AfroElle Magazine's Afropolitan Issue 2013

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Celebrating Women of African Heritage

AFROELLE Afropolitan Issue 2013



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AFROELLE MAGAZINE | Encourage. Empower. Entertain. Elevate

Thank you to all our contributors who helped make this issue possible!

Erica Ayisi

Nana Spio-Garbrah

Amina Touray

Miss Lee

Obiocha Ikezogwo

Yeniva Sisay- Sogbeh

Adhis– Chef Afrik


Jennifer Nnamani

Dreaming Dreams!


o far this year we have commemorated two important events. 28th August 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic ‘I have a dream’ speech. Across United States and beyond borders people celebrated the power of the words Dr.King spoke 50 years ago and the ripple effect it continues to make in America society and the world. In May, African leaders gathered in Addis Ababa to celebrate 50 years of the African Union. The AU themed 2013 2013 the year of Pan Africans and African Renaissance.

Editors Note

Put these two events, Dr. King’s dream and Kwame Nkurumah and Haile Selassie, two of the founding father’s vision that one day we would have a ‘United States of Africa’ together and we have the heart of our Afropolitan Issue. Just as legendary singer Mahalia Jackson prompted his friend, Martin Luther King Jr. to ‘Tell em’ about the dream’ , in our special insert, we asked Afropolitans both in the continent and Diaspora to share their dreams and visions for the continent in 50 years to come. I realize now that 2063 is a short long time that holds endless possibilities but the dreams we have and verbalize today will be the reality of our children and children’s children. As I prepared this issue, I also realized that the term ‘Afropolitan’ coined by Taye Selasi, author of Ghana Must Go, means different things to different people. But one thing stands, there is a new generation of Africans and people of African descent who are changing the world’s perception of Africa. We are definitely experiencing an African Renaissance; more Africans in the Diaspora are returning to the continent, some to settle, others to invest and start businesses as you will see in our ‘Home Bound’ feature interviewing ‘returnees.’ (Pg 38-49) There’s so much more in store for you in this issue, from reviews to features to interviews. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Feel free to email your feedback and suggestions. Until next time, I leave you with the words of Chinua Achebe “Nobody can teach me who I am. You can describe parts of me, but who I am– and what I need is something I have to find out myself.”

Patricia Miswa Editor-in-Chief




Music, Books, Art & Culture 8 In Her Good Books- Kgomotso Moncho 9 Americanah Review with Yeniva Sisay- Sogbeh 10 Getting to know Ife 11 5 Minutes with Lånre 12 Q & A With Edem Badu 18 ARTreprenueurs Fashion 30 A Tale of Two Cities– Editorial 56 Cultural Twist


Interviews 22 Opal Tometi 26 Jennifer Gaskins 28 Miss Liberia Worcester- Fatu Diamond Woodson 53 Nazra for Feminist Studies 55 Travelista Oneika Raymond




Features 38 Home Bound Feature (Nykita Garnett, Mukuka Mayuka, Maame Adjei, Ngosa Chungu, Moiyattu Banya )

52 African Lion (ess), Tell Thy Tale 54 A Hunger and Thirst for Home– A Timeline

Special Feature Africa in 2063

[Pg 64-87]

“As Africans and the diaspora we will own our stories, and there will be so many that no one in any land will be able to paint us all with one brush.”

Kiran Yoliswa 7|

In Her Good Books Kgomotso Moncho is an arts and entertainment writer. She works as a features writer for and contributes to lifestyle magazines such as True Love, Bona and Elle in South Africa. She is also a former Channel O presenter passionate about music, theatre, urban culture, fashion and travel. She shares with AfroElle some of her good reads.

The Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyinka This was a setwork in my high school years and it was my first introduction to African literature beyond my borders. It broadened my perception of the continent and led me to discover literary giants such as Chinua Achebe and Ngugi Wa Thiong’o. I especially love reading plays, which feeds into my passion for theatre, and Nothing But The Truth by John Kani and The Black Hermit by Ngugi Wa Thiongo are among my top favourites.

The Quiet Violence of Dreams by K Sello Duiker

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

No book has gripped me quite like this one. Sello Duiker was one of the significant voices of the post apartheid generation. This book captures some of the plights of finding one’s identity in post apartheid South Africa in a way that is accessible. His writing is daring, sincere, political and poignant. Duiker committed suicide in 2005. His work has enriched me and encouraged me to own up to my own political and social post apartheid struggles .

I find the effects of colonialism on the black condition interesting and somewhat sad. Growing up I was conflicted, where on one end I was told to believe ‘Black Is Beautiful’ and on the other that being of a lighter skintone or white was beautiful. As I got older I chose the former statement and I have come to love and embrace my complexion. This book is one of the reminders that validate that choice and the poetic way in which Morrison delivers it, is simply absorbing.


A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle My husband broke my conditioning of living in the past and future by giving me a transcript called I Am That by Sri Nissargadata Maharaj. After the hype on Oprah, a friend suggested A New Earth. In addition to advocating for living in the present, Tolle awakens you to the dysfunction of the mind, your own pain body, the anatomy of the ego and the dormant potential of a life beyond what the mind can perceive. I aspire to live a peaceful life free of the confliction of the ego, and Tolle’s books, including The Power of Now are my training tools.

“As an African- American in the true sense of the label, African born in America, Chimamanda fearlessly documented the things we are all thinking and say behind closed doors.” Yeniva Sisay- Sogbeh shares her review of Americanah. I discovered Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s writing a few years back with my first read “Purple Hibiscus. I was hooked. I find Chimamanda to be fresh and reflective. From her TED talks to her perspective on feminism. From the chair of a braiding salon in Trenton, New Jersey we meet Ifemelu, a bright, brass, witty and ambitious young woman from Nigeria. 13 years after coming to America, Ifemelu can boast of a fellowship at Princeton, interesting relationships; one with a worldly Caucasian man and another with a self assured African-American professor named Blaine, and successful blog about race entitled “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black.” Ifemelu is no regular “Americanah” - with odd affections, pretending she no longer understood Yoruba, adding a slurred r to every single English word she spoke. No, she refuses to wear the words “You sound American” in a garland that she hung around her own neck. Why was it a compliment, an accomplishment, to sound American?” Ifemelu is comfortable recognizing the sound of her own voice and rocks her natural hair. Just as it seems she has finally

“arrived” in America Ifemelu decides to drop it all and move back home to Nigeria. In a sequence of flashbacks we gain insight into Ifemelu‘s journey of identity, love, independence, despair, desperation, hope and even depression. Ifemelu agonizes and fantasizes about her high school sweet heart Obinze. Their relationship survives through college until strikes threaten their education in Nigeria. Coming from upwardly mobile families in Nigeria, Ifemelu and Obinze represent many African immigrants, “raised well fed and watered but mired in dissatisfaction.” They aren’t fleeing war or starvation but “the oppressive lethargy of choicelessness.” While Ifemelu travels to America to study Obinze lives an undocumented life in England. They promise to hold onto their relationship as they go out into the world to make something of themselves. Needless to say things don’t go exactly according to plan. Obinze’s stay in England with an expired visa proves futile as he holds illegal jobs including cleaning toilets just to survive. When Obinze is unceremoniously deported, he works his way back into the Nigerian system to become a successful real estate developer and marries a beautiful woman that he does not love. Years later

Ifemelu and Obinze reunite, drawn by the love of their country, history and things left unsaid. Americanah explores race, with candor, love without resolve, and documents the real untold experiences of so many Africans in the Diaspora through characters we all can relate to. This was my favorite read of 2013 hands down. As an African- American in the true sense of the label, African born in America, Chimamanda fearlessly documented the things we are all thinking and say behind closed doors. The breakdown of African- Americans, American –Africans and their distinctions and differences had me in stitches; I could not stop talking about it. The topics are tough and have sparked a general debate about her perspectives. As much as this book is about love, hair, it is also about unearthing race and class even on our beloved continent. It is current and fresh and I recognized so many characters from my own life throughout book. The book is excellent and I would recommend it. Beware though the book does spark emotional debates I would say this book it for a reader with an open mind, chummy and knows how to tug at all emotional strings.#

In 2007 Yeniva Sisay- Sogbeh relocated to her ancestral home Sierra Leone, West Africa to contribute to national development. Since then she has worked non-stop to bring vision into action in many areas of development in Sierra Leone. Yeniva’s hope is to inspire and inform the world about the beauty and the plight of Africa through education. “Teaching to revive the heartbeat of a generation gone numb” is her mantra and as the founder and Executive Director of the EXCEL Education Program, which provides educational services and opportunities to disenfranchised youth in Sierra Leone, she is transforming students into future leaders of Africa.

Getting to Know ifé

ifé recently released her first album titled ‘Témi’. In this album ifé merges afro pop, jazz and funk music. It is also a collaboration with renowned guitarist, Lionel Loueke who was instrumental in arranging the festive and rhythms the album. Loueke has also worked with popular artists such as Angelique Kidjo and Herbie Hancock. Inspired by both 80s Black American music and traditional music of her country, ifé wrote and composed ‘Temi’ in her mother– tongue. The album name Temi means ‘about me’ in Yoruba, which ifé explains the album is a reflection of herself and personal to her and her experiences. Find out more 10|

Photo Credit Joël Perrot

Beninese artiste ifé discovered the art of music from her musicloving father . She grew up lullabied by the soul and Yoruba traditional music and having grown up in Porto-Novo, capital city of Benin, she enjoyed secretly observing the traditional orchestra during their rehearsals.

Ifé in concert Photo Credit: Sophie Négrier

Ifé and Lionel Loueke Photo credit: Stéphane Brabant

Ifé in concert Photo Credit: Sophie Négrier

Photo Credit: Jendella Hallam Benson

Storytelling Through Music 5 Minutes with Lánre

My earliest memory of music is Saturday and Sunday mornings when my dad would play his records from Jimi Hendrix to Good women choir and where ever you’d be in the house, you could hear people sing or hum along to the music. Then when I was eight years old I got to sing the lead in my school choir at the local radio station. I also sang in my local church choir for years. So music has always been a part of my life. A few years after I got back to the UK, I joined a gospel collective. We recorded an album and toured together for seven years. My solo career started three and a half years ago. So I guess I have been on a musical journey leading up to now. I try to write about issues that bother me; religion, faith, self-esteem, love, beauty. Some issues I’m perhaps not bold enough to have a conversation about, I’ll squeeze into verses and choruses. Some thoughts that I have no answers to, I write about hoping to get some sort of resolution. Some of the songs are my stories, some are stories I’ve pulled from others. My hope is always that somehow the songs resonates with people that hear the music. I’m currently listening to a lot of waka music; it’s a popular Yoruba music genre made popular by Nigerian singers Batile Alake and Salawa Abeni. I am also listening to Foy Vance, Broken Boat, Laura Mvula, India Arie. I am inspired by storytellers so I’m reading three books at the moment; Like a Flowing River by Paulo Coelho, Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi and There was A Country by Chinua Achebe. At the moment, I am writing and also collaborating with other artists. It’s a village effort really and as beautiful as it is to get locked in my own space and have that moment to myself to create it is also important to rub minds with other creative people. Lánre has taken her Singing for Change acoustic tour to various venues and events like the Greenbelt Festival, Edinburgh Fringe, Bath Music Festival, Brighton Fringe, Hard Rock Calling Festival, Toronto Canada and Paris. Her debut solo album Pen Voyage Chapter One: Singing for Change produced by Goz-i-am was officially released on the 30th September 2011. Má Gbàgbé, one of the leading songs on the album was selected to be on the Lufthansa Airline’s playlist “Sounds of Africa”. She has had songs from the album played on BBC 6 and BBC London 94.9. Her music can be best described as acoustic soul with influences from her Nigerian heritage of storytelling and folk music along with her background in gospel music.

Q&A With

Edem Badu I love the freedom of expressing myself, knowing there is no right or wrong. It's just what it is. It's such a liberating feeling shares, Ghanaian born– Australia based artist, Edem Adzoa Badu. Tell us abit about who you are and your background? I was born in Ghana. I have lived in New Zealand and Australia for more than half of my life, so my passion for the creatives initially started as an outlet for me to explore and understand who I was based on the interesting yet very different cultures I had been fortunate enough to be exposed to. I am also a Graphic Designer, so I work in design most days and I also run a small business in Australia called 'Vintage Muse' - I import natural and organic products and remedies inspired by ancient Afrikan traditions and lifestyles from Afrika for the lovers of Vintage Afrika in Australia. I hope to one day study art, as I've never studied it before. I think it would be interesting to learn different techniques and also learn about other artists. One of my subjects in high school was art though

Is your art influenced in any way by your Ghanaian roots? My art is definitely influenced by my roots. I have been going back to Ghana more frequently lately to keep connected to my roots and my family. There are amazing artists in Ghana and I wish that one day the whole world would have the opportunity to get to see more of it.. 12|

Were you born in a creative environment and are there other artists in your family? Yes, my family is full of artists! We have musicians, dancers, painters, illustrators, stylists, poets, fashionistas! We're a pretty creative bunch! We've always been encouraged to cultivate our creativity but to also be smart in terms of work.

When did you first discover your love for painting/ art? For as long as I can remember I have always had a passion for art and anything that allowed me to tap into my creativity. I remember always drawing, getting excited about the new crayons my father would bring back to Ghana from his travels overseas. I enjoyed putting outfits together based on different colours and fabric textures , evidence of embarrassing photos of outfits from the early 90's. Subconsciously I started drawing profile imagery of black women and later started to explore the reasons why I was painting what I was painting. It definitely initiated a journey of soul searching and having a better understanding of who I was as person.

