Month: April 2022

Indigenous Women in Mexico Take United Stance Against Inequality

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Women & Economy

Every other Tuesday, a working group of Mayan women meets to review the organization and progress of their food saving and production project in Uayma, in the state of Yucatán in southeastern Mexico. CREDIT: Courtesy of the Ko'ox Tani Foundation

Every other Tuesday, a working group of Mayan women meets to review the organization and progress of their food saving and production project in Uayma, in the state of Yucatán in southeastern Mexico. CREDIT: Courtesy of the Ko’ox Tani Foundation

UAYMA, Mexico , Apr 26 2022 (IPS) – Every other Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. sharp, a group of 26 Mexican women meet for an hour to discuss the progress of their work and immediate tasks. Anyone who arrives late must pay a fine of about 25 cents on the dollar.

The collective has organized in the municipality of Uayma (which means “Not here” in the Mayan language) to learn agroecological practices, as well as how to save money and produce food for family consumption and the sale of surpluses.

“We have to be responsible. With savings we can do a little more,” María Petul, a married Mayan indigenous mother of two and a member of the group “Lool beh” (“Flower of the road” in Mayan), told IPS in this municipality of just over 4,000 inhabitants, 1,470 kilometers southeast of Mexico City in the state of Yucatán, on the Yucatán peninsula.

The home garden “gives me enough to eat and sell, it helps me out,” said Petul as she walked through her small garden where she grows habanero peppers (Capsicum chinense, traditional in the area), radishes and tomatoes, surrounded by a few trees, including a banana tree whose fruit will ripen in a few weeks and some chickens that roam around the earthen courtyard.

The face of Norma Tzuc, who is also married with two daughters, lights up with enthusiasm when she talks about the project. “I am very happy. We now have an income. It’s exciting to be able to help my family. Other groups already have experience and tell us about what they’ve been doing,” Tzuc told IPS.

The two women and the rest of their companions, whose mother tongue is Mayan, participate in the project “Women saving to address climate change”, run by the non-governmental Ko’ox Tani Foundation (“Let’s Go Ahead”, in Mayan), dedicated to community development and social inclusion, based in Merida, the state capital.

This phase of the project is endowed with some 100,000 dollars from the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), the non-binding environmental arm of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), formed in 1994 by Canada, the United States and Mexico and replaced in 2020 by another trilateral agreement.

The initiative got off the ground in February and will last two years, with the aim of training some 250 people living in extreme poverty, mostly women, in six locations in the state of Yucatán.

The maximum savings for each woman in the group is about 12 dollars every two weeks and the minimum is 2.50 dollars, and they can withdraw the accumulated savings to invest in inputs or animals, or for emergencies, with the agreement of the group. Through the project, the women will receive seeds, agricultural inputs and poultry, so that they can install vegetable gardens and chicken coops on their land.

The women write down the quotas in a white notebook and deposit the savings in a gray box, kept in the house of the group’s president.

José Torre, project director of the Ko’ox Tani Foundation, explained that the main areas of entrepreneurship are: community development, food security, livelihoods and human development.

“What we have seen over time is that the savings meetings become a space for human development, in which they find support and solidarity from their peers, make friends and build trust,” he told IPS during a tour of the homes of some of the savings group participants in Uayma.

The basis for the new initiative in this locality is a similar program implemented between 2018 and 2021 in other Yucatecan municipalities, in which the organization worked with 1400 families.

María Petul, a Mayan indigenous woman, plants chili peppers, tomatoes, radishes and medicinal herbs in the vegetable garden in the courtyard of her home in Uayma, in the southeastern Mexican state of Yucatán. CREDIT: Emilio Godoy/IPS

María Petul, a Mayan indigenous woman, plants chili peppers, tomatoes, radishes and medicinal herbs in the vegetable garden in the courtyard of her home in Uayma, in the southeastern Mexican state of Yucatán. CREDIT: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Unequal oasis

Yucatan, a region home to 2.28 million people, suffers from a high degree of social backwardness, with 34 percent of the population living in moderate poverty, 33 percent suffering unmet needs, 5.5 percent experiencing income vulnerability and almost seven percent living in extreme poverty.

The COVID-19 pandemic that hit this Latin American country in February 2020 exacerbated these conditions in a state that depends on agriculture, tourism and services, similar to the other two states that make up the Yucatán Peninsula: Campeche and Quintana Roo.

Inequality is also a huge problem in the state, although the Gini Index dropped from 0.51 in 2014 to 0.45, according to a 2018 government report, based on data from 2016 (the latest year available). The Gini coefficient, where 1 indicates the maximum inequality and 0 the greatest equality, is used to calculate income inequality.

The situation of indigenous women is worse, as they face marginalization, discrimination, violence, land dispossession and lack of access to public services.

More than one million indigenous people live in the state.

