Tag: African

Africa at Spitalfields: Love Chin Chin review


Welcome to the first review of the food blog section of this site, featuring a tasty West African snack. Known as Chin Chin / Achomo in Nigeria and Ghana respectively this snack is popular among the African diaspora.

It all started with a sunny Monday, the second Bank Holiday of this month (25th May) is always a welcomed bonus, and Pop Up Africa at the famous Spitalfields Market in the city of London didn’t disappoint!  There was live music, dancers, African drummers, food, clothes, accessory stalls and good vibes. Just want I wanted on a sunny Bank Holiday.

Everyone knows food is a staple in African culture; as well as traditional dishes there were also cake/pastry stalls on display. When there is so much choice, you need to have a strategy!

African market, Spitalfields MArket London
‘Africa @ Spitalfields’: the pop up is popular!

Like any good market it was bustling, so I weaved through the isles making a mental note of which stalls I wanted to explore further and after a few seconds of deliberation my first stop was the “Love Chin Chin” stall.

Chin Chin West African snackI liked the colourful and friendly set up of the stall whose staff were happy to answer questions and share some history of this family run business. Intrigued by the packaging branding, the cinnamon, vanilla and lemon flavours, I bought 2 packs!

£1 for each 70gram pack or 3 packs for £2.50 (I think this was an offer only available at the ‘Africa @ Spitalfields’ market day).

African food snack, food, west African food
Chin Chin Lemon flavour, put a smile on my face!

I remember my mother making this moreish snack when I was young and you’ll be sure to find it at parties, weddings, christenings, naming ceremonies and other social events. It’s easy to get Chin Chin wrong by using too much oil but Love Chin Chin got it right.The right amount of rapeseed oil, the right amount of sugar and the hint of flavours.

Love Chin Chin has provided a tasty and convenient way to get hold of some Chin Chin, when you don’t feel like making it yourself. You can pick up packs at various Tesco stores.

Want some sweetness in your life? Then have some Chin Chin in your life! I actually finished both packs before taking a picture of the snack itself :-), but for some pictures, just pop over to the Love Chin Chin website.

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#Lupita Nyong’o – #Cannes Film Festival 2015


There’s a brown girl in the ring tra la la la la…. You may not be familiar with this opening line to the Jamaican nursery rhyme, but you would definitely have heard of Lupita Nyong’o! Various phrases have been associated with the African actress, such as, “Pride of Africa”, “the most beautiful woman in the world” “Lupita Nyong’o dress”; the latter more so than anything else at the moment. Her acting skills brought Lupita centre stage, but designer outfits such as the grasshopper green Gucci dress debuted at the 2015 Cannes film festival, which ended yesterday, also keep Lupita in the spotlight.

Lupita #grasshoppergreen Gucci dress
Yes she can! Lupita Nyong’o at Cannes Film Festival 2015
Picture: Instagram @lupitanyongo
Cannes Film Festival grasshopper season, Ugandan inspired
Lupita Nyong’o grasshopper green #Gucci dress – Ugandan inspiration. Picture: Intagram @Lupitanyongo

It’s said that Hollywood is where dreams come true but Lupita’s meteoric rise to fame after winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in her first mainstream film, must have been written in destiny. Most actors have ‘a look’ about them; Lupita’s most conspicuous attribute is her skin, more accurately, it’s colour. Of course there are a few black actresses around but even in ‘black Hollywood’ we rarely see dark-skinned female actresses given a chance to display their skills let alone applauded for them. colourism in the black communityUnfortunately when a black actress steps onto the scene, it’s not just about the acting… skin complexion is usually part of the equation. Colourism, the fungus which keeps on spreading is still an issue in the African diaspora whether they are in Europe, the Americas or the Caribbean. However, it does exist in many parts of the world, including Asia, so isn’t just a ‘black problem’. It’s disheartening that the shade of skin has such a heavy influence on who is given opportunities and who isn’t, but this is the current scene of the world today. A dark-skinned African woman with short afro given a chance to shine and be celebrated in Hollywood (arguably the world’s stage for film and entertainment), is a bit of a misfit on the common narrative in this context. In April 2014 People Magazine, named Lupita the most “beautiful woman in the world”. With all the talk of her looks and red carpet dresses, it’s easy to forget that first and foremost Lupita is an actress and I’m glad to see that she is staying true to her love, after all beauty is only skin deep. I first saw Lupita in the African TV series Shuga, but was intrigued by her story like most people, once she garnered attention on the main stage. #Lupita Nyong'o #career highlights Lupita’s physical reflection is the opposite to what has been considered ‘acceptable’ by many (including black) cultures, especially in the entertainment business where looks are everything! She doesn’t have Nicki Minaj boobs and booty, which some believe is the epitome of the black female physique (real or surgically enhanced) celebrated in black culture, but she does have tightly coiled afro kinky hair and smooth onyx skin. We’re so used to NOT seeing female actress like her, that it was a shock when she appeared on international screens and the same can be said for Viola Davis.

