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AFROELLE July to August 2019

Celebrating women of African Heritage

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

COVER CREDITS Photography, production and styling: Italo Vinicius @pictografiadigital Beauty: Nanda Nogar @nandanogarmua Model: Edilene Zurc @_edilenezurc


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.

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

10 CONTENTS July- August 2019 8. Dear Little Brown Girl 10. Think like a Boss 14. Sheer Will 24. Journey to Hollywood 26. Pop Activism 3o. A refreshing approach to feminine Hygiene 32. Colorful Malawian Duo 34. A partnership brewed in medical school 48. Clean Start + so much more


54 Pop activism Pg 26

32 42


his month’s main story is on women business partnerships. Two duos and a trio share their experience of getting into business with similar minded individuals. You’ll notice that they have several things in common; passion about their business, complementary personalities, and the willingness to overcome challenges (pg 32-40). Speaking of will, Lisa Marie Simmons shares the incredible story of her adoption and abuse, to finding love, music, and her birth family, by sheer will (pg 14). Teresia Njoroge’s story is just as interesting. She had a good job, loving family, and caring friends. Then she lost it all after being falsely accused, imprisoned and rejected by the society. Inspired by that experience, she co-founded Clean Start, an organization that helps ex-convicts rebuild their lives (pg 48). Maame Serwa’s belief that education will help girls and women achieve their dreams, motivated her to establish ‘LadybeThat,’ an organization that helps fund the education of girls in Ghana, West Africa (pg 52). In entertainment, we cover Lunden De’Leon, starting from South Carolina, relocating to California, dealing with exploitating in Hollywood and finally getting her breakthrough role. Thabile Makue writes about pop activism and its role in advocacy. Do people engage in activism efforts to get tickets to see their favorite celebrities or do they really care about humanity? Find out on page 26. I hope you enjoy this edition. I’ll leave you with a quote from Maya Angelou, “One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.”


Editor -in-chief

Afroelle gift guide

Dear little

Brown Girl Dr. Sheneka Brown has written a book to inspire girls by showing them positive images of strong women in leadership. By Christabel Telewa


r. Sheneka Brown always wanted to travel and see the world as a little girl. She, however, wasn’t able to do so because her mother could not afford it economically. “So, I travelled by reading books,” she says, “I was inspired by great women and their journey such as Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, and so many more.”

“It shows girls how these powerful and inspiring women are making an impact in their country and around the world,” says Dr. Brown, who is a mother and an educator with over 10 years’ experience. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education and a Master of Education degree with a specialization in Reading. She also has doctoral credits in Educational Leadership Grades Pk12.

In the same way, Dr. Brown’s book “Dear Little Brown Girl: My Travels Around the World” provides disadvantaged children with the opportunity to ‘travel’ to different places and see powerful women in leadership positions.

America needs a female president This book is relevant to an American audience because America has never had a female president for the past 227 years, according to the World Economic Forum. 8

This is attributed to the fact that women make up only 20 percent of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate and 12 percent of U.S. governors. Thus, the U.S. has a smaller pool of potential female presidential candidate than other countries do. “Another reason why the United States has not had a female president is because women have to bypass sexism, stereotypes, and being associated with being masculine due to the position,” Dr. Brown explains. “Leadership positions are seen as powerful and challenging and the public usually questions a women’s ability to handle the duties and responsibilities.” Girls should just do it

It is available on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and bookstores. Future plans Dr. Brown started writing in 2016. “As an educator, I was inspired by the students I teach, she says, “I wanted to show them a big world outside of where they were from so I decided to put it in a book.” Her first book is titled, “From Process to Promise: A 15-Day Guide to Awaken Your Purpose,” while the second is “Dear Little Brown Girl.” She plans to write another book for little brown boys titled, “Dear Little Brown Boy: My Time Travel Adventures”. The book, which will be available on December 2019, will focus on Chris, the main character, journeying to the past to meet great African-American leaders who made a significant impact that helped changed our future. His adventures will allow children to learn about geography, history, and great leaders who pave the way.  

“I want to encourage young girls who want to become the first female president to ‘Just Do It’,” says Dr. Brown. “My target audience is primarily African-American girls because I want them to know that they, too, can become trailblazing women who can break the barriers of race and gender to acquire leadership   positions.” “Dear Little Brown Girl” has been endorsed by multiple NFL players such as Edgerrin James, Reggie Wayne, Frostee Rucker, Janoris Jenkins, Kevin Burnett, Raymond Griffin, Sr., Tony Carter, Kayvon Webster, and many more. It was also featured on Aspire TV, NBC, iHeart Radio, MIA Magazine, and many more. 9

Think like boss

With the slogan “No woman left behind,” this organization’s mission is to equip women with the tools that they need to achieve success.


By Christabel Telewa


lthough Alexandra Bernard Simmons had worked in technology for close to a decade and was taking home an impressive paycheck , she felt that she was cheating herself out of her dreams, talents and purpose. To revive her passion, Simmons started a choreography career on the side. She then founded “The Evolution Hip Hop,” a performing arts school that achieved so much success, that she was able to leave the tech industry and never return.

women, but soon after started selling bestseller book “Think Like a Boss, 31 Tips to build your brand from the inside out”. It then expanded to include the “Think Like a Boss Podcast, a television and radio show, high school teen programs, women retreats, entrepreneur boot camps and speaking engagements. Alexandra, have you had any insightful experiences when hosting these events, giving speeches or writing the book?

Armed with knowledge from her experience, she decided to go back for women who feel stuck in their jobs, have given up on their dreams, don’t know how to execute their ideas, and are giving all to their families and nothing to themselves. This is how her movement ‘Think Like a Boss’ began.At first, the company was only planning conferences for

Yes, women are more alike than they are different. Our stories mirror each other, but we don’t know that until we strengthen our sisterhood and learn from each other to heal. Your story may be the key to unlock someone else’s prison.  10

Speaking of unlocking prisons, what do you think women can do to become better professionals and entrepreneurs?

