Ready To Rumba: Congolese Dance Added To UNESCO Heritage List

In this file photo, Congolese singer Papa Wemba performs during a concert at the New Morning. PHOTO: PIERRE VERDY / AFP


The United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO on Tuesday added the Congolese rumba dance to its intangible cultural heritage list, sparking delight in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo-Brazzaville.

A UNESCO summit approved the two countries’ joint application to add rumba to its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list, where it joins Cuban rumba, the Central African Republic’s polyphonic pygmy music, and the drums of Burundi.

DRC President Felix Tshisekedi welcomed the news “with joy and happiness” as citizens from both nations celebrated on social media.

“This cultural jewel unique to the two Congos is recognised for its universal value,” Tshisekedi wrote on Twitter.

“Rumba is our identity! Its international recognition is a source of pride and a treasure,” said DRC culture minister Catherine Furaha.

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Specialists have located rumba’s origins in the ancient central African kingdom of Kongo, where people practised a dance called “Nkumba”.

The word means navel as performances involved a man and woman dancing with their navel opposite the other person’s.

– ‘National life’ –

Africans brought their music and culture across the Atlantic through the slave trade, eventually giving birth to jazz in North America and rumba in South America.

Traders then brought the music back to Africa through records and guitars in more recent times.

The modern version of rumba is 100 years old and symbolises cities and bars, Andre Yoka Lye, a director at the DRC’s national arts institute in the capital Kinshasa, told AFP.

Rumba has been marked by the political history of the two Congos before and after independence and is “present in all areas of national life”, he added.

It draws on nostalgia, cultural exchange, resistance, resilience and the sharing of pleasure through its flamboyant “sape” dress code, said Lye.

“These treasures from Congo and exported throughout the world are part of our pride,” DRC government spokesman Patrick Muyaya tweeted last week in anticipation of the announcement.

Rumba stars are occasionally controversial or mired in scandals.

A French court on Monday convicted high-profile DRC performer Koffi Olomide of holding four of his former dancers against their will during tours.

But the people of both countries say the dance lives on and hope its addition to UNESCO’s list will give it greater fame even among Congolese.

“It is our common duty to promote rumba,” said the DRC’s communications minister Muyaya.

“We are the country of rumba, what will we make of it?” he asked.

ITTF Lists Nigeria, Egypt For Youth Olympics Qualifiers

ITTF Lists Nigeria, Egypt For Youth Olympics QualifiersThe International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has confirmed that 11 countries will contend for four slots available for Africa in the 2018 Youth Olympics holding in Argentina.

The countries listed are Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Libya.

Others include: Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Congo Brazzaville, Congo DR and Madagascar.

The qualifiers for the Olympic Games is expected to take place at the El-Menzah Stadium in Tunis, Tunisia.

Egypt’s duo of Youssef Abdel-Aziz and Marwa Alhodaby are top seeds while Nigeria’s Azeez Solanke and Esther Oribamise trail the Egyptians.

Egypt, Nigeria, 10 Others Battle For YOG Qualification

Africa’s Table Tennis power houses, Egypt and Nigeria as well as 10 others will compete for the four slots available for Africa in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) taking place in Argentina.

The teams, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Congo Brazzaville, Congo DRC and Madagascar will begin hostilities on Sunday April 16 at the Palais Des Sport El-Mensah, Tunis.

In the seeding list released by ITTF Africa, Egypt’s duo of Youssef Abdel-Aziz and Marwa Alhodaby are top seeds in the boys and girls event respectively.

In the draw conducted on Saturday April 15 by the tournament referee, Tunisia’s Bechir Metoui, the boys have been drawn into three groups of four players with the top players in group one and two getting a bye to the semifinal stage, while the top player in group three and second placed players in the groups will be drawn for a knockout matches to decide the players that will battle against the top two players in the semifinal round.

After missing out from the 2017 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) African Junior Championship, Nigeria’s Azeez Solanke and Tosin Esther Oribamise are the only new faces in Tunis and they are both seeded number two in the boys and girls events of the qualifiers.

All the round robin matches will be played on Sunday April 16 while the semifinal matches hold on Monday April 17 with the finalists in the boys and girls event qualifying automatically for the Youth Olympic Games.

Tunisia’s queen of the table, Garci Fadwa will represent the host alongside southpaw, Nathael Hamdoun.

Algeria’s teenage sensation, Abdelbasset Chaichi and Loubna Djedjik will represent their country.

Also another new faces in the qualifying tournament are Ethiopia’s duo of Kalab Bereba and Tamiru Feven Kinfu who also missed the ITTF African Junior Championship.

Table Tennis: Nigeria Qualifies For Rio Olympics Team Event

Table TennisNigeria has secured a place among the 16 men’s teams that will compete in the table tennis event of Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

This development was confirmed based on the May ranking released by the world table tennis ruling body, International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) on Friday.

Nigeria’s men was ranked higher than Egypt to pick Africa’s sole slot for the event.

