AFROELLE CONTENTS JULY 2011
INSPIRATION 31 SPECIAL FEATURE: Bhatupe Mhango ‘Agent of Change’
Mbira Queen: Hope Masike
Teaching Artist: Nzingah
Photography by Petronella
Dark skin/Light skin debate
IN EVERY ISSUE
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Health & Wellness
HOUSTON , TEXAS
Divinty Matovu Chantal Korsah
Angela Waweru UNITED KINGDOM
Janay Nabesa SEATTLE WA
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AFROELLE Celebrating Women of African Descent PUBLISHER Patricia Miswa CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jovanna Rodriguez, Iman Folayan, Elizabeth Karina, Angela Waweru, Chantal Korsah, Carolyne Onyango, Janay Nabesa, Divinity Matovu
ON THE COVER
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Agency: Lady Mirage Agency
ime flies, can you believe we are already past the half year mark? Just the other day we welcomed the New Year with long lists of resolutions. Well, the year doesn’t feel so new anymore, it’s actually that time of the year when energy levels hit low points, we get sucked into the routine of life and midyear fatigue creeps in. All these are symptoms of midyear blues, something I experienced this July. At some point I may have been tempted to lament on how fast the year was running yet so many things not yet accomplished but I decided this would be the ideal period to take some time off and perform a midyear review on the first half of the year.
This evaluation involved three simple steps; first, I took a look at my goals to track my progress; what had I achieved so far? What goals had I left pending? This was a bit discouraging because I was yet to tick a lot of goals from my list of things to do but the positive side (there’s always a positive side) is that the evaluation helped me to get back on track. Which is Step 2, I went back to the drawing board to map out new directions. I analyzed what had been working for me; asked myself if I needed to change my game plan and what areas I needed to improve on over the next months. With that sorted I made the third step which is taking action. I set some SMART short term goals to be accomplished in the remaining months. What about you, where are you now? where do you want to be? Take some time to review the past six months to get your answers because it’s not too late to get down to business and make the last five months of the year count. That being said, we did not let the midyear blues get in the way of bringing you the July/August Art Issue. You will find new and exciting columns with new voices sharing advice, experience and stories. In our special feature we interview 31 year old Bhatupe Mhango, an HIV/AIDS activist, author and gospel artist, who shares her experience as a HIV positive woman and her passion for advocating for the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS. We also profile four amazing women uplifting the arts with their talents. I enjoy telling remarkable stories of women around the world to encourage, empower, entertain and elevate our readers and I’m honored to have experienced writers who help me in doing so. A lot of love was poured into preparing this issue and I hope you enjoy it, as always I take your feedback at heart and welcome your input; if you have any suggestions on what stories we should feature, feel free to contact us. Peace. Love and Blessings
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YOUR FEEDBACK Tiffany Aliche 'The Budgetnista' Making Moves Tiffany ‘The Budgetnista’ Aliche is so inspiring! She has encouraged me to take money management more seriously on a personal level. I had the privilege of meeting Tiffany a few times. Her personality is so warm and inviting. When you meet her, it’s like you have known her for years. I look forward in seeing more of her in the near future. Although, she mentioned that her goal is to secure a regular spot on TV-- I see her with her own show one day. Personality and knowledge for what interests us all is sure to be a success. Amanda
oday was my first time checking out your magazine and I have to say that I instantly fell in love with just about every aspect of the website and the digital magazine. I love every magazine cover that you've done thus far. Most of all, I enjoyed reading about the other sisterpreneurs as their stories have been so inspiring. I'm so happy that I've found another platform to share my stories and to hopefully advertise for my company..Many thanks. Kameli Shae
of what others may say deter me from that. I somehow learned to just look toward God only for my greatness and he has not failed me Yet!!! Sidne,the BCR
I love you because you are opening my eyes and mind to strong beautiful women that I otherwise wouldn't have discovered. Thanks SO very much! Gerri
Ayanna Molina; No Longer The Run Away Girl Inspiring interview. I love it when she says she is tired of hearing from the sexually objective broke down poetry female voices.( my words) I can understand her meaning of not running away anymore. I was always a bit timid about doing things I always created in my
This is my first time on this site and I absolutely LOVE it!! You're doing such a great job, all of your features are amazing :) Keep up this exceptional work!! Dee O. Thank you for being An Online Magazine that Enrich Lives, IM FOLLOWING YOU ALL, and advise Everyone else to do also. Desshawna Via Twitter
This Anniversary Issue is More than Special! Gave me an Opportunity to be Read Around the World! So Grateful Mz Meezy Mi via Twitter Your magazine is beautiful & the concept is amazing. Newark Press via Twitter Its great to see women who like me living their dreams in a bold way! Loving the May/June issue! SkyyBanks via Twitter I’m very impressed with this months "easy to read" issue. I love the progress LHOCreations via Twitter
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR We want to hear from you, send your letters to the editor; AfroElle@gmail.com. Include you first name and last name initial and location. Letters may be edited for clarity and style.
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Celebrating Women of African Descent in every issue! www.afroellemagazine.com
POSITIVE ENERGY If you have the right focus no matter what comes your way nothing can take away that which is within you, writes ANGELA WAWERU
here some points in life where we epitomise hopelessness, dire pain and no joy. We walk in life not knowing that there is sunshine after the rain and instead find ourselves dwelling on the misery that surrounds us and therefore never see the goodness that could come from it. When in this state we lack the ability to know the real meaning of true happiness. We seek other factors such as material consumption and/or getting involved in meaningless relationships but in the end we soon come to the realisation that the happiness sought for comes with an expiry date.