Women participating in a project funded by the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation record their savings in a white notebook and deposit them in a gray box. Mayan indigenous woman Norma Tzuc belongs to a group taking part in the initiative in Uayma, in the southeastern Mexican state of Yucatán. CREDIT: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Women participating in a project funded by the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation record their savings in a white notebook and deposit them in a gray box. Mayan indigenous woman Norma Tzuc belongs to a group taking part in the initiative in Uayma, in the southeastern Mexican state of Yucatán. CREDIT: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Climate crisis, yet another vulnerability

Itza Castañeda, director of equity at the non-governmental World Resources Institute (WRI), highlights the persistence of structural inequalities in the peninsula that exacerbate the effects of the climate crisis.

“In the three states there is greater inequality between men and women. This stands in the way of women’s participation and decision-making. Furthermore, the existing evidence shows that there are groups in conditions of greater vulnerability to climate impacts,” she told IPS from the city of Tepoztlán, near Mexico City.

She added that “climate change accentuates existing inequalities, but a differentiated impact assessment is lacking.”

Official data indicate that there are almost 17 million indigenous people in Mexico, representing 13 percent of the total population, of which six million are women.

Of indigenous households, almost a quarter are headed by women, while 65 percent of indigenous girls and women aged 12 and over perform unpaid work compared to 35 percent of indigenous men – a sign of the inequality in the system of domestic and care work.

To add to their hardships, the Yucatan region is highly vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis, such as droughts, devastating storms and rising sea levels. In June 2021, tropical storm Cristobal caused the flooding of Uayma, where three women’s groups are operating under the savings system.

For that reason, the project includes a risk management and hurricane early warning system.

The Mexican government is building a National Care System, but the involvement of indigenous women and the benefits for them are still unclear.

Petul looks excitedly at the crops planted on her land and dreams of a larger garden, with more plants and more chickens roaming around, and perhaps a pig to be fattened. She also thinks about the possibility of emulating women from previous groups who have set up small stores with their savings.

“They will lay eggs and we can eat them or sell them. With the savings we can also buy roosters, in the market chicks are expensive,” said Petul, brimming with hope, who in addition to taking care of her home and family sells vegetables.

Her neighbor Tzuc, who until now has been a homemaker, said that the women in her group have to take into account the effects of climate change. “It has been very hot, hotter than before, and there is drought. Fortunately, we have water, but we have to take care of it,” she said.

For his part, Torre underscored the results of the savings groups. The women “left extreme poverty behind. The pandemic hit hard, because there were families who had businesses and stopped selling. The organization gave them resilience,” he said.

In addition, a major achievement is that the households that have already completed the project continue to save, regularly attend meetings and have kept producing food.


Patrick Lyoya fled Congo to escape war. A traffic stop in Michigan cost him his life

It was about five years ago that Patrick Lyoya first stepped into Restoration Community Church, a small United Methodist congregation just outside Grand Rapids, Mich. He was a new face, but he had a familiar story.

Like most of the congregation, Lyoya belonged to a sprawling African diaspora in Grand Rapids who came to the United States seeking safety and a better life. In Lyoya’s case, his family arrived as refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2014. They had escaped war and fear of persecution, and after more than a decade in a refugee camp, they seemed to have finally found a haven in Michigan.

America meant opportunity for the family, so when Banza Mukalay, the pastor at Restoration Community Church and himself a refugee from Congo, met Lyoya, he could sense a promising life ahead.

“He was a very young [man] who had the future, he had something in it,” Mukalay said. “You [could] see him just trying to look for himself how he [could] be better in the future.”

That future came to a sudden and tragic end earlier this month when Lyoya was shot and killed by a Grand Rapids police officer after he was pulled over for allegedly driving with an unregistered license plate. Video of the April 4 traffic stop released by the Grand Rapids police showed a brief foot chase followed by a struggle over the white officer’s Taser. The video ends with the officer shooting Lyoya in the back of the head while he was facedown on the ground. Lyoya was 26.

The harrowing video of Lyoya’s final moments has spawned days of protest in Grand Rapids over the death of yet another Black man at the hands of law enforcement. Nearly two years after George Floyd’s murder sparked a nationwide reckoning over racial injustice and police misconduct, Lyoya’s case, for many, represents a measure of the steep challenges that persist.

Yet for those who knew Lyoya, he is not a symbol. They knew him as a son, a brother and a father — a person of faith whose life was inextricably shaped by war. They remember him as someone who was quiet and kind, someone who loved music and soccer, but someone who loved his two children above everything else.

He worked hard and brought others joy

Lyoya was born in Congo — the first of Peter and Dorcas Lyoya’s six children. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press last week, his parents remembered him as a kid who always brought them joy.

“He is the type of person that you will love to be around,” Dorcas Lyoya said, adding that he excelled at putting her “in a good mood to make me laugh.”

