For Your Daily Dose of MbA

Microblog on Facebook so follow today :)


"Culture is the heritage of us all. some may be more interested than others in the treasures of the past, but no one can fail to take a pride in his country's participation in the story of mankind, as represented in carvings, sculpture, music, paintings and the other arts. And there is a personal commitment to this, for no man can really say he is alone: we are all joined through our identity, with the cultures which are part of the mainstream of life"
- Simon Kapwepwe, Zambian Independence Freedom Fighter

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" - Winston Churchill

"Try to be the rainbow in someone else's cloud" - Maya Angelou

"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinion drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition" - Steve Jobs

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Kisses This Christmas

If you were wondering about finding mistletoe on the continent to stir things up at Christmas have no fear. Just nip over to Mount Mabu in Northern Mocambique where some botanists found Africa's tropical version of this yuletide plant. You'll not only be taking a preemptive strike against those pesky holiday pounds you are sure to gain, but you also will be increasing your chances of holiday romance and cheer. You are welcome in advance ;}.

Forgive me, I am in a giddy mood as I leave the cold and snow behind for a sunny Christmas, which is the only way it should be.  Snowy ones are for the movies: nice to look at but we don't need to actually experience the cold and craziness that comes with it.

If you are flying like I am, I hope you make it in time to be with your family and/ or friends and aren't delayed, especially if you are flying from Europe.

To those who are politically correct and/ or don't celebrate the birth of Jesus, Happy Holidays! To everyone else, Merry Christmas :)!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Why It Sucks To Be A Young Educated African Woman Today And So On...

I know, such a depressing title seeing as 'tis the season to be jolly".  I promise this is the last serious post and from now (as in the African now now, meaning in a minute or an hour or a day he he he) till New Year it will all be "fa la la la laaaaa la laaaa la laaaa" ;}.  COMBINE sent this link to Chimamanda Adichie's essay in the Financial Times about the plight of the young, educated African woman on the continent that stirred up a serious debate, and I could not not post about it.

The depressing thing about the article is that it had many truths in it that I could related to.  People have commented on the car I drive at home and I have had to bite my tongue and play coy and 'womanly'.  I share her frustrations with the world that I live in.  But I don't just feel that way at home, I feel that way whereever I go.  Even in the West (albeit in different ways sometimes) I feel that my educatedness and self-sufficency and my womaness are at loggerheads.  And my Africaness adds further complexity and confusion to this already seemingly paradoxical combination of attributes.  I am also a bit upset by how stereotypically she framed and narrated her plight.  As LOLZ pointed out this was not an article to be published in the Financial Times. And I agree.  It seemed like a blog post to me.  It did not read like an opinion piece, it was too loaded with the vitriol of, for lack of a better phrase, a mad black woman.  Which I think detracts from what she was trying to get across.  Even though the article ends positively, with hope that things will change as they always do and have as progress has already shown, it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.  I am disappointed that Chimamanda was not able to add anything more useful to the conversation. Her acclaim gives her the power to be able to initiate change.  She could have used this opporunity to do so much more with her words :(. Why couldn't she give recent examples of things changing like how men helped elect Africa's first female president? And why is it that getting what we want means no compromise on our side?  Compromise is required on both sides to get to where we want to go...

Women's issues seem to be the topic du jour, not surprising after the 16 days of Activism to End Violence Against Women bookended by International Day to End Violence Against Women on the 25th of November and Human Rights Day on the 10th of December.  However I feel like the media really latched on to this yearly occurence in 2010. I read this disturbing piece on the BBC Africa written unfortunately what seems to be a disgruntled African man in the Expert Views section which greatly perturbed me as if he is an expert on women's issues we are all screwed. Even though I too expressed my concern about all these days and my question about condensing them into a week has been answered by the already extant 16 days, I think this diatribe went one step further and missed the point of these days entirely. Farai Sevenzo seems a smart enough guy and his interests on the continent are very exciting, which makes it all the more upsetting that he used his voice to write such a terrible piece.  Even worse than Chimamanda, who has somewhat stagnated the conversation on the particular plight of a certain kind of African woman, Farai has just set the whole conversation  on women (in general) back! In order for women's rights to be achieved, men have to be a part of the solution! If they do not understand that despite women earning and achieving more the world is still being ran by men then all these efforts will eventually be in vain.  I watched these two TED talks about how women are outperforming men and how men need to be part of the conversation for equality to really exist that offered some clarity to the issues I have raised from the two articles.


Why is it that women think they have to take over and be men to have won the gender wars?  I don't think Roisin's glee in women making men feel like poop is productive because it just makes the scales imbalanced on the other side. Her vindictiveness is no better than Chimanda's vitriol. There has to be a way for men and women to share power and not for it to have to be a tug-of-war with one side with more clout than the other.  Porter's talk made me so sad that the worst thing that a boy could think of being is a girl and how that is used to really play on little boys minds. This links to Roisin's talk as it explains why guys are feeling so emasculated by the rise of women as they are told that women are weak and can't bring home the bacon but we are proving to be strong and very productive.  This incongruity in messages must be incredibly confusing.  Which could explain why Farai doesn't see the need for all these International Days when in fact this is exactly why we need such days.  We need these days for both men AND women.  To help men and women work out the shifts going on in society and to help with understanding.  Because men are not taught to articulate their emotions and thoughts with words, and many lash out and gender violence is evidence of that.  Men will always be physically stronger than women, and showing that power to a woman is unfortunately still a preferred stereotypical way of exerting  manhood to stroke fragile egos. 

I am also very annoyed about the stereotype Roisin uses about girls being good and listening to the teacher and that's why they do well in school.  I barely sat still in class and was always told off for fidgeting and talking and not paying attention and I managed to become highly educated and the proud recipient of 3 degrees (which I am still wondering how I managed to achieve them but I'll take all the certification bestowed on me gladly he he he). I have felt very unwomaly for a good portion of my life due to this and I know other friends who feel this way due to their unwomanly behaviour in the same and other situations.  It is not good to essentialise.  Yes, there are gender differences but  not all of us fall perfectly into the normal boy and girl templates.  We are all on a spectrum and must be given allowances at times to be ourselves in order to fulfill our potential. We all have skills that are required and we need to find ways to tap into both male AND female potential.  It's not about women now suddenly being better than men.  It has always been and always should be about using the requisite skills at the right time for the appropriate situation. Noone is obsolete, everyone is relevant on some level at any given time.

Now that I have expressed myself, I take my leave to enjoy the holiday season :}!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Gyan Named African Footballer of the Year And Other Sports News...

I am so happy to report that my voting enabled Asamoah Gyan of Ghana/ Sunderland to be named BBC's African Footballer of the year ha ha ha!   With his leadership during the World Cup I am not surprised.  We Africans truly appreciated how he helped Ghana step up to the plate to keep an African Nation visible and relevant during the tournament.  I would split my pajama bottoms while in the process of falling to my knees before the nail biting penalty in front of the TV for him again any day.  He is truly a Black Star ;}.

You can watch his thank you and read more about it here.

I have not mentioned the fact that Nadal lost to Federer in the ATP Finals last month due to the fact that I don't want to dwell on that because he had such a stellar year.  However, Federer is hosting an exhibition match in Switzerland this Tuesday to raise money for his Foundation that does work in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa.  I know that it is only an exhibition match but I want Nadal to win. It will make me feel better.  And I hope he wears the purple again.  He wears my favourite colour well ha ha ha ha. And I happen to be in Switzerland so I should be able to catch it. Problem is there are so many random Arabic Channels to sort through hopefully find the Swiss one it is showing on. Federer's Facebook page also indicates it will be shown on other channels so you can check there to see if you can catch it too.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Buy Life?!