“We often think that happiness is hard to find but we must all now realise that it exists within us. If you have the right focus no matter what comes your way nothing can take away that which is within you.”
Happiness is affected by various negative factors, the most prevalent feelings being sadness, fear and anger. When you’re sad you truly become a picture of misery, because one is constantly crying, full of heart ache and a sense of heaviness. Fear on the other hand is a real joy stealer. It’s like a paralysis because it means one lack’s self belief backed up by endless worry and high anxiety. Anger is the opposite of happiness; individuals often act from an insane state because one’s actions are led by high fiery intense emotions. Which brings to question where is your focus, if you are led by these factors and more?
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believe we’ve all been guilty of forgetting that happiness exists within us because at the time we’ve been so focused on all that is going on around us. Forgetting that situations are only but for a moment, they come about to help highlight what we need to work on and learn in order to be better individuals in life. Focus should never be on the rain, because it must fall and soon after clarity follows as the sun’s heat and brightness dries all the misery away. We often think that happiness is hard to find but we must all now realise that it exists within us. If you have the right focus no matter what comes your way nothing can take away that which is within you. Happiness exists in utter peace, surrounds itself with faith, and is filled with hope and self belief. Through happiness one soon comes to appreciate a better view in life and with it comes the understanding that the glass is never half empty but always be half full.
"Angela Waweru is a vessel of encouragement and inspiration. Residing in the UK, Angela holds a degree in Media Studies and has previously worked for NTV (Kenya) as a news director and then as a co-producer for Sebuleni. Described by friends and family as ‘a girl of many words’, she runs two blogs where she explores her imaginative side. Angela’s creative streak does not end there, she also makes jewellery. Angela’s mission is to motivate her readers into living fulfilled lives. Read more of her work www.crazycoollush.blogspot.com, Twitter @crazycoollush and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Crazy-Cool-Lush
Light Skin Dark Skin Debate! CHANTALKORSAH shares her views on the dark skin/light skin color debate.
f you’re active on social network sites e.g. Facebook, Twitter and blog sites, it’s likely that someone on your friends/followers list would have posted a disturbing video detailing how many black women of a darker skin tone are made to feel inferior to other black women of a lighter complexion. This is nothing new; skin bleaching creams have been sold worldwide for years. But in the 21st century, we have to ask ourselves why such a divisive, untrue idea is still prevalent today.
Some of us would know that this idea took hold in the 17th and 18th century, at the height of slavery in the Americas, when dark skinned servants were sent out into the field to do physical labour, while lighter skinned servants were kept inside for more “civilised” jobs in the house. Oftentimes, light skinned slaves were often mixed race, unacknowledged children of white masters, hence were given a higher status among their peers. But if this is the only historical basis, why is this notion present in many African nations and in the Indian subcontinent also? According to my south Asian friends, actresses cannot make it in Bollywood film industry in the world, unless they are a light skin tone, and bleaching products are more popular there than anywhere else.
According to some historians, this colour bias has always existed, even among white people; poor people were usually menial workers who worked outside, so they became tanned. Rich people worked indoors, hence their skin was pale. This preference is evidently seen in women’s descriptions by poets and authors in the previous centuries, beauties of the day always had “fair skin” and it is only now that being tanned is more preferable to being pale.
“we can and must break this idea, and declare to the beauty industry, and the world, that all shades of black is beautiful.”
Is it likely that a similar switch will occur with black people too? Personally, my skin colour is a bit lighter than my mother and my sisters, but I often find myself envious of their skin tones as unsightly marks and scars are more evident on my skin tone than theirs. Whatever black peoples’ issues are with skin tone, the Western beauty industry, still mired in racist notions, has capitalised on this and promoted this insecurity on dark tones.
Only last month, the beauty company Dove has came under fire in the UK due to their advertisement for their new shower gel, which has the tagline “Visibly more beautiful skin” with a black model underneath a “before” image of imperfect cracked skin, and a white, pale model underneath an “after” image of perfect smooth skin, with a tanned model in-between. It’s likely that the white supremacy ideal has powered and continues to power the light skinned superiority idea, and really, only we can and must break this idea, and declare to the beauty industry, and the world, that all shades of black is beautiful.
Chantal Korsah is a medical student, published poet, qualified personal tutor, aspiring model and soon-to-be entrepreneur. She was born and bred in London, but is originally from Ghana, and aims to establish herself in both countries. Expect great things from this rising star!
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Tales of My Cross Cross--Cultural Marriage Our newest writer, Divinty Matovu shares her crosscultural experience as a Black American Girl married to a Ugandan Man . Cultural Differences
am an African-American. My husband, Abraham, is Ugandan. Many people see us a normal black married couple. Despite the pigmentation of our skin, we have vast cultural differences that require constant patience, understanding, and compromise. My husband, Abraham, grew up in a polygamous family.
Abraham knows all of these things and they make up a huge part of his identity.
Making It Work Despite the Cultural Differences
He can recite his family tree for the past 10 generations. All I know is that I am the descendant of enslaved Africans, most likely from West Africa who picked cotton and other cash crops in the American South.
