Weird Al joins Weezer onstage to perform Toto's 'Africa'

At Weezer's show at The Forum in Los Angeles Wednesday, Weird Al got onstage mid-song to join the band in a cover of Toto's 1982 hit "Africa." You may remember that a 14-year-old recently convinced Weezer to cover "Africa."

Billboard:

"We're gonna take you on a distant voyage," promised singer Rivers Cuomo, who was sporting a classic sleeveless Nirvana T-shirt and rocking a flying V guitar. "To the continent of your choosing... where do you kids want to go tonight?" The question was rhetorical, of course, as "Africa" has become the highlight of the band's sets on their current co-headlining tour with The Pixies. Just moments after the crowd shouted "AFRICA!!!," the band kicked into the song's familiar heat mirage intro and Cuomo awkwardly played some air drums and then, just after the third verse, it happened.

"Weird Al" wandered out on stage in his signature Hawaiian shirt, his accordion at the ready to rip off a wicked solo. Al joined in on the chorus and finished it off with an accordion/guitar riff-off with Cuomo. And then, officially, summer was over.

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Impressive musical demonstration of a kashaka

Senegalese musician Salliou made his own kashaka, a type of twin ball rattle on a string. Listen to him show how many sounds his ingenious creation can make. Read the rest

Turnaround's fair game: Toto cover's Weezer's Hash Pipe

After all the noise made over Weezer covering Toto's Africa, it was only a matter of time before Joseph Williams and the rest of the lads decided what's good for the goose is good for the gander: at a concert in Vancouver, Canada earlier this week Toto unleashed their cover of Hash Pipe upon an undeserving world. Read the rest

Ghanaian parliament erupts into giggles as MPs learn about towns called "Vagina is Wise," "Penis is a Fool" and "Testicles are Sad"

Members of the Ghanaian lost their composure in fits of giggles and guffaws when MP John Frimpong Osei listed out the names of towns in his district that were awaiting electrification. Read the rest

South Africa is considering a new copyright bill that is really, really good!

Here's some refreshing news: the pending reform to South African copyright is really excellent, with a fair use definition that futureproofs itself with the key phrase "such as" -- so naturally, giant entertainment companies are doing everything they can to kill it. Read the rest

African birds create massive colonies on utility poles

Dillon Marsh (previously) documents interesting types of utility poles around the world, including ones colonized by birds in the Kalahari desert: Read the rest

Fight against Ebola continues in high security African lab

With all of the horrible things happening in America right now, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the news and forget that there are other, equally terrible things happening elsewhere. Take Ebola, for example: it’s still a thing! Fortunately, it’s a thing being taken very seriously by very serious men and women at a research facility in the Central African country of Gabon.

According to AFP, an elite group of scientists staffing a heavily fortified level P4 isolation laboratory are working themselves raw trying to find a way to stop the deadly hemorrhagic fever-inducing disease in its tracks. Security at the facility is tight: only four people – three researchers and a technician – are allowed into the lab. The lab is part of a larger research facility called the Franceville International Centre for Medical Research (CIRMF).

From AFP:

Founded in 1979 by Gabon's late president Omar Bongo Ondimba to study national fertility rates, the CIRMF moved on to AIDS, malaria, cancer, viral diseases and the neglected tropical maladies that affect a billion people around the world, according to the WHO.

The centre is financed by the Gabonese state, whose main wealth is derived from oil exports, and gets help from France.

In all, 150 people work for the CIRMF and live on the huge premises. Its reputation draws scientists, students and apprentices from Asia, Europe and the United States, as well as Africa.

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Tanzania's independent websites, podcasts and video channels have gone dark as the country's new blogger tax goes into effect

As of this Friday, anyone operating an independent online presence in Tanzania will have to pay a licensing fee equivalent to an average year's wages, and submit to a harsh set of censorship rules, as well as an obligation to unmask anonymous posters and commenters, with stiff penalties for noncompliance. Read the rest

Scandinavian metal cover of Toto's "Africa"

Since everyone's doing posts about their favorite cover of Toto's "Africa," here's my frontrunner, because it's very Norwegian: metal and ironic and funny all at once. Read the rest

'This Is Nigeria' is that country's viral version of the Childish Gambino hit

Nigerian rapper Falz created This Is Nigeria, a parody of This Is America that switched out lyrics and imagery for social ills in his country: machete-wielding gangs, codeine use, internet scammers, and much more. Read the rest

Uganda enacts unenforceable, ridiculous anti-"gossip" internet tax

At the urging of Uganda's corrupt dictator Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan parliament has enacted legislation imposing a daily tax on anyone using social media platforms; Museveni said the measure would curb "gossip," while Matia Kasaija claimed it would fund security and electrification efforts. Read the rest

Weezer fan convinced band to cover Toto's "Africa"

Weezer revealed their cover of Toto's 1982 hit "Africa" on Tuesday.

It was a matter of "giving the fans what they want," as the Weezer fan Twitter account @weezerafrica began suggesting the band "bless the rains down in africa" late last year.

In early December, Noisey reported that a 14-year-old Cleveland girl named Mary, "who has been learning Weezer songs in her School of Rock cover band," was behind the account.

