Africa Top10 Lifestyle & Travel News

17 Crossover Moments That Highlight Africa’s Influence on Pop Culture in 2018

In 2018, pop culture’s fascination with all things African was on full display with fashion, dance moves and iconic film serving as inspiration for some of today’s biggest stars.

SOURCES: Okayafrica

2Mali’s Fatoumata Diawara Makes New York Times 2018 Best Songs List


With a nod from The New York Time’s music critics, Fatoumata Diawara’s ‘Nterini’ continues to rise on the charts. Listen here.

SOURCES: Music in Africa

3Expect to See More African Foods Thanks to Millenials and Gen Z

According to the Specialty Food Association, the young continue to crave different food experiences, and 2019 is likely to be a boon for African cuisine. Here’s a primer for some of what you can expect to see.


4Petition Asks Disney to Drop ‘Hakuna Matata’ Trademark

With claims of cultural appropriation, a petition asks Disney to abandon its trademark of ‘Hakuna Matata,’ the Swahili expression made world-famous by the ‘Lion King.


5She Wore Every Country in Africa: How Beyonce Slayed Global Citizen

At the recent Global Citizen festival honoring Nelson Mandela, Beyonce’s Africa-inspired fashion was on point and a beautiful tribute to the diversity of the continent.

SOURCES: The Glow Up- The Root

6Painting the Town Red in Kigali’s Former Red-light District

Remera, the Kigali neighborhood housing a soccer stadium and bordering Kigali International Airport, used to be known for little more than flophouses and the city’s red light district. But Remera is coming into its own, with this once-rundown area in Rwanda’s capital now seeing an influx of bars, sustainable-minded bakeries and artist-led boutiques.

SOURCES: New York Times

7Off the Beaten Track in Morocco

Must-do Marrakesh, the High Atlas and Essaouira are some of the country’s most popular destinations, by heading south one can discover three off-the-radar alternatives where you can immerse yourself in Berber culture, mountains and surf without the crowds.

SOURCES: Lonely Planet

8Eco Resorts Blossom in Africa

Zuri was designed to have a minimal carbon footprint, from its low-impact, stilted construction to efficient air conditioning. The hotel also uses proceeds to fund community projects: It’s established the area’s first waste management program, built several wells, and created a tourism training institute to bolster local education and employment.

SOURCES: Bloomberg

9Exploring Seychelles’ Gems

Plants and animals unique to the Seychelles, including the insectivorous pitcher plants can be found in higher sections of Morne Seychellois National Park; just be ready to climb up over 100 m of granite rock in order to see them. The mountain chain that gives the park its name, Morne Seychellois, reaches a height of 905 m and overlooks the city of Victoria — perfect for your undercover adventurer.


10A Journey down the Mighty Congo River

The Congo is one of the world’s great rivers. Along the mighty river you can find precious resources and amazing wildlife found nowhere else on Earth.


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French fighter jet carrying two pilots disappears from radar near Swiss border

A French fighter jet carrying two pilots has disappeared from radar screens near the Swiss border.

A French air force spokeswoman said the Mirage 2000D was last detected in a snow-covered mountainous area between the Doubs and Jura regions.

She said a search is under way for signs of the plane.

The jet took off shortly after 11am local time from the Nancy-Ochey air base in north-east France.

The pilots had been on a low-altitude training flight.

Mountain rescuers, firefighters, police, military units and local residents joined the search effort, according to the regional administrations of Doubs and Jura.

Visibility was extremely low, with heavy fog and snow.

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Bank of Canada keeps key rate at 1.75%, downgrades economic forecast

The Bank of Canada (BoC) kept its benchmark interest rate steady at 1.75 per cent on Wednesday, in a widely anticipated move that reflects a clouding global economic outlook. The central bank also said it now expects the economy to grow at a slower pace in 2019 than earlier anticipated, with GDP projected to expand by 1.7 per cent instead of 2.1 per cent.

It’s the second consecutive time the central bank has pressed the pause button on rates. It raised the key rate in October but held steady with its December rate announcement.

The BoC has hiked its trendsetting interest rate, which influences borrowing costs across the economy, five times since the middle of 2017, up from a low of 0.5 per cent.

But as economic headwinds gather, the bank has shifted its message from one stressing the need for further rate increases to one signalling a more cautious wait-and-see approach. While the BoC reiterated on Wednesday that it believes interest rates ultimately have higher up to go, it added that the pace of future increases “will depend on how the outlook evolves, with a particular focus on developments in oil markets, the Canadian housing market.”

The energy industry remains a key worry for the bank after a plunge in Canadian crude oil prices prompted the Alberta government to mandate production cuts that will weigh on economic growth. The impact of the oil crisis is already showing in the economic data, with Canada’s trade deficit more than doubling to $2.1 billion in November, from $900 million in October, mostly due to a 14 per cent fall in crude prices.