Despite our differences, in order to maintain a level of mutual respect, Abraham and I collectively decided to adopt the "best of both cultures" for our relationship. For example, my husband will not, I repeat WILL NOT, be taking another wife despite the fact that this is accepted in his culture.
Despite our differences, in order to maintain a level of mutual respect, Abraham and I collectively decided to adopt the "best of both cultures" I grew up in a household led by a single mother. The biggest cultural issue I have with my husband is time! I am rarely late to an appointment and I pride myself on be ing punctua l. A br a ha m is perpetually late - he calls it "African time" and seems to believe that one day, I will adopt his fluid relationship with time. Not. Gonna. Happen. Appreciation of Culture There are many things I appreciate about my husbandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s culture, one of them being identity. English is my first language; and because of a complex history, I do not know my tribe , clan, or mother tongue but
While there are some cultural nuances that I will probably never accept, like being a co-wife, I have a deep appreciation for my husband's cultural traditions. Like many black Americans I have always longed to know which tribe I belong to and which region of Africa my ancestors lived in. The "not knowing" constantly nags at me. I am working hard to learn Luganda, my husband's language and I feel blessed that, through Abraham, my children will have something I never had: knowledge of their mother tongue and a strong African cultural identity that dates back for several generations.
While I understand the cultural mores and the history of this practice, it is not something I want to bring into my home. This was one of those non-negotiable issues. I envisioned my wedding on a beach with the sun setting in the background. Abraham agreed to forego his traditions in order to make me happy and we were married on Po'Oleanana Beach in Hawaii last year. One could argue that he got off easy though - as we did not adhere to the Baganda tradition of the groom paying bride price or the Kwanjula where the groom's family is ceremoniously introduced to the bride's family.
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y husband and I decided that, when we have children, we want to raise them in Uganda. This was a tough decision for me but although I am proud to be an American and I love all of the comforts and opportunities that life in the United States provides, I believe my children will benefit from the strong family values and the close kinship networks that are prevalent in Ugandan culture.
Abraham and I want to shield our children from the racism and institutional discrimination I faced as a black girl growing up in America. No matter how much people try to deny it, the fact is that many black Americans have an inferiority complex and entrenched identity issues that result from being a minority with little or no socio-economic power within the United States.
If my children are raised in Uganda, they will be surrounded by people who look like them. When I was 5 years old, a girl in my school asked me why was I black. I had never thought about it and had no idea how to answer. I just looked at her quizzically and retreated to a corner of the school compound and cried. Deep down in my 5 year old psyche I knew that she had the power to question my identity, but I, as a black girl in America, did not have the power to question hers. It is much less likely that my children, if raised in Uganda, will be asked why they are black.
I was ecstatic when I saw images of black people on currency. Abraham had never really thought about it. He had always seen black people on money. He was never raised in a society where he was a racial or cultural minority, so sometimes, my husband finds it difficult to understand me when I recount incidents from my past where I felt a sense of inadequacy based on my race.
Although my husband will never fully be able to identify with this aspect of my life, he is extremely supportive and works hard to try to understand. This is why, after countless conversations on the subject, we decided that it will be best to raise our children in Uganda.
My husband and I have only been married for 1 year. To many people, we are still newlyweds. Moving forward, I am sure that culture will continue to play a major role in our marriage. Nevertheless, I am hopeful that we will overcome all challenges and in the process of doing so, create our own unique African-American-Ugandan cultural hybrid that works for us and our children.
Divinity was born and raised in Chicago area, she is a social entrepreneur, community activist, consultant, and freelance writer/blogger who loves to travel and is passionate about education, youth empowerment, African history, culture, and women's issues. She currently consults with African Woman Magazine in Kampala, Uganda where she now lives. She is also the Co-Founder of the Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association (AGYA), a charitable organization committed to fostering a safe, sustainable, supportive learning environment where Ugandan youth can develop leadership skills and express themselves creatively. You can learn more about her from her website: http:// www.matovuconsulting.com or her Twitter account: @divinitymatovu
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Relationship 101 JOVONNA RODRIGUEZcontinues her two part series talking about everything relationship. She takes on part 2 of her series .
ow do we define dating, courting, engagement, and marriage, and how do these definitions determine our connec-
Nowadays our ultimate goals for life orbits around educational and professional success. Rarely do we hear people speak about their ultimate goal is be married and be a stay at home parent. However, in most cultures and religions one of the most important goals is to find your mate and marry. So what has happened to this and our perspective of dating, courting, and ultimately marriage? Although these are general terms, their definitions are crucial for determining your objective with a person, or your goal in a relationship. I will give two scenarios where these definitions play a major role. It is up to you to analyze the situation, and see how your interaction with a possible mate fit.
John travels to the bookstore to find something to read. While there, he sees a beautiful young lady sitting at the coffee shop. He approaches her and asks if he can sit with her for a moment.
Jessica and Sean have been going to the same schools since elementary. It just so happens they were in some of the same classes in college as well. Sean has been watching Jessica from a far as they grew older together, his infatuation for her has increased. He didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to tell her just yet, but wanted to make sure he built a strong bond with her and observed her behavior before admitting his fondness. Little does he know Jessica is doing the same.
She accepts with a smile and they quickly become wrapped into a conversation. The conversation ends with an invitation to dinner, tomorrow at 7pm. After several outings, the individuals decide to take it further and engage in physical pleasure. Four months pass and things seem to be going great. John thinks she might be the one for him, so he proposes. The couple moves in together and is engaged for 1 year when things start to turn rocky. John loses his job, the arguments and stress begins, and it seems they cannot last through the tests. Question for reflection: Do you
think John knew the lady well enough before getting engaged?
