All Articles Tagged "Africa"
What can a young woman with an idea, an Internet connection and a bit of creativity achieve? That’s all Siyanda Mohutsiwa needed to unite young African voices in a new way. Hear how Mohutsiwa and other young people across the continent are using social media to overcome borders and circumstance, accessing something they have long had to violently take: a voice.
When her hashtag #IfAfricaWasABar went viral, young Botswana writer Siyanda Mohutsiwa, age 22, triggered a lighthearted but electrifying discussion of some serious African issues.
“It began with one question: If Africa was a bar, what would your country be drinking or doing? I kicked it off with a guess about South Africa, which wasn’t exactly according to the rules because South Africa’s not my country. But alluding to the country’s continual attempts to build a postracial society after being ravaged for decades by apartheid, I tweeted, #ifafricawasabar South Africa would be drinking all kinds of alcohol and begging them to get along in its stomach.
And then I waited. And then I had that funny feeling where I wondered if I crossed the line. So, I sent out a few other tweets about my own country and a few other African countries I’m familiar with. And then I waited again, but this time I read through almost every tweet I had ever tweeted to convince myself, no, to remind myself that I’m really funny and that if nobody gets it, that’s fine.
But luckily, I didn’t have to do that for very long. Very soon, people were participating. In fact, by the end of that week in July, the hashtag #ifafricawasabar would have garnered around 60,000 tweets, lit up the continent and made its way to publications all over the world.”
Why you should listen
Blogger, humorist and math student Siyanda Mohutsiwa explores African topics both weighty (reviving PanAfricanism) and witty (“5 things NOT to say when trying to seduce an Afrikaner”). Her columns for African media outlets like the Mail & Guardian, Za News, and her own website Siyanda Writes have gained a loyal following.
But when Mohutsiwa’s hashtag #IfAfricaWasABar exploded on Twitter, the viral thread (which pondered the hypothetical bar mannerisms of various African nations) became a platform for everyday Africans to unite in a playful dialogue on national differences, and helped turn Mohutsiwa into a social media star.
Learn more about Siyanda Mohutsiwa at Ted.com here.
This week, entertainment site PopSugar published a slideshow titled, “9 Tribal Makeup Tutorials That Honor the Beauty of African Culture.” The post showed several makeup tutorials inspired by traditional African face paint. Its author, Brinton Parker, noted to PopSugar readers: “Remember, it’s important to respect others’ backgrounds without erring on the side of cultural appropriation — if your heritage is not African, it’s possible to learn from and appreciate these culturally significant makeup looks without donning them yourself.” Although Parker warned readers not to appropriate African culture and face painting, it’s interesting to see PopSugar show appreciation towards the tradition now when the majority of their content revolves around euro-centric beauty standards.
PopSugar, I see through your thinly-veiled PR move. On the heels of Allure, Elle and countless other outlets receiving backlash for deeming afros and dashikis in style, PopSugar decided to get in on the “Black people are cool” trend much in the way a closeted racist brags about having Black friends. It’s like hey, give us credit for being faux- diverse instead of full-blown ignorant like our competitors! No thanks. If Black culture didn’t become so mainstream within the past few years, I’m sure PopSugar would never “honor”African face painting.
And yes, the argument here very strongly lends itself to a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” rebuttal, but the one word that shuts all of that down is: authenticity. PopSugar, are you covering tribal makeup because you really care about honoring the beauty of Black women or because it’s the safest way you could jump on the cultural appropriation trend, but not really? Only time and their Beauty and Fashion pages will tell.
The world’s largest liquor company, Diageo PLC, has its eyes set on Africa as it drives smaller native companies out with cheap spirits and easy access. But, what does this mean for the future of Africa? Could these new liquor companies hungry to capitalize on the market bring more jobs or are they crippling societies just getting on their feet?
The Wall Street Journal spoke with Leonard Odhiambo who has run a homemade liquor distillery for 20 years in the slums of sub-Saharan Africa. Despite years of success, now that Diageo has set up shop just a few doors down with cheap drinks Odhiambo’s business is suffering. Diageo has set up shop in shacks across Kenya to compete with one-man merchants such as Odhiambo where a whiskey can go for just 20 cents. The London-based spirits company has invested more than $1 billion in Africa in the past five years and controls almost 25 percent of legal-spirit sales.