I was really perturbed when I read on Perez Hiliton around World AIDS Day that celebrities like Lady Gaga and Alicia Keys were digitally dieing and wouldn't resurrect themselves untill they reached their goal of raising $1 million for the Buy Life campaign.  There are SOOOOOOOOOO many things wrong with all of this both in terms of semantics and sensitivity.

1. You should not be encouraging people to buy life.  Save a life yes, buying life no! Life should not have to be bought it is a human right to live so really it should have been worded better.

2. Alicia Keys was spearheading this campaign through her Keep A Child Alive foundation and defended this campain by saying "Its so important to shock [people] to the point of waking up. It's not that people don't care or it's not that people don't want to do something, it's that they've never thought of it quite like that."

All I have to say is HMMMMMMMM. Telling people to make the ultimate sacrifice by killing their digital selves to help buy the lives of others just seems all sorts of wrong. And celebrities leading the way makes it cool which is exacerbating.  I know they were thinking about the clout they have, especially on social media, and they meant well but really?! It makes the people donating seems superior to those who are in need of help and it creates and "us" and "them" dichtomy that Koffi Annan was warning against. If people want to give you don't and shouldn't have to shock them into doing it, you just have to provide a platform to do it.  I guess it worked and people have donated beyond the amount requested but was it to help those living with HIV, was it just so they could get back to keeping up with the latest news on the celebs they follow on Facebook and Twitter or worse to be cool and part of this daring and sensational campaign!  Does it matter how the money was raised? Money is money right? I don't know about that...

Death where I am from is not taken lightly and I think from what I have heard from other Africans it is the same all over the continent.  So the whole "I'm going to be dead till you resurrect me" thing is just disturbing and so self important and disrespectful to me.  The people who they are saying are dying because we aren't helping don't get the luxury of coming back when things are the way they want them to be like those committing digital death voluntarily. The analogy is just WRONG! And to make it worse most of the money is going to Africa seeing as we have the majority of HIV/AIDS cases and Alicia Keys does most of her outreach on the continent.  The people recieving it will probably have no idea how the money was raised and I think that is a good thing because we Africans have pride even though we are made to seem like we just take what we are given without thought or care.  Reminds me of when the Zambian President refused to accept the GM grain sent as Aid. We have principles.

I think this is also why Africans in the diaspora are largely cut out participating and being a part of such campaigns.  They are not designed to help us help ourselves.  They are designed to guilt Westeners into giving and for them to feel good about their benevolence.  In the end it feels to me like its not really about the people in need.  Which is a shame because mobilising Africans in the diaspora is probably the key to getting proper control over helping those less fortunate and curtaling poverty and pandemics.  We are brought up to strive to be able to take care of our families and if you have the means you help there is no discussion about it, especially when you are abroad because the little that you can send is a lot back home. But we do it in silos because we do it for our families not for the community at large for the most part so those who do not have family of means are the ones who suffer. Africans overseas remitted $30 BILLION back home in 2009.  Some of that could be used to help programs that are seeking to empower and improve the lives of those who are less fortunate on the continent. However if they are like me then they probably get mad when they see a campaign call for money on TV or in their inbox or while they are surfing the net. I do not feel guilty, I feel offended and/ or angry most of the time. I don't think we should wait for Western campaigns to think of us, we need to start our own. We need to go back to the village not only RAISING but also SAVING the child mentality.

Am I just being too sensitive about this?

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Human Rights Day

Today is Human Rights Day.  Unlike other days I don't think it's widely acknowledged.  I think this is the first year I knew it existed and was reminded by an email I got today at work. As I was saying here, these days should either fall on the same week or they should be better publicised. In light of what I have discussed with regards to AIDS due to World AIDs day last week, I thought this quote from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navanethem Pillay, was rather appropriate:

Advocacy stems both from necessity and empathy, that is, the ability to identify with somebody else's condition and to feel them as one's own.  It is such empathy, regardless of distance in time or space or custom, and the common notion that all human beings are entitled to dignity and respect that have built the human rights movement and underpinned its progress. Each day the human rights movement wins more supporters, but we must not be complacent.

I read today that the Rwandan genocide archive has been unveiled.  You can view some of it here. We should never forget what happened. Especially today.  One of these days I will muster the courage to watch Hotel Rwanda again.  Watching that movie traumatised me for life.  I had a mini nervous breakdown in the cinema bathroom after viewing it.  I am not particularly thrilled to go through that again. Once was enough thanks.

As humans, as altruistic as we like to think we are, we are motivated by the things we care about.  It is scary to think that there are people who do not care for lives beyond their own, and sometimes they don't even care about themselves! We can only hope to grow into better people. More importantly, that we actually go about growing and not just talk the talk but walk it proudly!

2011 is the Year of People of African descent I have just learned from reading Navanethem Pillay's speech. Hmmmmmmmm.  In the last two months I really have been bombarded with news such as this year was the Year of the Lung and all these days that keep popping up.  I am going to have to post about this...

I just had a conversation with my sister about the fact that neither Bai Ki Moon or Koffi Annan ever had a Mr. in front of their names but Navanethem Pillay is qualified by a Ms.  She said it is so we know she is a woman and I was like I know but well why should we always assume that people are men and why don't we refer to everyone as Mr. or Ms. and she was like well men ruled the world so that's how it is. Well it can be changed. We are still being singled out if we have the Ms. People will continue to assume that someone is a man if they cannot tell unless they see a Ms. unless we change it. It is a human right not to have to be singled out so I say! And with a name that is unisex where I am from (and is qualified naturally to distinguish as a he or she equally) and that the world at large would not be able to decipher even if it was just a girl's name because of where it is from, I am particularly concerned about this. I also need to stop abusing
the world "well" in this post....and "like" for that matter ;}

Saturday, 4 December 2010

AIDS, Common Sense and Discrimination

I have been obsessed with the TED Website since a friend of mine suggested that I use it to learn when I complained of boredom.  I had viewed talks before but since finishing my masters I have been all educated out.  But learning while passively listening is addictive and now I can't stop.  I now watch a TED talk to accompany my lunch at work everyday.  I came across this talk by Elizabeth Pisani and now have a girl-crush on her.  She's so smart and witty and just cool!  Most of all she talks a lot of common sense, something that I think is lost on the world.  We do not trust ourselves to just go with our gut and what just makes sense even if you can't explain it with research, graphs, charts and formulae.  Part of life is just knowing and doing.  She is a little off-kilter so I warn you that you may be put off by the way she presents her thoughts. I quite enjoyed it, I love subversive humour and presentation but can fully appreciate how it may make some uncomfortable or could offend.

If you like her style, right now you can download her book for free here.  This offer is only good for the month of December.

Her talk got me thinking about the recent study that showed that partners of HIV+ people could protect themselves from contracting the disease if they followed a drug regimen consisting of an ART cocktail.  I am all about realistic, sensible prevention.  Let's be honest, humans are sexual beings and telling them to abstain is not the most sustainable and moreover commonsensical way of getting people to think about protecting themselves consistently.  Most people have a modicum of control at best.  I am not cynical or pessimistic, I've just lived enough in the world to know that the average person is quite illogical and careless and have little control when it comes to the bumptibump.  As you know I am a proponent of prophylactics and if you can get them to be part of the everyday routine of a person like taking a pill with their daily vitamins, I think that is great. Now we need to concentrate on halting the pandemic through transmission rather than just having it under control through treatment once positive. Both are required for success.

