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Celebrating women of African Heritage

December 2019 to January 2020

AFROELLE

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Afroelle Magazine is a digital publication celebrating and empowering women in Africa and the Diaspora. FOUNDER

Patricia Miswa (1985 -2018) EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Christabel Telewa PUBLISHER Afroelle Magazine FOR SUBMISSIONS AND GENERAL ENQUIRIES Afroellemagmedia@gmail.com

AFROELLE

COVER CREDITS Courtesy / Yhรก Mourhia

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Contributors

Thabile ThabileMakue Makue writer Writer SouthAfrica Africa South Thabile is a South African healer, writer and facilitator. She was the 2016/17 Current State of Poetry National South African Slam Champion. Her debut collection “i know how to fix myself” was released in April 2017 by the African Poetry Book Fund as part of their New-Generation African Poets chapbook box set: Nne. Her work has been included in multiple journals, including “Pain” by Icelandic Parta Press, the 20.35 Africa anthology of contemporary poetry and the New Daughters of Africa collection released in March 2019. She has been longlisted for the Sol Plaatje European Union Prize, and was selected as a finalist for the 2018 Sillerman Poetry Book Prize. Her forthcoming collection of poetry, ‘mamaseko, is set for release in 2020.

Amina Touray Photographer Los Angeles Amina is an award winning fashion and portrait photographer. Born to a Swedish mother and Gambian father, Amina gets inspiration from her multicultural background, which allowed her to move across European and African continents as she was growing up. This instilled in her a sense of curiosity and love for travel which is reflected in photography. Her work has been published in Vogue Italia and magazines such as Afroelle, Bronze, LA Style Magazine, Elegant, and others. Aminatouray.com

ashleymakue.com

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Moiyattu Banya Writer Philadelphia Moiyattu enjoys cultivating communities of women and girls through her company Women Change Africa, an African media brand curating stories and experiences for African female entrepreneurs, and her organization Girls Empowerment Sierra Leone. She helps women-led startups tell their stories and enhance the visibility of their brands online via her communications boutique firm WCA Creatives. She teaches courses in social entrepreneurship at Columbia University and was recently recognized by Okay Africa magazine as an #Okay100woman honoree. @womenchangeafrica


CONTENTS Dec 2019- Jan 2020 8. Food, fitness and fun 12. This is part of my purpose 18. Her life was spared for a reason 26. Feel the pain 28. Mend the Divide 34. Amplify her 37. Meet Kiara Jones 40. Are we missing something by the lack of diversity? 44. In conversation with Yvonne Kaleche 46. Post-birth business 50. Graphic elegance

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The holiday season is here! This is a great time to catch up with family and friends, relax and take stock of our lives. For many people, it is also about love and forgiveness. This is the essence of this edition. Moiyattu Banya spotlights AWDF- USA’s, ‘Amplify Her’, which recognizes African women in the diaspora as pivotal to the growth of the African feminist movement, successes, stories and challenges. ‘Amplify Her’ also seeks to build a bridge between the African continent and diaspora. Koshie Mills, whose production company K3 Productions, recently launched ‘The Diaspora Dialogues,’ says that we need to have a dialogue to unpack our trauma and acknowledge our shared DNA, in order to free future generations from repeating self-destructive patterns. This, Koshie says, will entail confronting our painful past and supporting one another through the process, with conversations about self-identification and asking questions with empathy. Thabile Makue, a healer, emphasizes that it is important to let ourselves feel and not use religion to mask our emotions. Amina Touray introduces the second book by artist Amina Pankey, about three F’s (food, fitness and fun). This book is a 30-day guide filled with recipes, workout plans and creative ways to spend time with your children. We’ve also profiled songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kiara Jones, who is currently preparing her first extended play, which showcases powerful Lyrics. I hope you enjoy these and many more stories! In Keeping with Afroelle tradition, I will leave you with an inspirational quote. “Always Do Your Best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, selfabuse and regret.” - Don Miguel Ruiz

Christabel

Editor- in- chief

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Food, Fitness & Fun Artist and author Amina Pankey talks about her second book ‘Mi Dishes & More,’ which focuses on the three F’s in Pankey’s life; Food, Fitness & Fun.

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Words & photos by Amina Touray

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busy single mother of two, Pankey has narrowed down the essentials for a balanced happy life, which she talks about in her new lifestyle book. The book, available on Amazon, works as a 30-day guide filled with recipes, workout plans and fun creative ways to spend time with your children on a consistent basis. Pankey also shares personal and exclusive photos and stories for the first time, giving us an insight into her upbringing and current life in Los Angeles, California. A

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“Life is so much better if you are fit and healthy.”

