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Thrill of 27th Annual Pan African Festival

One of the main goals of the festival is to create dialogue and education through film and the arts.

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Linus has used the power of the media to bring awareness to child marriage, which affects girls around the world. Pixabay

More than 100 artisans and 170 films from around the world are being showcased at the 27th Annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival in Los Angeles.

The multiday event in the largely African American neighborhood of Baldwin Hills aims to connect Africans to people of African descent from around the world.

“As a result of the slave trade and colonization, African people are spread all over the planet, so we get a chance through this festival, get a chance to know each other,” said the festival’s executive director, Ayuko Babu.

Film, fine art, fashion and jewelry with Africa as inspiration are all featured at the festival.

“I never think of us as African American. I think of us as Africans in America, and in coming from that perspective, the ancestral lineage of art and Africa is beyond belief,” said jewelry artist Henry Baba Osageyfo Colby of Timbuktu Art Colony.

FILE - Nigerian filmmaker and actress Stephanie Okereke Linus poses for a photograph during a ceremony to unveil her as the UNFPA Regional Ambassador for Maternal Health in West and Central Africa in Lagos, Nigeria, March 8, 2017.
Nigerian filmmaker and actress Stephanie Okereke Linus poses for a photograph during a ceremony to unveil her as the UNFPA Regional Ambassador for Maternal Health in West and Central Africa in Lagos, Nigeria, March 8, 2017. VOA

Film festival

Filmmakers from around the world, such as Nigerian director and actress Stephanie Linus, also attended the festival.

“Connecting all of us to film that is especially about us and we can see a reflection of ourselves and tell our stories and get a better understanding about where I’m coming from,” said Linus, who presented her movie, Dry, at the festival.

The film is about child marriage and the devastating effects of the practice. It is a social issue in Nigeria that surprised Linus when she first learned about it while attending college.

“I’m like, ‘Oh my God, can you believe that we’re living in the same country? We’re having two totally different experiences.’ We in the south (of Nigeria) are able to go to school, have an education, decide what happens to our bodies, and there’s some people up in the north where they don’t even have those choices.”

Linus has used the power of the media to bring awareness to child marriage, which affects girls around the world.

“I’m happy that people have taken proactive action because we screened the movie in Gambia and a month later, the government banned child marriage in Gambia,” Linus said.

Dialogue and education

One of the main goals of the festival is to create dialogue and education through film and the arts.

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“We know there’s profound things happening around the black world, and so this is a way to amplify that make people pay attention,” Babu said.

This year’s festival opened Feb. 7 and runs through Feb. 18. (VOA)

Next Story

Bangladesh Authorities Shut 54 News Portals and Websites in Fresh Blow to Freedom of Expression

In recent months, the authorities have shut 54 news portals and websites, including that of the main opposition party, citing security reasons

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news portal
Poriborton.com, one of the country's top five online news outlets, was cut off without notice. VOA

Bangladesh authorities have blocked access to a popular news portal in what critics on Tuesday condemned as the latest blow to freedom of expression in the South Asian nation.

Poriborton.com, one of the country’s top five online news outlets, was cut off without notice on Sunday, managing editor Abu Sufian told AFP. He did not give a reason.

Officials for government agencies that regulate the internet industry denied any knowledge of the case or refused to comment. The website can still be accessed in other countries.

But a Bangladesh media industry source said a government security agency issued the order after a report published on the website raised questions about the financing behind a newspaper advert against Muslim militancy.

news portal
Poriborton.com, one of the country’s top five online news outlets, was cut off without notice on Sunday, managing editor Abu Sufian told AFP. VOA

Muslim groups had condemned the advert, saying it described some signs of Islamic faith as marks of radicalization. In recent months, the authorities have shut 54 news portals and websites, including that of the main opposition party, citing security reasons.

They cut access to the website of Qatar-based TV station Al Jazeera in March after it published an article alleging the involvement of a senior defense official in the disappearance of three men.

The blocking of Poriborton came just days after three prominent activists and writers were arrested under the country’s tough internet laws.

The arrests of poet Henry Sawpon, human rights defender Abdul Kaium, and lawyer and champion of indigenous people Imtiaz Mahmood last week prompted protests in Dhaka and outrage on social media.

Sawpon and Mahmood were released on bail Thursday, but Kaium remains in detention on charges of extortion and defamation under the digital security law. He risks a jail term of up to 14 years.

news portal
In recent months, the authorities have shut 54 news portals and websites, including that of the main opposition party, citing security reasons. Wikimedia Commons

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who took office for a third straight term in January, has been accused of increasing authoritarianism and criticized for introducing draconian internet and digital security laws that many say are being used to crack down on dissent.

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Sweden-based researcher and author, Tasneem Khalil, told AFP that Poriborton.com was the “latest victim of a robust system of internet censorship in Bangladesh that has been rolled out since the beginning of this year”.

Khalil, a former journalist in Bangladesh who went into exile in 2007, said, “security sources told me that access to poriborton.com was blocked because of a report it published that angered the Bangladeshi military intelligence agency.” (VOA)