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.

 

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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.

 

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.

 

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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?!

 

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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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Africa- and Diaspora-related events this March

Africa- and Diaspora-related events spanning Kenya, the UK and Switzerland. What's happening where you are this month?

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THURSDAY 1st

Kultura Film Club – Nights of Ethnographic Films
City: London, UK
Venue: Passing Clouds
Time: 7:00pm 

This week's installment of the Film Club features two short films about rhythm, negotiating identities, dance and belonging, including Temporary Sanity by Dan Brunn. The film tells about Jamaica’s dance music culture in New York and especially about the versatile disc jockey Skerrit Bwoy. Originally from St. Johns, Antigua, the youngster migrated to Bronx, New York in the mid 1990’s. Clubbing at a very young age, and hanging out on Creston Avenue, it did not take him long to fit into the fast pace life of the city. Skerrit Bwoy burst on the international dancehall scene this year, with his sound system Ghetto Life that he has molded into becoming an award winning sound that was crowned as 2005 – 2006 “Bronx Sound of The Year.” 

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FRIDAY 2nd 

Vibes and Pressure Shubeen featuring Natty, Tinashe and The Skints

Tinashe

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Africa- and Diaspora-related events this December

The final few weeks of the year are jam-packed with reasons to be merry. Here are just a few Africa- and Diaspora-related events in London (UK), Nairobi (Kenya), New York (US), Paris (France and St. John's (Antigua). If you know of any January events that you'd like to share, please contact me by the 23rd of December. Enjoy the last days of 2011!

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ALL MONTH

Dreams-of-a-Life-film

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Week in review and putting in the work

Back in business indeed! It's been a great week. I've been working 12 hour days and I can still say that because, I changed my attitude. Ultimately, I love what I do and, from that perspective, all the time I put into it is enjoyment rather than chore. Sure I don't think 12 hour days are sustainable (nor desirable) in the long-run but, sometimes you have to put in that extra effort/time/energy/sweat/sacrifice to get to where you want. That's what thousands of people across our continent (and further afield) are demonstrating by actively demanding change.

It's not even March and we've seen results such as many never expected. Two dictatorial regimes toppled in Tunisia and Egypt and, Libyans and Algerians standing up to their governments too. You can't help but wonder where this revolutionary momentum will blow to next. Some Sub-Saharan governments, in what cannot be considered anything but an admission of tyranny, are rushing to censor information* about the aforementioned protests up North. What in their minds must seem like prevention, will surely further fuel the fire within the hearts of dissatisfied citizens. 

I've found it to be true that, once you start doing something, you generate the awareness, insight and energy to do so much more. Idleness begets idleness and action becomes exponential. It is with this attitude, that I plan to approach the rest of 2011 and I hope you will too! Let's go create the lives we want.

(* Thanks for the link @Mwistar)

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On the lookout: Afriapps

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Afriapps is a new Asilia initiative to showcase apps from and for Africa. We are  looking forward to further developing this platform for exposure, for both developers and users alike. The work will involve helping to establish industry standards, with the aim of increasing the quality (and competitiveness) of apps from and for Africa. My business partner, Andrew Mugoya, talks more about it here and discusses it with Afrinnovator here.

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Last week on the blog

SILHOUETTE

A full week it was. Here is a recap, in case you missed anything:

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Thanks as always for taking the time to read and to share comments, facebook appreciation and tweet love. Remember, you can also get blog updates as well as extra links, ideas, news and info via facebook (afriloveblog) and twitter (@afrilove).

Have a great week everybody, be proud and be inspired!

Lulu x

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Image copyright Mutua Matheka

Gambia Independence Day with Griot Jally Kebba Susso

Manding-Griot-fb-flyer

Today, The Gambia celebrates Independence Day. The smallest country on the continent in size but a large melting pot of diverse cultural influences. Gambia was an important site for the transatlantic slave trade and it is believed that as many as 3 million slaves were taken from the region during that period alone. The fictional Kunta Kinte, the progenitor of all the generations in Alex Haley's book, and later TV series, Roots, was from the Gambia.

In celebration of this day, and in true TGIF! fashion, here are some sounds from Jally Kebba Susso who comes from a very long line of Manding griots from The Gambia.

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