Lyoya was born at a moment when war was just beginning to split their nation — a conflict with roots in the genocide in neighboring Rwanda and which ultimately resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. The war would end in 1997, but only one year later a new conflict would erupt. Known as the Great War of Africa, it would last until 2003 and cost an estimated 3.8 million lives by one count.

War took the family from their home, and for 11 years they lived in a refugee camp, according to Robert Womack, a member of the Kent County Board of Commissioners in Grand Rapids who has been helping organize a funeral service for Lyoya scheduled for Friday. They were living in Malawi when they won asylum to live in the U.S., arriving in 2014 as part of a wave of refugees settling in Michigan from Congo.

In Grand Rapids, Lyoya’s parents landed odd jobs to make ends meet. Dorcas worked in a laundromat; Peter worked in a nursing home.

Lyoya, who was just entering adulthood around the time of the family’s U.S. arrival, soon went to work too. He worked in a small manufacturing plant helping to make auto parts, his father told the Detroit Free Press. He also worked at a turkey farm, according to Womack, as well as at a vacuum cleaner and appliance store.

Ramazani Malisawa, 33, says he worked with Lyoya at the appliance store for about six months starting around 2018. Malisawa, who is also from Congo, says they would often eat lunch together and talk about their lives in Africa and how it was they arrived in the United States. But he says these talks would only happen around lunch, because when it came to work, Lyoya was intensely focused.

Dorcas Lyoya (right), the mother of Patrick Lyoya, cries at a news conference held last week in Grand Rapids to respond to the videos of her son's killing.

Bill Pugliano / Getty Images


Getty Images

Dorcas Lyoya (right), the mother of Patrick Lyoya, cries at a news conference held last week in Grand Rapids to respond to the videos of her son’s killing.

“When he is working, he was not talking,” Malisawa said. “He was just focused on the work. He was a good worker and worked hard.”

It’s not that he was in love with the job, Malisawa said, but that it was important for him to be able to one day afford to send his two young daughters to school. He said he remembered Lyoya once telling him: “My kids, they will know we had a father, and our father — he worked hard.”

Outside of work, Lyoya enjoyed soccer, music and dancing. Womack said Lyoya would even teach Congolese dance traditions in clubs around Grand Rapids, and he shared the story of one local club owner who once watched Lyoya giving lessons.

“They said basically it was just peaceful and a joy,” according to Womack. “And even though some of the Americans that worked there didn’t understand the language, they said the vibe was just priceless … the vibe of joy in watching Patrick and his friends laugh and smile and dance.”

Lyoya also found community through his faith. Mukalay, the pastor at Restoration Community Church, said Lyoya wasn’t like many of the young adults he meets at the church.

“Some young people, they just come and then one day, two days, one month and then they quit or they just drop out,” Mukalay said. “He was ready to continue with us for a long time. So that’s why I say he was a young [man] who had the decision to do something better in life.”

His death has devastated the refugee community

Community leaders like Womack and Mukalay said Lyoya’s death has been particularly painful for the city’s Congolese population — a community that came to the U.S. to escape violence and felt they had found safety after years of war. It’s a grief, they say, that has forever changed their view of America.

“The difference between the Congolese families and some of the African American families who’ve been affected by state violence is the fact that the Congolese families are hurt and shocked that this could happen in the United States of America,” said Womack. “When I deal with African American families, they are hurt and mad, but they’re never shocked.”

A woman wears a sweater with an image of Patrick Lyoya as protesters march for Lyoya in downtown Grand Rapids on Saturday.

Mustafa Hussain / AFP via Getty Images


AFP via Getty Images

A woman wears a sweater with an image of Patrick Lyoya as protesters march for Lyoya in downtown Grand Rapids on Saturday.

It’s a sentiment Lyoya’s mother shared with reporters during an April 14 news conference when the family called for criminal charges to be brought against the officer who killed her son. The shooting is under investigation by the Michigan State Police, but authorities have not released the name of the officer.

“I thought that we came to a safe land, a haven, a safe place,” she said, speaking through an interpreter. “And I start thinking now, I’m surprised and astonished to see that my friend — it is here that my son has been killed with bullets.”

“I was thinking it was my son who would bury me,” she said, “but I am the one burying my son.”

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit


Soulja Boy’s net worth, age, girlfriend, parents, real name, investments, movies

Soulja Boy is an American hip-hop artist, producer, and savvy entrepreneur. He joined the game in the mid-2000s and has grown to become one of the biggest rappers in the game. He rose to international fame following the release of his 2007 debut single, Crank That (Soulja Boy), which peaked at number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Keep reading to learn more about Soulja Boy’s net worth, career and personal life.

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Top American hip-hop stars
DeAndre Cortez is a veteran rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur. Photo: @Greg Doherty
Source: Getty Images

Big Draco loved rapping from a young age and was lucky to have a father who supported his dreams. By the time he was 17, he had one of the biggest rap songs. He is also one of the first rappers to use social media platforms to promote his tracks.