In her own words, Pankey explains what you can expect from the book. Pankey: You can expect to get inspired and motivated to make little changes in your life, for the better. You can also expect a bunch of yummy recipes and lots of beautiful pictures that will make you smile. Besides that, I have made this book very personal, as I do with everything that matters to me. My music is just one example. The book, altogether, is a 30-day guide to follow my lifestyle regimens, which are small on some days and big on others. It’s an exact guide to my fitness and yoga routines. If one were to really follow the 30day guide, they will be doing what I do and hopefully feeling how I feel, which is better than ever! Suprisingly, Pankey has not always been in shape or lived a healthy lifestyle. The reason why she is transitioning to a healthy lifestyle is pretty simple. Pankey: Happiness! Every time I finish working out, whether it’s yoga, hiking, or an intense boot camp class, I immediately get happier. I feel energy rushing through my body and I feel powerful. I always say to myself: ‘Life is so much better when you’re fit and healthy.’ But it’s a balance thing. You also need those down days. I definitely do, because without them you become drained. Food plays a big part too. I eat everything but I would say 80 percent on the healthy side and 20 percent

“bad stuff, ” which works for me and I can still maintain a comfortable weight for my body type. Her book ‘Mi Dishes & More’ is a great holiday gift to any woman who is struggling to figure out what to eat or how to workout. The guide is something that can help us all get into better habits, including women and their mothers. Pankey:Hopefully, it will help them get motivated and actually start doing the things. I always say this and it’s so true: ‘It’s the little changes that matter.’ It’s those little things you repeatedly do, that will have a big impact on your overall well-being. Pankey has other exciting projects in motion that she continues to share with the world. Pankey: Actually, I’m currently promoting my new album that came out on November 8th. It’s called ‘After Dark’ and is available on all streaming outlets. I will never be anything else but a true musician, a mom and someone who wants to inspire and help other women. That’s why I wrote my book. I’m not a health expert but I have figured out for myself what works and I get tons of messages with questions everyday. So, why not share. But I’m working on being me, and becoming happier, whatever that means! 11


‘This is part of my purpose’

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By Christabel Telewa

há Mourhia loves performing. But the audition circuit was draining her and she wasn’t an easy ‘type’ to place in a box. Luckily, she knew that creating her own content would be more rewarding. So, she stopped auditioning and focused on what was most fulfilling. She is proud of having taken this leap of faith and now enjoys watching her dreams unfold. Yhá has produced #LoveMyRoomie, which has made such an impact with outlets. She is also on the board for the New Voices in Black Cinema, a festival being created to honor and showcase creators in the community. 12


First things first, why did you create LoveMyRoomie?

Have these aspects of the series had any impact on the audience?

The series was created to compliment a crowdfunding campaign for a short film I was producing in 2016, titled ‘Expulsion’. The original sketch, mock-reality show version of #LoveMyRoomie, was filmed two days in late November and released in December 2016.

Great question. I am not sure yet. I, however, know that people have enjoyed the direction of the series, the writing and the acting. We’ve received nominations or awards for all of those categories.

As I created it, I began to fall in love with producing and creating original content and decided to turn this quirky, sketch-style show into an episodic series. Originally, #LoveMyRoomie, as everyone has become familiar with now, was called #LoveMyRoomie Season 2 (#LMR2). But after a successful festival run last year, I decided to drop the ‘2’ to clarify that this season is a reboot of what was originally filmed in 2016.

Did anything surprise you in the process of creating it? I was mainly surprised by how there was an entire sector of the entertainment industry that had blossomed during the two years or so that I wasn’t creating original YouTube videos - due to the demands of graduate school. The thriving community was exactly why I wanted to be thrust back into the world of content creating again.

Does any particular moment stand Who are you targeting with the series? out for you in film making? The moment that stands out to me The target audience is millennials the most is the summer of 2017, aged 25-35 years and people of when I released my original trailer at a color. People of color have a lot of societal and familial pressure on their screening/premiere party for a series called ‘Uhuru Now.’ People were really shoulders, while they try to navigate receptive to it and I was like, “Hmm... their individuality. They are also yup...this is a part of my purpose.” taught to do what is necessary to excel in society. It was encouraging because not a lot of people had watched The conversation surrounding self#LoveMyRoomie Digital Sketches care, taking time off, and mental - the original 2016 series. To see health are coming to the forefront in that this new episodic reboot was a beautiful way in #LoveMyRoomie. I am confident that those who relate to being welcomed by this collective of creators, was amazing.  the characters will appreciate these aspects of the series.  13


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Did this impact you as a person? Wow. In every single way possible. My confidence, my ability to trust my intuition, my compassion for other people, my writing, my acting, directing, my ability to be present with the world. Filmmaking has changed me in every way. #LoveMyRoomie is a culmination of years prior to which I produced theatre and original unscripted content. It’s where a lot of my strengths and challenges have surfaced. Have you run into any obstacles?

the pipeline and have also produced and assistant- directed a short film written and directed by Cesa Pledger called, Spot: A True Period Piece. “Spot” is doing really well in the festival circuit as well! I’m honored to be a part of such an amazing team. What would you say to those joining the industry? Be patient. Even the greatest ‘quick’ successes will eventually level out. Focus on your craft, go to panels, networking events, read books, listen to podcasts - envelop yourself in the work. 