“The drop in global oil prices has a material impact on the Canadian outlook, resulting in lower terms of trade and national income,” the bank said. It also noted that transportation bottlenecks are adding downward pressure to prices.

“While price differentials have narrowed in recent weeks following announced mandatory production cuts in Alberta, investment in Canada’s oil sector is projected to weaken further.”

But even outside the resource sector, Canada’s economic performance now looks ho-hum. The latest trade data, for example, showed export volumes falling in eight out of 11 sectors tracked by Statistics Canada. Home prices aren’t expected to rebound strongly from their 2018 slump, while financial markets remain volatile. At the same time, the number of Canadians seeking debt relief is starting to rise.

“Consumption spending and housing investment have been weaker than expected as housing markets adjust to municipal and provincial measures, changes to mortgage guidelines, and higher interest rates,” the bank said. “Household spending will be dampened further by slow growth in oil-producing provinces.”

The BoC is also monitoring the conditions outside of Canada’s borders.

“The global economic expansion continues to moderate, with growth forecast to slow to 3.4 per cent in 2019 from 3.7 per cent in 2018,” it noted.

Growth in the U.S., while still “solid,” will likely slow “to a more sustainable pace” in 2019. However, the bank added, “there are increasing signs that the US-China trade conflict is weighing on global demand and commodity prices.”

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Stormont would have 'veto' over EU rules under British proposals on Brexit backstop

THE Northern Ireland Assembly would have the power to veto new EU rules if the so-called backstop came into effect post-Brexit under proposals published by the British government today.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is desperately seeking to build support for her Brexit deal ahead of a Westminster vote on the Withdrawal Agreement next week.

The backstop to avoid a hard border in Ireland is the main sticking point with Brexit-supporting MPs fearing it would lock the UK into EU rules indefinitely.

The proposals published today are designed to allay concerns over the backstop but they’ve already been rejected by Northern Ireland’s DUP, who Mrs May’s government relies on to stay in power.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson dismissed the document as “window-dressing” and a “meaningless piece of paper” insisting the backstop “has to go”.

Earlier British Cabinet Office minister David Lidington  Mrs May’s de facto deputy said the measures in the document “make clear the continuing place of Northern Ireland within the UK internal market”

He added that the proposals “give the Northern Ireland Assembly – when, as we all hope, it is reconstituted and working again – a veto over introducing any new areas of law and policy into that backstop”.

Under the British government’s plans the Assembly – which collapsed almost two years ago amid a row between the DUP and Sinn Féin – would have a “strong role” if the backstop is ever triggered.

If a comprehensive EU/UK trade deal is not sealed by the end of the Brexit transition period in 2020, there would be a legally-binding commitment to “consult” with Stormont before deciding to either enter the backstop or ask for an extension of the Implementation Period.

The view of the Northern Ireland Assembly would then be presented to Parliament in Westminster before MPs took a final decision on the issue.

If the backstop does come into effect, the British Government said the Stormont Assembly and Executive would then be given a strong oversight role in its operation.

If the EU proposed changing any laws that impacted the operating of the backstop, the UK would have to consent to such a measure applying to Northern Ireland and the British Government has now committed to seek the agreement of the Assembly before signing off on any such change.

There was a cautious response to the proposals.

Leo Varadkar has said it would not be acceptable for Northern Ireland to have a veto over conditions attached to the backstop.

Speaking in Ethiopia, Mr Varadkar said he had not been fully briefed on the position paper published by the British government today which indicated Stormont would be given a veto over new EU laws if the so-called backstop is triggered.

“The existing Irish protocol does provide for an input by the Northern Ireland Assembly already but I don’t think we could have a situation whereby the Northern Ireland Executive or Assembly had a veto power because that would essentially give one of the two communities a veto power over the other and that would create a difficulty,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said the people of Northern Ireland want to avoid a hard border which the current agreement provides for and said ratification for that deal is being sought now.

He said he did not have prior sight of the document before it was published but was given an indication some commitments would be made.

“They did indicate to us some weeks or months ago that they may make some unilateral commitments to Northern Ireland that would not contravene the Withdrawal Agreement but I didn’t have prior sight of what was published today,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said he was supportive of an amendment proposed in the House of Commons today that would give the Uk parliament a chance to vote on triggering the backstop or extending the transition period if a trade deal has not been reached by 2020.

He said Ireland was happy with the proposal and had previously discussed it with the UK government.

“We are happy with parliament making that decision because either way it means there will be no hard border and that’s fundamentally the red line that we stand over,” he said.

Meanwhile, Business Minister Heather Humphreys was asked on RTÉ Radio is she thought the proposals would change anything.

