Today, Afri-love is 5 years old.
I started the blog just after I left the world of employment so, this milestone not only marks the anniversary of an idea but also, of a completely different way of life! That of a self-employed creative entrepreneur.
It’s so fitting then that the mission of this blog has evolved over the years to what it is now – a platform to showcase, encourage and support creative entrepreneurship. My experiences, and in particular, the things I’ve learned as I’ve dealt with the various (and many) challenges that have come my way, have inspired content ideas. My hope is that by sharing these stories and tips, others can avoid some of the setbacks I’ve faced and focus on excellence and striving.
The ultimate vision with which I started Afri-love remains the same …
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.
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.
[Sculpture at the Kitengela Glass studio in Kenya]
I’ve always seen creativity as a powerful vehicle for these aims. My beloved continent is responsible for so much of who I am. The sun, the natural beauty, the people’s spirit, the diversity of culture, the innovation, the resilient unrelenting joyfulness. I like to think that I express this influence – this richness, dynamism and even complexity – through my work. And I recognise a similar ‘language’ in the work of the many many creatives that I’ve come across on this Afri-love journey. Whether they reside on the continent or in the diaspora. Whether they identify as Africans or are simply inspired by Africa. The creative expression that Africa inspires is phenomenal and it feels like the world is taking proper note now (once again). Fittingly, Afri-love is also about celebration.
I recall the tagline that I came up with 5 years ago: Be proud. Be inspired. Spread love. Grow.
On a personal level, this is still appropriate today:
- I am proud to be who I am – every single piece of me
- I continue to be inspired by the world, people and life in general but, as pertains to my heritage in particular
- I aim to approach every situation, thing and everybody with love. And that starts with the self. It starts with approaching myself with love.
- I am thankful of the opportunity to grow – with every experience and with every encounter (it what makes each day even better than the last – even though it can seem quite the opposite when we’re actually in the moment)
[Panel at the V&A Afropolitans Friday Late in 2011. From left: Yemi Alade-Lawal of Afro-Pop Live; writer, editor and curator Hannah Pool (who is also a client); me; writer Minna Salami, aka MsAfropolitan and Afri-love interviewee; journalist, poet, photographer and fiction writer, Tolu Ogunlesi. My take on the discussion here. Photo by Barbara Muriungi/Them2k]
That’s why I’m so grateful to all of you who have read, commented, shared and participated in this Afri-love journey. I could never have imagined that I would get to know so many amazing people, let alone get to share prestigious stages and grace the pages of magazines, newspapers and blogs. From simply putting what I’m passionate about our there! I thought I believed in the transformative power of passion back then but, now, I’ve actually experienced it.
In life’s funny way of bringing things full circle, it’s now challenging me to take things a step further in the pursue-your-passion department. After years of providing a graphic design service to clients, it’s becoming clearer and clearer with each day that I need to let my self-directed work assume more of the spotlight. Work is in progress (previews and sneak peeks) as I find a balance that works. Now that I’ve voiced it – I have thousands of witnesses! Sometimes it feels like I’m quitting my day job, all over again.
Juggling these new ambitions with my existing commitments, and trying to focus on staying healthy at the same time, means that I haven’t been able to make the anniversary splash that I would have liked to make today. Thankfully, self-love mode kicked in (kicking out unrealistic-high-expectations mode), and I realised that the celebration is so much bigger than one day. And so, I will be stretching it out across several. Maybe even several months … A live event is definitely a part of it so, stay tuned.
Again, thank you for being here with me – now, then and later.
Big big love!