Many people go to film school but that is not for everyone. There are other ways to become a master. Additionally, study the work of those who inspire you - those who you consider distant mentors. Enjoy every moment but do not rest on your laurels - literally. Allow each victory and perceived defeat to be vehicles of However, my family and friends - even growth. some people I don’t know personally, What would you like other people to have been GREAT supporters. I don’t know about you? want to disregard those who have assisted in any way they can. Please be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel - YouTube.com/ How are you working to overcome yhawrightproductions and watch the these issues? teaser. Great question. I’m applying for With regards to knowing more grants, saving money where I can, about me, I will say that I create and and speaking nothing but positivity to the matter. #LoveMyRoomie will be collaborate with intention. released in 2020 - and I am extremely I live my dream every day because excited!  I have the ability to tell stories that might inspire people who create great Do you plan to continue producing impact in the world. similar series? The biggest has been financial. It’s very hard to explain to people that while I have great moral support, the financial flow for this series has not been realized. That means this entire post-production and even production process takes time. I’ve self-funded the majority of the series.

Absolutely. I have other series down 16


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Her life was spared for a reason

After a near fatal accident, Dr. Natasha Welch redirected her 22-year career as a cardiac nurse to owning a medical spa. By Christabel Telewa

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r. Natasha Welch will never forget the month of July 2008. A cardiac nurse at the time, she’d also started a jewelry business, for which her cousin was hosting a trip. Dr. Welch made this visit a birthday celebration too and brought two close girlfriends with her. The trio had fun. One day, they visited all three US Virgin Islands, ending the day at St Croix. Though tired and ready for bed after a day of travel and fun, Dr. Welch tried, but could not resist the urge to go out for a night of partying. So she did. Her friends decided to watch the sunrise at the eastern, high point of Island Point Udall, while she stayed in the car, leaned the seat back and went to sleep. “The next thing I remember was mentally telling my late friend Carmen that I couldn’t believe that I was going to die like her. Then I suddenly felt the most excruciating pain ever in my leg,” Dr. Welch says. “I couldn’t feel my face. My friend Asha tells me that I was unconscious for about 45 minutes.” 19


“Apparently, a deer jumped on to the road and my friend lost control of the car. We slid off the road and my side of the car crashed into a tree, ejecting me through the left windshield.” Dr. Welch vividly remembers the scene. The scent of grass and EMTs on each side advising her put her hand into the front of their pants and grab to help her get through the pain. The nurse practitioner in her was giving them orders and begging them to give her IV fluids and some morphine. “Asha says I kept begging them to not cut my pants or shoes off because they were my favorites lol,” she says. “I worked ER for eight years so I knew the drill.” The aftermath Dr. Welch’s good friend, who was a cardiologist in St Thomas, and her boss-friend in DC, found Dr. Roberto Centeno, the only plastic surgeon in the USVI, at the time. The surgeon performed five hours of plastic surgery to repair her face. Dr. Welch also had surgery to repair a fractured left femur and hip. She spent close to three weeks in the hospital and it took nine months before she could walk independently. She continued to fly to Dr. Centeno for subsequent procedures because she couldn’t find an expert in Atlanta for black skin.

At the hospital, the doctor advised the staff not to allow Dr. Welch see her face. “But, curiosity killed the cat because I tricked a nurse to get me a mirror. When I saw my face, I just cried like a baby and threw things around the room in anger and pain,” she says. “I thought I looked like a monster. I thought it would never get better. Like who will find me pretty?” However, Dr. Welch’s mother, sister, cousin, and friends constantly reminded her of her beauty and strength.Then she gradually started her journey of internal and external healing and obtained any procedure to repair her face. The magic of plastic surgery In addition to a five-hour emergency facial plastic surgery, she had multiple procedures such as laser, permanent makeup, microneedling, and PRP hair restoration to improve her facial scars. Dr. Welch says these procedures introduced her to plastics and aesthetics medicine and helped her understand how plastic surgery not only aids in treating internal injuries but helps rebuild self-esteem. “After each procedure, I healed externally and my confidence was rebuilt,” she remembers. “My ‘aha’ moment came to me after having my eye brow tattooed. I became obsessed with skin care and skin care product safety and ingredients.”

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“I thought I looked like a monster. I thought it would never get better.�

