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Here’s Nicki Minaj’s Controversial Performance in Angola

This past weekend, Nicki Minaj performed at a Christmas festival in the southern African nation of Angola, despite severe crticism of her participation in the event by a number of human rights activists. Nicki performed at the pleasure of Angolan dictator Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has been accused of misappropriating the poverty stricken country’s national wealth for the benefit of himself and his family and systematically imprisoning and murdering dissenters. According to the BBC, more than 70% of the Angolan people live on less than 1$ per day. Nicki received $2 million for her appearance. Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation, explained the controversy in an open letter:

Jose Eduardo dos Santos has ruled Angola since seizing power in the fall of 1979. A cunning tyrant, dos Santos survived a legacy of colonialism and devastating civil war to consolidate control over the presidency, military, and judicial system, all while crushing independent journalism and civil society. He uses rigged elections to fake democratic credentials, and his suppression of dissent is ruthless. As part of a national wave of arrests his regime has put 17 activists on trial for reading books on nonviolent resistance. Earlier this year, his security officers carried out and covered up a massacre of hundreds of civilians.

For 36 years dos Santos has exploited Angola’s vast natural resource wealth to build an enormous business empire, enriching his family and positioning them at the top of the country’s key industries. From there, they steal what they want from Africa’s second largest oil producer. According to the International Monetary Fund, between 2007 and 2010 “at least $32 billion of oil revenue went missing” from Angola’s federal ledger.

Here she is posing with the president’s daughter, Isabel dos Santos.

Nicki does not appear to have addressed the concerns of those opposing her performance, but for what its worth, the young Angolans posted outside of her hotel seemed to really appreciate her presence. It should also be noted that she is hardly the first artist to accept payment from (allegedly) criminal or unpopular dictators: Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Erykah Badu, Beyonce and 50 Cent have all stirred controversy in the past as well.

Previously: Watch the Barbershop 3 Trailer ft. Common, Nicki Minaj

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