Soulja Boy’s profile summary and bio

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  • Real name: DeAndre Cortez Way
  • Other names: Big Draco
  • Date of birth: 28th July 1990
  • Age: 31 years in 2022
  • Birth sign: Leo
  • Place of birth: Chicago, Illinois
  • Nationality: American
  • Ethnicity: Afro-American
  • Soulja Boy’s height: 5 feet 8 inches (1.73 m)
  • Gender: Male
  • Sexuality: Straight
  • Relationship status: Dating
  • Girlfriend: Hairstylist Jackie
  • Parents: Tracy and Carlisa Way
  • Siblings: Three brothers; Tracy Jr, John, and Deion Jenkins
  • Education: South Panola High School
  • Profession: Hip-hop artist, actor, producer, businessman
  • Instruments: Vocals
  • Years active: 2004 to date
  • Record label: Virgin Music (since 2021)
  • Net worth: Approximately $30 million
  • Instagram: @souljaboy
  • Twitter: @souljaboy
  • YouTube: @Soulja Boy

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Soulja Boy’s net worth

Rich hip-hop stars
Big Draco has an estimated net worth of $30 million in 2022. Photo: @souljaboy
Source: Instagram

The rapper has an estimated net worth of $30 million in 2022. He earns from music, acting, and various entrepreneurial ventures. He owns several assets, including a mansion in Agoura Hills, California, and a collection of expensive cars.

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G Herbo’s net worth, age, children, spouse, real name, profiles, songs

Soulja Boy’s music career

Draco had a passion for hip-hop since childhood. His dad had a recording studio in their family home, where he nurtured his son in various aspects of the art. He started uploading his songs on SoundClick in 2005 and later joined YouTube and other streaming platforms.

The rapper released his breakout track, Crank That (Soulja Boy), in March 2007. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 by September that year and remained on the chart for seven weeks. It even won him a Grammy nomination and became the first single of any hip-hop artist to sell more than three million digital copies.

Other top Soulja Boy songs include:

  • Soulja Boy’s Squid Game (2021)
  • She Make It Clap (2021)
  • Actavis (2015)
  • Turn My Swag On (2009)
  • Kiss Me Thru the Phone (2008)
  • Pretty Boy Swag (2010)
  • Blowing Me Kisses (2010)

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The hip-hop star released his first independent album, Unsigned & Still Major: Da Album Before da Album, in March 2007. Draco’s major studio debut album,, came out in October 2007. He followed it up with several other albums, Eps, and mixtapes, including;

  • Big Draco 1, 2, and 3 (2021 to 2022)
  • Young Drako (2018)
  • Loyalty (2015)
  • All Black EP (2013)
  • The DeAndre Way (2010)
  • iSouljaBoyTellem (2008)
  • King Soulja series

DeAndre founded his record label, Stack on Deck Entertainment (SODMG), in 2004. Several artists, including 24hrs and Lil 100, are signed to the Los Angeles-based label. Way is currently signed to Virgin Music since 2021.

American rapper
Big Draco made his debut in the rap industry in the mid-2000s. Photo: @Paras Griffin
Source: Getty Images

Soulja Boy’s movies and TV shows

The rapper has appeared in several movies and television shows, including;

  • Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood (2014 t0 2016) as himself
  • The Bachelorette (2013 in Season 9) as himself
  • Officer Down (2013) as Rudy
  • Soulja Boy: The Movie (2011) as himself

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Soulja Boy’s age and early life

Draco was born on 28th July 1990 in Chicago, Illinois, United States. His family relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, when he was six, and he later went to stay with his dad in Batesville, Mississippi, when he was 14. Soulja Boy’s parents are Tracy and Carlisa Way.

Way had a younger brother called Deion Jenkins, who met his sudden demise in March 2022 in a car crash. His other siblings include John Way and Tracy Lee Jenkins.

Soulja Boy memes

Draco’s influence goes beyond rap. In 2019, he claimed his comeback was the greatest of all time compared with rapper Drake and his reaction to people thinking otherwise inspired online memes.

What is Soulja Boy’s new name?

The artist’s initial stage name was Soulja Boy Tell’ Em, but he later decided to go with Soulja Boy. His other moniker is Big Draco. Soulja Boy’s real name is DeAndre Cortez Way.

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What was Soulja Boy’s biggest hit?

His greatest song is his 2007 debut single, Crank That (Soulja Boy). The track was number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and remained on the chart for seven weeks in September 2007. Rolling Stone magazine listed it at number 21 on the list of the 100 Best Songs of 2007.

Who is Soulja Boy in a relationship with?