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It takes a village Dr. Welch’s mother, her biggest cheerleader, encouraged her to find her purpose because her life was spared for a reason. This played a huge part in her deciding to redirect her 22-year career as a cardiac nurse practitioner into owning her own medical spa and helping others heal their scars and feel better about themselves.As she was setting up the business, Dr. Welch spent a lot of time with her sister, who was undergoing chemo for Stage IV pancreatic cancer. Before she passed away, she too encouraged Dr. Welch to step forward with Abraza Skin Care. Her friend Asha, who was also in the accident, is part of the business. “Asha helped save my life and when I looked for a business partner for the Maryland Abraza location, I had to ask her. She is my co-owner of that location. I trust her with my life, of course.” Setting up the business At first, Dr. Welch considered working for someone. “However, I learned from the experience of other African-American women pursuing employment in this industry that it was extremely difficult to secure a job with substantial pay due to the fact that there aren’t many Black owned medical spas,” she says.“I built programs and was a leader as a nurse practitioner and learned years ago that if someone can’t give me a seat at the table, then I need to build my own. And that’s just what I did. I then started to pursue the knowledge and training needed to succeed in this industry.” It was, however, not easy to get capital to start her business, Dr. Welch admits. She says that the only thing she was able to acquire was business credit card with $14k credit limit. “It took the 7th lender to approve the loan for my HydraFacial machine. I became my own bank. I believed I will succeed and dipped into my retirement nest egg and credit cards.”For Dr. Welch, owning a business is not a regular job, it’s a lifestyle that has forced her to adjust how she does everything. For instance, she’s always in her scrubs, has given up her luxury car and home to avoid an expensive overhead. She has also had to forfeit trips and many events. “It’s your ultimate sacrifice, but the rewards are priceless,” she says. About the business Abraza Skin Studio is a medical spa that specializes in safe and effective skin care treatments such as Hydra Facials, laser treatments, microneedling, Vampire Facials, and Botox and Fillers. The skin studio also carries a medical grade skin care line called Abraza Skin Care. It is packed with natural, non-toxic, and plant-based ingredients that has no parabens, no phthalates, no sulfates, or artificial fragrance. 22


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Feel the Pain By Thabile Makue

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he impulse to escape tough emotions and difficulty in our lives is powerful. And the world around us offers unlimited paths of avoidance – many are overtly unhealthy, but some are harder to recognize as unhelpful. I grew up in a Christian family, mothered and grandmothered by women who would hold still while drowning, having surrendered all their fight to Jesus. For my mother, every challenge – each of life’s knocks, the meanness of a spouse or neighbor, the failures of law enforcement and governments – is an opportunity to nobly turn the left cheek. When her life’s balance is disrupted by emotional turmoil, my mother turns to prayer, fasting, and excessive church going to establish calm. Whenever I tell her of my own life problems, she responds with relentless scripture reading, prayer and fasting. Her response is the same for all extents of trouble. If you have a cold, you need to pray about it. If you have a lifethreatening disease, you especially need to pray about it. If you lose some money, or acquire debt, God can you help you via a win of the lottery or the magical disappearance of your credit history. If you have experienced any trauma in your childhood, even that which could have been avoided, you need to forgive and let the Lord remove your

load. Spousal abuse? It’s witchcraft and you need God to deliver your marriage. Depression? It’s a dark cloud and God save your soul. When she lost nearly R 200 000.00 (about $ 14 000.00) to a real estate con artist, instead of putting in the natural fight of pressing charges, and pressing the police to do their job to find the culprit, my mother gave up on law enforcement at the first show of their laziness and resorted to her entrusted warrior – God. And up until my nineteenth birthday, I did as my mother did. I prayed and fasted and hoped for all my troubles to end. I etched myself into a church and asked it to hide me from anything remotely negative. I spent six of my weekly days at church in service, at the cell group, at the youth meeting, in choir practice, spiritual dance class, intercession. But there was the issue of the statutory rapes at the church. The financial inconsistencies. The secret and double lives of executive-level churchgoers. There was the homophobia, which posed a personal problem I couldn’t ignore. The patriarchy, which couldn’t benefit me. I was kicked out in a meeting with the church board who felt threatened by a blog post I had made, stating my issues. I had lost my opium, and to survive the years that followed, I found many replacements. Defense. I would 26


fight anyone, anywhere for whatever I believed to be right and true. For things I couldn’t fight, I drank a gin and tonic, or ill prescribed antidepressants, or sleeping pills. I fell into intense love relationships and consumed myself in lovers who stole from me. I obsessively chased success as a literary writer. I filled my days with the company of anyone who could talk me out of dealing with myself. And when I later found a new path to spirituality, more aligned with my values, and my calling as an African traditional healer, I cloaked myself under its resources to avoid any turbulence in my life. The term, “spiritual bypassing” was coined in the 1980s by John Welwood, a Buddhist teacher and psychotherapist. To spiritual bypass means to use spiritual ideas and beliefs as a buffer from difficult emotions, unresolved trauma and psychological problems. At the onset of trouble in my marriage, instead of running, I practiced the ho’oponopono and heart meditations. And when these practices returned insight in intuition, I sidestepped the messages and sought the counsel of healers and psychics who could confirm what I wanted, instead of what was. I lied about what it meant to be present. I said it meant to always be positive and pretend there was no pain in the world. I said acceptance was without sorrow. And forgiveness without grueling emotional labor. I conflated niceness with kindness. Pretended that you could ignore your wounds and hide them under the Band-Aid of unconscious spirituality.

