Afri-love is 5

Afri-love-is-5

 

Today, Afri-love is 5 years old. 

I started the blog just after I left the world of employment so, this milestone not only marks the anniversary of an idea but also, of a completely different way of life! That of a self-employed creative entrepreneur. 

It’s so fitting then that the mission of this blog has evolved over the years to what it is now – a platform to showcase, encourage and support creative entrepreneurship. My experiences, and in particular, the things I’ve learned as I’ve dealt with the various (and many) challenges that have come my way, have inspired content ideas. My hope is that by sharing these stories and tips, others can avoid some of the setbacks I’ve faced and focus on excellence and striving.

 

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[with client and Afri-love interviewee, fashion designer, Adele Dejak]

 

Constants

The ultimate vision with which I started Afri-love remains the same …

Imagine Africans who love who they are, as they are, and so love each other and the environment that nurtures them. Confident and assertive, they are engaged in charting their growth and celebrating success as defined on their own terms.

Imagine all who are inspirited by Africa – all whose lives and hearts have been touched by the spirit of the continent – sharing their passion through collaboration, in the name of mutual empowerment.

Imagine all starting by looking inside themselves. Self-discovery, self-awareness, self-love and self-respect. And then true learning, understanding, love and respect of the other. Harnessing the power of emotion to influence great positive change.

 

Kitengela Glass Art Sculpture

[Sculpture at the Kitengela Glass studio in Kenya]

 

I’ve always seen creativity as a powerful vehicle for these aims. My beloved continent is responsible for so much of who I am. The sun, the natural beauty, the people’s spirit, the diversity of culture, the innovation, the resilient unrelenting joyfulness. I like to think that I express this influence – this richness, dynamism and even complexity – through my work. And I recognise a similar ‘language’ in the work of the many many creatives that I’ve come across on this Afri-love journey. Whether they reside on the continent or in the diaspora. Whether they identify as Africans or are simply inspired by Africa. The creative expression that Africa inspires is phenomenal and it feels like the world is taking proper note now (once again). Fittingly, Afri-love is also about celebration.

I recall the tagline that I came up with 5 years ago: Be proud. Be inspired. Spread love. Grow.

On a personal level, this is still appropriate today:

 

Lulu-Kitololo-Founder-Afri-love

 

  • I am proud to be who I am – every single piece of me
  • I continue to be inspired by the world, people and life in general but, as pertains to my heritage in particular
  • I aim to approach every situation, thing and everybody with love. And that starts with the self. It starts with approaching myself with love.
  • I am thankful of the opportunity to grow – with every experience and with every encounter (it what makes each day even better than the last – even though it can seem quite the opposite when we’re actually in the moment) 

 

V&A-Afropolitans-Friday-Late-Yemi-Hannah-Lulu-Minna-Tolu

[Panel at the V&A Afropolitans Friday Late in 2011. From left: Yemi Alade-Lawal of Afro-Pop Live; writer, editor and curator Hannah Pool (who is also a client); me; writer Minna Salami, aka MsAfropolitan and Afri-love interviewee; journalist, poet, photographer and fiction writer, Tolu Ogunlesi. My take on the discussion here. Photo by Barbara Muriungi/Them2k]

 

That’s why I’m so grateful to all of you who have read, commented, shared and participated in this Afri-love journey. I could never have imagined that I would get to know so many amazing people, let alone get to share prestigious stages and grace the pages of magazines, newspapers and blogs. From simply putting what I’m passionate about our there! I thought I believed in the transformative power of passion back then but, now, I’ve actually experienced it.

 

Changes

In life’s funny way of bringing things full circle, it’s now challenging me to take things a step further in the pursue-your-passion department. After years of providing a graphic design service to clients, it’s becoming clearer and clearer with each day that I need to let my self-directed work assume more of the spotlight. Work is in progress (previews and sneak peeks) as I find a balance that works. Now that I’ve voiced it – I have thousands of witnesses! Sometimes it feels like I’m quitting my day job, all over again. 

 

Lulu Kitololo Asilia Work in Progress

 

Juggling these new ambitions with my existing commitments, and trying to focus on staying healthy at the same time, means that I haven’t been able to make the anniversary splash that I would have liked to make today. Thankfully, self-love mode kicked in (kicking out unrealistic-high-expectations mode), and I realised that the celebration is so much bigger than one day. And so, I will be stretching it out across several. Maybe even several months … A live event is definitely a part of it so, stay tuned.