American hip-hop artist
Rapper Draco is expecting a baby boy with his girlfriend Jackie (right). Photo: @hairdesignsla
Source: Instagram

The rapper is in a low-key relationship with the hairstylist and cosmetologist Jackie. He shocked fans in March 2022 when he uploaded a video on Soulja Boy’s Instagram revealing that they would soon be parents to a baby boy. The artist has been linked to several ladies in the past, including Keri Hilson, Diamond, Teyana Taylor, Lil Mama, Nia Riley, and adult model Rubi Rose.

Who was the 1st rapper on YouTube?

Draco often claims to be among the top game-changers in the hip-hop industry. YouTube was launched on 14th February 2005, and the rapper uploaded his first video in March 2006. He claims his video was the first rap to be uploaded on the streaming platform.

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Soulja Boy has been in the hip-hop industry for over 15 years, and his impact on the game is still being felt. His savvy entrepreneurial skills have also placed him at the top and contributed to his growing net worth.

READ ALSO: Who is Stelle Ciccone? All you need to know about Madonna’s adopted daughter published the biography of Stelle Ciccone, one of Madonna’s adopted twins from Malawi. Stelle and her twin sister Estere lost their mother when they were a few days old, and their father decided to take them to an orphanage because he did not have the means to care for them.

In 2017, when the Queen of Pop visited Malawi, their father agreed for her to adopt the twin girls. Madonna has two other kids that she adopted from Malawi, in addition to her two biological kids.

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Source: Briefly News


35th Annual Africa in April: A year of renewal and rebirth

The annual parade that helps propel the Africa in April Cultural Awareness Festival returned in 2021 after a pandemic-forced absence. (TSD Archives)

The highly anticipated Africa in April Cultural Awareness Festival (AIA) 2022 has in store some spectacular sights and sounds, according to directors, David and Yvonne Acey.

“This is our 35th year,” said David Acey, executive director. “We can hardly believe it has been 35 years. The time has flown by. We hit a snag in 2020 COVID-19 pandemic restrictions shut everything down.

“But all that is behind us now. This is our year of rebirth and renewal. It will be a more colorful, more joyful experience because everything is open again.”

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David Acey and Yvonne Acey have shepherded the Africa in April International Cultural Awareness Festival for 35 years, serving as ambassadors throughout the year at multiple events. (TSD Archives)

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David Acey and Yvonne Acey have shepherded the Africa in April Cultural Awareness Festival for 35 years, serving as ambassadors throughout the year at multiple events. (TSD Archives)

The Aceys wanted to create a festival that would celebrate an African country each year. Not only an educational experience, but the event was designed to teach African Americans about their “countries of origin.”

The couple envisioned strengthening the bond between “us and our homeland.

“We are so thrilled about what the festival has become,” said David Acey. “People call from all over the country, and they come to Memphis from other countries — Germany, Switzerland, England. Pandemic restrictions have lifted, and this 35th festival is our renaissance, a year of renewal.”

Slated from Wednesday through Sunday, April 20-25, 2022, the 35th Africa in April Cultural Awareness Festival will honor the Republic of Malawi.

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Located in southeastern Africa, Malawi’d capital is Lilongwe, which is located Malawi’s on the Lilongwe River of the landlocked nation.

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Located in southeastern Africa, Malawi’s capital is Lilongwe, which is located on the Lilongwe River of the landlocked nation.

Malawi is a country of nearly 46,000 sq. mi., with about 19.5 million in population. It has been dubbed “The Warm Heart of Africa” because of the friendliness of its people. English is the official language, although other Africa dialects are used in various regions.

Malawi is bordered by Zambia on the west, Tanzania on the north and northeast, and Mozambique to the east, south, and southwest.

“This year, we wanted to honor a country we had never honored before and one that is little known to most of us,” said Yvonne Acey, associate executive director.

“Malawi is largely under-developed, rural country that depends largely on agriculture. But the culture is rich in dance and mask-making. We hope that bringing attention to Malawi this year will help open up more economic opportunities for its people.”

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The flag of Malaŵi. Officially the Republic of Malawi, the African nation was formerly known as Nyasaland. It has an estimated population of 19,431,566 (as of January 2021). The name Malawi comes from the Maravi, an old name for the Chewa people who inhabit the area. The country is nicknamed “The Warm Heart of Africa” because of the friendliness of its people.

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The flag of Malaŵi. Officially the Republic of Malawi, the African nation was formerly known as Nyasaland. It has an estimated population of 19,431,566 (as of January 2021). The name Malawi comes from the Maravi, an old name for the Chewa people who inhabit the area. The country is nicknamed “The Warm Heart of Africa” because of the friendliness of its people.

David Acey said presenting the festival this year in its rightfully designated month of April is “thrilling.” Last year, COVID-19 restrictions prompted the festival’s move to August.

“Last year, we were Africa in April in August,” said David Acey. “We honored the Republic of Botswana. We decided to have the festival in 2021 because I just couldn’t cancel the festival two years in a row.

