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Everything About the BAL Which Held in Rwanda Was Highly Professional – Usher Komugisha



By Dolapo Aina

Usher Komugisha is a well-known sports journalist on the African Continent known for showcasing sports stories from the African perspective. Her stellar resume and impeccable repertoire span several continents and counting. Usher is a multimedia sports journalist, event host, moderator, editor and communications consultant and an avid globetrotter and a polyglot.

She was selected as one of two Africans to represent the continent at the 2011 FISU-AIPS Young Reporters Program at the World University Games in Shenzhen, China and that was where her international sports reporting began. She has covered the London 2012 Olympics courtesy of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) and as a very young journalist interviewed the likes of Serena Williams, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Roger Federer, Usain Bolt, Andy Murray.

In November 2019, she attended the first ever International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) on Women’s Empowerment Through Sports Journalism courtesy of the United States Department of State via the US Mission in Uganda.

Usher Komugisha has reported and created content for global multi-international media organisations like BBC, Al Jazeera, SuperSport TV, FIBA to name a few.

I sat down with Usher Komugisha just after the end of the BAL (Basketball African League) where she was one of the commentators on ESPN and which held in June 2021 in Kigali, Rwanda. Do read the excerpts of the extensive interview.

You are quite known in Rwanda, Uganda, East Africa, on the Continent and globally. How did the journey begin?

I was born in Kilembe which is in the Western part of Uganda. It is a small copper mining town on the foothills of Mount Rwenzori which is the second highest mountain in Africa. A very beautiful place with a very good neighbourhood where I lived there with my family and so many people around us. So, I was exposed to different people, personalities and nationalities from a very young age. And that opened me up to see the world in different perspectives. But to be very specific in terms of sports journalism, I cannot say that I set out to be a sports journalist but when I looked back the way I was raised, everything that happened in my life led up to me been a sports journalist. For instance, I learnt so many languages from when I was a child just been able to fit into society, you go to school, you learn how to speak English; but because you are trying to get to know people better, you learn their language as they learn yours and you meet each other midway. But also, I played sports from a very young age. My parents used to go every Tuesday to attend the Rotary meetings at the Kilembe golf course and I would walk around the golf course just to play around as a kid, to learn about golf. I used to run, do track and field, netball (which was and is still popular in Uganda), volleyball, cycling (my father bought me a bicycle when I was a child). Basically, my parents allowed me to explore when I was a child, so I can do anything and everything and they raised me like a genius (I should say). So, I was always the best in class and on top of studying in school, my parents used to go through conversations where I can think, read something (yes) but can I think about it? Can I internalise it? Can I comprehend it? Also, I was greatly influenced by my parents who bought my books when I was young; I used to read a lot when I was young and I still do. I remember some of my biggest influences were Nigerian writers; obviously Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (a very great book in our household), Ola Rotimi’s Arrow of God. Wole Soyinka. Some Kenyan authors as well and obviously Okot P’Bitek from Uganda who wrote The Song of Lawilo. So, I used to read a lot of that. Furthermore, when young and whilst eating at the dining table, I used to read the atlas and look at all the capital cities and remember their names and tell myself that I want to travel the world and see all these capital cities before I am forty (and it is still a dream I have). Also, I used to read the dictionary for phonetics (read the word, understand the meaning and how do I pronounce it properly?) And I still have an aunt (Aunt Sophie who is into literature and English) and she would guide us in more ways than one and get us thinking and reading books etc. For me, that was very important in my career.

Women in sports journalism is popular in the world, some regions in Africa but not really in East Africa. Why did you decide to go into sports journalism as an East African, knowing the numerous challenges therein?

