Getting Down to Business at the 2013 Women of the World Festival (WOW 2013)


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Great things happen when women come together

In a little over a week, the 2013 Women of the World Festival at London's Southbank Centre begins. Last year was my first experience of WOW and I listened to a myriad stimulating talksI spoke and shared ideas, learned that I'm funny and embraced my reticent inner fashionista! I'm incredibly excited about doing it all again and this year's line-up of events is even more enticing than before.

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3 ideas that have helped me abolish “should”

Reflection

I'm approaching two years of being self-employed and I find myself reflecting on what I've learned during this time. Or rather, all that I've had to unlearn.

In being the master of my own time, I have had to let go of a lot of my conditioning around how things "should" be done. In fact, I've tried to banish the word "should" from my vocabulary completely. In my experience, there is simply only what works for you and what doesn't work for you.

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Week in review and putting in the work

Back in business indeed! It's been a great week. I've been working 12 hour days and I can still say that because, I changed my attitude. Ultimately, I love what I do and, from that perspective, all the time I put into it is enjoyment rather than chore. Sure I don't think 12 hour days are sustainable (nor desirable) in the long-run but, sometimes you have to put in that extra effort/time/energy/sweat/sacrifice to get to where you want. That's what thousands of people across our continent (and further afield) are demonstrating by actively demanding change.

It's not even March and we've seen results such as many never expected. Two dictatorial regimes toppled in Tunisia and Egypt and, Libyans and Algerians standing up to their governments too. You can't help but wonder where this revolutionary momentum will blow to next. Some Sub-Saharan governments, in what cannot be considered anything but an admission of tyranny, are rushing to censor information* about the aforementioned protests up North. What in their minds must seem like prevention, will surely further fuel the fire within the hearts of dissatisfied citizens. 

I've found it to be true that, once you start doing something, you generate the awareness, insight and energy to do so much more. Idleness begets idleness and action becomes exponential. It is with this attitude, that I plan to approach the rest of 2011 and I hope you will too! Let's go create the lives we want.

(* Thanks for the link @Mwistar)

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On the lookout: Afriapps

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Afriapps is a new Asilia initiative to showcase apps from and for Africa. We are  looking forward to further developing this platform for exposure, for both developers and users alike. The work will involve helping to establish industry standards, with the aim of increasing the quality (and competitiveness) of apps from and for Africa. My business partner, Andrew Mugoya, talks more about it here and discusses it with Afrinnovator here.

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Last week on the blog

SILHOUETTE

A full week it was. Here is a recap, in case you missed anything:

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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

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Image copyright Mutua Matheka

Week in review, experiments with the work week & the image of the black in Western art

Week-in-review

I hope you've all had a fantastic first week of the year!

I always feel like what I make of the first week sets a precedent for the rest of the year. Although I went "back to work" this week, I spent most it reflecting (yes, some more – see our Asilia year in review), planning, writing proposals, preparing contracts and meeting with current and potential collaborators. Generally getting organized and handling business so that I can free up space and time to get down to the good stuff – to actually designing.

One thing that I'm experimenting with, in an effort to create larger chunks of uninterrupted time in which to create, is working on Sundays instead of Fridays. Because other people don't generally work on Sundays, I'm not going to feel like I should be available and ready to respond to emails and calls. With that psychological barrier out of the way, I'll be free to get in my flow, without anticipating any intrusions. Plus, Friday is a great day to have off – the early start to the weekend makes it seem like a long one.

So far, so good.

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On the lookout
I came across this series of books this week, via Essence magazine:

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Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume I: From the Pharaohs to the Fall of the Roman Empire

Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume II: From the Early Christian Era to the ""Age of Discovery"", Part 1: From the Demonic Threat to the Incarnation of Sainthood and
Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume II: From the Early Christian Era to the ""Age of Discovery"", Part 2: Africans in the Christian Ordinance of the World

I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on these. It will be interesting to see the different contexts and different ways in which black people have been represented in art over the centuries. And, I am intrigued as to whether the examples include art created by blacks themselves.

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Afri-love on YouTube
I also set up an Afri-love YouTube channel this week. At the moment, I'm slowly adding videos from the wider YouTube community that I like and think are relevant. Categories so far include art, hair, literature and music. Later in the year, look out for videos created especially for Afri-love – especially for you! Subscribe to the channel to stay up to date.

