Interview with singer-songwriter, Namvula 

I’m excited to share with you this very heartfelt interview with singer-songwriter, Namvula

I’ve known Namvula for over 10 years now and it’s been very inspiring to witness how she has embarked on a whole new career, with so much passion and dedication. In this interview she shares what inspired this courageous journey. It definitely encourages me to be less fearful in living my life more fully by pursuing more of the things that my heart and soul desire.

Namvula signs off her emails with a Rumi quote which always makes me pause and truly absorb it – it sort of sums up the ethos of this blog: “let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

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The Afri-love Sundown Sessions: 3 intimate evenings of live music

 

I’m excited to share something I’ve been working on with you. I’ve curated a series of intimate live music gigs taking place on the last 3 Fridays of this month, in London.

As the days get shorter, nights get chillier and London settles down and braces itself for the winter – I dream of sunny days, vibrant colours and the soulful energy that I feel, back home. Continue reading “The Afri-love Sundown Sessions: 3 intimate evenings of live music”

Owiny Sigoma Band: Afro Grooves and Psychedelic Album Art

I discovered Owiny Sigoma Band thanks to Radio 6, while in the studio this week. Hearing Luo piqued my interest and then, upon discovering that the song was called “Deep Kisumu Fish” (listen), I had to look these guys up.

When I did, I was mesmerised by the fluorescent, psychedelic album cover art. Totally matches the description of the music on Bandcamp: “a collection of gloriously hypnotic Afro grooves symbolic of the true culture clash between the Luo and London”.

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Buy African: Last-minute Christmas Gift Ideas

It’s less than a week to go until Christmas so, ordering your gifts online is now pretty much a gamble. If the thought of braving the madness shops this weekend makes you want to crawl into a dark hole, fear not – I’ve got some ideas that will hopefully keep you in the festive spirit.

The gifts here are all things that you can buy, right up until Christmas Day. They are organised by interest so, hopefully you’ll be able to find something appropriate for all the people on your list – whatever they fancy!

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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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Photos from The African Market at Old Spitalfields, London

I spent Monday hanging out with Lusungu at the Creativity and Noise and Merkato stall at The African Market Bank Holiday Festival, presented by Open the Gate at Old Spitalfields Market. There was entertainment, food and a variety of African and African-inspired art, design and crafts. I got to chat to some of the designer-makers and creative entrepreneurs – it’s always inspiring to be around other creative people!

Enjoy the photos and do check out these great brands and makers. Prepare your senses for a print and colour explosion!

(Photo above: recycled textile pouches by BURST. Contact: burstlondon [at] gmail [dot] com)

 

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Lusungu with his screenprinted Creativity and Noise t-shirts and Merkato baskets and toys

 

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Happy customer Winkate, rocking her brand new Africrown tank from Creativity and Noise

 

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Woven plastic bags from Senegal, available from Serenity Bags: senebagz [at] gmail [dot] com

 

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Hoodies by Open the Gate

 

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Shoe laces by Open the Gate

 

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Trying on a fabulous corset by Evie Nix (don’t ask about the face!)

 

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More ankara/wax print goodies from Evie Nix, including bangles, cuffs and earrings

 

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Wishlist: this green weekend bag  and the yellow Choolips dress, available from Sapellé

 

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Textile recylcing – lavender pouches made from wax print off-cuts. By BURST: burstlondon [at] gmail [dot] com

 

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Beaded bracelets from Sapellé

 

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Loved these shirts, shorts and t-shirts by TYMO

 

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After years of communicating virtually, I finally got to meet fashion designer Fée Uhssi in the flesh!

 

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Dolls by Verona.C

 

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And the lady Verona herself!

 

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Bibs and booties from the House of Loulee

 

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Lucy of House of Loulee. Last Christmas she custom made some beautiful boots for my friend’s 18 month old and a funky sweater for Lusungu.

 

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Story time!

 

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I didn’t catch the name of the last band that performed. Let me know if you did!

 

All photos by Lulu Kitololo (except the one of Lulu, taken by Yvonne of Evie Nix), with a little love from VSCOcam.

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Related:

 

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TGIF! Guest Post: Late and Rare

Mafikizolo

 

I’m very happy to present you with a guest post from my dynamic friend, Elelta Demissie aka Ellesbells aka TechWench (which is the name of her web development company). Elelta can be found online: blogging on Nothing to Display; experimenting with and sharing recipes on Eat Alicha (including Eritrean-inspired dishes) and; sharing dope mixes on Mixcloud.  In real life, you can find her joy running around London and hanging out in radio stations, presenting shows. Phew! (tired yet?). And I thought I had many things going on!

Handing over to El and a seriously good set of tracks …

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World-a-Reggae: International Poster Exhibition hosted by Live Unchained

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Live Unchained hosted an international reggae poster exhibition at the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington, DC. Featuring the best from over 2,000 entries from 90 countries, you're in for a visual treat.

Here are just a few pieces from last year and this year's exhibition:

 

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TGIF! with the London African African Music Festival 2013 (September 13th – 22nd)

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The eclectic and critically acclaimed London African Music Festival returns for an 11th instalment, running from September 13th – 22nd, across 11 venues. 

From Congolese soul to Senegalese rap; from Somali poet to Cuban band; afrobeat, jazz, blues and more. Seriously, it's going to be a hectic 10 days!

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