And I didn’t stop until my life turned on its head and denied me any more lies. At the end, what was true crashed into my careful bubble of avoidance and every spiritual practice brought me a sober look at my true situation and all its ugly feelings, and forced me to stop spiritualizing and feel my feelings. For the first time, I sat inside my sadness and anger. I welcomed my mind’s appropriate responses of stress and anxiety to trauma. I looked at my painful experiences, not only as stepping-stones to whatever spiritual growth lay ahead, but as trauma requiring my attention in empathy and psychological intervention. I stopped judging myself for breaking down when my life called me to it, or for feeling hurt when hurtful things happened. I learned that true spirituality is not the fearful avoidance of pain, but to plunge into it, even if it bears no other lesson than to feel. 27


Mend the Divide Interview: Christabel Telewa

Photos: David Blaq

Koshie Mills is the Founder and CEO of K3 Productions, which recently launched “The Diaspora Dialogues,” a talk show and platform to mend the divide between Africans from the continent and African Descendants within the Diaspora. Koshie’s passion is to create a safe space for African people to heal their pain, mend the cultural divide, unite and liberate themselves globally. She hopes that her life will be a testament to moving in this intention and obeying God.

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oshie Mills speaks with Afroelle Magazine.

How do you describe yourself? I am a child of God first and foremost, a multi-hyphenate, multi-continental African Renaissance woman and a daughter of the soil. I’ve been married to my husband Kwame Boakye for 28 years. I am a mother of three multi-talented sons : Kwame Boateng, Kofi Siriboe and Kwesi Boakye.  I am a business woman, founder of K3PR a Marketing PR firm, responsible for the successful launches of numerous awardwinning projects and entertainers, including my three sons who are actors. What are some of the things that ‘The Diaspora Dialogues’ is looking to heal? I am on a mission to mend the divide and unify African people globally to make us whole. I want us to support one another in bringing our entire selves to the center of important conversations. We are stronger when we merge perspectives and ways of seeing the world. We have an identity crisis, we have internal racism based on colorism, socioeconomic classism, tribalism and negative stereotypes about each

“We need to have a dialogue between Africans on the continent and Africans in the diaspora to unpack our trauma.” other on both ends of the aisle. All in all, we are culturally divided and disconnected. What are some of the conversations that are needed to create a better understanding of the shared identity between Africans in the continent and those within the diaspora?  We need to have a dialogue between Africans on the continent and Africans in the diaspora to unpack our trauma and acknowledge our shared DNA in order to free future generations from repeating self-destructive patterns. We must confront our painful past and support one another through the process, with conversations about self-identification and ask questions with empathy. The year 2019 marks the 400- year anniversary of the transatlantic slave trade. What do we need to change to ensure that we can see clearly in 2020? If we want year 401 to be different, we have to look within ourselves for answers. You cannot heal what you don’t reveal.  30


Ghana’s President Nana Akufo Addo has decreed an official welcome to African Americans to come back home to Africa. What are your thoughts about this decree? I was born in Ghana and some of my fondest early childhood memories are from there. My family are Arts and Culture Ambassadors for Ghana. So, I fully support President Nana Akufo Addo for issuing the clarion call. His action completely aligns with my mission and passion. In 2016, my husband and I brought our three sons to Ghana for the first

time. Their reaction to going back home was the catalyst to being on this path. I realized then how powerful it was for them. Further, their friends who had a virtual front seat to their journey on social media saw a different Ghana from what they were told. We had African American publications like Essence Magazine and many others documenting the journey from America. I thought ‘wow people are hungry to connect,’ which cemented the need to tear down the barriers created to separate us from Africa.

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“I feel the spirit of our ancestors asking for their sons and daughters to return to the soil.

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Since then, our family have had over a hundred friends come to Ghana to experience it for themselves. All the Diaspora needs and wants is an INVITATION to come home and FEEL welcome and that’s exactly the path we are on. I feel the spirit of our ancestors asking for their sons and daughters to return to the soil. It’s an exciting time!  What is the potential of the 21st century African Renaissance for all its descendants?  The talent on the continent is coming to the forefront thanks to increased access to technology, and social media. A music producer in Lagos can upload his beats to SoundCloud and add his artistry to the global economy in seconds. Music, tech start-ups, movies, gaming and art are exposing inequalities and inspiring economic and societal change. One question remains to be seen-Will the masses have access to the revolutions, or will the Renaissance only benefit the elite? The Diaspora Dialogues seeks to use art and activism for the prosperity of all.  

What else would you like us to know about ‘The Diaspora Dialogues?’ The diaspora did not divide itself. We’re taught to look at European and colonial standards as the benchmark for excellence. We are told to “Keep calm and get on with it” as far as our oppression, as if it is solely in the past and we are not being shot in the streets like animals, not having the same access as others and it’s an “Us vs. Them” problem. I see it differently. The remnants of oppression and denied access have created Us vs. Us. Which is the EMERGENCY BELL I’M SOUNDING!! That is the immediate problem that we need to solve and I refuse to be concerned with external influences or “Them” on our community anymore. It’s time for US to fix ourselves. We seldom speak to one another about our shared trauma, that’s why I wanted to break those chains of silence and utilize the loudest microphone in the world HOLLYWOOD to sound the alarm and created the space for our people to have a safe haven to heed the call. The Diaspora Dialogues conversation will be globalized and no one can stop us as long as we answer the call and say YES to OURSELVES! 