Yes, I've seen most of your work is on black women, from 'the color purple', '', soul sista to Dzidevo'. I find people in general very interesting and beautiful beings, so I have always loved sketching and painting people.

exposed-take me as I am

Using black women in my work began because the image subconsciously came to mind although I knew it stemmed from a place within. I mostly used women in my family as a guide for the facial structure. This however started my journey into soul searching to understand why I was creating what I was painting, who I was, where I had come from and where I was going. I realized that the black women in my art were really a reflection of my own characteristics based on who I believed myself to be. I believe that I was trying to articulate myself in an artistic form. The piece 'Take me as I am' is a journey of accepting and loving my 'imperfections' as well as understanding and respecting the beauty in my character. I remember staying up for hours on end writing down who I believed myself to be, this later became a lyrical painting titled 'Exposed - Take me as I am' as well as a complimenting profile piece of art. This is where the moments of vulnerability and storytelling threads into my artwork. In a way it became more of a therapeutic relationship with myself - getting to know myself.

On your blog there is a short poem titled 'Iam', was it a result of that journey? Yes, definitely! I think it's also a result of being honest with myself and going through all the different things I believed myself to be. But what was more important was to embrace these things, rather than look at them as negative characteristics. It's all just a definition of who I believed myself to be and evolving from them when the time came.

What do you love most about your work? I love the freedom of expressing myself, knowing there is no right or wrong. It's just what it is. It's such a liberating feeling. And as long as I understand that, then its a masterpiece to me.

soul sista

Speaking of masterpiece, which art piece has been the best you have created and why? That's a hard one, but I would say I really enjoyed creating 'soul sista' of which I used my sister as the model to represent the piece of work. This piece is based on my love of music and how I feel it runs through my entire soul. Music is such a healing element in my life. So I have incorporated music throughout this piece.

How did it feel the first time you sold one of your pieces? Speechless and a proud sense that all the hard work I put in literally paid off! But in all seriousness, it was more the proud feeling of putting together a collection of work and creating an experience that people genuinely enjoyed, felt a part of and felt inspired by it. I can honestly say it was one of my greatest moments in life. Seeing it all unfold and allowing others a sneak peek into my artistic world that I had been afraid to show for so many years.

What was the first art piece you sold? What was the event surrounding it?

My first ever artwork I consider sold was a piece called 'surviving this' which was an online auction of my work after the Haiti earthquake in January 2010. The funds were donated to a small grass roots charity, Orphfund based in Melbourne, Australia, whose focus is on providing everyday resources to orphans in Haiti. My first ever piece sold at an exhibition went so quickly I don't actually know which one was sold first. All I remember was seeing red dots on multiple paintings within 10 minutes of opening the gallery - And that was the most exciting, liberating and proud feeling in the world!

Does the feeling of accomplishment in creating, exhibiting your collection and selling you work, ever get old? Never gets old. It takes me such a long time to put a full collection together that by the time its all complete, I can start organizing and using my creativity to put the actually event together. In between times, I work on graphic design and also run my small business, so I have a few different things going on which keeps me busy, so when I get back into focusing on my art, its almost brand new again.

surviving this...

take me as I am - no lyrics

Is there a major occurring theme in your pieces? I find that the profile imagery with hints of culture is a reoccurring theme. Although I want to shy away from that for my next exhibition, it has become my signature style. >>>>

Do you purposely have a message you want to communicate for every art piece? I try to give a purpose to most of my paintings. I never used to, because I used to just paint whatever came to my thoughts. But I've learnt a lot over the years and one of the main things I learnt was to be able to explain my work to people who are interested in knowing my thought process. But there are a few paintings that don't have an actual meaning, and I think I'm happy with not having to give an explanation to those pieces, or to justify its creative existence because I'm also still trying to figure out how to verbalise it myself! I love hearing others interpretation of my work and how that piece relates to them. I value that so much more and feel inspired by that!

Tell us something about the new collection you are working on. The theme for the next collection is still being fine tuned, however, there will be a cultural influence in there for sure. The new collection is a work in progress. I am experimenting with bold colours but also love connecting with raw and natural elements too. Most of my work from my last exhibition was painted on wood board using my hands and very rarely used a paint brush. I loved the connection and energy I drew from that. So I'm hoping the next collection also has an element of the natural in there too. I am also looking at experimenting with screen printing and watercolors. It should be an interesting collection!

What medium do you prefer? I've grown to love acrylic and grey tone pastels on wood board, but I would love to experiment with oil paints on linen canvas, and also have some fun with watercolors.

Second painting : road to contentment 3rd painting : the colour purple

Can you share with us your creative process?

“I believe as I evolve I am more or less sculpturing my life to incorporate all the things I love and be able to make a comfortable living from it. I know for a fact that I can't live without art, It's the love of my life. My next challenge at the moment is completing the work for my next exhibition.�

I find that I need to be alone to tap into that element. The creative juices usually start flowing after midnight! I put on some loud music , Jill Scott, Maxwell, Leela James, Bilal, Fela Kuti, Nneka, Ottis Redding, 2Pac an endless playlist of my favourite tunes, then start painting. Hours and hours go by without even knowing it. It's so therapeutic. I am usually inspired by beautiful moments in life, something interesting I had learned or any challenges I am facing.

Who or what is your biggest influence? I am mostly influenced by music ; lyrics and beat, books -fictional, no fictional, autobiographies and poetry, other artists in the creative field and having deep conversations. I am always surprised by what inspires me because it can come from anywhere, anything and anyone. I will always be grateful for that.

Where do you hope to see your work in the years to come? That's a good question. I haven't really thought that far. It would be cool to walk into someone's home , who I haven't met, and have a piece of my artwork on their wall. I think that would be something pretty amazing. #

For more information on Edem and her work check out her website


ARTreprenueurs Why the next trend in Ghanaian business is all about the creative class


f you ask the typical African child about their parent’s ambition for their lives, the response strolls in like a familiar refrain: engineer, doctor, lawyer or banker. Hard sciences were the respectable career path and those hidden talents – writing, drawing, dancing, and singing – were reserved for the occasional church event.

Indeed, all the creative industries are blossoming under the This Is the New Africa (TINA) epoch. The continent has produced a cadre of creative minds for millennia but fashion, music, advertising, film, writing and design are now a formalized and deliberate career goal rather than a second option. And nowhere else is this more apparent than in Accra.

That was then. The new generation of Afropolitans are changing the landscape and broadening the pool of enviable jobs to include those in the creative industries. We are inspired by the Laleesos and Jewel by Lisa’s and cluth our Ghana Must Go and Americanah novels as though they are our purses.

Marching in the footprints of internationally acclaimed architects Joe Osae-Addo or David Adjaye of Adjaye Associates, thirty-somethings are coming home and setting up corporate and residential interior design firms, infusing a culturally sensitive millennial upgrade to the city’s spas, hotel lobbies, residencies, and government buildings.


Design Express Ghana commissioned corporate interiors

And why not, investors are certainly getting rich. The real estate development market in Ghana is to put it bluntly – ridiculous. With a housing deficit of almost 1.7 million units, Accra is one of the most expensive cities for housing in Africa outside of Lagos. An average two-bedroom apartment in one of the city’s prime neighborhoods like East Legon costs upwards of $350,000. Corporate rentals can increase by close to 20% per year which encourages clients to lock in leases with 2-3 years’ worth of upfront payments. Cranes are a quasi-permanent fixture. One Airport Square, Ghana’s first environmentally certified building currently in development is a 20,000m2 office building not far from the airport and The Exchange, which is intended to be hybrid facility of 75,000m2 for offices, retail, and housing, will soon break ground. The owners of Movenpick Hotel are now moving to the residential segment, launching a luxury villas experiment - Ambassador Heights. Other name brand hoteliers have flooded the market since 2009 including Marriott looking to put up a 209-room asset by end-2014. With the nascent oil industry creating a class of overnight millionaires, everything looks up for the indigenous interior design industry.

Some may read this with furrowed eyebrows. With a poverty rate of 26% in 2012 surely Ghana cannot be ready for interior design professionals? Not according to CEO and Creative Director of DAAR Living, Senanu Arkutu the latest market entrant. “This service is unfortunately a luxury but this is so in any country and will only ever be done by the few. But in Ghana, this is an emerging area and it will continue to grow.” Senanu left a decade-long career in reproductive health and international development to follow her passion, lamenting the constant need for Western importation. Her brand supports local artisanry. In contrast to posh Westernized retailers, like La Maison and Casa Trasacco, the guiding principle of DAAR Living is interior accessories and services for the ‘African of the World and the World in love with Africa’. “I would like to see more Ghanaians and Africans in general decorate with African influences in a non- ‘craft market’ way.” >>> 19|

[Top & Bottom : Some of the offerings of DAAR Living, sourced continent-wide from as far as South Africa. ]

“DAAR Living helps to make pieces from all over the continent available to local buyers. Africa is recognized for its creativity and it is time our artisans got paid for it.”

However, surprisingly none of these trouble the interior design professionals as much as the intangible subconscious disdain for the Made in Africa brand.

But profits are not what seem to attract this new crop of artrepreneurs but rather a freedom to maneuver which is non-existent in other industries. “Africa is the continent of innovation and creativity. It inspires and is ideal for the creative mind. In Ghana, every industry seems to be 'emerging', rarely is an industry set in stone with an exact model, set of rules or best practices - this is not only exciting but is a forgiving environment for trial and error,” explains Senanu. But of course challenges abound - the most cited difficulties being sourcing, identifying the right artisans, quality control, consistency and on-time delivery.

Natalie Anderson, industrial designer and Owner of Design Express Ghana started her company in 2007 after studying Interior Architecture in Spain and Industrial Design in South Africa and Sweden. “My firm spawned from my annoyance with the fact that the West was capitalizing and mass producing African-inspired design. But then I asked myself, well what are we doing about it?” After five strong years in the market, pulling in top tier clients like Vodafone, Natalie gets incessant calls to enter the residential market by returnees.

[Left: Villagio Vista Building developed by Ghana-based T.E.D.C in an unprecedentedly colorful design, the Villagio is a testament to the new artrepreneur. It was completed in 2011 as the 116th tallest building in Africa, with cantilevered ends addressing local landmarks. ] [Top: Design Express Ghana commissioned corporate interiors. ]

“I was recently approached by a client trying to source things from SA and Europe because he did not trust the quality of local products. Another asked me to go fill a container for him in the US to furnish his place and yet a third to shop online and import on his behalf.” It would be appear from these type of requests that Afropolitans still have a dependency on expensive imported goods versus available quality contemporary Made in Ghana furniture.” On the other hand, Natalie admits that it is a romantic notion to suggest that an Afropolitan can really get what he wants from the indigenous market. “Most clients that can afford design services will not pay the prices that formal furniture/décor outlets are offering locally because they could get it cheaper and for better quality where they were before and cannot justify the expense in their minds.

Sometimes, in the local context, there is no solution other than to have the furniture made or invest $10,000 on a sofa you can pass down to your kids – but no returnee wants to hear that.” Born into a family of diplomats, Senanu has seen her share of homes outside of her native Ghana. When asked the secret to appealing to returnees, she says, “I don't need to think about this, it is natural to me - I am an Afropolitan and DAAR Living exists because of that and because those are the people we cater to. Every piece we exhibit and sell is inspired by this wonderful continent. DAAR Living is unashamedly African - innovative, culturally complex and layered, just like the Afropolitan. # For More Information



Originally from Ghana, Nana Spio-Garbrah is an interior design blogger focused on the promotion of SMEs in the real estate services space and on African inspired interior accessories and artisan products. The goal of her blog BlueprintAfrica (BpA) is to demonstrate the value of locally manufactured home products to the continent and the world.

Immigration Plight Meet Opal Tometi, a 1st generation Nigerian-American born and raised in Arizona, USA who is making her mark on immigration as Co-Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). BAJI is an organization designed to both educate and advocate immigrant rights within the African-American, Afro-Latino, African and Caribbean communities. For the past 8 years, her organization (BAJI) has collaborated with other social justice organizations in a concerted effort to empower and educate Black Immigrants as they face challenges pertaining to immigration. She shares with AfroElle her experience and how her organization assists Black Immigrants with the immigration plight.


they debate immigration reform. As the child of Nigerian immigrants and one who has seen many people go through various immigration challenges I know that it’s important that we are at the table. The Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) offers workshops to support black immigrant leadership, provides analysis of legislation, and creates programs and campaigns in collaboration with directly affected communities in order to fight for policies and practices that benefit our communities.

ell me about your organization and how you assistant Black Immigrants?

I am the Co-Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). We are a social justice organization that educates and advocates for racial justice and immigrant rights. A few years ago we helped to found the Black Immigration Network so that like-minded organizations and programs could come also collaborate on campaigns, education and to help us all amplify our voices for sustained impact. The leaders in all of this work are diverse - African Americans and immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and beyond. We educate others and ourselves about challenges our communities face and engage in local and national campaigns to uplift ourselves. Currently, we are focused on uplifting Black immigrant leadership and demanding that the House and Senate listen to the unique needs of this community as

“About 10 years ago while I was living in Tucson I really became active in the immigrant rights movement because of the humanitarian crisis on the border. Hundreds of people were dying in the desert every year because they were courageous enough to make the perilous journey to the US in order to better the lives of their family’s back home.”

We can’t be everywhere and it’s important that people know how to advocate for themselves and mobilize their own communities in order to build knowledge and leadership from within. We encourage everyone to join the Black Immigration Network so that people of African decent can collaborate together. Ultimately we believe our communities are more powerful together. Regardless of citizenship status all black lives matter.

Immigration is so broad, yet highly specific because it affects everyday people. In your opinion what are some of the key issues of immigration reform that directly affect Black Immigrants? For African and Caribbean Immigrant communities we should be aware of the following 5 items:

“Although we are about 10% of the population we are disproportionately represented by 5 times. This illustrates that racial profiling and immigration enforcement is having harsh impact in our communities and we must organize to stop unjust practices.”