That concept, “think like a boss” is very interesting. How does a boss think?

What common mistakes do women make in the entrepreneurial journey?

My movement was built on authenticity. Every facet brings out a skill or a passion. I’m an avid traveler so I added retreats. I have a degree in education, so I added a curriculum for teens in high school.  I studied television and radio, so I added a television show and Podcast. Your life journey is preparing you for your purpose. But your purpose is linked to who you truly are, things you love to do, things that bring out the best in you. Always remember God does not deny authenticity. 

A boss thinks and believes in Hone your craft, but never stop the beauty of their dreams. learning. Every space that I get into, They have a seize the day attitude I know that there is someone in the and understand that dreams only room I can learn from. When I have work if they make them. They do down time, I read and learn about not sit around and wait for things changes in business, technology, or to happen for them, they make new tips on mindfulness. There is them happen. always something to learn to make you better. If you feel like you know it all, your business will not flourish. What else would you like us to know about your movement?

Unfortunately, here in the states we fell into the trap of acting like a lady but thinking like a man. Why would I want to think like a man when I can be a woman, act like a woman, and think like a boss? We want women to love their roles of caregivers and spouses, but never forget about themselves or their dreams. Women sometimes tend to play small. They do not ask for what they deserve because they are accustomed to receiving less.

“Why would I want to think like a man when I can be a woman, act like a woman, and think like a boss?”

ENJA Cosmetics 14

Ashley Walker, founder of ENJA cosmetics, talks about her business. Lessons Learned I would have definitely conducted more research on the cosmetics industry and learned how to operate a business before setting up shop. I also wish I knew that I needed to invest a lot of money so that I can build a profitable business. Marketing is also a valuable skill to have because that would have helped me sell the product. What Makes Enja Cosmetic Products Unique The products are unique because they last more than 24 hours, are very light and suitable for a variety of skin tones.

Getting Business Off The Ground


had a lot of problems at the beginning. It was so difficult to get all my documents and set up a website, that I almost gave up. I quickly learned the value of seeking help from others who are more experienced. Currently my cousin, Tyiesha, helps me by organizing company events, testing makeup and writing reviews. My best friend, Michael ,created the logo and set up the company website. They’ve made things much easier.

To bring out the bring out the best in cosmetics, it is important to learn a few makeup application tips. For instance, to make a matte concealer more radiant and easier to blend, add a drop of primer oil (or coconut oil) to it, creating a natural and clean appearance. 14


Sheer Will Once a skinny, patchy-haired, silent child who struggled to find a loving home, Lisa Marie Simmons has now found happiness. She 16 is in a loving relationship, a frontwoman in her own band and a published poet.


By Lisa Marie Simmons


got off to a rather rough start in life as I was given up for adoption, by my mother at birth, to a family that mistreated me and ultimately rejected me. I do not know what was in their minds, but I do know that I lived locked in a room and was only let out to perform chores around the house. I remember being terrified of doing anything wrong and of speaking, as it most often ended in a beating. One day someone had painted my toenails and I abhorred it, my one rebellion against the life I was living was to pick at that polish at night, pick, pick, pick until I could get it off. They put me on a double decker Pan Am flight back to Colorado with a note in my pocket saying I was an unruly, ungovernable girl. That was around that time that my first strong memories began to form. I remember the kindness of the stewardesses and the captain. They must have understood that something was off. They saw a silent girl with a letter pinned inside the pocket of her shirt, her thin frame, bruises and the bald spots on her scalp, where hair refused to grow. They gave me the first gifts I remember receiving in my life - two small books and a doll. I felt safe, secure in that kindness. Later one of the stewardesses fastened a set of Pan Am wings to my jacket. Second Adoptive Mother When I met my second adoptive mother at the age of seven, I was grown beyond my years. Her first words were, “I’ve always been your mother, I’m sorry it took me so long to find you.” Looking into her eyes I felt I recognized something in her. At my first visit in the Simmons household, little four-year-old Miles, brother to be, took me by the hand and proceeded to tug me through the house. I remember his sweetness, excitement and happiness at having a new sister. He held his hand in mine as he looked laughingly up at me while trying to show me everything at once. It was heartening, he made me feel safe and I thought, maybe this new place was going to be okay. We had to undergo a trial period before I was officially a Simmons. Remaining in foster care I would visit the family weekly and I was always drawn to Miles.


Abuse It was not all sweetness and light. My adoptive mother was drawn to me because she herself had been abused as a child. She, sadly ,couldn’t break the chain, visiting the same upon my siblings and myself. I experienced this on the day my adoption became official and I moved in for good. I was elated, if a bit nervous, to have a home, a family. In foster care, I had overheard more than once that seven years old meant I was a big girl and nobody wanted big black girls, everyone wanted pretty white babies. I knew I was lucky. So, this new white mommy says to me, “You want to see something funny?” My trust in her was absolute. I believed that she was my “real” mom. I grinned and said “Yes!” excitedly. She turned and suddenly screamed my new adoptive sister’s name at the top of her lungs, “Kathleen Marie Simmons get in here right now!” And when this teensy girl came toddling in already sobbing; brand new Mommy dearest said innocently “Do you want a cookie?” I remember clearly thinking “Ah so this is what ‘Out of the frying pan into the fire’ means.” I got the lesson, I knew immediately that she was revealing who was the boss of my siblings, that house and me and understood that I wasn’t to cross her. In the days that followed, I saw that Miles had learned that lesson too. We learned to intuit when she was in a mood, trying to avoid the wooden spoons and wire hangers that were her weapons of choice in raising welts on our legs and backsides. Truly though, the psychological pressure was worse. Living with a constant low-grade fear that she would erupt. Trying to keep her happy when nothing or no one could. I used to bang my head against the wall at night, my hair grew in patches and I was wary of everyone and everything…except for my siblings. Survival Instincts Some instinct, perhaps what began as a survival mechanism, took hold and helped by my new family, I realized the power of positivity. Keeping everyone happy was always Miles’ and my goal. One thing my adoptive mother repeatedly told us was, “Keep smiling, even when you want to cry, and sooner or later it’ll be real.” So, smile we did, and it worked. Much of the good in me I learned from her. If she hadn’t read us to sleep every evening, would I have the love of literature that I do? If she hadn’t gathered us around the record player so often, would I have chosen the path of singer/songwriter? We’d been taught empathy because we knew what pain tasted like. Yet she taught us also to be kind and open to others. Those ripples spread. 18

“Some instinct, perhaps what began as a survival mechanism, took hold and helped by my new family, I realized the power of positivity.”