She said: “I think it’s important that Northern Ireland do have a role and that’s why we want to see the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Executive back up and running again because at the minute there is no voice in Northern Ireland”.

She reiterated the government’s commitment to avoiding a hard border and also said: “Brexit is good for nobody. There’s nothing good in this for anybody and that’s why we need to help businesses to continue to trade and continue to carry on as normal.”

Asked about the British proposals a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said: “It is our hope that the backstop will not be used and instead a deep and comprehensive trade agreement that avoids a hard border will be in place by the end of the transition period.

“However, if the backstop is used, it will only apply unless and until a better deal is struck.

“It would be a matter for the UK how it implements it internally and under its devolved arrangements.

“Any measures couldn’t be at odds with what is set out in the Withdrawal Agreement.”

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Dollar drops to lowest since October on U.S.-China trade hope

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar sank on Wednesday to its lowest since October, with gains led by the euro and sterling, as risk appetite improved on optimism over U.S.-China trade negotiations, prompting investors to reduce their safe-haven bets.

After initially slipping following poor German and French economic data, the euro recovered to post its highest in about three months.

News that China and the United States had extended trade talks in Beijing for an unscheduled third day boosted oil prices and broader sentiment. Expectations of more easing in China helped the mood as well, with Asian and European shares rallying.

“As long as you don’t see a situation where there is a negative turn much like what we saw over the last quarter, markets will probably view any trade development, even if they’re not concluded by the March 1 deadline, with modest optimism just because it reduces the downside risk to the outlook,” said Mazen Issa, senior FX strategist, at TD Securities in New York.

In mid-morning trading, the dollar index fell 0.6 percent to 95.341 .DXY, after sliding to a three-month trough.

The euro rose 0.9 percent to $1.1537 EUR=, while sterling gained 0.7 percent versus the dollar to $1.2797 GBP=.

Europe’s single currency briefly gave up gains after disappointing trade data out of Germany and a fall in consumer confidence in France.

A day earlier, regional data showed German industrial output fell for the third straight month, feeding investor concern about a slowdown.

Against the yen, the dollar was down 0.6 percent at 108.183.

Commodity-linked currencies also jumped, buoyed by the recovery in oil and trade talk hopes.

The Australian dollar, a barometer of sentiment toward China, was up 0.7 percent at US$0.7190 AUD=. The Aussie has bounced off near-decade lows below $0.68 reached earlier this month.

The rally in riskier assets has accelerated since last Friday when Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he was aware of risks to the economy and would be patient and flexible in policy decisions.

That eased concern the Fed would be raising rates as the U.S. economy weakened.

“The FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) minutes today, and Jay Powell’s speech tomorrow, will give us an update of Fed thinking and of how much the other FOMC members are in agreement with the Chairman. If the message is still one of willingness to pause, and sensitivity to markets, the dollar won’t get any help,” said Kit Juckes, Societe Generale’s currency strategist.

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Saskatoon Transit ridership rises by 8.4% in 2018

Saskatoon Transit is expecting to top more than a million rides per month in 2019.

Annual ridership increased by 8.4 per cent in 2018, and transit director Jim McDonald said a focus on customers is a key to continued growth.


Saskatoon’s growth plan includes new transit and biking systems

Saskatoon Transit offers new route to medical and health facilities

Saskatoon Transit adding new routes, including high frequency route to northeast

“In order to keep increasing our ridership numbers, we must continue to focus on the customer first,” McDonald said in a statement.

“The key to our success is overall improved service, a better customer experience and technology that supports both.”

After a decline in 2016, transit had a ridership increase of roughly two per cent in 2017, and 8.4 per cent in the first 11 months of 2018.

McDonald said the increase is remarkable given ridership has fallen or only risen incrementally in many markets.

“Any increase in ridership is encouraging to see, but 8 per cent is incredible,” he said.

“It shows people are recognizing transit as a viable alternative.”

McDonald said work continues on implementing a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.

“Changes already made will support a successful BRT system in Saskatoon,” he said.

“The new system, which features a plan for crisscrossing, high-frequency routes, will connect different parts of the city.”

More high-frequency routes were added by Saskatoon Transit in 2018, and officials will undertake a bus stop audit in 2019 to ensure bus stops are located appropriately around the city.

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Gonan Segev: Former Israeli minister who spied for Iran gets 11 years in jail

Gonan Segev confessed to charges of severe espionage and passing information to an enemy.

Segev served as energy minister under former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in the mid-1990s and was previously jailed for trying to smuggle ecstasy tablets into the country.

He was extradited from Equatorial Guinea and arrested in Israel last May on suspicion of acting as an agent for Iranian intelligence and relaying information about the “energy market and security sites in Israel”.

Shin Bet, Israel’s security service, initially said Segev had met with his operators twice in Iran and with Iranian agents in hotels and apartments around the world.