I can tell you that I didn’t choose sports journalism, sports journalism chose me. Why do I say that? One day, I was seated at church (a church called Watoto church in Uganda formerly known as Kampala Pentecostal Church), taking my nice yoghurt around 3pm in the afternoon, watching the Kampala-road traffic and I really needed to relax. A gentleman just came and sat close to me and started talking to me and as we spoke, he sounded like I should know him but I was thinking why should I know him? Then, he introduced himself (John Kusolo) and said that he was the host of a radio show on Power FM which is the biggest Christian radio station in Uganda and belongs to the Watoto Church. And when he mentioned that and people he works with Mark Ssali, Joseph Kabuleta and I told him I knew them because they were the best journalists in Uganda then. So, he said, I had a good radio voice but I rebuffed him and told him I didn’t have a good voice and I have never thought of being a radio journalist. But I play as the captain in the league for the Makerere University team called Sparks. And I told him, I could send you information and you can read out on your radio show. But he told me to think about it. After three weeks, I came to him and told him, I wanted to see what the studio is like, because when I was growing up, I used to listen to Capital Radio FM which had the largest coverage in Uganda. I got there and Max put me on the spot and introduced me to the listeners as a basketball expert who would tell the listeners all they had to know about basketball. I was not expecting that since I was not there as a guest but a visitor. After the break with some convincing, I spoke about the basketball league. Afterwards, he said I was very good and he invited me to another show and with time one of them, Joseph Kabuleta (now a retired sports journalist), said I should think about writing because we don’t have women that write about sports in Uganda. I gave it a thought and went to New Vision which is the biggest newspaper in Uganda (in terms of sales). When I got there, I found Louis Jadwong (the editor) and he told me what I wanted to write about. I told him basketball since I played basketball but he told me to find something else to write about since there was someone who was writing about basketball. So, because I was at the University at the time, I thought to myself, maybe, I should write about university sports. Coincidentally, there was the national university games which was taking place in Nkumba, Entebbe, Uganda. Since I was going to be there, I covered the stories and that was how I made my newspaper debut. Once, I did that and the tournament was done, there was no new stories to run, so, I decided to think smart. Maybe, I can profile a university student who plays in the league. With time, I was getting pieces of news. Now, the sports tutor at the time who is still the sports tutor of Makerere University by the name Bernen Makabende told me to apply for the International Sports Press Association which brings together all the sports journalists across the world had a programme where they were bringing together sports reporters from across the world. And they also partnered with the International Federation of University Sports to invite young journalists to China for the World University Games in 2011. When they did that, we were only two selected from Africa on the IFSU side. A Senegalese lady by the name Diacounda Sene and I were selected to go to China and off we went representing an entire Continent of Africa. We were excited and ready for the challenge. When we arrived, we were trained by officials from FIFA, IOC. FIBA, International Softball Federation etc and we were taught to write unique stories about the athletes (stories within the stories.) I wrote stories about the food (six thousand dishes in the dining hall which had cuisine sections for meals from the world.) We had a chef from Kenya who was making Ugali, another making egusi soup. It was a very unique experience and I wrote about it. At the end of the tourney, the AIPS President from Italy (Gianni Merlo) said that he felt that I was very extraordinary in the entire programme and so the following year, they invited me to go to the 2012 London Olympics. That was when my international journalism career literally started. When I covered the Olympics, I was interviewing people I usually watch on television from home; I am talking Serena Williams, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Usain Bolt etc. That for me was life changing because here I am as a twenty-four year old covering the Olympics; from where I come from, even covering the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, you would find fifty year old journalists. So, it is impossible to find a young person covering the Olympics. So, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I grabbed with my hands and decided that this is my make or break. So, I covered that for the AIPS and it set the ball rolling. When I returned home, I decided to change a few things. I had done radio and I had done writing. So, I decided to do television. So, I went to NTV Uganda, interned for three months, got into the system and learnt how to film, how to edit, how to write a script, how to report in front of a camera. Once I learnt all these skills and after the internship ended, I had a month or two to relax and I went to cover the zone five basketball tournament in Burundi. When I was done after a week, I had to go back to Uganda by road and I had to pass through Rwanda because my childhood friend was getting married here in Kigali, Rwanda. So, I decided to attend her wedding and then, go back home. The day before her wedding during the Kasikenyi (a send-off party), I met a friend and this friend asked me a question; why don’t you work in Rwanda? When I told him I don’t have a job, he said give me twenty-four hours and I would find you a job. I got an interview with Rwanda Focus which was a weekly newspaper, when I met the owner at the time by the name of Shyaka Kanumu, we spoke on several sports and in-depth knowledge of premier league, rugby, boxing and at the end of our meeting, he said I was hired and that he didn’t need to see any papers because I knew what I was talking about. I started to work and that was my introduction into Rwanda. I tell this story because Rwanda has played a very key role in my sports journalism career because when I was here, I worked for the Olympics Committee of Rwanda, I worked for Team Rwanda cycling, I got to start working for The Guardian in the United Kingdom from here because I wrote a Gorilla tourism story. Then, I met a former colleague who worked for SuperSports in Uganda when I wanted to work for SuperSports (a Kenyan cameraman) and he told me they were looking for someone who can cover for SuperSports, stories in Rwanda. At the time, Rwanda had just joined the Commonwealth and they were preparing for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland in 2014, though, Rwanda had attended the games in New Delhi in 2010. But this time, Rwanda was going with full force and the country had transition from French to English. So, I did the stories and that was my introduction into SuperSports. Then, I began to work for a global brand like SuperSports. In 2016, Rwanda was hosting the FIBA U-18 championship and FIBA was in search of someone who could write about basketball in English and I was there and I was recommended. Once I began to work for FIBA. So, both my SuperSports and FIBA jobs started here in Rwanda. This is my brief journey into international sports journalism.

