An invitation to the road less travelled

I am always awed by how things come together and at the appropriate time.

My decision to talk about the road less travelled in August was rather arbitrary. It’s my birthday month and choosing the more uncharted and less understood path, is something that has coloured many of my years thus far. So I thought I’d celebrate that somehow.

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My Women Change Africa Interview



I’m honoured to join the family of ‘Bosschiques’ over on Women Change Africa – a blog and brand founded on the theory that if women are celebrated, connected and cultivated, change will occur in our communities.

Women Change Africa founder, Moiyattu Banya had some great questions for me, providing an always welcome opportunity to pause, reflect and appreciate. 

Read the interview over on Women Change Africa. I love the last question and would love to hear how you’d answer it. Let me know in the comments below.

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The Best of Both Worlds: Asilia’s new site goes live!


It brings me great joy to share some news – the launch of Asilia's new website! It's almost 3 years since Andrew and I decided to co-run a full-time enterprise and this new site is testament to that journey. We've learned a lot along the way and have had great supporters, collaborators, suppliers and especially, clients, who have all helped to make it possible for us to keep doing what we love.  

In these few years – which have flown – we've come to appreciate, more and more, our identity as a company. We sum it up as, the best of both worlds. On one level, that reflects our physical presence – we have an office in London and in Nairobi and; our core offerings – design and digital, products and services. It also speaks to our company culture where, employees are expected to be entrepreneurial. But deeper than that, it has to do with our ethos of pooling inspiration, knowledge, skills and experience from various influences, cultures and sectors.

Continue reading “The Best of Both Worlds: Asilia’s new site goes live!”

Inspired: CHOOLIPS Diamond Petals Golden Coast Collection, Spring Summer 2013


Continue reading “Inspired: CHOOLIPS Diamond Petals Golden Coast Collection, Spring Summer 2013”

Quote of the week & talk of love


To jump on the Valentine's Day bandwagon somewhat, I chose a quote that talks of love. Then again, ultimately, everything on this blog talks of love. Particularly, self-love. It is with that focus that I share with you this week's quote:

"When we can meet ourselves where we are and treat ourselves with compassion, then we are able to meet others where they are and to engage with the world with compassion.
… We are all capable of great things when we find our own authentic and unique place in the world."

Marianne Elliot, Zen Peace-keeper and change-maker (definitely check her out)

Reflecting in my morning pages earlier, I came up with a new mantra for myself that is quite appropriate here. The context was largely work-related, being that my services are charged according to time spent. People who are not used to thinking of their time in terms of money, sometimes don't appreciate that mine is literally worth money. One related consequence is being shortchanged and another is that it's often challenging to find enough time for myself. So, by heaping and asserting all this value around my time, I can hopefully get across just how valuable it is. Long story short, this is the mantra and I think it applies to several other contexts as well: "By valuing myself, I confirm that I am valuable." 

Indeed, by valuing ourselves, we confirm, assert even, that we are valuable. As our comrades in Tunisia and Egypt have recently shown!

Quote of the week – love first


"In today’s world, people experience two types of poverty: the poverty caused by lack of food, clothing and shelter, and the poverty caused by lack of love and compassion.

Of these two, the second type needs to be considered first because if we have love and compassion in our hearts, then we will wholeheartedly serve those who suffer from lack of food, clothing and shelter."

Mata Amritanandamayi, Hindu spiritual leader and teacher.

Reaffirming the power of love (and emotion) and that, it all starts with the self. See related posts: Anything We Love can be Saved and The Selfish African. May your week be full of love and compassion!

Week in review





This past week market the launch of a project I'd been working on with non-profit, Epic Change – Epic Thanks. A global celebration of gratefulness honouring individuals who have created positive change in their communities and inspired hope in many. It's fantastic to be reminded of what a wonderful, and potentially widespread, impact we each can have when we truly apply ourselves in pursuit of our dreams. 

I spent the latter part of the week showing a visiting friend around town. Seeing a place through the eyes of someone who's seeing it for the first time, truly makes you appreciate it anew.

I guess the theme of my week was appreciation. Appreciation of all the people who make my life so much richer. Appreciation of the power of collective good energy. Appreciation of all the so-called little things that we so often take for granted. I am thankful for everything that I have and experience. And I'm thankful for you!

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 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
  • A celebration of our crowning glory
  • An interview with a funky Tanzanian designer and entrepreneur
  • More design inspiration from musical sources
  • A hair journey update
  • TGIF!

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



Images, starting 2nd from top: Shine Shine illustration, artist Tamara Natalie Madden (photo by Kelechi Anusiem), still from Mauritanian film, Waiting for Happiness. 

Giving Epic Thanks


On Tuesday, non-profit Epic Change has launched a global campaign to change the world through the power of gratitude – Epic Thanks. In support of their great work and that of the amazing changemakers they work with, including Mama Lucy Kamptoni from Tanzania, I wanted to share a few things that I'm especially grateful for.

Having the opportunity to grow up in Africa is something that I'm eternally thankful for. Lying in the outdoors with the afternoon sun on my back. Walking barefoot on the dewy grass. Spending entire Decembers at my grandparents home, with twenty-odd other relatives. Struggling to get mangos down from the tree and then eating them right then and there. Sneaking off to the river at the bottom of the shamba to play in the cool and absolutely clear water. All of us kids cross-legged on the floor, eating from one big platter. Entertaining ourselves in the evenings with hand games and dance competitions. Playing with the baby goats and preventing the chickens from becoming dinner (on that day at least). Ocean waves to jump into, beaches to spend all day on. Family celebrations filled with laughter, drama and dancing. Every grown up being your mother or father – tough when you're naughty but oh-so-rewarding when you're good. Exploring the buzzing market and learning new sights and smells. A certain spirit, a certain savviness. Resilience. Joy. Belonging.