Sean finally confesses his admiration, and explains beliefs on marriage. Jessica and Sean agree to start on a path of courtship. For over the next year, they interact among others, observing each other's interactions and reactions as life stirs around them. Sean learns things about Jessica he never seen before. He observes she has a volatile side that he is not comfortable living with. Sean calls off the courtship and continues on with his life.
Questions for reflection: When do we stop trying to impress a mate during date in comparison to observing public behavior during courting? How do you really test someoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s true colors?
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owadays, relations and relationships are nothing to play with, as we all know but seeming still overlook. But it all depends on your intentions, whether they are known, and what you do once you find the results you are looking for. Dating often sends individuals on an exploration, with hands, mouths, personality, pleasing mentalities, and expectations, headfirst. Often head first for failure. The struggle comes in bridging a friendship with romance at the same time, rather than romance after friendship, unless your only objective is to spend time with someone. created.
Although courting may be seen as an old fashioned and sometimes religiously based method of finding building with a prospective partner, it may still be something to consider during our modern times if your goal is to be married. The first stage of dating starts with admiration and impressing a person but with courting all of that becomes clear and is weeded out through observation and public displays. Marriage is nothing to play with in my opinion. Regardless of beliefs, it is an investment that should be worth it prior to solidifying the deal. Both parties should be comfortable with telling the truth, showing their true colors, and building through tough times. Of course, this is easier said than done. But overall, it is important to question:
Why waste my time with someone who I cannot be honest with completely? Why waste my time with someone who I cannot act like myself around? Why waste my time with someone who I cannot lean on, and know we will get through storms together? Go into relations and relationships with an objective. Do not be afraid if your objective changes. Growth within the boundaries you set. Be honest to your prospects. But most importantly, be honest to yourself. If you want to be married, work for something that is worth it. If you want to date, enjoy the moments you experience. If you find that special person and decide to court, do not be afraid to back out. Love and time live by their own rules. Do not be afraid to find your own.
JoVonna Rodriguez is a vessel for words and emotions. She is a native New Yorker who now resides in Atlanta, Georgia since graduating from Emory University. She is AmeriCorps alum whose commitment to service is now bridged with being a life long educator. She makes sure to incorporate creative and innovative ways of learning how to love reading and writing in her classroom. JoVonna is releasing her first book of poetry and prose entitled, Pronouns. For more on JoVonna Rodriguez and Pronouns check her out at:www.joskidiesel.com.
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Let’s Inspire Together SARAH SOARES is passionate about people, giving back and inspiring changes. She is the co-founder of Inspire Together; a Toronto based non-profit organization, hoping to make a difference both at home in Toronto and in global communities around the world.
orn in London, England, raised in Toronto, Canada and with family from both Kenya and India, Sarah Soares has constantly felt connected to the world in a unique way. Though working full-time as a Business Consultant with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, Sarah has always known that she is destined for another path, she is passionate about people, about giving back and inspiring change. In 2009, Sarah and Karleen Reynolds founded Inspire Together; a Toronto based non-profit organization, hoping to make a difference both at home in Toronto and in global communities around the world.
Sarah and Karleen had participated in volunteering projects in Toronto, Guatemala and Kenya and came together to start an organization whose main goal was to encourage and assist youth in giving back. Inspire Together works to connect youth and young professionals with local and global volunteering opportunities. The Inspire Together team comprises of Alicia Rose , Karleen Reynolds pictured right, Lucy Mariera missing from the team photo) and Sarah and they were recently in Kenya working with Bondeni Primary School. “Nakuru has held a special place in the team’s heart for a while now. Karleen, Lucy and I had previously volunteered there and Lucy’s family still lives in the town. “
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“Our aim is to provide individuals with the opportunity to give back through local and/or global volunteering opportunities.”
“ A friend of ours, Oliver Otieno ; who had assisted us on a previous volunteering project) highlighted Bondeni Primary as an in-need school, situated directly right beside the slum. We visited the school last May, conducted a needs assessment and returned back this year to implement our project.” Sarah answers upon being asked why they chose to work with Bondeni Primary School.”
n Toronto, Inspire Together works to directly connect High School, PostSecondary students and Young Professionals with local volunteering opportunities. They also provide opportunities for individuals to work with us on our projects abroad. Globally, they offer assistance to communities in need and focus on the establishment of a conducive learning environment and the implementation of a lunchtime feeding clinic. Their vision is to create a volunteering movement, encouraging volunteerism everywhere. Inspire Together is constantly looking for volunteers to give their time to our local partner organizations in Toronto and for individuals to join them on our global volunteering trips. They are also keen to learn about communities around the world in need of assistance and will soon be asking for submissions/ project suggestions on their website.
Seed your passion for volunteering globally, Grow your passion locally. Visit Inspire Together’s Website :www.inspiretogether.ca Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/InspireTogether Blog http://www.iyouwekenya.wordpress.com
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hen Katherine Kayima first saw Matthew Conway walk in through the door at a welcome back party a mutual friend was throwing during their junior year, she was definitely intrigued and thought Matthew was handsome. Katherine was attending the party with her younger sister Jenny who was in town to help Katherine move.
