Soccer Sports

Following the Africa Cup of Nations from across the Atlantic Ocean

Eight thousand kilometres away from Concordia University, 24 African countries have battled it out at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

After a month of competition, hosts Côte d’Ivoire defeated Nigeria in the 2023 AFCON final on Sunday, the tournament’s most exciting edition in recent memory. For example, none of the eight quarter-finalists in 2022 have made the same stage this year.

A tournament that brings people together

Soccer distinguishes itself from many other popular sports by how easy it is to play. The fact that you only need a ball to play has catapulted the sport into worldwide popularity. This is no different in Africa, where it’s bringing people together through AFCON.

Malik Lee, a Nigerian Concordia student, says his country unites behind the Nigerian national team during AFCON tournaments. “There’s a lot of diversity, like 300 languages, multiple tribes. So it’s one thing that really puts everybody together,” he said. 

National teams can also turn enemies into friends. Mohamed Hazem Bonna, President of the university’s Egyptian Association, says games between Al Ahly and Zamalek, the country’s two biggest clubs, often get heated. “When they play against each other, in Egypt after the match, there will be a lot of fights, a lot of insults and whatever because the passion is crazy there in Egypt,” he said. 

However, when the Egyptian national team plays, these rivalries disappear momentarily. “We all play with each other, as Zamalek players play with Al Ahly players. So we’re all one hand. We’re all supporting the national team,” Bonna said.

Such an important tournament inevitably sees cultural and political rivalries play out on the pitch. However, Lee believes these rivalries create a sense of unity within Africa during the competition. “And it’s so funny because it brings us together through us fighting,” he said.

Côte d’Ivoire rising like a phoenix from the ashes

Before the start of the tournament, Côte d’Ivoire would have been among almost everybody’s group of favourites to lift the AFCON trophy. Not only did they have one of the best squads on paper in the tournament, but they were also hosting the competition. 

After a 2-0 win against Guinea-Bissau to open the tournament, they lost 1-0 to Nigeria and 4-0 to Equatorial Guinea to finish the group stage. Things looked so bad for Côte d’Ivoire that head coach Jean-Louis Gasset even resigned after the group stage. However, due to multiple favourable results in other groups, they finished as the fourth-best third-place team, the last qualifying spot for the round of 16.

The round of 16 marked the beginning of a dramatic redemption story. It saw Côte d’Ivoire eliminate reigning champion Senegal on penalties. In the quarter-finals, they scored in the 90th minute to force extra time, scoring yet again in the last minutes of extra time to beat Mali. A 1-0 win in the semifinal over the Democratic Republic of the Congo set up a rematch with Nigeria in the final. To the delight of the home crowd, they would win it by the score of 2-1, after two second-half goals by Franck Kessié and Sébastien Haller.

Nearly a first title in 11 years for Nigeria

Before the knockout round, The Concordian spoke with many Nigerian students during an inter-university soccer tournament organized by Concordia’s Nigerian Students Association. These students shared what they believe it would have meant for them to see their country win the AFCON for the first time since 2013.

Faisal Audu was pessimistic about Nigeria’s winning chances. “I really hope we can win because I’m not really positive about them. But it’s gonna be a good thing if we can win. Because I’m gonna brag a lot,” he said while smiling. “I have friends from countries that are better than us, like Senegal.”

Josh Njoku is a big supporter of the Nigerian national soccer team. “I support the Nigerian national team a lot, more than the usual Nigerian, you know? Despite all the mess-ups and all the bad times, I continue to support the players,” he said. A win after 11 years would indeed have meant a lot for supporters like Njoku.

Briefs News

World in brief: Impeachment, leaders at the UN and rescued Nigerian captives

A formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump was officially made on Sept. 24. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the inquiry will investigate whether the President abused his presidential powers and sought help from the Ukraine government to undermine Democratic candidate Joe Biden. The Associated Press reported that the allegations came after a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which you can hear Trump asking for help finding incriminating actions by Biden’s son.

“The president must be held accountable,” Pelosi said. “No one is above the law.”

Global leaders met on Sept. 23, in New York for the 74th session of the UN General Assembly. Discussions on the climate crisis and a possible armed conflict between the United States and Iran were among the headlines. French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stood against the U.S. and Iran conflict, urging them to resume negotiations over the ongoing tensions in the Middle East, reported Reuters. Greta Thunberg also made a heartfelt plea, but towards the inactions of leaders regarding the climate crisis. She arguably dropped her most powerful quote yet with “how dare you” in a video that was shared more than 50,000 times.

