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New Economy Changing the Face of Chin...
Guangdong
By Phil Behan
11 Nov 2014

Over the past 7 to 10 years Chinese society has undergone rapid transformation socially, economically and politically. The face of this change is best seen in China’s youth. They are the people who are moving China forward. Many youth find themselves caught between tradition and modernity as they try to find their sense of identity and place in an ever changing society. 

Some of the changes in Chinese society can be seen in the weddings and marriage customs of young Chinese newlyweds. Zheng Ying met her husband through a mutual friend and they now live together in their new home in Guangzhou. Old Chinese traditions often saw newly married couples move directly into the groom's home, but now, with China's economic growth, couples are becoming wealthier and more independent and many are buying their own homes and abandoning old traditions.

Modern Chinese wedding ceremonies often infuse Western style opulence alongside ancient Chinese traditions. With a massive surge in the disposable income available to Chinese citizens, no expense is spared in making the ceremonies as lavish as possible. In a country where image and stature are of great importance, the typical Chinese family is spending great amounts of money on their child's wedding.

These photos explore the rapid cultural and economic changes taking place in China through the wedding ceremonies of young Chinese couples. 

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

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Urban Poverty (4 of 4)
Karachi, Pakistan
By Syed Yasir Iqbal Kazmi
15 May 2013

A women looking for donations sits in front of a foam dealer. Her child is sleeping on sidewalk.
Photo by Yasir Kazmi, Karachi, Pakistan.

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Urban Poverty (3 of 4)
Karachi, Pakistan
By Syed Yasir Iqbal Kazmi
15 May 2013

Boy collecting stuff from garbage.

Photo by Yasir Kazmi, Karachi, Pakistan.

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Urban Poverty (1 of 4)
Karachi, Pakistan
By Syed Yasir Iqbal Kazmi
15 May 2013

Roadside Barber Fayyaz shapes his customer's hair. Photo by Yasir Kazmi, Karachi, Pakistan.

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Urban Poverty
Karachi, Pakistan
By U.S. Editor
14 May 2013

n Pakistan, a nation of 160 million people, 34% of its population lives below the poverty line. This estimate is much higher than the official government figure of 24%, but precious little seems to have been done to address the issue.

This problem is directly linked to the country tax structure, with the majority of the revenues going into coffers of federal and provincial government, forcing the local bodies dealing directly with the poverty to plead with these authorities for more money. The debate over this issue has been ongoing for years.

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Hippos in Gorongosa
Gorongosa, Mozambique
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 May 2013

Hippos are one of the more active fauna in Gorongosa. After decades of civil war the park is growing again thanks to an American millionaire that is donating part of his wealth to the park.

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Azerbaijan: An Illusion (11 of 12)
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
21 May 2012

With Azerbaijan winning a temporary seat in the UN Security Council last year and becoming a member of PACE (Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly).
It would be easy to think that leaders in the west would criticise and put pressure on the president Ilham Aliyev to implement democratic reform and release political prisoners. This is however not the case.
In a recent article featured in the Danish national daily newspaper Politiken a report was mentioned which documents that some PACE members who are perceived by the Azeri Government to be the country’s “friends” receive 0,4-0,6 grams of caviar at an estimated value per kilograms of almost 1700 dollars. Trips and conferences in the land of fire, as Azerbaijan is called, are seen as well with lavish gifts to follow.

With this kind of behaviour it has managed to stop it’s critics. One of PACE’s jobs are to overview that new members in the east uphold the promise they made when they joined, to uphold human rights and release political prisoners.
The writers of the report say itself that the government in Baku has managed to avoid its obligations towards the European Council.
According to Amnesty international the lack of criticism is to be found in Azerbaijan being a very strategic country. Being next door to Iran and a stop over for equipment and personnel to Afghanistan and of course the vast resources of oil and natural gas.

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Azerbaijan: An Illusion (12 of 12)
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
21 May 2012

A museum that was built by Ilham Aliyev to commemorate his father Heydar Aliyev. The museum was opened during the week Eurovision was held in the capitol. It is normal procedure that families are being asked to move when the government wants to expand and build on a large scale.
If people refuse they are forced to give up their homes. There are accounts of people being threatened and forced to sign contracts to sell their own house and of houses being demolished with people’s belongings still in them.
The government makes an agreement of payment but either the money is not paid or the amount paid is below market price and not sufficient for families to buy something similar in a new location.
Go to www.andreasbro.com to watch and read personal accounts.