Love The first time KATHERINE CONWAY met Matthew, she was impressed by how respectful and old-fashioned he was. Matthew’s love for God and the overall nature of being Katherine’s "other half" is what made her realize he was "the one" for her and she shares more of their story with editor Patricia Miswa.
Matthew joined them and started chatting up Katherine’s younger sister, who she notes during the interview, is 4 years younger and 4 inches taller, obviously pegging Jenny as the older one. Jenny eventually steered Matthew in the right direction and by the end of the night asked for Katherine’s number. “I didn't think he would actually call but the next day he asked if he could see me again. We've been together ever since and it's always been our little joke about how we met!” Katherine explains that she was impressed by how respectful and old-fashioned he was. “He would do things like hold the car door open for me, which he still does. His love for God and just the overall nature of being my "other half" is what made me realize he was "the one". The couple dated for four years and tied the knot on September 4th, 2010 in Cleveland, OH USA and here is AfroElle’s Q&A with Katherine Conway.
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â&#x20AC;&#x153; More and more people are deciding not to take the vow of marriage for what it is; a vow. We made a promise to God that we would stay together till death, so, that's what we'll do.â&#x20AC;?
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Matthew officially asking for Katherineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hand in marriage during the Ugandan Kwanjula ceremony. Kwanjula basically means to introduce. It's a traditional Ugandan ceremony whereby the bride-to-be introduces her future husband (and his entourage) to her family and friends.
Katherine getting ready for her big day.
Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Conway
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hat do you love about your husband?
We don't let the world dictate how our marriage should be.
His amazing sense of humor, his love for the Lord, the importance he puts on family and his willingness to explore and try new things.
We turn to God and the lessons he has in the Bible to guide us. More and more people are deciding not to take the vow of marriage for what it is; a vow. We made a promise to God that we would stay together till death, so, that's what we'll do.
What part of marriage do you love the most and why? Just having that partner who you can share anything with anything without judgment. He's my best friend. How do you resolve conflicts and what helps you love each other when you are mad at your spouse? Matt doesn't hold onto anger for very long, 2 minutes tops.I'm the one with that problem. (laughs) When we disagree we usually give each other some space first then come back after we've cooled off to talk it out. So far it's been working out in our favor. How do you make your marriage work?
What is the best advice you received before you got married, that helped you through rough times or helped you prevent rough times? "Don't sweat the small stuff". It sounds so petty but it's so true. Getting upset over small things will just lead to larger problems. We're two different people working on becoming one. There will be bumps in the road. The important part is realizing how to enjoy those bumps rather than complain. What steps do you take to make the marriage feel "alive" or "new" each day?
Matt has this phrase, "let's break up the monotony". I love it! Basically we always try something different; new foods, new shows, new routes or even new friends. We're constantly just switching it up. It doesn't hurt that we have spontaneous dance parties in our living room too. (laughs) I wonder what our neighbors think. What advice would you give youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like to give any newlywed or a single woman hoping to get married some day? Take your time in finding the right person to spend forever with. In the meantime, define yourself. Be who you are so that when that special guy comes around, you know who you are and there's no pretending to be perfect or trying to fit into a mold that isn't you. Marriage is a partnership, so you'll be expected to contribute your best qualities. Work on those aspects now.
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SPECIAL FEATURE “I believe in Jesus and my Christian faith, though shaky at times, has been a major factor affecting the quality of my life in the past 10 years” she adds.
Inspiring Change BHATUPE MHANGO is an HIV/AIDS activist, author and gospel artist, her experience as a HIV positive woman steers her passion for advocating for the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS. "When I got to my aunt's house, I went straight to my room, dropped my bag on the floor, picked up the test result sheet I had been given at the clinic, grabbed my towel and locked myself in the bathroom. Under the private comfort of a hot shower, I burst into tears and cried until the water turned cold. I must have been in the shower for at least an hour. Outside, I could hear the blasting sound of a football match coming out of the huge family television. I knew the family was occupied and no one would ask for me. I felt NOTHING. Gathering my things to get out of the bathroom, i folded the medical sheet into as small a piece as I could so that it would not be noticeable. Back in my room, I founded my oldest suitcase, opened the bottom zip and tucked the medical record sheet inside. I would return to that suitcase whenever I had a doubt about the test results being true. The bright blue ink spread out diagonally across the sheet was very clear: 'HIV positive'. " That is an extract from Bhatupe Mhango’s story from page 73 of the short story collection, Whisper Not in which she talks about the emotions of finding out about her HIV status.
A native of Malawi, 31 year old Bhatupe Mhango is an HIV/AIDS activist, author and gospel artist, her experience as a HIV positive woman steers her passion for advocating for the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS. Bhatupe is a highly engaged individual with a strong belief in social mobilization, the power of networks and networking and one who has always been a pathfinder. She has been working with the UN in health policy and advocacy work for the past 6 years. She has previously worked with the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation in her home country, dealt with politicians, political parties and political processes such as election monitoring. Currently living in Oakland, California and is an MBA student due to graduate in August 2011 from HULT in San Francisco. In her spare time Bhatupe enjoys good books, good food, great fashion and a range of good music, and has worked on a debut gospel album, produced in Geneva, Switzerland by a SwissColumbian producer, Naiche Studios. She mentions that her intent is not to become the next gospel sweetheart but to share the faith that has kept her going through the years.