“ If she hadn’t read us to sleep every evening, would I have the love of literature that I do?”


“ I applied for my birth certificate, searched for and found my birth mother and a whole slew of siblings and other family.”

“I opened a card for every birthday my mother had missed, 52 birthday cards, each with a message appropriate for that age inside and each ending with ‘…remember you are so loved.”

“I reflected that every obstacle I had faced I had conquered seemingly by sheer will.”


When I was in my forties, I reflected that every obstacle I had faced, I had conquered seemingly by sheer will. See that skinny, patchy-haired, silent child now as a woman, hair down to my waist, in a happy, loving relationship, living in Europe, frontwoman in my own band, published poet. I had also long before decided that family can be chosen. I felt no need to search for my first family. I was always protesting to people when asked, ‘Aren’t you curious about your ‘real’ family?’ that I was surrounded by my ‘real’ family. Drawn To Ancestors Beginning each morning, as is my routine, with a long walk or yoga, I was drawn to thanking my ancestors at the end of those meditative mornings. I thanked them for the blood that ran in my veins, for the resilience, for the luck. Cross-legged on my yoga mat, a smile on my lips, I fervently thanked those who came before. On my way to play a show in my home state of Colorado a few years later, I was seated next to a sweet, sixty-something English woman. She confided in me that she was headed to Colorado to meet her sister for the first time. Taking advantage of Colorado’s new law that adoptees had the right to their original birth certificates, her sister had searched for, then, found her and they’d been Skyping regularly. Almost on a lark, I thought, “Well why not?” I applied for my birth certificate, searched for and found my birth mother and a whole slew of siblings and other family. Fifty-Two Birthday Cards I was prepared for just about anything other than what I found when I began the search. She may have passed on, she may want nothing to do with me, but felt that whatever lay in store, it would be illuminating to know something of my history. Instead, I found a woman who for my next birthday sent me a package. She kept calling, saying, ‘“Is it there yet?” The day it arrived, I brought the enormous envelope into the house grinning and when I opened it, out spilled a huge pack of smaller envelopes. I thought, how sweet, she’s gotten everyone in the family to write me a birthday card. I opened the first in the packet, a colorful, smiling teddy bear holding a bunch of balloons which had a bright orange number one on the cover. Inside, my birth mother had written, “My sweet baby girl, today you are one and oh how much you are loved.”I wasn’t sure if I wanted to laugh or cry so did both as I opened a card for every birthday my mother had missed, 52 birthday cards, each with a message appropriate for that age inside and each ending with ‘…remember you are so loved.’ That gratitude and love I held in my heart for my blood family, my absolute lack of rancor towards my mother’s choice in putting me up for adoption, led me to the most incredible birthday of my life. I feel as though my predecessors had guided me straight to my mother’s arms. To learn more about Lisa’s journey follow her blog

Just Glay Designs

{ A brand that embodies the spirit of the new age Nubian Queen


From South Carolina to

Hollywood Lunden De’Leon, who was recently nominated “Best Leading Actress for her role as a high-powered attorney in the film “Pure Justice,” talks to Christabel Telewa about her upbringing, acting roles and the lessons she’s picked up along the way.


unden De’Leon never planned to ­become an actress. She grew up poor in a strict Christian household in South Carolina, did a lot of cleaning and ironing and went to church at least five days a week. After high school, she relocated to California, and moved in with a roommate who was struggling actress. Since De’Leon was perpetually broke and looking for ways to make money, one day she decided to tag along to an audition. Then her life took a completely different trajectory. First Audition

With a “can do attitude,” she went ahead and auditioned for the part, despite not having any acting experience nor major plans of what she would do with her life after that. Later, De’Leon’s agent called and informed her that she had gotten the part and signed her to a one-year contract. Soon after she booked more acting and modeling gigs. Same Script While trying to get into the acting industry, De’Leon explains that she had to work part time jobs that did not bring her enough money, so that she could get the flexibility she needed to go for auditions. She also dealt with agents, producers, directors and other powerful men in Hollywood who made promises of television or film roles if she had sex with them.

Her first audition was for an independent film named “Genotype” and was held at a high-rise building on Sunset Boulevard. “There were at least 12 other actresses who looked exactly like me, same height, skin tone “One evening, I booked a film and had a read-through with a producer and and hair, but I was too hungry to be the rest of the cast in Santa Monica, scared,” recalls De’Leon. CA. 24

The read-through went well and everything seemed great,” De’ Leon remembers. “After a week, the producer contacted me again about a second read-through. When I arrived, he asked me to join him for dinner at a restaurant downstairs until the rest of the cast arrives, then he tried to kiss me on the way there. I got away from there as fast as I could.” “I’m so glad that people are now speaking up about it. This industry can be very dark, but I put God first and never played myself”, says De’Leon, “I knew that sooner or later I would get the breakthrough I needed without sleeping with anyone for it.” The Breakthrough De’Leon got her breakthrough when she was cast in the television series “Vital Signs,” where she played Joanne Mbutu, a young lady from West Africa. She prepared for the role by studying Kiswahili, an African language, watching films and talking to friends to learn everything about West African culture. “It was a phenomenal experience,” she says of her breakthrough role. Since then, she has worked alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Her list of credits includes the blockbuster comedy “We’re the Millers,” Vital Signs,” “Sweet Home Carolina,” “Somebody’s Child” and recently the police drama “The Carson Brothers” as well as the thriller “Angels Prayer.”

