Since starting this blog, I’m frequently asked to contribute to academic research, giving my thoughts on the development of the African diaspora in the West. It’s not new to me, and I quite enjoy it. I’m often asked questions about my work that I hadn’t even asked myself.
I had an interesting conversation recently with Barbara Hauer, an MA student of Communication for Development at Malmoe University, Sweden. Barbara’s degree project on New Media focuses on blogs, in the context of (mis) representations of Africa and Africans in Western media (and minds).
We briefly touched upon belonging and the term Afropean, which primarily relates to Africans living in Europe, in addition to Europeans living in Africa. We moved on to discuss nostalgia, and whether it’s the physical detachment from our home nation that drives people like me to proactively promote our culture overseas, maybe more forcefully than I would if I were living in Uganda where I was born.
As I wasn’t raised in Uganda, I will never really know the answer to that question; but, I do believe that my efforts to promote and support the development of Africa are in vain if they will only ever be from what is, admittedly, an outside perspective.
“For practical reasons, unpublished work and work in other languages is not eligible”
The Caine Prize - “Submissions must be in English” Golden Boabab Prize
Yesterday, I watched and blogged about Kenyan author, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, who made made a valid point on BBC HARDtalk that although the prizes to African literary writers is increasing, there is something wrong about the fact that the majority of prizes for African literature only considers books written in English.
I agree that this is a problem and responded:
“ I believe there African writers should not be limited to any language, be it their native tongue, English or any other; but by restricting writers to express themselves in their local narrative closes doors to credible talent, limiting opportunities to receive wider recognition and entry and influence into the global market. By allowing these restrictions we are at risk of contributing to the expansion of the English language (and culture) at the detriment of our own.”
My muse and culture confidant (@oladele_olafuyi) and I pondered this over pancakes yesterday. His view was that despite being sadly aware thousands of African languages are under threat, how can we realistically expect and/or help judges awarding prizes to African writers to standardise the selection process if stories are submitted in Africa’s numerous local languages? Are the resources available, and if not how can we generate such resource?
I did my best to guess my way around a solution, but I struggled…
“The fact that a gap is being filled and AFWL has a positive effect on the African designers in creating a platform that will give the right promotion to every aspect of the African fashion industry, on the global scene. That will enable designers, fabric makers, models, dealers, everyone that’s involved in African fashion to have a reason to be happy with what they are doing because they are getting the right recognition. I get motivated by the fact that I have to succeed in whatever I do.”
Ronke Ademiluyi for Black Hair and Beauty Magazine.
Today is the first day of AFRICA FASHION WEEK LONDON #AFWL. This year’s event is set to see 100 designers on the runway and over 100 exhibitors spread across the Brewery’s large indoor space, set to be on of Europe’s largest African and African-inspired fashion events. The growth, not only in sales but in recognition of African design, designers and the African inspired aesthetic has gone from strength to strength.
For too long the road to market for designers and leaders in contemporary African, has been narrow and unsupported by mainstream retailers, distributors. However, thanks to the likes of AFWL, and innovative designers, editors, bloggers and influencers; African fashion and design is creating it’s own mainstream, setting it’s own standards, opening it’s own doors and is no longer being influenced, but is now the influence.
Actors from Burkina Faso and Mali perform a scene from the play Et Si Je Les Tuais Tous Madame? in Avignon during the 67th International Theatre festival. Burkina Faso’s Aristide Tarnagda wrote and directed the play.
Loving Aluna Francis from AlunaGeorge rocking a full Diesel Black Gold from DBG SS13, whilst on stage performing current single “White Noise” at last weekends Glastonbury Festival.
Tickets go on sale tomorrow to see AlunaGeorge in Nottingham Rock City in October. I’ll be there, obvs ;-)
“Compared to colorful designs where catchy colors help the design to stand out, in black-and-white designs the ability to stand out depends only on its ability to communicate rather than on its appealing visual presentation.”
Throughout July I will be running a Black and White photo diary . I like to live by the philosophy that less is more; and the beautiful thing about black and white images is that often my taking away colour, you often give more to the reader. There is something so in depth about desaturating an image. You can check out all the images from my Black+White diary this month by following the hashtag #blackwhitediary on Instagram, Twitter and by clicking in the menu butt
on at the top of the page.
I thought I would start of by sharing some of my recent inspirations…
Unfortunately, the photographer is unknown. The photo seems to be taken at exact the right moment from exactly the right angle with a perfect lighting. Black and white can be powerful as well.
