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Egyptian modelling agency ‘decolonising beauty standards’ – The Maravi Post

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Between the frenzied rush of wardrobe changes and photographers readying for shoots, Iman Eldeeb’s agency is slowly breaking new ground for Egypt’s fashion scene by hiring a diverse line-up of models.

Cutting a slender figure, the curly-haired Eldeeb forged an international career in European fashion capital Milan, where photographers told her she was “the first Egyptian model they had ever seen”.

Seven years later, she returned to Egypt in 2018 and set about shaking up a fashion scene where old stereotypes prevail.

In the Arab world’s most populous nation, modelling has long been dominated by “girls from Eastern Europe, with fair complexions,” said Eldeeb.

The 28-year-old said such “obsolete” standards have made it difficult for Egyptian and Arab models to break into the industry.

“Beauty cannot be limited by the appearance and shape of a face and so on. I feel this is a misconception of beauty,” Eldeeb told AFP.

“Hair colour, eye colour, all these things were part of a very old understanding of beauty and this is something we are moving away from as much as we can.”

According to The Fashion Spot, a website specialising in the industry, “models of colour” accounted for more than 43 percent of those on global catwalks in fall 2021 — making it “the most racially diverse season on record”.

Travelling the world as a model, Eldeeb said she sensed a new trend of more diverse faces and bodies was emerging.

Back in Egypt, she and her sister Yousra then founded UNN Model Management — whose name means “rebirth” in the language of the black Nubian minority.

The agency offers a platform for budding talents in Egypt who lack support in the fiercely competitive industry.

“The fashion industry is still developing in the Arab world,” said Eldeeb.

Today, UNN oversees around 35 contracts with top brands including Louis Vuitton, Adidas and Levi’s, making it a leader on the nascent Egyptian scene.

Race issues

Mohsen Othman, a freelance photographer also known as Lemosen who works with UNN regularly, praised the agency for its “daring” approach.

In the industry in Egypt, “we have creative people but we lack the means, and training remains old-fashioned,” he said.

For Sabah Khodir, an Egyptian activist against gender-based violence, UNN is a force for “decolonising beauty standards” and “deconstructing internalised racism”.

“Being more represented in fashion, on screen or elsewhere, can save lives. It humanises you in the eyes of the world,” Khodir said of the situation for under-represented women.

Adhar Makuac Abiem, a model from South Sudan, has long endured racial taunts and insults in the unforgiving streets of Egypt’s bustling capital Cairo.

When she settled in Egypt as a refugee in 2014, she never imagined she would be hired by a local agency.

Often she was told that she was “too black” or “too ugly” to get any work, she said.

But since 2019, the 21-year-old has managed to build a career as a model working with UNN.

Egypt is similar to “the West where prejudices persist about dark-skinned” people, said Marie Grace Brown, a University of Kansas researcher who authored a book on women’s fashion in Sudan.

But that has not stopped Abiem from trying to “become a positive role model” for young black women in the industry.

‘A form of healing’

Mariam Abdallah, 22, who was busy styling her hair before a photoshoot, said she has been doing more modelling overseas than in Egypt.

“We’re not very interested in ‘exotic’ top models,” she told AFP.

Beyond battling discrimination in a highly predatory industry, where there have been high profile cases of sexual misconduct, getting parental consent is another challenge in the conservative Muslim country.

According to Eldeeb, three-quarters of parents fear images of their model daughters could be “misused” online.

There are also concerns about revealing clothing, as well as working “inappropriate hours” for young women.

“Whatever the profession, parents always try to decide for the girls,” she added.

The World Bank says that fewer than 20 per cent of Egyptian women had a job in 2019.

But Eldeeb has managed to secure work visas for some of her models in France, a first for home-grown talent.

Abdallah left Egypt for the first time recently thanks to the contracts she now has with around a dozen agencies in Europe and the United States, giving her a sense of independence and purpose.

For the activist Khodir, the emphasis on developing Egyptian talent for global fashion houses is much more than just good business.

“It’s a form of healing that we badly need,” she said.

Source: Africanews

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There is no ‘insecurity’ in Nigeria – The Maravi Post

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By Tony Ogunlowo

Nigeria has recently been voted for as one of the safest countries in the world to live in. It has a zero-crime rate and you’re a lot safer walking the streets of Lagos than you are in London or New York.

This of course, is one big fat lie!