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Amplify Her African women in the diaspora play a pivotal role to the growth of theAfrican feminist movement

that is not the case. AWDF USA’s 'Amplify Her' recognizes these incredible women as pivotal to the growth of the African feminist movement, our successes, our stories, and our challenges.  Additionally, #AmplifyHer builds the bridge between the continent and the diaspora and amplifies the important work for the communities we serve. Our mothers hold so much seasoned wisdom along with the next

Submitted by Women Change Africa and AWDF USA Photo: Mandy Photography

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or far too long, there has been a silencing of the voices, issues, and stories of African Women in the Diaspora. It is assumed that due to location, these women are afforded all the resources they need with limited challenges, but 34


generation of women with new energy. Our stories must be told, our histories must be penned, and our legacies must passionately live and thrive.  

recognize the importance of continuously raising our voices and mobilizing to gather relevant resources to sustain and expand our efforts. “

AWDF USA provides a vehicle for effective American philanthropy to Africa that builds the capacity of the continent’s women for social change and sustainable development. The organization’s efforts directly support the work of AWDF, a grantmaking foundation that supports women’s organizations working towards the empowerment of African women and the promotion and realization of their rights.

AWDF USA’s program has included events such as AfriWomen Hangouts, which was launched in 2017 during the commission of the Status of Women with the purpose of creating intentional and safe spaces for intimate conversations amongst African women and girls in the Diaspora. This specific event expanded into Afriwomen Hubs across major cities in the US.

In the course of their work over the past 15 years, they have seen firsthand the power of women and their collective ability to effect change at all levels. AWDF has amplified the voice of women and girls and mobilized resources to support their activism. As a result, vibrant and vigorous movements have emerged.

AWDF USA, in partnership with Women Change Africa, is beyond excited to showcase AmplifyHer and these incredible women, while uplifting our voices in this African feminist movement that is driving hope for change and opportunities each and every day.The AWDF USA Amplify Her campaign will share stories on the themes of feminism and The organization has seen the sisterhood from November 29 profile of African women elevated at the highest levels of leadership as through February 1, so nominate today! presidents and their contributions recognized as Nobel Peace Prize For press inquiries email Laureates. “While we should info@womenchangeafrica.com be proud and celebrate these For more on Amplify visit incredible achievements, we also www.awdfus.org 35


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KIARA JONES With her band, Kiara Jones and the Crooks, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kiara, composes, produces and performs at music festivals. She is currently preparing her first extended play (EP), which showcases powerful lyrics that are a reflection of the society. She uses a neo-soul style in the project, which she describes as a melting pot of musical genres.

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I am a very optimistic person. I remember going to London with my big brother, Cody, with just enough to pay for the round trip and the hotel. Somehow, we ended up with our suitcases in the middle of London, our reservations cancelled at the last minute, wondering what we were going to do. Instead of panicking, we laughed at the situation and went with the flow.

It helped that I got a lot of encouragement and understood that trying is doing. From Hip Hop classes to African dance classes, I perfected my sense of rhythm, a mastery of the stage and a fluency in bodily expression. I also learned how to sing, play ukulele, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano and percussion. Then, I started performing at concerts in different music events and festivals. A year later, I was chosen by organizers of the Sankofa Soul Contest, a springboard for many talented musicians. It was there that I was spotted by Bruno Berberes got into ‘The Voice France season 8’.

We ended up meeting amazing people, made music and partied like never before. We were so eager to explore another country and culture, that all the problems were secondary. I think it was one of my best trips. Such optimism allows me to do things Just be happy that I would have otherwise thought My life philosophy is to be happy impossible. with what I have. This, however, does For instance, I suffer from a shyness not mean that we should not push that can only be described as an our limits. Being optimistic also does illness. I rarely take the first step and not mean being happy with the state often let people come to me. But of affairs. The most important thing when I get on stage, my personality is to know who we are and what we changes. Performing is a thousand want to do. times easier and more natural than When I was starting off, I did not talking to people, because I use music know where my path would lead me. as a gateway to reach others. That’s why I am so happy when I look An artistic upbringing

I was born in the Hauts de Seine in October 16, 1992 and raised in Ville d’Avray, a small bourgeois town in the Paris region. My father is a bassist and my mother a writer. At home, we listened to different music genres and I was exposed to musicians, authors, painters, dancers, photographers, dressmakers and stylists at an early age. All this had a great impact on my life.

back at the path that I took. I am also open to a lot of possibilities in the future. Join my musical universe

You can follow my news on my social network @kiarajonesmusic. I’ll let you discover the rest! «Black Garden» is out and available everywhere, you can watch the official music video on Vevo and my official youtube channel! 39


Are we not missing something by the lack of diversity?