Speaking of the lack of the commonsensical, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga's recent speech only serves to push the gay minority further underground, further encouraging risky behaviour which will lead to this groups further marginalisation through the double-stigma borne from their lifestyle and if they contract HIV.  I am so disappointed in all the African nations, and in particular Uganda, that further are hampering Human Rights and AIDS progress by targeting the gay community with misinformation and fear tactics for political ends. Enough with the nonsensical!!! UNACCEPTABLE!

And the same goes for women.  We are just depicted as a helpless high risk group and really, not enough is being done to get to the root of the problem.  Yes our biology means that we are more likely to contract the disease  and there is nothing we can do to alter the way we have been designed, but there are social factors than be dealt with.  The typical  African story of girl raped by an uncle, grandfather or family friend to cure himself  of HIV/AIDS is something that should not be allowed to happen. UNACCEPTABLE!  Women to afraid to have candid conversations with their husbands about cheating and condoms is still rife in African society. UNACCEPTABLE! Educating people about how they contract it and what can be done to prevent or manage the disease is still something that needs to be done better.  And the issue of gender-based violence in Africa is something that needs to be dealt with.  I am ashamed that Zambia is one of the countries where men are really foolish about why they abuse their spouses, defending themselves with reasons to do with expressing love.  UNACCEPTABLE!

However, I am very happy that I received a text from my Zambian mobile service provider that read:

 "Guard against gender based violence vices and where such vices occur please do not hesitate to report to the appropriate authorities."

This pleasant surprise makes me happy as it shows how mobile technology can be used to educate the masses on the African continent.  And it is a great example of corporate social responsibility.  So easy to do and the social effects can be huge if the message is received on a regular basis.  I know a lot of people have been talking about mobile marketing and this puts people off.  I don't want to receive a text from sleazy marketer but getting a text about my well-being with no agenda is a welcome use of an opportunity to speak to a large group at little cost. I think this kind of community outreach in Zambia has been spurred by recent efforts from Government to make concrete change through a bill that is ready to be presented to Parliament. I hope that they will not lose momentum as happens with a lot of these efforts.  It made me think of Ms. Afropolitan's post and how I had no idea that there was a day for Gender-based Violence and how it just slipped by.  Some of these issues need to be tied together and maybe there should be a week that tackles all these interlinked diseases and human rights abuses rather than having them scattered about the year with some getting more attention that others.

BTW, if you happen to be in New York, the Access to Life Exhibit is currently showing at the UN Headquarters until the 17th of December.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

World AIDS Day

I have never actually ever really observed today.  I know it happens every 1st of December and I have worn ribbons at certain points in my life but I have never participated in any events or really sat down to reflect on why this day has been created.  This year I helped organise events at work and participated and have seen AIDS with clear glasses for the first time, now that I have been most graciously informed that I had rose-coloured ones on before.

I have always been passionate about AIDS and Africa. When I was about 8 years old I was deathly afraid of contracting the disease as it had been drummed into me that AIDS was a death sentence and people who contracted it had somehow done something very wrong and that's why they got it.  The vestiges of that is an acute awareness and vigilance bordering on the psychotic in my personal life because of it.  As I got older and started to understand the social aspects of it the fear that could have led to discrimination thankfully evolved into a fire that burns to be a part of doing something about it.  If I had been a better student I would have fulfilled my childhood dream (this was one of many) of finding the cure.  However this would entail what I consider to be copious amounts of school and a skill that I avoid using at all costs and that is research (I know you may be surprised  by this as my posts tend to have such depth (yes I flatter myself ha ha ha) but this pleasurable and voluntary unlike school and prolonged work related stuff which can be quite painful if you have to do it with no perceivable end) and another called discipline that I have very little of.  So I decided that I would do everything I can to help with the skills I do have.

I happen to be working for an organisation that is at the forefront in trying to reverse the epidemic and this makes me happy.  Blogging about it  helps because it is an issue at the top of Africa's agenda.  Today, at work, I heard from people living withe disease talk about particular experiences in their lives after they had contracted HIV and two things stood out to me:

1. There is no face for HIV/ AIDS.  Yes Africa has the most affected by the disease but it is detrimental to keep showing the face of a disenfranchised African woman or child whenever AIDS is mentioned, and when the media want to switch it up the faces change to gay men, because it allows people who do not identify to think that they are safe or even immune and it stigmatises certain groups no matter how the messages are presented.  On the panel there were women AND men, who were gay AND straight, who came from Africa AND Europe AND Asia AND the USA and were younger AND older.   It can happen to anyone in a manner of ways.  However, because my workmates are not disenfranchised or underprivileged it is clear that their stations in life have enabled them to be able to be empowered by their individual ownership of how they live with HIV and in being able to speak about their experience in a safe place with support and in actively working to help others have the same opportunities to live in good health and which leads me to the second thing...

2. AIDS is a Human Rights issue more than anything right now.  So the second thing I learnt was that people living with HIV are battling daily around the world for the right to be human.  For the right to have children if they choose, to be able to have access to proper medical care, to not be stigmatised, and most importantly to live, and not just in terms of the medical, but to live freely amongst the rest of "us" even though there really should not be such a distinction.

That is why I changed the amashibi (words) above to the Koffi Annan quote from World AIDS Day 2003 because his call to arms is still relevant, and maybe even more so, today:

We must continue to speak up openly about AIDS. No progress will be achieved by being timid, refusing to face unpleasant facts, or prejudging our fellow human beings - still less by stigmatising people living with HIV/AIDS.  Let no one imagine that we can protect ourselves by building barriers between "us" and "them.  In the ruthless world of AIDS, there is not us and them.  And in that world, 
silence is death.

The rest of the week I will explore certain issues surrounding AIDS.  Check out the (RED) website to see what people are doing around the world to commemorate the day. The UNAIDS 2010 Global Report happily reports that the number of new cases in Africa is going down and that this phenomenon is most acute in young people although disturbingly it in on the rise with older people.  You can also watch quite powerful and harrowing videos documenting the photo sessions around the world for the Access to Life Exhibition, a collaboration between the Global Fund and Magnum Photos.  I like this exhibition and the videos because it shows the many faces of HIV/ AIDS but at the same time I am always a little wary of documenting people's pain and suffering, I find it a bit intrusive and exploitative.  I don't think I'll ever be able to reconcile this conflict.

I was able to get these beaded AIDS pins  for everyone at work from Wola Nani, a great initiative in South Africa that provides medical, financial, economic and social support to people living with HIV, especially women. I really like programs that empower, that think about the big picture and not just about charity which I feel is usually more about the person giving patting themselves on the back for being so altruistic rather than being about the person in need. Charity is not sustainable but self-sufficiency is.  Going beyond giving a hand-out, an ephemeral happenstance to giving someone knowledge and skills, (as my father always says these are the things that no one can take away from you) is something that can be perpetuated.  You know the whole giving a fish versus taking people fishing to teach them how to catch one themselves thing.

Wola Nani is Xhosa for "we embrace and develop one another". I hope that this AIDS Day you'll think about how to do that in your community with regards to people living with HIV and find ways to incorporate those wise words into all facets of life :)

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Art and Football

In keeping with my arty theme this week, I am continuing to post about beautiful things. Art is beautiful. Football is beautiful. And when they come together they make for a good post ;}.

