First Black Woman Enters Cannes Race With ‘Migrant Ghost’ Story

French-Senegalese actress and film director Mati Diop poses during a photocall for the film “Atlantics (Atlantique)” at the 72nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 17, 2019. PHOTO: Valery HACHE / AFP


A black woman has entered the race for Cannes’s coveted Palme d’Or top prize for the first time in its 72-year history, with a moving ghost story about migrants dying at sea while trying to reach Europe.

Mati Diop, 36, grew up in France and belongs to a Senegalese artistic dynasty including her uncle, acclaimed director Djibril Diop Mambety, and her father, musician Wasis Diop.

She told AFP after the red-carpet premiere of “Atlantics” that it was while she was making a short film in Senegal a decade ago that she began to wrestle with the tragic push-and-pull factors leading Africans to flee the continent.

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“I was spending time in Dakar at the time and was struck by the complex and sensitive realities of the phenomenon we called at the time ‘illegal emigration’,” she said.

“Once I had finished my (short) film, I felt I still had a lot of dimensions and issues to explore. I had the desire and the idea to tell the story of youth disappearing into the sea, through the perspective of a young woman.”

She chose a Romeo and Juliet story of star-crossed young lovers, but with a supernatural twist.

The heroine of the film is Ada, growing up in a poor district of Dakar.

Although her parents have arranged her marriage to a wealthy young man, Ada has already fallen in love with Souleiman, a builder who’s been cheated out of his salary by a corrupt developer.

He and a group of fellow workers decide their only future lies in Europe and set off in a motorised boat known as a pirogue for the Atlantic.

 ‘Wait this long’

News of the boat’s sinking and the death of its passengers reaches home but Ada can’t quite believe Souleiman is gone.

Suddenly her friends start seeing him everywhere around town and Ada receives mysterious text messages on her mobile, while more and more people come down with an inexplicable fever.

Their affliction, which also leads victims’ irises to turn white, turns out to be a visitation of the souls of the dead, with Souleiman entering the body of a policeman.

The supernatural tale of love beyond death, which garnered strong reviews, drew comparisons to “Personal Shopper”, the arthouse hit starring Kristen Stewart, and even the 1990 blockbuster “Ghost”.

But the migrant crisis, in which nearly 2,300 people died trying to reach the shores of European countries last year according to the UN, adds political heft and moral urgency to the film.

Diop said that while the weight of the tragic situation was difficult to bear, she seized on the character of Ada, a young women who “wakes up to a new dimension of herself”, as a ray of light.

Asked about her own role as a trailblazer at Cannes, Diop told reporters the news had “quite honestly made me sad at first because we had to wait this long.”

Just four of the 21 directors vying for the Palme d’Or are women.

 ‘So excited’

She said she had had an “urgent need” to feel more represented on screen and see more people who look like her behind the camera, telling fresh stories.

“As a black woman I really missed black figures and black characters cruelly. And that’s also why I made this film: I needed to see black people on screen — huge, everywhere,” she laughed.

“It’s also something new. I can’t believe when I go to see a Jordan Peele movie… I can’t even believe what I’m feeling,” she said, referring to the Oscar-winning African-American filmmaker behind “Get Out” and “Us”.

“I’m so excited, I’m looking at how many black people are in the room — I almost count them… it’s a little hysterical.”

Diop said Cannes as the world’s biggest film festival had the power to help transform the industry by knocking down barriers for previously excluded groups.

“Hopefully it will be more and more common that black people are in front of characters of the same colour. Inshallah (God willing),” she said.


Senegal Wants Restitution Of ‘All’ Its Artwork – Minister

The Museum of Black Civilisations (MCN) is presented to the press on November 27, 2018, in Dakar ahead of its opening set for December 6, 2018.


Senegal’s culture minister called on Tuesday for the restitution of all Senegalese artwork by France, following a French report urging the return of African art treasures.

The recommendations in the report by French and African experts, commissioned by President Emmanuel Macron and released last week, could potentially affect tens of thousands of works acquired during French colonisation of Sub-Saharan Africa.