What were the challenges you faced back then? And what are the challenges you and other women sports journalists still face?

When people see women sports journalists, they think about this is a woman and I am like you need to think about it that I am a sports journalist not a woman. I don’t call you a male journalist or a male sports journalist, so why should you call me a woman sports journalist? The challenges are mostly automatic. People assume that women do not know about sports, maybe they know about fashion, cooking etc which are not bad as it is good to like cooking and fashion but people need to be limitless. I don’t like people who put me in a box and think that I am a woman or that I am black or that I am small. It is those challenges that people think that women do not know anything about sports that we have to deal with every day. But what is the solution? Here it is, I do what I have to do in the very best way I know how to do it. When I don’t know something, I make sure to learn it. Everyday for me is a learning opportunity since you cannot know everything. You learn from different people different things. An example I would share. I didn’t know anything about rugby, so, I decided to play in the rugby league in Uganda to learn about rugby so that I can report about it. So, when I play it, no one can say I don’t know what I am talking about. Even when you look at international media, if you are to be hired as an analyst, you should have played the game. It is much better when you’ve played the game. For example, Sammy Kuffour played in the finals of the UEFA Champions League in 1999 and lost to Manchester United and he went on to win the trophy later. So, he knows what it is to lose it and win it. It is always better from that perspective. Another example, after the BAL, someone told me he was re-watching the games and listening to my commentaries and discovered that I knew what I was talking about. This came from a basketballer who also noticed what I had commented on and agreed about my analysis. But he was shocked about my analytical comments. Why should he be shocked? It is basketball, it is not rocket science. Even if it were rocket science, Elon Musk is literally changing everything about rocket science and space. These are some of the things we deal with daily, but you just have to make sure you better yourself every day. Try to be different and try to be better and above all, get your job done.

When would you say you broke the glass ceiling? Your big break?

Maybe I can say 2016. In 2016, I was doing communications for the CHAN which was hosted here in Kigali. 2016 was the same year I started working for FIBA. 2016 was the year I got into African football at CHAN 2016 and many years down the line, I am now an African football expert.