Firstly, Drogba and Kalou have picked pictures taken by BBC World Service listeners and BBC journalists for the BBC's Africa Kicks.  You can watch a video on their thoughts about football's impact on Africa and you can also view the pictures they picked for the Africa Kicks Exhibition here: Gallery 1 - which aims to capture Africa's vibrancy , Gallery 2  - that conveys how football can be a life-changing and Gallery 3 -showcases how to Africa, football is more than just a sport.  I think football is where African's find the freedom to just be because perhaps we take Art a little for granted as  we produce so much in so many different forms so naturally that is has a mundane quality.  Football ignites the senses while simultaneously pacifying the soul.  It really brings us together. The photographs selected really capture our love of football.

While we are on the subject of football, BBC's African Footballer of the year shortlist has been revealed: Gyan and Ayew of Ghana, Eto'o, Yaya Toure and Drogba.  I have voted for Gyan. He was just absolutely wonderful at the World Cup. Awesome to the possum. He lead Ghana and represented the continent first class first class he he he. You can cast your vote here.

Also, FIFA is giving $100K to the injured Togolese goalkeeper who was shot during the unfortunate events preceding the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year. I think this is an absolutely lovely gesture :).

I will leave you with a hilarious video of Gyan doing a celebratory dance and one of his Sunderland teammates joining in.  Classic ;)

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Art Is The Theme It seems

It seems that all that I am seeing right now pertains to Art.  Maybe like Angola, I am looking to heal with creativity as I keep seeing horrible headlines about fighting between Marocco and Western Sahara, of violence after the polls in Guinea, a couple killed on their honeymoon in South Africa and something going on in Egypt! If it bleeds it leads is really being applied to Africa this week :(.

So I am going to focus on more happy things.  Catching up on blog reading exposed me to more Angolan art and also alerted me to a huge art exhibition in New York at the Museum of Arts and Design called The Global Africa Project that starts tomorrow. All facets of African creativity are showcased in both old and traditional forms and new hybrid ones.  The exhibition seeks to show the varied dimensions of work that Africans worldwide have produced and have organised The Global Africa project "around several thematic ideas.  These include: the phenomenon of intersecting cultures and cultural fusion; the branding and co-opting of cultural references; how art and design is promoted in the international market and the creative global scene; the use of local materials; and the impact of art-making on the economic and social condition of local communities.  In addition to providing a broad framework for the exhibition's organisation, these themes will encourage audiences to discern how global African artists grapple with the commodification of art production and the meaning and value of art in society - an increasingly significant issue for nations in a rapidly changing global context."
For a better and more knowledgeable analysis of the exhibition, as well as images of the exhibits, read Afri-Love's post and the Museum's blog. I am happy to see our creativity being showcased both in Africa and around the world :)

Art's Healing Power

I am finally keeping to my word and writing a post I promised to write ages ago.  When I was flying home I read about this wonderful art festival happening in Luanda right now.  Il Trienal de Luanda is a triennial arts exhibition started by one of Angola's sons, Fernando Alvim.  It is the most renowned of its kind in Africa and features outdoor billboard paintings, formal exhibitions, television and radio debates, educational programmes, theatrical performances and more, with the proceeds from these events financing the finale in December. This celebration of art started on the 12th of September and goes on till December 19th so you still have time to catch it if you happen to be going to Angola any time soon. The point of the Triennial is to celebrate Angolan history and heritage, but also to help heal the wounds suffered from years of fighting.  I think this is a great way to attract people to Angola, just as with them holding the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year

Fernando Alvim is also curator of the Sindika Dokolo Collection, which is the largest collection of contemporary African Art in the world.  Artists from Algeria, Angola, Benin, Cameroun, Congo, Cote D'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Marocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia and Zimbabwe are showcased, as well as artists from around the world.  I am particulary taken with this set of prints and this photo is so eerily involving. And I can't get over the fact that there is an artist called Nastio Mosquito ha ha ha ha ha ;}.

I have a love/ hate relationship with contemporary art. Some of it just seems so self-involved and important. I visited LACMA earlier in the year and the collection they had showing had me thinking: really??!!! Some of it you could put together yourself but as they say that is not the point, it's all about the experience. Whatever. I expect to be wowed by something I couldn't do myself.  I need to see creativity and ability that I cannot produce to appreciate.  A pile of boxes just doesn't do it for me I'm afraid...

Friday, 12 November 2010

Il pleut...

Everyday like clockwork it rains when I leave work to head home.  I don't really mind the rain, so long as I have my umbrella and boots on I'm good to go.  And if I am walking briskly then the cold isn't so bad too, in fact it's welcome as it means that I get nice and warm and not too hot from the exercise.  However, Western rain is not like home rain, as me and my sister discussed recently.

I was lucky enough, due to a series of unfortunate events, to get to experience the first rains at home.  A welcome change from the heat. Well in relative terms bringing down the temperature to around 40C is better than around 50C ;}.  What I love about the rain at home is all the pomp and circumstance that precedes it.  You you may see some lightning in the distance, you'll definitely hear some thunder announcing the impending rain and then you smell it in the moments before it decides to grace us with its presence.  And that is really the essence of African rain, the smell. The potent, earthy, natural smell that I have only ever experienced on the African continent and particularly in Zambia.  Before the sheets of rain that cause everything to come to a standstill, there is such an aroma of growth, renewal and cleansing that is intoxicating.  The rain itself is awesome too.  Awesome in its authority and sometimes terrifying too when it wakes you in the middle of the night. Also terrifying when you have to pull over because you can't see anything but white. Or brown when you misjudge how deep a puddle on the road is and are blinded for a coupla seconds from going too fast through it...;}

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Kenya Dig it? Yes We Can!

I read this article today about how Kenya is going to try and save its largest forest, Mau, by trading carbon units to be able to reforest and in turned earn billions of dollars a year for 15 years! Reading more about how important the forest is to a third of the country's population reminded me of a program I watch while at home.  The quote "Many local people understand the value of the forest" reminded me of the episode of Great Africans I watched on DSTV about the 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, Wangari Maathai (who if you don't know about read up on her she is AMAZING!!!) the founder of The Green Belt Movement. In the program she talked about how when she was younger she remembers how she was taught which trees were to be cut for firewood and which were to be left like the Fig tree due to its long roots that keep the soil intact during the rains.  We Africans had such knowledge of our ecosystems and lived at one with the land but we have lost a lot of that.

I came across this quote today too from Mzee Jomo Kenyatta: "When the missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible and we had the land.  They taught us to pray with our eyes closed. when we opened them, we had the Bible in our hand and they had the land." 

The above program talked about how the English came and cleared a lot of the land without thought due to the fertility of the land caused by the unique qualities of the Rift Valley and how this, as well as locals following suit, has caused Kenya to increasingly suffer from more and more droughts due to the fact that trees no longer form trapment areas for rain water. Even though Kenyatta made an crudely astute observation about how religion was used as a facilitator for colonialism, we need to start having faith in our own knowledge and make the decisions to revert back to some of our old practices while also embracing the knowledge we have also adopted.

