Tag: London

Africa Utopia 2016: My Feature!


In its 5th year at the Southbank Centre in London, Africa Utopia festival didn’t disappoint! It’s amazing to have a festival which celebrates the fusion of African culture from the diaspora and the continent. A relationship that has blossomed in recent years, as the sons and daughters of the African diaspora realise they should carry the rich legacy of culture and history with them wherever they go.

Africa Utopia presents talks, workshops, music and performances that celebrate the arts and culture of one of the world’s most dynamic and fast-changing continents.” – Southbank Centre

This year was even more special because it was the debut of the first official magazine in association with the festival and I was so excited to be one of the contributors to the magazine, DUAL. I was part of a small talented team from the magazine’s inception to it’s publication, all done in a hectic 24hrs, at the festival finale.

African magazine, southbank centre,
After a crazy and fun 24hrs, Dual Magazine made its debut on Sunday 4th September.

In addition to my feature No’Fro Zone”,  it was amazing to be part of the festival, were I interviewed performers and was backstage soaking up all the energy from the preparation of the fashion show, from excited models, hair, make up artists and cameras!

There were too many highlights to mention, but the #AfricaSquad catwalk show, in which I was in the photographers pit with the rest of the paparazzi had my adrenalin pumping! With pumping Afrobeat infused disco vibes, the centrepiece of the festival went down a storm. With creative director Agnes Cazin’s, theme of collaboration, models hit the runway wearing a mixture of designers from the continent and diaspora.

Southbank centre, Africa Utopia

African fashion, london fashon show
Snaps from the #AfricaSquad fashion show. Credits: Belinda Lawley and Steve Woodhead.

There was so much musical talent on show, including the Chineke! Orchestra, which comprises all black and ethnic minority musicians, featuring BBC Young Musician of the Year 2016, cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason. Festival goers were also treated to the talents of the Chineke! Junior Orchestra.

Check out some of the highlights from the festival here and I would definitely recommend going next year if you’re in London.

For the full extract of my feature, exploring whether natural hair prejudice is shrinking in the workplace, click here!

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Caribbean Food: Three Little Birds


Where to eat a Caribbean brunch? We found Three Little Birds in Brixton, South London. This Jamaican inspired independent restaurant and rum bar is small, with big character. Their pancakes, with rum sauce are amazing!

This is a Caribbean restaurant in London to check out and let us know what you think, by taking the anonymous poll below and leaving any comments.

 

Caribbean brunch time, with pumpkin soup.
Caribbean brunch time, with pumpkin soup.

 

A curation of who’s cooking in the African-Caribbean food scene.

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#MondayMotivation – The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt


Another start to the week with quotes that inspire, motivate and challenge!

“In Africa today, we recognise that trade and investment, and not aid, are pillars of development.” – Paul kagame; president of Rwanda, October 1957 – present

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison;  America novelist, 1931 – present

“Some men see things as they are and say, ‘Why?’ I dream of things that never were, and say, ‘Why not?” – George Bernard Shaw; Irish Playwright, 1856 – 1950

nelson mandela poverty

“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.” – Will Rogers; American cowboy and newspaper columnist 1879 – 1935

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.” – Maya Angelou; American author and poet; 1928–2014

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath; American poet, 1932 – 1963

“Life is like riding a bicycle. Your keep your balance, you must keep moving” – Albert Einstein

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#AFWL / African Fashion Week 2015: Five years and counting!


The highly anticipated Africa Fashion Week London descended upon the English capital this weekend. This brainchild of Ronke Ademiluyi, isn’t just about high fashion catwalk shows but also creators of African inspired products and accessories. Africa Fashion Week London provides a platform for African inspired creativity to be showcased globally and celebrates designers from Africa, the UK and the rest of diaspora.

bbc fashion news, African fashion week
Before the party started, designers and models visited the BBC studios in London to talk about the event.
Photo: BBC
enyan fashion house, Njema , African fashion
Still at the BBC Studios, Model Tasha wears Kenyan fashion house, Njema Helena.
Photo: BBC

Start as you mean to go on: Day 1 starts with a bang!