As part of his Eid el Maulud message to the nation President Buhari suggests “time has come to revise the prefixes ‘rising insecurity’ with ‘declining insecurity’ “. In short, he’s asking us to be economical with the truth. So, in short, the DSS can only do so much to stop the truth getting out and now the Presidency is politely asking journalists to “lie small, small” (- or else?). Twitter is down (unless you are using a VPN) and any other Social Media site used to discuss the rising insecurity in the country can be shut down with a single nod from Aso Rock.

Now, we can’t all be Lai Mohammed, as a reporter/journalist/columnist we have a job – and responsibility – to report what we see, truthfully, for the benefit of the populace. To follow the Presidents directive would be like telling a doctor to downplay the dangers of the Covid pandemic.

The general public has a right to know what is going on in the world around them. If you downplay the insecurity in the country you risk lulling people into a false sense of security and the criminals will become bolder knowing the people have dropped their guard.

This comes at a time when the Nigerian Airforce allegedly had to bribe bandits, with N20 Million, to return an anti-aircraft gun they had stolen but we’re not allowed to report it, Wall Street Journal dey lie!

A journalist code of ethnic’s states that a journalist must serve the people with devotion, educate while avoiding sensationalism without distorting or manipulating the facts.

So in the past 48  hours of ‘declining insecurity’ in Nigeria the following has happened:

  • 43 people killed in a Bandit attack in Sokoto state.
  • 10 bandits killed in Giwa LG, Kaduna.
  • Village head kidnapped in Katsina.
  • The NDLEA made more than 700 arrests.
  • Bandits kill 12 in Zamfara.

…and that’s not taking into account all the other ‘minor’ crimes like the Fulani herdsmen going on the rampage, again, and everywhere; cultists killing one another in running battles across the country; armed robbers having a field day in Lagos, kidnappers etc,etc.

In 2019 I wrote an article entitled “ The Death of Free Speech in Africa” (https://naijagists.com/the-death-of-free-speech-in-africa/) in which I pointed out that African leaders were back to their old tricks of controlling the media and this was before the Twitter ban in Nigeria: control the media and you can control the people forever. It works well in North Korea, China, Russia and some African countries and now its slowly becoming practice again in Nigeria. Again, its being brought back by the same man who in 1984 tried to repress the press with the infamous Decree 4.

So, in my article next month I’ll be writing that the glorious Nigerian Army has exterminated all but five members of the dreaded Boko Haram: Governor Nasir el-Rufai has announced that Kaduna state is finally bandit free; the South-East is the most peaceful – and safest – place to live in Nigeria and all yahoo-yahoo boys and cultists are being rounded up.

I wish!

Follow me on Twitter: @Archangel641 or visit http://www.archangel641.blogspot.co.uk

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Sudan: Rival protest leaders call for peace – The Maravi Post

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Rival Sudanese protest leaders on Wednesday urged their supporters to remain peaceful, on the eve of a critical day of demonstrations over the fate of the country’s fragile transition to civilian rule.

Opposing factions of the civilian umbrella Forces for Freedom and Change, including a pro-military splinter group, have called for competing rallies Thursday.

The civilian umbrella alliance spearheaded nationwide demonstrations in 2019 that led to the ouster of president Omar al-Bashir.

The FFC’s mainstream faction has supported the government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Sudan’s transition to civilian rule, while a breakaway faction has demanded the dissolution of his government.

Protesters from the splinter faction have been holding a sit-in outside Khartoum’s presidential palace for the past five days and have been calling for “military rule”.

Some have urged General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan — who chairs Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, a body made up of both civilian and military figures — to take over.

Ali Ammar, a protest leader from the mainstream FFC faction, urged Sudanese “to fill the streets (Thursday) across the country to safeguard the civilian rule and democratic transition”.

“Our protest will not come near the presidential palace or the cabinet building, so there would be no friction with protesters (there),” he told a press conference Wednesday.

Nasr al-din Mohammed, another leader from the mainstream faction, urged for the protest to be “peaceful”.

Meanwhile former rebel leader Mini Minawi, a key figure in the splinter faction, urged pro-army supporters to maintain order at their protest on Thursday.

“October 21 is a day of tolerance, not of incitement or violence,” he told a separate press conference.

Finance minister and ex-rebel leader Gibril Ibrahim, also associated with the breakaway faction, “rejected resorting to any form of violence” during the pro-army protests.

Critics have alleged that members of the military and security forces are driving the pro-army protests and that counter-revolutionary sympathisers with the former regime are also involved.

The rising tensions come as Sudan reels from deep political splits.

Premier Hamdok has described the crisis as “the worst and most dangerous” the country has faced during the post-Bashir transition.

Sudan said last month it had thwarted a coup attempt that it blamed on both military officers and civilians linked to Bashir’s regime.

