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Zimdancehall dreams: the back yard studios helping Harare get heard | Global development

Voice Of EU



Inside a grimy flat in Mbare, Zimbabwe’s oldest township in the capital Harare, about 10 young musicians nervously rehearse their lyrical chants as they wait to be called into the recording booth.

Many celebrated musicians in Zimbabwe have been born out of this old flat. For those here now, this is their one shot at stardom, or at least a future in music.

One by one, they go in to sing under the watchful eye of Arnold Kamudyariwa, a popular dancehall producer known as DJ Fantan, who often stops those singing off-key.

In a sea of poverty, drugs, unemployment and crime, Fantan’s ChillSpot Records has given a voice to young people itching to tell stories of their daily struggles. It is Wednesday at 1pm, and the sounds of Zimdancehall reverberate from his studio in Matapi, Mbare.

Music is a huge source of comfort for Zimbabweans, and Zimdancehall, a local adaptation of Jamaican dancehall, grew from a demand for music that resonates with daily struggles. The infectious lyrics – often a lament of life’s challenges, losses and social ills, like the rising drug problem – have become the soundtrack for Zimbabweans.

Grafitti of popular Zimdancehall artists in Mbare, Zimbabwe
A mural of popular Zimdancehall artists in Mbare, Zimbabwe. Photograph: Nyasha Chingono

Instead of singing in Jamaican patois, local musicians mainly use Shona, and recently some Ndebele singers have also emerged. A product of back yard studios, Zimdancehall is one of the fastest growing genres in the country.

“I think the reason why people like our genre is that it resonates with their daily struggles. If the ghetto is happy, you will hear us sing about that but if people are struggling, we tailor our message,” says Fantan.

Fantan, who traded turntables for the studio, along with his two friends Levelz and Ribbe, has found a new passion in raising Zimbabwe’s singers. From his tiny studio, the young producer creates stars and hit songs.

DJ Fantan and Ras Caleb at Chillspot Records in Mbare, Zimbabwe
DJ Fantan and Ras Caleb at Chillspot Records in Mbare, Zimbabwe, where new Zimdancehall stars are created. Photograph: Nyasha Chingono

“We started off as DJs, we would just play at parties, but one day we realised that there was a need to create music. Our first studio was in my bedroom. Many artists made their hits from there nearly six years ago,” he says.

As the young musicians take turns to record their best chants, another accomplished musician, Caleb Tareka, popularly known as Ras Caleb, looks on.

“Music has changed my life; I would never be where I am today. Now I can take care of my family from the proceeds of the music, but it has taken years of determination,” Caleb says.

“Zimdancehall has taken many youths off the streets. It has created employment for some who are determined. I think this studio has done very well in raising talent and changing lives.”

Amid economic hardships, worsened by Covid-19, young people in the townships have found solace in music. Hundreds of home studios have sprouted up across Harare as musicians work overnight, encouraged by success stories from the townships. With no funding to build studios, they use basic recording equipment to create hit songs.

Michael Moso, a young hip-hop producer who works in his brother’s studio in Mbare, says: “This studio is very useful. It is better for the ghetto youths to spend their day here than on the streets. They become creative and do something useful with their time, so it makes perfect sense for us to have this studio.”

Although dancehall dominates in Mbare, Moso believes his genre will break through. Zimbabwean hip-hop is also growing, driven by the demand for local music.

Michael Moso, a music producer in Mbare works with young hip-hop artists at a studio in Mbare
Michael Moso, a hip-hop producer, works with young artists at his brother’s studio in Mbare. Photograph: Nyasha Chingono

While only a few of these artists become mainstream, the Covid pandemic has led to an increase in those marketing their music online through WhatsApp and YouTube.

Dozens of young people visit the ChillSpot studio daily, but most come from disadvantaged homes and cannot afford studio time.

One such young musician is Tanaka Chivese from Glen View, who has visited ChillSpot Records several times, hoping to get studio time.