On Sept. 26, more than 300 captives were rescued from a building that housed an Islamic school in northern Nigeria. Many reports described the survivors mostly as children, boys aged around 5 to their late teens, walking in chains. Police declared that seven people, teachers at the school, were arrested in the raid. Such schools are known to be abusive, yet parents lacking financial resources often opt to leave their children in the hands of the school boards. CBC reported that earlier this year, Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari, himself a Muslim, was planning to eventually ban the schools. It is still unclear how long the children were retained.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


A Nigerian artist’s perspective of life in Montreal

Emmanuel Ayo Akintade explores vulnerability and femininity through stunning portraiture

Emmanuel Ayo Akintade, with his tall frame and arresting style peppered with vibrant colours like canary yellow, seems imposing at first. Underneath, however, is a genuine, humble and talented artist who just wants his “paintings to do the talking” about a message he holds close to his heart—respect for women.

The recent studio arts graduate from Dawson College has kept busy this past summer. Akintade had his first solo exhibition at Studio 303, where he was grateful to have an overwhelmingly positive response from the audience.

“It was blessed,” Akintade said. “Students from Concordia and McGill invited me to an event promoting young entrepreneurs afterwards. It gave me more experience about what it is to be an artist and someone who creates art that involves an audience.”

Akintade’s oil paintings are unique in that almost all of them feature black women. When asked about his choice of subject, Akintade replied that he would like to paint women of all ethnicities. He said the message he wants to transmit with his paintings is not just in support of black women, but rather all women, young and old alike.

The reason he hasn’t painted a more ethnically-diverse set of women: laziness.

“I call myself the lazy artist because I don’t like blending paint and making colours. I found my technique and I continued using it,” he said.

His reason for using oil paint also relates to his dislike of the preparatory work that must be done before painting. Acrylic paint, for example, dries too quickly for Akintade’s liking and renders the process of preparing paint on a palette much more difficult than it is with oil paint.

Although most of his practice has been focused on portraying women of colour, Akintade said that in the future, he hopes to paint people of all ethnicities. Photo by Mackenzie Lad

Akintade’s inspiration for his paintings stems from the dichotomy between attitudes towards women in Nigeria—where he lived as a young boy—and the attitudes he has witnessed in Montreal as a teenager and young adult.

“Where I come from, ladies are respected,” the artist said. “Here, there’s so much disrespect of the female character. They tend to be judged by what they do. Back home, there was so much respect.”

Akintade, who has been painting for about three years, said he is surprised by how much his art has evolved, and by how much attention and appreciation his paintings receive. He began painting for fun at home and initially never intended for his paintings to be displayed. After his first exhibition this summer, Akintade said he is still quite shocked by how much of a positive response he got.

“The first time I got my art out, people got really involved with the message right away,” he said. “People started talking about [elements in my work] I wasn’t even planning to paint intentionally.”

Though the so-called “artist gene” does not run in his family, Akintade said his parents are very supportive of his work. His mother often helps him advertise his paintings and occasionally purchases some of his artwork.

Akintade is trilingual, speaking French, English and Yoruba, a dialect spoken in Nigeria. He doesn’t always find it easy to express the thought process behind his paintings, especially in English, which is not his mother tongue.

“As an artist, my goal is to let my paintings do all the talking,” he said.

Though he is not one for many words, Akintade did share a bit of the creative process behind his work. He said he noticed that women in Montreal tend not to talk about the hurtful and disrespectful things they experience on a daily basis. They tend to keep these experiences to themselves, he said.

“That’s why in my paintings they seem so quiet,” Akintade said. “They have their eyes closed. They’re not engaging with their surroundings. They’re just in themselves. The idea is that through their quietness, they are speaking.”

The blossoming artist has a new project in mind for the future. He wants to paint a series of male portraits. He said he feels men are often put into a box and are constantly labeled based on their appearance.

“The new project is about guys,” Akintade said. “I don’t like this idea of labelling guys [by the] way they dress. They should be free.”