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Azerbaijan: An Illusion (1 of 12)
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
21 May 2012

when you hop in a taxi from the airport and drive along the massive high way towards the “windy City” Baku you see building upon building half way done. Standing as skeletons side by side as grim monuments of the wealth and prosperity the country is undergoing.

The country’s president Ilham Aliyev and the government aims to convince the world that they are an emerging democracy with respect for its population and human rights. It has spent millions on hiring companies for PR and engaging former European top politicians to speak on their behalf.

But the facts show Azerbaijan as a nation with severe issues like massive corruption, poverty and a disregard for human rights. Examples are; multiple arrests, often violently, during peaceful protests. Forced evictions of families from their homes. Harassing and imprisoning independent journalists. A basic disregard for free speech.
In creating a toxic environment of paranoia and fear the leaders of Azerbaijan are violating civil rights.
The capitol is an awesome show city with massive boulevards and elaborate buildings and immense beauty.
Though if you try and go to the outskirts of the city you stumble upon another landscape and poverty becomes an integrated part of the scenery. The wealth of the nation does not trickle down from top to bottom.
If you lead a quiet life and do your job raise a family and do not ask question you are well of and most people do. But the country’s leaders do not tolerate too critical look at themselves from anyone. The fact is that the people of Azerbaijan do not have the liberty to live a free life.
The Land of Fire, which is Azerbaijan’s nickname borders on Iran, Russia, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, and the Caspian Sea. It has an enormous diverse nature ranging from desert to mountain chains and underneath it all oil and natural gas are found in large quantities.
Azerbaijan was a part of the former Soviet Union but gained independence in 1991. A formal constitution was signed and put into effect on November 12, 1995

The capitol of Baku is scattered with buildings like this all over the city. The big boom in the economy has made it all possible.
But many of these elaborate financial gestures are not inhabited. According to Max Tucker Amnesty International’s Azerbaijan spokesman it is partly because people cannot afford to live there and partly because the large building sites in some cases are used to extract money from the government to private companies often owned by a secretary from the government. One of the examples of ways corruption is a central part of the way business is done here.

If the government needs space for new construction, as it was the case with the Eurovision venue, Crystal Hall, it is not uncommon that people are forced to sell their houses at very low prices. The houses are then demolished. If people speak out or refuse to sell, they are harassed or the house is demolished with their things still in it. In some cases violence is used to get people out of the way.

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Azerbaijan: An Illusion (3 of 12)
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
21 May 2012

One of the acts rehearses in Crystal Hall.
Last year Azerbaijan won the kitschy European song contest Eurovision that is watched by around 100 million people every year. That means they won the right to host the lavish competition.

The budget for this year was set at 64 million dollars. Other countries spend 30 million. But independent reporters talk about that the unofficial number lands on up to 270 million dollars.

When the Azeri pop singers won in Germany the president Ilham Aliyev treated it like a military victory and quickly put his wife in charge of making Eurovision in Baku happen. The crystal hall was built as a monument over the city and president’s son-in-law was hired to perform in the half time show.
Most of the tourists and journalists that came to the city for the show mostly saw this illusion but the repeated crackdowns on peaceful protesters and groundless evictions did not go unnoticed around the world.

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Azerbaijan: An Illusion (2 of 12)
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
21 May 2012

When you reach the large boulevard in Baku that is placed a long the Caspian Sea, you see families strolling around, vendors selling snacks and restaurants serving shish kebab; all of it bathed in soft yellow light. All in all it looks something out of a city fairytale.
The people you meet on the streets are extremely friendly and open to foreigners and walking around Baku you get a lot of curious looks and always a helping hand if you are lost.

According to Time Magazine and an independent economics site, budget.az, the government spent at least 38 million dollars promoting Azerbaijan in 2011. It ranges from passing out USB keys and commercials on TV about the country. The country’s leaders do a lot of work to hide the fact that the country has a very poor human rights record.

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Azerbaijan: An Illusion (4 of 12)
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
21 May 2012

The Eurovision Song Contest 2012 was held in Azerbaijan. The land of fire, as it is called, put on a massive and spectacular show but the festivities was tainted by the countries poor human rights record and its harsh crack down on peaceful protests. The country’s own opposition tried to draw attention to the fact that the country is not a fair democracy even though the government try to present themselves as such.
A protester is getting taken away and shut up at a peaceful rally at the lavish boulevard along Baku’s harbour front. The secret police would walk around the protesters and single them out. The minute they started shouting slogans they would be shut up dragged of into a police car that would speed of or they would be put in a bus and taken to a police station. Often this would be done very quickly and violently.

