July-August 2018 edition

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Afroelle Magazine is a digital publication celebrating and empowering women of African heritage in Africa and diaspora.

FOUNDER Patricia Miswa {1985-2018} EDITOR– IN– CHIEF Christabel Telewa PUBLISHER Afroelle Media FOR SUBMISSIONS & GENERAL ENQUIRIES Afroellemagmedia@gmail.com

COVER CREDITS Photographer: Labelle Mooi Photography by Yancey Timeus Makeup and Model: Samantha St.Vil Jewelry: Akajou Creation Designer : Eva Chiteri 2



July –August Issue

7 Monthly Gift Guide 8 The Legacy of Patrica Miswa

13 Africans Gone Natural 16 All about Bold Caribbean Beads 20 Hoe is Life 24 Meet Mwende FreeQuency Katwiwa + So much more


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The Legacy of Patricia Miswa Patricia was many things to many people, but what she will best be remembered for was her desire to help those in need. 8


he news of Patricia Miswa’s passing was shocking and devastating to many who knew and loved her. It is heart breaking to think that we will never see her beautiful smile, hear her voice or read her stories. Patricia was a kind soul who was always looking for needy women and girls and finding ways to help them. “She was such a free and loving person, one of her sisters, Ruth Ouma, eulogized her. “She always cared about others, looked out for others interest above her own and was sensitive to other’s feelings. She was a joy to be around!” Patricia was also a keen listener and a compassionate soul, qualities that she expressed in Afroelle Magazine. From the age of 10, she would write poems as well as fiction and non-fiction short stories that touched lives. She loved telling stories that people could relate to and believed that everyone had a story to tell and only needed a genuinely caring hear to hear them out.

She will always be missed,” said her friend Stan Kaguima. Beginnings of Afroelle Magazine Afroelle Magazine was inspired by a famous blog Patricia started in 2008 named “The Ladies Room” where women could anonymously share their real life stories to support each other through life’s challenges. This encouraged her to start a bigger platform targeting women of African descent since many would go through insurmountable challenges to make it careerwise, financially and in many other ways. She ultimately founded Afroelle in 2010. She created the magazine to inspire the next generation of female readers, celebrate women’s stories and tell the stories of both known and unknown black women. The inspiration behind Afroelle can be summarized in four words: encourage, empower and elevate women of African descent globally.

“She cared deeply about representation ”When I look back at Patty’s life, I see a and the work to archive the experiences life well lived, many lives touched, and of the African woman,” Afroelle contribmany hearts inspired. She may have left utor, Ashley Makue, remembers. “She us, but she will live in our hearts and the was a kind editor who saw the big picminds of all those people that she ever ture and guided me through it. And when things weren’t working out as came across. We as her friends are heartbroken, and I cannot imagine what planned, she wasn’t afraid to step back her family is going through. But I hope and make a new plan. Most of all, she that this encourages you, knowing that helped me recognize my own place in story writing.” Patty lived for more than just herself, and lived a great life. 9

The future

broaden their world view and be a catPatricia’s goal for Afroelle was to reach alyst for developing their skills. This apa wider group of people. She wanted to proach, hopefully, will reach a larger create a print edition of her magazine number of young people (young womas well as collect inspirational real life en/ ladies included), and leave a more stories from women all over Africa and enduring mark upon lives of their families. create an inspirational book, which she hoped to sell through an online platform. She also hoped to do a short film, out of her collection of poetry.

Patricia’s mother, Prof. Josephine Ouma, is also going to put together a collection of Patricia’s poems and short stories and have them published. The proceeds of these would go towards supMoving forporting her vision ward, Patriof empowering cia’s family has economically dispurposed to advantaged women and girls in Kenya establish a Patricia Miswa Charitable Fund to capture and carry out the pas- to obtain skills for better livelihoods. sion of Patricia to contribute to the “Moving forward, Patricia’s economic empowerment of young family has purposed to establish women and help them overcome the bondage of poverty and social margin- a Patricia Miswa Charitable alization. The specific objective of the Fund whose purpose will be to fund will be to contribute towards aca- contribute towards the academdemic excellence of young women, es- ic excellence of young women.” pecially in a rural school (which they are yet to identify), through establishing a resource center. Patricia’s family hope to do this by raising funds for provision of computers and other related To support the Patricia Miswa Fund materials which can expose students in contact :p.miswafoundation@gmail.com 10 secondary schools to the outside world,

Amina’s Tribute to Patricia


y story with Patricia Miswa began five years ago. I was a fairly new photographer in Los Angeles, in search of platforms where I could showcase my work and express my creativity. I was thrilled when I found Afroelle Magazine because of their excellent operation in bringing people together from the African diaspora all over the world. Afroelle was just always enriched with so many untold stories that needed to be shared. Patricia always made sure to highlight people’s work and their effort to make a change.