Photo by Mackenzie Lad


World Music Review : Africa

Ladysmith Black Mambazo (South Africa) – Arguably one of the most prolific South African bands in existence, this a capella all-male singing troupe has been around for more than 40 years. Their fusion of traditional South African sounds with Christian gospel and even pop has set them apart and brought them to centre stage. Founded by lead singer, director and composer Joseph Shabalala, they’ve collaborated with Paul Simon and Melissa Etheridge, provided soundtrack material for The Lion King II, and have been invited to perform for Nelson Mandela, Queen Elizabeth II and the late Pope John Paul II. Oh, and they don’t mind getting recognition from the Grammys either, having been nominated 13 times since 1988, and winning three of those nominations, including most recently in 2009 in the “Best Traditional World Music Album” category for Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu.
Most recent album: Songs From a Zulu Farm (Razor & Tie; 2011)

Razia Said (Madagascar) – Not just another beautiful, exotic voice, Razia Said combines the traditional sounds of the small, ecologically isolated island of Madagascar with socially, environmentally and spiritually conscious messages. Despite having relocated to New York City to pursue her musical career, her love of Madagascar holds fast and shines through in her music. Zebu Nation, her latest release, is a collection of Malagasy songs with a new-age edge, written about her longing for her country in spite of the poverty, tribal dissonance and environmental suffering experienced there. The album serves as her way of raising awareness of the troubles of her homeland, which is being destroyed by slash-and-burn agriculture, climate change and industrial development.
Most recent album: Zebu Nation (Cumbancha; 2009)

Tamikrest (Mali) – After being referred to as “the future of Tuareg music,” Tamikrest has a lot to live up to. But after listening to their psychedelic, desert-inspired synthesis of Tuareg, rock ‘n’ roll, electric blues and pop, you’ll understand why. Singing entirely in Tamashek, the language of the Tuareg people, they use traditional sounds such as youyous, djembés, as well as electric guitar, bass, drums and vocals to bring you on your own personal hallucinogenic desert oasis trip. The nine band members, all in their early ‘20s, received musical training at a small desert oasis school, but didn’t move beyond playing traditional songs until the Internet became available and they were able to discover iconic Western musical heroes Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and Bob Marley. Although you might not associate their sound with a heavy message, the Tuareg people have endured great suffering, including a five-year-long civil war in the early ‘90s which shaped the music and philosophies of these young musicians.
Most recent album: Toumastin (Glitterhouse Records; 2011)

Burkina Electric (Burkina Faso) – In a wild cohesion of electronic and African sounds, Burkina Electric pulls out all the right stops to have you moving and grooving. The group is actually led by Lukas Ligeti, an extremely talented, Austrian-born drummer and composer who happens to be the son of the famous film and classical composer Gyorgy Ligeti. Burkina Electric is more than just a band—think The Mighty Mighty Bosstones—they also have two dancers, tying together the long-held tradition of music and dance for the African people. By seeking out rare and unknown African rhythms, this sextet is spearheading electronic world music with ancient rhythms and instruments, such as those of the Sahel, combined with their own original beats and sounds. Lead singer Maï Lingani sings in four languages, including French, and alongside guitarist Wende K. Blass, electronicist/VJ Pyrolator, Ligeti, and dancers/choreographers Vicky and Zoko Zoko, this Burkina Faso band is sure to impress.
Most recent album: Raem Tekra (Listenable Records; 2007)
Upcoming album: Not yet named, no official release date.

King Sunny Adé (Nigeria) –  At 65 years of age, King Sunny Adé is still pumping out the high energy traditional African rhythms that most people would associate with the widely diverse continent. He and his band, the African Beats, deliver Yoruba Nigerian Jùjú music and are widely considered to have popularized the genre in the world music scene. To say he’s accomplished is an understatement—he’s been nominated for two Grammys, collaborated with Stevie Wonder, released well over 100 albums, and he has even graced the silver screen three times. And don’t think that you’ll have to miss out on a wild performance when it comes to this veteran performer. With anywhere from 23 to 50 band members on stage at any given time, a concert by Adé is probably a bigger party than anything you might have seen during frosh week.
Most recent album: Morning Joy (Master Disc; 2010)