According to Amnesty International it is not a rare sight to see protesters getting arrested, registered and then left somewhere. If you are a part of arranging the protest you could look at jail time. Normally the regime charges people with hooliganism if they need someone to disappear for a few years. That or send them to do military service.
Unfortunately there are reports of alleged torture of people that are incarcerated.

Independent journalists work under tough conditions with no protection from the government and are subject of targeting. In that regard there have been two murders on journalists that the authorities have lacked investigating.
The independent journalist Khadija Ismayilova experienced the wrath of the elite. She was investigating corruption within the government when she was threatened to stop. She kept going forward with the investigations when she was filmed with a hidden camera having sex with her boyfriend. The footage was then leaked in order to defame her. There have also been accounts of people being falsely charged with possession of drugs to discredit them. According to NGO’s this is a normal procedure used by the government to crack down on any critical voices.

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Azerbaijan: An Illusion (5 of 12)
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
21 May 2012

The statue of the country’s modern founding father Heydar Aliyev is standing tall on one of Baku’s many large city squares. The sight of the man that sculptured the country is not rare. The capitol and the country are scattered with portraits of him. Heydar Aliyev was leader of communist Azerbaijan from the late 60’s until 1987. He seized the presidency in 1993 in a bloodless coup a couple of years after Azerbaijan gained its independence.

He was the man to modernize the country and help transform it from a communist satellite state to a sovereign nation. Although not the first president after the Russians left he is the one that formed the country’s modern history.

His son Ilham became president in 2003 after an election that did not meet international standards and were scattered with irregularities.
Some international observers called the latest election in 2010 a farce.
In a 2009 referendum the president removed limits on the maximum terms a president can preside in office. The decision was widely disputed. Critics of the government state that the country is in reality an autocracy.

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Azerbaijan: An Illusion (6 of 12)
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
21 May 2012

The area District 205 is located half an hour drive from the city centre of Baku.
When you meet people on the outskirts of the city they are friendly but not much to talk about the conditions that they endure.
It is dirty, dusty with poor infrastructure and buildings that in no way can match those of Baku. A working railway splits the area.

Although according to The World Bank and IFAD the nation has seen considerable improvements the last years. But the rural areas are still very impoverished. In the rural areas poverty was in 2008 at circa 18 percent and the national level was at 15,8 percent.

According to IFAD the problem is lack of development in the agricultural sector over recent decades. The conditions of farm labourers are very unfavourable and there are few alternative means of income in those areas. The lack of infrastructure and power supplies is a problem as well.

The most impoverished people are the around one million refugees and internally displaced persons. They come from the collapse of the Soviet Union and from Azerbaijan’s conflict with Armenia. These people are mainly being housed in urban areas and many rely on humanitarian aid for survival.
IFAD is an International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations

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Azerbaijan: An Illusion (7 of 12)
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
21 May 2012

Woman screaming before she is driven of by police.
The woman was a part of a peaceful protest during the Eurovision. After the woman was targeted she was quietly taken to the vehicle by several police officers and undercover agents.
There is a lack of freedom of speech. You have a certain space to speak out but only light criticism is tolerated. During the Eurovision the authorities struck down hard on anyone trying to draw attention to Azerbaijan’s poor human rights record.

According to Max Tucker of Amnesty international it can be very dangerous to be a part of a protest and that way speak your mind.

“Protesters are arrested just for shouting the word freedom. It can get you up to 10 days in prison. If you are organizing the protest you can get several years in prison.”

Another approach is to arrest everyone that is believed to be a part of the protest take them to the police station and registrate them. There have been reports of people being interrogated about their political persuasion. When the interrogation is over people will be driven out into the desert and left to find their way back on their own. It is an effective way to dismantle the protest.

During the Eurovision this happened during at least one demonstration that took place in front of the national TV station.
As of now there are at least 5 political prisoners in jails in Azerbaijan and other ongoing investigations into opposition people.

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Azerbaijan: An Illusion (8 of 12)
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
21 May 2012

The desert outside Baku is scattered with oilfields. It is an unbelievable forest of metal and oil intertwined with people living in the middle of it all. As seen on the picture the oil is everywhere and the industry has an impact on the environment.
According to the U.S. Department of State:

”Azerbaijan is considered one of the most important spots in the world for oil exploration and development. Proven oil reserves in the Caspian Basin, which Azerbaijan shares with Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Iran, are comparable in size to North Sea reserves several decades ago.” The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which opened in May 2005, is a part of the country’s significance.
The economy is tied up in natural gas and oil and is dependent on that. Much of the oil industry is subject to SOFAZ, which is the state oil fund. The fund manages all state revenues from gas and oil.
The country has had a boom in its economy fuelled by the oil and made it the fastest growing country in the world for a short while with its real GDP pushed up by 35 % in 2006 according to the World Bank.

