‘I Got In A Lot Of Trouble, I Had To Leave Nigeria’ – Davido

A screenshot of Davido during his interview with Trevor Noah (Source/ YouTube).

 

 

Afrobeat artiste, Davido said he had to leave Nigeria after his hit song “Fem” became the unofficial soundtrack for the #ENDSARs movement last year.

The award-winning singer featured on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah”, on Wednesday and spoke on different issues, including his recently released third studio album, “A Better Time”.

“I did not record that song thinking that was going to happen. Honestly, it is amazing how I saw my voice be an instrument for the people. It was amazing…I got into a lot of trouble, I got into a lot of trouble. I had to actually leave the country; it was that bad because I got into a lot of trouble,” Davido said.

During the protests, the artiste himself joined the peaceful marches and was vocal on social media.

He said, “They listened, they heard us. They might not have changed anything, but they were shaken. I see a lot of young future leaders coming up – things are gonna change.”

Nigeria has produced acts, Fela Kuti, in the ‘70s, and with rappers like Falz who sing about socially conscious issues. Afrobeat has been used to draw attention to the country’s experience of politics, corruption, terrorism, and abuse of power.

Now popular around the world, the genre has the power to draw global attention to issues affecting African nations.

Speaking on the growing cultural supremacy of Afrobeat worldwide, he told Noah about his first contract with Sony in 2016. The artiste said, “I told them, you guys might not understand now, but in a couple of years this is going to be one of the biggest genres in the world.”

For Noah, Davido and other Afrobeat artistes’ rise to fame has cured the “inferiority complex” that he says he always felt towards American pop culture. The host said, “We were like, oh America is better than us, the UK is better; everything was better than us in Africa.”

Davido, in the interview, reminisced about while schooling in Alabama he will play some DBanj, P Square, Freshly Ground (a band from South Africa), and a couple of Nigerian artistes that were popular then and will get reactions like, “What’s that? Those drums are going hard! They sound good. So, I always knew that, eventually, it would be appreciated.”.

“What do you think it is about Nigerians that made them take over the music scene?” Noah asked, and Davido gave huge credit to the Nigerians in the diaspora who insisted that only Naija music be played when they were in clubs saying for instance, “Play Davido’s music when my bottles are coming out”.

He also attributed some of the success of the genre to the fact that “Everybody in the world has a Nigerian friend”.

Lithuanian Doctors Find Kilo Of Screws And Nails In Man’s Stomach

A doctor takes care of a patient in the intensive care unit. (Photo by JEFF PACHOUD / AFP)

 

 

Doctors in Lithuania said on Friday they had removed over a kilogram of nails and screws from the stomach of a man who started swallowing metallic objects after quitting alcohol.

The man, who was not identified for reasons of patient confidentiality, was admitted to hospital in the Baltic port city of Klaipeda with severe abdominal pain.

An X-ray of his stomach showed up pieces of metal — some measuring up to 10 centimetres (four inches).

“During the three-hour operation with X-ray control, all foreign bodies, even the smallest ones, in the patient’s stomach were removed,” said surgeon Sarunas Dailidenas.

The hospital provided local media with a photograph of a surgical tray heaped with nails and screws.

“We’ve never seen anything like it,” Algirdas Slepavicius, head surgeon at Klaipeda Hospital told local media.

The doctor said that the man had begun swallowing the metal objects over the last month after he had stopped drinking.

The patient was in a stable condition following the operation, he added.

Google Pulls Plug On Plan For Mobile Banking In Pay App

This file photo taken on February 14, 2020 shows the Google logo in Brussels. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
This file photo taken on February 14, 2020 shows the Google logo in Brussels. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

 

Google has hit the brakes on a project to add mobile banking to its Pay app, even as the online financial services market for everyday investors heats up.

The company has ended work on its Plex project but continues to eye ways to integrate financial services, a spokesperson said Friday confirming a Wall Street Journal report.

Plex would have allowed the Pay app to act as an interface for banks or credit unions, allowing users to access their savings and checking accounts.

Google’s development of the project came as a number of internet firms, from Amazon and PayPal to Square and Robinhood, have been riding a trend of providing financial tools for shopping, borrowing or investing online.

“We’re updating our approach to focus primarily on delivering digital enablement for banks and other financial service providers rather than us serving as provider of these services,” the spokesperson said in response to an AFP inquiry.

“We strongly believe that this is the best way for Google to help consumers gain better access to financial services.”