The last time we communicated was around Christmas 2017. Finding out the news of her passing after New Year truly shook my world up. Until this day, I’m still waiting for her text messages. Patricia built an amazing platform that brought so many people together from around the world. She created a space to be seen and heard. Thank you Patricia, for sharing my stories and my photographs, but most of all, thank you for your friendship. You have built a legacy that will continue in your greatest honor.


Amina Touray Social media: @aminatphoto One of the things she asked me in my http://www.aminatouray.com/ first interview was what kind of impression I wished to leave upon others who saw my photographs. Now, five years later I want to answer that I wish to leave a strong impact that opens up Moiyattu’s Tribute to Patricia questions and unfamiliar thoughts. I Dear Patricia, wish to unite people, just the way you I am not quite sure how to start this have Patricia. but to say thank you. Thank you for Patricia welcomed me to the Afroelle being the light that you are and for community with open arms. Although sharing that light with the rest of the world. To be honest, I still can’t bewe never had the chance to meet in lieve you are gone and I can’t believe person; through the years, we communicated every so often through the my soul sister was taken away without any notice. But who am I? God has phone or over emails. We would brainstorm ideas, and discuss every- called you at the time he called you to impact so many women Patricia and thing from fashion to politics. In the later years when she moved to Minne- that is what you did. You were a blesssota, she mentioned how she’d like to ing to me from the day we connected. visit me in California one of these


Thank you for believing in my story and Thank you for your courage to be who for being the first person to publish my you were, thank you for your gentle but work with women and girls. You befierce spirit. Thank you for always lieved in me and God sent you at that providing the platform for me to amplitime in my life. Since then we became fy the voices of so many women. You sisters through work, we both have the are a blessing to me Patricia. Thank you heart to tell stories of African women. for your prayers, thank you for dreamYou always showed love to me, you ing out loud with me and making me gave me counsel, you provided me feel that my dreams were never too business advice and you were there for big. You had so many dreams, so many me even in some of my toughest times desires, so may goals. I pray we continin my life. ue to live out your legacy. You were a The day you got into the masters pro- soul sister. May you rest in divine and gram we rejoiced because I knew how perfect peace. I love you Sis. much you had prayed for it, you had asked me to write the recommendation12 Moiyattu Banya, WomenChangeAfrica and I wrote it without any hesitation.

Africans Gone Natural With new product line Afrikinky, AfricansGoneNatural is taking the natural hair industry by storm By Moiyattu Banya, Women/ Change /Africa

The two women founded AfricansGoneNatural, a natural hair movehen we think of trailment to bring African naturalistas toblazers in the natural hair industry, one name gether, when they realized that there was no natural hair social media comes to mind- the platform dedicated to African women. brand AfricansGoneNatural. With an engaged digital community of over 43,000 followers, the organization is changing the perceptions of natural hair among African women and women of African descent living in the diaspora. The founders of the brand are Ghanaian American women Cynthia Amo and Olivia Frempong. This identity has shaped the way they do business and how they relate to other cultures globally.



The organization helps empower women of African descent from all over Africa and worldwide to embrace their natural hair. Through their various campaigns, such as #Bornkinkydealwithit and #Afrikinkyrepyourcountry they have helped more women increase their self -confidence as they learn to embrace their God given beauty. “We do this by sharing pictures of other African women with natural hair, participating in fashion shows, and providing educational and practical lifestyle tips for #afrikinkydivas to ultimately find their style and purpose. As our core values are founded on empowerment, going natural is only the beginning. We aim to galvanize African women to become the main agents of development and success in their communities with our Beyond the Kink campaign and other initiatives.”

to describe “A woman of African descent embracing her natural beauty.” Registered under the Global Shea Alliance, the organization aims to educate the world about the rich natural resources in Africa that can be incorporated in our daily beauty regimen.