The BAL (Basketball African League) was held in Rwanda in May-June 2021 and you were the only lady commentator amongst the eight commentators of ESPN. How did that come about and what were your professional takeaways?

In 2016, when I began working for FIBA, I was introduced to African Basketball and I began covering tournaments like U 16, U18, the Women AfroBasket in Mali in 2017.began getting all these contacts and then my boss began to assign me to all the big events. In 2019, I covered Basketball World Cup in China and that was huge because the venue where I was had the toughest group which had title contenders like Lithuania, Australia, Senegal and Canada at the time was coached by Nick Nash who had just won the NBA title with Toronto Raptors. So, that journey in 2016 led me to this point at the BAL because the BAL and the NBA knew for sure that Usher, we always see her at events and she knows what she is talking about. She knows these players. And if you look at the set-up of the commentators, a South African and I are the only ones based on the African Continent. It was a life changing opportunity because I told myself that this is my chance to un-bank untruths about the African Continent. People think that we are just about the big five; come and see lions, hippopotamuses, elephants etc. They don’t even think and believe that we have an arena like we have here. So, it was an opportunity to sell the Continent, to show people who we are as a people. Yes, Africans are the same but we are also different. What is that difference that we are talking about? Can we talk about the differences between Nigeria and Cameroun? Yes, they are neighbours but there are differences and there are similarities. If you talk about Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco. Yes, they are North Africans but they are different. If you talk about top basketball teams in Angola and Mozambique; yes, they speak Portuguese but they are different even if they are black. So many of such insights and personal stories of the players like the Senegalese player for AS Douane who travels six hundred kilometres from where he teaches in the East of Senegal to come to Dakar to train on Friday with his team, play on Saturday and return back to his base. And he was the best player at the BAL tournament. Another player is Anas Mahmoud of Zamalek who won the title, he is expecting a child in the summer. And from the way he played, the nine NBA scouts could sign him up for the NBA summer league. Now, he has to make a tough choice; be available when the child is born or go and achieve a career highlight and life dream? Another story is of Aristide Mugabe who is the face of Rwandan Basketball. He lost two brothers and a father in the 1994 Genocide Against The Tutsi. His biggest game of his career happened on the night that the French President Emmanuel Macron was at the arena with the President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. What more poetic justice is there than that, that his biggest game of his career happened on the night that France apologised to Rwanda for her role in the 1994 Genocide Against The Tutsi. When you talk about stories like that, it humanises the tournament and not just statistics. These stories for me is one of the reasons why I feel privileged, honoured to have been here as a BAL commentator and I don’t take it for granted.

About the professional lessons. Look, the NBA’S involvement in Africa has spanned more than a decade since 2010. She started basketball without borders and there were twenty graduates from that tourney who played at the BAL. Then we have a player from Zamalek who attended the NBA Academy in Senegal, he was part of the winning team. All these players who dream of playing in the NBA and who think they are old and may not be able to play in the NBA, they have an opportunity to play in a league that is organised by the NBA. The level of professionalism that was at the BAL was incredible and amazing. You had the fruits of laying a foundation to say that you can have your own African league and feel proud to be African. And we have had all these people who are calling and saying, we want to play in Africa and be part of the BAL. For me that is fulfilling.

As an insider who took part in the inaugural BAL, do breakdown what the BAL was about, challenges and the milestones?