What Kenya is trying to do is something that all African countries need to be doing. We need to exploit our resources in a productive not destructive manner.  And we need to be in control, especially with green issues as we are suffering from the brunt of the adverse effects climate change.  Which sucks really because we are not the main culprits.  But such is life, what can we do? What Kenya's doing that's what! :)

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Interesting Debate

Yesterday one of my lovely followers posted this link on Facebook about African development from the Zambian perspective that sparked and interesting debate. I must confess I have yet to read Dead Aid even though I purchased the book earlier this year.  Unfortunately my brain is still recovering from Masters overload and I have not touched a book since I graduated. I am only able to read in short bursts, so the Internet is my only source of reading at the mo...Anyhoo back to what I was saying. It got me thinking about the direction Africa is taking and what needs to be done to finally move from receiving Aid to actually being able to stand on our own two feet.

It seems consensus was on benevolent dictatorship, where someone takes the reigns and makes decisions that ultimately lift our countries to economic stability that is enjoyed by the majority.  The educated need to be at the forefront and actually put their knowledge to good use rather than using it solely in the developed world.  However for this to occur, the continent has to be friendlier in terms of its rules, regulations and its people need to be as inviting to their own as they are to foreigners!

My view is that of a conservative liberal.  I believe in the right for people to do as they choose and live as they like but not with such abandon that one is not aware of their community which is how I feel pure liberals seem to be.  I also don't believe in the didactic maxims of the conservatives who make rules that benefit the elite under the guise of doing what's best for the people.  I think that Africa needs to be a little like China, selfish in its quest to succeed on its own terms and stop trying to please everyone by bending to be able to receive Aid or just letting anyone invest because the newest belief is that Foreign Direct Investment is the key to alleviating poverty.  However, I do not believe that Human Rights should be compromised and it is paramount that the environment should be respected at all times. I think Africa is in the position to show the world how development can occur without all the pitfalls that other countries have faced such as child labour and serious environmental damage.

We need to stop sucking up to anyone who has money because even though China may not have tried to handcuff us the way the US did with their push for abstinence campaigns before signing off on Aid, their lack of rules has them thinking they can do whatever they want because of their perceived benevolence.  The recent shooting of Zambian miners asking for better work conditions is a case in point.

Africa produces many educated sons and daughters and this is evident in the fact that despite appearances, they are the most educated immigrant group in America and despite their stereotypical bad reputation, Nigerians are leading the pack. What we need to do is go back home our at least start ventures there remotely and use our knowledge to better our nations.  We need to suck it up and suffer a bit to plant the seeds and stick it out long enough for the rains to come and go and for the sun to shine so that we can eventually see the fruits of our labour.  What is also needed is a conducive environment on the homefront.  When I went back home recently and was looking to stay and start something I was told very bluntly that it would be better if I left as what I wanted to do was not possible in Zambia.  Anything is possible if you allow it to be.  So now I'm in Switzerland.  At least I tried. And I will try again soon :)

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

World Pneumonia Day

There seems to be a day for everything these days but I think that the 12th of November is particularly important to highlight as pneumonia is one of those diseases that slips through the cracks, and yet most of the deaths from this disease are in developing countries.  When I found this out at work today I was quite shocked as I have never really heard that before though I have known people who have had it.  I think a lot of the times, especially in hot countries, pneumonia seems counterintuitive.  Even though it is an oxymoron, it occurs nonetheless. We need to pay even more attention to it as it is linked to diseases like HIV/AIDS and TB.

Check out the site for Word Pneumonia Day.  What I love about it is that it features the people working on the ground to fight the disease rather than just pictures of helpless faces.  Not only that, but the people from Africa are highlighted positively and are not just the face of the disease but also the face of the help being given already. Showcased are a Doctor from Nigeria and two female Doctors, one from Uganda the other from Pakistan.  I like the fact that it shows that we from the developing world are not solely problems but are actively part of solutions.

Here is an article about how Pneumonia in the African context.

Also check out the GAVI Alliance, an organisation that is striving to introduce pneumococcal (yes that is a real word) vaccines to over 40 countries by 2015.

I will leave you with this very silly and refreshing video from GAVI highlighting the day and calling for action.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Picture Of The Week: Flower Power

Frangipani - Zimbabwe October 2010

Had my first day of work today and I'm absolutely pooped so I thought I'd start a new post series: Picture of the Week. I am a very amateur photographer and like Africa I'd like to think my photos capture beauty in its purest form and yet are rough around the edges ;}. I am too frazzled to do anything seeing as I have battled the elements - cold and rain while carrying groceries and getting lost in the dark just a minute from home because everything looked the damned same - small pokey roads with wooden houses that could be where I live.  It didn't help that on the way a dog barked at me and being an African one is always afraid of dogs on the road as they could have rabies.  Have to get used to people leaving their gates open and things...I am also a little annoyed that my google searches and my blogger page come up in German! At least French I can fudge my way through :(.

I will not end the post on a bad note.  Life is an adventure and despite the craziness I am having a great time.  Very excited about my job as one of my tasks is to find an inventive way to get people at work to get more involved in recognising World Aids Day on the 1st of December :).

Sunday, 7 November 2010

MBA Haitus Is Over: I'm Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack :)

I apologise profusely for my sudden disappearance without so much as an "hasta la vista baby".  In my defense it was facilitated by lack of constant computer internet access coupled with very annoyingly small keys on my Blackberry (hence my poor mobile posting) and the fact I was enjoying my regeneration at home under the African sun :}.

Luckily I have survived the scorching 50C weather and have not melted although I may now freeze into a brown icicle having made a really cold sojourn to Switzerland.  There is something wrong when the plane is so cold that when you get out at Heathrow it feels warm!!!! Was sick the whole first leg - the 10 hour journey from home to London due to the sudden change in temperature.  And unfortunately today it was gloomy and rainy and cold :(. Thank God for my winter coat although it is indicating to me that I have been rather lazy and is a bit tight. In my defense you try and move in ridiculous heat.  Being a couch potato and falling asleep becomes inevitable no matter how hard you try at certain times of the day.  However, the house in which I am renting a room is so charming, you know the way you would think Switzerland is.  It's made of wood, the garden is full of trees, and I can see a mountain located in France out of my bedroom window :)))))))). ABSOLUTELY AWESOME POSSUM!

Blogging is therapeutic for me and leaving home has definitely got me back into my "away from home routine" so will be making up for promised posts and getting back to my usual self :). Internet in my room helps...

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Happy Peace Day :)

I had posted about International Peace Day a coupla months ago and
ended up thinking it was the 22nd and would have continued to be
misinformed had I not gone to the View Images Film Festival and turned
up inadvertently for the official ceremony marking the day!
Too much happened today, I have been brought peace through a
development that this blog seems to have contributed to. I finally
have a career opportunity that aligns with my passionate personality,
my goals and my love for my beloved continent and the world at large.
Also the ceremony I attended was so infuriatingly entertaining but I
can't type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts so will lug my
computer tomorrow to write about it.
For now I will leave you with words from a dear friend, a beacon of
inspiration, a quintessentially beautiful and proudly African woman,
MRS ANTELOPE: "Never let anyone take your peace." Those words really
resonated with me in 2006 when my life seemed meaningless and without
direction and hope. Everytime I question myself or let outside
influences bog me down I remember those words. Hearing the speakers
talk about peace being a human right and the base from which to build
anything that you want to last life reaffirmed her words and their
meaning. Enjoy your day and make sure to spread the love not only
today, but every day :)

Friday, 17 September 2010


So Nadal did finally complete the career slam on Monday and I am over the moon! The guy just amazes me! His constant adaptability in order to reach his goals is so inspiring.  Worth staying up into the wee hours of the morn and suffering through rain delays to witness. Was rather disappointed that Fed didn't make it to the final though.  He seemed so uncharacteristically out of sorts I hope this is temporary and not an ominous sign of his demise. He is 29 after all and in Tennis he's a bit long in the tooth really.