“This year, 2022, the pandemic is finally past, and everything is open again. Definitely, this is our renaissance after a very long and dark night.”

On Wednesday afternoon, the festival will kick off with the traditional International Entrepreneur’s Luncheon at the Holiday Inn-University of Memphis, 3700 Central Ave., 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Friday is “Children and Seniors Day & Parade,” which begins at 10 a.m. The parade will come down world-famous Beale Street and wind its way to the historic Robert R. Church Park at 4th and Beale Streets. Vendors and activities will be staged and situated throughout the park from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m., with emphasis on children and seniors.

Saturday in Church Park, vendors and activities will be set up from 8 a.m. until 12 midnight. Saturday is Health, Wellness & Community Day.

Sunday is International Music Day in Church Park, from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. A day-long schedule of music groups and spectacles will celebrate a wide variety of music, from gospel to jazz, and everything in between. 

“As always, we invite people of every race and culture to come out and enjoy the festival,” said David Acey.

“Each year, there are unique experiences in store for those who attend. We expect this 35th festival to be extra special. All are welcome.”


Patrick Lyoya escaped violence in Congo for the ‘safe haven’ of the US. Then police killed him.

  • About 4.6 million, or one in 10, Black people living in American are immigrants, according to a January report from Pew Research Center.
  • Although they are only 7% of the non-citizen population, Black immigrants make up 20% of deportations on criminal grounds, according to a 2018 Black Alliance for Just Immigration report.

When the Lyoya family arrived in the United States in 2014 after facing years of war and persecution in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the refugees thought they had finally made it.

They were living in Malawi when they won asylum to live in the U.S., part of a growing number of refugees from Congo in Michigan.

“They told us that in America, there’s peace, there’s safety, you’re not going to see killing anymore, that it was basically a safe haven,” Dorcas Lyoya said in Congolese during an interview with the Detroit Free Press, part of the USA TODAY Network, through a translator. 

But last week, her first-born son, Patrick Lyoya, was fatally shot in the back of the head by a police officer after a struggle, an incident that has outraged civil rights advocates and led to protests in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Patrick Lyoya was killed after struggling with a police officer during a traffic stop.

WHAT WE KNOW:Patrick Lyoya killed after struggle with officer during Grand Rapids traffic stop

Lyoya’s death and others like it can rattle the sense of security of Black immigrants and refugees who came to the U.S. to escape violence only to find themselves vulnerable to the same brutality and racism African Americans encounter from police as well as the additional specter of federal immigration authorities, immigration advocates told USA TODAY.

“It’s shocking to Black migrants who have this vision of the United States as the land of the free and the home of the brave,” said Nana Gyamfi, executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. “There’s a notion that police here are going to be different.”

Patrick Lyoya’s death brings fear in growing Black immigrant community

About 4.6 million, or one in 10, Black people living in American are immigrants and that number is projected to double by 2060, according to a January report from Pew Research Center. The Black immigrant population is racially and ethnically diverse, but in the last decade Africans have become one of the fastest growing segments through refugee admissions and the diversity visa lottery program, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

Although refugee admissions hit a record low in 2021, over the past two fiscal years people from the Congo became the the largest group of refugees to settle in Michigan, according to data from the U.S. State Department. 

Grand Rapids is home to the largest Congolese refugee population in the state thanks to employment opportunities as well as family and social connections like churches, said Chris Cavanaugh, director of Samaritas’ New American Resettlement program in West Michigan.

‘OUR COMMUNITY DESERVES ANSWERS’:Michigan police release video of fatal shooting of Patrick Lyoya after traffic stop in Grand Rapids

Samaritas helps refugees meet many of their immediate needs and offers a cultural orientation on what it means to live life in America, he said. But they didn’t talk much about the racial implications of being Black in America until George Floyd’s murder sparked a nationwide racial justice protest movement in 2020, which Cavanaugh said a number of Congolese refugees joined.

In the wake of Lyoya’s death, Cavanaugh said Samaritas is hoping to support refugee communities by providing resources to help them access services in their native language including during interactions with law enforcement.

“Certainly the Congolese community is feeling some fear, kind of scared over what happened and I would say rightfully so,” Cavanaugh said. “Those maybe who have much less English skills are just more apprehensive about getting pulled over or how they’re supposed to respond in certain situations.”

Dr. Pamela Grayson raises her fist as "Young King" Solomon Grayson, 6, peaks behind her sign during a Mothers Against Police Brutality candlelight vigil for Botham Jean at the Jack Evans Police Headquarters on Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, in Dallas.

A history of violence, from Amadou Diallo in 1999 to Botham Jean in 2018

Many Black immigrants and refugees are surprised when they encounter violence from both police and immigration officials, said Gyamfi.

“We have to deal with the violence that police inflict on us because we’re Black,” Gyamfi said. “And then the additional violence that then often is inflicted on us by ICE in this immigration enforcement system because of our migrant status.”