International liquor companies are expanding across Africa as markets close up in other territories yielding less sales. The London-based Diageo saw sales drop in America, but with highly discounted drinks in Africa profits rose by 6 percent. While wealthy African communities can afford more expensive liquor, Diageo and other companies have targeted many of the poorest communities and dominate lower markets.
But Diago isn’t the only liquor company hoping to gain new sales in Africa, beer companies and other hard liquor brands are all vying for a piece of the pie.
SABMiller PLC, the No.2 brewer in the world by sales, began selling in Tanzania last year and already holds a 30 percent stake in the South-African based Distell Group Ltd., the No.2 African distiller.
Liquor companies are battling for their share of the market with Nairobi, Kenya, being a hotspot for many brands. Walking down the streets of Nairobi one would run into multiple billboards with brands from Diageo to SABMiller hoping to appease consumers and to get into new bars opening every year.
The battle for new consumers and profits in Kenya, will likely happen across the entire continent as liquor brands eye out lower markets.
“Africa is Asia in 15 years,” said Alexandre Ricard, Pernod Ricard’s chief executive. “That’s how important it can become for us.” Pernod is another liquor company expanding in Africa.
But health administration in Africa says the rapid increase of liquor brands spreading across the country presents a serious problem. While almost half of African men abstain from alcohol, many who do drink have the highest cases of “heavy episodic drinking” than any other region in the world reported the World Health Organization.
“In our society, drinking is a big problem,” said William Ntakuka, a program officer for SCAD, a Kenya-based nonprofit organization that campaigns against alcohol and drug abuse. “It’s bad, and it’s getting worse.”
The spirit companies argue that they all manage responsible-drinking initiatives and publicize the fact their alcohol should be consumed in moderation. But is that enough?
Meet the Heatons! A middle-class American family from Abingdon, Va. This family is comprised of the head of household, Jeremiah Heaton, his wife, Kelly, their two sons Justin and Caleb, and their 7-year-old daughter, Emily. Jeremiah works in the mining industry and even attempted to run for Congress in 2012. However, he has managed to make the news for something that has less to do with Congressional politics and more to do with White supremacy and continued disrespect of the African continent.
Emily, like most little girls her age, has an affinity for princess stories. After asking her father if she would ever become a princess, Jeremiah began researching places that he could claim as king so that Emily’s dream of becoming a princess could come true. His quest landed him smack dab in Africa, right between Egypt and Sudan on the land of Bir Tawil. In the midst of turmoil between Egypt and Sudan, Jeremiah Heaton in all his supreme authority and invincible power, traveled to Bir Tawil, planted a flag made by his children, and Emily’s wish of becoming a princess was granted.
Bir Tawil is frequented by Bedouins. They are a nomadic people whose ancestral lineage is a part of the Bir Tawil land, which they roam. The Bedouin way of living differs from the Heaton family’s White American way of life, so one can’t expect the Heatons to understand it. But the Bedouins should be respected.
This move by Heaton is White supremacy at its finest and perpetuates the colonization of the African continent. Sticking a flag in the sand and claiming land that is not yours, which you did not cultivate or even buy, all the while benefiting from the resources of that country perpetuates the colonialist attitude that has raped Africa for decades.
Though this highly problematic story of White superiority and entitlement continues to hijack Africa of its riches and denigrate the history of African peoples, what is most alarming is that this story will be passed on for generations to come. It has been picked up by Disney for development into a film called The Princess of North Sudan.
Disney has paid for the rights to Heaton’s story, and while many are in an uproar about it, we shouldn’t be surprised. It’s not like Disney has any respect for the stories of Black and brown people. In 2009, Disney released The Princess and the Frog featuring its very first Black princess, Tiana. It only took a mere 72 years since Disney’s first studio film release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937 to make this happen. I, along with many Black film enthusiasts, was elated at the idea that little Black girls would finally have an animated depiction of a princess who looked like them. But we don’t look like frogs. The Princess and the Frog ended up being adapted from the Brothers Grimm story The Frog Prince.