The culture minister of former French colony Senegal said his country was ready to work with France to find a solution, but they are looking for complete restitution.

“If you have 10,000 pieces (of art identified from Senegal), we want to have the 10,000,” Abdou Latif Coulibaly told journalists.

Coulibaly made his comments on Senegalese art at a presentation about Dakar’s new “cultural jewel,” the Museum of Black Civilisations (MCN), which will be inaugurated on December 6.

The museum “has everything you want,” added its director Hamady Bocoum at the news conference.

It features vestiges of the first hominids who appeared in Africa several million years ago to the latest contemporary art in collections of paintings and sculpture.

The museum was built with a donation from China of some 20 billion CFA francs (30.5 million euros, $34.6 million), Coulibaly told AFP.

The architecture was inspired by African round huts, in particular, those in the Casamance region of southern Senegal, Bocoum said.

The idea of a museum featuring the civilisations of black Africa was originally proposed by Senegal’s late poet-president Leopold Sedar Senghor during a world festival of black artists in Dakar in 1966.

Crowd Violence Claims Eight Lives In Senegal Stadium

At least eight people were killed on Saturday in a stampede in a soccer stadium in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, during a match between two local teams, the sports minister said.

A fight broke out between fans of rivals US Ouakam and Stade de Mbour at the Demba Diop stadium and police fired tear gas to break it up. The resulting confusion triggered the stampede, Sports Minister Matar Ba told Reuters by telephone.

Deadly stampedes at soccer matches have been common in Africa, where safety standards are low. At least 17 people died and scores were injured in a stampede in a match in Angola in February when hundreds of supporters stormed the stadium.

UNICEF Says About 50,000 IDP Kids Are Malnourished

UNICEF Says About 50, 000 IDP Kids Are MalnourishedThe United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) estimates that nearly 50,000 children are severely malnourished as a result of the food insecurity.

UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Omar Abdi, stated this in Maiduguri after a tour of camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) both within and outside the Borno State capital.

Mr Abdi led a team of UNICEF officials from the offices in New York, Dakar and Abuja to undertake an on-the-spot needs assessment among the affected population.

“We have scaled up our programmes in working with other partners and supporting government efforts. So far the nutrition community has reached 12,000 children that are severely malnourished per month.

“We need to quadruple that number in order to reach all of the children that are severely malnourished. If they are not treated quickly, they are at risk of dying both from malnutrition and from other diseases such as diarrhoea and malaria and so on,” he said

The UNICEF team is also concerned about the education and access to clean water for thousands of children affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria.

According to the UNICEF Regional Director, Marie Pierre Poirier, access to clean water was another area of concern.

“The Thing that we have seen over the last days that is really strong is how the response in Nigeria to deal with this food insecurity tries to capitalise and attack the problem from different angle.

“So good distribution is very important but that’s not sufficient to get the kids out of that situation. In every IDP camp, we saw that there was a desire from our Nigerian counterparts with the help of UNICEF and partners to really bring in that aspect of water because if you don’t have safe water, you don’t have hygiene and you will create conditions where children cannot maintain the food in their body”, she explained.

UNICEF said even though resources are scarce and the time is short, there is a need to take advantage of any opportunity to tackle the problem.

The agency expressed readiness to increase its support and fill the gaps they have observed in their tours.

Gambia Election: Jammeh Given Final Chance To Resign

Gambia Election: Jammeh Given Last Chance To ResignWest African leaders have given Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh, what they say, is a final opportunity to cede power after Senegalese troops entered the Gambia.

Mr Jammeh has been given until 12 noon on Friday to leave office or be forced out by un-backed regional military.

Troops have however been told to halt their advance until the deadline passes.

The Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), is acting in support of Adama Barrow, who was sworn in as the new Gambian President on Thursday in neighbouring Senegal.

Meanwhile, last-ditch mediation talks, led by Guinea’s President, Alpha Conde, are due on Friday morning.

Chairman of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel Alain De Souza, has however said that if the meeting with Mr Conde proved unsuccessful, then militarily action would follow.