1) Black immigrants have the highest unemployment and lowest wages of all foreign-born communities. Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) proposals will make it difficult for low-income immigrants to be successful in their pursuit of citizenship. We must advocate against triggers that are discriminatory against low-income communities. 2) Black immigrants whether African or Caribbean are over represented in detention and deportation proceedings. Although we are about 10% of the population we are disproportionately represented by 5 times. This illustrates that racial profiling and immigration enforcement is having harsh impact in our communities and we must organize to stop unjust practices. 3) The Senate’s CIR proposals would change our system considerably. Our current system prioritize families, whereas the proposed legislation would want to justify one’s ability to migrate based on arbitrary variables – that’ll likely not be in our (African descendants) favor. The current bill eliminates Sibling Visas and Adult Child Visas and Diversity Visas. Instead of strengthening families and encouraging mechanisms for their reunification enabling them to thrive, this dismantles and provides with fewer opportunities for African and Caribbean migrants to legally migrate. 4) Many African and Caribbean immigrants are here on some sort of temporary status. It is important that any immigration reform that takes place incorporates them – especially house who’ve been here for many years. Immigration Reform must include a path to citizenship for Temporary Status Holders. This includes Liberians, Sudanese, Somalis and South Sudanese, Haitians and many others. 5) To truly have just and fair immigration reform we must begin to look at the deeper at policies and practices that are adversely impacting our communities and fight against them. On a practical level we should at minimum be doing the following – Repealing the 1996 Immigration Laws that have led to the criminalization of immigrants we see today. We also work to stop “free trade” policies and fight against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and that ultimately displace people in their home countries and in the U.S. making it difficult to find work that pays a living wage and free of exploitation. These institutions and mechanisms ultimately force people to migrate instead of providing people with the ability to exercise self determination. As people in the United States it’s our duty to support campaigns and social movements in the US and abroad for self determination. 23|

You're from Arizona, which often is mentioned in America's immigration debate. Tell me about the immigrant population in your home state. What is it about Arizona that makes it a hot button for immigration/border control? Arizona is a testing ground for regressive legislation. Arizona seems to always be in the news because of its experiments gone bad. I personally became involved in the immigrant rights movement in Arizona because I had family friends who were either in detention or deportation proceedings. These people were primarily of Nigerian and Jamaican decent and although the news makes immigration seem as something that only impacts Latinos, I knew that all of our communities were being impacted. And that the regressive legislation actually had racist underpinnings that were meant to reverse the gains made by African American communities and their allies in the Civil Rights movement decades earlier. Anti-immigrant legislation is a very slippery slope and in Arizona after the passing of Arizona’s SB 1070 – a law that legalized racial profiling in the name of immigration enforcement, there was the Ban on Ethnic Studies in Southern Arizona, there was also a Ban on Affirmative Action. This shows us that regressive anti-immigrant legislation is in fact not merely about Latinos but about all communities of color. There is a concerted effort from White Nationalists and conservative forces to undermine our rights and sadly they’ve been somewhat successful in creating a mentality that says we are criminal and that migrants are a “problem”. However, people we all know this is no true. People have been migrating since they had 2 legs – whether for love or work, people should be able to exercise their God-endowed right.

About 10 years ago while I was living in Tucson I really became active because of the humanitarian crisis on the border. Hundreds of people were dying in the desert every year because they were courageous enough to make the perilous journey to the US in order to better the lives of their family’s back home. The deaths increased because of the North American Free Trade Agreement which displaced millions of Mexican Agricultural workers, all the while creating border fences and enforcement that would funnel people to the most harsh parts of the Sonoran desert making them susceptible to abuse, death, etc. This was a plan that was created and is now one of the biggest ongoing human rights tragedies that the U.S. is complicit in. What we should also know is that there are migrants from all across the world who cross this desert. I know people from as far as South Africa, Nigeria, Brazil, Belize, Philippines, who’ve made the perilous journey because things are so dire. The global economic crisis has forced families to make difficult decisions in order to provide for their families through remittances. The issue of the border impacts us all. Enforcement along the Eastern Sea board is also changing and as African Immigrants who are heavy in those communities – we should pay attention to have the legislation actually includes all these other ports of entry, including airports, Greyhound buses, etc.

AE: What is your vision for immigration reform within the last few years of the Obama Administration? As CIR is beginning to look more bleak I imagine our communities becoming more emboldened to demand what we really need. Organizing ourselves to demand racial justice, immigrant rights and being able to get it. I envision that Obama can make great strides during his last few years to ensure that tangible progress is made. Today, the easiest thing he could do is put a stop to deportations. This would really help Black immigrant families who are overrepresented in deportation proceedings – and only finding themselves further disenfranchised by the emotional and economic loss of family members. Today, the separation between rich and poor is only getting greater, more people are finding themselves out of work and new laws are only criminalizing them and making it more difficult to obtain basic help to get back on their feet.

How can we do this? We must demand that Obama stop this trend. We must also encourage those who can vote get out there and elect people who truly will work for our best interest, and who will take our cues when it comes to policy. Although Obama doesn’t have the best track record, I think he could redeem himself by doing some basic things such as stopping deportations, ending the criminalization of migrants and providing paths to reunite families. Thank you for sharing this wealth of information Opal. The dialogue around immigration is an ever -present and ongoing conversation. For more information on Opal’s work

Erica Ayisi is an accomplished multimedia, international journalist with experience reporting in Ghana, West Africa and New York. She has contributed to many high profile news stories of 2012 including Election Coverage, the London Summer Olympics, Hurricane Sandy, and the Newton school tragedy. She wears many hats serving as a writer, field producer, associate producer and on-air correspondent where needed. Her most recent work includes providing editorial support for an interview with former Vice President Al Gore. As a general assignment reporter for e.TV Ghana, Ayisi covered major news stories such as the cholera outbreak in Greater Accra, the return of Ghanaian nationals during the height of the Libyan crisis, and the controversy in the 2010 census reports. She has conducted several interviews with Ghanaian dignitaries and ministers who served in the National Democratic Congress under former Ghanaian President John Atta Mills. She also covered the rising epidemic of gutter communities and numerous human-interest and feature stories including a rare interview with Rita Marley, widow of Reggae musician Bob Marley. Prior to her career in journalism, Ayisi spent several years as a high school English teacher in her hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts. She also served on the Board of Directors for the Y.W.C.A., where she was a devoted advocate for the organization's mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. Ayisi currently works for NBC’s Nightly News with Brian Williams and resides in New York City. She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the New York Women in Communications.

Tell AfroElle readers about your organization and the work you do with Black Immigrants in your community. Currently, I serve as the President of the Worcester Caribbean American Carnival Association (WCACA). We recently brought the first ever Caribbean style carnival to the City of Worcester. I believe that events like this lead to easier assimilation of immigrants to the community. Building a community leads to collaboration and collaboration leads to civic engagement

Many people would not connect the Northeast region of America to be a hub for Caribbean immigrants. In your opinion, what brings them to small towns outside of Boston? Do you think Massachusetts is receptive to Caribbean immigrants?

Jennifer Gaskins is the President of the Worcester Caribbean American Carnival Association. Gaskins’ family emigrated from the West Indian island of Grenada prior to her grandfather relocating to the United States to become a US Army pilot. Although Gaskins’ father and mother were born in the States, she was born in Grenada. At the age of five, Jennifer and her family moved to Massachusetts where she spent the majority of her life and became a staunch advocate for immigration matters pertaining to the developing Caribbean community of Central Massachusetts. Here is her story shared with AfroElle writer Erica Ayisi.

We have a very large immigrant population in Worcester, Massachusetts. A greater majority of immigrants are Hispanic or African, however there is a segment of the population that originates from the Caribbean. Worcester has been nationally recognized for diversity. Worcester is the second largest city in New England, second to the city of Boston, which has the third or fourth largest population of Caribbean descendants in the United States. Massachusetts, although a northern state, has had it s share of issues with race relations and it continues to struggle in that area. We are fortunate in the fact that there are large populations of immigrants in the state so most are able to assimilate through the communities that have developed.

Based on the work you do, do you think policymakers are moving in the right direction in regard to immigration and immigration reform? The policymakers are moving in the right direction.

However, I think the Dream Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) falls far short of where we need to be in terms of immigration policies. For instance, the New York City Department of Education, more than ten years ago, recruited over 1000 teachers from the Caribbean to serve in the New York school system. Up until today, most of them have not received green cards and even worse, there are children who have "aged out" of their legal immigration status as dependents of their parents. These children are now stuck in limbo, unable to attend school or work. Also, in the Caribbean most youth graduate high school at 16 or 17 years of age, many would have completed a high school education prior to immigrating to the USA and making them ineligible for the (benefits) of the Dream Act.

What are the key issues of immigration reform that directly affect the Caribbean community in Central Massachusetts? Immigration reform and the cost of immigrating legally or even staying here legally is a burden for many. Health issues such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, and mental health have plagued our community. Building a community that recognizes preventative health (needs to be) a priority. Violence both in their native countries and here in the USA. Most immigrate to urban communities that are struggling with gun and gang violence.

Jamaica and other Caribbean countries have murder rates that top major American cities; and lastly, jobs and the economy.

The recent protests in New York City over the fight for minimum wage increase generated a dialogue about the demographic of who works in these jobs. Were Black Immigrants in Massachusetts a part of the minimum wage fight? What do these jobs mean to Black immigrants? No I didn’t find that the Black Immigrants are vocal in my community on this. Locally, I have seen more dialogue from the Hispanic immigrants on this issue. It's unfortunate not to see more action on the part of Black Immigrants with respect to minimum wage. The reality is at current levels the minimum wage doesn't make sense. We have a class of the "working poor" in our community that needs to be addressed.

You mentioned that you brought the first ever Caribbean Carnival to Worcester, Massachusetts. What did its' success mean for your community overall? The successful execution of the first Caribbean style Carnival was a victory for the Caribbean American community of Worcester and the city overall. The more we share in traditions and culture, the more we are able to provide to the cultural vitality of the city, allowing people to become invested in the city and it's continued growth and/or positive environment. Our aim is to add value to the city and give everyone at least one day of the year to celebrate.

What is your vision of Black Immigrants in Massachusetts? It is my hope that the state of Massachusetts continues to be a destination for Black Immigrants and that we can build a welcoming community where everyone is accepted.

Fatu Diamond Woodson, 17, Miss Liberia Worcester is a dynamic young woman who recently earned the coveted title of Miss Liberia Worcester. Worcester, Massachusetts is a major city with a thriving and active Liberian population. The newly formed Y’ELL Association (Young E’nnovative Leaders of Liberia) hosted this years’ Miss Liberia pageant during the summer of 2013. Competing against a handful of equally qualified contestants, Diamond walked away with the crown. Diamond was born in Monrovia, Liberia and raised in the States making her perspectives and opinions on the Liberian youth diverse and eclectic. She shares with AfroElle’s Erica Ayisi, her vision for her peers and how she plans to live up to Y’ELL Association’s motto of "Uniting Young Liberians Beyond Borders.”

Why did you enter this In what areas do Liberian youth competition? How did you prepare succeed? What are their for it? challenges? I chose to enter this competition because I have always wanted to be in a pageant and I thought the Miss Worcester pageant was a good way to get myself out in the community in a positive way. Also, because I knew that with the title of Miss Worcester I would be able to gather my peers so that we can brainstorm and come up with ways we can help out in our community and back home in Liberia.

What is the Liberian youth like in your community? Were many of your peers born in the states or in Liberia? In what areas do they succeed? What are their challenges? In the Liberian community, you could say that a good majority of the youth were born in the United States or came when they were young like I did. Our parents made the journey from Liberia to the United States so that we could have a better opportunity to succeed and they chose to keep us here so we would be able to get a good education.

Many (of my peers) have succeeded in getting their high school and college education, however, they are faced with the challenge of teen pregnancy and getting involved in gang related activities.

How are issues around immigration an issue for Liberian youth? How does it affect their access to education? How does it affect their life options after high school?

My vision for Liberians of all ages in my community is to remember where we come from and get more in tuned into our culture. I hope to help out back home as much as we can either by sending money, clothes, toys, shoes and even medical supplies. Also, I wish for the youth to strive for a higher education so that we can achieve the goals that not only do we have for ourselves, but the ones our parents have for us.

What is your vision for young Liberians in Liberia? How can you use your title to inspire them from abroad?

The issues on immigration is a rising conflict in the Liberian youth community because several youth do not have their green card or citizenship which can prevent them My vision for young Liberians in Liberia would be for them to from going to college and seeking focus on their studies and higher education. become the future doctors, lawyers, police officers, What is your vision for young musicians and political leaders Liberians in your community? that they dream of being. So How do you want to use your that they can use their titles to newly earned title in your community? How do you plan to help Liberia rise up and once again become a thriving nation affect change? in the continent of Africa. # 29|

Cross-Cultural Exploration: WAFRICA The word "kimono" literally means a "thing to wear". What sounds translated rather casual, is an important leftover from Japanese tradition and a respectful bow towards ancient culture. Cameroonian artist, interior and industrial designer Serge Mouangue was bold enough to experiment with the oldest untouched symbol - the Kimono: "I pursue and observe the complexity of different values and cultural identities in search of threads to weave a fabric which is blending of these differences.� Always fascinated as well as inspired by different environments, Serge felt the urge to transform this Japanese icon and add some more beat and color from his own heritage. By using wax prints to re-create the garment, the African Kimono was born. A term that the designer himself doesn't consider too fitting, as he doesn't want any of the two cultures to claim his new creation and rather looks at it as a "third dimension".— Ms.k_NY

Find out more: Watch Serge Mouangue on TedTalk (French) Photo credit: wafrica

Home Bound Five returnees share their experience as returnees; the challenges, opportunities and advice for potential returnees. I am a writer. I work for a unique philanthropy program as their Communications Coordinator and I also write music that I perform around Liberia. I visited Liberia in 2009 for the first time in 13 years. I was moved. The poverty, the promise, my people and culture, the devastation & the vast opportunity. I came back with my head full of ideas. After two years of working in corporate social media, recording an EP & living my regular American life I got a free slot in my schedule and I took the leap and moved. Prior to the 2009 visit, I think I, like many other Afropolitans, romanticized home. That was my biggest misconception. Although, being in Liberia is wonderful it has many more complex issues that I had not fully accounted for. A few more trips home before moving may have helped in that area.