On Wednesday, the US embassy in Khartoum voiced “strong US support for Sudan’s democratic transition” and urged protesters to be “peaceful”.

Senior US diplomat Payton Knopf also met with officials including Hamdok in Khartoum ahead of a visit by US special envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman at the end of the week.

Hamdok said he wanted to “follow through on the objectives of the revolution”, according to a statement.

Burhan on Wednesday insisted on the “partnership between civilians and the military”, after earlier this week expressing commitment to the transition to civilian rule.

Source: Africanews

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Madagascar: Severe drought could spur world’s first climate change famine – The Maravi Post

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The region has been hit hard by successive years of severe drought, forcing families in rural communities to resort to desperate measures just to survive. 

Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, has a unique ecosystem which includes animals and plants found nowhere else on the planet. The country experiences a dry season, usually from May to October, and a rainy season that starts in November.  

Daily life disrupted 

However, climate change has disrupted the cycle, affecting smallholder farmers and their neighbours, said Alice Rahmoun, WFP Communications Officer in the capital, Antananarivo, speaking to UN News on Thursday. 

“There is of course less rain, so when there is the first rain, they can maybe have hope and sow some seeds. But one little rain is not a proper rainy season,” she said.  

“So, what we can say is that the impacts of climate change are really stronger and stronger….so harvests fail constantly, so people don’t have anything to harvest and anything to renew their food stocks.” 

Varying impacts 

Ms. Rahmoun was recently in southern Madagascar, where WFP and partners are supporting hundreds of thousands of people through short and long-term assistance.   

The impact of the drought varies from place to place, she said. While some communities have not had a proper rainy season for three years, the situation might be even worse 100 kilometres away.  

She recalled seeing villages surrounded by dried-out fields, and tomato plants which were “completely yellow, or even brown”, from lack of water.  

Surviving on locusts 

“In some areas they are still able to plant something, but it’s not easy at all, so they are trying to grow sweet potatoes.  But in some other areas, absolutely nothing is growing right now, so people are just surviving only eating locusts, eating fruits and cactus leaves,” said Ms. Rahmoun.   

“And, just as an example, cactus leaves are usually for cattle; it is not for human consumption.”   

The situation is even more dire because, she added, “even the cactus are dying from the drought, from the lack of rain and the lack of water, so it’s really, really worrying”. 

Every month, WFP provides food assistance to 750,000 people in Southern Madagascar

© WFP/Krystyna Kovalenko

Every month, WFP provides food assistance to 750,000 people in Southern Madagascar

Families barely coping  

The plight of families is also deeply troubling. “People have already started to develop coping mechanisms to survive,” she said.  

“And that means that they are selling cattle, for example, to get money to be able to buy food, when before, they were able to get food and feed themselves from their own field production, so it’s really changing the daily life for people.” 

Valuable assets such as fields, or even houses, are also put up for sale.  Some families have even pulled their children out of school. 

“It’s also a strategy right now to gather the family’s forces on finding income-generating activities involving children, so this has obviously a direct impact on education,” Ms. Rahmoun said. 

Providing life-saving aid 

WFP is collaborating with humanitarian partners, and the Malagasy Government, to provide two types of response to the crisis.  Some 700,000 people are receiving life-saving food aid, including supplementary products to prevent malnutrition. 

“The second one is more long-term response to allow local communities to be able to prepare for, respond to and recover from climate shocks better,” said Ms. Rahmoun. “So, this includes resilience projects such as water projects.  We’re doing irrigation canals, reforestation and even microinsurance to help smallholder farmers to recover from a lost harvest, for example.” 

WFP ultimately aims to support up to one million people between now and April, and is seeking nearly $70 million to fund operations.  “But we are also involving more partners to find and fund climate change solutions for the community to adapt to the impacts of climate change in southern Madagascar.” 

COP26: Prioritize adaptation 

In just over a week, world leaders will gather in Glasgow, Scotland, for the COP26 UN climate change conference, which UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called the last chance to “literally turn the tide” on an ailing planet. 

Ms. Rahmoun said WFP wants to use the conference to shift the focus from crisis response, to risk management.  

Countries must be prepared for climate shocks, and they must act together to reduce severe impacts on the world’s most vulnerable people, which includes the villagers of southern Madagascar. 

“COP26 is also an opportunity for us to ask governments and donors to prioritize funding relating to climate adaptation programmes, to help countries to build a better risk management system, and even in Madagascar, because if nothing is done, hunger will increase exponentially in the coming years because of climate change,” she said, adding: “not only in Madagascar, but in other countries.”  

Sourced from United Nations Africa Pages

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