Google said late last year that it was working with nearly a dozen credit unions and banks, including Citigroup, for inclusion in its Plex project for its Pay mobile app available on Android smartphones.

The Pay app allows users to pay for transactions, send money to friends, and store loyalty cards, among other advantages.

About 400,000 people had registered on a waiting list for Plex, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Manchester United Held By Everton In Latest Slip-Up

Everton’s Spanish manager Rafael Benítez celebrates with his players as they hold Manchester United to a draw during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

 

Manchester United missed the chance to move top of the Premier League and needed a late VAR to call in their favour to avoid another home defeat as Everton emerged from Old Trafford with a 1-1 draw on Saturday.

Yerry Mina’s late winner for the Toffees was ruled out by a review for offside after Andros Townsend had cancelled out Anthony Martial’s opener for United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s decision to rest Cristiano Ronaldo from the start will be questioned as the Red Devils have now won just two of their last six games in all competitions.

A point is enough to move both sides level on points with league leaders Liverpool, who face champions Manchester City on Sunday.

Ronaldo’s heroics deep into stoppage time against Villarreal on Wednesday saved United from having a mountain to climb to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League.

But Solskjaer did not risk the 36-year-old with a third start in a week as he took his place on a star-studded bench alongside Jadon Sancho and Paul Pogba among five changes.

 

Everton’s Spanish manager Rafael Benítez celebrates with his players as they hold Manchester United to a draw during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

Manchester United’s English striker Mason Greenwood lays injured during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

Martial’s inclusion was the surprise with Jesse Lingard and Donny van de Beek also left on the sidelines.

The Frenchman struggled to impress in his few previous outings this season and missed a glorious early chance when he mistimed his jump for a free header at the back post.

Everton do not have the same depth of resources in attacking areas as Rafael Benitez again had to cope without his two main sources of goals, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, due to injury.

The visitors still created plenty of chances as Michael Keane flicked Townsend’s free-kick just wide, Abdoulaye Doucoure’s goalbound effort was blocked by Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Demarai Gray tested David de Gea in the first half.

However, Everton’s good work before the break was undone on 43 minutes thanks to a moment of inspiration from Bruno Fernandes as he perfectly teed up Martial to fire beyond Jordan Pickford thanks to a slight deflection.

 

Everton’s Colombian defender Yerry Mina scores but has the goal ruled offside by VAR during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

Everton’s English striker Andros Townsend scores his team’s first goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

– Everton level after Ronaldo introduction –
Solskjaer then called on Ronaldo and Sancho 10 minutes into the second half as he looked to put the game beyond Benitez’s men.

But it was Everton who struck next to expose United’s frailty on the counter-attack.

Gray won the ball back on the left and freed Doucoure into acres of space in midfield, the latter playing in Townsend to fire home his fifth goal in nine appearances for the club.

Solskjaer responded by adding another creative threat in Pogba for Fred.

England manager Gareth Southgate admitted on Thursday that Sancho’s performances since his £73 million move from Borussia Dortmund were not worthy of keeping his place in the national squad.

But Sancho was the most dangerous of United’s star substitutes as he constantly demanded the ball in search of a winner.

Ronaldo’s only chance to be the hero once more came from Sancho’s reverse pass as the Portuguese blasted across the face of goal.

 

Players from both teams exchange words after Manchester United’s Scottish midfielder Scott McTominay fouled Everton’s French defender Lucas Digne during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

Everton’s Brazilian midfielder Allan (R) confronts Manchester United’s Scottish midfielder Scott McTominay after a tackle on Everton’s French defender Lucas Digne (L) during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

Pogba then curled wide from another promising Sancho break to destabilise the Everton defence.

Yet, but for a matter of inches, United would have succumbed to a second home league defeat in eight days after Aston Villa’s 1-0 win at Old Trafford last weekend.

Mina tapped home from Tom Davies’ cross, but the Colombian had just strayed offside to United’s relief.

 

Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba (L) and Everton’s Venezuelan striker Salomon Rondon jump for the ball during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

Everton’s Colombian defender Yerry Mina (L) closes in on Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

‘Mommy Is Sleeping:’ Two Girls Spend Days With Deceased Mother In France

ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY (Photo by Lars Hagberg / AFP)

 

 

Two sisters aged 5 and 7 spent several days in an apartment with the body of their mother who had died suddenly in northwestern France, the regional prosecutor said on Saturday.