But Black migrants have long been subjected to the same racism and brutality that disproportionately affects Black Americans.

‘I’M LEAVING, AND I’M JUST NOT COMING BACK’:Fed up with racism, Black Americans head overseas

Protests broke out for several weeks in 1999 after Guinean immigrant Amadou Diallo was killed by four white police officers in New York City who said they thought his wallet was a gun. All four officers were acquitted of second-degree murder charges. That same year Patrick Dorismond, a 26-year-old Haitian American, was killed by police sparking another wave of protests in New York. 

In 2016, prosecutors declined to charge a suburban San Diego police officer for fatally shooting 38-year-old Alfred Olango, who arrived in the United States as a refugee from Uganda in 1991. Then, Amber Guyger, a former Dallas police officer, was convicted of murder for the 2018 killing of Botham Jean, a native of the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. 

‘Double-barreled racism’ embedded in immigration laws, law enforcement

Black immigrants are also disproportionately detained and deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Bill Ong Hing, a law and migration studies professor at the University of San Francisco.

“Embedded in the immigration laws are these anti-Black aspects beginning with the visa system,” Hing said. “They face this double-barreled racism when it comes to law enforcement.”

Although they are only 7% of the non-citizen population, Black immigrants make up 20% of those deported on criminal grounds, according to a 2018 report from the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.

Even minor offenses can trigger deportation proceedings, which can make common interactions with police like traffic stops more tense. Black drivers in Michigan are more likely to be pulled over, searched and arrested by troopers, a study of 2020 traffic stops found.

OPINION:Police should stop making minor traffic stops that too often turn into major tragedies

“The way that most Black migrants end up getting deported is through contact with the police,” Gyamfi said. “There is an awareness that this can happen and there is a lot of anxiety around any type of police contact.”

Hing, founder of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, said more immigration advocacy organizations began paying attention to this issue in the wake of Floyd’s death. Personal experiences of racism and high-profile cases like Lyoya’s have also started to shift the way Black migrants view themselves.

“They may start out seeing themselves as different from African Americans, but realize that the mainstream, including the police, treat them like any other Black person which is not good,” he said.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Contact Breaking News Reporter N’dea Yancey-Bragg at or follow her on Twitter @NdeaYanceyBragg


In the new Wakanda cookbook, Black Panther food lore comes to life

Braised Kale and Tomatoes

Active time:25 mins

Total time:35 mins


Active time:25 mins

Total time:35 mins


The fictional worlds spun in many TV shows, movies and video games can feel as real and as meaningful to fans as places with actual Zip codes. Think of Hogwarts, the magic-filled, honey-lit boarding school in the world of Harry Potter books and movies; the faraway galaxy of “Star Wars”; or even the lovably quirky small town of Stars Hollow in “Gilmore Girls.”

Wakanda, the wealthy, technologically advanced, mountain-ringed land of the “Black Panther” comics and blockbuster 2018 movie, though, occupies an even more rarefied role. It’s not just the setting for the action in a beloved franchise; it has become a symbol of African greatness, a mythical place that feels like an actual homeland to many people, and not just to comics geeks with posters of King T’Challa on their bedroom walls.

This week, the mythical country is seeing its culture expand with “The Official Wakanda Cookbook,” a collection of recipes sanctioned by “Black Panther” publisher Marvel.

“I definitely felt a combination of pressure and pride,” says Nyanyika Banda, the freelance writer and chef who created the cookbook. “The lore of Black Panther and what Wakanda means now socially is so important, not just for Black Americans but to people of African descent around the world.”

Banda, who has long been a student of the foodways of the African diaspora, developed both the 70-plus recipes and the story-within-the-story of the cookbook: It’s written from the perspective of a young woman who is plucked from her mother’s stall in the capital city’s marketplace to become the royal chef to King T’Challa, a woman who — like Banda — was influenced by the elder women in her family.

Aside from the challenges posed by satisfying an avid fan base and respecting a cultural touchstone, Banda faced another, more practical task. Often, a cookbook author writing about a region of the world is concerned about staying true to the dishes, the ingredients, the people and the history of the land. But what does it mean to be faithful to something that doesn’t actually exist?

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Banda says that before signing on to the project, they had seen the movie but hadn’t read many of the comics. And so they delved in and also explored the deep well of fan-fueled websites, seeking to understand the characters and the landscape of Wakanda. Food doesn’t figure prominently in the comics or in the movie, so some creativity was in order.

Some ideas came more easily. Wakanda has a lake, Banda notes, so fish recipes would work. Produce and ingredients available in sub-Saharan Africa (where Wakanda is located, according to the comics), such as cassava, mangoes and goat (you can substitute lamb, Banda instructs), figure prominently. Vegetable dishes are also featured — in a recipe for eggplant and herbs, the narrator notes that “many Wakandans eat a predominantly vegetarian diet,” perhaps a reference to the moment depicted in the movie in which the tribal leader M’Baku threatens to feed a CIA agent to his children, before revealing the threat is just a joke. “I’m kidding,” he says. “We’re vegetarians.”