“I kept coming here because I love music, until the producer gave me an opportunity. I recorded my first song in 2020 but it was never released – I guess I was not ready. But I am working on something which you will hear soon. I believe I can make it in this industry. What I need is an opportunity to show what I can do,” Chivese says.

Outside the studio, giant, colourful murals portray the musicians who have become heroes.

“We love our artists, and this is our small way of encouraging them for the great work they are doing. We use this to advertise our paintings,” says the artist behind the murals, Abraham Chimweta.

Dancehall producer DJ Fantan outside his studio, Chillspot Records, in Mbare, Zimbabwe
Dancehall producer DJ Fantan outside his studio, Chillspot Records, in Mbare. Photograph: Nyasha Chingono

The studio churns out hundreds of songs, but only a few make it on to radio.

Guitarist and music producer Trust Samende says: “Musicians are doing their best to create with the little resources they have, but our system is killing us, the radio stations are killing us. So, the product is there, but our DJs prioritise foreign music over us. I do not know why they think anything that comes from outside is better. You can never hear our music being played outside.”

“Radio airplay is still an issue,” says Tremier Msipa, another producer. “When you are starting, you don’t know the ins and outs of radio. But I stand by the philosophy that if I keep making good music, it will eventually play.”

At the turn of the century Zimbabwe imposed a 75% local content policy to support local art. This gave birth to several celebrated artists in the country. But the Zimbabwean music scene remains male-dominated, with female musicians facing unequal opportunities.

Eighteen-year-old singer Tanaka Chivese records his latest song, that he hopes will become a hit
Eighteen-year-old singer Tanaka Chivese records his latest song, that he hopes will become a hit. Photograph: Nyasha Chingono

“There are a number of amazing female artists, but there are definitely many obstacles that come into play being a woman in the industry. The percentage of successful female artists compared with their male counterparts is an indication of this. There is still work to be done,” says Gemma Griffiths, one of Zimbabwe’s top female musicians.

Until Zimbabwean music breaks through to other markets in Nigeria or South Africa, the producers will continue to make music on a shoestring – but with passion.

“We have already seen a number of self-taught producers winning the hearts of international artists and that bears testimony to what the future holds,” says music critic, Plot Mhako.

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Ukraine’s Finance Minister Reports Problems Finding Cash to Pay Troops Despite West’s Aid Bonanza

Voice Of EU




MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“




Sputnik International


MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

Sputnik International


MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

ukraine, corruption, aid, salary



The US and its allies have approved over $76 billion in military and fiscal aid to Kiev, equivalent to 40% of Ukraine’s GDP in 2021. However, much of this assistance doesn’t seem to be reaching its intended destinations, with CBS issuing (and then deleting) a story last week showing that as little as 30% of the military aid was reaching the front.

Ukraine is having trouble scrapping together the money required to pay soldiers’ salaries and has resorted to money printing thanks to a growing gap between military spending and declining tax revenues, combined with a slowing flow of Western aid, Finance Minister Sergii Marchenko has indicated.

“Every day and night it’s a constant headache,” Marchenko told the Wall Street Journal in an interview.

The minister explained that the government is now spending more than 60 percent of the budget on military-related expenditure, and has received assurances from Western countries of new loans and grants to cover non-military spending.

“The support we get now gives us the opportunity to win this war and to do it sooner rather than later. Without this money, the war will last longer and it will damage economies more,” Marchenko said.

The minister indicated that the government is disregarding concerns from the National Bank about skyrocketing inflation, saying “it is better to risk high inflation than not to pay soldiers’ salaries.” He added that he expects the conflict to turn into a “marathon” lasting for the remaining of 2022 and 2023. “This is a war of attrition. You have to think in these terms,” Marchenko said.

