Design, Music and Good Vibes at Africa Oyé 2014

1-Creativity-and-Noise-Africa-Oye

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.

 

5-Merkato-MKTO-Creativity-and-Noise-Stall-Laura-Marano-Lusungu-Chikamata

Laura and Lusungu Chikamata of Creativity and Noise. All set up and ready to trade!

 

6-African-Design-Tote-Bags-Creativity-and-Noise

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.

 

18-Dancing-Chikamatas-Africa-Oye

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?!

 

21-African-Design-Rocking-Merkato-Creativity-and-Noise-Africa-Oye

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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Speaking at the Oxford Africa Conference – Friday 23rd May

Oxford Africa Conference 2014
 

This Friday afternoon, I have the honour of speaking on a panel at Oxford University’s Oxford Africa Conference.

The topic: New Lifestyles – The Consumer Drive. The session synopsis reads:

Africa’s rising middle class presents new opportunities for retailers. Is there such a thing as an ‘African consumer’, and if so how do we reach her/him? 

I’m really looking forward to discussing this, alongside Udo Okonjo (Chief igniter/CEO of Fine & Country, West Africa), Nneka Keshi (Director of Digital Marketing – Africa and Middle East Zone, L’Oreal), Didi Mae Hand (Specialist Researcher on Africa) and Jonathan Reynolds (Academic Director, OXIRM). 

The Oxford Africa Conference merges Oxford University’s two most successful Africa-focused conferences (The Oxford Africa Business Conference and the Oxford University Pan-African Conference). Taking place this Friday and Saturday (23rd and 24th May), there’s a great line-up of speakers from a variety of sectors. Friday’s theme is ‘Succeeding in Times of Change’ and Saturday’s is ‘Celebrating Today’s Africa’.

Tomorrow (21st May) is the last booking date so, get your tickets now!

See you Friday. 

 

Oxford Africa Conference 2014 2

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Inspired: Bestow Elan’s Ayawa Kente Weave

African-Fashion-Bestow-Elan-Ayawa-Kente-Weave

African-Fashion-Bestow-Elan-Ayawa-Kente-Weave-2

I saw Erzumah Ackerson,  the designer behind fashion label Bestow Elan, in her amazing Ayawa Kente coat, at the launch for Jacqueline Shaw’s Fashion Africa book. I haven’t gotten it out of my mind since! Elegant, striking, memorable.

I had to share it with you, along with other pieces from the Bestow Elan ‘Glamour Dear!!!' collection.

Visit the Bestow Elan online shop here.
Images via the Bestow Elan Website.

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Related:

 

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Buy African: Eva Sonaike Furniture, Home Decor & Fashion Accessories

African Furniture Decor Eva Sonaike

 

As much as I like prints in vibrant colours – I find Eva Sonaike’s latest collection of prints very refreshing. An almost pastel colour palette but far from dainty; these designs pack enough punch and there’s no mistaking the African inspiration behind them!

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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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Buy African: Educational Rooti Dolls

African-Rooti-Educational-Language-Dolls

Rooti Dolls create multicultural dolls that can teach children many words and phrases in various African ethnic languages, including Twi, Ga, Ewe, Krobo, Shona, Ndebele, Bemba, Nyanja, Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Afrikaans, Ijaw, Edo, Idoma, Tiv.

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Interview with Dayo Forster, Co-Founder of Homeware Brand, Toghal (+ Give-away Every Friday in February!)

Dayo-Forster-Co-Founder-Toghal-African-Inspired-Homeware

 

I'm delighted to share this interview with Dayo Forster, Co-Founder of Toghal, a new textile-based homeware brand. Inspired by an appreciation of the legacy of Africa's textile heritage in the world and a love of technology, Toghal is about reimagining traditional textiles to create something iconic and fresh.

The Asilia team and I have had the great pleasure of working with Dayo to bring the brand to life. It's been a fantastic project and the kind of challenge that we thrive on: how to create a brand that is contemporary and global, while at the same time, rooted in or inspired by a particular culture. I am also pleased to welcome Dayo as a sponsor of Afri-love!

Dayo's story indeed exemplifies the beauty of collaboration and also, the crucial importance of preparation – research, learning, planning, and partnership. It's a great example of how, by setting off to solve a problem you've experienced in your own life, you can create an enterprise that serves others.

Enjoy and make sure to check out the 'Free Bag Friday' give-away details, below the interview. 

 

Toghal African Traditional Textiles Reimagined Flyer Design by Asilia

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13 of your Favourite Afri-love Posts in 2013

13-Most-Popular-Afri-love-Posts-of-2013

 

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading these posts and engaging with me. I'm so happy that this blog has given me a platform to meet so many incredible people; to be continuously inspired and; to share the sometimes tough, but always enlightening, lessons that business and life in general throw my way. I look forward to more great discoveries and learning, new relationships and further exchange in 2014!

For this year's round-up, I've decided to do things a little bit different and feature the posts that were most popular each month. Enjoy.

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[Inspired] For the Love of Collage

Ellen-Gallagher-DeLuxe-Collage-Plasticine

I managed to check out the Ellen Gallagher AxME exhibition at London's Tate Modern gallery before it ended at the start of this month. I left making plans about how I was going to find some time, somewhere, to indulge in one of my favourite creative pastimes – collage. 

Why do I love collage so? It can be so many things at the same time: ornate and gritty, playful and provocative. For me, the process is quite cathartic – it forces me to relinquish control because, the end result is rarely close to what I expected or planned. Plus, I do like to get my hands dirty!

Here are some pieces from some artists whose work I'm enjoying …

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