“Be quiet, Mommy is sleeping,” the girls told police officers who came to their apartment on Wednesday in the city of Le Mans after being alerted by the girls’ schools of their prolonged absence, the prosecutor’s office said.

The officers insisted on coming in and discovered the body of the mother, who was born in 1990 in Ivory Coast and who had died of natural causes, according to a subsequent autopsy.

The girls were taken to a hospital and were then placed in foster care and were being given psychological counselling.

It was not yet clear how long they had spent inside the apartment with their dead mother.

“We have ruled out a criminal hypothesis,” Mans prosecutor Delphine Dewailly told AFP. “We are now going to wait a few days and then try to get witness testimony from the little girls.”

Philippines’ Duterte Says Will Retire From Politics

Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech/ AFP

 

 

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Saturday he will not run for vice president in 2022 and will retire from politics, potentially paving the way for his daughter to contest the country’s highest office.

Duterte, who polls show remains almost as popular as when he was swept to victory in 2016 on a promise to rid the country of drugs, is constitutionally barred from seeking a second term as leader.

“The overwhelming… sentiment of the Filipinos is that I am not qualified and it would be a violation of the constitution to circumvent the law, the spirit of the constitution” to run for the vice presidency, Duterte, 76, said.

“Today I announce my retirement from politics.”

The authoritarian firebrand declared in August he would contest the country’s second-highest office in the May election — a move critics said was a smokescreen and motivated by fear that he could face criminal charges after leaving office.

But a recent poll by PulseAsia Research showed Duterte well back in second place among preferred vice presidents.

A survey by Social Weather Stations showed 60 percent of Filipinos did not think Duterte’s run for the vice presidency was in the spirit of the constitution.

Duterte made the surprise announcement at the venue where he was expected to register his candidacy. He did not specify when he would leave politics.

His close aide, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, registered for the vice presidency instead.

The tough-talking leader has not yet announced his preferred successor, but many expect it will be his daughter, Sara, who has been the front runner in recent polls.

“He must have realised that if both Dutertes are talked about as running in 2022 then they might stand to lose, given the last survey results,” University of the Philippines political science professor Jean Franco told AFP.

Analysts say Sara would likely protect Duterte from criminal charges in the Philippines, and International Criminal Court prosecutors probing his deadly drug war, which rights groups estimate has killed tens of thousands of people.

But the mayor of the southern city of Davao — a position held by her father before he became president — has said she would not run if Duterte sought the vice presidency.

On Saturday, Sara registered to run for her third term as mayor, state media reported.

But Franco said she has until November 15 to make a late entry into the presidential race — as her father did in 2015.

Sara did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment.

– Election season –
The election season kicked off Friday with candidates vying for thousands of posts from president to town councillor.

The week-long registration process launches a typically noisy and deadly seven months of campaigning for more than 18,000 positions — but the raging pandemic and economic misery caused by Covid lockdowns could dampen the party atmosphere.

Among other front runners for the top job are Duterte’s ally Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, son and namesake of the country’s former dictator, and ex-actor and city mayor Francisco Domagoso — known by his screen name Isko Moreno.

Newly retired boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao registered on Friday to run for president.

Despite ruling himself out of the vice presidential race and announcing his retirement, Duterte’s political future was still not clear, analysts said, noting he did not specify when he would leave politics.

“Duterte is a person whose word is really hard to count on,” analyst Richard Heydarian told AFP.

“Let’s see until the last moment.”

Khashoggi Widow Urges US To Hold Saudis Accountable 3 Years Later

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 02, 2020, friends of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi hold posters bearing his picture as they attend an event marking the anniversary of his assassination in front of Saudi Arabia Istanbul Consulate.
Ozan KOSE / AFP

 

 

Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi’s widow on Friday questioned US President Joe Biden’s commitment to hold the kingdom accountable three years after the writer’s brutal murder.

Marking the anniversary, Hatice Cengiz traveled to Washington for a demonstration outside the Saudi embassy and an evening vigil near the US Capitol where she unveiled a portrait of Khashoggi made out of newspaper columns.

She voiced dismay that days ahead of the anniversary, Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who US intelligence says ordered the killing.

“Is this what the accountability that Biden promised looks like?” she asked at the candlelight vigil organized by rights groups.

“MBS took Jamal from me and the entire world. Will you hold him accountable or will you reward these murderers?” she said, referring to the 36-year-old heir apparent by his initials.

Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi who lived in self-exile in the United States, wrote critically about MBS in columns in The Washington Post.

On October 2, 2018, he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to file paperwork to marry Cengiz, who is Turkish. According to US and Turkish officials, a waiting Saudi hit squad strangled him and dismembered his body, which has never been retrieved.

US president at the time Donald Trump played down the episode, saying it was more important that Saudi Arabia buys US weapons and shares hostility toward Iran.

Biden vowed a tougher approach, declassifying intelligence and imposing sanctions on Saudis although not on the crown prince himself.

US officials said Sullivan traveled to Saudi Arabia, where MBS is also defense minister, largely to discuss the crisis in Yemen where the kingdom has led a devastating air campaign aimed at defeating Iranian-backed Huthi rebels.

Also addressing the evening vigil was the sister of Abdulrahman al-Sadhan, a Red Crescent aid worker who was arrested in 2018 and earlier this year was handed a 20-year sentence after criticizing the Saudi leadership through an anonymous Twitter account.

“They tortured him so bad, they almost killed him. They broke his hand and smashed his fingers until they were disfigured, saying, ‘Is this the hand you tweet with?'” said his sister Areej al-Sadhan, who lives in California.

She said she was hopeful the new US administration’s pressure would win her brother’s release but that changed after Biden let MBS “off the hook.”

“That’s how Saudi officials repaid President Biden’s generosity, by committing more human rights abuses,” she said.

Commissioner Resigns, US Women’s Soccer League Calls Off Matches

(FILES)The top professional women’s soccer league in the United States, under fire for its handling of allegations of sexual misconduct against a head coach, announced on October 1, 2021 that it was postponing its weekend matches. (Photo by Alex Goodlett / AFP)

 

 

Lisa Baird, who was under fire for her handling of sexual misconduct allegations against a head coach, resigned Friday night as commissioner of the top US professional women’s soccer league. 

Baird’s decision was announced in a statement posted on the National Women’s Soccer League’s Twitter account and comes just hours after she said the NWSL was calling off this weekend’s matches around the United States.

“The National Women’s Soccer League on Friday has received and accepted Lisa Baird’s resignation as its commissioner,” the league said.

The decision to remove Baird was made by the league’s board of directors, American sports broadcaster ESPN reported. No replacement has been announced.

Baird’s resignation comes a day after the North Carolina Courage fired head coach Paul Riley for what the team called “very serious allegations of misconduct.”

“This week, and much of this season, has been incredibly traumatic for our players and staff, and I take full responsibility for the role I have played,” Baird said earlier Friday before she resigned.

“I am so sorry for the pain so many are feeling,” she added in a statement. “Recognizing that trauma, we have decided not to take the field this weekend to give everyone some space to reflect.”

Baird was named NWSL commissioner in February 2020, succeeding Amanda Duffy.

Riley’s dismissal came after The Athletic website detailed wide-ranging sexual misconduct by the 58-year-old Englishman spanning multiple teams and leagues since 2010.

Riley was the second NWSL coach to be dismissed this week after the league terminated Washington Spirit coach Richie Burke’s contract following an investigation into allegations of verbal and emotional abuse.

US internationals Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe were among the players who have criticized the league’s handling of the Riley allegations.

“Bottom line: Protect your players. Do the right thing NWSL,” Morgan tweeted.

“Men, protecting men, who are abusing women. I’ll say it again, men, protecting men, who are ABUSING WOMEN,” Rapinoe tweeted. “Burn it all down. Let all their heads roll.”

– ‘A pattern’ –
According to The Athletic, players Sinead Farrelly and Meleana “Mana” Shim had made allegations of inappropriate behaviour against Riley.

Farrelly, who played for Riley at three different teams in different leagues, accused him of “sexual coercion” while he was her coach at the Philadelphia Independence.

She said she had been coerced into having sex with Riley after going to his hotel room following a defeat in the Women’s Professional Soccer League final in 2011. Riley allegedly told her “we’re taking this to our graves.”

In another incident during his reign at the Portland Thorns, Farrelly and Shim said Riley had forced them to kiss each other while at his apartment.

“This guy has a pattern,” Shim told The Athletic.

Morgan, who played under Riley at the same time, confirmed the players’ allegations and said she had tried to help them file a report with the league.

“The league was informed of these allegations multiple times and refused multiple times to investigate,” Morgan said. “The league must accept responsibility for a process that failed to protect its own players from this abuse.”