“This industry can be very dark, but I put God first and never played myself.”


Pop {Activisim} Does it have a sit at

the traditional advocacy table? By Thabile Makue


n 2018, Global Citizen came to South Africa. Preceding it, were an app and website full of point-earning activities for those who wanted tickets. It was the biggest game at the time and to win it, you had to petition and campaign for “good”. This gave people a chance to see the star-studded concert, to identify as a “global citizen” and of course, to feel good about it. At the end, you won a pair of tickets. But does this mean you can sit at the table of advocacy? More than 5.6m actions were taken during the full campaign period. These led to commitments of actions worth $3.6b. I earned 280 points from signing petitions, sending emails, tweets and Facebook posts. But of all the activities I undertook, only two stayed with me. A letter that I wrote to girls in oppressive states and a promise I made and kept to minimize my use of plastic (something I was already trying to do, the pledge just helped me be more intentional about it). Why I engaged in those activities At the beginning, I undertook those actions to see (and for) Beyoncé (and Jay-Z). For as long as I had been aware of Beyoncé, I had wanted to see her in concert. For years, I’d joked about the kind of things I was willing to do to see her. Sell some organs? Yes, if legally possible. Become a surrogate? If I could give birth before the concert. Use my mother’s savings? 26

She’s old now, she wouldn’t miss the money too much – she’d want me to be happy. My retirement savings? Maybe I could retire later. You know what they say, only the dead truly rest. Do good for Beyoncé? Is that even a real request? I undertook each action and counted its points. If I did an action and the points did not reflect immediately, I was ready to email someone with complaint. Once, I did an action that yielded no points and I was annoyed, until I guilted myself for my irritation at doing “the right thing” at no reward. I was a good person, even at this small scale, I was taking time out of my day to do something good that wouldn’t result in my seeing Beyoncé. This was the experience of many others During the concert, some Global Citizen staff asked concert attendees to answer a survey about why people participated in the campaign. I filled the slip out reluctantly, skeptical of my own responses. Was it true to say that I had done it only for tickets, even though at some point I did begin to care about the impact of my actions? And as I sat there, identifying myself as a global citizen and fantasizing about ways to do more within my own communities? But could I say I did it for good, and not for the sole chance to see Beyoncé? Did the intention matter? I had a brief chat with some of the people who were seated next to me. A survey of my own, to find out how many of them had done any of the actions for any other reason than to earn tickets. No one had a straight answer. It was complicated. And isn’t any kind of social justice effort? New identity as a global citizen After I had stopped watching the videos I recorded at the concert and introducing myself as someone who had seen Beyoncé in concert, I thought about my new identity as a global citizen. What did it mean, beyond being a literal resident of the globe, and caring about what happens to the world and others? Was Global Citizen as an organization or movement a meaningful social impact effort? My partner said no. She is a field organizer. For her, social justice is about sustainable impact on real-life communities. She thought Global Citizen had missed an opportunity to translate their campaign into grassroots work. “Aid is important and helpful, but money runs out”, she told me.

Being at the concert, I had thought about ways I could get more involved in my own community, but seeing no real-life continuity, I stopped thinking about it. I was also no longer on social media and couldn’t do most of the new Global Citizen actions. But did that mean anything for “mainstream activism”? 27

The kind that involved big communications budgets to reach mass markets? Did it mean that it didn’t have the grassroots foundation that made movements meaningful? And what was the value of numbers? Any activism effort is meaningful Tlhonepho Thobejane, South African content producer and activist, says that any activism effort that has good intent is meaningful. “It’s better for brands to use their money to engage in activism that benefits communities. The point is to change perceptions or behaviors that are negative, even if this shifts for a single person. The trick is longevity, most campaigns are event-based and miss follow-up opportunities. It’s also important to ‘walk the talk’, organizations often engage in activism work that is not reflective of their operational policies and environments”. For Thobejane, numbers don’t matter as much as topic representation. “I think there’s value in conversations, especially for topics that are usually ignored.” When Thobejane created ‘What Women Want’, a documentary-style TV show she developed during her previous employment at MTV Base, she says she focused on constructive conversation around issues facing women in South Africa, such as femicide. And according to comments on the YouTube video, the show achieved its intent. There is a need for continuous work But that was only one show, many others fail to achieve their aims. Others meet their goals to find that they lacked important nuance. For example, Netflix’s ‘13 Reasons Why,’ got the world talking about bullying and self-harm, but that conversation involved an unsafe romanticism of suicide and a recent report showed that teen suicide rates increased following the show’s debut. Further, with campaign budgets worth millions, even billions of dollars for social impact work, is conversation enough of an output? And what about campaigns like Global Citizens, which did not single out conversation as a goal? Is the job complete once 70 or so thousands of people have heard speeches about what work has been impactful and what more can be done to address the world’s socioeconomic issues? Is $3,6b raised enough? Maybe. And maybe not. I don’t think there exists a simple measuring stick for social impact work. There exists continuous need and need for the continuity of work. There exists a requirement for attention to nuanced needs, and the multiple textures of contexts. Maybe, and maybe not, pop culture activism can sit at the table of traditional advo-

cacy. And even better, maybe these are different tables and each seat on each, when carefully considered and positioned, matters. 28

Dana collection build your confidence

Crafted with care, this custom made jewelry collection will make anyone feel special. Available at the village market Kenya or can be ordered at

A Refreshing Approach to Feminine Hygiene The Honey Pot Company is dedicated to providing women with all-natural feminine hygiene products that offer a holistic approach to women’s wellness.