The BAL is a partnership between FIBA and NBA and the NBA is literally on this journey that they started in 2010 to transform the face of African basketball and the BAL is doing exactly that because we are talking about elites for the very first time in the world, you have an African basketball tournament that is watched in 215 territories and countries and broadcast in 15 languages simultaneously. It has never happened before. So, this is historic for the Continent. And I am talking about people watching as far as Brazil, Australia etc. People were watching the games and were saying they wanted to be part of it. So, the second edition is going to be more exciting. The BAL brought about twelve teams across the Continent; six did not have to qualify. Obviously, when you look at the setup, those six countries that didn’t qualify are the top countries in Africa from the participatory point of view. Also, the league needed to give an opportunity to teams to play against top tier competition. So, what was done was that we had to be serious about not having only foreign players. So, the BAL decided to have eight nationals and where the team comes from, they have to have eight nationals (players who were born in that country or live in that country.) And then, you have to have two players from the African Continent and two foreigners who are non-Africans. For example, Rivers hoopers of Nigeria. Everyone knows Nigeria as the male and female teams are attending the Tokyo Olympics. But if you look at Rivers Hoopers, they could not even leave the group stages and this speaks to the weak league in Nigeria that the Federation must now address because they have been dancing around the situation and not addressing it because they field players from the NBA and European leagues for the national teams. If they use local players, maybe one or two (and it would make news.) There were eight players who were drafted in the NBA and the eight were from one country, Nigeria. There is a lot of talent in Nigeria but the federation must think of making the league strong, so that when they come to play in the BAL, the level is the same with other countries. You see countries with serious leagues like Angola, Tunisia, Egypt; they were the ones in the final four and obviously patriots of Rwanda did a good job of being professional in trying to give their very best. Even from a professional player’s point of view, you had a scenario where everything was on time. The challenges were that we were in a pandemic and there were no fans. That Kigali Arena, if it had ten thousand fans, it would have been a different vibe. And even for Rwanda as hosts; they would have loved to have sports tourists (people who are coming to watch the BAL here as fans who are not in a bubble) and it would have been different. We managed to have over twenty-one thousand covid tests and no player or official tested positive for covid19. The players had to have eight negative tests before they could have team training. Every official had to have four straight negative tests before they could leave their rooms and do whatever it is that brought them to the tournament. It was very serious as every day, we were tested, we had to wear our masks, we had to observe physical distancing. It was really an incredible journey and I am really proud of Rwanda for hosting this event.

What are the ripple effects of the BAL on the sport, professional players, teams and young ones who want to play professional basketball?

I can say that now, people are looking at basketball in a different setup and different perspective. The BAL gave every team funds to prepare for the event and paid salaries of players and coaches. And bank statements had to be produced that the funds were actually disbursed to the actual beneficiaries (as we know sometimes in Africa, it is usually a problem to pay on time) The BAL is very serious about this, paying and being professional about the business of basketball. For example, every team got all her uniforms and kits, so you could not say, you forgot your uniforms and kits. How? Everything was shipped in and everything they found here. You had clear guidelines, what to wear, when to wear. In the bubble, the players had to wear their grey tee shirts which had the logo in front and the name of the team you represent. Look, all of these and the fact that the players also understood the seriousness of the tournament when they flew in and saw all the uniforms and kits in their respective rooms (from tee shirts to warmers to anything you can think about was presented to them.) Everything had to be uniform as events are broadcast live to the entire world, so we could not afford to have any negative comment about Africans hosting a big event. Everything had to be professional.

Young people especially young African girls must have been proud seeing an African woman running commentaries and performing the final rites during the closing ceremony of the BAL. Any words of encouragement to them and women who have dreams that include breaking the glass ceiling?

Look, the more I think about it, the more I realise it is an incredible moment for me as a person and I am extremely very proud, honoured and privileged to have commentated and give a female voice to the BAL and obviously I received thousands of messages of people congratulating me about how proud they were of me etc. But also, for the women, that medal ceremony was watch by the entire world (I got congratulatory messages from Brazil, China and other far places). But the message to young girls like I told you earlier is to be limitless. Do not let people put you in a box. So, because Dolapo is from Nigeria, so he cannot work in China. No. When you wake up every day, you have to see how to make yourself better in what you do. It does not mean that you would not fail (I have failed thousands of times) but I have to wake up and try again. If yesterday I made a mistake, what can I improve today? What can I tell myself? What can I ask the people around me who know more than me? What can I learn from them? Every time I am learning to someone and anyone, I must learn something by the time, we are done with the conversation. It does not matter if the conversation is two minutes or three hours; I must learn something by the time I go home.