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Words by Marian K

Fashion after all is just the clothes, style is what you do with it. As a celebrity personal stylist who has worked as a fashion editor with digital fashion magazines I saw firsthand how the juxtaposition of my west African heritage and my British upbringing helped to birth a unique point of view styling wise. Vogue would be further transported and far more glorious if more people of color were working on their editorials. We have seen how people of color have contributed to fashion and style over the generations.

Photo: Phill Taylor You only have to flip through the pages of Vogue to be captivated by the far-flung stories styled as fashion editorials. The second to none photography, the designer clothes, the carefully scouted locations, the stunning models all come together to create stories that we can only dream about. These editorials transport us to otherworldly places, sometimes evoking the past, sometimes pointing future forward but always in the now. This is the power of fashion styling. An industry that beguiles us in the glossy pages of leading high fashion magazines. What do we do then when the stylists in control of how these clothes are put together are not diverse? 

Names like Josephine Baker, Eartha Kitt, Rihanna, Janalle Monae, Donyale Luna, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone are just some of the style icons of color that have inspired designers and fashion as a whole. Their influence has been immense and immeasurable. Wouldn’t it thus be wonderful to see more pages styled by people of color? We have something unique to bring to the table. After all fashion editorials are stories and it is time more people of color told them.

Are we getting all we could styling wise? Names like Donna Wallace and Julia Sarr-Jamois come to mind when it comes to high fashion stylists of color. Both of Vogue. Not many more spring to mind. If stylists draw from culture, experience, travel, people and life in general are we not missing something by the lack of stylists of color styling the pages of the like of Vogue and Elle? We are missing an essential point of view.

Marian K is a UK based celebrity personal stylist whose has worked as an editorial fashion stylist. She is author of fashion, beauty blog Marian K and she can be reached on Twitter and Instagram at @marian_kwei.  41


Through its innovative designs inspired by traditional craftsmanship, this organization strives to design unique pieces while empowering women

JIAMINI

J

iamini is a Kenyan based fashion accessories brand that seeks inspiration from beadwork, commonly practiced among the Maasai, a tribe in Kenya and Tanzania. Jennifer Muli came up with the idea to start the organization, after sitting in a woman’s weaving cooperative and noticing that young women were not weaving. When she asked about it, she was told that they were not interested in carrying on this traditional craft and preferred to relocate to the urban settings in search for employment. Disappointed, she took it upon herself to change the perception by creating designs that not only preserve her traditional cultural heritage, but also mesh with today’s modern world. The company emphasizes the need for people to recognize the locally available resources within our communities and develop them into globally

marketable products by adding value to them. In the beginning, the organization recruited employees by word of mouth. One employee would mention a neighbor or friend in need of work and we would bring them in for training. Then they quickly developed a training manual that saw majority of the new recruits grasp the technique within a week and perfect the quality and finishing standards set in less than two weeks. Cash flow was a major setback, however, since most of the distribution outlets would hold sales from products on consignment for a period of 30 days payout. So, Jiamini renegotiated with some of the bigger clients on the fast-moving products for an immediate cash on delivery plan while they stuck to their terms 42


for the rest. This allowed them to pay employees as well as purchase material for reproduction without having to wait 30 days. Jiamini works closely with different community groups, mainly women and youth, to help build their community. For instance, working with Jiamini helped one woman pay for her daughter’s university education and a young man study electrical engineering at the university.

“Working with Jiamini helped one woman pay for her daughter’s university education.”

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In conversation with Yvonne Kaleche, an artist who loves to create beautiful, functional art pieces

Have you always wanted to be in this business? I think it just happened. When I was in high school, my siblings and I were running a business together. Even then, I knew that one day I would have my own business. It’s, however, surprising that I went on to train as a chef. I had great experiences training and working alongside other chefs in Kenya, but something kept pulling me back to Fine Arts. Eventually, I decided to pursue it as my main career.  

that I or others who appreciate art would like to have in their homes. What opportunities do you plan to embrace in future? Being able to showcase my work in different galleries, both locally and internationally, or having my pieces in stores internationally would be something that I would definitely not turn down.  I would want my brand and business to be recognized in Africa, Europe and United States.

What inspires your work?

What else would you like us to know about you?

My paintings are inspired by things that are happening to me personally or around me. For instance, I created a collection after having my child. As a parent, I got to discover myself all over again. This inspired the series “The Re-Birth,” reflecting this rediscovery of myself. For home décor accessories, I prefer to create affordable luxury pieces,

I am a super introvert who speaks loudest through my artwork. I love what I do and I am bonded to my passion so much that everything I do is tied to a certain emotion. Even when working on a simple commission for a client, I feel fulfilled by putting a part of me in that piece, that’s the best way for me to create. 44


“ I feel fulfilled by putting a part of myself in an art piece.�

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Post-Birth Business

After giving birth, two women were inspired to start businesses, selling products targeted at black women. They talk about their products, founding their businesses and lessons learned along the way give away to friends and family as well as sell at Christmas Fairs and markets. Self-doubt

