessed. Her distinctive style of painting uses a profound combination of colour, texture and pattern to create a supernatural experience. An extract from Yohannes ’statement provides an example of how she beautifully describes the nature and process of her work.

My work explores themes of new myth, the dream world, the supernatural and the cosmos. I’m inquiring into the unknown, making the characters in my paintings confront the void, and enter it. I rely on my intuition and dreams as a direct source of storytelling.

My paintings allow me to explore fictional narratives, enabling me to remove all concrete limitation and boundaries. I paint characters that are facets of myself, but not earthbound. In this way I truly liberate myself from social constructs. I am drawn to the threshold between life and death and my paintings often project this great duality.

 My practice has enabled me to turn inward. I make art to try and understand myself, my environment and the greater world beyond. I work with collage and often create characters using beauty magazines from which I deconstruct editorial photos. Once created, the character then dictates the painting. This is the process I enjoy most – allowing the character time to reveal itself to me and lend me the narrative to follow.”

Yohanne’s work transcends that of Film Africa, her work also being used for the Sons of Kemet album cover, (whose amazing music features for Track of the Week).

Yohannes will be on the panel for this year’s Film Africa Artwork competition ending on August 16th.

Find Daniela Yohannes here.

Have a suggestion for our Human of the Week or want to be featured? Tweet us @WhatsOnAfrica

Start- Up of the Week:

The Solar Powered Cart charging 80 phones at once

Rwanda, Business


I was not a job type of guy,” says  entrepreneur Henri Nyakarundi . “I think it’s my personality, I’ve always liked to make my own decisions.” It’s not surprising that his product — a solar-powered mobile kiosk that charges cell phones and connects communities — aims to create thousands of jobs across Africa. It has received numerous energy innovation awards and grants from the likes of Microsoft.Returning to Rwanda or Burundi for holidays, Nyakarundi noticed that while many people had cell phones they often struggled to charge them. His company, African Renewable Energy Distributor (ARED), operates under a micro-franchising system that leases the kiosks to agents. Micro franchisees earn money from mobile charging and selling add-ons such as mobile credit, government certificates and prepaid electricity.
It’s a business in a box,” said Nyakarundi, who moved back to Rwanda in 2012 once his prototype was ready. “I was looking to do something that would not only solve a problem but also had a social impact by creating micro businesses for people.There are currently 25 kiosks operating in Rwanda, many in rural areas where the population is dependent on cell phones to communicate and send money. But after four years of carefully testing his business model, Nyakarundi said he is now ready to seriously scale up. He plans to have between 600 and 800 kiosks in place by the next two years.
My vision is to create at least 50,000 to 100,000 micro businesses across Africa,” Nyakarundi told CNN. We hope Henri’s continues to thrive in his innovative work across Rwanda and beyond!
Know of an entrepreneur we should feature? Tweet us @WhatsOnAfrica

Book of the Week:

Graceland by Chris Abani

Nigeria, Culture


Lagos, Nigeria, provides the backdrop to the story of Elvis, a teenage Elvis impersonator hoping to make his way out of the ghetto. Broke, beset by floods, and beatings by his alcoholic father, and with no job opportunities in sight, Elvis is tempted by a life of crime. Thus begins his odyssey into the dangerous underworld of Lagos, guided by his friend Redemption and accompanied by a restless hybrid of voices including The King of Beggars, Sunday, Innocent and Comfort. Ultimately, young Elvis, drenched in reggae and jazz, and besotted with American film heroes and images, must find his way to a GraceLand of his own.”

Beautiful, thought provoking and poignant Abani’s work has been described as a remarkable story of a son and his father within a examination of postcolonial Nigeria where the trappings of American culture reign supreme.


A richly detailed, poignant, and utterly fascinating look into another culture and how it is cross-pollinated by our own. It brings to mind the work of Ha Jin in its power and revelation of the new.“–T. Coraghessan Boyle.

Purchase it here.

Do you have a book you’d love to share? Tweet us @WhatsOnAfrica

Film of the Week


Ivory Coast, Culture, Politics  

Run is running away. He has just killed his country’s Prime Minister. To escape, he had to take the face and clothes of a madman, wandering through the town in disguise. His life returns to him in flashes: a childhood with master Tourou, when he dreamt of becoming a rain-maker; his incredible adventures with Greedy Gladys; and his militia past as a Young Patriot in Ivory Coast’s turbulent conflicts. Run has not chosen all of these lives. He stumbled upon them, escaping from one existence to another. This is why he is called Run. Fresh from its Cannes Un Certain Regard screening – the first time an Ivorian film has featured at the festival – and after winning the Jury Prize at FESPACO earlier this year, Philippe Lacôte’s captivating coming-of-age drama Run takes centre stage at Film Africa 2015. In his debute feature, Lacôte draws a critical eye on his country’s decades-long political and military conflicts, which have claimed the lives of at least 3,000 people, producing an extraordinarily cinematic and original work of singular vision.

Director: Philippe Lacôte Country: Ivory Coast Year: 2014 Running time: 102 mins Language: French.

If films are your thing, and you’d like to share a film with us tweet @WhatsOnAfrica

App of the Week

Gabon, Politics

Africa News reports: As Gabon prepares to head to the polls this August members of the civil society in the country have rolled out a mobile application that they hope will limit vote rigging.Through the app known as Regab, users will be able to get live updates on the elections and real time vote counting results.

This application will serve us in the civil society to trace and document electoral fraud. However we also hope to especially empower the young people we will send to the field to gather information and collect the results,” says Blanche Simonny Abeghe, the head of UNDP’s anti-corruption component in Gabon.

The app will have no direct links with the country’s electoral commission, and information will be sourced directly from the polling stations and counting centres.Presidential elections in Gabon are slated for August 27, in a contest where president Ali Bongo is expected to face a stiff challenge from the former African Union Commission chairperson Jean Ping and ex-Gabon Prime Minister Raymond Ndong Sima.

Know of an app to be featured? Tweet us @WhatsOnAfrica

Track of the Week

Sons of Kemet 

London, South Africa, Culture


“Lest We Forget” Album Artwork by Yohannes

This week’s track of the week is a gem, not only it’s audible beauty but also for the visuals the track is encompassed by.

Afro-futuristic British jazz group Sons Of Kemet collaborated with South African filmmaker Lebogang Rasethaba in 2015. The end result is a beautiful, stand – out visual piece of historical expression through dance, set against the backdrop of a South African horizon flooded by a sunset. The track “In The Castle of My Skin” takes its name from Barbadian author George Lamming’s 1953 novel about post-colonial identity.  The video was shot in the Johannesburg township of Tembisa, accompanying the bands chaotic, rich and funky jazz composition.

Sons Of Kemet describe themselves as being “born of many vital elements – including a name that nods to ancient Egyptian culture, and a line-up that comprises some of the most progressive 21st-century talents in British jazz and beyond.” Band-leader, composer and sax and clarinet magician Shabaka Hutchings (named after a Nubian pharaoh-philosopher) brings together his fiery vision alongside London-based bandmates Tom Skinner and Seb Rochford (forming a dynamo duo on drums here) and latest addition Theon Cross (taking over from Oren Marshall on tuba). Formed in 2011 the band has gone from strength to strength, exploring the lengths of their unique jazz sound.

Their latest album, profoundly named Lest We Forget What We Came Here To Do, has been illustrated by the talented Daniela Yohannes. Need we say anymore? Grab your headphones and watch this brilliant piece of work.

Have a track you’d like to be featured? Tweet us @WhatsOnAfrica


Have a great week! – WOA Team