Real talk for creative African women – join in!

Last week I launched the Afri-love Women Facebook group, for creative African women balancing self-care and professional excellence.

When I started this blog, almost 7 years ago, I always had a vision that it would be more than just a one-way conversation. That it would lead to activities and initiatives in the real world. In late 2015, I held the Afri-love Sundown Sessions – 3 intimate evenings of live music, co-hosted with musician Sirena Riley. Late last year, I co-hosted a Nairobi brunch for women creatives, together with the Nzinga Effect. Both events were successful in many ways and, I received such great feedback from attendees. I knew that I wanted to create more opportunities for interaction with like-minded people – in real life and virtually as well – and the Afri-love Women Facebook group is step one.

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Storytelling at the Ubele African and Caribbean Communities in Conversation

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When I was about to finish my undergraduate degree at Pratt Institute, I decided to have some business cards made, to prepare me for the big bad world of work (or to be more precise, looking for it). I found this deal in downtown Brooklyn where I could get 5,000 cards for a relatively reasonable price. So I decided to design cards with content that would be relevant for many years to come. That meant two things:

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The Best of 2012: Art, Design, Interviews, Commentary & Music

It will be 2013 in under a week and that means it’s time for one of those lists summing up the highlights of the year! The following is a selection of posts that you found most interesting (as per the analytics); posts that I most enjoyed creating; exciting discoveries and; some off-blog but on-topic articles.

Art and Design

 

Interview with Artist Toyin Odutola

Interviews

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Black people and nature: missing out and connecting

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At one point in my primary school years, I belonged to the Intrepid Explorer's Club. Over the weekends we would go on hikes, climb mountains and essentially take advantage of the fact that we lived in a country where a variety of beautiful natural spaces were so accessible to us. 

Now, I went to a pretty international school, in Kenya, with people originating from over 40 countries across the world. And as far as I can recall, there were only 2 black members of the Intrepid Explorer's Club. 

Despite having nature literally on our doorsteps, I observe that a lot of Kenyans (and I think this is true for a lot of the continent, please correct me if I'm wrong), have no interest in exploring, enjoying and otherwise engaging in it. Tourism is a major contributor to Kenya's GDP and there are several national parks and reserves and yet, several people who have never visited even one. And I'm talking about people who do have the means to do so.

This is an observation I've made about the black populations in the other countries that I've lived in: the US and the UK. There's much that people are missing. From appreciating how insignificant we really are, to getting to understand how our decisions affect the world around us. Being amazed by the diversity of beautiful flora, fauna and landscapes and rekindling that childlike sense of wonder and curiosity we once had. Then there are the benefits to wellbeing: disconnecting, exhaling, exercise, sun. 

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OutDoor Afro

It's great to discover sites like OutDoor Afro, "where black people and nature meet". Founder Rue Mapp grew up between the city and woodlands, developing an appreciation of nature which, she observed, was consistently rare in the African American community. OutDoor Afro is a space where people of colour who share outdoor interests can connect.

The site includes a community where members can have discussions, share photos, videos, and events, as well as create specific interest groups. OutDoor Afro takes advantage of other social media spaces (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr) to inspire, inform and give like-minded people an opportunity to interact.

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Back to nature

Living in a city and being busy is an easy excuse to not make an effort to get out there more. I'll be the first to admit my guilt. Yet, I live in walking distance of three parks and the Trans Pennine Trail is literally around the corner. I'm committing to making that effort this year, as one of the 30 ways in which I intend to live more creatively (being outdoors in nature really helps me think clearly and get inspired). Londoners can check out nearby Wilderness Wood for a taste of what nature has to offer (I work with the Wood in my Asilia capacity and have had the opportunity to spend a bit of time there. It's a great place).

Why do such few black people get outdoors?

That's another post altogether. I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks Brandon for the introduction to OutDoor Afro (Everybody, check out designer and musician, Brandon Reevey's world)!

Photographs: Top – Gorge at Hell's Gate, Kenya, by Craft*ology on Flickr. Bottom – Christmas tree farm at Wilderness Wood, by yours truly, Lulu Kitololo

Africa- and Diaspora-related events this February

A short but exciting month, here are just a few Africa- and Diaspora-related events in Canada, Kenya, the UK and the US. What's happening where you are this month?

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ALL MONTH

African American History Month
Across the US
Various events

Zora Neale Hurston

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The Love Letter continues

As much as this blog has been a love letter to the continent I call home, it’s also been an outlet for me to explore how to better (and better love) myself.

Blogger Brigitte Lyons puts it so well when she says, “if you want to change the world, better yourself first.” That was the thinking behind this whole Afri-love idea. In order for us to inspire, encourage, demand and create the changes we want to see in our continent, we have to first know, be proud of and love who we are and then, act from that position.

Overcoming the madness
Last year was the busiest year I’ve experienced. Getting a business off the ground is no joke and all the learning, administration, establishing of relationships, bidding for projects, servicing clients and actually doing the core work was a lot to handle. On top of all that, I attempted to blog every weekday and pursue other personal projects. At the end of the year I was exhausted and overwhelmed yet hopeful that the Christmas break would give me an opportunity to work on the things that usually get attention last.

I had a wonderful holiday with my family, who I don’t get to see very often. Wonderful but, not productive in the way that I had planned. January rolled around and it wasn’t exactly the fresh start I’d expected. I found this post from Miss Modish and I could relate, almost down to the word, with how she’d felt before she decided she needed to change things up, for her sanity and health.

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Natural hair social this weekend & Inspired by Tabitha Bianca Brown

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Thepairabirds-prints


Amina
and Belle, two fab natural-hair-wearing ladies, are hosting a meet-up for like-loc'ed peeps in London, UK, this Friday, 26th August. Find out more details here and register your interest via @naturalbelle or @sheroxlox on Twitter, or email naturalbelle1983[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The images above (and on the event's flyer) are by designer, illustrator and Etsy seller Tabitha Bianca Brown. View her entire (beautiful) collection here.

In our own hands: an interview with Kesha Bruce for the 6×6 Summer Blog Tour

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.

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Diaspora tales

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According to the UN, "around 200 million people who identify themselves as being of African descent live in the Americas. Many millions more live in other parts of the world, outside of the African continent." In celebration of the diverse and flourishing African Diaspora (and indeed the UN International Year for People of African Descent!), I'd like to share with you two great projects that I've had the honour to work on recently.

Diasporan-Darlings-logos
Diasporan Darlings: a website sharing the unique experiences of life, love and work in the Diaspora – informing, showcasing, engaging and entertaining. 

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Spora Stories: an initiative by acclaimed playwright and scriptwriter, Ade Solanke, to bring the dynamic stories of the African diaspora to the stage and screen – great stories, well told.

To see more of the design work created, check out Diasporan Darlings and Spora Stories in the Asilia portfolio.

Happy weekends to all – at home and "in the D"!