NPFL Match Day 2: Enyimba, Nasarawa and Akwa Matches Rescheduled

EnyimbaMatch Day 2 fixtures involving three clubs in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) have been rescheduled and will now be played on March 16, 2016.

The fixtures are Akwa United versus Ikorodu United, Enyimba International versus Shooting Stars and FC Ifeanyi Ubah vs Nasarawa United.

Chief Operating Officer of the League Management Company, Salihu Abubakar, explained that the Match Day 2 fixtures have been postponed because the clubs will be involved in continental competitions. Match Day 3 fixtures involving the three clubs will accordingly be played on March 23, 2016.

“The clubs were already not in the Match Day 3 fixtures due to their continental fixtures holding on the weekend of February 26-28 but we have received representations from officials of the three clubs pleading to be allowed to focus on their continental fixtures”, Abubakar explained.

Nasarawa United are already billed to leave for Dakar, Senegal on Tuesday for the second leg of their CAF Confederation Cup tie against AS Academie Demonstration Foot. The first leg ended with the Lafia side in a narrow 2-1 win.

Enyimba International will host Vipers of Uganda in the second leg of the CAF Champions League after losing the first leg 1-0 in Kampala. The match will hold at the Adokie Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt.

Akwa United will also play their second leg tie of the CAF Confederations Cup against Vita Club de Mokanda of Congo.

Abubakar said the adjustment in fixtures will not affect other clubs whose games will be played this Wednesday as previously scheduled.

Match Day 1 of the Nigeria Professional Football League recorded 17 goals, four away victories, three draws and three home wins.

CAF: Nasarawa United’s Opponent To Arrive Abuja On Friday

Nasarawa UnitedNasarawa United’s CAF Confederation Cup opponent, Generation Foot, will arrive in Abuja on Friday ahead of Sunday’s preliminary round clash.

The Senegalese FA Cup winners have informed the Nigeria Football Federation that it has decided to take care of their stay in Nigeria, with the implication that the solid miners will also take care of their stay in Dakar in the return leg.

While Generation Foot is campaigning on the continent for the first time, Nasarawa United played in the CAF Confederation Cup in 2007 after crashing out of the more lucrative CAF Champions League.

The winner of the fixture between Nasarawa United and Generation Foot will proceed to the second round, to battle it out with Club Sportif Constantinois of Algeria.

Rio Olympic Gold Not Impossible – Amoo

u23Nigeria’s Dream Team VI assistant coach, Fatai Amoo, has said it is not impossible for the side to recapture the 96’ Atlanta performance at the upcoming 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Nigerians emerged winners and earned an instant ticket to the Olympics together with runners-up, Algeria and South Africa at the just concluded 2015 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations in Senegal.

However, Amoo said for the present squad to inch closer to the golden performance of 96’Atlanta the Dream Team VI must be overhauled 100% in its entirety.

“Impossible is nothing, it’s quite possible the present squad go ahead to win gold at the upcoming 2016 Olympics in Rio as the 96’ Atlanta set performed in the years back but not under the present scenario that preceded the side campaign at the just concluded Africa U-23 Cup of Nations in Senegal.

“The motivation for this current squad and coaching crew is low compared with the 1996 Olympic team.

“Of course, we must overhaul the team by getting the best players all over the world not overlooking some shining stars in the present squad.

“Things must changed completely in addition to total overhaul of the team as we will be meeting the world best in Rio for us to hope for a repeat performance of 96’ Atlanta golden era,” said the former Nigerian assistant coach to

Amoo said his side surpassed their mandate at the just concluded 2015 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations in Senegal.

“The first objective handed to us by the football house is the Olympic ticket we achieved the target by qualifying for Rio Olympics and we went ahead to win the championship trophy to keep something in the archives and a record for ourselves and Nigerians.

“We are fulfilled as far as Africa U-23 Cup of Nations is concerned the next is the Olympics,” said the former Sunshine Stars coach.

The team arrived the country early on Monday while the contingent was dispersed to their respective homes at various locations.

