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AMASHIWI

"The day will come when history will speak...Africa will write its own history, it will be a history of glory and dignity" - Patrice Lumumba

"They can because they think they can" - Virgil (Inspirational quote in Zambian newspaper The Daily Mail, 13th February 2012 to describe the Chipolopolo AFCON win)

"Be yourself, everyone else is taken" - Oscar Wilde

"The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever seen" - Albert Einstein








Friday, 23 March 2012

MUNTU: Zed Series - Towani Clarke, Kutowa Designs and Kuthuta Yoga

This interview was conducted in July 2011.  I am ashamed it has taken me this long to post.  Luckily the information is timeless in its inspiration. Enjoy!


Towani Clarke, July 2011 wearing her own skirt design and bangles from Kutowa
Nationality/ies:  Mother: Zambian, Father: English
Age:  As young as I look
Countries you have lived and studied in: Zambia, South Africa
African countries you have visited: Malawi, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Nigeria
Education: BSc Agricultural Science University of Zambia, UNZA, MBA University of Cape Town, UCT
Profession(s): Fashion Designer and Yoga Instructor
Personal Interests: Fashion, Yoga, SGI Buddhism, Reading, Swimming
Social Media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blog, Website): Facebook: Kutowa Designs page, KuthutaYoga group

10 Questions

Muntu means person in the tongue of Mwana Ba Afrika’s mothers before her.  As an acronym it stands for: 

I picked these words to build off of the notion of Ubuntu.

Marvellous

Understated

Natural

Together

United

Describe yourself in 3 words, list 4 things you that make you happy and write a sentence that describes Africa in 10 words.

Kutowa Designs: Tipenda Pamodzi Collection 2011 
3: Sassy, creative, afro-chick.

4: Seeing a clear blue sky and the sun when I wake up in the morning. Buddhist chanting meditation.  Curling up on the couch with a cup of tea and a good book.  Hugs from my kids.



10: Land of sun, merry people, whatever the tough circumstances. Tenacious.


Recommend 3 websites, blogs and/ or books, 4 movies and/ or series and 10 songs and/ or music videos.

3:  Style.com, yogajournal.com, sgi.org

4: Vampire Diaries.

I am more of a book worm so I will recommend 3 books here:

Women who run with the wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
This is a book that is all about claiming the power of womanhood and relating how a woman in her natural state is instinctive, intuitive and strong.  It talks about knowing who you are and being in love with the person you find. If you are not ashamed of what you find, you will not want to hide who that is. A quote that encapsulates the essence of the book is: “It’s not by accident that the pristine wilderness of our planet disappears as the understanding of our own inner wild nature fades.”

You can hear you life by Louise Hay
Take any basic health problem and it will tell you the probable cause.  It gives you the underlying mental outlook to every illness and helps you to see how to change yourself mentally to help you heal physically.

Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judith
The Chakra system is now making sense with my  yoga and it  has also helped with my understanding of psychology and Buddhism.

Purple Hibiscus by  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Just a beautiful piece of fiction and the fact that it is written by an African woman makes it even better.

Africa Child by Camara Lay
It talks about a way of life before colonialism, before our beliefs were disposed of by Christian ones.   The book is so powerfully beautiful, especially the way Lay talks about  traditional animist beliefs through his father, a blacksmith who has a relationship with a snake and his mother’s totem, the crocodile, which signifies that she is the only woman who can be assured safety when drawing water from the river. It opened a whole new way to look at being for me,  and illuminated an Africaness that has been lost which then highlighted how we have forgotten our roots unlike the Indians and the Chinese.  Afrinassaince, one of my Kutowa lines is inspired by this forgotteness as a way of reviving tradition by coupling it with the modernity that comes with being part of a global consciousness.  Other people are starting to research on our traditions too but we still need to reclaim them. Our culture is oral and dying with the old. This book echoes how we need to write things down.

10: Okay, so I recommended a few more books so to keep with your structure I’ll only suggest 8 songs.

1.     1. Lazy Day -  Bruno Mars
2.   2. By Your Side - Sade
It can be sung to a friend, a child, or by a child to a mother, a sister...Any way you look at it the lyrics still apply. It reminds me of my girlfriends, especially Coretta, because to me it is all about sisterhood as women, standing by each other.
3.   3. Desert Rose - Sting
I love its mystical and spiritual sound – it moves you into another zone, it makes you feel like you floating in the desert with a cute Arab dude.
4.   4. Kiss From a Rose - Seal
5.   5. Breaking Down - Randy Crawford
It’s about a woman about to have a breakdown and about a man coming to save the day. It cracks me up!  It’s silly how we are always looking for solutions outside ourselves as women with that knight in shining armour. Sometimes we just have to get on with our lives and stop waiting.
6.   6. Jailer- Asa
7.   7. Frozen- Madonna
This song has a deep psychology:  if you are not open to yourself and your feelings you can shut down and be frozen and miss out on a lot of joys in life.
8.   8. Set Fire to the Rain - Adele

What have you or do you contribute to Zambia’s development economically, politically and or socially?
Kutowa Designs: Tipenda Pamodzi Collection 2011

In the previous book of my life I worked in the agricultural sector working and managing a farm.
Economically, I am now providing employment through Kutowa for the tailors I use and the people who work on the dresses, the fabric I buy and the people who make the jewellery. 

Socially I feel my contribution is facilitating pride through wearing something that is African, that is Zambian.  Usually to impress we say our clothes were purchased overseas, now it can be about identifying with Zambia: it’s African, it’s chitenge (African print) but it’s chic, it’s hot and most importantly it’s me.  I am helping people identify with their culture in a modern and new way and not thinking about traditional wear as something that their aunt would wear at a kitchen party (bridal shower).