The organization is currently working directly with a coop center in Northern Ghana, West Africa, to bring raw ingredients such as Shea and Cocoa Butter, Baobab and Neem Oil and African Black Soap to companies based in the United States primarily, but also worldwide. The center, which produces premium and unrefined natural ingredients, was established to empower women who live in a rural community to gain a sustainable source of income. Its ultimate goal is to empower these women and their children to obtain a better quality of life, which includes gaining financial freedom and having the ability to send Afrikinky’s West African connection their children to school all year round. AfricansGoneNatural recently founded “Our vision is to give back and to enAfrikinky (AK), a beauty product line courage the use of all natural, premium representing natural beauty products quality products by people worldwide from Africa. Afrikinky is a slogan used with all skin types. 14

This in turn helps to promote and encourage a healthy, natural balanced life. The purchase of our products helps to empower these women to continue to strive for their best.” If Afrikinky were to recommend one product from the selection, it would be the Afrikinky Wakanda Set (Shea butter + Black Soap) “Afrikinky African Black Soap and Shea butter are the products you need for healthy hair and skin, giving you ultimate head to toe care. Afrikinky Black Soap is 100 percent premium quality, handcrafted soap that is all natural with no additives and last, but not least, the Afrikinky shea butter is premium grade ‘A’ fair trade, 100% pure cold pressed and unrefined. It is made with pure love and benefits these women and their communities.”

living both in the diaspora and on the continent. Despite these achievements, the organization has had to overcome hurdles to achieve success. “The hardest challenges for us definitely includes the education process. In a world where people have been so accustomed to products that are already set for use, our challenges have been in educating people to try to use unrefined natural products. People are very shocked when we tell them you can use Afrikinky Black Soap for example as a shampoo. However, once they have seen what we stand for and instructions how to use it, they are more open.” Their advice to upcoming entrepreneurs is to seek God to lead them in finding their purpose and passion. “Once you have your vision clear and precise, work hard towards it and GO GET IT! It’s very important in striving for your goals that you focus on what your purpose is and not on what others are doing. There is only one you in the world, so strive to be the best you can be. Stay focused and whatever you do, DON’T GIVE UP! The sky’s the limit.”

In addition to founding two successful brands, AfricanGoneNatural has also started #AFRIKINKYAwards to help acknowledge those making an impact by recognizing their successes, ranging from the best natural hair bloggers, to the best natural hair salons in each country as well as the best natural hair product brand. Afrokinky’s greatest influencer platforms are She Leads Africa Find out more about their work via (SLA) and Women|Change|Africa www.AfricansGoneNatural.com our (WCA) . products at www.Afrikinky. com , Amazon and Etsy. Follow them at She Leads Africa is a community that @Afrikinky @AfricansGoneNatural on helps young African women achieve their professional dreams while WCA Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter celebrates brands, companies and organizations owned by African women


All about Caribbean beads


Nelssie Francois uses bright colors, massive details and natural materials to create jewelry that transfers the Caribbean heritage to her clients By Christabel Telewa Jeweler Nelssie Marie Francois Jerome was born in Montreal, Canada but raised in Cap-haitien, a small town in Haiti. She went to primary and secondary school in Haiti before returning to Canada for her undergraduate studies. By moving to Canada, Nelssie left behind her friends, family and the beautiful memories that she had created in Haiti. This sent the typically social and talkative jeweler into shock and she became so lonely that she could hardly recognize herself. It was at this point that her cousin stepped in to help by introducing her to a hobby. Start of the business

“I bought more threads and beads, and this is how the first mechanisms of my business started to function. I quickly gained a large customer base and I am now making attractive pieces of jewelry that compel both my own and my customers’ preferences and tastes,” she says. Nelssie’s business is named Akajou, which means mahogany in Creole, a language spoken in Haiti. She uses a jewelry making style that reminds her of the traditional Caribbean ethical motives. “I want to highlight my background and promote my ethnical heritage among communities. Successful merge of traditional elements and modern trends is my ultimate goal, and I always strive to implement it in reality through my vision of authentic women’s jewelry,” she says, explaining that she has had to work very hard to make this dream a reality.

