All Articles Tagged "senegal"
Here in the United States we have been talking a lot lately about the lack of diversity in the tech sector, but over in Senegal there is a tech hub run by women for women.
Just like the US, there is a problem with getting women into the tech industry in this African nation–women hold only 35 percent of IT jobs. But this new hub is helping change this.
The Jjiguene Tech Hub (Jjiguene means “woman” in Wolof, Senegal’s most widely spoken language) was co-founded by Awa Caba and Coudy Binta De and two other female computer engineers. It is the country’s first technology hub run by and for women. Located in Sacre Coeur, a middle-class suburb of the capital Dakar, it offers free training courses, not only for women but also at elementary and secondary schools around the country. The program covers a range of topics from basic introduction to IT to computer coding.
The hub has attracted local business sponsorship as well as support from US giant Microsoft, which has an office in Dakar, reports the BBC.
This could open up a lot of opportunities for women in Senegal as Internet-facilitated business contributed 3.3 percent of Senegal’s GDP–the highest level for any African nation– with Kenya ranked second with 2.9 percent, according to a 2013 study by the McKinsey Global Institute think tank.
The Hub has big goals. De says: “All the success stories [in Senegal's IT sector] have been about men. “But we have always known that there are a lot of women who are perfect [for the industry].”
One can blame white supremacy or colonization for the mental conditioning Blacks have endured, but finally in the African diaspora’s fashion industry, a change has come. Adama Ndiaye, founder of Senegal’s Dakar Fashion Week, has put her foot down on beauty practices used by the models who participated in Dakar Fashion Week this year. Many women in Senegal, as well as other countries have turned to skin bleaching to achieve lighter skin and this year Ndiaye banned any models who decided to participate in what she calls depigmentation. She states:
“It’s not even pretty, for me, it’s just a turn off.”
Ndiaye’s purpose for the ban is to teach the models about their self-esteem; she also noted the health of the models’ who have bleached their skin is at risk. According to Dermatologist Fatoumata Ly:
These ladies bare the telltale signs of long-term bleaching: blotches of discoloured skin on their arms and faces. Women often use prescription-strength corticosteroid creams to lighten their skin. “When absorbed into the bloodstream, corticosteroids pose serious risks, particularly for the heart,” she said. Skin cancer is also a potential side effect.
Although skin bleaching is a dangerous, it is still widely used in Black communities throughout the world. There are many who do not believe (or are told), their skin complexion is attractive. Growing up in a Caribbean family, my great-aunts who were born into a colonized society often offered my cousins and I skin bleaching lotion when we enjoyed too much time in the sun. Although others would find their actions insulting, I believe this provides great insight. My aunts were born in the early 1900s. Not only did they want to speak the Queen’s English but they wanted to have her fair skin (although they have a café-au-lait skin tone). In many ways, the time period they were born in and its complexities gave them a pass to their ignorance. They did not know better; they are only using what they know. So why is this practice still being used in the Millennial generation? Even better, why do (some) Black women participate in #TeamLightSkin or #TeamDarkSkin debates as though they get a cookie for skin color pride. To be comfortable in one’s skin means to not be dependent on something that is conditional. Beauty trends are constantly evolving; what we think is beautiful today, may not be tomorrow.
Thankfully, some people in Senegal are getting that message. When asked what she thought about Ndiaye’s ban on skin-bleaching, one model, Dorinex Mboumba, responded:
“I think it’s a great idea, it will discourage others from the practice. We don’t need to change the color of our skin to be beautiful.”
Do you think skin bleaching will ever fade out?
If you’ve ever wanted to get a closer glimpse into what life is like for the First Lady of the United States, you will finally get your chance…Michelle Obama has joined Instagram! Woop Woop!
The first family of course took off on their trek to Africa where they will visit South Africa (though the health of Nelson Mandela is still not 100% clear), Tanzania, and they are currently making stops in Senegal at the moment. She decided to start her page and post her first photo a few hours ago under the name, @MichelleObama. No BaddieMichelle or HotGirlFLOTUS if you were hoping for some extra flair. The Obamas keep things professional.
For her first few photos, Michelle has posted pictures at a school in Dakar, as well as a video of young girls dancing during a welcome ceremony for the family. In the photo above, she captioned it, “My first instagram! So inspired and so impressed by these extraordinary young women. -mo #FLOTUSinAfrica”
Michelle Obama, as well as Malia, both look great in the photos, and I’m excited to see and learn more about her trip through Instagram. If you’re equally as excited, you’re welcome to follow too, but know that if you’re looking to be a hater, someone’s monitoring her page and removing foolish comments, so don’t try it. Keep it positive, as the first lady always does.
Dodai Stewart of Jezebel writes about a viral video about women in rural parts of Senegal tattooing their gums black, as a sign of beauty.
According to the Stewart:
“In this video making the rounds, a woman named Marième, who lives in Senegal, goes to get her gums tattooed black. “I want black gums to obtain a more beautiful smile,” she says. “It’s become an obsession.” Later, she admits: “I’m scared.” As she should be! The procedure, which takes place outdoors using handmade needles and black powder made by burning oil and shea butter, is not for the faint of heart: Marième is in so much pain she cries and cannot get the seven layers of tattooing planned — she stops after four. “It hurts. I would never recommend this torture to anyone,” she says.”