Bhatupe who has been living with HIV for 9 years now describes the journey so far as on filled with lots of tears, laughs and smiles. In our interview with Ms.Mhango, she shares more about this journey. Be inspired by this inspirational woman. How did you find out that you were HIV positive and how did finding out change your life? I went for a voluntary HIV test, just out of a response to an instinct in 2002. At the time I felt something may be wrong with me, but did not in the least link it to HIV. I was very shocked to learn of my HIV positive status. Knowing has changed my life for the better as am more careful about my choices now. Knowing has made me enjoy self-love for if I do not put myself first and protect myself, no one else will. Surprisingly, though at times I have painful, aching moments when I think of this infection, I am also kind of grateful for the changes HIV has brought to my life! How has the journey been since you discovered that you were HIV positive? The journey has been long, but fun and rewarding! I don't take myself too seriously, but I definitely take what I do seriously. It gives me great joy to share with others, particularly young women, about means that they can use to protect themselves against HIV infection and also how to live well if they have been infected already.
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Hopefully someone reading this piece will make a
decision to get tested for HIV or to start a conversation about it with those they love, or a mother will decide to tell her daughter of how to protect herself, or an auntie will educate her nephew on how to be a loving man and turn
away from violence to be a 'real man' in society.
t was almost by accident that I stumbled upon work that is related to HIV, for I was trained in political s c i e n c e / p u b l i c administration and was enjoying work in the political arena in my country, Malawi, when my path was changed and I got into advocacy. The journey has led me into positive women's circles in villages in Malawi, into global networks of people living with HIV, into executive board rooms in the cities of New York, USA Geneva, Switzerland and Dakar, Senegal. I have been challenged by work on such complex issues as those of travel restrictions against people living with HIV, HIV workplace rights and education and most significantly work against the global stigma that ensues around people living with HIV. The journey has been filled with lots of tears, laughs and smiles so far, and am so looking forward to what else is in store for me and for those of us living with HIV. I believe it's going to get better from now on. The news coming our way is growing with hope for us. It can only get better.
Did you face any discrimination from people after being diagnosed, if so, has it changed? I have not faced direct discrimination after my disclosure. However, I noted what I will call ''funny attitudes'' towards people living with HIV once I started living knowingly with HIV. I know it may sound like a contradiction but I chose to disclose my status publicly something like 2 and a half years after finding out.
I have lived in different places-mainly in Africa and Europe and see that stigma has no race, color or face. Those who are uninformed discriminate. I think that once people get to fully understand that HIV will not be passed on to them wantonly they get to relax a bit and see the person behind the virus. I think the negative attitudes are changing, but me and others living with HIV think the environment could be much better. The world is not a safe or wonderful place for a person living with HIV, that's what I can say! I've experienced life both as an HIV negative and now HIV positive person and see a big divide at times. We are now in the 4th decade since the discovery of AIDS and with so many medical advances at our disposal. But I still think the negative portrayals are out there and that the global stigma levels are higher than they need to be. This is why I continue doing what I can, when I can, and magazines like yours can make a difference.
I am not saying it is everyone's story. I am saying, here's my story, an ordinary story that could be that of your mother, sister, neighbor, friend.
I could not understand why something of a medical phenomenon was now being the reason that I was being ''re-categorized'' in society. When I shared with people who knew me, they would ask me to ''keep quiet about it", or to ''not start the treatment cause then it would really show'', on and on. It seemed to me that a lot of people who did this were just ignorant of what the infection entails. I have learned over the past 9 years that stigma is fueled by ignorance.
Hopefully someone reading this piece will make a decision to get tested for HIV or to start a conversation about it with those they love, or a mother will decide to tell her daughter of how to protect herself, or an auntie will educate her nephew on how to be a loving man and turn away from violence to be a 'real man' in society. This is how we can change the situation around. It needs to change.
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What can you tell other women who have been recently diagnosed with HIV and those who are afraid of knowing their status? I'll tell women and men who just found out to put themselves first. This is what I did. After telling my partner at the time, I listened to my heart and life and shut up for months before I divulged to family, then friends eventually were added to the list. Why should everyone know? My position on this is it is a very personal matter and to be dealt with as everyone sees fit. If we are to treat HIV as any other chronic condition, such as diabetes or asthma, then we must treat it the same- ok if you chose to share, but equally ok if not.
But someone with HIV people are almost ''forced'' to disclose, as if the whole world depended on knowing it! this has come about because of a heightened fear of it, but HIV is not ''contagious'' but ''transmitted". I would thus encourage those who just found out to take care of themselves, tell only those who NEED to know ,such as, if you are married, your spouse, if in a committed relationship, your sexual partner, or if going through a major situation, for example, an operation, to inform those who may be affected. You recently launched your book " K uf iny a Ma n di mu, K u ko nz a Chakumwa" in Cape Town and Lilongwe, how did the launch go?
enjoyed being back in Africa after a year, and the book was well received in both cities. In South Africa I had the pleasure of meeting with all coauthors from the short-story collection. In Malawi, the government representative, Dr. Mary Shaba, PS for HIV and Nutrition (in the Office of the President and Cabinet) graced the occasion and rendered her and the Malawi government's support for people living with HIV.
Awesome! both launches We had a great turnout and I was loved, loved, loved!