I am thankful for all these things that I have experienced and that have made me who I am. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to share my love with you all. Thank you for reading; for sharing and spreading the love and; for inspiring and encouraging me! 


Finally, I want to give extra thanks to my parents today. They have been exceptional examples of what it is to love where you're from, both in terms of home as a physical place and in terms of all that it represents. They has shown me the value of strength of character, of diligence and perhaps most significantly, of standing up for what you believe in and who you are, even when that means going against the grain. 

What are you thankful for? Come and join the global celebration on Epic Thanks.


Images – things I'm grateful for: the tree outside my window, growing up; one of my favourite places to be – an African beach on the Indian Ocean; my parents and brother. 

Defining Afri-love

This post was originally posted on Lulu's blog, Pandemonium Today, in September 2009

Africa is in my veins … in my thoughts and in my actions. I don’t know how love for a continent is made. How the colours and rhythms from one far-off coast can resonate as loudly on the opposite side. How listening to strangers speaking a language I do not know (understanding is different for it often transcends linguistic boundaries) can bring sudden feelings of homesickness. How the rush of sights, sounds and smells, as I step out of a plane, has my being instantly relax in the knowledge: this is where I belong.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and it also teaches the heart a lesson about its self: about how it is made; about what dictates its pace; and what it requires for beating.

I used to think I was patriotic, I still do, but I believe what I was feeling deserved a different and more appropriate name. It transcends national borders – it goes back before the Scramble. It rises over the barriers of language for communication takes place on several planes.

Meeting people from around the world and sharing our common affinities for the continent has helped, over years, to formulate for me, a way to articulate that feeling I previously could not quite capture. I choose to name it Afri-love. Simple, says what it does on the tin and allows me to signpost the myriad expressions of that feeling that I observe, live and create. Naming is a powerful process – it allows one to lift up a thing, hold it to the light and study it closely. Naming can be dangerous too: it can limit the form and consistency of a thing. However, in this instance, naming is useful to me as an umbrella under which to formulate ideas and mobilize the kind of action that will expand itself. Afri-love breeding Afri-love.

And naming helps to create community. A community already exists but it is not always self-aware. The extensive take up of the Afropolitan idea/identity is proof that Afri-love exists in abundance. Its informal community of agents spread its beauty and energy across the globe, sharing good news about the continent; enlightening people about its diversity and cultural wealth; and destroying the barrage of misperceptions that exist within the minds of ignorant and “worldly” alike.

Perhaps most important is exchange. Bringing language, culture, art, knowledge, belief and music to meet with the language, culture, art, knowledge, belief and music of other continents. Creating something new, powerful and relevant that heralds all of its constituent parts while casting a wider net of inclusion. Respect, fundamentally, running through it all.

Afri-love is about that respect for what came before (to avoid the use of that contentious term “tradition”), learning and taking forward what is still germane and beneficial to growth; leaving behind what is inappropriate and counter-constructive; drawing knowledge and inspiration from whatever other sources are available in our experience; and using our imagination, creativity and passion to make something new.

Something that reflects our individual histories and journies first. When we zoom out and look at the greater tapestry of which we are a tiny but crucial thread, the collective story emerges. In perhaps the most interesting, eclectic and spontaneous fashion yet.

Undoubtedly, the most conspicuous pattern is the energy that connects every person who feels Afri-love. It’s almost irrelevant where you’re from. That yearning to touch the ground, smell the soil and feel the sun’s embrace. To join the dance, both invisible and real. To love your brodas and sistas despite their weaknesses and bad judgement. To be that village that is concerned with the growth of every child.  The village that hunts and gathers together and celebrates that collective action with a feast.

It may all sound quite utopian. Perhaps, the one truest sign of  the presence of Afri-love is the optimism that we can make our vision a reality: Africa rising to realise its full potential*.

* Borrowing from the stated vision of African-led UK charity Stand Up for Africa.

About this website

This website is the result of months, even years, of trying to articulate my relationship with my one great passion – Africa. A kind of relationship shared by  many people that I have come across in all corners of the globe. Talented, intelligent, vibrant, joyful people who channel their unique gifts to inspire even greater awareness and enjoyment of the myriad wonders of that beautiful continent.

In contrast to uninterrogated yearnings for all things from outside and a desire to be other than yourself, a narrative that reminds of the beauty and ability that exists right there inside.

Imagine Africans who love who they are, as they are, and so love each other and the environment that nurtures them. Confident and assertive, they are engaged in charting their growth and celebrating success as defined on their own terms.

In contrast to bleak stories on the news and learned (rather than experienced) preconceptions, a narrative that is filled with ingenuity, innovation and ambition. 

Imagine all who are inspirited by Africa – all whose lives and hearts have been touched by the spirit of the continent – sharing their passion through collaboration, in the name of mutual empowerment.

Imagine all starting by looking inside themselves. Self-discovery, self-awareness, self-love and self-respect. And then true learning, understanding, love and respect of the other. Harnessing the power of emotion to influence great positive change.

This website is a place to document a growing idea. One that will be shaped by all who interact with, interrogate and contribute to it. Through commentary, stories, interviews, ideas for action, shared resources, reviews, news, art and much more, Afri-love hopes to become a community of creativity, knowledge, passion and ideas. 

Love is vital to growth and actualization. 

Be proud. Be inspired. Spread love. Blossom.

*The site will officially launch this Friday, 11 June.