For Your Daily Dose of MbA

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"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

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.


  1. I need to check this out. Nice one. Double club was very awesome.

  2. It was indeed, it was a shame they didn't keep it open. I actually forgot to mention that a Nigerian Bank was involved in that too! Need to update this post...