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The Chichewe booklet was endorsed by Reverend Macdonald Sembereka, a personal friend and director for the MANERELA+, a non-profit that is working hard to counter social stigma and promote rights for people living with HIV and other minority groups, with a focus on the religious communities. The local media too in both cities helped us spread the word better. Such solidarity is exactly what is needed to fully address HIV head-on. In a short summary, what is the book about and what inspired you to write it? The title means Squeezing lemons, making lemonade". The book is an autobiographical account of parts of my life that I share to illustrate young, African women's vulnerability to HIV. I am not saying it is everyone's story. I am saying, here's my story, an ordinary story that could be that of your mother, sister, neighbour, friend. The main point in the story is, its the ordinary that we need to deal with, so stop dramatizing HIV. My belief that if we stop dramatizing HIV then more people will be able to fully equip and empower themselves to do more to protect themselves. Also, my regret that I had no one out there for me to show me the way when I first found out I had HIV.
With some many good things happening in your life can you say you are living your dream? Yes, yes and yes!!! For me, every day is a holiday and a chance to celebrate. At times I feel almost as though I have been given a second chance at life, as had I not tested for HIV in time, or started treatment on time, I may even be dead by now. Instead, every morning I am reminded of how fortunate I am, when many others have died. Every day I focus on the good side of life and how I can channel goodness within me to help out others. But my dream will only be fully complete when people realize that living with HIV in the 21st century is NOT a death sentence, when stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV reduces in our communities. Its still too high in too many places, unnecessarily so and when more people who need it get access to anti -retroviral treatment to manage their HIV infections. Please help me make my dreams come true by doing your best to realize these goals. Start by going for an HIV test and protecting your loved ones.
John C. Maxwell; a notable Christian leader and author who's work I've quoted on occasion. He says there is a difference between success and significance, and I agree with him 100%. For me success is living life in such a way that I am in wholeness and abundance, and that am sharing the benefits with those around me. I know what it's like to have plenty and eat it alone- if feels like a huge piece of dry bread stuck in your throat without any water to wash it down. But significance is about having an impact in your community, sharing your heart and life and reaching out to others in such a way that you feel fulfilled. It's not about 'living for the people'', nor about ''being their slave'', nor is this about ''being famous''. It is instead a deliberate, purposeful life in which you recognize that your actions and words can affect others, hence you do what you do responsibly. Lessons in my life journey so far is "Do you". There are billions of people on this planet and I realized the best we can do is be who we really are, with the talents we have and the outreach potentials that are at our disposal. It's too costly and hard to try to be someone else.
I went through 2 remarkable, but dark years before I got to meet someone else living with HIV who was like me. It was hard, and I don't think it needs to be. So the book is a contact point to other young people who may need a helping hand through this phase. It's me saying, ''here I am. I am here to help you.''
A common question, we ask the phenomenal women we feature, what is your definition of success?
Bhatupe and a friend during her book launch
Another lesson is "Chose faith over fear". I've learned that at times anything requires just a first step. The rest comes easier after that. I've learned to trust my intuition.
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â&#x20AC;&#x153; Faith in a certain thing other than ourselves helps us to go on when times are tough, and helps us to have a place to go to when no one is there for us. â&#x20AC;?
What words of advice or which role models that have inspired you or changed your life?
Any advice you have for every woman out there?
My greatest inspiration was my late mother, Verity Mhango. She taught me to celebrate when you have plenty and always remember that some have more and others have less than you. It's helped me to keep things in perspective. I at times recall a lot of the things she said and see how wise a woman she was! She taught me to value education, to be myself, and to keep going.
get out of the box! I know women
I am also inspired by the self-less ness of Jesus Christ. He inspires me to do more.. His time on the cross, "Not my will, but yours be done" has taught me surrender. It's something that has inspired me to live out my best life in the past decade, to not fret about tomorrow but also to not be too disappointed with outcomes from things done yesterday. Surrender is a powerful place to be in in life, it teaches you that this life is not all about you and your wants and needs.
My 3 big pieces of advise are one, who box themselves up and say it's society doing it to them, they get stuck in their roles as wives, mothers, sisters, employee of X company etc. All am saying is 'Be you" and not what that role is forcing you to be. It's great of course to fulfill your obligations but while you do it, respect your personality, and don't get stuck doing things contrary to your own personal constitution. Secondly, have faith in something! Faith in a certain thing other than ourselves helps us to go on when times are tough, and helps us to have a place to go to when no one is there for us. I know too many women who are living lives of approval addiction, lives for their inner social circle, etc. Not saying this is wrong, but it should not replace an inner faith in our selves, in our ability to overcome adversity, in our will to live successful lives.
Faith keeps you going when the body and mind say stop. Faith keeps you holding on till a brighter day comes. "To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we can not see" -Hebrews 11 Lastly, Make time for love. Too many of us get stuck in our ''causes or missions'' and limit our outreach. I think instead we must be purposeful about loving those who follow us, who differ from our ideals, even those whom we don't (want to) understand. Women can make moves by embracing and celebrating those around them, instead of distancing themselves. Sometimes by being one with the community we learn what needs doing, we identify gaps in society and services being offered. this can be a great start for a new business or non-profit, a new self that we can embrace.
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MODEL : BERYL ODUOR PHOTOGRAPHER: LEON MULI
Strength The strength of a woman can carry the weight of the world
Sarah Pezdek -Smith
Courage Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.
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Wisdom Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.
-Mary Kay Ash
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Power A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.
Celebrating Women of African Descent www.afroellemagazine.com
WOMEN LIFTING THE ARTS
enry Van Dyke once said ‘use what talents you possess; The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.’