Day 1 start off with a bang. Photo: Mike Rolls
Photo: Mike Rolls

The burgeoning African fashion industry is going from strength to strength. There is no doubt that events like Africa Fashion Week London are a contributing factor to increasing awareness of African designer talents. Contrary to popular belief, African Fashion isn’t just about African prints but also, elegant tailoring and a fusion of various textiles. Endorsements from celebrities such as Michelle Obama who has been spotted in various designs by Duro Oluwa and fashion houses, including Vivienne Westwood and Burberry (despite the controversy) have also helped to move the African fashion industry from the fringes of the fashion world.

 

Michelle Obama wears African fashion
June 2015: First Lady Michelle Obama lands in Milan wearing a Duro Olowu skirt.
Photo: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

 

AFWL is collaborative and works with other events such as The Mayor of London’s Black History Month celebrations and the annual Africa Centre Summer Festival. It’s this collaborative format that allows the African fashion story to be seen by everyone and not just those ‘in the know’, which has seen African fashion become more than just a “traditional” or “ethnic” alternative but an important facet of the global fashion industry. The love for African fashion not only has a positive impact on the industry itself, but also on the perception of the continent.

Africa rise and be seen by the world!

African Fashion Instagram
There is fun for everyone!
Photo: AFWL Instagram

African fashion london

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Photo: Mike Rolls

AFWL instagram trio

AFWL instagram non print man AFrican Fashion Week 11363725_807611582670200_1275206207_n

Photo: Mike Rolls
Photo: Mike Rolls

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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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Brixton protest: The revolution roars on


Brixton protest! The 25th April 2015 was a pleasant, sunny Saturday afternoon, with a familiar inner city backdrop of red double decker buses and high street chain stores. Brixton High Street was the stage and Reclaim Brixton protest, was the name. After weeks of warning in local press, the people took to the streets in planned protest. Angry at various aspects of gentrification, including selling of social housing land to private developers and rising rents for local independent business as demand for retail space in the area increases, the protesters made their presence known!

Reclaim Brixton
Sitting pretty on the Victoria Line.

Brixton protest

As I walked between two prominent landmarks, Lambeth Town Hall and McDonalds, with a couple of shopping bags in my hand, I saw the mass crowd at the junction, literally stopping traffic by walking in the middle of the road. Chanting, waving banners and blasting ‘old skool’ garage music from a ghetto blaster, they swayed along in solidarity, upset about the demise of Brixton’s heritage and culture. For a protest located in what I thought was a majority minority area; from the slide lines I noticed the sparse sprinkling of ethnic groups within the crowd.

What do you think about that?

Reclaim Brixton protest

Unofficially known as the black capital of the UK, some of Brixton’s older residents who have been allowed to come since the 1940’s have taken advantage of how much a property in Brixton can sell for and cashed in by moving out, with some emigrating back to their home countries. As usual there are always those who are left behind, the children of these immigrants and generations of white families who have also lived in the area for many years.

Brixton gentrification

Brixton anti-gentrification protest

There has always been a fight for social housing (as in other areas of London), but now that Lambeth council is apparently selling land to private developers, there is less social housing to go around and those in the middle are being squeezed out. These ‘middle men/women/families’ have incomes which are too high for them to be entitled to social housing, but too low for them to afford renting privately or get a mortgage. Time (and money) waits for no man; as the big chains such as Starbucks, Wahaca and Costa move in (and pay high rents), landlords see pound signs and of course what to increase rents for existing businesses (apparently triple rent increases are due to be enforced). If you are a global company such as Starbucks, paying high price for a place on one of London’s ‘up and coming’ high streets isn’t going to cripple you, but if you are an independent business it could push you to the brink of extinction.

“Change is the only constant in life” and whether we like it or not, Brixton is moving in a different direction. Over £250 million is to be invested in Brixton ‘Town Centre’ including, ‘Pop Brixton’ a new community campus for small local businesses and community organisations. With a similar blueprint to Boxpark in Shoreditch, Pop Brixton will be created from low-cost, shipping containers, and there have been promises that the rents will be ‘affordable’. Pop Brixton will have its grand opening on the 22nd May 2015.

Pop Brixton
Image is everything: Pop Brixton – Picture: Carl Turner Architects.

I’m sure every Brixton resident wants to see the area improve but not at the expense of the African-Caribbean culture and history, which has made Brixton one of the most famous areas in London.

Can gentrification and the African-Caribbean culture co-exist?

What this space!

Future Brixton
The reality is real: Pop Brixton – Picture: Carl Turner Architects.

Remember the good old days? Brixton Market 1961

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