L-atitude: where fashion meets travel: The Africa representatives

Lemlem-Adele-Dejak-One-Fine-Thread-Merchants-on-Long-L-atitude

I recently discovered online boutique, L-atitude: "where fashion meets travel" – a curated collection of exotic, exclusive and edgy finds from Africa, South America, Asia, Europe and the US.

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Interview with author, photographer and Black film aficionado, Nadia Denton

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I've been working with Nadia Denton for the past few months and she's got so much up her sleeve! She's involved in film – she established and co-ordinated Black Filmmaker (bfm) Film Club, a monthly platform for Black World Cinema at the Institute of Contemporary Arts between April 2003 – Jan 2010 – and just this month launched her book, The Black British Filmmaker’s Guide to Success (which you can download for free!); she has an exhibition of her photography going on right now; she's developed the Black History Month film programme in Islington, London and; she's in charge of PR & Marketing for the upcoming Film Africa 2011 festival. I'm always super-inspired by creative people who dabble in several areas and happy to hear what makes them tick. Today, Nadia shares …


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Gypset fashion: The Galactic Weekender collection

Gypset

I'm digging the colours, prints and silhouettes of these Gypset dresses. Coined by journalist Julia Chaplin, the word Gypset (gypsy + jet-set) describes "a new type of travel, and cultural foraging at home, that redefines the optimal adventure as something with the global references and chic speed of the jet-set mixed with the alternative, anti-commercialism and nomadic wile of a gypsy." Learn more (and purchase the dresses) on the Gypset website.

Thanks to Erika of Mikuti for the heads up!

The best Tribe in Africa

Tribe-Hotel-Kenya-Architecture

During my trip to Kenya in April, I finally properly visited Tribe. A luxury boutique hotel, it refreshingly pays homage to the continent on which it sits. When you walk into most luxury hotels in Nairobi, you wouldn't be blamed for thinking you had stepped right in to New York or London. It almost seems to imply that anything of value must not display any "Africanness." Except perhaps through a little painting of a safari landscape, tucked away in some hallway. With Tribe, Africa is on display in every direction that you look and it's beautiful!

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Their line:
"Tribe takes hospitality back to its essence. Back to the nomadic days when any weary traveller was greeted with warmth, invited to feast and exchange stories, and rest in the comforts of home … a very comfortable home."

And to prove again that being true to yourself brings due reward, Condé Nast Traveller (US & UK) recently selected Tribe for The Hot List 2010, as one of the Hottest Hotels in the World!

Tribe-Hotel-Kenya-room 

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All photos via Tribe except 2nd last row, by Lulu Kitololo, and bottom, from Condé Nast
See more photos on the Tribe Hotel Kenya Facebook page

 

Tanzania Independence Day

Dar-es-Salaam

Tanzania celebrates Independence Day today.

My mother is from Tanzania and as a result, I have spent a bit of time there, particularly when I was younger. I will never forget Decembers when myself and my many cousins were "shipped off" to our grandparents house for the entire holiday season. Waking up to Mount Kilimanjaro right outside the window. Spending days creating missions in the outdoors such as: how to get mangos down from the tree and; exploring the mystery land beyond the stream at the bottom of  the farm. What a stream! So refreshing in that harsh December heat that we played in it daily (against the adults' wishes) and absolutely clear – you could see every little movement in the water below. Yes, I reminisce… 

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Inspired: S. G. Mpata and the meeting of art and architecture

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What do a Tanzanian artist and Japanese architecture have in common? The answer can be found in Kenya's Masai Mara game reserve, at the Mpata Safari Club.

The work of Tanzanian artist Simon George Mpata (1942- 1984) is celebrated worldwide and especially made an impact in Japan. In fact, in doing my research for this post, the majority of websites I found that mentioned him were Japanese! A Japanese magazine editor, who came across Mpata's work while in Kenya, was a key force in arranging for his work to be shown outside the continent and then later in 1992, establishing the Mpata Safari Club. Designed by Edward Suzuki, the five star lodge is an homage to the artist, keeping his spirit alive.

Mpata-Safari-Club

Mpata's style of painting is often referred to as Tinga Tinga, named after his half-brother Edward Tingatinga, who first began to paint in the style. I've come across a book about his work, Urban Primitivism, but again, all information seems to be in Japanese! Anyone with any idea of how to access an English version, or any further information about it that's in English – please do share.

S-G-Mpata-Urban-Primitivism

Images at top found on Sotokoto.net. Mpata lodge images from the Elle.com.hk (top) and Mpata Safari Club website. Bottom left image found here

Pilgrimages

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“We do not know our own continent, yet we continue to benefit from it.” 

This penetrating assertion on the Pilgrimages website caught my attention today and it couldn’t have been more timely. One of my reasons for creating this blog is to share my ongoing education on the continent I call home. Something somebody once said to me will always remain fresh in my mind. I was pursuing a course in African Studies at the time when a Kenyan lady, in Nairobi, asked me why I would take up such a course of study, being that I am an African. There was so much I wanted to say to her – so many questions in response! How much did she really know about the vast Africa herself? Especially in comparison to her knowledge about other parts of the world – distant parts that she may never even see firsthand. How much did she really know about her own history – and from whose mouth or textbook did she consume that information?

What that moment evokes is how easy it is to take for granted the things that are closest to you. And yet, it is those very things that are probably most valuable to you and most necessary for your well-being and growth. Obliviousness of this may indeed be a significant barrier to contentment and progress. This is a theory that I would like to explore: the connection between self-knowledge, self-love and self-improvement, in the context of being African.

As part of this Afri-love journey, one of the things to look out for on the blog is an investigation of the continent from perspectives other than those we get from our inherited assumptions or manipulated media. In turn, will be celebrating each country on the continent with an insight into the spirit of the nation (and we warmly welcome all insider knowledge and ideas!).

The Pilgrimages project resonates with these aims. Created by The Chinua Achebe Center for African Writers and Artists, the project will be celebrating Africa’s first World Cup by sending 13 African writers to 13 cities where they will each write a book of non-fiction that will be published worldwide. In true Afri-love spirit, Pilgrimages takes ownership of that powerful piece of education: the travel narrative:

“At a moment in time when the whole continent is more visible to its inhabitants and to the rest of the world than at any other since independence, Pilgrimages will reintroduce Africans to the literary world in the same form that so many outside writers have employed to create a distorted idea of us to the world.” (Pilgrimages website)

I’m sure Our Sister Killjoy would be proud.

Illustration: Pilgrimages participating cities. © Lulu Kitololo