But what makes this recent decision by Disney to develop this story for the big screen so offensive is the fact that they don’t need to. Africa is overflowing with a rich oral history full of folklore and folktales of kings, queens, princes and princesses. Full of magical moments, love stories, adventure, family bonds, and happily ever after. And there are plenty other classic stories based in the continent that deserve to be shared. Here are a few authentically African princess stories we love that Disney could adapt instead:
Written by African-American author and illustrator John Steptoe in 1988, the popular children’s story takes place in an African village where kindhearted villager Mufaro and his two beautiful daughters Manyara and Nyasha live. Nyasha has taken on her father’s attributes and is giving. But unbeknownst to Mufaro, Manyara is mean and selfish. Mufaro gets word from the city that the king is looking for “the most worthy and beautiful daughters in the land” to marry. Mufaro can’t choose between his daughters as they are both equally beautiful, so he decides to take both of his daughters to the city so the king can decide for himself. Instead of traveling with her family, Manyara takes off toward the city in the middle of the night hoping to get there before her sister and be chosen as queen. On the way, she is faced with a few tests that challenge her character. Nyasha leaves the next morning with her father. She also has to take on the challenging tests, but she handles them with compassion and grace. Once they arrive at the palace, they realize the tests were set up by the king to see which sister possessed not only physical beauty, but inner beauty as well. The king chooses Nyasha to wed, and she becomes queen.
This Akamba legend is the story of a princess with beautiful long hair. According to the tale, she has “the loveliest hair in the world.” Singing maidens weave her hair into magical plaits every evening, which causes her hair to grow even longer. The maidens even adorn her hair with gold and carry her hair so that it won’t touch the ground. The princess loves all of the attention. One day as she sits in the garden getting her hair done, a bird lands on the garden wall and asks the princess for a strand of her hair to make a nest. The princess is so into her hair she feels disrespected that the bird would even ask her such a question. She denies the bird’s request. The bird casts a spell on the princess, which causes all of her hair to fall out and brings drought and famine to the kingdom. A young beggar boy named Muoma wants to help the kingdom and sets out to find the bird to ask if the spell can be broken. On his way, he faces a few tests where he has to practice kindness and share the last of his food and water with a mouse, an ant, and a flower. Because Muoma shows how kind he is, the spell is broken. Muoma helps to save the kingdom from the drought and famine, and the hair of the princess grows back. She falls in love with Muoma, for he truly showed her the meaning of kindness. Muoma and the princess marry and live happily ever after.
This tale from South Africa is often compared to Cinderella but we think it’s much better. Nomi, an adventurous young girl, is being starved by her father’s second wife. On a day out exploring her village, she meets and becomes friends with a fish at the stream. The fish brings Nomi food. Nomi’s evil stepmother becomes very suspicious and follows Nomi to the stream one day. When she sees Nomi has made a friend in the fish and the fish is bringing her food, the evil stepmother kills and eats the fish. But the fish had already predicted his demise and told Nomi that when the day came that he is eaten to throw his bones in the village chief’s garden. Nomi does just that. The next day the chief solicits help from whomever can bring the bones to him and offers his hand in marriage as the reward. Nomi is the only one who can do it. The two are married and live happily ever after.
We are not quite sure how we stumbled upon Moon-Look, it may have been on one of our nightly weekend Pinterest binges, but since we have we can’t look back. Moon-Look.com is your answer to finding the most chic, stylish and classy designers incorporating African prints and styles into their fashions. From Paris to Nigeria, MoonLook curates looks and brings them to your fingertips with their online store while keeping you inspired via stunning street style looks over on Instagram. And who wants the same old same? Not us! Or the likes of Beyonce and Solange as these ladies have been spotted in some stunning African prints.
“Having long been on the lookout for the latest creations of major retailers, I got tired of looking like everyone else and got my last shot of heart on all the girls from Paris to Moscow via New York and Rio de Janeiro. In a few years, I created a directory of designers that are found almost nowhere else. I traveled on the continent Toumaï looking for gems. I share my findings with you www.moon-look.com. You will find a selection of young designers fashion exclusively for you at affordable rates,” says MoonLook founders.
