With design like this, who wouldn’t go?: Pen and Mic II, Tanzania

Pen and Mic Tanzania

I love this flyer for Pen & Mic II, taking place next Wednesday in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. An evening of music, poetry and prose. For all you lucky "kool kats" in Dar, here are the details.

And for the first Pen & Mic which was a full-house success:

Pen and Mic I

(National icon and poet Shaaban Robert has never looked so cool!)

Quote of Women’s Week

"But please remember, especially in these times of group-think and the right-on chorus, that no person is your friend (or kin) who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow and be perceived as fully blossomed as you were intended. Or who belittles in any fashion the gifts you labour so to bring into the world."

Alice Walker, In Search of our Mother's Gardens: Womanist Prose

Who better than Alice Walker to kick-off Women's Week! How to describe her work? Many would say feminist, activist etc. … but I think ultimately, her work celebrates humanity in all of it's complex, layered, conflicted, hypocritical, beautiful, disturbing, amazing glory. That often involves talking about what a lot of other people don't talk about and it is there that I have found myself reflected in her work. As a woman, as a black woman, as an artist, as a seeker, as a complicated human being.

Her work reminds me that I am special, significant and interesting, just the way I am. It is with this same affirmation in mind that I have chosen today's quote. A reminder that we are all wonderful the way we are and that nobody should ever succeed in convincing us otherwise. Nor should we give them opportunity to try!

Here's to a fantastic week spent remembering our beauty and strength.

PS There are some truly beautiful photos of Alice Walker here.
In Search of our Mother's Gardens: Womanist Prose is a great Women's Week read. It is a collection of essays celebrating women's stories and spirituality through the ages, their culture and their strength. From continent to continent and generation to generation, she explores the thread linking women writers through history. 

Week in review and protecting time

Last week's plans to make more of a conscious effort to make time for myself were seriously thwarted this week. One result being that I didn't get to post as much as I usually do. I accept that I'm the kind of person who finds it very hard to say no and a lot of it has to do with overestimating my capacity for doing. I've decided on a new strategy as a solution to all of the above: if unsure as to whether to say "yes", I should simply just say "no". It's going to be hard but, it's absolutely necessary if I'm going to be able to continue creating, blogging and devoting time to being healthy and to continued self-discovery.

I'm always interested in exploring different approaches to jump-start my momentum and  and this week I'll be trying out Katie Tallo's Life Cleanse Starter Kit – a one week guide to gathering momentum (check it out here. Bonus: it's free). She quotes The Road Less Travelled author, M. Scott Peck, M.D.: 

"Until you value yourself, you won't value your time.
Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it."

How appropriate! What strategies have you used to protect your time?


On the lookout

This week I had the honour of being interviewed by Kathryn Buford, one of the founders of Live Unchained, a collaborative art project for black women across the African Diaspora. Kathryn and her co-founder, Miriam, have great ambitions for creating a rich platform for black female artists to express their diverse talents, identities and perspectives. One that will live online as well as through physical showcases and in print.

Not only is Kathryn such a positive, inspired  and inspiring person but, her questions were so valuable in that they reminded me why I do what I do, and reignited again, my passion for it. I think us human beings can be very forgetful this way so, it's great to give ourselves opportunities to check in with our hearts and remember our dreams and visions.

Support this great initiative by voting for Kathryn and Miriam to win support to develop Live Unchained as a non-profit organization.

I'll let you know when the interview is up and in the meantime check out their blog.


Last week on the blog


Here is a quick recap, in case you missed anything:


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


Image above: designs by Lola Faturoti (see post for more details)



Week in review



Doodle for Google Kenya



Having a parent from Tanzania and a parent from Kenya, I had two reasons to celebrate this week with both countries commemorating independence. The celebrations on the blog were visual – with photos taken by myself, in various parts of Tanzania and, beautiful visions of Nairobi from Mutua Matheka.

I would love to hear how all of you in, and from, Tanzania and Kenya marked your Uhuru and Jamhuri Days. I hope that they were opportunities for remembering, gratefulness, unity, solidarity and significantly, optimism. Mama Lucy, an inspiring change-maker in Tanzania, asks a poignant question: "What have we done within those years [since independence] for change?" 

It's so easy for us, as individuals, to reiterate this question and look towards our leaders for answers (that will probably not be very forthcoming!). But the question I would like to ask is: what are we each doing for ourselves, our communities and our countries? Individuals like Mama Lucy are proof that we each have the power to effect positive change in our communities. Let's start by imagining it …

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 week
  • Inspiration from Senegalese artistic techniques
  • Afri-love on Etsy
  • Inspiration from South Africa with a Greek twist
  • More album art (There's so much inspiration to draw from that I'm making this a monthly installment)
  • TGIF! Mali meets Cuba
  • and more!

