In celebration of the two-year anniversary of our online platform, Afriapps, Asilia gave it a new identity and website makeover! Along with the new-look and responsive and mobile-friendly website design, we've developed the offering as well.
Great things happen when women come together
In a little over a week, the 2013 Women of the World Festival at London's Southbank Centre begins. Last year was my first experience of WOW and I listened to a myriad stimulating talks, I spoke and shared ideas, learned that I'm funny and embraced my reticent inner fashionista! I'm incredibly excited about doing it all again and this year's line-up of events is even more enticing than before.
I'm happy to introduce you all to Laura Marano, the driving force behind Green-Safari, a social enterprise that offers volunteer-tourism packages in Tsavo East, Kenya. With Green-Safari, not only do you get to experience the beautiful fauna and flora of one of Kenya's largest national parks, along with a stint at the Coast for some sea and sand – you also engage with local communities and support local social enterprises which contribute to the local community infrastructure (e.g. schools, sanitation, farming practices). Furthermore, Green-Safari is working on making the beauty of our wilderness accessible to all, no matter your abilities or diverse needs.
In this interview, Laura shares how she's gotten her social business off the ground. It's an inspiring story of how you can turn a negative situation into a fulfilling career by pursuing your passions, taking initiative and believing in yourself.
Having spent a few weeks at home in Nairobi, Kenya; having seen all the potential and opportunities for handicraft enterprises and; having seen that the opportunities are primarily exploited by foreigners, I can't be happier to share news of Craft Afrika's new business incubation program.
Due to an extraordinary work schedule, I have sadly been very quiet on Afri-love this month. I thought I'd replace some of the silence by sharing some of the things that I've been working on/doing.
The Southbank Centre's Women of the World Festival returns this month to coincide with International Women's Day on Thursday 8th March. Celebrating the formidable strength and inventiveness of women, there is an even more exciting line-up of activities, talks, debates and performances than last year.
Commentary highlights from the year spanning identity, culture, design, technology, entrepreneurship, natural hair and more …
Rise of the Afropolitan
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'".
The motivation behind the Afri-love interview series is to demonstrate the possibilities that come with pursuing your passion. The interviews acknowledge that the path is challenging and they show how its travellers have persisted through adversity with wonderful results. As with the blog in general, there is a strong creative thread – poets, painters, musicians, designers, artists, writers and people creating change through activism.
Here's a round-up of some popular interviews from a diverse group of inspiring people:
Interview with poet, sports writer and musician, Musa Okwonga.
Interview with singer-songwriter, Amira Kheir.
Interview with artist and photographer, Mutua Matheka.
What was your favourite interview?
If you missed yesterday's best of 2011 installment, "African and Africa-inspired fashion, interior and furniture design," here it is.
Tune in for the rest of week for:
- Thursday – Popular commentary posts (from technology to natural hair, from life lessons to identity)
- Friday – Top music finds of 2011
I first came across furniture designer Yinka Ilori's work at the African and African- Caribbean Design Diaspora (AACDD) exhibition a couple of months ago. His use of bold colour and pattern drew my eye. I later learned that Yinka specializes in upcycling discarded furniture. Passionately against the unnecessary waste of consumerist culture, Yinka is doing his bit, one piece of furniture at a time. Today, the London-based designer and entrepreneur shares his story.
It's time to showcase the bloggers! Today I'm happy to share with you an interview with the beautiful Minna Salami, also known as MsAfropolitan. Vocal and passionate, she shares commentary on lifestyle and culture, from the perspective of being a cosmopolitan African woman. What I love about Minna's blog is that she often tackles challenging and controversial issues, and with such honesty (e.g. Mixed Race Girls have Issues, Smart Women should Watch Porn and Too Afrocentric for you?)! Read on to find out more about what this Finnish, feminist, Nigerian, pan-Africanist has to say.
What's your passion?
I'm passionate about many causes and particularly, gender imbalance and African development. I'm doing an MA in Gender studies at SOAS at the moment, focusing on African women's studies. I'm also crazy about the written word. Blogging. Samba. Yoga. But my number one, ongoing, everlasting passion is with spirituality and humanity.
What inspired you to create MsAfropolitan?
All the above passions actually.
What has been your greatest obstacle/challenge?
The greatest challenge to creativity has been the fallacy of perfectionism. As humans, it is inevitable that what we feel is important today might change tomorrow. It's been a challenge to learn to express myself freely without worrying that it might not represent who I am in future, but I have come to understand that nothing stifles creativity more than the need to create perfectly.
How have you dealt with/overcome it?
I've dealt with it by striving to create honestly. So for example, if I look back at something I wrote years ago and it makes me cringe, I remind myself that it might not have been perfect, but it was honest. And that's what creativity should be about – staying true to your present self.
What has your greatest achievement been?
I'm grateful to be where I am in life, in a position where I can reach out to people and they can reach out to me and we can learn from each other. That makes me smile every day and means more to me than anything else.
Where will you be in 10 years?
In the same place multiplied. Learning and teaching more.
How does Africa inspire you?
Africa doesn't inspire me in or by itself. It is part of my evolution and I am part of its evolution and it's that evolving process that I draw inspiration from. From trying to understand its strengths and its weaknesses in order to try and grasp the wholeness.
Anything else you'd like to share?
The MsAfropolitan boutique! I've created a platform to sell and showcase some of the creative labour of African Diaspora women and would like to share that, especially as I'm always on the lookout for new female entrepreneurs.
Photographs of Minna by Muyiwa Oguntoye