In a statement to The Athletic, Riley denied wrongdoing, describing the allegations as “completely untrue.”

“I have never had sex with, or made sexual advances towards these players,” he said.

The league’s players’ union NWSLPA said on Twitter that “systemic abuse” was “plaguing the NWSL.”

“Words cannot adequately capture our anger, pain, sadness and disappointment,” the NWSLPA said.

On Thursday Baird said the league was implementing a new anonymous reporting process for players, and team and league staff.

FIFA announced it had reached out to both the NWSL and US Soccer as part of a “preliminary investigation” it was conducting.

“FIFA is deeply concerned by the recent reports in the US made by several players. Due to the severity and seriousness of the allegations being made by players, we can confirm that FIFA’s judicial bodies are actively looking into the matter,” the world soccer body said.

“FIFA’s position is clear: anyone found guilty of misconduct and abuse in football shall be brought to justice, sanctioned and removed from the game.”

US Soccer, which helped found the NWSL in 2013, said it was launching its own investigation.

“We take seriously our responsibility to vigorously investigate the abhorrent behavior that has been reported and gain a full and frank understanding of the factors that allowed it to happen, and the changes that should be made to make sure it does not happen again,” the league said.

Biden Government Urges Judge To Block Texas Anti-Abortion Law

U.S. President Joe Biden gestures as he gives a remark. (Anna Moneymaker/AFP)

 

US President Joe Biden’s administration called on a federal judge Friday to swiftly block a new law that bans most abortions in Texas and has raised concerns about women’s curtailed access to care.

The controversial statute, which went into force on September 1, represents “an open threat to the rule of law,” deputy assistant attorney general Brian Netter declared in court arguments in Austin.

In its challenge, the US government described the ban as “a truly extraordinary law designed to outflank the federal government and to violate the constitution,” Netter said, adding a “judicial intervention” was necessary to make the law unenforceable until the case is decided.

The Texas law, the most restrictive of its kind in the country, prohibits abortions as soon as an embryo’s heartbeat is detectable, usually at around six weeks of pregnancy, and does not allow exceptions in cases of incest or rape.

In recent years similar laws have been passed in other states but were struck down because they violated US Supreme Court precedent from Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling which guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, at around 22 weeks of pregnancy.

The Texas law is unique in that it empowers anyone to file lawsuits against a person who has assisted in an abortion, which prompted Netter to accuse state authorities of enabling a regime of “vigilante justice.”

The nine-justice Supreme Court, with its clear conservative majority, cited such “novel” procedural issues when it decided last month against intervening to block the law, Texas Senate Bill 8, as pro-choice advocates had requested.

The federal government has entered the fray, citing its interest in upholding Americans’ constitutional rights.

Netter argued that while the United States rarely files suit to challenge state laws, “this suit is necessary because SB-8 represents a thus far unprecedented attack on the supremacy of the federal government, of the federal constitution.”

Attorney William Thompson of the Texas Attorney General’s Office accused Netter of “inflammatory rhetoric” and insisted the law respects Supreme Court precedent.

But Judge Robert Pitman retorted: “If the state’s so confident in the constitutionality of the limitations on a woman’s access to abortion, then why did it go to such great lengths to create this very unusual private cause of action?”

Pitman could issue a ruling soon in the case.

Nigeria’s 61st Independence Day Celebration In Photos

Guard Of honour marching and cultural stunt performers collage. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

Nigeria, on Friday, marked its 61st Independence Day anniversary with a ceremonial parade in the nation’s capital, Abuja.

The parade, which was witnessed by President Muhammadu Buhari and other dignitaries present at Eagle Square, was also broadcast live on national television.

It was coloured with military and para-military marches. Many cheered throughout the performance, particularly when some military personnel blindfolded, dismantled firearms, and reassembled them with great showmanship.

The event’s acrobatic shows, punctuated with both contemporary and cultural dance displays, delighted the audience too.

Below are photos from the parade as taken by Channels TV’s Sodiq Adelakun:

 

 

Abortion Stigma A Possible Death Sentence For Kenyan Women

A victim rape is pictured in her one-room house nest to her sleeping child in Nairobi’s Dandora slum on September 16, 2021.  (Photo by Tony KARUMBA / AFP)

 

 

Victoria Atieno was waiting at a Nairobi bus stop when she felt blood gush from her body, the result of a secret, self-induced abortion — a method used by thousands of Kenyan women, with potentially fatal consequences.