skin bleaching, confidence, inspiration, Fans, dark skin
Looking in the mirror – Lupita Fanmail

No one is perfect but within that Lupita oozes confidence, humility and joy. There was a time when she didn’t like her own complexion and asked God to change it. However, her talent on the big screen is a breath of fresh air, inspiring other women from all walks of life as she is the latest person to put the spotlight on the general perception of beauty, which just like talent comes in many guises.

In my eyes, Lupita Nyong’o is An African ‘Affecter’.

Affect (verb): Have an effect on; make a difference to.

 

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Brixton – Here today, changed tomorrow


The only constant in life is change (paraphrased) – Heraclitus, Greek philosopher

The aftermath of World War II was a catalyst bringing citizens of Jamaica to England on 21st June 1948. The image they were given before arrival was very different to what they encountered. Experiencing discrimination from indigenous English people, tempers often flared over access to housing. Economic and social exclusion caused these immigrants from the sunny island to create their own institutions, such as the financial ‘pardner’ system. They were given temporary accommodation in an air raid shelter in Clapham, South West London; the closest labour markets were in nearby Brixton and the rest is history as they say; Brixton became one of the UK’s first Caribbean settlements.

How they came: Jamaicans on the Empire Windrush ship

Continue reading “Brixton – Here today, changed tomorrow”

African designers, African print, NYC catwalk: A glimpse of what 2013 has in store


New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013 season kicked off on 6th September 2012 and African designers certainly represented! I was reminded of the Africa Utopia Festival at London’s Southbank Centre, I attended in July. ‘More than zebra print: African Fashion Panel’ discussed various issues surrounding the rise and representation of African fashion locally and mainstream. One of the most poignant questions from the audience to the panel asked if the mainstream European dominated fashion industry is using African-inspired fashion, re-packaging it and selling it back to people of the African Diaspora? There is definitely an upsurge in those wearing African-inspired prints as it now seems to be cool or acceptable.

When I saw pictures from NY fashion week a smile instantly fell upon my face as I was glad to see African designers showcasing African-inspired fabrics and in essence telling their own stories, especially after the Burberry controversy earlier this year. I stumbled across an interesting presentation from Johanna Blakley on copyright issues in the fashion industry, which did put things into perspective a bit. Designers copy from each other; I also agree that they should be able to use fabrics from any part of the word to display their creativity; but just as when you write an essay and cite your sources/inspirations, the same should be common place in fashion, especially if the inspiration hasn’t really featured previously in earlier designs. While the argument may stand that some ‘tribal prints’ were not initially made by Africans (click on the Burberry link above), the continent is the primary ambassador for these prints and let us not forget that there are many other designs/prints that were made by Africans, such as the Ghanaian Kente cloth.

NY Fashion Week 2012: Ozwald Boateng

The first black designer, Ghanaian Ozwald Boateng, to have his own store on the exclusive Savile Row in London led the way at NY Fashion Week as you can see in his collection, but he was joined by other talented African designers. It’s important to support these designers, those who are up and coming and local talent, to ensure African-inspired fashion does not go out of fashion; it adds vibrancy and diversity that is much need in today’s world of fashion.

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