Ukraine has received a total of more than $50 billion in military and non-military aid authorizations from the US alone, including everything from weapons and new defense contracts for the military-industrial complex to replenish old inventories, to fiscal support and loans to help the Ukrainian state stay afloat, pay its creditors on time and avoid paralysis, to humanitarian assistance.
A worker paints a Saint Javelin, a Virgin Mary holding an American-made anti-tank missile, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 24, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.08.2022

CBS Deletes Documentary Revealing That Just ‘30%’ of West’s ‘Aid’ to Ukraine Reached Frontlines
US assistance has been matched by nearly $16 billion in aid from the European Union, plus $6.22 billion, $3.34 billion, $2.85 billion, $2.61 billion and $2.11 billion from Britain, Germany, Poland, Canada and France, respectively, for a grand total of over $76 billion.
On Friday, Ukrainian presidential chief economic advisor Oleg Ustenko urged the International Monetary Fund to shell out $5 billion as part of a larger $15-20 billion aid package over the eighteen months to two years to encourage others, including the US, the EU and other countries to go ahead with additional support. Last month, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal told attendees of a Switzerland-based conference dedicated to Ukraine’s economic recovery that the country would need some $750 billion in assistance.
Corruption concerns and questions about the final destination of the tens of billions of dollars doled out to Ukraine aid periodically emerge in mainstream media reporting on the conflict. Last month, Ukrainian-born Republican Congresswoman Victoria Spartz accused Ukrainian presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak of sabotaging the country’s defenses, and of appointing officials engaged in corruption to fight graft. Ukrainian officials dismissed her concerns as “Russian propaganda.”
Fitch Ratings - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.08.2022

Fitch Ratings, S&P Global Ratings Consider Ukraine’s Debt Restructuring as Default
Last week, CBS News posted and then deleted a bombshell documentary which uncovered that as little as 30 percent of the military assistance Western countries had sent to Kiev in the first months of the conflict had actually reached the frontlines. The documentary was quickly taken down to be “updated” to account for new information from the Pentagon and other sources.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted that the retraction was not enough and called for an “internal investigation” at CBS to determine “who enabled” the documentary’s release and why.

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Brazilian woman and fake seer con elderly mother out of $142 million | International

Voice Of EU



A woman was arrested on August 10 by Rio de Janeiro police who charged her with conning her mother out of millions. In a strange story of greed abetted by fake psychics, Sabine Boghici and her accomplices stole more than $142 million in money, jewelry and artwork from Boghici’s mother over a two-year period.

Geneviève Boghici, the widow of a major art collector and dealer named Jean Boghici, was walking out of a bank in January 2020 near the famous Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) when she was approached by a supposed psychic prophesying her daughter’s imminent death unless she underwent “spiritual therapy.” They walked together to Boghici’s apartment, where the psychic threw some shells in a mystical ritual that confirmed the tragic prophesy. The 82-year-old victim knew that her daughter suffered from psychological problems, and her affinity for the supernatural swayed her to transfer $980,000 to the swindlers.

Soon after the two-year con began, the elderly woman became suspicious and halted the money transfers when her daughter started to isolate her from friends. Sabine would not allow her mother to use the phone and dismissed all the domestic workers, justifying them as Covid-19 precautions. Yet Sabine and her cronies entered freely to loot her mother’s home of its valuables. Several psychics took items from the home, saying they were “cursed” and needed to be “prayed over.” The increasingly suspicious Geneviève tried to resist, but Sabine began threatening her life. According to the police, she wouldn’t allow her mother to eat and put a knife to her throat.

Police recover 'Sol Poente' by Brazilian painter, Tarsila do Amaral.
Police recover ‘Sol Poente’ by Brazilian painter, Tarsila do Amaral.Policia Civil de Rio de Janeiro (EFE)

The victim told the police that her daughter had some sort of relationship with one of the supposed psychics, Rosa Stanesco Nicolau, who practiced her trade in Rio de Janeiro as “Mãe Valéria de Oxossi” (Mother Valeria), and was a known con artist. Starting in September 2020, under constant threat from her daughter and accomplices, the elderly woman made another 38 bank transfers to the thieves.

