Commentary highlights from the year spanning identity, culture, design, technology, entrepreneurship, natural hair and more …
Rise of the Afropolitan
The V&A Afropolitans Friday Late event earlier this year was a major event. The "world's greatest museum of art and design" dedicated an evening to contemporary African and African Diaspora design and culture. Over 5,000 people attended proving that there are a lot of people who either identify with the term or are at least intrigued by it. Record label exec – Yemi Alade-Lawal, journalist, poet and writer – Tolu Ogunlesi, author – Hannah Pool, blogger – Minna Salami and I participated in a great panel discussion that went by way too quickly. Some great questions arose and I took the opportunity to expand on some of my thoughts on the blog: "Is there any use for the term 'Afropolitan'".
Photo by Barbara Muriungi. View more photos from the V&A event on African Digital Art.
As a professional designer … from and raised in Kenya … I find myself often trying to explain the value of what I do to people back home. And to people here in the UK. Earlier this year, I attended a design conference in Manchester and observed that I was the only black person in a room of hundreds and probably the only African too. It seems safe to infer that there are some cultural factors behind this striking invisibility, in the UK, and disregard for a major profession, in Kenya. This inspired "5 reasons why design matters: an argument for African parents, businesses and other skeptics".
My Asilia business partner and founder of Afriapps, Andrew Mugoya, wrote some insightful, thought-provoking and controversial posts for Afri-love this year. It started with "5 reasons why Ghana will be the next African app powerhouse." Check out Andrew's other posts including observations of what we can learn from the success of Nollywood and an interrogation of our continent's culture of dependency. Andrew also shared his passion and inspiration as part of the Afri-love interview series.
The natural hair saga
I said goodbye to the "creamy crack" in 2001 and in the 10 years since I have learned a lot about how to care for my hair. Keeping locs and and other natural styles may seem high maintenance to some but, from a different point of view, it's actually quite liberating. I've been sharing my natural hair journey on the blog since I chopped off my 5-year old locs last August. Some recent posts include:
- A test of strength and patience: the cycles of managing natural afro hair
- Natural hair journey: 10 months after the big chop
- Afri-love on Etsy: natural hair edition
See Afri-love's Facebook page for pictures from throughout the 10 year journey.
Older and wiser?
One thing I've truly embraced and am loving this year is … growing older. I turned 29 in August and contemplated giving myself a "30 before 30" challenge but, I found it more compelling (and realistic) to reflect instead: "29 lessons from 29 years". One of my favourites:
"You already know what you need to do."
What lessons are you taking with you into the new year?
Best of 2011 posts from earlier this week:
Tune in tomorrow for:
- Top music finds of 2011