“I think I, like many other Afropolitans, romanticized home. That was my biggest misconception.� Nykita Garnett

There were mixed reactions about my return. There were mixed emotions ; my parents, who live in Liberia, were thrilled and many other members of my family and friends were confused, intrigued, supportive, worried and I think a little jealous. Safety has been my number one concern since my return. Not just because of the possibility of civil unrest but of the medical conditions. In Liberia, people die every day for simple things like lack of oxygen.

It's a bit unnerving to live in a place where you really can't afford to get seriously ill or injured; at least not in present day Liberia. It's made me take my health more seriously. Class is very real in Liberia, mostly because it is embedded in our history and we're such a small nation. Even if you don't care about class, almost everyone around you does and that affects how they relate to you as a person. I'm hoping that the growing middle class will make that less of a challenge for future returnees. The social scene is deeply embedded in the job market. Nepotism lives everywhere but especially communal based African societies. I sent my resume ahead for family members and few friends there to start inquiring on my behalf. There are a lot of opportunities you just have to know how to get to them.

To potential returnees, you have to return home with an open mind and heart, be smart, be tough skinned and extremely patient. It will be hard but the kind of lifestyle & legacy you can build in your home country can be much more enjoyable and likely to really matter to your nation, your people and your family. Ownership of your reality and happiness in that way is worth it. If I were to plan my move to Liberia all over again, I would’ve taken more with me. Like shipping a car, taking more books, films and other things that would've made my first year back home easier. What do I miss most about Atlanta? I miss living in Midtown Atlanta. Leaving the heart of the city full of an endless array of places to dine, network & party to a handful with very little diversity in Liberia is an adjustment. #

Zambian born, Australian citizen, Mukuka Mayuka recently relocated to Lusaka, Zambia. The former paralegal now social media consultant and part time blogger/ writer talks about her experience as a returnee.

On her return, “some were a bit more shocked and advised me to put together a "get out of jail" plan, that was expected though.�


hat prompted you to move back to Zambia?

The easy answer is that my social media management company I run with my business partner required me to go home and "be on the ground". The clichĂŠ answer? It was time; the universe and it's elements were conspiring to push me home and after a few false starts on the 30th May 2013 I was on a plane headed to my first stop over, Johannesburg. I'm glad that it happened that way, just knowing or feeling it was time rather than being forced to return. It helped with the transition, because I was ready to let go of my Australian life. I still miss Melbourne dearly , my nuclear family - mum, dad and brother; still reside there and have no immediate plans to relocate, but thus far I have no regrets about leaving.

What did you miss most about Zambia while away? Family life and feeling part of a huger family network of support. I was beyond lucky that both my parents and brother resided in Australia with me but as we all got older especially my parents, I began to realize, this is quite morbid but reality, that should my parents pass away it would just be my brother and I in a foreign land. The last time I visited Zambia in 2005 I found myself surrounded by grandparents, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles. And since moving back that support from family has been instrumental in helping me to adjust. My extended family is great!

What were some of the reactions from family and friends about your return? The reaction from family, generally went along the lines of: "great, it's about time you returned". Others were a bit more shocked and advised me to put together a "get out of jail" plan, that was expected though. The unexpected responses came from my friends. Their reactions ran the gamut of overly concerned to nonchalant. 40|

I think there were people who were quite nonchalant about the move i.e. " oh you are moving, great. Let's plan a going away do." made me less fearful of the move. There are friends who insisted on reminding me about how hard life was at home or persistently questioning my move made me quite apprehensive of my decision.

Being away from home for such a long time, what were some of your fears about returning to Zambia? So many fears! Although I felt it was time I still feared that I had it all wrong and I was too westernized for home. Too westernized meaning too used to the lifestyle and thinking normally associated with western countries as opposed to the different cultural and societal expectations that are normally found in African countries.

However some people weren't aware of them like I was and I started to see it was because people didn't manage their online presence well or if at all. I realized I wanted to do that for a living. Help people put their content online and help them manage it. I was fortunate that whilst I was in Australia I had my business partner Mazuba Kapambwe on the ground and I was able to connect with a lot of talented Zambians online, who showed me the possibilities of returning home and working as a social media consultant. By the time I had made my mind up to move to Zambia, it was a foregone conclusion. Social media in Zambia was my destiny.

Are there common challenges Diaspora returnees face while trying to start businesses in Zambia or investing?

For example in Zambia I'm conscious that some of my clothes can't be worn in town for fear of being harassed by the street sellers but if I wanted to wear a mini at the mall near my neighborhood I can and the most I'll get is side comments or stares here and there. Also having had some health issues over the past 5 years I feared getting ill again and dealing with an inept or worse; a highly priced medical system that I might be unable to afford. Other fears include not fitting in with family, being unable to find accommodation and my business , c1rca 1964, failing.

Definitely. Trying to navigate a business sphere that is different in terms of what you may be used to regardless of whether you are coming from Australia, UK, USA etc. It can be small things like adjusting to government office workers breaking for lunch at 13:00hrs and waiting till 14:00hrs to submit papers or pursuing an inquiry. Or having to face corruption for the first time in a long time. Your moral compass is pushed to the limit. Do you pay a bribe to get what you need or want or do you not pay a bribe and trust a sometime laborious bureaucratic process?

The good news is that my plan B, job search, has been a non starter only because plan A , my social media management consulting business, has been working out. I'm currently swamped with work for a client that has been very good to us!

What advice would you give potential returnees?

Why did you specifically choose to start a social media management/ consulting business when you returned? It all started with a blog. Whilst I was living in Australia. I wanted to create an online space that showcased and celebrated Zambians doing great things, creative , innovate things. And lo and behold I went looking for these Zed creatives and they were there in abundance. Across all areas. Permeating social media with their content.

Plan everything you can. From accommodation to transport to visas to work permits BUT remember the things that always surprise you are the things you can never prepare for. Take it all in your stride. I couldn't prepare nor fathom how people operate in a system where they pay to get their driver’s license, visas or school placement. But it happens a lot. You soon realize that who you know helps a lot not what you know. That can be discouraging especially when you see those without merit gain contracts or jobs that those with qualifications and no connections struggle to obtain. Don't view others opportunities as yours, keep your focus on what you are doing and doing it well. 41|

“Anyone who's returning should really try and come back and sow seeds into their community.”

Maame Adjei is a Ghanaian returnee who is currently prepping a travel show to expose more of Ghana. She has a healthcare finance background and also does consulting within the same field. On the Move

On family and friend’s reactions

My move to Ghana was 50% impulse and 50% emotional. For a long time I had no plans to move back to Ghana. I had been away for so long and spent only a third of my life in Ghana. I always considered it home though. It's where my mother lives and a lot of my good friends. At the beginning of 2012 I started thinking about the possibility of coming back. I set tentative move dates that I kept pushing back. I visited Ghana in September 2012 for a month and I knew at the end of the trip that I was ready to move back. I missed my family.

Most people were very excited for me. It's a big move and I really did it based on lots of faith and a certain level of blind trust. I didn't plan extensively like most people do. I had no job lined up, I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do when I got here. I had never lived in Ghana as an adult so it was going to be a challenge navigating the system and getting used to how different things are here.

My Ghanaian friends who are in the States recognized the magnitude of my decision and were very supportive, proud and a maybe even a little envious I missed my culture. I missed the overall calm I felt of my ballsiness. My mum on the other hand was a when I was in Ghana and I really began to feel like I little apprehensive about the idea initially but she could have a better quality of life in Ghana than I did in came around. Philadelphia. I went back to the States in September, started making plans and I was back in Ghana for good On Misconceptions by December. I don't regret it at all! Even though I had spent my adult like in Ghana, I didn’t have any misconceptions about the place. 23|

I wasn't completely removed from my country. I visited a lot, most of my family were still here and I lived here for 10 years , between the ages of 5-15. I was very in tune to what Ghana was about so my expectations weren't far from reality.

On fears Honestly my only fear was how I would navigate my family dynamics. I've been on my own since I was 17, far away from my immediate family and making my own decisions without too much interference. As a people Africans are very communal within our families and in everything we do. I love this about us and our "it takes a village" mentality but after being so independent for so long I was worried about how I would handle what I thought would be unwanted interjections from the "village" into my life. As far as the move itself , I was very honest with my expectations. I knew it would take some time for me to really get accustomed to Ghana and understand the way things work, navigate through the bureaucracy and understand what it takes to succeed. I prepped myself with a heavy dose of patience before I came. And I've needed it everyday since being here.

On systems, challenges and fitting in When I was looking for jobs the biggest challenge for me was the huge gap between my salary expectations and what was being offered. For me that actually pushed me to want to find something that I was truly passionate about and build from scratch, on my own. Also, getting things done takes time! So much time! It's such a "hurry up and wait" environment and meeting a goal takes so much prodding and hustle and patience. I definitely have experienced being asked to pay my way to quicker service which I think is a systematic response to the lack of efficiency in some segments of our infrastructure. Instead of doing that I've really just tried to form as many relationships as possible with people in varying sectors, businesses and industries. It still involves a bias when you can get something done quicker because you know someone but paying my way to results isn't an option for me.

A Tale of Two Cities What I missed about Ghana while in Philadelphia was food! It's the first thing I missed! Good ‘waakye’ (rice and beans). I missed my family getting together and laughing. I have so many comedians as relatives! I missed that a lot. The music, the hustle, Ghanaian sense of humor, the weather, I missed everything! What I miss about Philly is the energy the most. It's such an organic and artsy city and I miss that creative vibe it has. I miss a good cheese steak! I miss my favorite small club, Fluid, where they only played old school and underground Hip Hop. Many nights you would find Questlove of The Roots DJ-ing. I miss the simple conveniences like being able to walk across the street to a park. I love Accra but one thing we lack are parks. I love nature, being outdoors and just enjoying the weather and it's such a shame that we've been blessed with great weather 24/7 and there's such limited public greenery to enjoy it.

Second time round If I were to plan my move to Ghana all over again I really wouldn't do anything differently. Not having a job lined up has really given me the opportunity to find out what my passions are and pursue them. That was my hope for myself moving back, to create a life that I love, doing things I Iove and I feel like I'm on that path right now.

Advice to potential returnees The first thing I say would be to have lots of patience. Be prepared for things to not move at a pace you're used to. Be prepared to adapt and constantly remind yourself that you aren't where you were. When I first got here I had tendency to say " oh well in Philly this is how it works". I soon had to let that reasoning go and adapt to Ghana and what it had to offer. It's helped reduce my frustrations immensely. I would also say anyone who's returning should really try and come back and sow seeds into their community. I'm so glad and excited that so many young people are moving back to the continent. We have the opportunity to really continue the great development that Africa's experienced over the last few years. The last thing i would say is DO IT! I don't regret moving back one bit and I encourage anyone who is thinking about it to do so.

Moiyattu Banya Moiyattu Banya is a returnee making a difference in Sierra Leone impacting the lives of young girls through her Girls Empowerment

Summit and through her media platform WomenChange Africa [WCA] that showcases and celebrates the successes of young women. Originally from Sierra Leone, Moiyattu Banya moved to the United States 15 years ago after leaving her country due to civil war. Having completed her Masters in Social Work with a focus on Entrepreneurship and Management from Columbia University's School of Social Work, Moiyattu left for Accra, Ghana, a move she made due to a job opportunity working with African women and girls in West Africa. 44|

“I took the job because I always wanted to do this work and move back home and most of the work involved most of West Africa, Sierra Leone included, and besides Ghana is like home to me so it all worked out.” Working for The Women Peace and Security Network (WIPSEN-Africa) as a Senior Programmes Officer of Program Design and Development, Moiyattu’s role primarily involves conceptualizing and implementation of new programs that address peace and security issues in post conflict societies in West Africa for communities of women and young girls. A year prior to her move, Moiyattu vacationed in Accra but had no intent of moving to Ghana as her first moving point. “I actually wanted to move to Sierra Leone but I decided to stay open and when the opportunity provided itself, I didn't think twice, because I had already gotten a sense of the

women and most of the African women who were there were older, I realized I knew a lot of women who were doing amazing things but no one else was telling their stories the way it should be told. I always found myself telling friends about these women, and this was how Women Change Africa came to be. To date we have been able to feature women from pr company owners, chefs, fashion designers and many more all from the continent or the Diaspora.” She says. Out of a yearn to help build the young girls in Sierra Leone, Women Change Africa along with Visao Foundation co-founded Girls Empowerment Summit; an innovative once-a-year summit that enlightens, inspires and empowers teenage Sierra Leonean girls to become more confident in themselves, and build relationships. The annual summit is offered free-ofcost to all participants, and includes a full day of self empowerment activities to help them enhance their self esteem, build relationships with other girls and older female mentors, and gain practical and applicable skills to utilize in their communities.

environment and the job was a good way to give back.” Moiyattu who considers herself an African feminist passionate about Africa and women empowernment, is also the founder of WomenChange Africa [WCA] a media platform which focuses on celebrating the successes of young African women, connecting these women to resources and cultivating young African women to rebuild their communities. “I always felt that a space was lacking that shared information about young African women social entrepreneurs and the amazing things we were doing. It became clear to me when I was at an annual convening at the United Nations of

Settling in Ghana, the only challenges Moiyattu admits to experiencing involve building networks in Ghana to spread out word about her non-profit. “In New York stateside and in Sierra Leone I had networks but my challenges usually came when it came to fundraising in Ghana, I was still young in the Accra scene so my networks are gradually growing for sure.” To potential returnees, Moiyattu advises, “do your research talk to many other returnees, and ask for honest answers! Let them tell you the pros and cons and make your decision from that. At the end of the day home is home but you have to know what you are getting into as well, both the good bad and the ugly like anywhere else exists.”