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Last week on the blog
Here is a quick (and brief) recap, in case you missed anything:

Zaki_photos-by-Che-Kothari

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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

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Image above: Zaki Ibrahim

New year, new mission, same big picture

Reflection

"2010 is all about doing and discovering." I am happy to say that this mantra worked better than any resolution I could have fooled myself into making. Vague enough to reduce the possibilities of failure and inspiring enough to pull me out of bed especially on dark, cold winter mornings. I started last year with an optimism and energy that propelled me through the tougher days. I did, a lot, and I learned a hell of a lot about myself, life, business and more.

It was exhausting!

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Banking on time (and reclaiming it!)

Reflection

I used to imagine how wonderful the world would be if everybody simply did what they loved without concern for money. The idea was that we would barter our work. Need a house? Get in touch with the guy who loves building houses. Need a new dress? Get in touch with the woman who loves making clothes. And so on. This vision was guided by faith in the diversity of humanity – that there were enough people out there who loved to do all the different things that would need to get done, in order for our societies to function. People who loved to balance accounts, people who loved paperwork, people who loved to clean etc.  

In this vision, the exchange of services would not necessarily be linear. I would not have to do something for you just because you did something for me. After all, you might not need what I have to offer but there would be somebody else out there who did. Again, faith in the diversity of humanity in that, at the end of the day, the supplies would match the demands.

Ideal come true
Imagine my excitement when, a few weeks ago, I heard about timebanking. In brief, people (and organisations, facilities etc.) 'deposit' their time by giving help and support to others. They can then 'withdraw' time when they themselves need something. The beauty is that, the different skills, resources and talents of a community are effectively pooled and the interaction and collective action facilitates and fosters community engagement and all the benefits that come with that. A pioneering UK organisation, Spice, has had great success with the model and it has me thinking about the possibility of transferring some of these ideas to African contexts.

Shiny, glittery, precious time
One amazing thing about timebanking is that, those involved are putting a premium on what I consider to be one of our most valuable resources – time. Our time is all we have and yet we so often squander it as if it exists in constant supply! As if it is so abundant as to be relatively worthless. We spend it doing things that bring us no joy; we spend it doing things that take away our joy and; we spend it being knocked about by the consequences of our mindlessness.

I've been guilty of this myself: always busy, doing a million things, responding to every kind of request, coming in from every direction and generally steering off the course of where I want to go. Exhausted, I've often longed for evenings spent in front of the TV, under a flimsy illusion of that comatose activity equating relaxation. Overextending myself on the one hand and feeling that "there aren't enough hours in the day" and then, on the other hand, wasting those very hours. It's quite insane and it shows: feeling stressed out, feeling imbalanced, feeling unproductive and feeling unsatisfied. 

The time of reckoning
And then there is the moment when it all comes to a head and a force intervenes (the universe, God or whatever you believe in). For some it is in the guise of an illness or injury that forces them to slow down, or stop, and thus gives them the time and space to reflect on the course their lives are taking. For others it is a major project gone wrong, an exceptionally nightmarish client or an investment gone sour. For still others, it's feeling overwhelmed and out of control. It can even be as extreme as seemingly losing everything that you hold dear.

Whatever it is for you, it's likely to be disconcerting, frightening and to be hard to even consider that it is actually an opportunity for good things to happen. That it is the possibility of a turning point towards a more positive experience, rather than merely the dark moment it initially appears to be. That in fact, you are being given the chance to live a more mindful, purposeful, passionate, joyous and enriching life!

I guess many of us miss, distrust or ignore the signs and keep on robbing ourselves of our own precious time. We are lucky however, that the signs are persistent and that they will most likely appear throughout our days. That means endless opportunities to make better decisions and start living the lives we want. If we invest time into imagining what those lives can be, we may already be half way there.

Do what you love
Do what you love. I've always appreciated this advice and in the past year and a half, I've seen, firsthand, the results in action! It's not without its challenges – it definitely means some readjustments to the life you may have been accustomed to, e.g. financial expectations, the security of being employed, conventional ways of working etc. However, and I've probably already bored many with this assertion, the rewards more than make up for any teething period trials. And I say this while not yet clear of the latter! The freedom and control over your own time give you the space to bring into creation the things you've dreamt of.

While this world is still governed by the exchange of goods and services for money, I observe many more people providing goods and services out of love rather than purely for money. I feel it's a significant step. With organisations such as Spice, who are keeping their eyes on the most rewarding prize – community and essentially, love – I'm hopeful that some version of my original vision is actually possible. Half way there?

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There's a lot of inspiration out there to help you reclaim your time, and your life! Here's some that I've found particularly useful lately: