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Little Amal in Britain: giant puppet of Syrian girl reaches her journey’s end

Little Amal

Little Amal in Britain: giant puppet of Syrian girl reaches her journey’s end

The transcontinental odyssey of Little Amal will begin its final stage this week when the giant puppet of a nine-year-old Syrian girl reaches the shores of the UK after walking thousands of miles across Europe.

Bells will chime and choirs will sing as Little Amal appears on the beach on Tuesday in Folkestone, Kent, after making the same cross-Channel journey that has been taken so far this year by more than 17,000 people seeking refuge from conflict, hunger and persecution.

On the last leg of her journey, Little Amal will visit Canterbury, London, Oxford, Coventry, Birmingham, Sheffield and Barnsley before the extraordinary and complex 14-week travelling street theatre ends in Manchester on 3 November.

“It’s been challenging, it’s been difficult at times, but it’s also been amazing and incredible,” said David Lan, one of the producers of The Walk, who has been “on this journey right from the beginning three years ago, and on every step of the way” since Little Amal left Gaziantep near the Turkish-Syrian border at the end of July.

The idea of Little Amal’s journey in search of her missing mother evolved from The Jungle, a highly acclaimed play about young refugees in a camp near Calais that opened at the Young Vic in London in 2017. The play’s producers, the Good Chance theatre company plus Lan, Stephen Daldry and Tracey Seaward, came up with the idea of taking its message of displacement, loss, dignity and hope to villages, towns and cities across Europe.

Little Amal, whose name means hope in Arabic, was created by Handspring, the company that made the equine puppets in War Horse. She stands 3.5 metres (11ft 5in) tall and is operated by a team of eight puppeteers working shifts to control her legs, arms and facial features. “They create the emotional life of the puppet,” said Lan.

Since leaving Gaziantep, Little Amal and her entourage of about 25 people have navigated Covid border requirements to cross from Turkey to Greece and then through Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and France to the UK.

Along the way, they have taken part in concerts, parties and workshops. In Rome, Little Amal was blessed by Pope Francis. In many places, thousands of local people have walked with her through their town or village.

But the most powerful connections had been with refugees, said Lan. “People who are marginalised, shoved to the side, see a representative of themselves or their children centre-stage and being celebrated. That’s very moving.”

Only in one place has the welcome been less than warm. In Kalambaka, a village in northern Greece, which is home to ancient Greek Orthodox monasteries built into rocks, the village council decided not to receive a “Muslim doll from Syria”, as the mayor described Amal. “It’s distressing, but it’s how the world is,” said Lan.

In London, Little Amal will celebrate her 10th birthday on Sunday 24 October at a party at the V&A. Children from all over the capital have been invited to join in musical performances and workshops. Yotam Ottolenghi is coordinating a team of chefs to create a giant birthday cake consisting of several hundred cupcakes in a rainbow of colours and flavours.

Ottolenghi said: “Telling the stories of refugees in general and that particular journey that Amal is taking is such a positive thing in a very bleak situation. She’s going to meet lots of London kids who are going to celebrate her birthday and get a glimpse into her journey. And what better way to do it than with a patchwork of little cakes that have been baked by different chefs?”

Lan, who described Little Amal’s journey as a theatrical show on an 8,000km stage, said there had been no major technical problems so far, but there had been many logistical challenges in travelling, rehearsing and performing across eight countries.

“It’s a travelling circus, a big touring show. So many people have wanted to be part of it. There has been tremendous goodwill directed towards us.

“We’re not politicians, we’re saying to people: remember refugees are people. We hope that the memory of this odd, beautiful child walking through a village or city or over the mountains helps change the weather a little bit.”

Entertainment

Peter Obi condoles with late actor Junior Pope’s family

The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, in the last election, Peter Obi, has paid a condolence visit to the family of the late Nollywood actor, Junior Pope.

The former Anambra State governor also signed the condolence register.

Nollywood actor and former spokesperson of the Labour Party presidential campaign council, Kenneth Okonkwo, shared pictures and videos from the visit on his Instagram page ON Saturday afternoon.

He captioned the pictures and videos: ” HE Peter Obi arrived at the residence of John Paul Odonwodo Junior Pope, to pay his condolences to his family over the sad, and untimely departure of their child, brother, husband and father. He consoled his mother, Mrs Maria Odonwodo, the widow, Jennifer, and his children.”

DAILY POST recalls that Junior Pope died on April 10, 2024, alongside three others after their boat capsized on the Anam River in Anambra State while returning from a film location.

He was laid to rest at his hometown, Ukehe in Nsukka Local Government Area, Enugu State, on Friday

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Entertainment

I am not ready to have kids- Burna boy

Grammy-winning Nigerian singer, Damini Ogulu, popularly known as Burna Boy, has opened up about why he is not ready to be a father yet.

The ‘City Boys’ crooner said he is not ready to have kids yet because he can’t give them the attention they deserve.

The entertainer stated this while responding to a question raised by a fan during a recent Instagram live session with his fans.

He explained that he would have children when he was settled or married.

“Why haven’t I had kids yet? Bro, because I don’t want to have kids yet,” Burna boy said.

“Have you seen my mum the way she loves me? Have you seen my dad the way he loves me?I know I can’t give that to anyone right now with the life I’m living. So until I’m settled and I can be there for my children everyday, I’m not having no kid.

I feel like my kids deserved better than I got. And I got both my mum and dad so you understand?”

On the allegations that he is impotent, Burna Boy said, “When I see the bants and the things people say [about me not being able to have kids], I said this is unimportant. Let’s assume that it is true that I couldn’t even have kids, you know that there’s something called IVF? But that is not even true.”

Burna Boy started to gain fame after releasing ‘Like to Party’, the lead single from his debut album ‘L.I.F.E’ (2013).

In 2021, the singer set a record in Nigeria after his fifth album ‘Twice As Tall (2020)’ won the ‘Best World Music Album’ category at the Grammys.

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Entertainment

Cause of Mohbad’s death cannot be ascertained’ – Pathologist

The pathologist, who conducted an autopsy on the body of late singer, Ilerioluwa Aloba, AKA Mohbad, has said that the cause of death couldn’t be ascertained.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Wahab Shittu, told newsmen in Lagos State on Wednesday that the pathologist in charge told the coroner that the deceased’s body had decomposed by the time the test was conducted.

Shittu said, “According to him (pathologist), the cause of death cannot be determined because, by the time they conducted the test, the body had decomposed and that it is not possible for them to determine the cause of death

“So, in summary, he is saying the cause of death cannot be ascertained. When you say the cause of death cannot be ascertained, it means it is suspicious, it is not clear. No particular reason.”

Shittu added that the pathologist said Mohbad may have died due to a reaction to certain drugs administered to him before he died.

“He also went further to say that it may be attributed to reaction to certain drugs administered on him before he died. Again, he then qualified that to say he does not know whether it is those drugs that actually led to his death,” he said.

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