By Iman Folayan,


any women are clueless about the ingredients that are in feminine hygiene products. This is a shocking reality, considering that these “foreign objects” placed in your sweet spot should make your cringe on the inside.

As a self-proclaimed “conscious capitalist”, Bea believes wealth is key, but “it’s important to operate from a place of mutual respect and love and not to cross the border.” Ultimately never sacrifice the human element for consumerism.

For instance, in December 2018, Kotex recalled the U by Kotex Sleek tampons due to issues with tampons unraveling and requiring medical attention to be removed. But “When commercials are King… it pulls the wool over your eyes”, as Beatriz Felie-Espada, founder of Honey Pot Company reminds us.

The organization is partnering with to provide travel kits to homeless women in need. Despite feminine hygiene being a billion-dollar industry, the access to resources is still limited for some demographics. Could you imagine not being able to access proper hygiene items for your period? Something about that is so humbling.

Bea founded the Honey Pot Company hoping women worldwide would feel the same relief she experienced after using her own formula. Most of us are so accustomed to products laced with toxic chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA), Rayon, and Chlorine, we may not realize the effect they are having on our body.

Only five years old, the Honey Pot is found in major retailers in the U.S., and hopefully worldwide soon. But it doesn’t end there, five additional lines are in the works and will be released soon.

With the Honey Pot Company’s comprehensive line, every woman, whether sensitive, normal or expecting, can find a product just for them. Honey Pot has found a way to beautifully blend tradition with innovation by using herbs, ingredients which have been used for years in traditional medicine. From their wipes and washes, to their pads, and my personal favorite, the herbal infused panty liner, your sweet spot will be pleased. You’ll actually look forward to treating yourself to a little something from the Honey Pot throughout your whole cycle, not just the period. 31

Author’s profile Iman Folayan found her joy for writing at a young age and what started as a love for short stories and poetry eventually evolved into a passion for journalism and research. Over the years, her experience includes writing for various blogs and magazines on a wide range of topics and has allowed her to interview phenomenal women and men excelling in their field. Born and raised in Houston, the “journalista” now resides in Atlanta where she continues to work freelance and on

Business partnerships



Although Irvine Mwangala has always had a passion for interior design, she did not have the courage to pursue it professionally, until her friendship with Mbumba Jana gave her the confidence. 32


enturing into the interior design world was natural for Irvine Mwangala as she had always been interested in decorating. Growing up she loved beautiful things and would watch a lot of interior design shows.

in which people were willing to spend incredible amounts of money for a memorable day,” Mwangala says. Tulip Events started off as a hiring business, then began providing decoration services since a lot of people were making enquiries about them. The business now offers consultations and planning, events decoration and hires out merchandise such as the eminent tiffany chairs, tables, and table and chair linen. They cater to weddings, engagements, birthdays, corporate functions and kids’ events.

“Irvine would download a lot of wedding images on her phone and would frequently send them to me and tell me how glamourous her wedding would be,” offers her best friend and business partner, Mbumba Atisunje Jana. “True,” Mwangala laughs, “I wanted to pursue interior design and wedding planning as a career, but you know African parents… it’s only acceptable to become a doctor, lawyer, teacher or something that makes ‘sense’. ”

To stay on top of the competition, they keep reinventing their business to create something unique for all customers. They also watch out for new trends and seek inspiration from international planners.

So she put her dreams on the back burner and chose a traditional path, until her friendship with Jana reignited that passion. “She has this way of arranging things in her house and loves color coordinating and clashing, it’s always interesting,” says Mwangala.

A good day for them is when they are able to bring their imagination to life or when they get positive feedback from clients, guests or social media followers.“To us, that’s everything,” Mwangala says, “however, we also have ‘not-so-good’ days.”

As close friends, Mwangala and Jana had many things in common, would agree on most things, and were always successful when working together. “One day we thought, ‘Why not combine our interests and create a profitable venture together?’, ” explains Mwangala.

For instance, they have to deal with a lot of logistics and cost of importing materials since Malawi does not have a lot of the items that they use. Despite experiencing these setbacks, they plan to keep growing their business. and acquiring new customers. “Our 2019 vision is that we expand our business in terms of services provided, merchandise and even beyond borders,” Jana concludes.

The pair chose to establish their interior design business, Tulip Events, in 2017 because they noticed lavish events were increasingly taking place in Malawi, their home country. “This is especially true of weddings, www. 33

Business partnerships

A partnership brewed IN MEDICAL SCHOOL Two doctors met in college, hit it off and established a friendship that has lasted for almost two decades.


ver 17 years ago, Dr. Gameli Dekayie and Dr. Chantale Stephens-Archer met at a prospective student’s weekend at the University of Chicago. Both being from multinational backgrounds ,they got along, and decided that if they chose to go to that university, they would be roommates. Not only did they both end up at the university as roommates, but they also formed a natural friendship that progressed through medical school, residency and ultimately to Quench Wellness, a medical practice that they jointly own. The Doctors talk about their upbringing, motivation She then began her new journey in to start Quench Wellness and what makes America, striving to find a balance between them different from the others. her African culture which was filled with love, African cuisine and expectation of excellence in school, with America’s Dr. Gameli Dekayie flexibility, openness and deliberate savoring Dr. Gameli was born in Ghana, where she of life. loved spending a lot of time with her Dr. Gameli was the youngest of three grandmother in a beautiful, tranquil village. children. Her sister is 10 years older and At the age of five, alongside her mother her brother was born to an American and sister, Dr. Gameli left Ghana to join her mother, years before she was conceived. father in the suburbs of Chicago, where he She remembers her father was a fun loving, had established himself in banking. outgoing man, who she misses every day. 34

“Though we may not have fit the traditional image, my father did his very, very, very best for us,” she says of her father who passed away at the age of 45 when she was just 11. After his passing, Dr. Gameli’s mother started taking care of the family. “Being alone with children in a foreign land was not easy for her but she made it work by finding her niche in fine jewelry retail, Dr. Gameli says. “I definitely get my sensibility and no frill attitude from her gene pool.” Dr. Chantale Stephens- Archer When Dr. Chantale was little, she would sit in her grandmother’s kitchen table reciting 6 times tables as the aroma of homemade bread wafted through the air. Her grandmother, retired teacher, never really stopped teaching and filled her childhood with books and math at an early age. Though she was born at the stateside, her parents raised her in a household with food, music, art and culture that was influenced by the Caribbean culture. Her aunts, grandmother and mother, were always present. “These women effortlessly worked as teachers, chemists, and nurses while raising children and maintaining households,” she says, “I got my love of science from my mother.”

