Design, Music and Good Vibes at Africa Oyé 2014

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I spent a wonderful weekend in Liverpool, at the UK’s largest African musical festival, Africa Oyé. This year wasn’t just about soaking up the good music and good vibes (although there was still plenty of that) as I was helping out at the Creativity and Noise + Merkato stall. 

 

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It was great to get out of the big city – I love train journeys, exploring new places and taking a breather from the hecticness of London.

 

3-Setting-Up-Festival-Stall

I have enormous respect for entrepreneurs who regularly set up at markets and events. It's demanding work!

 

4-Laura-Merkato-MKTO-Setting-Up-Shop

This is Laura Marano, the lady behind Merkato (fairly traded homeware and fashion accessories). You may remember her from a popular Afri-love interview where she talked about her other venture, Green-Safari.

 

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Laura and Lusungu Chikamata of Creativity and Noise. All set up and ready to trade!

 

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It was exciting to launch the new Creativity and Noise t-shirts and tote bags, designed by yours truly and hand screenprinted by Lusungu. 

 

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Beautiful wares from Merkato. Most made in the Taita-Taveta district of Kenya, where my Dad is from.

 

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Lusungu representing in his new 'Beat It' t-shirt. Look for it on the Creativity and Noise shop.

 

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Knit iPhone cases from Merkato.

 

10-African-Design-Guords-Taita-Baskets-Merkato

It was a visual treat checking out what the other vendors had to offer, such as these guords. Right: a Taita basket from Merkato (and the lady who made it!).

 

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I met some fellow Kenyans, Muigai and Anto, who were selling these beaded bangles that had me feeling all patriotic. Kenya and Tanzania represented – perfect!

 

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A wonderful array of colours at Dry Rain, a stall selling Moroccan wares including these leather slippers.

 

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Our neighbouring stall had a massive collection of baskets and other woven goods including these coasters, bangles …

 

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… and mats/rugs.

 

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A funky zebra-print van belonging to a food stall selling all kinds of African game meat, including my beloved crocodile!

 

17-African-Design-Recylced-Flip-Flops-Upcycled-Fridge-Magnets-Merkato

Butterfly fridge magnets made from recycled/upcycled flip-flops. From Merkato.

 

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Of course, there was time for dancing.

 

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Me with the Zambians, all representing with our Creativity and Noise tees.

 

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It almost always rains at some point during the Africa Oyé weekend. This year, it didn't! Blue skies and sunshine throughout. What a bonus?!

 

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All geared up and ready for day 2 of the festival.

 

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We got to watch Joe Driscoll and Jally Kebba Susso  jamming/warming up early on the Sunday morning. The kora on reggae and hip hop tracks sounds amazing!

 

23-Sunset-Africa-Oye-Rose-Tinted-Glasses

As usual, the whole experience was a welcome and wonderful assault on the senses.

One of the things I love about Africa Oyé is that there’s no heavy-handed policing. The police and security presence at this festival is surprisingly minimal – you barely notice them. No gates to walk through where every inch of you is checked, no wall of policemen to intimidate. It just goes to show that if you treat people like human beings, they will act like human beings! 

At some point on the Sunday, I found myself feeling a little bit teary. I know this is going to sound corny but, I was overwhelmed by just how beautiful the moment was. All kinds of people – ages, races, abilities; all kinds of random acts of kindness going on; people talking to strangers … real, tangible joy!

See you there next year!

 

Photos by Lulu Kitololo (and a couple courtesy of Lusungu Chikamata), most of them processed with VSCOcam. View even more photos from the weekend, on Facebook.

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Bombolulu: Special Abilities = Special Accessories

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I first heard of Bombolulu when I went to visit my Uncle Duncan who was at the time working as an artisan there. Since 1969, Bombolulu Workshops and Cultural Centre in Mombasa has been working with men and women artisans with special abilities to overcome their physical limitations and empower them economically and socially.

 

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As well as supporting staff in becoming fully integrated members of their communities, the initiative has provided benefits such as a clinic, nursery school, social hall, sports and more. Bombolulu includes housing units for artisans, artisan workshops and a Cultural Centre which comprises of different traditional homesteads of the diverse tribes of Kenya. 

The workshops produce a range of jewelry, textile, wood and leather products. Every year, thousands of different designs are produced and many years of successful exporting have established the workshops as a reliable supplier and the project is a member of the WFTO (World Fair Trade Organization) and  it is the trading partner of PEOPLink/OpenEntry (USA).

You can visit the Bombolulu workshops and Cultural Centre and the recently launched Bombolulu Boutique in Diani Beach Shopping Centre to buy beautiful and unique products. Several items are available to buy on People Tree online.

Images, from top: bracelet, necklace, earrings, necklace, earrings, bracelet.

Mar Y Sol fashion accessories

Mar-Y-Sol

Mar Y Sol is a cross-cultural, cross-continental collaboration between artisans in Madagascar and artists in the US. Materials sustainably sourced from Madagascar's forests are used to create vibrant, playful fashion accessories. "Trade not aid", economic independence for the artisans and environmental conservation are the intended byproducts of Mar Y Sol's designs.

Week in review

Lesley-of-Ododo-Originals wir

Khadambi-Asalache-wir

Afrocubism-photo-wir

Ghadames wall design wir

Amani-ya-Juu-quilts-wir

I am fortunate to have spent Christmas with family and friends, eating good home-cooked food and sharing laughter. I hope that all of you who celebrate the holiday had a good one and that all of you who don't and had the opportunity to take a break, had a refreshing day. With just one week until we step into 2011, I find myself putting myself under pressure to properly take stock of the year and plan ahead for the next one. I'm making it a point to keep dragging myself back to the present moment and not stress toooooo much about all the expectations that come with the New Year milestone. We'll see what happens over this coming week though!

Here is a round-up of all of last week's posts, in case you missed anything:

A huge thanks to you for taking the time to read and share comments, facebook appreciation and tweet love. Remember, you can also get updates via facebooktwitter and by subscribing to the Afri-love feed.

Feedback is incredibly useful to me so, please drop me a line with any comments, suggestions, ideas etc.

Next week, look out for:

  • Quote of the year
  • A round-up on the 9 most popular posts of the year
  • What satisfies you? I want to know…
  • Sudan Independence Day
  • An end of the year TGIF! special

Have a fantastic final week of 2010. Be proud of all you've learned, discovered and achieved and let it inspire the year ahead!

 :)

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Images from top: Lesley of Ododo Originals, Khadambi Asalache's house, AfroCubism artists, Ghadames wall art from Libya and Amani ya Juu quilts