Corrine Hayford-Kwatchey ( Kora Naturals) “I first had the idea to start my business after the birth of my first daughter. As a lifelong champion of raw shea butter, I started to look for shea butter-based products that addressed my post pregnancy skin issues. Frustrated at being unable to find anything that worked for me, I began experimenting in my kitchen with adaptations of body butter recipes I found online. This then progressed to lip balms and body oils which I would

I had self-doubt when starting the business. I had zero experience in running a business, zero money and zero clue! It was just a case of making a decision - this was something I wanted, so I just had to get on with it. I am a perfectionist and I wanted all elements to be in place first. But I realized that wasn’t going to happen. So, I just went for it. Nothing in life is perfect, it’s best to start and then you learn and fix things along the way. It seemed like everyone else also had the same idea and were all creating shea butter products. I knew that I needed to stand out from the crowd and in order to expand my business I would need to develop my knowledge of the natural skincare business beyond kitchen cupboard recipes. So, in 2012 obtained a certificate in natural skincare formulation. 46


Use unique code AFROKN19 for a 40% discount off of a full size body butter on koranaturals.com. Offer valid until 31/12/2019.

In addition, I conducted market research and based by my own frustration with the lack of premium quality products for black skin, I decided to rebrand my product to one that is specifically formulated for black women. The most challenging thing for me has been getting people to buy in to me and my products. As I started as a kitchen hobbyist, not really having a very big circle - not being taken seriously at first was actually heartbreaking. I’ll never forget trying to host a party to sell my products at home and no one showing up. That was a turning point for me. That’s when I knew that I had to do something completely different. Luck I’d say I’ve had a whole lot of bad luck! Or as I like to say - being proved by fire! I believe that things happen for a reason if you’re being led by the Higher power, you always get the right word, opportunity, meet that right person at the right time - so I call it Divine intervention as opposed to luck! I managed to secure a business loan with Virgin start up and with that I was assigned a mentor - she has been amazing. She has really made me scrutinize every area of the business and is like a second pair of eyes. Where I might not have thought of something, she will bring to my attention. In particular she’s made me look at the finances.

Kora Naturals is specifically formulated for black women.

I hate all of that spreadsheets etc. But she’s helped demystify that which is of course a fundamental! Lessons learned In the process of running the business, I’ve learned the importance of a plan! Business plan, marketing plan, 12-month plan, 5-year plan 10 -year plan! You have to write it down, make a clear vision so you have something visual to work towards. Also, I’ve learned that I don’t have to say yes to everything. It would be amazing to be featured everywhere, pop up at the best events but I’ve learnt I can’t do everything and that’s okay. I don’t look at it as lost opportunities but that it’s not for me right now. It’s okay to focus on one or two things and show up and be consistent at that. I’ve also learned not to compare myself with other. As the saying goes “comparison is the thief of joy”. You will never be exactly like someone else, their manifestation of success is not the same as yours and vice versa, stay and slay in your own lane. Be you, do you, for you and the rest will fall into place.” 47


“The utmost priority for me was making a product that would not harm my baby in any way.”

Atarah is different from other brands because it is a Christian brand that sources only the best ingredients- all-natural and certified organic. When I started researching a solution for my postpartum alopecia, I was nursing my daughter.

Stephanie Eyison (Atarah)

I had postpartum alopecia after having my first baby and that was quite devastating for me. I lost my edges and my hair fell out in chunks. Out of desperation, I began looking into nursing-safe, toxic free options to grow back my hair. After tons of research and innumerable trials, I finally got the formulation right and tried it. Within a month, I could see a significant difference in my hairline. That’s when I knew I was onto something.

The utmost priority for me was making a product that would not harm my baby in any way. That’s been the underscoring essence of Atarah- creating products so naturally gentle that you can use it on a baby, yet effective enough to grow strong, healthy hair. 48


I had a lot of self-doubt when starting. The self-doubt made me shelf the idea for two years. It was only when my contract at my corporate position was not renewed, that I re-strategized. I was able to follow through on my dream due to my faith and belief that the idea was given to me by God for a purpose.  I can’t list all the challenges I had, but I think the two perspectives that are helpful to have when running a business, especially a start-up, is that challenges are part of how you grow and that they are inevitable.  Luck I don’t believe in luck.

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I believe in God’s Grace and favor, and that is what has gotten me this far. I have been blessed to have met some amazing people who truly believe in what I’ve created and my vision. I am always blown away by how fiercely supportive people are to me and the brand. Lessons learned That everything happens in seasons and to be as detailed as possible when interacting with others. For example, ‘a green sweater for next week’ might have a different interpretation from ‘ a thick, turquoise turtleneck sweater needed for next Thursday at 1pm.’ Details matter. 


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{

Graphic Elegance Sharon Daniels @ sharondanielsnyc Photographer:

Carla Tersini @ Carla.Tersini.Makeup Makeup Artist :

Hair Styslist:

@Boytoy9

Payton Holbrook

Marsha LaRose @marshalarose Model:

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Profile for Afroelle Magazine

Afroelle December 2019  

Afroelle December 2019  

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