A gagging order has been issued on most of the details, but Israel’s justice ministry said an 11-year sentence had been agreed as part of a plea bargain.

Israel considers Iran its biggest threat, citing Iranian calls for Israel’s destruction, its support for groups like Hezbollah and the development of long-range missiles.

Israel has carried out a number of airstrikes on Iranian forces in Syria recently.

In August, Iran’s intelligence minister bragged on state television about recruiting a former cabinet-level official from a “hostile” country but did not mention Israel or Segev.

Segev’s lawyers said they could not discuss all the details of the case, but included in his plea deal was a removal of the charge of treason.

They added: “Indeed, Mr Segev did have contact with the Iranians but his motive was not to ‘aid an enemy during war’.”

Segev had been arrested in 2004 for attempting to smuggle 32,000 ecstasy tablets from the Netherlands to Israel using an expired diplomatic passport.

He also used to be a doctor and had his medical licence revoked.

He was released from prison in Israel in 2007 and had been living in Africa recently.

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Police investigating after safe reported stolen from Barrie business

Police are investigating after a safe was reported stolen from a business in Barrie.

According to Barrie police, sometime overnight between Nov. 28 and Nov. 29, a business on Bryne Drive was reportedly broken into.

Police say two suspects gained access to the business through the front door. Once inside, officers say the suspects located and removed a safe containing an undisclosed amount of money.

According to police, the suspects drove a Honda CRV.

Officers say the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 705-725-7025 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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Beauty queen defiant amid racist abuse

The first dark-skinned winner of the Miss Algeria beauty pageant has hit back at critics who have hurled racial abuse at her on social media.

“I will not back down because of the people who criticised me,” Khadija Ben Hamou told Algerian news site TSA.

Slurs about her skin colour, nose and lips have been made about her on Facebook and Twitter.

Darker-skinned Algerians face discrimination in the North African state.

Ms Ben Hamou, who comes from the southern Adrar region, said that she was proud of her identity and winning the competition.

“I am honoured that I have achieved my dream, and I am honoured by the state of Adrar where I come from,” she said.

“I also encourage the girls of my region to participate in the competition if they wish to do so,” she added.

Ms Ben Hamou took part in 20 rounds of the competition before being crowned Miss Algeria 2019 on Saturday.

Her critics said she did not represent the beauty of Algeria, but she has received support from others on social media.

This beautiful lady is Khadija Ben Hamou. She was just chosen Miss Algeria 2019.

Sadly some users on Arab twitter are attacking & insulting her because she is a woman of color.

You are stunning Khadija.

Let's show her some love. ❤#خديجة_بن_حمو@akhbar

End of Twitter post by @jenanmoussa

Khadija Ben Hamou is the first black woman to win the title of Miss Algeria Beauty Pageant.
You are Beautiful..Don't let all the negative racist things some of your people are saying weigh you down. You are blessed. Keep shinning. Black is Beautiful.

End of Twitter post by @hugoseal

Ms Ben Hamou told TSA, “Do not judge people without their knowledge, there is no difference between black and white.”

Miss Algerie, the pageant organiser, said it deplored “the racist behaviour and comments of several people as a result of publications and retouched photos”.

Why black women are taunted in North Africa

By Mouna Ba, BBC Arabic

Beauty in Algeria and other North African countries is related to the colour of your skin – the whiter you are, in the view of many people in the region, the more beautiful you are.

So when some Algerians realised that Miss Algeria – who is going to represent them internationally – was black it was a shock for them. The abuse Ms Ben Hamou received on social media referenced her skin colour and mocked the shape of her nose and lips. Some said she looked like a man.

Black women also are taunted in my country, Morocco, about their skin colour, especially when they are younger. Some people use the N-word for example. It happened to me a lot in my school.

The problem in North Africa is that you get the feeling that people do not even realise that they are being racist when they talk in this manner. Ms Ben Hamou’s experience may open people’s eyes about the problem of racism, but I doubt it will change attitudes.

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Ontario government launches public consultations on auto insurance system review

TORONTO – The Ontario government is reviewing the province’s auto insurance system in a bid to lower rates for drivers.

It says it will examine practices in other jurisdictions to find ways to make improvements and introduce more competition in the system.

The Progressive Conservative government also says it will consult with drivers, insurance companies and other stakeholders until Feb. 15 to find ways to lower rates.

A report commissioned by the previous Liberal government found in 2016 that Ontario had the most expensive auto insurance premiums in Canada despite also having one of the lowest levels of accidents and fatalities.

The Liberals had promised an average decrease of 15 per cent in insurance rates by August of 2015 and when that self-imposed deadline passed, then-premier Kathleen Wynne admitted it had been what she called a “stretch goal.”

Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said the government will also create a regulatory framework that allows for modernization in the auto insurance sector.

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