3 Reasons Why I’m Looking Forward to Africa Utopia 2014

We’re just one week away from a special festival looking at what can be learnt and celebrated from Africa and the African diaspora. I’m looking forward to this second edition of the Africa Utopia festival for 3 main reasons:

1. The Great Line-up

My top 5 picks include:

  1. A Brief Look at Dance in Africa – a lecture/demonstration looking at the variety of dances across the continent, using performance, percussion and film.
  2. Africa Calling – work by new and established designers from Africa and the diaspora spanning furniture, fashion, graphic arts and more.
  3. Africa on the Catwalk – a selection of fashion and accessory designers who originate from or are inspired by the rich cultural heritage of Africa (including Asilia client, Adele Dejak!)
  4. Afropolis: New African Aesthetic – From the catwalk shows of Yves St Laurent to the windows of Topshop and Zara, style-wise, Africa is everywhere. What are the deeper aesthetic and socio-cultural dynamics at work behind this phenomenon and what impact does it have on African regional and cultural identities?
  5. Simply Soweto Encha – a five-piece a cappella group from Soweto township that sings gospel, soul, jazz, doo-wop, r’n’b and celebrates South African oral and dance traditions. I have a super weak spot for a cappella!

There are so many other great events throughout the weekend that I hope to check out. View the full programme here.

 

2. Asilia’s Social Media Workshop

Following my workshop at the Women of the World Festival, earlier this year, I’ve been invited back to run a special session at Africa Utopia. Come spend an hour with me to explore how to use the web and social media as tools to:

  • Celebrate and share your experience, perspective and vision with the world
  • Connect with kindred spirits
  • Monetise your activities
  • Contribute more of your passion to your community and the world

More info here.

 

Christmas-Cards-2014-Asilia

 

3. Asilia’s Stall at the Africa Utopia Marketplace

We’ll be launching the first of our brand new holiday line and we’ll also have a limited number of our Tropical Paleo, Miriam Makeba and Frida Kahlo art prints on sale. It’s also an opportunity to place your order for custom portraits. They’re great as gifts and it’s never too early to start your Christmas shopping! Creativity and Noise will be joining us too with a selection of hand screenprinted tees from our collaboration.

Follow me (@lulukitololo) and Asilia (@weareasilia) – on Instagram for a document of the long weekend. If you’re in London – come say hello!

 

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Design, Music and Good Vibes at Africa Oyé 2014

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.

 

2-Creativity-and-Noise-Yebo-T-shirt-on-Tour

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.

 

5-Merkato-MKTO-Creativity-and-Noise-Stall-Laura-Marano-Lusungu-Chikamata

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

 

6-African-Design-Tote-Bags-Creativity-and-Noise

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

 

7-African-Design-Baskets-Merkato-MKTO-Taita

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

 

8-African-Design-T-shirt-Creativity-and-Noise-Drum-Lusungu-Chikamata

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

 

9-African-Design-Knit-iPhone-Cases-Merkato

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!).

 

11-Kenya-Tanzania-Beaded-Bracelets

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!

 

13-Moroccan-Shoes-Leather

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

 

14-Coasters-and-Bangles-by-Craft-Africa

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

 

15-African-Design-Woven-Rugs-Mats-Craft-Africa

… and mats/rugs.

 

16-Zebra-Print-Van-Safari-Food

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.

 

18-Dancing-Chikamatas-Africa-Oye

Of course, there was time for dancing.

 

19-Africa-Oye-With-the-Zambians

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

 

20-Blue-Skies-Africa-Oye-Liverpool

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?!

 

21-African-Design-Rocking-Merkato-Creativity-and-Noise-Africa-Oye

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

 

22-Africa-Oye-African-Music-Jally-Kebba-Susso-Joe-Driscoll

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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How to: Create a Great Web Presence + Other Top WOW Festival Picks

WOW-Women-of-the-World-Festival-Southbank

It's that time again – the annual Southbank Centre Women of the World Festival takes place this week, in London.

A couple of years ago, I presented on Digital Tapestries and, taking that theme to another level, this year I will be running a workshop entitled 'How to: Create a Great Web Presence'.

Most of us want to spend most of our time honing our craft – doing what we love most. However, for most of us to continue doing this, somebody's got to buy.