Have a fantastic week! Be proud, be inspired and be thankful.



Images, starting 2nd from top: Illustration by Lulu Kitololo, from "5 Steps to Creative Independence"; Serge Mouange's Wafrica project; Chief Nyamweya doodling for Google Kenya; Zanzibar, Tanzania – photos by Lulu Kitololo; Nairobi, Kenya – photo by Mutua Matheka 



Quote of the week & the power of the story


"To poison a nation, poison its stories. A demoralised nation tells demoralised stories to itself. Beware of the storytellers who are not fully conscious of the importance of their gifts, and who are irresponsible in the application of their art: they could unwittingly help along the psychic destruction of their people."

Ben Okri, poet and novelist, reaffirming the power of the story. It's interesting to think about the different ways in which storytelling is used. From the politician's speech to the grandmother's retelling of the past, from the CEO's company vision to the silent narratives we create for ourselves as encouragement. It's great to see a flourishing of art that is telling complex and multi-layered stories about our continent.

Check out this great video where writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, talks about the danger of the single story:


Interview with designer and entrepreneur, Mkuki Bgoya of Kina Klothing


This week, I'm happy to share with you, the passion and work of my Tanzanian brother, Mkuki Bgoya, designer and founder of Kina Klothing. What is Kina Klothing? Kina Klothing is "Pan Afrikan, Art, Bongo Flava, Afro Beat, Taarab, Fashion, Poetry, Sankofa, Jazz, Pop-Culture, Fela Kuti , 60s, 70s, 80s Afrika, HipHop, Illustration, Cassette tapes, Street, Soul, Vinyl records, Politics, Animation, Disco, Electronic, basketball, fun, Zouk, Bolingo, Photography, Soccer, Play, CDs, mp3s, Graphic Design…everyday people.

When he isn't working on new collections for Kina Klothing, Mkuki runs a branding firm, Spearhead, from his base in Dar es Salaam, and is involved with publishing company, Mkuki na Nyota, specialising in indigenous books. 

I set out to find out what drives this busy man …

Continue reading “Interview with designer and entrepreneur, Mkuki Bgoya of Kina Klothing”

Quote of the week and the African artist’s responsibility


"For us Africans, literature must serve a purpose: to expose, embarrass, and fight corruption and authoritarianism. It is understandable why the African artist is utilitarian."

— author and playwright, Ama Ata Aidoo

I've heard African creatives (whether writers, fine artists etc.) protest that they feel they are expected to be political or to somehow have their work address the cause of bettering our continent. That they can't just produce art for art's sake. A lot of ingenious creatives do manage to serve this serious purpose through works that are also very witty, clever and generally entertaining. Ama Ata Aidoo is a great example with stories such as Our Sister Killjoy and The Dilemma of a Ghost.

What are your thoughts on the expectation that African arts should serve a utilitarian purpose? Limiting or essential?


Week in review


Senga-K-Designs-women wir

 Simphiwe Dana wir

Hope it's been a good week for you all. It's been another extremely busy one for me and the craziness helped me to realise a few things. Namely, the importance of making time for yourself even in the most frantic of times. This knowledge has been so useful in keeping me sane and focused on what I'm keeping busy for! Talk about synchronicity: amidst the melee, I discovered Zen Habits blogger, Leo Babauta's, latest book – Focus: A Simplicity Manifesto in the Age of Distraction. There's a free version available for download here (where you can also purchase a version with additional multi-media content). It's a fantastic read and I've already began my simplification mission.  

Here's a round-up 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 facebook, twitter 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.

This coming week, look out for:

  • Quote of the week
  • Moving beyond defiance through design and investigating design for good
  • What do a Tanzanian artist and Japanese architect have in common?
  • Interrogating some assumptions about African food
  • Yet another interview with another Africa-inspired talent
  • More music to give thanks for Friday

Have a fantastic week! Be proud and be inspired.


Images above: 2nd from top – Senga K Designs; bottom – Simphiwe Dana (see links for image details).

Who are your role models?


Who are your role models?

That's always been a tricky question for me to answer. When younger, most of my peers were picking celebrities. Sure there were several whose work I admired but they were so removed from my reality that I could not quite make that connection. In them I saw nothing of myself and nothing influential that I could really draw on.

Continue reading “Who are your role models?”