Die Antwoord (South Africa) – If Nicki Minaj’s latest schizophrenic Grammy awards show offering has left a stale Lady Gaga-esque taste in your mouth, turn to Die Antwoord for an even filthier take on grunge hip hop. Die Antwoord, “The Answer” in Afrikaans, is weeding Zef style into mainstream rave electronica with the help of the Pitchfork and Coachella obsessed. Its three members, Ninja, Yo-Landi Vi$$er, and DJ Hi -Tek are at the forefront of the South African Zef movement, and boast the dirt-poor yet flashy lifestyle. They fuse fashion with music, drawing on the clash between rich and poor in the wake of South African apartheid. Their music video for “Enter the Ninja” went viral in 2009, leading to a deal with Interscope Records and an international tour. In keeping with the Zef lifestyle, Die Antwoord left their major label and started their own, Zef Records, in 2011.
Most recent album: Ten$ion (Zef Records; 2012)

Michael Kiwanuka (Uganda) – Fresh off backing Adele’s 2011 tour, Michael Kiwanuka is bound to bask in his tour mate’s glorious 2012 Grammy shutdown. The London-born 23-year-old is the offspring of two Ugandan refugees who fled the Amin regime, escaping political repression and mass killings that resulted in the deaths of up to 500,000 people in the 1970s. Kiwanuka lived quietly as a session guitarist until going solo in 2011 with his debut solo EP, Tell Me a Tale. Always with a guitar in hand, Kiwanuka is a wholesome, soulful crooner, reminiscent of Otis Redding and Bill Withers. Though he has yet to release an album, he beat out the much hyped Azealia Banks and Skrillex for the BBC’s Sound of 2012 poll. Past winners of the award include Jessie J, Adele and Ellie Goulding, so Kiwanuka is destined for stardom.
Most recent album: I’m Getting Ready [EP] (Communion Records; 2011)
Upcoming album: Home Again (Polydor; 2012)

The Parlotones (South Africa) – Africa isn’t all drum circles and pan flutes, and even The Parlotones are proof that the continent didn’t escape the britpop epidemic of the ‘90s. Hailing from Johannesburg, The Parlotones is a traditional four-piece rock band known for churning out stadium anthems and harmonious ballads à la Coldplay. The band was signed to Universal Records, the world’s largest record company, but has failed to catch on in North America despite achieving moderate success in Europe. The band members won’t walk the streets of Cape Town or Johannesburg unnoticed, however, for they have achieved multi-platinum status in South Africa. The Parlotones performed alongside Shakira and The Black Eyed Peas at the FIFA World Cup Kick-Off Celebration Concert in 2010, and band members are also spokespersons for Live Earth and Earth Hour.
Most recent album: Eavesdropping on the Songs of Whales (Sovereign Entertainment; 2011)
Upcoming album: Journey Through the Shadows (Sovereign Entertainment; 2012)

Freshlyground (South Africa) – This seven-piece Cape Town outfit has achieved international recognition for its ability to blend traditional African music with social commentary, yet simultaneously attract a mainstream pop appeal that defies demographics. Zolani Mahola, Freshlyground’s lyricist and energetic vocalist, always seems to sing through a smile. Mahola’s silky voice sails through piano, violin, guitar, mbira, saxophone and percussion instrumentals provided by her musical compadres who gather from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa to perform together. The band draws on kwela, the skiffling street dance music of South Africa, as well as African folk music, alternative rock and tin pan alley harmonies. Freshlyground became the first South African group to win the MTV Europe Award for Best African Act in 2006 and performed the official anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup with Shakira.
Most recent album: Radio Africa (Sony BMG Africa; 2010)

D’Banj (Nigeria) – In a world where rap and hip hop is dominated by glock-happy, gold-toothed, ganja-bragging criminals, D’Banj’s harmonica is a full breath of fresh air. After signing with Kanye’s label, G.O.O.D. MUSIC, in 2011, the Nigerian native will bring a slightly less hard face to American R&B. D’Banj was born into a conservative family and was expected to follow his father’s footsteps into the military, but he found himself drawn to drums rather than guns. In tribute to his deceased brother and the harmonica instruction he received from him, D’Banj continues to stick with the instrument, playing it on stage and in studio. His reggae-Afrobeat tales of chasing kokelets (beautiful women) and struggling for acceptance bring youthful humour to hip hop.
Most recent album: The Entertainer (Mo Hits Records; 2008)
Upcoming album: Mr. Endowed (G.O.O.D. Music; 2012)


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