“Everything offered is natural and encourages our clients to seek balance and live the best version of themselves.”

Quench Wellness

Her mother started her career as medicalsurgical nurse, progressing to home healthcare, nursing supervisor roles and diabetes educator, before settling into her current role as a labor and delivery nurse. She was also interested in not only treating but also teaching. “Those are the same qualities I instill in my patients daily and the same values at the core of our newest clinic, Quench Wellness,” Dr. Chantal says. “ The enterprenual skills that I got from my father come in handy when running the business.” 35

With busy lifestyles, people find it difficult to get the required more than 64 fl ounces of water a day, full servings of fruit and vegetable, sleep eight hours a day, exercise five times a week and be completely stress free and hormonally balanced. That’s why Dr. Gameli and Dr. Chantale founded Quench Wellness, a health practice that encourages people to live the best version of themselves by quenching depleted vitamins and nutrients lost in our day to day hectic lives. Quench Wellness also offers intimate wellness, which is vital to women’s overall health status. This includes vaginal revitalization therapy that restores vaginal lubrication, elasticity and strength. Everything offered is natural and encourages our clients to seek balance and live the best version of themselves.

Business partnerships

We will

lead Africa

We interview the trio who founded, ‘We Lead Africa, an organization which celebrates stories of everyday leadership, progress and prosperity in Africa. Submitted by Moiyattu Banya, Director Women|Change|Africa This month We Will Lead Africa released volume 2 of their book which is focused on the voices of African women. We chat with the ladies about their views on business partnerships, their life journey and advice they have for women in business. Tell us a bit about yourselves and why you decided to found We Lead Africa. Yabome: I believe what connected all three of us and brought us to We Will Lead Africa was the experience of being what I call Global Africans. I was born in Germany to Sierra Leonean parents, subsequently moved to Sierra Leone at age five and then moved to Canada as a young adult for university.

Yabome Gilpin-Jackson

found myself challenging assumptions a lot, including the assumption that Africans are I completed my undergraduate and first not engaged in finding their own solutions graduate degree in Canada, then did more and that African leaders are only corrupt. studies in the United States. My African When I met Sarah and Judith, we quickly identity was always clear to me because realized our shared passion to disrupt I moved back to Sierra Leone so young. the taken for granted narratives of Africa. However, as I encountered mainstream We had shared professional affiliations in narratives of Africa and Africans, I became leadership and organization development increasingly troubled. The narratives I heard and our synergy was electric. did not match my experience and I found In our first one or two conversations, we myself always explaining myself - why I realized how aligned our philosophies and spoke English so well or what it was like to passions were and we all resonated with grow up in an urban West African city. I also 36

the idea of starting We Will Lead Africa to collect and share the stories of everyday African leaders working for the prosperity of the continent. Sarah: I could tell many stories to answer this question, but I’ll choose two. Firstly, I have always been interested in philosophy (asking ourselves The Big Questions), conversation, dialogue and the ways people come together to make meaning. And in particular, the narratives that people build, live in, live by, sustain and shape. Secondly, whilst I see myself as a “planetary citizen” - fitting in everywhere and nowhere - one part of this, is the patchwork African identity that I have. My father was Ghanaian, I was born in Botswana, I now live in Mozambique and I’ve worked across a number of other African countries. In some ways, it is the combination of these two threads that leads me to be interested in African narratives of leadership and community, in particular as it relates to my work as an Organisation Development practitioner and coach. And it is important to me that the expressions of leadership of everyday Africans is documented and shared - that’s why WWLA is so important to me.

ways that continue to inspire me. How do we get ourselves and the world to see this, how do we make sure that history does not forget? The beauty, the inspiration, the courage and dignity that is everyday African leadership - in a world where the term leader comes with a colour.

“I believe what connected all three of us and brought us to We Will Lead Africa was the experience of being what I call Global Africans,” Yabome What brings you alive theses days when it comes to things African women are doing?

Yabome: African women innovating and supporting each other! Nothing gives me more joy that watching so many African women rise...and intentionally bringing others along. I mean this not in the sense of one helping or saving others, but in the sense of women being the support structures and inspiration for each other to pursue their dreams and fulfill their callings. There is a way that only women can do that Judith: I have been intrigued by leadership for each other, because only another woman understands when a sister pours out on the African continent for a very long their heart about wanting to fulfill a dream, time. Living as a third culture kid, I was often confronted with lopsided views of the but feeling constrained by all the demands and roadblocks that surround women’s lives continent, and growing up...becoming a business psychologist it seemed to only get worse. I cannot count the number of times Sarah: I really love the movement of women I heard “oh, we wanted to set up there but entrepreneurs and businesswomen that I found no leadership talent”, there would see creating waves - they are collaborating, be Nigeria or Senegal or Uganda, and I pioneering spaces and creating would ask myself what are they seeking on organisations with real purpose and impact, a continent that is the home of the hardest but that also make money and are ensuring working most driven people I have ever the prosperity of themselves and their met? People who despite the odds lead in families.I love thinking about the ripples of business, community, civil society etc in 37

Business partnerships

“As a person who has done it alone and as a partnership, all I can say is this is the way,” Judith Okonko. triad I have found sisterhood in a way I have not experienced before. I think it’s because we share a profession that calls us to personal development. Yet what I am learning professionally that is impacting me personally, is the one piece I can’t always explain to family in a coherent way so it doesn’t sound like gibberish to them...but I can do that here.