According to ranking, Nigeria dropped to 27 spot in the world but was ahead of Egypt who was ranked 32.

Nigeria Qualify For ITTF World Junior Championships

Nigeria-male-Junior-table-tennis-teamDespite its inability to feature in the 2015 edition of the ITTF African Junior and Cadet Championship in Mauritius, Nigeria returns to the world stage at junior level after joining Egypt’s male team to secure a place in the 2016 ITTF World Junior Championships holding in Pretoria, South Africa.

Top seed, Egypt, continued their unbeaten run in the competition to seal their place at the World Juniors, after beating Congo Brazzaville in the semi-final to make it to the final at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) African Junior & Cadet Championship holding in Algiers.

Nigeria’s road to South Africa was not without efforts, as the West African giant had to fend off host – Algeria in the quarterfinal before setting up a semi-final clash against the highly-rated Tunisia.

Abayomi Animasahun
One of the team members, Abayomi Animasahun

As the last match on Day Two of the championship, the clash between Nigeria and Tunisia had all the suspense expected of such game, being the deciding match to determine the two first teams to qualify for the World Juniors.

Algeria Junior Open Champion, Tunisia’s Omar Ammous could not save his team from the hand of the Nigerians despite winning his match against Azeez Solanke with Amadi Omeh and Abayomi Animasahun recording emphatic victories over Saadaoui Mootezz and Oueslati Raed.

Omar Ammous tried to restore parity for the Tunisians but the skills of Nigeria’s Amadi Omeh was too much for him to handle as he fell 3-1 to concede an overall 3-1 defeat to Nigeria.

Nigeria and Egypt will battle for the Junior Boys’ team title while Tunisia will be aiming to complete the three World Championship continental slots when they confront Congo Brazzaville in the third place match on same day.

In the junior girls’ team, the semi-final pairing will see Egypt clashing against Angola while Nigeria will take on host, Algeria, in the second semi-final tie.

The winners of the semi-final matches will automatically qualify for the World Juniors while the winner of the third place will complete the continental three team slots.

Election Takes Place In Five African Countries

ElectionVoting is taking place in five countries in Africa which are Benin, Congo-Brazzaville, Niger, Senegal and Zanzibar, in Tanzania.

Nigeriens are voting in a presidential run-off, in which the main challenger, former Prime Minister and parliamentary speaker Hama Amadou, is still in France receiving medical attention, as President Muhammadou Issoufou, hopes to win another term.

Presidential elections are taking place in Congo, Benin, and Zanzibar, where electoral violence marred the presidential elections the last time.

Senegal is voting on presidential term limits that would cut the number of years from Seven to Five for the president, and not allow him to run for more than two consecutive terms in office.

No Support for Nigerian Table Tennis Players – Oshonaike

OshonaikeNigeria’s experienced female table tennis player, Olufunke Oshonaike, has decried the lack of support the sport is suffering in the country.

Despite achieving recognizable success in the last three years, Oshonaike said that she cannot understand why the National Sports Commission is not willing to assist the federation to consolidate on their efforts.

The Germany-based player told Channels Sports that the negligence from the Sports commission is discouraging.

“I couldn’t make it to the ITTF Africa Top 16 in Sudan because of funding. No one has called me to find out why I did not participate and that’s because they don’t care. I had to pay for my trip to Yaounde for last year’s edition and till today, I’ve not received any refund. It’s just discouraging,” she lamented.

Oshonaike, who has qualified for the Olympics in Rio by reaching the semi-final phase at the African Games in Congo said that it is difficult for players to always pay for trips to represent Nigeria at international competitions.

She added that at the moment she did not know the plans of the Commission as regards the Olympics.

“Let’s not even talk about the Olympic Games yet, that one is in August. Let us talk about the World team Championships in Malaysia that comes up next month. What are the plans for team Nigeria? We don’t even know the players that will feature, no one has been contacted as regards preparations or even travel itinerary.

“For a competition as important as the world championship, that’s not the sort of approach we should give it.”

Oshonaike also spoke about Aruna Quadri’s victory in Sudan, the pride he brings to Nigeria and her wishes for Quadri to get corporate sponsorship that will help him take his game to the next level.

“I’m so excited about Quadri’s victory over Omar Assar. I have been celebrating and posting comments on social media. Quadri is a fighter and hard-worker who will go places in the future but without good support, it will be hard.

“He keeps winning for Nigeria and no one has recognized him and that’s not encouraging. He won the trophy in Sudan and it was announced Aruna Quadri of Nigeria, so that means his country must also be there for him. I want to wish him all the best in his career.”

Segun Toriola and Edem Offiong will begin their quest towards securing tickets to the Olympics on Tuesday in Khartoum, Sudan.

Toriola, who has featured at the Games six times, will make history if he can make a seventh appearance at the tournament.