But MoonLook doesn’t stop there, as they sponsor and support the “Made in Africa” sourcing of materials to make sure sells benefit the economy where all of these beautifully bold pieces originate. And these pieces aren’t just for the ladies, MoonLook is on the lookout and offers both men and children styles – call it a truly stylish family affair. When the clan behind MoonLook is not continent hopping and curating the hippest closets, they are offering interviews with African designer newbies and heavyweights at MoonLook Mag.
Stay up to date with everything MoonLook and check out these fashionable ladies across the globe to add a little (or a lot of) Motherland to your closet.
International Runway: 15 Looks That Bring African Fashion to International Street Style
Every Saturday my sister and I teach an ethnic studies class. Basically, we teach minority children, who range from 7-12, about world cultures. Naturally, since history and science has told us that human life was first documented in Africa we decided to start there.
I googled “Introducing Africa” and there were some great resources available. Including an introductory lesson about “Unearthing Stereotypes” about Africa. It actually turned out to be very thorough. There were 12 pictures, each from various countries in the continent. There was a boy drinking from a Coca Cola can, buildings in downtown Uganda, a castle in Morocco, the pyramids of Giza and a Black man and White man working side by side in South Africa.
The children were supposed to look at the pictures and determine whether or not the subjects and scenes in the images were located in Africa and explain why or why not.
We heard all types of rationalizations.
– The boy with the Coke can wasn’t in Africa because they “don’t drink from cans in Africa.”
– The pyramids were not in Africa because the pyramids are in Egypt.
– The skyscrapers were not in Africa because they don’t have tall buildings there.
– The crossing guard wasn’t in Africa because they don’t have those in Africa.
It completely and utterly blew their minds when we told the students that every last image they had seen was a scene photographed in Africa.
I’d like to think they learned that day.
When my sister and I took their papers home, I was saddened to see some of their thoughts about Africa and the pictures they saw. It wasn’t until my sister asked me a very rhetorical, very telling question about our own education system, that I started to understand it really wasn’t their fault.
“What did you learn about Africa in school?”
Really, aside from a unit on Egypt, in middle school, not too much. And even then, I don’t know if the fact that Egypt was in Africa was really stressed. In all honesty, my African education came from my parents first, later, research of my own and then traveling to Ghana and Egypt once I was old enough.
Our children aren’t the only ones ill informed or misinformed about the continent. For instance, today when we wrote about Nicki Minaj’s canceled concert in South Africa, someone suggested she didn’t show up because was she scared of contracting Ebola.
Ebola is currently affecting West Africa. And Africa is a continent. It’s the equivalent of saying people in the southern most point of Mexico should take cover because there’s been an outbreak in the northern most point of Canada. There are thousands of miles between the two regions of a continent.
In our ethnic studies class, we have a lot of Latino students so we were going to just spend a couple of days on Africa and then move on to other countries, so they see themselves represented in the lesson. But seeing those responses, we might have to take a few more days to make sure they understand the width and depth of Africa’s richness, diversity and influence the world over.
I’m writing all of this as a cautionary tale. Don’t assume your child’s school is doing their due diligence when it comes to educating our children about our heritage, outside of slavery. And you know if our children, in this age of connectivity, don’t know what they should about Africa, our generation and older learned practically nothing. This could be a great way for us all to get it right together.
Since leaving BET’s 106 & Park in 2012, Terrence J has been on a winning streak! The 32-year-old has since started his own entertainment group (Jenkins Entertainment) specializing in consulting and hosting. Besides enjoying roles in Sparkle and Think Like a Man, Terrence J also hosts E! News. Talk about boss moves. Terrence J spoke on what he will bring to E! News:
I come from a vastly different background than anyone else on the show. I have a unique perspective that will hopefully add depth and energy to an already great program. It’s an exciting time for E! News as the show has continued to broaden its scope, covering not only celebrities and Hollywood but also expanding into the worlds of music, politics, fashion and sports. Viewers should expect the unexpected.
Terrence has certainly brought depth to the program indeed. The former BET host and David Banner amongst others have decided to take a trip to Africa! The gang has posted some amazing pictures about Tanzania on their social media pages, it appears to be a very humbling trip for the bunch. Click continue and check it out.