“We went to a dollar store together and The process bought some beads and threads. I start“When I wake up in the morning, the ed playing with the pieces and colors first thing I think about is my jewelry. I creating everything that I had in my mind. After long hours of this marvelous contemplate on what I have recently play, I discovered a new passion of mine made and what I am going to do next. After doing my morning routine, I dress - making handcrafted jewelry,” recalls Nelssie. She then started taking pictures up and make sure that I wear at least of her jewelry and sharing them on Fa- one of the elements from my homecebook. Not only were her friends im- made collection, either a necklace, a pressed and supportive, strangers also bracelet or earrings, but better to have started contacting her and asking her if it all on you at the same time, “ she she could make some pieces for them as laughs. well. 17

“They are genuinely bold and bright and therefore make women, who wear them, shine and literally radiate happiness and beauty�


Making jewelry is fascinating and quite natural for the jeweler who prefers to go with the flow rather than use plans. “Creating jewelry is very personal. Though I’m a peopleperson, I prefer locking myself in a room and working on a new project without any external distractions. I would compare my jewelry to my mood - colours, ornaments and style change according to my state of the mind and my feelings. My handmade jewelry is thus always unique and filled with my excitement and enthusiasm,” she says .

happens when she relaxes, clears her thoughts and plays her favorite music. “I can feel it at any time of the day, be it during lunch or in the middle of the night. Creative jobs require flexibility. And also, the more jewelry I craft, the more inspired I am. Being satisfied with your work and seeing your customers happy and thankful is the most triggering feeling ever. This is exactly what makes me move further,” she says. Since the business is increasingly becoming popular around the US, Nelssie spends all her time making jewelry for customers. She occasionally visits various fares, markets and festivals devoted to crafts, women beauty, jewelry or a particular culture. The most challenging thing for her as a business person is always the question “What’s next?” Since she didn’t start off wanting to get into business, she doesn’t have experience in the area. “Nevertheless, I am eager to move further and promote my craft as much as I can as it makes me truly happy, “she concludes.

Nelssie enjoys everything when making jewelry. From choosing the materials, interacting with clients to creating marvelous pieces that are guaranteed to please her clients. This explains why she loves and wears all the pieces, especially necklaces and earrings which she absolutely loves. “I believe that this preference of mine is visible even if you go to my store’s website where I display various kinds of my handcrafted earrings and necklaces. They are genuinely bold and bright and therefore make women, who wear them, shine and literally radiate happiness and beauty,” she exnelssiefrancois.com plains. Source of inspiration Nelssie doesn’t spend much time looking for inspiration; it simply 19

Hoe is Life The freedom movement for women’s sexuality By Ashley Makue

Although #Hoeislife is the buzzword of the late 2010s, the movement toward women’s body autonomy and the freedom to experience unrepressed sexuality has been ongoing since the beginning of the patriarchal time – that is, since the birth of men from the women’s womb.


For Dr. Thandokuhle Mngqibisa, professional poet, medical doctor and activist for women’s issues, #hoeislife is a political identity – “a way to be seen and heard saying that my body is mine”. She says that the movement is not only for those who practice polyamory or relationship anarchy, but also for those who prefer monogamy. “Fundamentally, #hoeislife is about body ownership and choice and that is feminism”. According to Mngqibisa, #hoeislife functions to reclaim the power that oppressive patriarchy tries to steal from women. “Women are taught to bekezela (endure and tolerate) unacceptable situations including bad sex. And now, finally, we are giving ourselves the permission to be unafraid of our ‘body count’ (the number of people we have had sexual interactions with)”. She says that this means leaving bad sex, finding the person (or people) who loves and honors your body and “can’t not help you achieve orgasm – even if they are number 25.” Mngqibisa practices “hoe life” – which is characterized by autonomous choice over sexual interactions – whether casual or committed, with a single or multiple partners, and says that her experience has been positive. “I find that a lot of people are judgmental about what we choose to do with our bodies. The prevailing sort of narrative is often one of violence and anger. Statements like ‘this is why men rape you’ and other personally threatening suggestions” she says, but explains that her personal experience involves far less threats and “a lot more chuckles”. She explains that politicization of #hoeislife makes its declaration sufficient for participation in the movement. “It is up to each person how they feel and what they know”, she says, “my personal place in the movement has been to try to promote women’s agency and as loudly as I can, to stress the missing half of that statement—safety and condom use”. Mngqibisa says that those who want to practice “hoe life” and participate in the #hoeislife movement need to “dig their feet in first” – read, find out what other people are saying, find safe spaces and communities and decide what is comfortable for their bodies and minds. In her work as a writer, photographer, organizer and GP obstetrician, Mngqibisa says she finds many intersections to #hoeislife. “I love my work and how it gives me access to women and some issues that are often removed from me”.