Judith Okonko

I can put all the pieces of the puzzle out spiritual, emotional, psychological or just that confusing complex work situation, and by the end of the conversation, Sarah and Judith help me see how to complete the puzzle in 3D! I now understand why wise mentors will encourage building all round relationships so that your overall support network is solid - filled with family, mentor(s), peer support, as well as those we also mentor/coach.

African women leaders who are redefining leadership as something that can both make business sense and be relational (as opposed to transactional) and both have lucrative value and be values-based. Judith: Oh my! What a rush I get from the awesomeness that is the African woman today. You can see it in my extraordinary co-founders, in so many of the stories we tell, and the even more that we have not yet got to. Women are supporting each other, loving each other, and seizing the day - bringing their unique perspective and talents to bear in a way that is making our world, countries, communities a better, safer, more prosperous place for us all.

Sarah: Oh, a place to rest, wisdom, support, a space for imagination and possibilities, honest connection, time for reflection and personal growth. So much. Judith: As someone who has done both alone and as a partnership. All I can say is, this is the way. Like any relationship, when you find the right ones then it is as it was meant to be. It will uplift you, nurture you, make you a better you and allow you to do that for others.

What have you gained from working together in developing this work? Yabome: Beyond words…I have five biological sisters and more close sistercousins than I can count...and yet in our 38

What challenges have you faced building a business partnership and what have you learnt? Yabome: It is crystal clear to me that We Will Lead Africa would not have been the same had I done it alone. Sarah, Judith and I each had shared passion, but coming together was the magic and recipe we needed. Honestly, for me the main challenge I can think of is that we are so far from each other. In these four years, all three of us have only been together twice! Once at the end of 2015 for 30mins at a conference when we introduced ourselves and promised to follow-up (thankfully we did!) and the second time at the Vol 1 launch in 2017 in Johannesburg...for just over 24 hours! Thank God for technology! We have made it work with regular online collaboration meetings and regular e-chatting. We have felt the impact of not being able to quickly get together acutely a few times when all we’ve wanted to do is take a retreat together to vision, strategize and plan versus do that online. This is mainly why we have yet to do the exploration and planning we need to, to expand our marketing, reach and business model - right now we are content to just curate the volumes. We are gentle with each other in it. All three of us have full lives and manage so much...we are slow and steady, knowing we will get there and are in this for the long game. Sarah:Being a trio has always been special because it means we each bring quite a unique approach and energy to our partnership. It also means that there is continuity and consistency when life happens and one of us isn’t able to put in as much time and attention (although let’s be honest… Yabome is the true cheerleader with the eternal battery power!). And with that comes lots of learning about asking for 39

help, being honest about what is possible and what’s going on for you and allowing others to support you - that’s not always easy for me, but it is a blessing and it fills me with gratitude to have this.

Judith: I think we are very lucky. The journey has not been without its frustrations, we have had our individual challenges. For me time and energy have been in rather short supply over the last year, I have 2 others who care about the work but before that care about me as a

“Being a trio has always been special because it means we each bring quite a unique approach and energy to our partnership,” Sarah Owusu.

Sarah Owusu

Business partnerships person. That has made the difference for us, that we are connected beyond We Will Lead Africa, and in that connection we value our differences and what we each bring and the space that we are able to make together.

What advice would you share with African women interested in this industry in regards, to business, and partnership? Sarah: I think the answer is always to just begin - and if you can do it with others that uplift you, then that will carry you much, much further.

Tell us about the We Will Lead Africa Volume two, what inspired it and what can we expect? Sarah: I find it hard to describe a specific inspiration - I just knew that this volume had to happen. In fact, I imagine that there may be more volumes dedicated to stories of African women. I have always joked that “I collect awesome women” and the truth is I could name a never-ending list of African women that inspire me. This volume captures a sample of these: 32 stories, by 36 contributors. They are rich, personal stories that bring to life both their challenges and achievements.

Judith: Echoing Sarah, please start now. You might not be going all out, it might start alongside other obligations, but do begin. Find your support, the road is not an easy one but it is worthwhile so find the people who will cheer you on and give you honest feedback...and tell your story, your generosity will inspire others too and what a world we will have then.

The stories span geographies and sectors, and though hard to categorize we have grouped them as Influencers, Health Innovators, Entrepreneurs and Business Women, Bridge Builders and (De)Constructors. There are also other contributions in the form of poetry, a short story and our beautiful cover art - all of which is also the work of African women making an impact. The volume gives us a peak at what might be possible if women’s unique and precious contribution was fully realised and valued.

Yabome: what else can I say - life is short. We are finite beings at least in our bodies and you just have to blink for a year to go by. If you find yourself talking about it, thinking endlessly but not doing anything, either stop talking about it or do something - no matter how small. You never know how a seed will grow into a harvest, but if you don’t plant the seed, you will never know! And even if it never grows, you will learn so much and be a richer and wiser human for the experience.