Sabine and her cohorts stole 16 paintings and sculptures, and sold them all to art galleries or private buyers. Two of these works – Elevador Social (Social Elevator) by Rubens Gerchman, and Maquete para o menú espelho (A model for my mirror) by Antonio Dias – were bought by Eduardo Costantini, owner of the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (Argentina), for his private collection. The São Paulo (Brazil) gallery owner who brokered the deal said he was not suspicious because he had known the family for a long time and the seller was the daughter of the deceased art collector. Constantini released a statement saying that he bought the paintings in good faith and was in direct contact with Genevieve Boghici.

In 2012, a fire in the Boghici’s Copacabana apartment destroyed part of their valuable collection, including Di Cavalcanti’s Samba and Alberto Guignard’s A Floresta (The Forest). Sol Poniente (Setting Sun), painted by Tarsila do Amaral in 1929, is one of the most valuable works in the Boghici collection ($49 million). It survived the 2012 fire but not the rampant greed of their daughter. The stolen painting was found under a bed by police, who arrested Sabine and three other people, including the fake seer. In a final twist to the whole bizarre story, the scamming psychic was apprehended trying to escape through a window.

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India’s HIV patients say shortages leaving hundreds of thousands without drugs | Global development

Voice Of EU



Hundreds of thousands of people living with HIV in India are struggling to access treatment because of a shortage of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, according to campaigners.

Up to 500,000 people have not been able to get hold of free ARVs from government health centres and hospitals over the past five months, they say, as the country experiences stock shortages of key drugs.

ARVs that are available in privately run pharmacies and shops can be prohibitively expensive. Some people have been given alternative drugs, but others have stopped taking any medication.

“Does the government even realise that at least 500,000, or one-third of the patients, are affected by this? Some adults are being given 11 doses of paediatric medicine to compensate,” said Loon Gangte, president of the Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+), an NGO that works to improve the treatment and facilities for people living with HIV and Aids. “We only demand an uninterrupted monthly supply. This treatment is our right.”

According to Gangte, who has been protesting with about 30 others outside India’s National Aids Control Organisation (Naco) in Delhi for 22 days, at least 12 other states, including Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab, are facing ARV shortages. He said several state governments have asked patients to change their longstanding drug regimes.

“The [Covid-19] pandemic had already broken our backs. Now this shortage is pushing us further into penury,” Gangte said.

Kedar Nath, a 30-year-old street vendor taking part in the protest, said he has not taken his ARVs on several occasions over the past two months. He cannot afford the £50 a month it would cost to buy the drugs on the open market.

“I have been taking these drugs for the last 13 years. They have helped me continue with my life despite the virus in my body. But the recent shortage has turned my life upside down since I can neither find the strength to work, nor have any savings to live off,” he said.

According to government figures, 2.35 million people in India are HIV-positive. About 1.5 million people are on antiretroviral therapy, far lower than the World Health Organization’s “90-90-90 target” – under which 90% of people with HIV are diagnosed, 90% are on ARV treatment, and 90% are no longer infectious.

India says it aims to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. In 2019, an estimated 58,900 Aids-related deaths were reported in the country.

The government has refuted Gangte’s claims of a shortage. The Indian health ministry said it had “reviewed the entire situation and held a series of meetings with the protesters. ARV drugs are being provided for [a] duration of less than one month, but at no point in time has there been any shortage of drugs for any of the PLHIV [patients living with HIV]. There is adequate stock nationally for 95% PLHIV.”

Naco did not wish to comment. However, in a letter seen by the Guardian that was dated 30 May, Naco asked all state Aids prevention and control societies, which oversee HIV testing and treatment in each state, to switch to other regimes “to tide through the crisis situation as an interim arrangement”.

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