As an obstetrician, Mngqibisa says that many of her patients have very little access and very little agency because of their lives and the limitations placed on their lives based on their socioeconomic status. “So it allows me to probe things I never had considered. It also allows me to insert some ideas that I usually wouldn’t be able to. I especially talk a lot about safe sex in my obstetric work environment – from my experience with #hoeislife”. Mngqibisa says that she uses all her work spaces to promote women’s agency as that is a key function of #hoeislife. Mngqibisa was born in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa in 1984 and now resides in Gauteng. The major themes of her written and medical work centre around the issues of women in the setting of modern South Africa. She hopes to open a sexual health and pleasure clinic in the public sector in the future and plans to publish a new collection of poetry this year. Dr. Thandokuhle Mngqibisa is a professional and published poet with some work included in international anthologies and literary journals (Illuminations, soon to be published in Atlanta Review, Badilisha Poetry, Trainstorm, As You like It) and her chapbook, Four Stitches, and was recently shortlisted for the Gerald Kraak award in photography and poetry. She is GP-obstetrician and works exclusively with women patients, a facilitator and organizer in the activism. The writer, Ashley Makue is a, poet and lover of arts based in South Africa. She is an active feminist and through her work with The Ladies Empowerment Organisation, Love Life and The Lebohang Mokoena Project she contributes to causes for educating African girls about their important and immovable place in the world

“Fundamentally, #hoeislife is about body ownership and choice and that is feminism”


Meet Mwende FreeQuency Katwiwa



This definition widens the landBy Ashley Makue scape against which women access their rights to have children, not have children and parent the chilMwende “FreeQuency” Katwiwa is dren that they have. It provides that 26 years old – perhaps too young to Reproductive Justice is not only inthink about motherhood, but alto- accessible where women can’t gether old enough to understand make decisions about their bodies, that to mother is maybe to mourn a but similarly, where women do not child. have equal economic participation, equal social inclusion and where Katwiwa is Kenyan and an immichildren by black mothers are under grant in the United States where black children are murdered by po- constant threat. lice and confused vigilantes and Katwiwa says that while the speonce-rejected “lone wolfs”. As a cifics of what supports are needed champion for Reproductive Justice, and what obstacles to reproductive Katwiwa wonders what this means oppression necessarily shift across in the context of #blacklivesmatter. geographies and culture, the conWhat is the right to or not to repro- text for Reproductive Justice reduce, in an environment that is un- mains across borders. safe for you and for your child? “I think it is important to note that it was named in 1994 but built upon Reproductive justice and the global the understanding that marginalized and oppressed women all over backdrop of anti-blackness the world have long fought for ReAccording to Loretta Ross of the Sisproductive Justice. I think the peoter Song Women of Color Reproducple who named it were intentional tive Health Collective, Reproductive in locating themselves as generaJustice is the complete physical, tionally displaced Africans whose mental, spiritual, political, social, domestic oppression in many ways and economic well-being of women mirrors the way the United States and girls, based on the full achievetreats so called ‘third world’ counment and protection of women’s tries, and not the accepted citizenry human rights. of the US”. 24

Katwiwa also explains that in the United States for example, a lot of Reproductive Justice issues are rooted in the racialized and gendered experiences of specifically Black women. Reproductive Justice and #blacklivesmatter In her poem, The Joys of Motherhood, Katwiwa explores concerns about motherhood, as a black woman in the United States. Not a hegemony of the experience that brings death into the conversation of giving or not giving birth but rather, a vision of Black motherhood that Katwiwa fears being realized.

ty and asks whether the representation of the violence that may come to end the lives of her children would be enough in the space of a living child. “I have written too many poems about dead Black children to be naive About the fact there could one day, be a poem written about my kids But I do not want to be a mother who gave birth to poems

I do not want a stanza For a son Nor a line For a little girl

She thinks about bearing children when afraid for their lives and safe25

Nor a footnote For a child who doesnt fit into this world I do not want children who will live forever In the pages of poetry, Yet cant seem to outlive

Women speaker and ranked 3rd at the 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam, FreeQuency is a highly sought after performer, host, social justice teaching artist and workshop leader. Having spent her life at the intersection of arts, education and activism, their work in Reproductive Justice, #BlackLivesMatter organizing & activism, LGBTQ+ advocacy and poetry have been featured on outlets across the world.