Kenya’s constitution eased access to abortions in 2010 but entrenched stigma about the procedure means that many women resort to traditional practices or backstreet clinics which put their life in jeopardy.

Even a reproductive health counsellor like Atieno — her mind blanketed with fear — ended up gulping down a herbal concoction to induce an abortion in secret.

Hours later, as she experienced a public and hugely traumatic termination, she faced a flood of abuse from onlookers, living out the very nightmare she had tried to avoid.

“People will condemn you, criminalise you, try to chase you out of the community,” the 35-year-old mother-of-three told AFP.

Many women will do anything to avoid that fate, from drinking bleach to using knitting needles or clothes hangers to end their pregnancies.

The results are horrific, ranging from ruptured uteruses, cervical tears and vaginal cuts to severe infections, bleeding and death.

 

A victim of a gang-rape leaves the offices of the Coalition of Grassroot Women Intiative that provides psycho-social support among other services to victims of sexual violence in Nairobi’s Dandora slum on September 16, 2021. (Photo by Tony KARUMBA / AFP)

 

Every week, 23 women die from botched abortions, according to a study by Kenya’s health ministry in 2012 – the most recent available government data.

Campaigners say the real number is even higher.

A report released last year by the non-profit Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) estimates that seven women and girls die every day in Kenya due to unsafe abortions.

In the Dandora slum in the eastern suburbs of Nairobi, where Atieno works with the Coalition of Grassroots Women Initiative, sanitation workers sometimes find abandoned foetuses in the neighbourhood’s huge garbage dump.

Volunteers tasked with cleaning up the Nairobi River in 2019 retrieved 14 bodies from its trash-clogged waters, most of them babies.

Cultural and religious beliefs in the deeply Christian country have contributed towards creating a stigma so strong that even women who procure safe abortions believe they have committed a sin by doing so.

More than a year after Susan aborted a pregnancy resulting from a gang rape, the churchgoing mother-of-four still battles intense guilt.

“People see you as a murderer… it makes me feel like I did something very bad,” the 36-year-old told AFP.

 

Samson Otiago (R), a doctor specialising in reproductive health attends to a patient at his clinic in the densely populated Kayole slum that provides services to victims of sexual violence on September 16, 2021. (Photo by Tony KARUMBA / AFP)

 

– De facto ban –
Kenya’s constitution says abortions are illegal unless “in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law”.

No other conditions or terms are spelt out.

The vaguely-worded document puts decision-making power wholly in the hands of health providers.

So when the health ministry stopped training abortion providers in 2013, access to such services took a hit, and women bore the brunt.

The ministry’s move came a year after its own study warned that a “disproportionately high” number of women were dying in Kenya because of unsafe abortions.

“The ministry’s decision was not based on scientific evidence, it was made against that evidence, evidence which was gathered by the ministry itself,” Martin Onyango, CRR’s senior legal adviser for Africa, told AFP.

Ministry officials declined interview requests, with a reproductive health expert in the ministry telling AFP: “We are not permitted to talk about abortion at all. That’s the policy.”

The ministry was pulled up by the Nairobi high court in 2019 for violating women’s and girls’ right to physical and mental health by halting training for legal abortion providers.

Yet little has changed on the ground since then, leaving the field open for unscrupulous backstreet clinics to exploit women’s need for secrecy.

Ken Ojili Mele’s niece died at 26 after a botched abortion.

Long opposed to abortion, the 48-year-old carpenter told AFP he was filled with regret after her untimely death en route to a hospital.

“Maybe she didn’t want to tell me because she knew I would have been angry,” he said.

“I wish she had shared it with me, I could have maybe helped her find a safer hospital.”

 

A victim of sexual violence hangs her laundry outside her house in Nairobi’s Dandora slum on September 16, 2021.  (Photo by Tony KARUMBA / AFP) 

 

– Silence and tears –
Abortions are extremely difficult to access at state hospitals. Some private health providers perform the procedure, for which the fee starts at around 3,000-4,000 Kenyan shillings ($27 / 23.5 euros). Pills are used to curtail shorter-term pregnancies.

For women who turn to these sources, fear of disapproval and shame can run deep. The silence lingers even in doctors’ waiting rooms.

“In Kenya, it’s not easy to say you want an abortion,” said Samson Otiago, a doctor specialising in reproductive health.

Dozens of women visit his Nairobi clinic every month and most have to be coaxed into telling him about their intention to terminate a pregnancy.