Terrence J & David Banner Tour Africa: 13 Spectacular Flicks
From The Grio
Seven-year old Emily told her father, Jeremiah Heaton, that she wants to be a real princess.
Instead of taking her to Burger King and ascending that throne by consuming fatty foods, the Virginia man traveled to Egypt. He found an unclaimed piece of land, planted a flag and called it the Kingdom of North Sudan. Nobody’s king Jeremiah wanted to prove to his kids that “I will literally go to the ends of the earth to make their wishes and dreams come true.” Princess Emily got her wish and all was well.
Then everyone told Disney’s producers to shut the hell up because that’s really racist and they shouldn’t tell such tales. EXCEPT NO! This is a real story. Writers from “The Onion” didn’t whip this up. This happened in real life, and I haz the sads about it because everything sucks and people are the worst.
When I was 7, I’m pretty sure I wanted to eat candy and cake for breakfast everyday, but because my parents loved me and didn’t want all my teeth to fall out my head, they said “no.” It taught young Luvvie that I could not have everything I wanted all the time. And that my parents majored in hating and minored in killing any fun I wanted to have. They were Magna cum laude in ruining my plans. Anyway, it made me the slightly jaded, well-adjusted adult that I am today, and you are all welcome.
In raising children, there is a thin line between making them happy and spoiling them rotten by giving them every single thing their greedy hearts desire. I get that Jeremiah wants to give his kids the world, but he doesn’t have to do it literally. LORD! You can’t just be going around the world handing places over to your children. Well, unless you’re a middle-aged white man from America. The world is your oyster, ashtray and free lunch ticket that you can hand out as you wish.
Read more about Princess Emily at TheGrio.com
Elizabeth Arden has selected Nigerian model Adeola Ariyo as its first African brand ambassador. Ariyo will appear in ads for Visible Difference, Skin Illuminating and the company’s foundation brands across the African continent.
“Adeola is well travelled and truly committed to young women on the African continent. She is sincere and authentic, and what shines through is that she is here to represent African women and educate us about beauty and what beauty means today,” remarked Elle editor Jackie Burger.
Ariyo is originally from Lagos and is of Ghanaian and Nigerian origin. She’s been modeling since the age of 13 when she got her start modeling during London Fashion Week. She has since appeared on catwalks in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Nigeria. She’s also modeled in the pages of Sports Illustrated.
This latest move is an effort by the Elizabeth Arden brand to expand its business in Africa. Corne Nel, Managing Director of Elizabeth Arden in Africa tells Elle, “Expanding into Africa is an exciting venture for our brand. It’s an opportunity to really celebrate African beauty.”
According to EuroMonitor, the African beauty market is expected to grow 5.2 percent through 2017, showing slightly more growth than Latin America (5.1 percent). These figures are smaller than other emerging markets — China and India — but we’re still talking about billions of dollars. The South African market is worth $2.1 billion and is the largest on the continent. Nigeria’s comes in second with $1.2 billion.
Erykah Badu is the latest in a long line of entertainers to perform for an overseas royal without knowing about his checkered past.
The singer has run afoul of human rights activists for performing at the birthday party of Swaziland’s King Mswati III. He’s notorious for his polygyny, marrying his 15th wife last year, and lavish lifestyle that’s at-odds with the rest of the country. According to the United Nations, 63% of Swaziland lives on less than $1.25 a day. As well, allegations of torture and other human rights abuses are widespread.
“She owes us all an explanation. The king is a kleptocrat who lives in the lap of obscene luxury while most of his countrymen toil in abject poverty for less than $2 a day,” the US-based Human Rights Foundation’s Alex Gladstein said in a statement.
The singer sang “Happy Birthday” for Mswati on his 46th birthday. He is considered Africa’s last absolute monarch.
Defending herself on Twitter, she wrote: “I was not paid by the KING. I had no idea of the political climate.”
In an interview with The Dallas Morning News, she explained the performance was a favor for American jeweler Jacob “The Jeweler” Arabo, who was throwing a party for the king and needed a last-minute replacement for a performer who’d suddenly dropped out. Badu has been recording her sixth studio album in South Africa and helicoptered in for the show.
Read more about E.Badu at EurWeb.com