African Games: Buhari Congratulates Team Nigeria

Mhammadu-Buhari-Nigeria-presidentNigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has commended the performance of Team Nigeria at the just concluded All African Games (AAG) in Congo-Brazzaville.

Buhari believes that the performance of the country’s athletes has again highlighted the massive potential of Nigerian sportsmen and women to excel in their chosen areas, against all odds.

He implored the athletes to do all they can to ensure that Nigeria regains its number one position in Africa and the world at large.

Team Nigeria finished second on the overall standings with 47 gold, 55 sliver and 42 bronze medals.

Oshonaike, Quadri Qualify For Rio 2016 Olympics

OlympicsNigeria’s Aruna Quadri and Olufunke Oshonaike have qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games after making it to the semifinal stage of the singles event of the 2015 African Games in Congo Brazzaville.

For Oshonaike, it’s a dream come true as she has equaled Segun Toriola’s record of six appearance at the games after making her debut at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games in United States.

To book her place, Oshonaike defeated Egypt’s Yousra Helmy 4-2 to set up a semifinal clash against another Egyptian Nadeen El-Dawlatly on Saturday September 19.

With this qualification, Quadri who defeated Egypt’s Ahmed Saleh 4-1 in the quarterfinal will be making his second appearance at the games after his excellent debut in 2012 when he made it to the second round.

For the semi-final tie, Quadri will battle against Egypt’s Khalid Assar who edged out Nigeria’s Ojo Onaolapo in the quarter-finals.

Other players who have sealed qualification are Egypt’s Assar brothers, Omar and Khalid as well as Chinese-born Wang Jianan who defeated Segun Toriola 4-1 in the quarter-finals.

The other three players that secured Olympics slots alongside Oshonaike are Egypt’s Dina Meshref and Nadeen El-Dawlatly as well as Chinese-born Congo Brazzaville’s Han Xing.

Nigeria Table Tennis Team Wins Gold And Silver In Congo

Table TennisNigeria’s most decorated table tennis player, Segun Toriola, has given Nigerians something to smile about at the ongoing All Africa Games in Congo-Brazzaville.

Toriola, who was unbeaten all through the tournament, led team Nigeria to a gold medal, following an emphatic victory over Mohamed El-Beiali and Omar Assar in the men’s team.

He believes that Nigeria could do more after victory.

The women’s team put up a strong fight in the event, but settled for silver after losing out to Egypt.

It was two wins from Dina Meshref and a win from Nadeen El-Dawlatly that salvaged the victory for Egypt in an epic final.

Quadri Moves To 43 In ITTF World Ranking

Aruna QuadriNigeria’s Aruna Quadri has moved from 56 to 43 in the September world rankings released on Wednesday by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).

Quadri’s return to the top was made possible following his scintillating performance at the last Czech Open where he defeated top seeded players from Japan and Germany.

In the ranking, Quadri is among the most active players, having garnered 54 points from his performance to rise to 43.

When Quadri was at 56th place in August, he had 2204 points, but moves to 43rd with 2262 points. He trails Egypt’s Omar Assar,  who dropped from 30 to 36, following his second round exit at the Czech Open last week.

Meanwhile, Quadri is hoping for a better outting in his second appearance at the African Games in Congo Brazzaville.

“I am hoping for the best at the African Games because this is going to be second games for me and I will be very happy if I can do so much better than what I did in 2011.

“Also most important for me is to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil,” he said.

He however expressed optimism on Nigeria’s overall chance in table tennis, adding that with the newly-appointed German coach, the needed technical input would be available for the team.

“I think nothing is impossible for Team Nigeria in Brazzaville because we have been preparing in the last two months and I seriously believe that this preparation is enough to conquer Africa.

“In short, we have bright chance of winning more medals than any team and I am sure Nigeria will surprise everyone in all events as we are capable of emerging as overall champion,” Quadri added.

He admitted that it would not be an easy challenge for Nigeria as teams like Egypt, Congo Brazzaville and Algeria are equally good.

“It is going to be very difficult for all teams because the standard is really improving in Africa and for this reason I am expecting a tougher challenge from all participants.

“I think it is going to be very difficult for Egypt to dominate as Nigeria is fully ready for the big war in Brazzaville”.

The 11th edition of the African Games will begin on Thursday, September 4 2015 and team Nigeria will be hoping to impress in table tennis.

Siasia Commends Team Over U-23 Championship Qualification

siasiaHead Coach of Nigeria’s U-23 national team, Samson Siasia, has commended his team, following their qualification for the CAF U-23 Championship.

The team advanced to the eight nation Championship which will be hosted by Senegal in November, after holding Congo-Brazzaville to a goalless draw in Pointe-Noire.

An elated Coach Siasia said his boys played to instructions, only that they didn’t score any goal, as he had expected.

He said his boys played like true heroes and that he was proud of them. The coach said they had made him and Nigerians proud.

Siasia has expressed confidence that the team will get better, as they will have the opportunity to play more competitive games before the championship.