An important part of the kingdom’s story is that it is incredibly technically advanced, so Banda wanted a few recipes that incorporated gadgets, such as a sous vide machine or a dehydrator, to represent that.

One such dish, a smoked mushroom jerky, was inspired by the Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s elite team of female warriors. “I imagined it would be something that would be fueling but that would carry well,” Banda says.

Jennifer Simms, Banda’s editor at Insight Editions, the publisher of the Wakanda cookbooks as well as dozens of other pop-culture spinoff cookbooks, says that from the outset, she didn’t want to create a cookbook that was generically “African.” “We wanted to make sure we weren’t trying to represent Africa as having one food culture,” she says.

To create a cuisine that is fictional, yet feels specific, Banda drew not just on studies of African foodways, but on family recipes. One dish, braised kale with tomatoes, was cribbed directly from the last meal Banda cooked with their aunt, who, like Banda’s father, was born in Malawi. “We talked and laughed, and it was a special moment,” says Banda, whose aunt died in 2020. “I thought of her a lot while I was writing this.”

One of the trickier conditions imposed by the Black Panther narrative was that Wakanda, unlike many other African nations, was never colonized — according to its lore, it had long remained hidden from the rest of the world to protect itself, and the valuable metal it contained, from outsiders. And so Banda had to find storylines to explain Western influences.

Visits to Wakanda by Captain America explained a simple trout dish and an iced coffee laced with cocoa. Travels to New York by the narrator character, the fictional palace chef, explain a pasta dish. And the current king, T’Challa, was educated in America and Europe under an assumed name, and some dishes are described as being food he discovered while abroad.

Banda and Simms worked closely with the team at Marvel when developing the dishes and the stories around them. “We would talk about whether or not they felt like it would be a part of Wakanda,” Banda says. “I wanted there to be integrity within the dish, but also have integrity in terms of storytelling.”

Banda developed the recipes while staying with their 90-year-old grandmother in Amherst, Mass., during the pandemic. And all along, they considered how important the Black Panther story was to its most devoted admirers. “I was never not thinking about Black Panther fans, hoping they would see the time and thought that went into this,” Banda says.

Black Panther fans aren’t the only cooks that publishing houses are thinking about these days. The Wakanda cookbook is part of a growing trend of pop-culture cookbooks, based on popular franchises with loyal fan bases. Insight Editions CEO Raoul Goff said he first saw the potential for the genre after the success of a 2016 “World of Warcraft” cookbook based on the popular online role-playing game.

Since then, the publisher has produced dozens of titles tied to games such as “The Elder Scrolls” and “Street Fighter,” plus movies and TV, including “Star Wars,” “Friends,” “Downton Abbey,” and forthcoming cookbooks on “Seinfeld” and “Emily in Paris.”

Goff sees these books as more than just the present you give your game-obsessed nephew or Crawley fangirl friend for Christmas. Cooking, he says, helps fans connect with the stories and characters they love in a way that no T-shirt could. “It’s another aspect of getting immersed in that world, whatever it is,” he says.

Are there any shows for which he couldn’t imagine a cookbook spinoff? Maybe “The Walking Dead,” this reporter suggests? Surely there’s nothing appetizing about struggling to stay alive after a zombie apocalypse.

He laughs. “We’ve done that one,” he says. “It was a cookbook and survival guide. Fans loved it.”

“‘Okay, what about ‘Dexter?’ I challenge him, throwing out the name of the show whose serial-killer title character spends his evenings carving up human flesh.

There’s a pause, but Goff isn’t wiling to concede, entirely. “Dexter,” he says, “would be a tough one.”

Braised Kale and Tomatoes

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Storage notes: Refrigerate for up to 3 days.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion (about 5 ounces), halved and sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 2 vine-ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • Fine salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 8 cups curly kale, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 cup low-salt vegetable broth

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent and the garlic is just starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, cumin and paprika, and lightly season with salt and pepper.

Add the kale a handful at a time, stirring occasionally and waiting for it to wilt before adding more. Once all the kale has been added, pour in the stock.

Bring to a simmer, cover and heat for 15 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to keep it at a simmer. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper, as needed.

Remove from the heat and serve family style or divide among the bowls.

Nutrition Information

Per serving (3/4 cup)

Calories: 163; Total Fat: 8 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 172 mg; Carbohydrates: 22 g; Dietary Fiber: 7 g; Sugar: 6 g; Protein: 6 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Adapted from “Marvel’s Black Panther: The Official Wakanda Cookbook” by Nyanyika Banda (Insight Editions, 2022).

Tested by Alexis Sargent; email questions to

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