So, the message to young girls is to be limitless. Follow your dreams if you want to do something, go for it. No one should ever tell you that it is too difficult to learn Portuguese or oh my God, how can you speak eighteen languages. Or how is it even possible to know that much basketball? No, it is just a matter of work. It is like what they say about putting in those ten thousand hours. You have to. There are no shortcuts, you have to believe in the process. Every time believe in the process and take it one day at a time. You would get there and pray to God as this is very important.

You are a polyglot who speaks about 18 languages. How did that come about?

So, most of the languages I have learnt has been through immersion. Remember what I told you about how I grew up. One neighbour is Congolese, so they speak Lingala in their house or the Swahili they speak has a bit of Lingala French and Swahili itself. I remember when I was playing at the University, we had Kenyans in the team, so I picked up the Kenyan Sheng as they call it. This Sheng has English in it. So, what the Congolese put French, the Kenyans put English. For instance, if you wanted to say, Are you coming? In real Swahili, you can ask, na ku ja? In Congolese Swahili, you say na ku ya? In Kenyan Swahili, you say una come? You just listen, to be honest, it comes easy for me because I am a polyglot but I also do listen. For example, just because I started covering tournaments in Angola and Mozambique, I picked up Portuguese because I am not going to tell my colleagues that I failed to do this story because these players speak Portuguese. I cannot do that. I have to find a way. I might have to find someone to assist with translation initially but with time, I am also listening to the words, what do they mean? How do I conjugate them? I can also get an app and begin to teach myself the conjugation. As you know, the Latina languages are complicated as you must know which is female and male object. Even Kinyarwanda, this was how I learnt Kinyarwanda. When I came here, I realised that the athletes didn’t speak English, so I had to learn Kinyarwanda but because of my Bantu history (coming from the Bantu part of Africa), it is very easy for me. For example, if I go and live in Durban in South Africa, three months is enough for me to speak Zulu.

What is the title of the book you are currently reading?

That is a very important question for I almost went out to purchase a book yesterday. I am reading a book about the US national football team and it was updated to include their 2019 World Cup victory. It is titled The National Team and written by Caitlin Murray.

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Police Arrest Four Yoruba Nation Agitators for Seizing Radio Station




Some Yoruba Nation agitators, on Sunday morning, seized Radio Nigeria, Amuludun FM 99.1 in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, taking over broadcast for more than one hour.

A source told The PUNCH Metro that the agitators, who besieged the station around 5:40 am in an 18-seater bus, were armed with dangerous weapons and charms, threatening to deal decisively with any staff member who refused to cooperate with them.

However, four out of the agitators, among whom was a woman, were arrested by the police with the assistance of the Nigerian army, while others ran into different directions to evade arrest.

One of the arrested agitators, who sustained gunshot wounds, had rushed into the studio to tell others that security operatives had taken over the nooks and crannies of the station. The blood stain was seen in the studio.

An investigation by our correspondent revealed that after holding some night duty staff and security guards hostage, the agitators hijacked the studio and announced live on radio “Welcome to Yoruba Nation.”

An impeccable source further said they continued threatening staff members to remove all Nigeria flags in the station and replace them with Yoruba Nation flags as they have already taken over the Government Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan.

It was further learnt that they initially hijacked some commercial vehicles (Micra) to block the main road.

When our correspondent visited the station at J&P Bus-stop, Moniya in Akinyele Local Government Area of the state, more than 20 operational vehicles of security agents, including Department of State Services were sighted at strategic locations to forestall any eventuality.

Confirming the invasion, the most senior staff on duty, Ajayi Omotola, stated that, “They told us that they are Yoruba Nation agitators. And in their T-shirt, there was that inscription there. They wrote Yoruba Nation. Only six persons came inside the studio with different charms threatening to kill us if we failed to cooperate. Others were outside manning security at different areas within the premises.