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TGIF! with Bumi Thomas & The Venus Bushfires in the Run Up to the 2013 Africa Centre Summer Festival

Bumi-Thomas-The-Venus-Bushfires-Africa-Centre-2013

Round off your week with these sounds from two talented and beautiful female musicians, Bumi Thomas and Helen Parker-Jayne Isibor, aka The Venus Bushfires. Both will be performing at the Africa Centre Summer Festival in London, UK, which takes place on the 3rd and 4th of August this year. Curated by artist Yinka Shonibare MBE, it's a free weekend of music, fashion, visual arts, film and more, taking place in and around the Covent Garden Piazza. For those in, near and visiting London, it's a can't-miss event!

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The Upcoming Africa Writes Festival & New Books to Look Out For

Africa Writes, the Royal African Society's annual literature festival runs this year from Friday 5th through Sunday 7th July, at the British Library in London, UK. The programme includes several panel discussions, poetry readings, book launches, workshops, parties and more. I'm already working out my plan of attack! Meanwhile, here are books from some of the participating authors, many of them new titles that will be launched during the event.

 

1-Book-Fairytales-for-Lost-Children-Black-Star-Nairobi


Fairytales for Lost Children by Diriye Osman

A collection of stories about what it meant to be young, gay and Somali. A reading experience fusing hip hop, graphic illustrations, Arabic calligraphy and folklore studded with Kiswahili and Somali slang.

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Massimadi Festival, Brussels: LGBT Films from Africa and its Diaspora

Massimadi-LGBT-Film-Festival-Africa-Diaspora-Brussels

Today marks the start of the very first Massimadi festival – showcasing LGBT films from Africa and its diaspora. Taking place in Brussels from the 9th – 11th of May, in the run up to Belgian Pride, the event programme includes meetings and music to complement the films.

The word 'Massimadi' is derived from Creole words 'massissi' and 'madivinez' – derogatory words for 'gay' and 'lesbian' that have been appropriated by the black LGBT community in a defiant affirmation of their identity. The festival will address issues of identity, gender, racism and sexual orientation.

Find out more on the Massimadi website (offering English, French and Dutch translation) and the Massimadi Facebook page

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TGIF! Amira Kheir and Birds Eye View Sounds and Silents

Amira-Kheir-Birds-Eye-View-Sound-Silents

Birds-Eye-View-One-Arabian-Night

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 click here)

 

  

 

Event details

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Afri-love Picks: Culture, Activism and Social Debate Events at WOW 2013

Alice Walker Women of the World Festival 2013 London


The last batch of my top picks for this year's Women of the World Festival at London's Southbank Centre covers events to do with culture, activism and social issues and debates. I don't know about you but, between this list; the business, entrepreneurship and career development one I shared last week and; the music, poetry and spoken word events, it's going to be tough deciding what to actually attend! It's the kind of tough decision that's a joy to make. To those planning to attend the Festival, I hope you have a wonderful time and perhaps I'll bump into you. To everybody else, I look forward to reporting back.

 

Alice Walker
WHAT: A world exclusive premiere of ‘Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth’, a feature documentary film by Pratibha Parmar, about the life and art of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of ‘The Color Purple’.
The 6:30pm screening will be followed by a conversation with Alice Walker and Pratibha Parmar. The 9.30pm screening is introduced by Alice Walker and Pratibha Parmar.
WHEN: Sunday, 6:30pm and 9:30pm

What's new in African Feminisms
WHAT: Looking at what is fresh in African feminist thought and action. African women are gaining force in music, writing and film, offering powerful and subversive views on gender, power and the future.
WHEN: Sunday, 1:30pm – 3:00pm

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Getting Down to Business at the 2013 Women of the World Festival (WOW 2013)

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 talksI 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.

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Nairobi Half Life and Questions about Identity

Nairobi Half Life Mwas Arrives in Nairobi
Nairobi Half Life

The Film Africa festival launched opened last night with a fantastic film directed by Tosh Gitonga, Nairobi Half Life. Beautifully put together – story, cast, cinematography, direction, production! The world-class quality of this film has surely set the bar for Kenyan film and no wonder it's a submission for Best Foreign Language Film at next year's Oscars. 

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