 

Again, thank you for being here with me – now, then and later. 

Big big love!
Lulu

Continue reading “Afri-love is 5”

Inspired: Adele Dejak Clothing and Interiors

Adele-Dejak-Interiors-Hanging-Chandelier

 

Adele Dejak is one of my favourite entrepreneurs because the woman is constantly innovating. Whether it's perfecting or incorporating new craftsmanship techniques; creating new fashion accessory collections; branching out into clothing and interiors; collaborating with all manner of artists, designers, photographers and; the list goes on and on and on. 

Her vision, energy and determination are extremely inspiring. 

Continue reading “Inspired: Adele Dejak Clothing and Interiors”

Adele Dejak + Katungulu Mwendwa: Tribe Hotel Fashion Pop Up Shop

Fashion designers Adele Dejak and Katungulu Mwendwa have partnered up for a pop up shop at Nairobi's Tribe Hotel, open until March 14th. I love how both designers draw from African culture and traditions of adornment and dress, in creating their exquisite accessories and clothing. Here are a few of their pieces that I'm digging right now.

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Clothing by Katungulu Mwendwa, shoes and jewellery by Adele Dejak.

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Related posts:

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3 Years of Afri-love: Top Posts from the Last Year

I am embarassed to say that Afri-love’s 3rd anniversary just slipped by me! On June 11th, I was on a train back from London after modelling in the Shape Custom Creations Afrika Milele show (one of the most exciting fashion shows I’ve experienced – the epitomé of good vibes!). In my exhaustion, I forgot what a great moment it was.

As they say, better late than never. It’s quite timely actually because, after 2 months or so of travelling, returning, catching up and getting back to ‘normal’ routine, I’m finally back in the groove of things. You may have noticed that post frequency is starting to pick up again! It’s fitting that we get things going with, first, some thanks – a HUGE THANK YOU for reading and interacting with me, here on the blog, by subscribing and via Twitter and Facebook too – it all makes this labour of love so much more satisfying and; second, a little reflection with a look at the top 5 posts from the past year. In reverse order:

5. Interview with furniture designer Yinka Ilori

A great story about pursuing your passion, no matter the naysayers!

Afri-love-Top-Posts-2011-2012-African-Inspiration-on-Pinterest-from-Artist-Robyn-Gordon

4. African inspiration on Pinterest from artist Robyn Gordon

Regular readers will know just how obsessed I am with Pinterest (see for yourself). Robyn Gordon is somebody you have to follow.

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3. Interview with feminist activist Amina Doherty

The passionate Amina, aka sheroxlox, is one of the lovliest people I’ve had the honour to meet in recent years. Find out what drives her.

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2. Interview with fashion designer Adele Dejak

I’ve been working with the East Africa-based designer for a little over a year now and I feel so lucky to be collaborating with somebody who creates beautiful things and has such a good spirit too. Today marks the launch of her new website and online shop, created by yours truly and the rest of the Asilia team.

Afri-love-Top-Posts-2011-2012-Dream-Homes-Swahili-Inspired-Architecture-and-Interior-Design-in-Lamu-Kenya

1. Dream Homes: Swahili-inspired architecture and interior design in Lamu, Kenya

One day I will finally visit Lamu in person (and hopefully before the new port is built as, I worry that it will change the nature of the town). Until then, I will lust over all the beautiful homes I’ve discovered, thanks to my best friend, the internet. More Lamu finds on the blog.

What posts did you enjoy most over the past 12 months?

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For the newbies – check out the top 3 most popular Afri-love posts of all time:

  1. Interview with Fashion Stylist and Blogger, Nancie Mwai
  2. Natural Hair Journey: 10 Months after the Big Chop
  3. 5 Reasons why Ghana will be the next African App Powerhouse – a guest post from Afriapps founder and my Asilia co-conspirator, Andrew Mugoya

Africa- and Diaspora-related events this March

Africa- and Diaspora-related events spanning Kenya, the UK and Switzerland. What's happening where you are this month?

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THURSDAY 1st

Kultura Film Club – Nights of Ethnographic Films
City: London, UK
Venue: Passing Clouds
Time: 7:00pm 

This week's installment of the Film Club features two short films about rhythm, negotiating identities, dance and belonging, including Temporary Sanity by Dan Brunn. The film tells about Jamaica’s dance music culture in New York and especially about the versatile disc jockey Skerrit Bwoy. Originally from St. Johns, Antigua, the youngster migrated to Bronx, New York in the mid 1990’s. Clubbing at a very young age, and hanging out on Creston Avenue, it did not take him long to fit into the fast pace life of the city. Skerrit Bwoy burst on the international dancehall scene this year, with his sound system Ghetto Life that he has molded into becoming an award winning sound that was crowned as 2005 – 2006 “Bronx Sound of The Year.” 