Was watching local news and was reading the text whizzing in that bar thing at the bottom and was pleased to see that Zambia has lowered its malaria cases by 60%!!! Then right after that I saw that 7 Malians were arrested for stealing donor funds for malaria!! Craziness.  Why can't there just be good news, why does it always have to be accompanied by the not so good??!! :(

And now you see why I called this post Nets he he he he...

Testy-Testy, 1-2-3 ;}

This post serves to test to see if all my hard work research and navigation of the treacherous waters of mobile blogging have finally paid off. Hopefully this will post otherwise I'll have wasted time on a Saturday morning sleeping!

The title of this post is in honour of some guy testing out a mike to make sure it was working. Cracks me up how we Africans always put a twist on things. As they say, variety is the spice of life :).

I am getting more proficient with my BlackBerry having recently discovered the symbol key that has restored my tongue smiley capabilities so Je suis tres hereuse maintenant. That was in honour of any West Africans who read the blog and wish it was in a more familiar language. However don't expect such special treatment often, my French has decayed to an embarrasingly rudimentary level. I am thinking about rectifying that though. My univeristy education has centered around media and communication and language skills are a fundamental part of connecting in the global sphere.

Either this is going to get lost in the ether (which it has done multiple times in the last two weeks) or you are reading this (I know you are coz I have read this post myself on the blog he he he) and congratulating me for successfully posting using the mobile format having finally gotten my computer on the internet long enough to activate blogging via email instead of unsuccessfully fighting for the Blogger site to load.

Awesome possum - I'm baaaaaaaaaaaack ;}

Monday, 6 September 2010

Darkness While In The Sunshine

Even though I am finally feeling warmth from the bright African sun after freezing most of the summer in California, darkness has fallen on my blog. It pains me to know it is in indefinite umbra and it seems the only way to be able to blog via mobile is to do the final setup from a computer. So I have to get out of my hazy malaise that I have been enjoying. Life has slowed considerably and I think I have indulged that too much. It is time to create waves in my now placid waters.

I do have to say that I have been active in spurts by reconnecting with friends and fighting with a very fiesty mosquito for the 1st couple of days. It used to have a posse but I sent them to sleep with th fishes. However this mozi refuses to be laid to rest and has retaliated by biting me a few times. I am not amused by its petulance. I will win this battle, I will not be taken down by some upstart insect with ridiculously long legs ;}!

I am going to go back to being useless and watch the us open that is turning out to be very interesting and with murray out, Nadal's half of the draw is opening up nicely so he really could make it to the final this year and complete his career slam. I have also learnt from my couch potato tennis watching that it is not wise to watch football in Germany. Poor Serena got injured by glass severing a tendon in her foot after they lost in the World Cup semis! She now has to have surgery to fix her now droopy big toe! I think that however sad this is for the women's game, I think it helps Venus. At least she doesn't have to worry about the possibility of having to play her sister and maybe she can win a title other than Wimbledon, which she hasn't been able to do since 2001!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

TIA: This Is Africa :)

As many an African has said, including Leonardo di Caprio in Blood Diamond, "TIA - This is Africa". When foreigners are faced with this reality, panic usually ensues, but us Africans merely shrug our shoulders and find a way to improvise. So here I am making do with my current resources and commencing a new feature on my blog - the mobile post :)!

I was originally going to start this post series with pictures I plan to take as I reacquaint myself with the motherland. But it seems that fate would have me use the most ubiquitous technology on the continent to keep my blog alive while my
computer internet access is on indefinite hiatus!

I apologise in advance for the lack of depth that I usually try to incorporate in my posts through hyperlinks, background info and videos. I will try to be creative, informative and entertaining in other ways :). This will probably lead to more nonsense than usual he he he...

For the moment I am lamenting the lack of the bracket that I use to do my sticking out my tongue smileys and wondering how I am going to continue posting while typing and editing on a small Blackberry keyboard and screen!!

Monday, 16 August 2010

A Hidden Summer Gem: Scott Pilgrim

If you are looking for an off-beat graphic novel adaptation to entertain you I highly recommend Scott Pilgrim vs The World.

This quirky action movie has got teen angst, twenties malaise, baggage in the form of a motley crew of evil exes from diverse backgrounds, ranging from vegans to Japanese twins, and whose stereotypes are exploited in a lighthearted, fun, way, a plethora of zinger one-liners and jam packed with action coupled with amazing, innovative cinematography that marries refreshingly different CGI that doesn't overwhelm the film.  So cute, loved it, awesome possum :)!  Watched Kick Ass on DVD right after seeing that at the movies and was disappointed. Scott Pilgrim balances the cool with the cute and cutting-edge effortlessly, while even though Kick Ass had its moments with daddy-daughter combo Big Daddy and potty-mouthed 11 year-old Hit Girl, it tried too hard on all counts.

I'm also really liking Chris Evans' movie choices of late.  After doing the blockbuster thing with the Fantastic Four he's been picking a lot of smaller films. Really enjoyed his character in The Losers (another quirky graphic novel adaptation) earlier this year and also liked his transformation in the indie Loss of A Teardrop Diamond, an adaptation of a Tennessee Williams Screenplay I was happy to become acquainted with because I do enjoy me some TW.  

Being A True Afropolitan

Thought I would not get to post till I arrived home and got used to the high that comes from the motherland's loving embrace as the heat envelopes you as the plane door opens and the love from family cleanses your soul and revitalises your spirit...And the food coma that I can't wait to indulge over the coming weeks from home cooked food that only Mummy can make just right ;}.  However, here I am at Dubai International Airport taking advantage of the free internet to make this 9 hour layover bareable!

I am a very loyal person in general.  Although I adapt well to change, I can be very reluctant to let it occur, I like the comfort in routine where I can in my constantly evolving life.  Since 1992 I have flown on average 4-6 times a year with British Airways back and forth from the West to home, mainly because they are the most convenient.  However, in recent times they have wobbled, but as I am a frequent flyer they have rewarded me.  But their price for the ticket home was preposterous, and South African Airways weren't much better. .  I am flying for $1000 less with Emirates so the inconvenience of flying 5/1/2 hours to far East and then 2 hours too far South to then go back up 2 hours again with an SAA flight, making a journey of a total of 14 hours layover and 26 hours flying worth it.  The good thing is my in-flight routine is transplantable so I am able to preserve the continuity of routine n that regard.

Emirates are lovely and they are showing Africa the love too.  They are launching a new flight to Dakar next month and are offering free hotel stays for the first travellers.  They also have a lot of African stories in their magazine about interesting things going on on the continent and here in the airport I saw for the first time learn to speak Amharic, Yoruba and Zulu CDs!  Their in-flight entertainment is unparalleled with so many options from all over the world.  The air hostesses aren't forced to wear heels, they can wear flats to work the almost 16 hour flight or trousers if they wish to and their flight staff are a Benetton ad. They are really a first class organisation.  Will do a separate post on them when I get my hands on the magazine again when I take my next flight in a coupla hours so I can convert my pleasurable reading into a post :).