Then with yoga I am contributing to helping people to be more aware of the importance of looking after themselves physically, mentally and spiritually.  A lot of Zambian women walk tensely, hunched up in the shoulders.  The disconnect between the body and the mind is causing them to be exhausted at the end of the day.  So I am helping them get fit: they are standing and sitting straighter, and are more connected to their bodies and emotions.

What do you think is special about being an African woman?

For me it’s strength, because as an African woman you have to do so much all at once, even as a child.  As the first born in my family, I looked after myself and because my mother was very busy, I was in charge of the younger ones: brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews. You are already nurturing, bathing, cooking and feeding. You learn to multitask, to be responsible and how to work together with other women as a team.  This is why Zed women and African women excel as these are management skills - learning to juggle things and work with people is something we have been doing since we were kids.  I use more of my skills from childhood than from my degrees!  This is also why unfortunately our men can’t function, even in the workplace, without female help.

The afro – it’s unique and when I am having a bad hair day I can wear a chiduku (head scarf) and still look absolutely glamorous without combing my hair.  You look regal. Natural hair is cool too!

What do we as African women need to improve and how?

Stop trying to do everything on your own. Help other people take responsibility as it will help them grow.  It’s not a uniquely African problem but heightened in Africa with the boy child, with the brother, with your husband. When is another woman running after another woman unless she is an elder?  It’s high time we start sharing the responsibility with the men in the house so we can both have time to relax.  It is sad that in liberation we have work and housework and are double burdened.  It’s not too late for those who are open-minded to start talking and start with our children, especially with the boys, as it will help develop their character, help them to take care of themselves and be responsible people.

We need to accept our womaness and  our Africanness are both associated with a lot of negativities and weakness. Every coin has two sides. To be evolved is to start to see the full picture so that we understand how to change these perceptions.

What do you think is special about the African man?

He’s good looking, come on! Look at Seal: mmmm damn, he’s a good looking brother, he’s a good looking brother!  They can be good and loving fathers.

What does the African man need to improve and how?

Kutowa Designs: Tipenda Pamodzi Collection 2011 
Support your women and show your love. We know you feel it but demonstrate more often. It doesn’t mean you’re not a man and that you will be taken advantage of. A worrying trend towards absentee fathers due to people having children young and breaking up or not being in the same country is sweeping Zambia and the continent. These men are not interested in their children and make no effort to see and be with them because the concentration is currently on the man being the provider.   It’s not just about providing money, it’s about providing emotionally and physically too. But even that support is being denied to single mothers even when the man has money. It could be an epidemic soon if steps are not taken to halt this trend.

What role do the African Diaspora and the global community have to play in the continent’s development and identity?

There is huge potential because as global as we are, not everyone is going to travel to Africa. It’s still not the destination continent, it’s Europe or North America or Asia.  Maybe they’ll come to Kenya or South.  The Diaspora need to be ambassadors, they can change views about the continent and the global community need to get to know Africans out there and come visit. Africans also need to stop forgetting themselves through assimilation, though people are starting to appreciate their Africaness first.

We need the Diaspora to keep giving back and to do more of it, whether it’s for your nephew’s school fees or your mother’s medicine as we don’t have a Social Security net.  The recent wave and trend is people in the Diaspora investing in Africa by buying property and acquiring shares in businesses. Foreign investment through the Diaspora is a way forward. Why are we always looking outside for solutions instead of within?

People coming back after getting the exposure they need, and using the wealth of experience and money from the opportunities they had on the continent is happening more and more.  They are infusing a different ethos of doing things, seeing the gaps in the market and plugging them.  That’s the way foreigners have been picking up the opportunities in the past.

Are you satisfied with the way Zambia and Africa are portrayed in the media to the world?  Explain your reasoning.  

Kutowa Designs: Tipenda Pamodzi Collection 2011
Of course not!   This is old hash but it’s the nature of news - which is an extension of predominant human nature - to focus on the bad and negative. So long as that is prevalent, this will be the case. As human beings we need to reflect on this and even more so as Africans.  When people come and visit they cannot understand why things are better from what they have seen in the media.  The problem with western ideology is the overly simplified Judeo-Christian view like former President Bush had where you are either with us, or against us. That dichotomy, good/ bad, rich/ poor, black/ white causes such confusion. What about Obama and Tiger Woods? How do they fit into society when you create such limited categories? 

Here in Africa we are more flexible and not so obsessed with trying to pigeonhole people.  Yes, we have a lot of poverty and sickness but there is a whole lot more to the situation. We need to challenge these world views to say you know what, it’s not just black and white: there is the rainbow and every combination of each of its colours.  And that’s what I love about Africa – we are a lot about colour from the brightness of the sun, the dryness of the dry season and desert, the green of the emerald season. We fluctuate. We are brightness and contradiction - one colour against another and contrast exists.  In the either/ or situation you just see one side and you don’t open your eyes to all the variation.  We also need to see those variations in certain areas as we also are prone to seeing ourselves the way the West does in critical areas.  The key is how do we see ourselves as Africans? We are still recovering – hair, skin colour, beliefs, and spirituality - we still feel inferior. We have allowed some of this brainwashing. We need to see the full picture in our media as well. The good, as well as the bad. All the facets of Africa need to be shown for the true picture to be seen.

3 Places and/ or Things That Make Zambia Special:


4 Experiences Towani has Learnt From


For more videos go to my YouTube Channel and  you can find more MUNTU interviews on the blog.




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