Probably the most trill part of this video comes courtesy of a woman with an amazing beehive of hairstyle, who proudly states that of this ancient tradition “…Listen to me, tattooed gums and a silver tooth: that’s what’s attractive.”
Maybe WAR, the soul-funk band from the 70s was right: maybe the world is one big ole’ ghetto with tattoos, gold and silver fronts and rainbow-colored weaves. Surprisingly I’m cool with that.
Not exactly the gum tattooing. That actually sounds quite painful. I remember once contemplating taking my own life after a really bad toothache so I can’t imagine the emotions that would arise from getting repeatedly stabbed in the gums. The crazy vain things women do in the name of beauty. But I have to admit that there is something both satisfying and validating about women reveling, although painfully and probably unnecessary, in beauty standards outside our European-centered norms. Most particularly, having women declare admiration for a physical trait, which I have naturally and have never thought of as affectionately.
Historically speaking, being a “blue gum” was considered a derogatory racial slur, popularized in the South, used to describe a person with skin (down to the gums) so dark that they look blue. No one has ever made such a derogatory comment – not any that I can recall off hand – to me about my gums; but I do remember a playmate from my childhood pointing out my “oddity” in such a way that I instantly became conscious of it. She said something about having a Whoopi Goldberg in the Color Purple smile. And then she smirked in such a way that hurt just a little inside. It wasn’t long after that I learned to master posing in such a way as to not smile too wide, thus eliminating the risk of showing too much of my “discolored” dental margins. Only until fairly recently, have I learned to smile freely without worry about how gummy I might look. And only until watching this video, thinking, “you know, there is something kind of sexy about the contrast between my dark gums and my pearly whites…”
While having dark gums can be a sign of some periodontal issues like gingivitis and cancer, generally speaking having blackened gums is pretty benign and is more than likely a result of higher concentration of melanin in the skin. That right there is just another way in which our ancestors occasionally like to shine through. However, because anything outside the standard troupe that beauty can only exist in the form of being pink and pale (or as close to it as possible), dark gums are regarded as not as attractive, if not abnormal. As such, some folks go to extremes to rectify the “problem” including gum bleaching and surgery. Again, shaking my head what we folk do in the name of beauty.
Walk through any Whole Foods and you’ll probably be tempted to “Drink No Evil,” with one of more than 10 varieties of Adina World Beat Beverages. Since 2004, serial entrepreneur Magatte Wade has been offering consumers everything from blackberry hibiscus to peaches blended with amalaki, and now she’s at it again with new organic body product company “Tiossano.” Wade says that although the two companies are very different, they both share a common secret ingredient– Traditional Senegalese elements like organic unrefined shea butter and black seed oil, all sourced directly from Africa.
“The world was ready for an African brand of consumer products,” says Magatte. “But what was missing was a brand positioned at the luxury level as a world class name that could revive the richness of the African culture.”
Wade says her vision started with a desire to create products that could be equally enjoyed by women of all races that still harnessed secrets her Senegalese ancestors shared for thousands of years. The Tiossano products, which now include body lotion and body wash in four different scents are all at least 70% organic, and are formulated with ingredients packed with antioxidants. Wade says she doesn’t use organic aloe vera and essential oils because they’re “popular” in luxury skincare today–she uses them because they are what her grandmother treasured.
“I have such fond memories of my grandmother teaching me how to be a lady, how to care for my skin the way she did. She was beautiful, and these most basic elements we can still harness today,” Wade says.
After spending the last eight years refining her organic teas, juices, coffees– even an energy drink–with beverage company Adina, Wade says she was eager to try something new.
“I’ll be the first to tell you, the world of beverages is very different from that of skincare. But this wasn’t a difficult transition. Quite frankly, I’m a woman, and I understand how body care products can make someone’s day better. They have the power to influence your mood, your life, and once you understand that, it’s easier to take it and run with it.”
Tiossano is starting small. Currently available for sale at Tiossano.com and all Harmony Health and Beauty stores, the body product line will have its own flagship store in May in Hudson, New York. Wade says that while she hasn’t decorated yet, she’ll be going for an “apothecary” feel.
“The old time apothecary was at the intersection of glamor and health.That’s where we want to be. Tiossano is organic and earthy, but with sophistication,” Wade says. “It’s for the woman who knows that being beautiful does not mean having a guy buy you drinks at a VIP table at a club. She knows that beauty is simply a powerful state of mind.”
Tiossano currently offers four different scents: Fatale, Teranga, Flamboyante, and Femme, all available in body lotion or body wash. Wade is working on releasing a body scrub, bar soap and perfume line, to be released later this year.