Yabome: What Sarah said!! I’d just add that we had a meeting where we tried to discern what topics/areas were most important to us personally and for the world if we did a few topic-based volumes. A volume on African women’s leadership and contributions to the progress of the continent was clear and easy for us to choose. Twitter: @willleadafrica IG: @wewillleadafrica


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Clean Start Teresia Njoroge was falsely accused, imprisoned, and spent several months behind bars with her three-month-old daughter. From that experience she found her purpose



fter it was decided that I was going to jail, I was in a state of shock that a magistrate would make such a mistake. I clung onto my daughter and vowed to myself that I was not going to leave her behind. It was very difficult because she was my first born and only three months old. I was still was still numb as I was taken through the motions of admission. It was only after they had finished the process and began escorting me to the prison ward that that reality set in and tears began to flow. Dark prison wards Langata Women Maximum Security Prison, where I was sent, used to be horse stables during colonial times. The wards are grey and dark, with very little aeration spaces at the top, and a very strong stench that I will never forget. My ward had 50 to 60 women and their children jumbled up together in a very small space that was built in the 60s. All of us shared one toilet. As one person was using the toilet, another would be bathing her child in the same tiny room, which had no door. It did not matter that we were women of different ages; young, middle-aged and old women. I could see the children were learning very difficult things, as they were constantly exposed to vulgar language from the mothers and would see them naked. For me, it seemed like hell. In prison, your worth as a human being is reduced to a number. They no longer refer you by your name or any accomplishment you have ever had. All that matters to them is the number they have given you and taking record of that number during the number count. Seven times a day, we were counted squatting. Every other minute in prison, your self-esteem is being ripped apart. Prison is a break for some women The most shocking thing, though, was that some women believed that being in prison is a good thing. They had been through so much problems and trauma in their lives; they were so used to lacking and being treated like nobody, that they felt like being in prison is a good break. That sunk my heart. I asked myself very many questions including, “Why is our society so nonchalant about the poor people? Why don’t we care? Why do we continue with life as if they don’t exist?” Because that’s what we do. That’s why those women are so grateful when they are picked up in the street hawking or prostituting. That for me, was a turning point of how we as a society have degraded our moral conscious. Our moral conscious in Kenya is in the negatives.


If you are rich and guilty you can get away with it Coming from the corporate world, a family that loved me, friends who were well educated, and a successful career, I really stood out. The question was, “Why are you here?” People with means don’t come to prison, they pay bribes, do what it takes but don’t come to prison.” That’s when I started understanding the justice narratives in Kenya.Those narratives are that, “If you are rich, and guilty you can get away with it. If you are poor and innocent, too bad for you because you’ll still end up being jailed.” Trying to bridge the world that I’d come from and the world that I was now in, of illiterate women who had no educational opportunities, who struggled so much to get economic opportunities, was very difficult for me. People only saw me as an ex-convict My appeal came through, I was cleared of any wrong doing and compensated by the government. Before that I had an idea of forming an organization and I had started meeting women who were previously convicts. I, however, suffered a major setback in my efforts as people no longer saw me as Teresia Njoroge. They saw me as an ex con, and that closed very many doors for me. It was very tough to see that people no longer had a seat for me at the table. That I was no longer worth of being in conversation with them. The fact that you’ve been to prison, people never see you the same way. You become this ex con that they don’t know how to handle or treat. There is no awareness about it at all. I had to educate people on how to handle me. So many of them were afraid of me just because I’ve been to prison. It was very difficult to process, but it helped me to see how ex inmates are handled in our country. Clean Start I partnered with life coach, Joss Carruthers, to found Clean Start, an organization that helps women ex-convicts in Kenya rebuild their lives. So far, we have employed six women who have completed their sentences at Langata Women Maximum Security Prison. They now work full time at Clean Start and are part of the decision-making processes at the organization. So, we have the voices of those affected at the table. All decisions we make are coming from people with lived experiences. Many corporates, individuals have partnered with us and employing the women to work there and others are sponsoring girls going to go to school. Our future plans are to change narratives around our criminal justice sphere and to push the criminal justice reforms. Prisons are not made for poor people, lets change that. Also Keen for me is to keep effecting systemic change, where the prison directors, correctional officers look at rehabilitation and reintegration from a completely different lenses of restorative justice, rather than the current punitive way of operating that we have. 50

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In conversation with Maame Serwa


aame is the founder of ‘LadyBeThat,’ an organization that helps fund the education of underprivileged girls in Ghana.

Education is also something that can never be taken away. It is unfortunate that not everyone has equal access to the most basic education. My smallest contribution can a difference in the girls’ lives.

Why did you decide to found ‘LadyBeThat? Since high school I’ve always volunteered with numerous organizations and planned to set up an organization that helps others.I chose aid in education because I truly believe that girls and women who are well equipped with knowledge in their fields 0f interest can achieve their goals.


What contribution have you been able to make so far? The first school that ‘LadyBeThat’ started working with is called Accra Royal, located in Accra, Ghana. The students in this school have to pay a daily fee to use the restrooms, contribute to the electricity bill, and so many other costs.

By providing them some extra income, these girls can pay off their personal school debts and focus on learning.

after her can put education first, without any possible stressors on the children.

One student I met while visiting the school expressed to me how she also works to help her mother pay rent and afford groceries on top of her school bills. It is sad to see what girls as young as 12 have to go through just to get through school.

After several years of establishing ourselves in many schools and creating awareness, I would like to branch outside of Ghana and into other African countries.I would like to help many girls across the continent.

Have you faced any challenges so far? The challenge has always been the opportunity to work with other people with the same drive or passion. I have a vision of collaborating with many people and having the ability to help many more girls but it isn’t always easy when you don’t come across others with similar goals in mind. How about the exciting moments that you’ve had? The girls are required to write essays on a specific topic when applying for the scholarships and their eagerness and transparency is beautiful to me. Reading the stories always brings me joy. One girl has a dream to build schools of her own one day where no students will pay any fees at all. Her situation has motivated her to try and ensure that the generation

Do you have any future plans?

“I chose aid in education because I truly believe that girls and women who are well equipped with knowledge in their fields of interest can achieve their goals. “


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Cape: Studio D’maxsi- Afua Sam Gold coil stacked necklaces: Tru Face by Grace Hand made threaded necklace: Tru Face by Grace Earrings: Tru Face by Grace Golden shorts:Terry Tocci Designs

Profile for Afroelle Magazine

Afroelle Magazine  

July/August 2019 edition .

Afroelle Magazine  

July/August 2019 edition .