“They collected all our phones and threatened to kill us if we made any noise or phone calls. They said they wanted to broadcast live that Yoruba Nation has taken over. We should remove all Nigeria flags in our studio and replace it with their own. They didn’t allow anybody to go outside. The Area Commander came, addressed and even pleaded with them but they ignored him. We later heard sporadic shooting outside. So, one of our staff members then came inside to inform us that police and soldiers had arrived,” Omotola stressed.

As of press time, normalcy had returned while stern-looking security operatives were still manning the station.

The Punch

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76th Cannes Film Festival Ends with Bang




The stars on parade at 76th Festival de Cannes


By Michael Effiong

The colour, the glamour, the style and class of the 76th Annual Cannes Film Festival ends today with a big bang.

Festival de Cannes, the film industry’s most prestigious festival will take place at 8:30 pm and will be broadcast live on France 2 and internationally on Brut.

The Jury, presided over by director Ruben Östlund and including director Maryam Touzani, actor Denis Ménochet, writer/director Rungano Nyoni, actress/director Brie Larson, actor/director Paul Dano, writer Atiq Rahimi, director Damián Szifron and director Julia Ducournau, will select the winners from the 21 films in Competition this year.

Actress Anaïs Demoustier, President of the Jury, will hand out the Caméra d’or award to the best first film. Actress Stacy Martin and director Ildikó Enyedi, President of the Short Film and La Cinef Jury, will award the Palme d’or for short films.

Actor Orlando Bloom will hand out the Jury Prize. Actor Song Kang-ho, last year’s winner of the Best Performance by an Actor for Broker and actress Zar Amir Ebrahimi, last year’s winner of the Best Performance by an Actress for Holy Spider, will award the Best Performance by an Actress and Best Performance by an Actor Prizes respectively.


Actor John C. Reilly, President of the Un Certain Regard Jury, will award the Best Screenplay Prize, while Pete Docter, Creative Director of Pixar Studios, will present the Best Director Prize.


The Festival de Cannes will also be honored by the exceptional presence tonight of legendary filmmaker Roger Corman, who will present the Grand Prix alongside virtuoso Quentin Tarantino.


Finally, the prestigious Palme d’or will be presented by the formidable and inspiring Jane Fonda.


The Closing Ceremony will mark the end of the 76th Festival de Cannes, and will be followed by the screening of Peter Sohn‘s film Elementary in the Grand Théâtre Lumière.


The 21 films competing for the Palme d’or this year are : Firebrand by Karim Aïnouz, Asteroid City by Wes Anderson, Rapito (Kidnapped)(Kidnapped) by Marco Bellocchio, Les Filles d’Olfa (Four Daughters)(Four Daughters) by Kaouther Ben Hania, L’Été dernier (Last Summer) (Last Summer) by Catherine Breillat, Kuru Otlar Ustune (About Dry Grasses)(About Dry Grasses) by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Le Retour (Homecoming) by Catherine Corsini, The Zone of Interest by Jonathan Glazer, Club Zero by Jessica Hausner, May December by Todd Haynes, Monster by Kore-Eda Hirokazu, Kuolleet Lehdet (Fallen Leaves)(Fallen Leaves) by Aki Kaurismäki, The Old Oak by Ken Loach, Il Sol dell’ avvenire (A Brighter Tomorrow)(A Brighter Tomorrow) by Nanni Moretti, La Chimera by Alice Rohrwacher, Black Flies by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, Banel e Adama by Ramata-Toulaye Sy, La Passion de Dodin Bouffant (The Pot-au-Feu) (The Pot-au-Feuby Tran Anh Hùng, Anatomie d’une chute (Anatomy of a Fall) (Anatomy of a Fallby Justine Triet, Jeunesse (Le Printemps) (Youth (Spring))(Youth (Spring)) by Wang Bing, Perfect Days by Wim Wenders.