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I wanted to be part of showcasing and preserving Africa’s rich heritage, to take back control over portrayals of our stories says Zambian TV Presenter, actress and blogger, Ngosa Chungu on why she started her media content production company. Read about Ngosa’s experience as a returnee, her passion for development, entrepreneurship, empowerment in Zambia and Africa .

The first time Ngosa Chungu returned to work in Zambia it was late 2006. By July 2007, she had put in her resignation when it became painfully clear that she would never accomplish what she had been hired for-– bringing affordable mobile phones to rural populations to benefit from gains associated with this technology’s affordances. The Stanford University alum happened to reconnect with fellow Stanford alums in South Africa, and was tasked with helping unearth case studies to supplement the African Studies, Leadership and Entrepreneurship curriculum now used at the African Leadership Academy, a school educating the best and brightest African minds. Ngosa then decided to further her studies, while her entrepreneurial desire intensified, inspired, unbeknownst to her, by all the case studies she had read. The seed had been planted by her parents, who are serial entrepreneurs. Ngosa realised that she didn’t just want to pursue her childhood dream and act once she satisfied her thirst for knowledge.

“For the longest time I would withhold information to fit in well in Zambia. I first left at 8 months and was back at 2, and from the age of 8 I spent most of my time abroad, but always a regular visitor. My voice modulated so as not to reveal my Afropolitaness.”


Interviewing Chief Mukuni for Livingstone Episode of Today with Zamtel Season 2 “I ached to do more, especially for the African continent. We produce but a drop in the ocean when it comes to media content on off and online platforms, yet we comprise about a sixth of the world’s population and an abundance of rich, creative, inspirational sources.” She says. While researching and writing her thesis to prove the lack of Afropolitan representation in the media, using Hollywood Film as proxy, Ngosa began formulating what is now Purple Tembo Media: her media content production company. “I wanted to be part of showcasing and preserving Africa’s rich heritage, to take back control over portrayals of our stories.” Ngosa decided to start small, and began her blog Mwana ba Afrika in 2010, a place to hash out ideas and express her Afropolitan perspective. She found community with other likeminded bloggers such as Minna Salami of MsAfropolitan and Ato Ulzen-Appiah, Managing Chair of GhanaThink Fundation, Ghana. Ngosa discovered which stories resonated with her and what issues were most important to her but it would take the extreme cold and darkness of the otherwise beautiful Switzerland, coupled with an unfulfilling development communications job to force her into facing her fears and returning to conquer the continent.

“For the longest time I would withhold information to fit in well in Zambia. I first left at 8 months and was back at 2, and from the age of 8 I spent most of my time abroad, but always a regular visitor. My voice modulated so as not to reveal my Afropolitaness.”

Photo Credit

“ I seemed to be a personal affront to my people. This would cause such angst, manacling my spirit. My soul was in umbra as it burnt with a passion so bright, but was not allowed to shine. I could not reconcile the person my parents thankfully allowed me to be, with whom people expected and needed me to be so hide from their own insecurities. I was raised to believe convention and conformity is not the path to worthwhile achievement in life. Rejection helped me become resolute in my identity. I slowly came out of the shadows cast by others lack of understanding, to shine without blinding, to burn without singing anyone. I came to understand I am the first person who needs to know and embrace the shades of my personality and abilities. I finally found peace with myself, and was no longer fighting against my natural proclivities.” Ngosa admits.

Photo Credit Pencil Case Studios When Ngosa returned home in 2011, now having spent two thirds of her life abroad, family, friends and strangers would all tell her what a huge mistake she was making. “Even though there have been times in my life when I felt I would never find my place in Zambia, I have known ultimately this is my home. Things will not progress if a nation’s citizens do not take an active part in making that happen. Someone has to take the first steps. I am privileged to be among those that are.” says Ngosa For Ngosa, it has not been easy establishing her company and professional brand. Though supported by the Football Association of Zambia, Purple Tembo Media has been unable to secure any sponsors to finance documenting the national team, the Chipolopolo’s history culminating in their AFCON 2012 win. “I have been branded difficult and not a team player because I refuse to compromise my principles and quality for the sake of a paycheck. I have been sexually harassed and been discriminated against and as a woman I have been expected to accept such behavior and deal with it silently. I have been told not to seem so intelligent. I have worked above and beyond to prove my value only to be paid late and sometimes not at all. And this work is to no avail as it is established that Zambians are mediocre qualifications and experience have no bearing and I have been informed thusly.” she adds.

Top: Monthly Bush Windown Organised by StartUp Junction for entrepreneurs to meet socially and network Bottom: Ngosa, Captain of AFCON 2012 and current national team, Chipolopolo Christopher Katongo, Juan Rodriguez-Briso of Omnicorp Estudio, my dad after documentary film interview March 2013 in South Africa

Ngosa has been a part of organizing the social media campaign for the highest national award bestowed across arts disciplines, the Ngoma. She has realized her lifelong dream to travel around the country, journeying to eight of Zambia’s ten provinces while researching and presenting Zambia’s history, culture and natural beauty for a local TV show. She has collaborated with a Spanish Production company to film interviews with football pundits around the world and the national team for the documentary.

Ngosa was instrumental in connecting amazing fellow entrepreneurial creatives to promote Zambia through Project Cascade, a Zambian multimedia creative youth entrepreneurial collaboration utilizing the power of social media to showcase Zambia to its people and the world. Ngosa has found Zambians, both local and in the diaspora, on and offline who are just as passionate about bettering our nation socio-economically.

Photo Credit Pabl Ngosa Chungu, is the Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Producer at Purple Tembo Media. She holds a BA in Communication from Stanford University and a double Master’s degree in Global Media and Communications from the London School of Economics and the University of Southern California. She has worked in Marketing: Silicon Valley, Publicity: Hollywood and has interned at the BBC’s flagship interview show HardTalk. She researched; script wrote and presented Season 2 of Today with Zamtel in Zambia from December 2012 – March 2013. She is currently partnering with Zambia entrepreneurial creatives on a multimedia collaboration to showcase Zambia: Project Cascade. She has lived in Zambia, Kenya, England, the USA and Switzerland.

Photographer -Jorge Parra & Tim Corey Styling/Shoot Coordination - ICY PR Make up - Nicole Jenkins & Isoken Asemota Models —Taonaya Fleury, Tracey Rockhead, Kenyana Black, Monica Dillard, Juile Martin, Margaret Addo, Curtis Frank and Sam Person.

“Fashion has a pattern and revolves all the time. The Tee’s Designs fashionista stands out in the world because of unique, hand-made and stylish fashion accessories created with patterns inspired by AFRICA.”

-Designer, Taibat Lawal

African Lion (ess), Tell Thy Tale “African woman, tell thy tale.” “Why should I? When the hunters and prowlers take truth from my mouth at gunpoint, and make damning lies on ballpoint? Why should I?” As a Nigerian student in History class, I learned of brave hearts and wise women, my conception of my country began who formed alliances and lost their lives in with Lord Lugard, and the mistake of pursuit of those two fundamental needs of all 1914. This was where my legacy human beings, through all ages: Freedom, commenced. I learned nothing of the and Love. And I grew to understand, great Yoruba kingdoms of old: knew implicitly, the inherent unnaturalness of my nothing of the myths of Igbo ancestral people’s enslavement and colonisation. religion, pre-dating and mirroring I learned that just as Britain had undergone Christianity, and much less of she-roes its’ development phase, and the past, like Amina of Zaria, or Nzingha of accompanying turmoil, so too was my Matamba. She-roes who had tread the beloved Nigeria going through its’ phase of soil on which I now strode; who had growth. To listen to and learn of these stories sacrificed their tomorrows for my today. gave me hope, that Nigeria’s story too might If there was evidence that my people one day trace our triumphant voyage across existed before a colonialist colonel troubled pasts. amalgamated them, it was not part of But fundamentally, I recognised that this my curriculum. If there was a history of educative my forefathers, carefully wrapped “Across the global Diaspora, the danger process would be in ink and of a single story shadows Africans. As an impossible, immortalised in African woman living in Europe, I have had these stone, to be passed down from their experienced first-hand the damaging men and women of mouths to my ears, stereotypes which society holds, of us.” whom I it was not part of learned, not my consciousness. immortalised their stories. What would there be to share? In my childhood, I loved to read, and had Why is it important that we document our a vivid imagination. I walked with wood lives? That we know of those who went nymphs, flew with fairies, and swam before us, and those who now stand beside with sprites. Despite this, I did not us? That we leave a trail for those who follow appreciate the importance of behind us? What can our narratives storytelling as a form of history: till I contribute to Africa’s development? Of arrived in Britain. From carefully human, and socio-economic capital? reconstructed documentaries charting the lives and loves of Henry VIII and If knowledge is a measure of human capital, Elizabeth Woodville (‘The White Queen’), and stories are stores of knowledge, then our monarchs who steered this country chronicles are crucial to developing Africa’s towards its present-day course, to human capital across society: from biopics of influential writers, scientists, economics and business, to civil society and and engineers who left behind lasting politics. They may produce transformational legacies, the power and importance of leaders, who are self-aware and cognizant of storytelling took on new meaning. In their roots in history’s tapestry. Leaders who Italy, I saw entire monuments built in understand not only the context of the homage to noblemen and priests alike: communities they serve, but also the stories acts of celebration that cemented the that have shaped these communities, leading existence of Italian civilisation in the them down windy, dusty roads of change. present, and preserved it for the future. Once, I listened to a professor emphasise the importance of African women telling their I watched the past leap to life, stories. “Passivity is death”, she cautioned. reconstructed from snippets of “You must react. You must write.” information: memoirs, love letters,

Diaspora, where the shapers of history and tellers of stories have virtually omitted our narrative from past millennia, it becomes even more imperative to leave that “I was here” signature. It becomes necessary for us to affirm our existence; to imprint our presence on the slabs of history. For what we each do as one, will count as ten thousand.

publications, and royal decrees.

Especially for us who live in the African

Across the global Diaspora, the danger of a single story shadows Africans. As an African woman living in Europe, I have experienced first-hand the damaging stereotypes which society holds, of us. Foremost among them is the image of the loud, loose, exotic, erotic simpleton. True, this typecast describes some African women, but for others, like me, it does not reflect our reality. In our struggle against the prejudices and preconceived notions of others towards us, African women are beholden to share our narratives: as an emblem of difference, an alternate lens through which the world may view us and ultimately, our people. To echo a sage, if storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world, then in order for us to sow this idea of a ‘balanced perspective’ on African women, it is vital that we document our stories. Stories about our present realities; about the past, of noble heroines lost in obscurity. Stories about the future; of dreams undying and hope eternal. Confucius once said, “study the past, if you would define the future.” If you want your children, and their children after them, to take charge of their course and define their destiny, then you must leave them a past to be studied: you must tell your story! Obiocha Ikezogwo is a young Nigerian deeply committed to developing her country and Africa. A Petroleum Economist at Palantir Solutions, she holds a first class Finance degree from Manchester University. In 2013 she was recognised among the Top 25 Emerging Women Leaders by the Moremi Initiative. Outside her mentoring activities, Obiocha serves as Governor of two schools: Harris Academy South Norwood and Harris Academy Upper Norwood, London. Obiocha is the co-founder of Yaaya, a platform to promote positive images of women of African descent. Yaaya shares the achievements and ambitions of black women, as part of a wider vision to make them ‘visible’ in European society.

Nazra for Feminist Studies “I hope people all over would stop racism and sexism one day, and give themselves a chance to see other human beings how they see themselves, without looking for their country, color, race, sex, gender, religion, class or other differences.�~ Ola M Tawfic Nazra for Feminist Studies is a group that aims to build an Egyptian feminist movement, believing that feminism and gender are political and social issues affecting freedom and development in all societies. Nazra aims to mainstream these values in both public and private spheres. Nazra’s team, which includes both women and men, believes that integrating gender and feminism will be achieved through the efforts of believers in the validity of these values and in the necessity of their implementation in both spheres. Ola M Tawfic , Initiatives Coordinator at Nazra for Feminist Studies shares with AfroElle on Nazra and its initiatives.

During the Arab Spring, women also took part in the revolution, has there been any positive changes on gender equality? Was the Spring positive or negative for women? The start of the revolution has naturally changed a lot of things. It might have not shown a direct change on gender equality, but it surely raised a question in the Egyptian minds, who were not interested in the topic. Phrases claiming, that women were not part of the revolution, or that the women should stay at home, and that women, are not allowed to protest like men surely had an influence on people. At this point people start deciding whether they are pro or anti feminism for example.