If this post doesn't make any sense forgive me I'm jet lagged due to the new and awkward timing of my flights. If it does, ignore the former statement ;}

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Thoughts On The Hybrid Nature Of The African/ Afropolitan Inspired By Music

The world in general is becoming more and more hybrid in a myriad of ways.  Some of us are accepting these blurrings, fragmentations and fluidity kicking and screaming.  But any true Afropolitan is so used to their identity being in constant flux that the instability and unpredictability of their own world as well as the world we live in is oddly comforting.  I have been meaning to start posting about this for a while.  It seems only fitting that this be my last proper post before I journey back to the motherland.  I have gotten used to this constant moving to and fro from the continent to the West.  If I am not on a plane within 3 months I feel weird, due to having gone to boarding school since 11.  This is proving to be rather expensive as I now have to finance these trips he he he ;}

I was moved by Nneka's video, Africans, this week as the lyrics really spoke to me.

It made me think of how colonisation has made all us Africans hybrids, straddling Western influence and African tradition and culture, trying to marry and recognise, accept and adopt the two to forge ahead into the future.  It made me think of how Zimbabwe is suffering from the constant scapegoating instead of moving forward.  It is time to stop blaming, to stop crying over spilt milk because its already been spilt - there is nothing more to do but to mop up the mess and learn how to not topple the bowl again.  Nneka's afropolitan nature due to race, culture, music and style got me on thinking more about how music and musicans reflect how we are redefining ourselves and communicating who we are as Africans in our diversity and similarity.

Ayo first came to mind as like Nneka, she is also half Nigerian and half German, as well as having released a video for Life is Real earlier that seems to have inspired the Africans video aesthetic.

I love how the lyrics encourage people to be real because life is real.  Take what people say with a grain of salt and ultimately do what you want to do and be who you want to be unabashedly and pridefully.  As Mr. Darcy said "Yes, vanity is a weakness indeed. But pride -- where there is a real superiority of mind, pride will be always under good regulation".  Yes he may be a fiction character of Jane Austen's making, but he does have a point.  Vanity is what leads people to be the people they think they should be using whatever means, regardless of the damage that ensues as a result.  Pride, when checked is what allows people to stand firm, to care about who they are and to be vanguards.  But there is a proviso as I have said with engaging this emotion, you really do need to temper it with humility.  We have seen how our own African pride has gotten us into all sorts of messes about the continent, like with tribal and ethnic wars for example.

I also got introduced to a lovely Zimbabwean artist through MIghTy African called Tinashe.  He expresses what it is like to become the chameleon that many of us end up being as we traverse the globe and are constantly moving through different scenery and cultures on his Facebook Page and again on his blog. I really do not like the terms oreo at black folk, coconut at brown folk, and twinkie and banana at east asians when they are not fitting into some stereotypical representation of self.  The joy of human life is in our variety.

This video plays his two singles Saved and Zambezi.  You can check out his website too for more info.

Identity is on the brain as I begin my sojourn back home for an indeterminate period of time.  I am excited to remember what it is like to be physically part of a family and to nourish my soul in the motherlands soothing balm of sunshine.  At the same time I am journeying with trepidation as I think about how I am going to represent myself, something I always struggle with wherever I am, but what troubles me most about the way it is at home is that feeling of belonging but not belonging at the same time and how to reconcile that. Questions and thoughts a of womanhood, Africaness, adulthood and presentation are on constant loop in my head right now and I have two long haul flights to continue to ruminate, dissect, and torture myself :(

6-0 Baby: Now That's The Stuff Chelsea!

Ah, my beloved Chelsea is back to their winning ways :)! Was wounded after BBM gloated about the Man U Community Shield win and told me that my team is old and they need to get rid of the dead weight.  Old legs don't create a 6-0 scoreline - that's all I have to say about that.  Sure it was against the newly promoted West Brom but it is still hard to score 6-0 at the Premiership level.  I am over the moon :)!

Congrats to Drogba, his hat trick shows he is recovering from surgery just fine.  I will not comment on Malouda's hair.  Why is he following in Drogba's footsteps with uselessness albeit it with cornrows...I just have to focus on the two goals he scored...

If you missed the wonderfulness, or if you want to relive it here are the highlights:

chel vs wba ht
Uploaded by TotalFootball2010. - Basketball, baseball, pro wrestling and more sports videos.

2nd Half
Uploaded by TotalFootball2010. - Discover the latest sports and extreme videos.


Thursday, 12 August 2010

Affordable African Fashion

Today, it seems, two of my fellow Afropolitan sisters had fashion on the brain. Ms Afropolitan has just launched her Boutique, a tribute to the African Woman's decade 2010-20.  The Art is particularly cheap, £30 for a painting is a real bargain.  And you get a 10% discount for purchasing items through her site and the profits go to Forward UK, an effort by the African Diaspora to safeguard female human rights.  The prices are comparable with high street shops in the UK, are really cute and are a great way to support African designers.

Afri-love also discovered cute African Print hair clips made by Wasijiru.  You can find more affordable accessories to hold back afro hair by Wasijiru here and they ship to America and a decent number of European countries.

African style does not have to leave you when you leave the motherland - you can take it with you and help others while you're at it :).

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Shaka Zulu: A Trendy Hang Out With A Conscience

Shaka Zulu Lounge, Restaurant and Club recently had its launch party in Camden, London.  I know this because while satisfying my pop culture celebrity gossip fix, I saw pictures of Amy Winehouse stumbling out of the place, which made me curious and a just a little bit skeptical. Ok a lot skeptical.  I mean, calling your place Shaka Zulu is rather bold and potentially foolhardy. But upon researching the venture, this actually looks like a very classy affair and decadently appropriate for a place named after one of the greatest chiefs in African history.  Reminded me of the Double Club, inspired by Congolese culture and made possible with the help of Nigerian Bank Guaranty Trust, which I had the pleasure of going to when it was in London from 2008-9.  When I went there for a friend's birthday party, the food tasted like home and they actually played proper lingala and decale music (also referred to as rhumba). And they had all those creepily metrosexual Congolese guys giving their stamp of approval all ridiculously coiffed, clad in pink and white suits, too tight t-shirts and malanga mpamvus drinking and dancing the night away. The Double Club felt like a club at home, Xenon, that in its hayday was the place to go party when I was a teenager.  Plastic chairs outside, a very cosy dancefloor, a very warm atmosphere with too small a bar to serve all the customers.  Part of the proceeds of this art project went to crisis victims in the DRC through the City of Joy/ Unicef project.

Shaka Zulu takes this one step further, being a permanent fixture at the hip, boho, Stables Market location rather than the kinda scary, back lot, warehouse location of the temporary Double Club. The brainchild of Roger Payne, this venture seeks not only to celebrate Zulu and South African culture, it seeks to respect it as well.  Here is a video of Payne seeking King Goodwill Zwelethini's approval and support for the venture and its charitable intentions.

The menus for the bar, braai, and seafood and oyster bar source mainly from South Africa but the Zulu ubuntu spirit is alive and well too with inspiration from Namibia, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Mocambique. Dining comes with an optional £1 charge that goes towards the £1 million Shaka Zulu plans to raise to support Education Africa.  They also plan to have a shop that will sell African goods, including those created by King Zwelethini's initiative for job creation, Bayede!. The shop will also stock food and wine from South Africa.