Mary has been busy tweeting at the band members with her humble request and has been encouraging others to do the same. “it’s about time you blessed the rains down in africa,” she tweeted at Cuomo on Wednesday. Agreed, it is time. She even got a reply from drummer Patrick Wilson. “I laughed,” he said. But Mary, with a determined, unbreakable focus on her goal, replied: “thank you for replying patrick. it has made me feel almost as blessed as the rains down in africa.”

The band is currently on a North American tour. No word if they'll be playing the song live. Read the rest

Mining the Panama Papers and other leaks to reveal the hidden looting of West Africa by its corrupt elite

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists teamed up with the Norbert Zongo Cell for Investigative Journalism (Cenozo) to delve deep into 27.5 million files from the Offshore Leaks, Swiss Leaks, Panama Papers and Paradise Papers to investigate how the super-rich in 15 West African countries have looted their countries' wealth and then smuggled it offshore through a network of tax-havens, even as their countries starve. Read the rest

Ebola outbreak in Congo has spread to city of one million people

The latest Ebola outbreak in Congo has moved from the rural area in which is was first discovered to Mbandaka: a city home to approximately one million people. That the disease has spread to an area with such a dense population is extremely troubling all on its own. Add to this the fact that Mbandaka is a major transportation hub with an airport, river traffic and direct transport options to Kinshasa, Congo's capital city, and you've got a scenario with the potential to keep World Health Organization personnel awake at night.

From the BBC

Forty-two people have now been infected and 23 people are known to have died.

Confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola have been recorded in three health zones of Congo's Equateur province, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

The WHO's Peter Salama said health workers had identified 430 people who may have had contact with the disease and were working to trace more than 4,000 contacts of Ebola patients, who had spread across northwest Congo.

As part of efforts to stem the spread of the often deadly disease, drug manufacturer, Merick, shipped 4,000 doses of an unlicensed Ebola vaccine to Congo that was proven to have been effective in a previous outbreak of the disease in West Africa. There's just one problem: the vaccine needs to be stored between -60 and -80 Celsius. In a first world country, that mightn't be an issue--we've the facilities and infrastructure to make chilling the vaccine to those temperatures a piece of cake. Read the rest

Nigerian government shutters cough syrup manufacturers in an effort to stem an epidemic of codeine addiction

A few years back, I had a cough that was so bad that I ended up dislocating a rib from hacking away. My doctor prescribed me a cough syrup laced, heavily, with codeine. The stuff worked, easing my pain and letting me sleep. There were only two side effects from it: I felt too groovy to work for hours at a time and found it pretty hard to poop.

According to The BBC, a lot of people see the side effects of codeine laced cough syrup as a feature, rather than a problem. Nigeria's National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (Nafdac) was recently forced to shutter three of the country's largest pharmaceutical companies after it was discovered that the cough syrup they were producing was being sold on the black market, in massive quantities, to a growing number of codeine addicts in the African nation.

The forced closure of the companies comes as the result of a BBC investigation into the use of cough syrup containing codeine by many Nigerian youths as an easy conduit to a quick high. The crappiest part of it all is that the drug companies knew that this was the case. In an under cover interview with an executive from the Emzor pharmaceutical company, an executive was caught bragging about how he could sell one million bottles of the elixir in a week on the black market.

Codeine's a dandy painkiller, when used as prescribed by a physician. But it comes with a number of serious issues that crop up when used for long periods of time. Read the rest

The used cars that Europe sends to Nigeria are filled with illegal, toxic e-waste

EU and Nigerian law both ban the export of e-waste to Nigeria, but a new study jointly authored by scholars from UN University and the Basel Convention Coordinating Centre for Africa found that exported used cars represent a smuggler's bonanza for the illegal dumping of toxic waste. Read the rest

Zimbabwe's nurses went on strike this week and got fired by the government as a result

On Monday in Zimbabwe, thousands of nurses went on strike, demanding better salaries. The strike came hot on the heels of the country's doctors returning from their own weeks-long strike, which took place for similar reasons. With no nurses standing by to assist doctors or to see patients, hospitals in the African country have been forced to turn away people looking for care. Instead of negotiating with the nurses or passing legislation that would send them back to work, Zimbabwe’s vice-president, Constantino Chiwenga, apparently decided to fire them all.

Because doing that always calms things down in a country that's facing growing labor unrest.

According to The Guardian, vice-president Chiwenga believes that the strike actions undertaken by the country's doctors and nursing staff are politically motivated and stated that his "...Government has decided in the interest of patients and of saving lives to discharge all the striking nurses with immediate effect." Yep – ensuring that healthcare professions are never allowed to return to their jobs of you know, saving lives, is definitely gonna be in the best interest of any patients they might have treated.

Chiwenga called the strike “deplorable and reprehensible," citing the fact that the government had released £12m to boost their pay and allowances. There's no word, however, on how much this amount would increase the state of each nurse's wages, or when the money would actually come into use.

But don't worry Zimbabwe, there's good news! The government plans on hiring any unemployed or retired nurses that it can find to fill in the massive hole that your government just created in your country's healthcare system. Read the rest

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