A lot of people I now in person had become active in the gender equality field only after the revolution started. It has surely affected the issue, but I cannot really say, whether this influence is positive or negative. Women are still being used as terrorism tools, to abort the revolution by scaring people, on the other hand, some people only start taking actions against the inequality, only after certain accidents happen. What has been the response to the storytelling sessions, are people open to sharing their stories? Have there been cases where its helped in advocacy to end such things as gender -based violence? The storytelling sessions are in first place for people to tell their own stories, which helps them reflect about themselves and relate to their realities. It's not an initiative, that's designed to have a direct change. The sessions have different topics, that change every time, so the gender based violence is only one of the topics who had talked about. The topics we choose are very personal and it's not closed to gender based violence only. The response of the initiative is quite well, especially, that the storytellers know, they are not being judged, or analysed. We're just offering a safe space for people to talk, in order to take the burden off their chests. The storytelling sessions are also one of our initiatives. There is much more to the initiatives work than that . Nazra's initiatives take lots of different, most of them artistic, sides to reach out the feminist concept. It's another way besides the academic and support, targeting

<<<Interactive Theatre July Spraying Graffiti with NooNewsa May 2012

Ola M Tawfic empowerment and spreading awareness about Feminism and Gender. We have bi-weekly storytelling where every second week we organize an event for people to gather and tell their stories and ideas about a certain topic. It helps them take some burden off their chest and reflect about themselves. We choose topics like "the body", "fear", "gender based violence", so it relates a lot to our feminist concept and sharing different points of views and reflections with no further discussion. There is the Masculinity Monologues. In order to reach the feminist concept, it's important to find and discuss the masculinity issues, that the society is facing, first, so we thought of starting an initiative, where we talk about the guy's lives and how they deal with their issues. We also have digital storytelling, this project is about teaching young adults video technicalities to produce a number of short movies about their stories. What is your dream for Egypt? I rarely dream for Egypt. For starters, my dream is for people to stop using countries to differentiate between human beings. I hope people all over would stop racism and sexism one day, and give themselves a chance to see other human beings like how they see themselves, without looking for their country, color, race, sex, gender, religion, class or other differences. I wish people would discover themselves on deeper levels; discover their beauty, power and creativity and accept their ugliness and insecurities and work on them.

For more information on NAZRA visit

<< 16Daysof Activism Open Mic EventGender Based Violence December 2012

A Hunger And Thirst For Home—A Timeline Words by Chef Afrik In 2001, my family moved from Kenya to Washington, D.C. We spent weeks packing our lives into boxes and suitcases. As we left the airport and walked into a typical East Coast summer, the heat overcame my body. This was neither the coastal heat of Lamu nor that of Lake Victoria. This was moist, humid, hard-to-breathe and blanket-heavy warmth. In sweaters and thick socks, we were sorely overdressed for the August heat of Washington. Passing an outdoor vending machine, I spotted a bottle of Sprite. I was happy to buy something that reminded me of Kenya. When you move to a country so different from your own, your senses are constantly assaulted by the foreignness of everything. Even the flavor of that Sprite was foreign. My first swig had me thinking I had a tainted bottle. It was tangier with a longer lasting aftertaste. I was disappointed. Little did I know then, that this Sprite would be a metaphor for how my expectations were unprepared to meet the realities of America. But it was also the beginning of an evolving palate; one that would eventually acquire the unusual flavors of that Sprite, and many more. This is a story about how the perennial palate adjustments of the African immigrant and how amidst this adjustment, it turns into an Afropolitan palate. One Week Hungry That first week in America, my father dropped my mother and I at the grocery store to stock up. We had been eating fast-food all week and my mother was going to reward us with some good ol' Kenyan food. Grocery shopping is the same everywhere: If I closed my eyes for a moment, it felt like I was in Uchumi or Nakumatt in Nairobi. My mother asked me to go get cream and I knew she wanted to make one of her spinach dishes, a personal favorite. I met a man restocking the pasta shelf and asked him where I could find some cream. I was met with the realization that there were different kinds of cream; whipped cream, light cream, sour cream, light cream, table cream, cream cheese, coffee cream. I had never heard of these options before. I was from a world where “cream” meant “light cream.” On my return with empty hands, my mother gave me a questioning look. Too terrified to face the overwhelming realm of multiple cream options, I lied to her that they had run out of cream, One Year Hungry Eventually, I learned that you will never find everything you need in one place. This butcher sells oxtail. That other butcher promises to save some cow intestines for you. I

Photo Credit: Chef Afrik began to find the similarities in countries that are thousands of miles away from my own. This Indian grocer sells all the spices I needed. That Mexican shopkeeper sold the best plantain. The West African store in Silver Spring sells Royco. And who knew that they sold Tusker beer at the Russian store on 14th? I am of the world where everything you needed was more or less in one place, whether in the market or the store. When juggling acquired tastes like quinoa and soymilk, with your nascent tastes, it stopped becoming a onestop food shopping experience years ago Twelve Years Hungry I was speaking with a Miss Kenya pageant representative for a story I was working on for my newspaper. At that particular moment, I was organizing the audio settings on my tape recorder and my question of choice for interviewees has always been to ask what they had for breakfast, to which she said, sausages, bacon and toast. I was also looking for solidarity in my dislike for American sausages. I mentioned to her that I hoped it wasn’t the American sausages. America has many great things, but one thing it does not have are great tasting sausages. This is something that has left me, my family and thousands of Kenyans constantly craving the aforementioned Farmer’s Choice sausages. It has been years since I had bothered to ask someone to carry some packages in their suitcases for me. My father stopped doing so long ago. In fact, it has been nearly two years since I had tasted any of them. *** I have now been in the U.S. for thirteen years with many visits back to Kenya. I have learned to adopt my own version of Kenyan food, with the different creams, kales, flours and spices I can find here. Amidst all this, I discovered my love for pad Thai, Peruvian ceviche, Mexican tacos and sushi in America; all things that my afropolitan palate shared with my traditional native dishes. My mother played the biggest role in my food assimilation in America, but also tried her hardest, from smuggling food to the constant hunt for the best ingredients to keep her family connected with traditional Kenyan food. Adhis writes about African food, travel and culture in her popular “Chef Afrik” blog where she aims to bring “African food to the masses”. Born in Sweden, she was raised in both Kenya and the U.S. –all countries, she says, that fully inform her will to be a tastebud explorer. She is currently preparing for ‘Eat, Pray, Africa’, a multi-country African food and cultural tour starting in 2014.

Follow her adventures at

5 Questions for Travelista Oneika Raymond is a high school teacher, polyglot, and travel junkie who has traveled to over sixty Oneika countries on six continents. Originally from Canada, she is a serial expat who has lived in France, Mexico, Hong Kong, and is currently living in London, UK. An adventurer who is always in the midst of planning her next trip, Oneika has, amongst other things, trekked in Nepal, sailed in Croatia, and gone on safari in Tanzania. Her travel writing has been featured in number of online publications, including The Huffington Post and National



When did the travel bug bite and how many destinations have you traveled to? Growing up in multicultural Toronto, Canada, I've always had a thirst for travel. But it wasn't until spending my third year of university in France as part of a study abroad program that I truly fell in love with life on the road! It was the start of something big for me: I grew almost obsessed with travelling to foreign countries and seeing how "the other" lived. Now I've been to 62 countries -- crazy since it was only at the age of 21 that I started travelling internationally.

What excites you most about travel? Four things excite me about travel: people, language, landscapes, and culture. For me all these things are intrinsically linked and fuel my desire to experience all things foreign.


Oneika in Pamplona, Spain during the San Fermin Festival July 2012

Which destination changed your life and view of the culture of the people you found there and why? Very difficult question!. As an educator (I teach high school English and French) I always tell my students to enter into things without prejudice and pre-conceived notions -- and it's an edict I abide by when I travel. That said, I was impressed by the warmth and hospitality of the locals when I went to Jordan. Having only limited experience with the Middle East and no real knowledge about the, I was really floored by how welcoming everyone was and by how much I enjoyed the food.


In all your times of traveling, what have you learned about yourself?

I've learned that I really love different languages and attempting to communicate with people in their mother tongue. I love seemingly random situations and linguistic missteps that happen abroad! I also have learned to value my own company through solo travel.


What advice would you give to anyone new to traveling for fun?

Travel at your own pace and don't kill yourself to see everything. The world isn't going anywhere. Savour. Breathe deeply. Stretch yourself. Reflect on your experience once you've gotten back home.


Culture Twist

by Amina Touray Photography

Swedish-Gambian photographer Amina Touray, now living in Los Angeles is mostly known for her fashion and portraits that are colorful and dramatically composed. Amina started out as a child model which lead to an early interest in photography, and the interest eventually lead to a passion. Since Amina moved to Los Angeles to study photography in 2011, she was chosen as a finalist among 16,000 other photography submissions worldwide, in Photographer's Forum Annual photography Contest. The finalist position awarded her with a diploma and her photo was published in Photographer's forum's yearly limited book edition. Amina has also showcased her work at The Belasco in Los Angeles with Raw Artist. Her work has been published on Vogue Italia and several other magazines. Amina typically shoot outside in natural light and the trips she has taken around the world has given her an understanding and inspiration to capture the beauty from all around.

Check out more of Amina’s work

Photography: Amina Touray Wardrobe Stylist: Lote Eglite Make up Artist: Hary Villarreal Jewelery from: Fabrics and accessories from Fashion Districts Los Angeles

Photography: Amina Touray Wardrobe Stylist: Lote Eglite Make up Artist: Hary Villarreal Jewelery from: Fabrics and accessories from Fashion Districts Los Angeles

Photography: Amina Touray Wardrobe Stylist: Lote Eglite Make up Artist: Hary Villarreal Jewelery from: Fabrics and accessories from Fashion Districts Los Angeles

Photography: Amina Touray Wardrobe Stylist: Lote Eglite Make up Artist: Hary Villarreal Jewelery from: Fabrics and accessories from Fashion Districts Los Angeles

Africa in 2063 What do 36 Afropolitans from around the world have in common? A dream for Africa! In light of the recent milestone celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the African Union, celebrating we asked afropolitans in the continent and the Diaspora to share their dream for Africa and their home countries in 50 years to come. Africa in 2063!

Alae Ismail Co-Founder of Styled by Africa London

Akaliza Keza Gara Multimedia Consultant Kigali, Rwanda When I dream of Africa in 2063, I dream about a continent that has rediscovered itself. I dream of a continent where our people move freely across borders – keen to share and connect with their sisters and brothers. I dream of Africa where war, tribalism and poverty exist only in our history books. Where we don‘t look to foreign nations as ones we aspire to be like – but instead as ones that we can inspire and be inspired by, without ever disregarding or belittling our own unique goals. I dream of Africa where we value our traditions and culture without being slaves to them. I dream of Africa where our musicians and artists create works that are not cheap imitations but that are unique to their voice and their vision. I dream of Africa where our children are educated about the world in a context relevant to their space and time. I dream of Africa where our women are not depicted as victims and our men as villains. I dream of Africa that‘s already becoming a reality.

“My vision for Africa in the next 50 years is to see more women escaping the poverty cycle by gaining independence and having the ability to pay for their food, education and medication.” While studying a Masters in Public Health, I realized that gender inequality and education was crucial for determining Africa's future. Two thirds of the 110 million children out of school in Sub-Saharan Africa are girls, who also end up as 66% of the world's 875 million illiterate adults. In the short term it appears that the cost of sending girls to school versus household work outweighs the long-term investment for many families. Although the number of children attending primary school has increased, the quality of education, completion, and moving on to higher education remain challenges. Educating women allows them to change their own lives, and the Ethical Fashion Initiative is a perfect example of using fashion to change lives by training women technical skills needed to meet the demands of the fashion world. My vision for Africa in the next 50 years is to see more women escaping the poverty cycle by gaining independence and having the ability to pay for their food, education and medication.


Andima Umoren Social Media and Multimedia Specialist Washington D.C. , USA

We‘ve all heard the saying, ―It takes a village to raise a child.‖ The ageold saying is probably one of the most widely known African proverbs in the world, but in this case I would like to focus on the village and not the child. The village in my vision refers to all of Africa, and the only way that Africa can achieve anything is through unity. My dream is of a continent that collaborates: sharing successes and failures, supporting each other‘s economies, celebrating each other‘s cultures and working together to diffuse each other‘s conflicts. Just like Africa, a village is comprised of entities with different skills and roles. Historically, these villages have banded together to educate children, harvest crop, build homes, etc. In such cases diversity in the village has worked as an asset rather than hindrances to the village‘s success. So in the spirit of unity, I envision an Africa in 2063 that sees it‘s unique and culturally diverse nations as the surest way in which to transform its challenges into successes. In a phrase, let‘s nurture our future together.

The future for Africa I see is a possible one. Of course, I want my cousins and extended family to enjoy the same infrastructure privileges I have in the United States. Access to electricity, clean water, and paved roads and, yeah, even broadband, in the most remote of villages is something I look forward to seeing in 2063's Africa. But beyond that, I want to see young people taking ownership of the resources in their respective countries and I want to see the older generation investing their knowledge in the young people. I know this is possible because it‘s happening, albeit slowly.

Ann Daramola

Above all, I want to see the spirit of Africans alive and well. I want all of us to believe in our inherent brilliance and the undeniable worthiness of our humanity to exist. I want us to see each other, past our tribes and genders and money and sexuality and class locations to the beauty of our spirits.

Web Developer |Founder, Afrolicious Los Angeles, California, USA “I see Africans using education to create new technologies and new ways of telling stories across African countries, seeing each other outside of the lenses others have given us to look through.”

[Photo by Chad Coombs of]

“I want to see Africa and Africans reunited in love and peace and togetherness with their sisters and brothers across the Diaspora.�

My dreams for Africa in 2063 are that it will be a continent that has separated itself from colonial ties and returned to the bosom of who she has and will always be; the original, the originators of all, of civilization, of intellect, of art and creativity, of love. I want to see a continent that leads the world in all things and that takes credit back that it is due, but that also does not wait to receive accolades from anyone but instead makes strides for itself. Africa is me all of me, without it there would be no me and for that all I can do it be thankful. Even if Africa is not where I want to it be in 2063 it will always be important, the beginning and the end for me.

Amber Ileene Curry Hairstylist |Creative Director| Producer| Nashville, Tennessee

Ariyike Akinbobola Humanitarian | Lawyer |Media Personality Nigeria 50 years from now, I strongly believe that Africa would be fully united as one. Africa would be seen as one "Country". It would be possible for all to hold and travel with the same International Passport - The African Union Passport to be issued to all Africans just like the way Europeans have the European Union (EU) Passport. This will promote Inter-African trade and encourage importation and exportation of goods and services among the African countries; it will also remove the barriers and promote international trade. Africa will be the yardstick for development in terms of infrastructure and the utilization of its natural mineral resources. Africa would be the main centre of business, fashion, agriculture, human resources, commerce and entertainment where People from all continents will want to invest and have a stake in the respective ever growing industries.