The Closing ceremony, usually a wonderful evening to behold will be broadcast in English and French by Brut.

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Delta Beyond Drugs: Bishop Aruakpor Receives Silec Initiatives




In preparation for the forthcoming Delta Beyond Drugs Project in Delta State, the SILEC Initiatives team paid a visit to the Bishop, Anglican Diocese of Oleh Church of Nigeria, The Rt. Rev’d John Usiwoma Aruakpor. The solidarity visit was led by the Founder/President Silec Initiatives, Amb. Sunny Irakpo, a U.S Government Sponsored Exchange Alumni who was invited by the U.S Government to participate in the prestigious international Visitor’s Leadership Exchange Program of the Department of State in 2019.

Upon his return from the States, the anti-drug ambassador has continued to sensitize the public on the dangers of drug abuse in Nigeria where he currently floats the Delta Beyond Drugs Project to compliment the efforts of the State Government in order to help address the heightened state of drugs and substance abuse.

Irakpo, intimated the plans of the DBD Project to the Diocesan who keep championing innovative projects in Isoko especially the just concluded School of Nursing , Hospital and many other ongoing projects for the Isoko nation. He hinted that the primary objective of the DBD Project is to sensitize the youths and parents alike about the dangers of drug abuse with the various experimentations presently ongoing amongst youths.

He voiced that drug abuse has eaten deeply into the fabric of the society, and the illicit are experimentation by the youths with different hazardous chemicals/ drugs on a regular basis which is even harmful to their health and that the need to address this ugly trends claiming the lives of promising youths in the state is now.

The trend which has become very worrisome in Isokoland and other parts of Delta state, need the attention of all stakeholders to participate in the wellbeing and wellness of our youths and society.

While he appreciated the clergyman for given them the opportunity to collaborate with the church, also related that Silec Initiatives is one of the most active anti-drug NGO in Nigeria, and as a pragmatic organization that has contributed immensely to the fight against drugs merchandise with empirical evidences, remain an NGO recognized at the international level for their exception capacity in the fight against drug abuse in Nigeria for over a decade.

In his response, Bishop Aruakpor was very happy, impressed and proud with the Founder Silec Initiatives Sunny Irakpo for making the Isoko nation proud in Nigeria and across the global space.

And that seeing a young man with such laudable vision with thought provoking ideas and concept is an indication that Isoko nation is on the good path of greatness and progress if only support is given to him and many others who are making the Isoko nation proud.

In his words, I am proud of you for all the giant strides you have made in this nation in this life transforming Initiative.

We gladly welcome you home for we need you at this critical moment that our youths are becoming something else in the name of drugs. As a diocese ,we are doing our best in the environment we’ve found ourselves as we continue to apply the ant philosophy to achieve all the God given projects to us. For there’s nothing , I lay my hands that God will not help me to accomplished. So in this campaign against drugs and substance abuse in Delta State Particularly in Isokoland, we are solidly behind you to drive the message back home. We shall give Silec Initiatives the full support and to also rally round in the area of funding for the sustenance of the project. We shall also try our best to reach out to the various stakeholders of which we are also involving the Nigeria Police, all the clergy and the youths.

Other members of the team were Kingsley Ewomarevia Silec Initiatives Community Liaison Coordinator, James Agholor, Director of Publication Silec Initiatives, top Isoko artistes Obara Obaro (MC Moonlight) and Funky Franky a music impresario.

The event is schedule to take place with a mega rally to mark the international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking on the 10th June ,2023 in Partnership with the Anglican Diocese of Oleh Church of Nigeria by 8:am at the Cathedral of Paul as a meeting point to take off.

The founder Silec Initiatives enjoined all Sons and Daughters of Isoko to come out enmass to vehemently resist this enemy of progress of youths, Isoko nation, Delta State and Nigeria in general.

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