Nigeria Wins Under-23 African Nations’ Championship

Under-23Nigeria’s Under-23 team on Saturday defeated Algeria in the final of the Under-23 Africa Nations Championship to become African Champions for the first time.

Nigeria opened scoring from the penalty spot through Oghenekaro Etebo after Victor Osimhen was brought down in the 12th minute.

Defender Olusegun Oduduwa put the score line at 1-1 with a headed own goal to help the Algerians get back in the game before Oghenekaro Etebo produced a fine run to score his second goal of the match making it  2-1 for Nigeria in the 40th minute.

Algeria were awarded their own penalty in the second half after Oduduwa again fouled an Algerian player but the Nigerian goalkeeper, Emmanuel Daniel, became the hero as he saved Zinedine Ferhat’s effort.

Oghenekaro Etebo finished as the tournament’s top scorer.

Nigeria’s semi final victory over hosts, Senegal had ensured they also qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Saturday’s final clash at the Stade Léopold Sédar Senghor in Dakar, Senegal, was third time Nigeria and Algeria have met at the Under-23 level since the inaugural competition in Morocco in 2011.

Nigeria thrashed the North Africans 4-1 four years ago, before they played a goalless draw in a group game at the just concluded tournament in Senegal.


Dream Team Not Under Pressure – Siasia

siasiaDream Team VI Coach, Samson Siasia, has revealed that his team will go into Saturday’s final game against Algeria in a more relaxed mood, after qualifying for Rio 2016 Olympics.

Siasia said he is very happy to be in the finals of the CAF U-23 Nations Cup.

He said that the tournament has been a very long journey, with a lot of ups and downs.

The team captain, Azubuike Okechukwu, who just served out his one -match suspension, dismissed insinuations that the players are under pressure to win the Africa U-23 Cup of Nations, but that they will ensure they do the country proud.

Taiwo Awoniyi will also be feature in the Algeria clash. The striker is back in training after an ankle injury kept him out of Wednesday’s semi-final against hosts, Senegal.

Nigeria will lock horns with Algeria at the Stade Léopold Sédar Senghor in Dakar, 8pm Nigerian time.

Saturday’s clash will make it the third time both teams will meet at the U-23 level since the inaugural competition in Morocco in 2011.

Nigeria thrashed the North Africans 4-1 four years ago, before they played a goalless draw in a group game in Senegal.

Siasia Lauds Goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel For Olympics Qualification

Siasia Lauds Goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel For Olympics QualificationNational U-23 coach, Samson Siasia, has commended goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel, for ensuring the Dream Team VI qualify for next year’s Olympic games in Brazil.

Daniel saved a penalty in the first half and pulled up several other great saves to deny the Senegalese in front of their fans.

Oghenekaro Etebo got the only goal from a spot kick to hand Nigeria a ticket to the football event of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Siasia said he was delighted seeing his side qualify for the final of the 2015 CAF Africa Cup Of Nations after a hard fought 1-0 win over hosts Senegal.

The Under-23 team will battle Algeria for the crown in the final of the championship game.

The Algerians have also qualified for the Olympics after beating South Africa 2-0.

The final will be played 8pm Nigerian time on Saturday at the Leopold Sedar Senghor in Dakar, Senegal’s capital.

Nigeria Beat Senegal To Secure Rio Olympics Ticket

Nigeria Beat Senegal To Secure Rio Olympics TicketNigeria U-23 team, Dream Team VI, have qualified for the men’s football event at next year’s Olympic games in Brazil.

Nigeria picked one of the tickets for African teams after the Dream Team VI beat hosts Senegal by a lone goal to advance to the final of the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations.

The Senegalese did most of the playing in the first half and they were awarded a penalty that was clearly saved by Goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel.

Nigeria created clear cut chances in the second half and the pressure on the Senegalese paid off in the 72nd minute when the Dream Team were awarded a penalty by centre referee, Redouane Jiyed.

Midfielder Etebo Oghenekaro made no mistake from the spot and converted to book a place in the final for the Nigerians in Saturday’s final billed to take place in Dakar.