“In 2063 there will be new perspectives of Africa. Africa is the beginning and the end.� Africa is the motherland and where everything began in the world. Africa will continue to evolve and remain the greatest continent. I currently live in the United States, and the US has provided great Journalism Student freedom for me and my dreams. To be an African Cleveland, Ohio American I feel extremely proud and I‘m always willing to learn more about my ancestry. In the year of 2063 I see myself living in Africa. I see Africa being more vibrant and full of life. I see businesses blooming and Africa being the number one place to visit and live in the world. I see the African Americans and Africans coming together as one, combining group economics and starting brands and businesses together, knowing where we came from and not to forgetting where we are going. I see a day when the Diaspora community chooses to take their talents and be part of a movement to bring Africa to state of grace. Africa is the key continent to understanding how the world works.

Arielle Proctor


Asia Leeds, Ph.D., Scholar and Professor of African Diaspora Studies, Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia, USA “ In 50 years to come, I would like to see the continent invest more in higher education to keep innovative and creative young people on the continent, rather than loosing talent to Europe or the U.S.; To raise the salaries of professors to attract and retain world class researchers; the development of more universities and institutes, more widespread access to a university education, and the growth of university systems that are a think tank for the investigation and solution of African problems.�

I would like for there to be an increased self-awareness, self-determination, and confidence in the ability of Africans to solve their own problems. An end to the international aid model. A strengthened continent that does not buckle under the pressure of multinational corporations. African control of the continent's natural resources and the reinvestment of the profits into the nation. Governments that operate in the people's interests, not just an elite minority. More African owned airlines and increased investment in local public transportation, more reliable and affordable means of transportation between African countries. For the continent to be a global leader in matters of social equality; to be a place where all people, women and men, gay, straight, bi, transgender can live in dignity and without fear of expressing their love or sexuality. 69|

Bessie Akuba Winn-Afeku Photographer | Creative Activist “My

dream for Africa 50 years from now is for the world to finally see us the way we see ourselves. In 50 years the continent of Africa will be known for producing the world’s greatest artist, educators, designers, scientists, and thought leaders. We will also run effective governments free of corruption. The Africa that my parents knew, that I and my peers know, and the Africa that my daughter will know will be vastly different. But different in a good way. Different in such a way that it will continue to show the progressive nature of all of our countries.”

Carine Umuhumuza Non-Profit Communications Professional Washington, DC .

“In 2063, I dream that Africa will be a place where leaders won’t serve themselves, but will instead consider the future of generations to come. I dream of a continent where young leader value and commit to upholding standards of human rights, morality, and equality. I dream of a continent defined by its countries and citizens, and the children of each nation will be proud ambassadors of their heritage and culture. I dream of an Africa where Africans are the sole agents for changing our continent’s destiny, and control the narratives of our diversity and our history.”

Claudine Moore Founder of C Moore Media, International Public Relations One of my many hopes for Africa in 2063 is that finally the continent and the Caribbean will be directly connected with commercial and trade routes open and flourishing by both sea and air. Connecting Africa and the Caribbean would provide a psychological boost for the global black psyche, and would empower millions of people in both regions to reconnect in ways never done before. Currently there are no direct flights or trade routes connecting the Caribbean and Africa. When the Europeans needed to connect these regions for the lucrative business of Slavery, routes were created enabling the slave trade to flourish for hundreds of years. The slave trade ended, and so did the direct connection. There is no viable reason why direct routes do not exist. For citizens to travel between these regions, they have to go via the US or Europe in effect seeking ‗permission‘. This subtly lends to the pervasive ‗them and us‘ culture that currently exists and divides Caribbean and African people. I hope that by 2063 the governments of the Caribbean and Africa have taken the empowered and proactive steps to create direct routes enabling robust tourism between the regions as well as creating our own ‗lucrative trade‘, this time in the promotion of direct trade and investment between the Caribbean and Africa. In 2063, I hope this empowered move is allowing Caribbean and African citizens to gain strength and momentum from each other. I hope seamless student, cultural, educational and business exchanges exist between the regions, creating new independent revenue streams, and lucrative business development opportunities for all.


Caroline Anjorin Co-founder at Yaaya United Kingdom | Nigeria

Yaaya: Greetings Mother, daughters and sons of our beautiful Land. Where do you see yourselves in 2063? Sistah A: (Smiles) Na me be free. Na my sistahs Be. Freed. Broda F: Biko, talk of this freedom that you don't now have. Jor, talk of this freedom that You All need?

Caroline Anjorin


Broda R: I think my Sistah speaks of her Choice. To choose to have Knowledge; To choose her soul-mate. To have a voice. For her independence to be: Supported. Celebrated. Rather than barely tolerated. By man. Sistah I: And woman too o! (Mtcheww) For our culture to nurture and uplift our ambitions, And make us visible In our classrooms, In our boardrooms, In our nations, Before our brothers. Rather than customs bound us to our kitchens. Broda C: Or traditions chain You to your Bed: Out of duty, or Because of excruciating, Womanhood-mutilating pain. Sistah A: You Hear and See Me. Yes, my emancipation seeks Man To treasure and carry With heads held high My hand-woven basket of hopes and dreams. But not trade my Values.

Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to ecological risk because much of its population is dependent on farming as a means of livelihood. Not only that, but Africa generally has a low adaptive capacity to cope with ecological risk due to a multiplex of challenges which act as underlying causes for vulnerability to ecological uncertainties. My vision for 2063 for Africa would thereby encompass an Africa which is past the multiplex of challenges which expose it to extreme vulnerabilities to ecological risk. Some

Software Developer

Mother Africa: Children, let us birth these words into actions For my Daughters. Then, l can be free In, by, and before 2063.


Dorcas Shumba PhD Student | Designer Zimbabwe, New Zealand of these challenges include inter alia; wars and conflict, low institutional capacities, poor trade policies, inequalities, poverty, high occurrences of HIV and AIDS. I dream of an Africa which would have evolved from a state of vulnerability to adaptation. An Africa with a full capacity to anticipate, cope with as well as recover well from environmental risk.

have every reason to be hopeful that in 50 years the Divine Muragijimana We women and youth in Africa will finally have their voice

Founder/President, The Council of heard. Women and youth are the makers of society. If Young African Leaders these two groups are empowered, then the society is New York City empowered. I have found that when you train young

people to become not only power brokers in society, but give them the tools to contribute to their communities, everyone eventually benefits from these efforts. My dream, particularly for Burundi, is to see young people being afforded training opportunities particularly in business leadership. Their future is Burundi‘s future; therefore, to invest in young people and strong training programs is to invest in Burundi. For Burundian women, training is key. While the gender gap in education is becoming a bit narrow, there is still a great need for training programs for women, especially for adult training programs. This will essentially give them a platform where they can share their stories. Most importantly, I would like to see an established medium where research can take place, and women‘s issues are given a platform where the state government can act based on researched data. The truth is, all this is possible in Burundi, and in Africa. If the youth and women have anything to say about it, in the next 50 years, they will not be left behind. In that regard, our history has been the best teacher. They will take charge of their development. They will take charge of their future.

Elen Awalom Software Developer |Afrofuturist Artist| Curatoric CEO I'll open my vision of Africa's future with a disclaimer. As a selfprofessed Afrofuturist, I am relentlessly optimistic and utopian. In 50 years, the African continent will have been completely transformed. Its urban areas will be rejuvenated. There will be a vibrant nightlife with restaurants, cafes, lounges and concert halls in cities like Asmera and Khartoum. Thriving businesses founded by Africans which employ Africans will be the norm. War will be a thing of the past. Previously conflict-prone regions such as my native Horn of Africa will know a lasting peace. Africa's abundance of natural resources will be unleashed for the betterment of its masses. Famine will be a distant memory. The arts will flourish; African musicians, painters, photographers, and poets will experience a renaissance of sorts. Technology will provide Africans with tools that create solutions to centuries-old problems. It will open the doors to communication and information exchanges that result in increased empathy and awareness of social inequalities. Women and children will be at the forefront of these transformations. The road ahead is tough. This much is certain. But as Africa's daughters and sons return home over the next two decades, change will come rapidly. And it will have lasting power.

Eva Toby TV Personality| Presenter |Graduate Student pursuing MBA, My dream for Africa in the next 50 years would be a revived continent where poverty is eradicated and exceptional healthcare, education, economic development, and enhanced infrastructures are the standard. I am passionate about people and social change, therefore in looking at the Africa 2063 initiative I envision a prosperous continent which embodies peace, promotes unity amongst the various countries, and empowers individuals. With Africa‘s plethora of natural resources it is very perplexing to see why African countries still tend to have some of the highest poverty rates in the world. Unfortunately key contributors to the impoverishment of African people have been the mismanagement and corruption of some African governments. Hence, in looking forward, I foresee African governments transforming their governance to one that is transparent, fair, and benefits its citizens; where our natural resources translates to job creation and opportunities for the general public and paves the way for generations thereafter. My hope for Africa 50 years from now is that the dismal image would be transformed to one of opulence and the continent emerges as a global competitor and leader.

Fatou Wurie Communication and Branding Strategist| Storyteller Sierra Leone ―50 years. My Sierra Leone would spiritually, culturally, socially, economically and politically reclaim its place in the world as a cradle of innovation – that would intellectually, economically and socially be an integral contributor to shaping global affairs. Sierra Leone would be a place not where 1 in 23 women are at risk of not surviving during childbirth, it will not have an illiteracy rate of 60%, and it would be a competitive exporter of rice (its staple food). Ideas would be premium, an exchange worth millions, and the extractive industries would be sustainable and community centered. The love for art and culture would be vibrant, we will have museums, books, parks and libraries that nestle the great work of our forefathers, gestating the possible and passing the baton to the youth of that day. My dream for Africa is that we would have strengthened continental trade, our countries would complement one another across every sector – umoja/one word/unity would be our mantra. Most importantly, we will finally have understood that to empower and African woman—economically, socially, and culturally is to empower and nourish our continent. That is what I vision when I see Africa 2063.‖


Gillean Opoku

In 2063, I would like to see creative Africa imprinted in everyone's mind and being in-tune with it moving away from generalizing it as one emerging culture and just seeing it as it is. Rather than seeing it as a sector for only Africans and those who dare go near it. I would like to see an overall appreciation for creativity within our culture. In particular encouraging young ones to tap into their creativity just like we encourage them to play sport or do their math homework. For my home country Ghana (I am not sure how much of this applies to other African counties), improved customer service. It may seem like a trivial thing, but I have realized that it could go a long way for Ghana. It could help change the way people relate to each other on all levels. It would enable us to be more understanding, respectful and tolerant towards each other. As a whole, I would like to see Africa in 2063 become a power continent rather than the pity continent of the world. A mover and shaker with better leadership across the board, education and a strengthened economy.

Digital Designer London, UK (originally Sydney, Australia)

Jemila Abdulai International Development & Communications Professional Accra, Ghana Ghana in 2063. Notions of ―they‖ replaced with declarations of ―we‖. Responsibility no longer a question of ―who‖, but rather of ―how (to respond)‖? Education extends beyond reading and writing - we seek to understand, question, create. Poverty? Unacceptable – we eliminate it because the most vulnerable of us, is us. Ours is a kaleidoscope of different cultures; each unique, each enriching. Our villages, cities and country reflect us: the fusion of valuable traditions with visionary ideas. Planning used to be our forté, now proactively is our way. We lead. Each of us -for all of us. Business is booming, yes, but in Africa, collaboration is the name of the game. The ―African dream‖ ? Long gone – we‘re living it. Ladies and gentlemen, the cradle of mankind is once again a birthplace: of ideas, talent, legends. People still us, how we turned it all around. It's simple. We realized our destinies are bound, and then, we chose to change our minds.

Dear Africa-In-50-Years, How glad I am to know that my children did not have to leave you to get a good education. The grass was never greener on the other side (of the ocean) but thank you for teaching us that once we learnt how to water our own grass with better education systems, health facilities and minerals that were always under our nose, our grass was in fact the greenest there ever was and will be. Our artists send their appreciation that we can tell endless stories about you and where you have come from. We are still in awe at the untold stories that are hidden away in your bountiful pockets. The world is listening to them and we will keep telling them for yours is a beautiful story that has plenty to teach. Most importantly I want to thank you Africa-In-50-Years for emboldening me to make this dream become a reality. Though you may grow older Africa-In-50-Years, you are just as beautiful as you were 50 years ago.

Kemiyondo Coutinho Artistic Director | Actress | Playwright| Student Uganda and San Francisco, California, USA

“As Africans and the Diaspora we will own our stories, and there will be so many that no one in any land will be able to paint us all with one brush.”

Kiran Yoliswa Co-Founder of Styled By Africa London Having grown up in Zimbabwe, I often wonder how its future might look and what that means for mine. By then I‘ll be an old lady sitting on my verandah, but the Africa 2063 I hope to be living in would look like this. Young people will not just be surviving but thriving, creating their own futures. African leaders will have started taking the youth seriously, including them as stakeholders in decision making. We won‘t applaud every time there is a new woman in a position of leadership, because every other President, Minister and CEO will be female. Communities will be free to express their opinions and lifestyles. Diversity will be celebrated. Preferably with cake. African leaders will have realized that life in their countries is best when as many people as possible get a piece of the piestriving for the wealth of communities not individuals. In 2063, I dream that I will be home in Africa, and we shall both be proud, healthy, and still growing.