Me.” Last year, Katwiwa read this poem at TedWomen as refusal to remove #blacklivesmatter from her TedTalk after a request was made by an orKatwiwa is currently working on Paganizer who felt that za Sauti: Women of the Word – a #blacklivesmatter had been over women’s poetry initiative in Nairobi represented on the platform. in partnership with PAWA254 which Reproductive Justice and black aims to create a space for women children poets to form a creative based activist community that centers womKatwiwa’s bringing together of #blacklivesmatter and Reproductive en’s voices. Justice highlights the intersectional- personal site: www.freequencyspeaks.com ity of Reproductive Justice as the “complete physical, mental, spiritu- blog: www.noirlinians.com al, political, social, and economic well-being of women and girls, based on the full achievement and protection of women’s human rights”, functioning to free women and by extension, their children.

Twitter: @FreeQThaMighty

“I have written too many po-

ems about dead Black children to be naive about the fact Mwende “FreeQuency” Katwiwa is there could ,one day, be a a 26-year old Kenyan, Immigrant, Queer Woman writer and speaker. poem written about my kids.” The 2018 Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion, a 2017 TED26

WHERE DID IT ALL START? I am the last daughter of a family of six children born and raised in Paris, France. My parents, who are originally from Cameroon, taught me that it was important to consistently work hard to achieve my dreams. They also instilled in me a love of reading. I read six books every month and gift a book to every woman who attends the Brunch Women Leadership event. In addition, I founded the ‘Leadership Book Club’, an online Book Club for readers who love reading books about leadership.



Founder of the Brunch Women Leadership Business Paris Event By Christabel Telewa From an early age Patricia Ahanda always knew that her destiny was to lead and help other women rise. In this interview, Patricia talks about the Brunch Women Leadership Business Paris’, a unique event that she founded to train women around the world on leadership issues.

The Brunch Women Leadership Business is a monthly meeting held in Paris in a café, restaurant or place run by a woman or around a brunch prepared by a female chef. For each Brunch Women Leadership Business Event, there is a new theme, new speakers and the discovery of a new good Parisian address. We offer training in leadership, branding and personal development. My mission is to help every woman become a leader.


WHY DID YOU CREATE THE ‘BRUNCH WOMEN LEADERSHIP BUSINESS PARIS’ EVENT? I started organizing the events because I wanted to create a network of women to share secrets to career and entrepreneurship success as well as talk about the challenges they experience in their personal lives. The goal was to create a lively and dynamic sorority, a sisterhood where women support each other and hold conversations in a friendly atmosphere around a delicious Parisian brunch. HOW DOES THE BRUNCH IMPACT THE WOMEN WHO ATTEND THEM?

The advice I give to women attending the Brunch Women Leadership Business is: start where you are. I advise women to stop waiting for the perfect time to act because there is no perfect time. We all have talents, qualities and skills but often doubt and fear prevent us from sharing them with the world. I call on each woman to act, even if what they do is not perfect, to take one step after another because it is by taking action that one progresses, develops and asserts themselves as leader. WHAT ACHIEVEMENTS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?

I am proud to have organized speEvery woman attending Brunch cial editions of the Brunch Women Women Leadership Business is Leadership Business in Africa. It is transformed. I like to keep in touch also a way for me to show that with the various women present leadership has no boundaries and and it's a pleasure when they tell that there are also leaders and me that thanks to this day they women leaders in Africa. were able to start their business, apply for a new job, ask for a salary WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST SOURCE increase, regain confidence in OF INSPIRATION? themselves, change of style or dare to finally live the life of their My greatest source of inspiration is dreams. all women who succeed and who affirm themselves as leaders. SeeWHAT ADVICE DO YOU TYPICALLY ing women who have succeeded in GIVE THE WOMEN WHO ATTEND the past or who succeed in the preTHE EVENT? sent is a good source of motivation for the future. 28

HOW DID YOU ACHIEVE SUCCESS? women to assert themselves as women leaders and show that leadI learnt that the key to success is to ership has nothing to do with skin eliminate distractions and focus on color, age, origin or gender. I want yourself. When I have a goal in to show that leadership is not remind, I focus on that goal and try to served for the elite but that everyeliminate all negative thoughts or one can be a leader. things that can keep me away from success. WHAT MEMORY STANDS OUT FOR YOU AND WHY? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE GREATEST CHALLENGES THAT YOU HAVE I always remember the words of my HAD TO OVERCOME? Cameroonian grandmother who told me when I was little, "Helping My main challenge was not to let others is the best gift" Today these myself be overwhelmed by doubt words motivate me in everything I and negative thoughts. I was able to do. overcome all this by staying focused on my vision, not forgetting my HOW DOES THIS EVENT CHANGE "why". When you are focused on THE LIVES OF WOMEN WHO your vision, your why, you always ATTEND? arrive at your destination. Every woman attending BRUNCH WOMEN LEADERSHIP BUSINESS is WHERE DO YOU HOPE TO BE IN transformed. I like to keep in touch THE FUTURE? with the various women present and it's a pleasure when they tell My goal is to develop new leader- me that thanks to this day they ship training around the world and were able to start their business, to train girls in leadership schools apply for a new job, ask for a salary because it is from an early age that increase, regain confidence in everything starts and it is by train- themselves, change of style or dare ing the youngest that we can build a to finally live the life of their positive future. I want to create a dreams. positive circle of strong and talented women that I did not benefit from having at the beginning of my career. I want to encourage many 29

