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Gaza’s MCA rapper: An 11-year-old’s message to the world | News



For Abdulrahman al-Shantti, becoming an internet sensation feels “really good” because it allows him to spread his message of what growing up in the Gaza Strip is like.

“I want to tell the outside world how the Palestinians live in Gaza and how we as children are supposed to live like normal people but don’t,” he told Al Jazeera.

The 11-year-old rapper shot to fame earlier this month when one of his cover songs on his Instagram page went viral and, at the time of writing, has earned him more than 92,000 followers.

The video, which features a song by Palestinian rapper Waheeb Nasan, shows Abdulrahman standing in front of his classmates, effortlessly rapping in American-accented English without missing a beat.

“First of all, this is our country, let me tell you how it goes,” he raps. “We want peace and we want love/people pray and teach who don’t.”

The song, which itself is a cover version of Wiz Khalifa’s See You Again, netted him praise from famous music artists around the world, from US artist DJ Khaled to Canadian signer Masari to the UK’s Akala and Lowkey.

Abdulrahman, who goes by the stage name MCA, first took a liking to hip-hop music when he was nine years old.

“I started rapping for fun at first,” he explained. “I memorised Eminem’s song I’m Not Afraid and that’s when I found out I’m good at rapping. Ever since then I started to write my own original songs and memorised covers for famous rappers.”

When asked about his favourite artists, he gushed with enthusiasm.

“Oh man, I have so many!” he said. “Eminem, Tupac, Mike Shinoda. I was searching for rap songs on YouTube and came across Changes by Tupac and I really liked it. So I checked out more songs from him and listened to Dear Mama, The Rose and really liked his style.”

Abdulrahman al-Shantti uses a mobile phone as he stands by a window in his family home in Gaza City [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

His father Saleh says Abdulrahman, who is also a big NBA fan, is completely self-taught.

“He learned everything from the internet on the phone,” he said. “He was born and raised in Gaza, and has never attended a language institute. He keeps a schedule where he practices new songs, day and night.

“All of this talent is from his determination and hard work and practice,” he added.

Hip-hop as a ‘voice of the people’

Saudi hip-hop guru and radio host Ahmad Dennaoui – better known as Big Hass – came across Abdulrahman’s Instagram page and shared it on his social media channels.

“I actually did a live Instagram interview with Abdul before he went viral,” he told Al Jazeera.

“It’s really amazing to see the love MCA has received so far and it’s crazy to believe that just 10 days ago he had 800 followers and now he’s crossed the 90K number.”

Saleh, who takes videos of his son rapping with his mobile phone, said he is proud of Abdulrahman, whose original lyrics talk about experiencing three Israeli offensives during his 11 years on Earth.

“His own songs talk about where he lives and the conditions of the Gaza Strip from his own perspective,” he said. “Through his videos, he wants to show the world places in Gaza.”

In one of his original songs, Abdelrahman raps about life in Gaza, which he has only known under a blockade that is older than he is.

“Since the first day of my life I have already seen three wars/And it won’t take very long for me to see another one,” he raps. “On the beach of Gaza – sands, fresh air and sea/It’s the only opportunity for the people to feel free.”

Big Hass said it was not surprising at all that such a prodigious talent chose hip-hop as a medium to convey his message.

“I find it refreshing that MCA found hip-hop to express his ideas and talent,” he said. “Hip-hop has always been the voice of the people.”

The genre has spread across the Arab world, he continued, starting from the North African countries before making its way to the Levant and the Gulf states.

“I am loving the diversity of the Arab rappers,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to cover, support, and document Arabic hip-hop since 2007 and it’s been amazing to watch it grow.”

Palestinian hip-hop groups – such as DAM and the now-defunct Ramallah Underground – paved the way for other artists to flourish or have short-lived rap careers.

From Gaza, rappers such as the duo Revolution Makers – all use Arabic in their lyrics, but Abdulrahman wants to focus on rapping in English for now as it offers a wider audience and more opportunities, according to his father.

“That is not to say that he will not rap in Arabic, just maybe in the future when he has mastered English,” Saleh added.

For his cover songs, which feature Waheed Nasan, Linkin Park, Kris Kross, Mike Shinoda’s Fort Minor, Tupac and Eminem, Abdulrahman chooses locations in Gaza City that he believes fit the song.

He said he wants to continue rapping and is working on an album.

“I have maybe five songs so far,” he said. “In the future, I want to go to the United States and meet my musical influences and visit studios. I also want to learn how to be a better songwriter.”

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million



Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe




A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News




Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.

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