There is a fine line between paying homage to a culture through inspiration and offending without meaning to.  This seems like a healthy respect and celebration of South African culture that is available to not only the celebrities but also the general public.  Unlike with fashion, it seems that concept restaurants are a more inclusive (and perhaps less pretentious) way to go for people to celebrate African culture and support development if they choose to.  A more democratic approach to living life to its fullest with a conscience every now and again.  I will definitely make the effort to check it out  the next time I am in London.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Not A Happy Puppy Blues :(

I do not believe in hating, but if ever there was anything to dislike with a passion it is Manchester United.  Man U sycophants are even worse.  Not since the days of Cantona have I cared for that team, especially seeing as most of the fans love the team because they love to win, not because they believe in the team at all.  My best friend BBM is a classic example of this type of nonsensical support. Bleh!

My love for Chelsea is pure. Since 1996 I had a feeling when Ruud Gullit came on board that this team would build itself into something phenomenal, pledged my allegiance and Chelsea came through.  I will bleed blue forever!  And I love that it has a solid African contingent with my favs Essien and Kalou and even though Drogba rubs me the wrong way, he is good at what he does so we support him too.

However, I am annoyed by the Community Shield result. Yes eventually champions have to lose but, man! to frikking Man U at the start of the season?! Kalou as usual was clutch , at least putting Chelsea on the scoreboard albeit late in the game.  Drogba has admitted to carrying around a groin problem for 6 years that he has only just fixed and now has to get match fit learning to play without the injury!  Plus he is getting over the crazy World Cup arm incident too.  Glad that Essien is wetting his football feet again. 

Chelsea need to shape up and start the season well.  

Monday, 9 August 2010

Dress To Express: Proudly African Accessories

I have a serious addiction to earrings.  Some women need to put on some sort of makeup to be able to get out of the house.  Some need to comb their hair.  For me, I need to put on my jewelry.  My watch, my rings and earrings and I am good to go or I feel naked.  And the moment I get home I have to take them off because I feel like I need to shed the weight of the world outside.  Shakalala-ed hair can be concealed under a hat or a bandana and quite frankly I love sleep too much so only give enough room for showering and dressing.  Extra fiddling on a daily basis is too much for me.  When I was a kid I would sleep with my braids tied so when I woke up for school in the morning all I had to do was brush the top.  I know, I should be ashamed.  I am not. It was cold at boarding school, I don't function well under 25 degrees Celcuis. And my mother was not around he he he ;}...

I however, do believe you should dress to express.  And for me, the best way to keep in touch with my African-ness is through jewelry, particularly earrings.  As LOLZ said recently when we were donning African outfits for my graduation that sometimes we Afropolitans can rock the African too much. Chitenge bag, necklace, earrings can be overkill, I admit.  But I like to rock my earrings, if nothing else, especially seeing as for some reason people back home tend to shun these items, thinking they are are only for tourists at the market and would rather adorn themselves with (better) Western accessories.  That is evidence of colonisation of the mind I think.  If beads and wood were good enough for my ancestors, they are good enough for me.  If we do not support our local artisans and our culture in turn, who will?!  My OLDEST FRIEND commented that my earring style exposes my chongololo-ness (meaning centi/milipede and also refers to kids who go abroad to boarding school).  Perhaps my need to connect with my African-ness has something to do with it.  So I make a concerted effort to make sure that my earring diversity includes solid African representation as it grows. 

I also like the fact that I can get beautiful earrings for a $1-2 and necklaces for $5-6 after bargaining and I get compliments on them, with people believing they are worth so much more. And lovely friends who have gotten me accessories from Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa as far as I know. This is in keeping with my dress code:

Fashion is in the now and ephemeral but style is priceless and eternal.

I have also found a way to get pretty cheap $5-6 earrings from Tar-jay, many of which look like they were made at home. They could have been, although they most probably were made in India or China.I was able to get shell earrings for £1 from Primani that look like they are from home.  I recently bought a pair of yellow shell earrings from Santa Barbara and saw the same green shell earrings I put together myself from Dubai ready-made in the shop! (The shells had a eye added to them already so only needed earring hooks which are very easy to add so I really didn't do much).    Shell earrings are an easy way to get the "exotic" natural "ethnic" look from afar, grrr to those words grrrr, which also leads people to believe that they are from home (apart from the fact that I come from a completely landlocked country is besides the point :}). And I think this is the main deterrent for people who are susceptible to inquiries and observations using "words that should be banned" when they dress a certain way.  This is why for the longest time I could not wear animal print anything -  too much for me to try and wear normally without the stigma of the "tribal" and/ or the skanky.  Now I can do a splash with my leather snake skin flats and a coupla earrings with leopard and zebra-stripes.  I am proud of my transcendence of the stereotype in an acceptable fashion he he he...

OXFORD SHIRT came up with this awesome way of creating easy access/ viewing of your collection for quick selection and matching with outfit purposes.  A great use for the excess cloth pieces from African outfits that every African woman possesses and never knows what to do with because they are too small or too big to do anything practical with.  However, you DO NOT put your expensive/family heirloom/ sentimental/ if-it-were-stolen-you'd-have-a-coronary jewelry on display. Nothing up on my wall was more than $10 so even though I am greatly attached to all my jewelry, I can get over the loss as I have many a time when I have lost an earring while out and about (why is it that you only ever lose ONE?!). This is when you go to Claire's and get a pack of those plastic earring backs to curb the problem.  And you stop living in London because coats and the wind repeatedly collude to dislodge earrings.

N.B. This only works in America, where they are allergic to building with brick and use something called dry wall that is soft enough to be able to push pins into in a haphazard manner to form a pretty earring wall.  Which is great until you live in LA and feel frikking earthquake tremors every month that shake you awake in the middle of the night until you get used to them and start sleeping through them and only then notice in the daytime. Which means you are now set up to die either by the flimsiness of your abode and/ or the fact that can sleep through stuff like that. But at least you get pretty decoration out of functional wall use.

I had to take a picture before taking this down as I sojourn back to the motherland.  So proud he he he...

And here is a picture of the new earrings that didn't make it to the display wall above, but will definitely be up there when I am able to create a new one. I have never seen yellow shells before I am still giddy about this find!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Busy Week For 50th Anniversary Independence Celebrations

Check out Afri-love for posts on Niger, Burkina Faso, Benin and Cote D'Ivoire all turning 50.  It was like the French were like ok, here we go, let's just do it all in one go!

Saw a quote from the Niger President, General Salou Djibo, on BBC's Africa in Pictures that dedicated the festivities to "the struggle against food insecurity by sustainable land management". All I have to say is words are just words until you turn them into action...

Friday, 6 August 2010

The Kids Are All Right - An Education: Life's Permutations In The End Are More Similar Than Different

Absolutely lovely!  Love Annette Benning and Julianne Moore, great to see them still around coz you know how Hollywood has a penchant for discarding women once they are past a certain age...Great insight into sexuality, lesbian partnerships, growing up, missing the boat and only realising it when it's too late, and just the whole crazy-love-hate-why is this so hard-what would I do without you-sad-happiness of family life. If you are looking for a dose of reality during your summer, and live somewhere you can actually catch this on a movie screen, I highly recommend.

Yaya, the runner-up from America's Next Top Model, features.  She wears her hair big and afro proud and also wears a lovely African print wrap skirt in the movie. There is an interesting convo about where she got her Ethiopian necklace and her origins.  A convo I have had many times before with Westerners where you feel you have no control of how you are perceived because if you do not tread carefully and navigate the waters just right, random things will be latched onto leading the other person to decide you are this and will not listen to anything else you say to clarify.

There was also a NatGeo documentary with a white man asking some angry Africans for his knife back in the jungle .  Hmmmmm....