Self, love and enterprise: Asilia


Last week, launched. The product of a successful working partnership with a friend, a commitment by both of us to do what we love and, in many ways, the cumulation of our respective experience, learning and ambitions up to this point.

My favourite part of launch preparation, aside from knowing that my passion for creating and communicating is what will sustain me, was putting together our credo. Defining our own rules and creating the opportunity for ourselves to do things differently.

From our 'informal' work culture … our team resides in different locations with 2 out of 3 of us working from home. That means that we have incredible flexibility, making it easier to balance work and life. My business partner and I probably do work longer hours than we did when employed but, because we enjoy it and because it's on our own terms, it feels less like work and more like an enjoyable pastime. To our firm stance when it comes to working with people who share our values. We have already had to turn down clients who we felt were not considerate enough for us to be able to successfully work together in achieving their goals. It was a difficult decision but, when we weighed the stress we'd have to go through against the value the experience would add to us – as people and as a business – it wasn't worth it.

One thing I do wonder about is when the test will come that will threaten to compromise our values and our approach. I try to imagine what form it will take. Will it be a project that will seem too good to refuse, only for us to discover the hidden costs to our wellbeing (and that of others)? Will it be the otherwise amazing client who expects to see us in suits?

I am reminded of one of my favourite quotes: "Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes."

Thoreau testifying that not staying true to yourself may have unsavoury consequences.

Asilia is just that. An opportunity for me to be myself and give others the opportunity to assert themselves, spread their gifts and share their passions with the world. There is a school of thought that believes that enterprise, business, is the most effective path to development. I'm inclined to agree with the proviso that we're talking about considered and considerate business. Considerate to all involved: staff, suppliers, customers, clients, users, contractors, family, environment and never forgetting, self. Then we're looking at the whole picture of development.

Imagine a continent of self-loving, considerate and enterprising Africans …


Images: the Asilia team – Kevin, Lulu and Andrew. Illustrations by Lulu, copyright Asilia.

Swaziland Independence Day

Swazi candles

The Kingdom of Swaziland celebrates its independence today.

Interesting fact: Traditionally, the Swazi king reigns along with his mother who serves as the spiritual and national head of state with power of equal measure. However, now the role is merely symbolic.

I remember seeing some beautiful candles in Nairobi, Kenya, that were imported from Swaziland. I came to find out that Swazi candles are actually world-famous. Made by hand, no two candles are ever the same. The images below show some candles made by Swazi Candles.

Continue reading “Swaziland Independence Day”

Maker Faire Africa: 27th – 28th August, Nairobi


The anticipated Maker Faire Africa takes place this Friday and Saturday in Nairobi, Kenya.

The programme sounds exciting with Solar Makers, Crafting Peace and Business 101 workshops, along with Show & Tell sessions, live matching as well as an exhibit and unconference that run throughout both of the days. The ethos of the event is captured well in the following excerpt from the program:

"The spirit of Making is all about breaking things apart to better undertand them (and build something even more useful), so that’s what we want you to do with our faire: make it what you need."

Can't make it to Nairobi this week? You can still help Match a Maker and give inventors an opportunity to take their work to the next level.

Be sure to check out this interview with the Maker Faire Africa founder, Emeka Okafor. Maker Faire Africa aims to question: “How do we regain our creativity? How do we redefine what we mean by a society that is advanced?”

Indeed that's the kind of interrogation Afri-love exists to champion: how do we use our unique gifts to chart our own paths, appropriate to our unique needs and aspirations?

Images above by Erik Hersman (aka @whiteafrican) except for the fan image which is courtesy of For more pictures, check out Maker Faire Africa on Flickr

African album art

I recently purchased Cheikh-Lo's Lamp Fall album – which is brilliant by the way – and one thing that makes the experience complete is the beautiful album art and design. There are a lot of African albums with great art and design and, whether the artists and designers themselves are African or not, the inspiration clearly is. Here's a celebration of that inspiration with just a sprinkling of some great album covers.


Continue reading “African album art”

Liberia Independence Day


Africa's oldest republic, Liberia, celebrates 163 years of independence today (that's the 26th of July for those whose time zones are already in Tuesday).

Quilting is a longstanding tradition in Liberia, originating from freed slaves who emigrated from the US to Liberia. Above, a colourful celebration of Liberian quilts.

Quilt images from Hart Cottage Quilts

thenublack: call for artist submissions


Thenublack is putting together an art show to celebrate the blog's 2nd anniversary. If you are a visual artist (or know of any), thenublack is looking for great talent to showcase. 

The themes include:

  • Continuing a cultural legacy               
  • Icons past and present                        
  • A nod to the past
  • Celebrating contemporary Black culture            
  • I am thenublack (more details in the link below)

The show will take place in London this October and the deadline for submissions is August 2nd!

For more details, check out thenublack

The role of art


 “Art is not a mirror of reality
but the hammer which shapes it.”

—Bertholt Brecht

Since the known beginnings of humanity, people have been making art. The arts have been central in our societies, visible in our rituals and celebrations and even in our day-to-day, for example through how we dress and the objects we use. The arts have given us confidence and identity. They have created community. They have enabled us to have our voices heard and championed revolution. They have reminded us of the beauty of life. They have allowed us to express our sorrow as well as a joy. They have facilitated problem-solving, both within and outwardly. The arts are a proven powerful form of expression, communication and mobilisation.

With such potential, people everywhere are consciously recognising that the power of the arts can be harnessed to foster positive change. This week in Mali, the Bamako Art Symposium, is taking place, organised in part by the Nka Foundation, an organisation that promotes human capital development through a focus on the arts. There are several other examples that will be profiled on the blog over time as the discussion on art driving change continues.

Our continent is full of rich cultural diversity and art is an integral part of this. It only makes sense then that we should continue this heritage of creativity and apply it to improving ourselves, our communities and our environment.

Image: protest art from South Africa's Apartheid Museum.