How we made it Five inspiring personalities share some insights about their achievements, obstacles they have had to overcome, and advice for women who are getting started in the fashion and entertainment industries. We begin with the fabulous Danielle Tuwano. By Christabel Telewa

“The saying you can’t have it all in regard to being a woman is false. You can have whatever you are willing to work hard for and dedicate yourself to.”

Growing up in Birmingham, Danielle had a normal childhood for the most part. As a minister’s daughter in a close-knit family, she spent a lot of time in church and loved celebrating all milestones with her family, something she does to this day. Then she had a baby at 16, a life experience that set her on the path to is a film producer, screen writer, tal- becoming who she is today. “After becoming a teenage mother, I ent director as well as an inspiraquickly discovered things about tional speaker. She is also a wife, mother and the brand ambassador myself. for the Faith and Bows Clothing Line 30 and Leslie El Vene Boutique.



I gained so much confidence, strength and wisdom that fueled my passion to express myself through writing,” says Danielle who is now a resilient mother, wife and entrepreneur. Danielle’s secret to success is prayer. “Prayer, hard work and faith are really the secrets to anyone’s success, not just mine. Determination to continue even when life gets hard, and faith that when a door shuts God will open a window is key,” she says. “The saying you can’t have it all in regard to being a woman is false. You can have whatever you are willing to work hard for and dedicate yourself to. Do not get me wrong, it will not be a cakewalk but it will definitely be worth it at the end of the tunnel.”

Sewra G KIDANE has edited and directed fashion film, “Punctuation Proclamation” which has been featured in Forbes' list of "The Worlds Best Fashion Films" and has won several awards, including Best Visual Art in Motion in Paris, Best Editor in New York City, and the Stylemaker Award in Los Angeles.

It has, however, not always been smooth sailing for Danielle in the saturated world of film. To be successful, she has had to stay committed to her craft and prove herself in order for others to want to work with her. As a creative writer, she prides herself in keeping fresh content that appeals to everyone. To learn more about Danielle’s work visit www.DanielleTuwanO.com 31

Feeling stuck in life is one of the best things to have happened to Sewra. At the time, she was working on several projects but was not happy with her career or life. Although she wanted to change her situation, she did not know how to and began having panic attacks. “So I just paused and started assessing things in my life. The ball bounces back up when it hits the floor, you know! “Sewra explains, “I thought about everything that I enjoy doing and what makes me happy. Because I was basically about to start over! It was in this space that I got the idea to do “Proclamation Punctuation”. After taking that leap, things began to flow smoothly. “The lesson I got out of all of it was, to do what you love to do. Even if it’s wild!! I mean, I also have aspirations to be a professional gift buyer! How wild is that?! But if it’s what really feeds and sustains you… fuels your fire, pursue it! DO IT!! Not doing what you love to do is just a waste of time. And we don’t have that luxury!”

Something no one has ever seen before,” she says of the fashion film that has been screened in Paris, Cannes, London, South Africa, New York, Los Angeles, and across the United States. It will also be available to stream online at the start of 2019. “If it’s what really feeds and sustains you… fuels your fire, pursue it! DO IT!! Not doing what you love to do is just a waste of time. And we don’t have that luxury!” You can learn more about Sewra’s work on www.ProclmationPunctuation.com.

“Proclamation Punctuation is a homage fashion film to the exclamation point!! It’s my first film I’ve directed. I wanted to do something completely original and different.

Marie MBE 32

Marie Mbe is a model and founder of the Dlas Fashion Week Paris (Tears to smile), an event that raises funds and distributes donations to orphanages in Africa over Christmas holidays.