Senegalese entrepreneur Magatte Wade has moved from marketing drinks, to marketing a different perspective of Africa. Wade started her entrepreneurial efforts with Adina World Beat Beverages in 2004. She wanted to share healthier drink recipes with the world and started selling the traditional Senegalese beverage bissap in the US. According to CNN, the young entrepreneur with one multi-million dollar company under her belt, saw a world ready to see African entrepreneurs succeed. She’s now coming out with a new skin care line and ambition to change Africa’s image.
“My biggest pride was to know that it was possible, that the vision I had was possible and my vision was that the world is hungry for well-executed African brands,” Wade told CNN.
Her new skin care line is called Tiossano; and it’s a high-end skin care line based on traditional Senegalese recipes. Tiossano uses natural ingredients unique to Africa. Her product is currently based in New York.
“We are in the process of making sure that people will buy into it. In our first three weeks of existence we landed a pretty cool account already, so we’re getting there,” she said.
Wade hopes to use her entrepreneurial efforts to also help change the image people have of Africa, which she feels consists of safaris, tribal designs and charity.
She wants her business pursuits to inspire other Africans so that in the next ten years there will be an African company included in the world’s top 100 brands.
“But self-esteem will also come if enough of us today that are in the age of working, if enough of us can really get together and try and build a different brand for Africa, a brand that all of a sudden means ‘contributors to the world,’ rather than a subset of a population that’s always sucking energy out of others,” she said to CNN.
Once Tiossano sees a great enough profit, Wade aspires to move production of her products from the US to Senegal. Even before its big move, the company is making plans to donate 10 percent of its earnings to support Senegal’s next generation of leaders.
It really bugs me when people refer to Africa as a country. Sadly enough, people like Oprah and influential celebrities don’t help in trying to correct the matter with the general public. Africa is the motherland of culture and the second largest continent on the planet; nevertheless, it’s merely associated with one country most of the time and that’s South Africa. Ironically, the country where apartheid oppressed Africans so boldly is the place that’s most benefiting from tourism.
Just because other African countries don’t invest in the PR machine like South Africa doesn’t mean that potential tourists shouldn’t be made aware of these other wonderful destinations. We couldn’t cover all 56 countries of course but here are a few cities that you should consider for your winter break (hey, it’s always warm in Africa)! We’ll continue to highlight various African countries in future installments of our travel series. And as always, feel free to nominate some destinations in your comments.
Stone Town, Zanzibar
Zanzibar is a small island off the coast of Tanzania that boasts a mythical flavor. A three hour ferry ride from the mainland of Dar es Salaam will bring you to this very quaint fishtown of Stonetown which offers world-renowned architecture. The mix of Arab, Indian and East African influence is reflected in the diverse array of foods from currys to, of course, great grilled fish. A great time to go would be during the Zanzibar International Film Festival in the summer, which is the second largest film festival on the continent.
Earlier this month The World Economic Forum released its Global Competitiveness Report for 2011-2012. While the United States continued its decline in the rankings, now holding steady in fifth place, South Africa moved up in the ranks. But South Africa, which ranks 50 among the nations was only one of three African countries to cut through the top half of the rankings. 13 African nations were ranked among the lowest economically competitive.
What does competitive mean? According to the Forum, “a more competitive economy is one that is likely to grow faster over time” due to institutions and policies in place. Since we like to pay homage to the motherland here’s a list of the top ten economies on the continent of Africa:
Coming in at number ten is Senegal. The Global Competitiveness report put them at 111 among all the nations and here’s why. The nation relies heavily on donor assistance, and when the global financial meltdown of 2009 came about Senegal suffered. Their GDP declined 2 percent. Since then the nation which since 2007 has battled an unemployment rate of roughly 48 percent has struggled to get its bearings. Industries and services only make up 22 percent of jobs, as Senegal is mostly committed to agricultural. The nation has also been hampered by protests against what many claim is a corrupt government.
By Charlotte Young
Senegal’s president Abdoulaye Wade may be facing formidable opposition to his 2012 re-election. Out of the frustrations of the youth, a group of rappers have formed and are starting to shake things up.
Their name speaks for itself: “Y’en a marre,” French slang for “enough is enough.” Though they are formed out of Senegal’s rural Kaolack, their music speaks to the corruptions, urban flooding and frequent power cuts that are signature to the capital Dakar.
“We couldn’t keep talking without getting involved,” Fadel Barro, the founder of the anti-wade group told Reuters.
Since January the group has formed nearly 40 local chapters with the aim to sign up youth aged 18 and up to vote against Wade in the February 2012 elections.
The protests can be seen in concerts and demonstrations across the country, their black t-shirts boldly displaying their name. Their Facebook group carries hundreds of followers.
One senior Dakar-based diplomat watches their growth in “fascination,” acknowledging the group’s ability to address the average citizen the way no political candidate can.
Y’en a marre has had enough impact to gain government attention and has even led for some demonstrations to be banned and a few arrests.
While some analysts warn against fraudulent elections and revolutions similar to what has taken place in North Africa and other nearby regions, independent political analyst Djiby Diakhate says he doesn’t believe the religious leaders will be able to “manage things” if they attempt to manipulate the new political efforts.
“It is a movement that has emerged from the heart of the people, the real people, using the language of the people,” he said.