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FRIDAY 2nd 

Vibes and Pressure Shubeen featuring Natty, Tinashe and The Skints

Tinashe

Continue reading “Africa- and Diaspora-related events this March”

The best of 2011: Afri-love interviews

The motivation behind the Afri-love interview series is to demonstrate the possibilities that come with pursuing your passion. The interviews acknowledge that the path is challenging and they show how its travellers have persisted through adversity with wonderful results. As with the blog in general, there is a strong creative thread – poets, painters, musicians, designers, artists, writers and people creating change through activism.

Here’s a round-up of some popular interviews from a diverse group of inspiring people:

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Interview with author and black film aficionado, Nadia Denton (left), and accessories designer Adele Dejak.

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Interview with poet, sports writer and musician, Musa Okwonga.

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Interview with feminist activist Amina Doherty aka sheroxlox (left) and multi-dimensional creative, Ann aka afrolicious.

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Interview with singer-songwriter, Amira Kheir.

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Interview with artist and photographer, Mutua Matheka.

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Interview with artist and creative consultant, Kesha Bruce (left) and artist, photographer and writer, Kameelah Rasheed.

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Interview with blogger, writer and commentator, Minna Salami, aka MsAfropolitan (left) and developer, author and entrepreneur, Andrew Mugoya.

What was your favourite interview?

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If you missed yesterday’s best of 2011 installment, “African and Africa-inspired fashion, interior and furniture design,” here it is.

Tune in for the rest of week for:

  • Thursday – Popular commentary posts (from technology to natural hair, from life lessons to identity)
  • Friday – Top music finds of 2011

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The best of 2011: African and Africa-inspired fashion, interior and furniture design

Hope you've had a great holiday season so far. I thought I'd take these few days before 2012, to put together a recap of some favourite Afri-love posts (yours and mine) from the past year. Today – it's all about design.

The-best-of-2011-interior-furniture-and-home-design-Afri-love

Continue reading “The best of 2011: African and Africa-inspired fashion, interior and furniture design”

Reporting back from A Tropical Christmas

  Mindful-Maps-interpretation-of-A-Tropical-Christmas

I anticipated, I wished and then I … thoroughly enjoyed!

Last Saturday, I spent a wonderful day at The Drift Bar in London, celebrating creativity and good company at the Asilia and Afri-love Tropical Christmas celebration. 

Continue reading “Reporting back from A Tropical Christmas”

A Tropical Christmas wishlist

It's been relatively quiet on the blog as I prepare for this Saturday's Tropical Christmas event in London. I'm really looking forward to a day of catching up with friends and collaborators, old and new, in beautiful surroundings. I've had a peep at most of the designs that will be available to purchase on the day and this is my preliminary wishlist …

Adele-Dejak-bags-and-jewellery

Continue reading “A Tropical Christmas wishlist”

A Tropical Christmas (in London): Saturday 17th December

I haven't celebrated the festive season at home (Kenya) since the year 2000. Instead, I've gathered with similarly displaced friends and enjoyed eclectic celebrations comprising of the best from all our worlds. Pot-luck Christmas dinners where bread sauce and mac n' cheese sit next to bread fruit and mtori; music spanning from across the tropics and; … dancing, always.

Regardless of the cold and sun-starved winter and despite being far from family, these holidays have been fantastic because I've been in such good company. This year, Afri-love and Asilia, the creative agency I co-own, are hosting a Christmas celebration in this same spirit.

A Tropical Christmas

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A celebration of creativity and good company, a Tropical Christmas will be a laidback afternoon to: unload some of the holiday stress; get some last minute Christmas shopping done, away from the hustle and; support quality African and African Diaspora design.

You can expect:

Don't forget to bring some business cards for the "collaboration board" – share your passion and make exciting connections for 2012!

The Details

Date: Saturday 17th December
Time: 12:00 – 8:00pm
Venue: The Drift Bar, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY

If you're on Facebook, you can RSVP via the event page. There's no need to RSVP though, just come along.

Looking forward to seeing you!