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.

 

Adele-Dejak-Lulu-Kitololo

[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

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The best of 2011: Afri-love commentary

Commentary highlights from the year spanning identity, culture, design, technology, entrepreneurship, natural hair and more …

Rise of the Afropolitan

Afropolitans-panel-discussion-at-V-and-A

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'".


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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

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Africa- and Diaspora-related events this December

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!

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ALL MONTH

Dreams-of-a-Life-film

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Is there any use for the term “Afropolitan”?

Reflection

There are moments where I feel totally at home. Living in the UK, with a Kenyan passport and a visa with an expiry date, that doesn't happen all that often. But it happened on Friday night, at the Victoria & Albert Museum no less. The Afropolitans Friday Late saw this world-renowned museum transformed into a celebration of contemporary African art and culture. The content, the ambience and the crowd made for the kind of beautiful, vibrant and uplifting experience that warms the soul as much as being or feeling at home.

As part of the festivities, I shared a panel with four great proponents of the Afri-love spirit: journalist, poet and writer, Tolu Ogunlesi; writer and blogger, Minna Salami, aka MsAfropolitan; journalist and author, Hannah Pool and; record label executive and founder of Afro-Pop Live, Yemi Alade-Lawal. Our topic of discussion – "what is an Afropolitan?" We explored this term, coined by Taiye Selasi in 2005, and all that it has come to embody ever since.

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Afropolitan style: ebony-inspired (in celebration of Afropolitans taking over the world’s greatest museum of art & design)

Afropolitan-ebony
Next Friday night, London's V&A Museum will be celebrating Afropolitans. You can expect a live performance by Spoek Mathambo; photo,video, fashion and interactive installations; a Malick Sidibé style portrait photo studio; a wax print workshop; textile presentations; a North African-style cocktails salon; film screenings; panel discussions and; an eclectic mix of African music from DJ Vamanos from the Ghetto Bassquake and Secousse Sound System. Contemporary Africa will be taking over the world's greatest museum of art and design.

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Theme of the week: Diaspora (days, plays, must-reads & more)

London-via-Lagos---Lulu-with-the-poster

The theme of my week has been "Diaspora."* Here are a few reasons why:

Is a day enough?
Africa Day was on Wednesday and the theme for this year is "Africa and the Diaspora." The fact that so many people were not aware that it was even Africa Day, and that there were few visible/known celebrations of the event, led to a discussion about the point of World fill-in-the-gap-as-you-like Days in the first place! Follow the thread on the Afri-love Facebook page.

Lagos in inner-city London
On Friday, I took my self down to London to watch Little Baby Jesus, Arinze Kene's fantastic play. It's showing as part of London via Lagos, a festival celebrating British-Nigerian playwrighting. So far, Little Baby Jesus has been sold out every night so get your tickets quick. The writing, the cast, the direction, the vibe in Oval Theatre that night – all made for a truly wonderful evening. It was also a delight to see all the materials that I'd designed in situ and, how Oval got creative taking the African theme to the max. View some photos on Asilia's Facebook page. I'm now really looking forward to the next play in the festival, Fixer, by Lydia Adetunji.

Little-Baby-Jesus-actors

Light out of darkness
Ever-entertaining UK-based musician, M3NSA, shared with Afri-love in this week's interview. Amongst many things, he talked about why "the Dark Continent is actually the beaming light" and why he won't still be in the UK, 10 years from now. AND, M3NSA shared a couple of his fantastic No.1 Mango Street CDs with me to give away to 2 lucky readers. Find out how one can be yours here (competition closes this Wednesday 1st June).

M3NSA-No.-1-Mango-Street-Track-listing

Multifarious identities
Minna, aka MsAfropolitan, gave me the heads up about the Afropolitan Friday Late, coming up at London's V&A museum on the 24th June: "A fun and celebratory evening of modern, iconic African aesthetics reflecting how Africans living across the continent (and beyond) view themselves and their cultural heritage."

Blog loving
And perhaps not fully in following with the theme but something that I was really honoured by and wanted to share nonetheless: I discovered that Afri-love was noted as one of "10 Africa blogs you'll love" by the popular Travelling Green blog. Check out the great blogs she listed, including Dar Sketches, the blog of Sarah Markes who I interviewed a few months ago.

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Must-read article for the week
"Egypt's Next Crisis" – a great New York Times article that explores the challenges of sustaining revolution, after the revolt. What was very interesting to me is how a lot of the issues relate to so many other African nations, even if we have not yet experienced so dramatic a political event. We would do well to learn from, be warned by and draw inspiration from the situation of our Egyptian comrades.

*Thinking about it, Diaspora is probably a strong theme for me every week, being that it is my present experience. So … what did you get up to on Africa Day?