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Azerbaijan: An Illusion (9 of 12)
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
21 May 2012

According to the oil workers in the photograph the regular oil worker here earns 450 dollars a month. They have to take care of food and gloves out of their own pocket.

They work 12 hours a day. 8 am till 8 pm with one-hour lunch break.
They used to have unlimited contracts but now they are on 6 months contracts. In reality they can fire them when they want.
The vast oil and gas reserves produce a large income but according to Max Tucker, Amnesty International expert on Azerbaijan the surplus from this industry mostly does not benefit the general public.

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Azerbaijan: An Illusion (10 of 12)
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
21 May 2012

Transparency International (transparency.org) currently rates Azerbaijan number 143 out of 183 on the corruption chart with a score at 2.4 out of possible 10.
Azerbaijan is believed to have corruption on the highest levels of government.
A lot of commerce and business in the country is monopolized and so it is hard for regular people to break into business and make their fortune. To do so you would most likely have to pay the people that control the business a bribe to get a foothold, which for many people is out of the question.
It seems impossible to work your way up from nothing.
If this is not possible you can work for the government then you have a good chance to make a decent living. But if you are affiliated with any of the opposition parties it is almost impossible to find employment.

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THE ILLUSION OF AZERBAIJAN
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Mais Istanbuli
21 May 2012

when you hop in a taxi from the airport and drive along the massive high way towards the “windy City” Baku you see building upon building half way done. Standing as skeletons side by side as grim monuments of the wealth and prosperity the country is undergoing.

The country’s president Ilham Aliyev and the government aims to convince the world that they are an emerging democracy with respect for its population and human rights. It has spent millions on hiring companies for PR and engaging former European top politicians to speak on their behalf.

But the facts show Azerbaijan as a nation with severe issues like massive corruption, poverty and a disregard for human rights. Examples are; multiple arrests, often violently, during peaceful protests. Forced evictions of families from their homes. Harassing and imprisoning independent journalists. A basic disregard for free speech.
In creating a toxic environment of paranoia and fear the leaders of Azerbaijan are violating civil rights.
The capitol is an awesome show city with massive boulevards and elaborate buildings and immense beauty.
Though if you try and go to the outskirts of the city you stumble upon another landscape and poverty becomes an integrated part of the scenery. The wealth of the nation does not trickle down from top to bottom.
If you lead a quiet life and do your job raise a family and do not ask question you are well of and most people do. But the country’s leaders do not tolerate too critical look at themselves from anyone. The fact is that the people of Azerbaijan do not have the liberty to live a free life.
The Land of Fire, which is Azerbaijan’s nickname borders on Iran, Russia, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, and the Caspian Sea. It has an enormous diverse nature ranging from desert to mountain chains and underneath it all oil and natural gas are found in large quantities.
Azerbaijan was a part of the former Soviet Union but gained independence in 1991. A formal constitution was signed and put into effect on November 12, 1995

The capitol of Baku is scattered with buildings like this all over the city. The big boom in the economy has made it all possible.
But many of these elaborate financial gestures are not inhabited. According to Max Tucker Amnesty International’s Azerbaijan spokesman it is partly because people cannot afford to live there and partly because the large building sites in some cases are used to extract money from the government to private companies often owned by a secretary from the government. One of the examples of ways corruption is a central part of the way business is done here.

If the government needs space for new construction, as it was the case with the Eurovision venue, Crystal Hall, it is not uncommon that people are forced to sell their houses at very low prices. The houses are then demolished. If people speak out or refuse to sell, they are harassed or the house is demolished with their things still in it. In some cases violence is used to get people out of the way.

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Cyno MC in Berlin
Berlin, Germany
By Amy Hume
28 Jul 2011

The first representative of End of the Weak Uganda, Cyno MC, joined the annual World Finals in Berlin, which hosted Hip Hop artists from 7 countries.