Yaoundé, Cameroon. Seeing how appreciative those little children were, she cried with joy and organized a similar event this year when she distributed food to children in the Congo and Cameroon. “I would like to advice young people to never get discouraged when they want to start a project or listen to people When Marie Mbe, a Parisian, learnt who aren’t supportive. Follow your that she was adopted after being heart.” left in a garbage can as a baby, she was devastated and unable to speak about it for a long time. “I still re“I would like to advice young peomember that day. My foster mother ple to never get discouraged when had an aunt come to the house to they want to start a project or listell me about it because she did not ten to people who aren’t suphave the strength to do it. I became portive. Follow your heart.” so sad and cried about it for years. Although I did not talk to my friends about it, I wondered why something like this had to have happened to me,” recalls Marie. It was only after she began modelling and meeting more people that she was able to come out of her shell. “My story became my strength. That's what gives me the strength to fight every day. Everyday I try to be better and make my mother proud of me, she is my reason for living,” Marie says. Marie then launched a project to help orphans using her contacts in the fashion world. In 2016, she made donations to an orphanage in

Celai WEST 33

Although many people recognize Celai West is a nine-year old fash- her from her YouTube videos, modeling career and other engageion model whose signature walk and all natural hair attracted atten- ments, Celai doesn’t consider hertion from more than 6 million view- self a celebrity. She says that she’s a geek who likes to make endless ers when a section of her appearance hit the internet and went viral. amount of slime, play Roblox with her friends and design clothes for her dolls. As a kindergartener, Celai wore her When she started modeling Celai, a afro hair down every day. At first self professed nerd who loves math she got strange looks for it but by and science, told her mother that the end of the year, some of the she wanted to make enough money older kids started wearing their hair to pay her way to Howard Universithe same way. “I noticed some of ty. “I want to own my own store the older kids would say ‘Hi Celai!’ selling some of my own designs and and they would have their hair to still be modeling, acting and dodown too. Then we would get mes- ing runway all over the world...with sages on social media from moms 12 pets.” who said their daughters hated their hair but after seeing my pictures, they started to like it. It made I just feel like if God gave it to me feel proud. I just feel like if God you or me, it's already perfect gave it to you or me, it's already and you should love it and be perfect and you should love it and proud of it. be proud of it,” Celai says. She also started her Chatty Chick Apparel Line to help other girls feel Find out more at better about their hair. “One mom www.thechattychick.com sent us a message and said her daughter did not like her poofy hair so she got her a shirt. After she wore the shirt ‘I'd be jealous of my hair too’, she got so many compliments and felt so much better about it.” 34

DeMisha BURKS is the owner of Jay DeMari a luxury lifestyle fashion brand located in Chicago 35

As a 14 year old, DeMisha would imagine that she was a high fashion model and use the interconnection between her bedroom and front room to practice her walk. She has always felt this need to express herself through her style, fashion and modelling. However, the journey between dream and reality was not easy. For a long time Demisha struggled to overcome low self-esteem, selfdoubt and not knowing her place in this world, until she decided she’d had enough. “There was this defining moment that I knew I no longer wanted to stand in the shadow of fear…I’ll never forget, it was December 31, 2017, and I remember not going out for New Year, out of all years LOL! I just remember praying and praying and I got really emotional and asking God for strength, confidence and started declaring I’m the Righteousness of God through Christ Jesus,” she says. “Every morning before I started my day I reminded myself of this… Because I’m a firm believer that if you don’t believe in yourself then no one will. . I began dating myself, loving myself and just embracing who God intended for me to be.” 36

Then DeMisha moved forward and never looked back. The brand she has created is not only bringing a chic and refined look, but also inspiring and helping others gain confidence. “I believe what sets me apart from the rest is that I’m breaking fashion barriers through storytelling, cultivating, and inspiring people through my brand,” she explains. Her advice to young women who are just getting started in this line of work is, “Remain true to yourself and keep God at the forefront of it all. There will be plenty of distractions and those who may not see your vision, but continue to trust the process and always believe in yourself. www.jaydemari.com

Remain true to yourself and keep God at the forefront of it all. There will be plenty of distractions and those who may not see your vision, but continue to trust the process and always believe in yourself.

Veiled Glory

James Bell, @j_bellphoto Zainab Hassan, @zainabhassanxo

Tyla M Brown, @tlyambrown Olamide Barakat, @hennabybarakat @officialvagabondsoflondon & Hijabjewellery










Patricia Miswa {1985-2018}


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