It’s less than a week to go until Christmas so, ordering your gifts online is now pretty much a gamble. If the thought of braving the madness shops this weekend makes you want to crawl into a dark hole, fear not – I’ve got some ideas that will hopefully keep you in the festive spirit.
The gifts here are all things that you can buy, right up until Christmas Day. They are organised by interest so, hopefully you’ll be able to find something appropriate for all the people on your list – whatever they fancy!
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.
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.
[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:
- 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)
[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.
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.
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!
So I bit the bullet and decided to try out this Instagram thing, despite just not getting it for years. It's been a couple of weeks now and I'm really enjoying it! Pinterest will always be my first love – it's such a useful tool for my design work and creative projects but, I've found space in my life for Instagram too. Here's what I like about it:
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading these posts and engaging with me. I'm so happy that this blog has given me a platform to meet so many incredible people; to be continuously inspired and; to share the sometimes tough, but always enlightening, lessons that business and life in general throw my way. I look forward to more great discoveries and learning, new relationships and further exchange in 2014!
For this year's round-up, I've decided to do things a little bit different and feature the posts that were most popular each month. Enjoy.
A new month and new quarter, relatively early in the year, feels like an opportunity to hit refresh and give your 'new year resolve' another go. Perhaps now you have a more developed idea of what you want to achieve in 2013 and a more realistic idea of how you're going to make it all happen.
That's how I'm feeling today. Especially after 2 great meetings – one with my business partner on our strategic direction for the rest of the year and, one with a new friend about a collaboration we're working on – I'm energised and excited about executing!
You may also have noticed that the blog is looking marginally different. I've spent some time over this long weekend making some changes. So, what's new on Afri-love?
I've been slowly doing some overdue maintenance and amelioration on the blog and part of it has been coming up with a "Start Here" page. While this will be especially useful to readers who are new to the site, I thought I'd share the highlights as, some of you old-timers may discover something new too!
On the "Start Here" page you will find:
- Introductions – A little information about the person behind the blog
- The story behind Afri-love – Why I started it and what I hope to achieve
- What to expect – A listing of the types of posts you will find on the blog (see below)
- Dive in (popular posts) – A short list of some of the posts you've enjoyed most over the past 3+ years. I'll be reviewing this regularly and updating it accordingly
- Extra stuff – Some of the other stuff you can find/access on the blog, including creative services; posts, articles I've written elsewhere as well as press; resources – a directory of relevant/useful sites (another item on my maintenance list is to populate this much more. Suggestions welcome!)
- Get more Afri-love – Different options for staying tuned, depending on what you want and when
Types of posts on Afri-love
As mentioned above, here's a list of what you can expect:
I was asked to participate in a WOW Bites session during the Southbank Centre's 2012 Women of the World Festival. Bites are short talks, inspiring ideas, achievements, obsessions, stories, performances, manifestos and more. I thought I'd share the essence of my bite with you.
One of the most satisfying outcomes of spending so much time online is discovering interesting people doing exciting and amazing things. In my time internetting, I have discovered several women, around the world, using the digital space to tell their stories and through this: creating relationships that transcend barriers such as geographical distance and class; building supportive and collaborative networks and communities; and making things happen for themselves, for others and ultimately, for us all.
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 …
The final few weeks of the year are jam-packed with reasons to be merry. Here are just a few Africa- and Diaspora-related events in London (UK), Nairobi (Kenya), New York (US), Paris (France and St. John's (Antigua). If you know of any January events that you'd like to share, please contact me by the 23rd of December. Enjoy the last days of 2011!