Celebrating it’s second year, the London’s Creativity and Wellbeing Week kicks off today in the hope of shining a light on all the different ways that the arts help and improve the health of Londoners.
- There is a growing body of evidence indicating the profound effect engagement in the arts and creativity can have on health and wellbeing. The arts bring us alive, nourish our curiosity, help us learn – they change the places in which we are treated – and make them places we might want to be, they can improve the relationship between clinician and patient, and they give us the courage to face our own frailties and strengths.With debates and discussions, performances and exhibitions, tours and practical sessions, the Week is an opportunity to find out more, make connections, be inspired, and shape the future of arts, creativity and wellbeing. - http://www.creativityandwellbeing.org.uk -
Day 1- Art and wellbeing with Bonnie Greer
To mark the first day of London’s Creativity and Wellbeing Week, I’ll be attending Bonnie Greer’s lecture on arts and wellbeing, taking place at the London’s Tate Modern tonight.-
Bonnie Greer is an author, playwright and cultural commentator. Her lecture aims to look at the links between health and creativity and particularly the ways in which the arts can challenge health inequalities and bring about change in society.
Interested? You can buy your tickets from the Tate Modern website (£12/£8)
http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/talks-and-lectures/arts-and-wellbeing-lecture-bonnie-greer - If you can’t make it tonight, but would like to get involved with London’s Creativity and Wellbeing Week you can see the 2013 programme of events here.
London has a personality and style of its own- from grand to edgy, modern to heritage and urban to shabby chic.
It’s impossible to define the vast, sprawling, living, breathing entity that is London city, but there is an unmistaken essence that can be identified through the radar of places it hosts. from shops, street markets, corner pubs, local restaurants and my recent favourite…
Pop up restaurants have increased in popularity across the city, with their fluidity, exclusivity and intimate settings, coupled with an element of punk rebellion. Typically only available for a few nights, weeks or months, these nifty eateries provide a fantastic platform for visionary chefs and entrepreneurs to gain exposure and build a following alongside aspiring or professional chefs in a free-range fashion.
Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen
Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen is a perfect example of a pop up restaurant that share’s London’s diversity, eccentricity, quirkiness and independence of spirit.
The temporary dinning event and catering services merges its Ghanaian roots with a contemporary dining experience, that I would co-sign in saying is home spun, home cooked, always fun, relaxed and always tasty!
Grateful for every second I am given to participate in the greatest show on earth they call ‘Life’.
Yesterday I turned 26, and despite a few initial and primarily superficial reservations about getting older, I know that every year teaches me something valuable; and whether and how I learn those lessons is up to me. Every year brings me closer to expressing my whole and authentic self and there isn’t a better feeling than knowing you’re closer to being who and what you were chosen to be.
We live in a society that idolises the triviality of youth, and subsequently reviles at the honour of ageing and the insight, vibrancy and self-confidence that comes with it. It’s vital to not let a system, culture and a distorted view of reality devalue getting older. It’s a pleasure, and as Oprah once said: To deny your age is to deny your life!
“People get all screwed up and afraid of aging when, in fact, every year should be a celebration. You should be celebrating every year that you are given. I don’t understand women lying about their age and everybody dreading getting older. It means you’re still here! To deny your age is to deny your life. I stand here 59 years old and so happy to claim every single part of the journey of those 59 years.” Oprah Winfrey
Thank you to everyone for your kind messages and well wishes. I’m feeling so blessed and highly favoured ;-)
My most recent trip to Uganda earlier this year left me feeling somewhat perplexed, on the lead up I confidently and loudly proclaimed my excitement about going ‘home’, you know, back to the motherland…going back to my roots so to speak. Yet, despite having the time of my life, I often found myself feeling unfamiliar and displaced in my so-called ‘home’. Towards the end of my stay, despite feeling ravenous to reacquaint myself with British culture, I wasn’t so confidently nor openly proclaiming my excitement to go back to my ‘other home’, England, more specifically, London.
There was a point where I sat down, aware of my thoughts and made an attempt to articulate this feeling of displacement. Why did I feel so excited (and even at times self-righteous) about going back Africa? And HOW could I feel even more excited (and at times embarrassed) to return to a place which isn’t intrinsically my home, but in more ways than one is my ‘home’.
My jam of the week is ‘Thrift Shop’ by Macklemore. I love the song, and you KNOW I love to thrift. I am wearing one of my favourites today, thrifted denim shirt I copped from a charity shop in Brussels. Paying homage to all my thrifters and thriftettes!