My exploration of Afri-love has tended to centre around creativity and the creative professions. Mainly because it's what I do and what I love but, also because of a strong belief that creativity is a powerful way of inspiring and creating positive change. I've also been going on and on (and you may be sick of it by now) about how everything starts with the self. Any change we can hope to encourage on a large scale is likely to be futile if we haven't also considered how to implement it for ourselves.
Enter artists and Baang+Burne directors, Kesha Bruce and Charlie Grosso, and their 6×6 project: their answer to the question “what if there were no more art galleries?” For 6 weeks starting in September this year, artists in New York City will take matters into their own hands and put on exhibitions to showcase their work. What an inspiring concept! What amazing potential such an idea could have in an African context, where the necessary infrastructure for a viable career as an artist is even more scarce …
I thought I'd get more wisdom from the source – the wonderful Kesha Bruce.
Continue reading “In our own hands: an interview with Kesha Bruce for the 6×6 Summer Blog Tour”
As Nakumatt malls pop up all over the place in Nairobi, large impersonal retailers in Western countries are hitting hard times. People in these countries are demanding experiences that: make communities vibrant; are architecturally harmonious with their surroundings; are small business friendly and; offer localised rather than one-size-fits-all solutions.
The late bird catches a break
Do we have to follow the same path that these countries have travelled to reach similar conclusions, decades from now? Can we learn from the experiences of the West and avoid this fate?
Continue reading “Rethinking Prosperity: Why I’m not embracing a mall per mile in Nairobi”
Today is Mother's Day in many parts of the world and in the US alone, $14.6 billion will be spent buying stuff for the occassion.
My family isn't a gift-giving family. On the days that people usually exchange gifts – birthdays, Christmas, Father's Day, Mother's Day etc. – we're more concerned with being together. So it's more about organising a meal or a party than shopping. Culture, socioeconomics … that's a discussion for another time. What I will say now is that it definitely relieves a lot of pressure to get that "perfect" gift, saving a lot of money and sanity too!
Continue reading “Do it for love: creating Epic Change for the mamas”
It is often said that in order for individuals to effect significant positive change in our communities and societies, we need to organise.
Yesterday marked the launch of a community portal that seeks to do just that. Inspired by the spirit of the uprising in Tahrir Square, Cairo, that took place on January 25th this year, Tahrir Squared is that online space that aims to multiply the Tahrir Effect, expand the Tahrir Region and build the Tahrir World. During the uprising, Egyptians came together despite differences in religion, class, age, gender and ability, creating an incredibly moving example of unity and the power that it can generate. Tahrir Squared aims to keep this amazing energy and momentum going and spread it to those across the world who are similarly organizing for justice and to improve their lives and those of their fellow citizens.
Asilia is proud to have partnered with the folks behind Tahrir Squared in designing and building the site. We are grateful for having been given the opportunity to contribute to such an honourable cause.
Explore Tahrir Squared for news, views and analysis; interviews; a library of images and video and; to find out about civil society initiatives in Egypt, the Arab region, the wider Middle East and internationally.
Logo designed by Asilia, photo by GeoEye
"2010 is all about doing and discovering." I am happy to say that this mantra worked better than any resolution I could have fooled myself into making. Vague enough to reduce the possibilities of failure and inspiring enough to pull me out of bed especially on dark, cold winter mornings. I started last year with an optimism and energy that propelled me through the tougher days. I did, a lot, and I learned a hell of a lot about myself, life, business and more.
It was exhausting!
Continue reading “New year, new mission, same big picture”
I recently discovered Swahili Imports via tweeter, Papa Awori. Having built a network of artisans from across Africa, Swahili showcases their work to the wider world. Swahili's partnerships center on fair and sustainable profit generation, artisan advancement and modern, earth-friendly product development.
Above are just a few of pieces that I absolutely fell in love with.
On Tuesday, non-profit Epic Change has launched a global campaign to change the world through the power of gratitude – Epic Thanks. In support of their great work and that of the amazing changemakers they work with, including Mama Lucy Kamptoni from Tanzania, I wanted to share a few things that I'm especially grateful for.
Having the opportunity to grow up in Africa is something that I'm eternally thankful for. Lying in the outdoors with the afternoon sun on my back. Walking barefoot on the dewy grass. Spending entire Decembers at my grandparents home, with twenty-odd other relatives. Struggling to get mangos down from the tree and then eating them right then and there. Sneaking off to the river at the bottom of the shamba to play in the cool and absolutely clear water. All of us kids cross-legged on the floor, eating from one big platter. Entertaining ourselves in the evenings with hand games and dance competitions. Playing with the baby goats and preventing the chickens from becoming dinner (on that day at least). Ocean waves to jump into, beaches to spend all day on. Family celebrations filled with laughter, drama and dancing. Every grown up being your mother or father – tough when you're naughty but oh-so-rewarding when you're good. Exploring the buzzing market and learning new sights and smells. A certain spirit, a certain savviness. Resilience. Joy. Belonging.
I am thankful for all these things that I have experienced and that have made me who I am. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to share my love with you all. Thank you for reading; for sharing and spreading the love and; for inspiring and encouraging me!
Finally, I want to give extra thanks to my parents today. They have been exceptional examples of what it is to love where you're from, both in terms of home as a physical place and in terms of all that it represents. They has shown me the value of strength of character, of diligence and perhaps most significantly, of standing up for what you believe in and who you are, even when that means going against the grain.
What are you thankful for? Come and join the global celebration on Epic Thanks.
Images – things I'm grateful for: the tree outside my window, growing up; one of my favourite places to be – an African beach on the Indian Ocean; my parents and brother.