Hip Hop is a global phenomena that reaches nearly all corners of the Earth. Starting in the projects of NYC nearly 40 years ago, struggling youth from Mongolia to Rwanda use music as a weapon to express their situations, hopes, and dreams. Though Hip Hop culture is new to Uganda, it is becoming popular with people of all ages, but with the youth in particular. Hip Hop music is reaching the smallest of villages, as I witnessed in the war-torn area of Gulu. Access to music is free, which is an essential aspect of why Hip Hop is spreading like wildfire.
In 2009, End of the Weak (EOW), a collaboration of MCs, graffiti artists, break dancers and DJs that spans 17 countries, reached Uganda. All chapters of EOW are involved with community outreach, workshops for youth and exude positive influence in their communities through Hip Hop culture. The MC Challenge is a competition in each country wherein the winners gather at the World Finals, which are held in a different country each year. The MC Challenge is held in the central, eastern, western and northern regions of Uganda so that many different languages are represented in the competition. Winners of the MC Challenge are provided studio time, video production and photo shoots as a way to share and promote their music.

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Cyno MC in Berlin
Berlin, Germany
By Amy Hume
28 Jul 2011

The first representative of End of the Weak Uganda, Cyno, joined the annual World Finals in Berlin, which hosted Hip Hop artists from 7 countries. This was his first journey out of Uganda.

Hip Hop is a global phenomena that reaches nearly all corners of the Earth. Starting in the projects of NYC nearly 40 years ago, struggling youth from Mongolia to Rwanda use music as a weapon to express their situations, hopes, and dreams. Though Hip Hop culture is new to Uganda, it is becoming popular with people of all ages, but with the youth in particular. Hip Hop music is reaching the smallest of villages, as I witnessed in the war-torn area of Gulu. Access to music is free, which is an essential aspect of why Hip Hop is spreading like wildfire.
In 2009, End of the Weak (EOW), a collaboration of MCs, graffiti artists, break dancers and DJs that spans 17 countries, reached Uganda. All chapters of EOW are involved with community outreach, workshops for youth and exude positive influence in their communities through Hip Hop culture. The MC Challenge is a competition in each country wherein the winners gather at the World Finals, which are held in a different country each year. The MC Challenge is held in the central, eastern, western and northern regions of Uganda so that many different languages are represented in the competition. Winners of the MC Challenge are provided studio time, video production and photo shoots as a way to share and promote their music.

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Cyno MC in Berlin
Berlin, Germany
By Amy Hume
28 Jul 2011

The first representative of End of the Weak Uganda, Cyno, joined the annual World Finals in Berlin, which hosted Hip Hop artists from 7 countries. This was his first journey out of Uganda.

Hip Hop is a global phenomena that reaches nearly all corners of the Earth. Starting in the projects of NYC nearly 40 years ago, struggling youth from Mongolia to Rwanda use music as a weapon to express their situations, hopes, and dreams. Though Hip Hop culture is new to Uganda, it is becoming popular with people of all ages, but with the youth in particular. Hip Hop music is reaching the smallest of villages, as I witnessed in the war-torn area of Gulu. Access to music is free, which is an essential aspect of why Hip Hop is spreading like wildfire.
In 2009, End of the Weak (EOW), a collaboration of MCs, graffiti artists, break dancers and DJs that spans 17 countries, reached Uganda. All chapters of EOW are involved with community outreach, workshops for youth and exude positive influence in their communities through Hip Hop culture. The MC Challenge is a competition in each country wherein the winners gather at the World Finals, which are held in a different country each year. The MC Challenge is held in the central, eastern, western and northern regions of Uganda so that many different languages are represented in the competition. Winners of the MC Challenge are provided studio time, video production and photo shoots as a way to share and promote their music.

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Cyno's goat
Kampala, Uganda
By Amy Hume
08 Jan 2011

Upon winning 100 USD in the MC Challenge, Cyno MC used the money to buy a goat so that he could share his wealth. He wanted his friends to have a full stomach.

Hip Hop is a global phenomena that reaches nearly all corners of the Earth. Starting in the projects of NYC nearly 40 years ago, struggling youth from Mongolia to Rwanda use music as a weapon to express their situations, hopes, and dreams. Though Hip Hop culture is new to Uganda, it is becoming popular with people of all ages, but with the youth in particular. Hip Hop music is reaching the smallest of villages, as I witnessed in the war-torn area of Gulu. Access to music is free, which is an essential aspect of why Hip Hop is spreading like wildfire.
In 2009, End of the Weak (EOW), a collaboration of MCs, graffiti artists, break dancers and DJs that spans 17 countries, reached Uganda. All chapters of EOW are involved with community outreach, workshops for youth and exude positive influence in their communities through Hip Hop culture. The MC Challenge is a competition in each country wherein the winners gather at the World Finals, which are held in a different country each year. The MC Challenge is held in the central, eastern, western and northern regions of Uganda so that many different languages are represented in the competition. Winners of the MC Challenge are provided studio time, video production and photo shoots as a way to share and promote their music.