Some start crying before they have even said a word, he told AFP.

Many can’t afford to pay his fees, which start at 4,000 shillings ($36), so occasionally he offers his services for free or on credit.

“Once a woman has decided to do an abortion, she will do it whichever way she can.

“So we would rather do it (for less money) than expose her to quacks and see her again with complications,” he said.

In Dandora, as rape survivor Seline awaited the results of a pregnancy test, she had little doubt about what to do next.

Barely surviving on a monthly wage of 5,000 shillings, the 38-year-old domestic worker told AFP she was determined to get an abortion if the test was positive.

“If the hospital refuses, I will do it the traditional way, with herbs,” she said, her voice barely rising above a whisper.

“I am ready to do anything, as long as I don’t have to have this baby.”

Twin Towns At Côte d’Ivoire-Ghana Border Clamour For Reopening

Street vendors in Noe, a border town between Ivory Coast and Ghana where residents have not been able to cross due to the COVID-19 pandemic on September 22, 2021.  (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

 

 

“Noe looks like a ghost town,” says Eloukou Yapo, a youth leader in the Ivorian town near the border with Ghana. “Nothing moves. Everything has stopped.”

Life here has been in limbo for the past year and a half, since the authorities sealed off the border to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

But the measure also killed off thriving trade and exchanges with Noe’s sister town Elubo, which lies across the Tanoe River marking the frontier.

In Noe, 170 kilometres (105 miles) east of the Ivorian commercial capital Abidjan, many shops are shuttered and the streets are deserted, with trucks and buses standing idle.

A grey gate, the point of access to the bridge spanning the Tanoe, is firmly closed.

Nanan Assi Atchan II, a traditional chief and former policeman in his seventies, adds: “People are suffering greatly from the closure.

“There are Ivorians who farmland in Ghanaian territory and vice versa… They can’t get to their plantation, which could fall into ruin.”

Several hundred Ghanaian traders demonstrated in Elubo on September 2, lobbying unsuccessfully for Ivory Coast to reopen the border.

 

Truck are seen stationary at the customs in Noe, a border town between Ivory Coast and Ghana where residents have not been able to cross due to the COVID-19 pandemic on September 22, 2021. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

 

Stealthy trade

But people in the twin towns have also quietly organised themselves to defy the ban.

They have cut many tracks through the bush to the river, which people cross with makeshift canoes to keep business going.

“My three children go to the English-speaking school (in Elubo) and take the risk of crossing the river, at a cost of 2,000 CFA francs (three euros / $3.50) a day,” says Valerie Botche, a shopkeeper in Noe.

West of Noe, similar problems are being voiced in Adiake, a town on the Aby Lagoon, a key transit point for trade with Ghana.

There, local people say the border closure has been massively disruptive to their lives, but a blessing for traffickers of all stripes.

“The biggest drug seizures have been made in this area,” says Adiake resident Anvoh Bie.

The Ivorian authorities imposed drastic measures as the first COVID-19 cases began to appear in March 2020.

In addition to border closures, there was a state of emergency, a curfew, the shuttering of schools and places of worship, and the isolation of Abidjan, the epicentre of the epidemic.

Some of the measures have been gradually lifted, but land and sea borders remain closed.

 

 Life here has been in limbo for the past year and a half, since the authorities sealed off the border to help prevent the spread of Covid. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

 

Interwoven economies

Côte d’Ivoire shares borders with four other neighbours — Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Liberia — but its economic, social and cultural ties with Ghana are especially strong.

Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire are “twin nations” in terms of geography, population, agriculture and, more recently, oil. They are also the two largest cocoa producers on the planet, accounting for two-thirds of world production.

Côte d’Ivoire, with a population of around 25 million, has been relatively unscathed by COVID-19, but the epidemic has worsened in the past two months with 224 deaths since the beginning of August for a total of 600.

“The closure of the border with Ghana has played a part in the resurgence of a third wave,” said a local official who wished to remain anonymous.

 

Truck are seen stationary at the customs in Noe, a border town between Ivory Coast and Ghana where residents have not been able to cross due to the COVID-19 pandemic on September 22, 2021. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

 

He argues that if authorities “open the border, require the vaccine and a PCR test, there will be fewer cases.”

But Noe’s deputy prefect, Losseny Dosso, insisted: “As long as there is an increase in cases, it would be irresponsible for the state to reopen the borders.”