Like many Africans at home and abroad, a significant element of my dream for the Motherland 50 years from now, is for every nation to have met and surpassed the Millennium Development Goals. However, while improvements in health provision, poverty rates, infrastructure and economic growth remain important milestones for Africa, I believe a cultural revolution is one of the most important yet overlooked goals. In order for Africa to truly fulfill its potential, the hearts and minds of all Africans that want to see a better continent, need to feel genuinely empowered, connected and responsible for the development of their respective nations. With such sentiment, demands for accountability and high standards, rejection of apathy, and an embrace of civic and social responsibility can and should become the norm. Expecting better of Africa begins with our own behaviour, thoughts, words and self-esteem. As the illustrious Booker T. Washington said:

―Nothing ever comes to one that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.‖ The realization of my dream for Africa in 2063, thus begins with my own endeavors, to turn this dream into a feasible reality.

Loretta Addai Project Manager, London

Photo Credit: Jonathan Perugia –

Lulu Kitololo Creative Director | Blogger |Entrepreneur London, UK

“We will be a self-confident people. Proud of our heritage and our uniqueness. Confident about what we can achieve – anything. Assertive of the standards we deserve and expect – high.” 50 years from now, the creative industry will be one of the most dynamic and innovative across the world. You will find people practicing all variety of disciplines – constantly challenging and expanding our view of what is possible. The sharing of knowledge and experience will thrive through active trade associations, world-class educational institutions, online hubs and the comprehensive and compulsory incorporation of the arts in school curriculums (from day 1). Our cities will have transformed into places that nurture the mind and body. Safety and ease of movement; a multitude of green spaces in which to relax and play; cultural destinations to educate and inspire and; a 24-hour economy. We will be a self-confident people. Proud of our heritage and our uniqueness. Confident about what we can achieve – anything. Assertive of the standards we deserve and expect – high. Demanding of our leaders and strictly unaccepting of incompetence. Tolerant, appreciative even, of diversity – in every form in which it manifests. Considerate of all that is around us, the planet that feeds us and the people that share it with us. Celebratory, always. 79|

Lynecia Burgess Former Managing Editor,

Photo Credit: Matthew Lindner

The continent of Africa has already come a tremendous way in the last 50 years – political independence, the swift growth of economies, and the rise of the middle class; and yet that forward movement has not come without its challenges. Poverty and numerous socio-economic inequalities still persist, leaving so many people behind. Many are faced with the option of leaving home in order to seek their fortunes. As the continent makes its way into the latter half of the century, ascending into a greater share of power, my wish is that all Africans have the opportunity to rise together. The future of the continent is in the hands of its people collectively, and shouldn‘t be left in the hands of the few. An Africa, where its people can bloom where they are planted: be educated, build wealth, innovate and enrich the country from whence they were born – that is my vision.

Mbabazi Annet Ntezi Development professional and student Kampala – Milan I want to see Africa realize the great potential I know it possesses and strongly believe that astute leadership will be the driving force of that advancement. I hope for greater investment in technology, more opportunities for young people to excel in Agriculture and Economics and importantly the institutionalization of the foundational principles of great leadership and governance in our countries. I dream of an Africa where a 15 year old boy in a village somewhere with a great idea could walk into an incubation center at their local district, sit down with a senior innovator and develop that idea into a product that will serve not only their community but a whole nation. This may sound ambitious and it is but that exactly is what we should be. A continent where just about anyone has the opportunity to pursue their dreams and contribute to the growth of their country. Africans need to take charge of their destiny by nurturing a generation of great leaders; positive altruists that will put the interests of their people before anything else. No disease, war, hunger or any of the misfortunes that plague our land-that is the dream and we have the power to make that happen.

“I fervently wish that my children - born in Senegal - will know more about Zimbabwe or Tanzania than about the United States or Europe.”

Ndeye Sene Mbaye Montreal, Canada

In 50 years, I fervently wish that my children - born in Senegal - will know more about Zimbabwe or Tanzania than about the United States or Europe. I hope they will choose to speak Kiswahili or Peulh rather than Spanish or Italian as a third language. I would like to see the opportunities, they will have, be bestowed on children from less privileged background as well. More importantly, I wish to witness the moment Africans will realize that before we became Christians or Muslims, we were Africans. And rather than ―develop‖ like the West or China, we should develop like Africans: The African model should naturally emerge. The basis of such model should be that every single person born in Africa must be healthy, educated, well-feed be allowed to dream and to choose his own destiny. Instead of suppressing our cultural backgrounds, this model should enhance and build upon them the foundation of a great future for our children, and those who will come after them. Our leaders will fight for these ideologies as the true representatives of the people. I strongly believe that there will be no development without a strong political will. And there will be no economic miracle without an outstanding leadership and bold ideas. We desperately need bold ideas at this point. The good news is: we already possess the assets we will need for the miracle to happen, Afropolitans.

Mutsa Marau London– Harare I have many dreams for Africa. In fifty years I want to Zimbabwe to be the bread of Africa once more. Even more than that, I want Africa to be the bread of the world. Africa has the potential to be a powerhouse and with proper leadership, energised and forward thinking leadership and well managed resources, the opportunities excites me incredibly. I want for our ties with each other to be stronger and our businesses to cross borders. An competitively priced airline that could take me from Harare to Lusaka without going through Johannesburg or costing as much as a flight from London to Accra would be wonderful too! One of the many things I feel blessed to have experienced through my upbringing is the continued emphasis on how important education is.. Generally speaking, education is something that Africans take very seriously. Families work to the bone so that their children are able to go to school. In fifty years, I truly hope that African governments are working just as hard so that education is a lived right. Education lets us live out our hearts desires and prolongs lives. Everybody should be able to know enough so that they can satisfy their hearts. 81|

Don‘t wake me up in 2063 for I wish to keep dreaming! When I open my eyes, I see beautiful Mother Africa smiling but her eyes are filled with pain. Her skin radiates of diamonds, gold and oil and she is regally clad with copper, cobalt, cacao beans and fine woods. Truly, many suitors came from afar to woo her. With persuasive words, they told her of things they wanted to do to ‗help‘ her. Although Mother gracefully denied their offer, her bastard children sold her off. Slowly, they stripped her of her clothes, refined them and sold them back to her at a higher price. She couldn‘t afford the hike, so another suitor promised a credit loan facility with ‗low interests‘ which she doesn‘t have to pay back… yet! She is comforted a little, while her bastard children bask in greed, hatred and corruption. I close my eyes again and Mother is beaming because her children are wealthy and tolerant. No more wars, oppression, tyranny. Businesses booming and innovations springing...

Ona Odili

I walk towards her holding my pen and paper… She says ―Stop it!‖

Writer |Orator | Mentor

I reply, ―Stop what?‖ She says ―Stop writing about your dreams for Africa and take action!‖

I dream of Africa, 50years from now, where we are no longer heavily reliant on finite (and therefore unsustainable) natural resources for economic sustenance; not only petroleum, but also other extractive industries. Instead, we will have a labour force full of valuable, sought-after human capital. I dream of an Africa that will be truly pan-African in its thinking, and will collaborate to solve the common problems that assail the continent. We will no longer allow colonial languages to be acceptable lines of division. I dream of an Africa in which thought leadership will thrive and be valued above material power; in which it will act as a check and balance against political power. If Africans must fight, may they fight over ideas – pioneering and progressive ideas!

Obiocha Ikezogwo

Petroleum Economist at Palantir Solutions My vision for Africa is incomplete without the restoration of the African woman to her rightful place in society; one in which she has full economic independence and political representation; one in which she is seen and taught to be more than a glorified housemaid and reproduction machine; one in which she is truly free to choose, to live, to be! 82|

In 2063, I hope that African identity is not merited on sexual orientation or shade of brown That war long made way for problem solving for a better future That our people benefit off the riches that nature gave us That African heritage and identity is synonymous with excellence That we celebrate our art, that we own our image That dark is not backward That we go back to Nkruamah’s chant and face neither east nor west, only forward I hope that in 2063 it’ll feel good to be an African

Sara Chitambo Project Manager and Filmmaker South Africa

In 2063 I hope that the results of us being the world‘s biggest growing economies today are reflected in the quality of life of our people. I hope that leading technological advancements are locally procured and have gone beyond improving not just the way we communicate and conduct monetary transactions but that that technology directly benefits access to primary health care, education and employment outcomes as well. Today we are still trying to reverse the redundant trend of importing goods made out of African raw materials. In 2063, I have hope that our leaders, economists and manufacturers would have made the local manufacturing environment conducive to producing quality Made in Africa goods. Investment to grow local human technical capacity and in the infrastructure needed to manufacture locally is a critical step in our development and economic freedom. By then I hope we command an equal footing in terms of negotiating terms and outcomes for trade partnerships that currently serve and protect Western and Asian interests ahead of our people. Our already large youth population is set to double in the next few decades and it is my belief that from them, inspired by seeds sowed by the current generation will arise new political and thought leaders that will prioritise African independence and development.

Sarah Diouf Founder of Ifren Media Group & EIC of Ghubar Magazine Paris, France 2063 will officially mark the hundredth anniversary of Africa's independence - and my wish is for the whole continent to be entirely freed from all foreign governments influence on all aspects - for the well being of our industries and politics. In 2063, Africa will be a major economic and cultural well for the worldwide landscape and the fight for unity currently led by our Diaspora will start resulting on something positive and encouraging for the generations to come. I dream of an Africa without wars, with strong, innovative, and humble leaders for our greatness to speak for itself, I dream of an Africa without rape and violence against women, standing fiercely as leaders of prospered nations, of a continent without tribalism, but united and strong, for our voice to be heard and considered in global decisions, I dream - of an Africa where, 50 years from now, we all be proud to say : We are the African Dream, and this - is Real.

Simona Noce Public Relations Specialist, L'Afropolitan PR & Special Event Washington, D.C I was born in Cote D‘Ivoire, raised in Ghana and later continued my education in the United States at Howard University. Throughout each of my educational, personal and social experiences in these countries I have valued the presence and the power of the voices of young people, Millennials. We are full of ideas, solutions and are ready to change our world. Unfortunately with the brain drain phenomenon, many of Africa‘s bright young minds pursue an education abroad and don‘t return. We get comfortable in the lifestyle that we have dreamed of and lose the passion to return home to invest, build and create a wealthy and healthy society for our own families and those to come. In 50 years, I dream of a nation where Africans do not need to leave our country to "make it in life". Rather it will be a time where we can stay home be the leaders, educators, social advocates, presidents and entrepreneurs in our own nations; utilizing and maximizing our own skills, talents, ideas, and education to improve our economy and lifestyle in Africa. Africa will no longer be viewed as the continent of poverty, but of vibrant, energetic and educated minds strengthening their own continent.

Samar Khoury International Freelance Model London I was born in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to a Lebanese father and a Congolese mother. I got separated from my mother during the conflict between DRC and Rwanda in late 1990s. My mother is currently missing. I remember wealth in my country and corruption in the society. I had the privilege to visit my neighbouring countries main cities such Brazzaville and Kigali . I must say they are different than my native country DRC. In 50 years to come, I do wish that Congo the heart of Africa, will have an organized structure, law & order in their governance. Hopefully the rate of poverty will be declined massively by the growth of its economic. No more corruption! No more sexual Photo Credit : Dennis Valdez violence and discrimination against women. Makeup Artist: Flora Losilo

A common setback in realizing meaningful democracy in Africa has surprisingly not been dictatorial leadership but rather a lack of empowerment of the people. Just like in an HR employee evaluation, Society can be equipped with the discerning knowledge to vet key indicators of government performance by asking the right questions. What I‘d ultimately like to see in the next few years leading up to 2063 is a reform in Education championed by Non-profit and Public sector entities in Uganda and other developing African countries. This would involve literacy activities in schools and community-based classes for adults that put emphasis on basic rights topics - awareness campaigns that educate the layman on his/her basic rights to clean water, medical supplies, acceptable standards of education, and food - this kind of educational reform would help bridge the gap between governmental duty, civilian expectation and leadership accountability. Introducing financial literacy in the UPE curriculum would also equip a generation with an understanding of money, saving, investing and building wealth. By putting emphasis on education and financial literacy we would be able to realize Public sector reform, promote civil rights, civic engagement, economic justice and a more accountable political class.

Susan Lawino Banker, Los Angeles, CA (USA)

Tamerra Griffin Journalist | Graduate student New York City

While prominent African Americans who traveled to Africa like W.E.B. DuBois, Malcolm X, and Maya Angelou - seem like a thing of the past, and African immigrants participating in the ―brain drain‖ as they enroll in universities in the United States and throughout Europe are slated as contemporary issues, I imagine an African diaspora five decades from now in which these international exchanges are encouraged and normalized. Africans leaving the continent will not necessarily be considered intellectual losses because they will simply be changing places with their Black American and Caribbean counterparts also looking to further their educations and enhance their lives with rich experiences. African American buying power is expected to reach $1.1 trillion in two years. And while the argument that there are burgeoning middle classes throughout Africa remains a hotly debated topic, we cannot discount the entrance of such countries as Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa into the global marketplace. After considering the shared ancestral history between African Americans and Africans, it only makes sense that we open up the valves and replace the brain drain with a brain fountain, allowing our intellectual, fiscal, and cultural capital to circulate throughout the diaspora.

Mother Africa has never lost her crown. It may be tarnished in places by adversity, but with every year of progress it resiliently glows brighter. In 2063, I envision a continent that is recognized globally for its beauty, its strength, and most of all, its authenticity. I see a collection of countries cherished by all diasporas and descendants, with people everywhere realizing that African cities and geographic regions are, in fact, the destinations of their dreams. Africans in communities that are now struggling will be empowered to leverage their bountiful resources and innovative talents as world-class entrepreneurs and business leaders, and communities depressed by disease will realize their power in conquering and eradicating them. I know these things will come to pass because already, so many of them have been done. By 2063, the knowledge of the things that make our continent great will be common knowledge, and there will be never before seen levels of pride in our land. Africa‘s triumphs will be heard, her splendor will be seen and her influence will be felt at every corner of the world.

Yetunde Duro-Emanuel, MHA Administrator , WellBox Project

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