Meet Zimbabwean Mbira Queen Hope Masike, Haitian teaching artist Nzingah Oniwosan, Ugandan born, New York wedding and lifestyle photographer Petronella Lugemwa and Bostwana’s Ballerina Poet, 20 year old Keabetswe Molotsi, these remarkable women are all using their artistic gifts which AfroElle celebrates in this special feature ‘Women Lifting The Arts’. Be Inspired.
Through Her Lens Wedding and lifestyle photographer PETRONELLA LUGEMWA shares her love for the camera and passion for freezing beautiful moments.
God has truly blessed me with an amazing family, good friends and great opportunities, but it’s been an interesting adventure and I continue to learn so much about myself.
Now based in the New York/New Jersey area, the wedding and lifestyle photographer graduated with a chemical engineering degree and later pursued her MBA at Northwestern Kellogg School of Management. She says she always had a creative side and describes herself as 50% nerd and 50% creative.
I love taking photos of people and life as it unfolds. So my style of photography is mostly photojournalistic but every so often, I’ll step in and style and pose my clients.
orn in Uganda, Petronella Lugemwa moved to the United States at the age of 10. This move greatly impacted Petronella, who had grown up with very little. Having to assimilate to a new culture, It positively caused her to dream big and try new experiences, something she is doing with her photography business.
“Nothing great in this world has ever been created without passion.” These are the words of G.W. Hegel, words that Petronella mentions in her interview as being her inspiration in life. “Life is meant to be lived doing what you love and inspiring others to do the same” she adds.. Read our Q&A with Petronella as she talks to us about all things photography.
Can you tell us about your photography journey? For as long as I can remember I’ve always had a camera in my hand. I used to borrow my father’s film camera and shoot any and everything, but I didn’t really start getting serious about the technical aspects of photography until
How would you photography?
Can you remember your first photo shoot, how was the experience for you? I’m so lucky I have great clients. My first “real” photo shoot was of a family. They had so much love for each other and that fueled me and to do my best.
You studied chemical engineering; do you have a 9-5 job and do the photography on the side? It’s funny my mother always brings up the topic that I have a chemical engineering degree and my 9 to 5 marketing job has nothing to do with chemical engineering, but I think it gives me solid analytical skills, which I use on the job and in my photography business.
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What continues to excite you about photography? I always get excited listening to people’s stories, especially love stories. When someone shares their story with me, I start thinking of all the ways I could visually capture who they are.
s a wedding photographer, what advice would you give to couples looking for a wedding photographer?
Chemistry with your photographer is so important because when you both click, you will be at ease and your photos Where do you find inspiration to keep your will be that more beautiful. When I get married, I’ll choose photography creative and unique? a photographer who makes the experience enjoyable and I love browsing editorial ads and event and design brings out the best if me. planner’s websites. Can you share your favorite photography moment? Do you ever just shoot for fun?
I can’t name just one but my favorite moments come when Every photo shoot I do is fun, at least that’s what I strive I’m photographing a love story and the love between the couple or family is so palpable, I can feel it. Those to accomplish. The best photos come when everyone is moments make my heart sing. having fun. Be sure to checkout Petronella’s work through her: What has been your biggest success so far? Having my images featured on Style Me Pretty http:// Blog site www.bypetronella.com
www.stylemepretty.com/2011/05/20/new-york-city-photoFacebook:http://www.facebook.com/byPETRONELLAPhot shoot-by-merci-new-york/ alongside Mike Colon and
ography several other amazing photographers was so unexpected and so thrilling. I literally had a screaming-at-the-top-of- T w i t t e r : https://twitter.com/#!/bypetronella my-lungs moment, but I stayed cool and instead just @bypetronella smiled all day long.
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zingah Oniwosan is Haitian American considered by many as a renaissance artist, with talents from all disciplines of art. She says that her artistic ability has always been there, she doesn’t remember a time when she was not drawing. It’s in grade school that Nzingah started drawing freelance, mainly portraits of her classmates and by twelve she won first place for MLK drawing contest. She has been featured in several museums and galleries, her most recent accolade including a grant in 2009 to exhibit “Un-murdered,”
Instead of teaching art for the sake of art , NZINGAH ONIWOSAN uses art as way to teach other subjects. She describes her journey as an artist as an expedition of moving beyond art for art’s sake to using it to solve problems, change lives and heal spirits. Nzingah has extended her work as an artist by working as a teaching artist, she makes it clear that a teaching artist is not the same as an art teacher; instead of teaching art for the sake of art she uses art as way to teach other subjects. Nzingah describes her journey as an artist as an expedition of moving beyond art for art’s sake. It’s the constant drive to use her creative energy to solve problems, change lives and heal spirits that led to the natural progression of her becoming a teaching artist.
“On a very simplified level, a teaching artist is a farmer who plants seeds of creativity” she explains. “In case, the seeds are planted in both teachers and students. Beyond planting the seeds of creativity there are many layers that I go through to strengthen the learning process for teachers and students such as: How can I assist both normal and disabled students to reach milestones? How can I inspire a teacher to move out of their comfort zone and be a rejuvenated educator? How can I unwrap the artist within everyone I interact with?
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ow can I renew faith in children who society has neglected? One thousand students and a couple hundred teachers later it has been affirmed overwhelmingly the arts, when taken out its comfort zone, can create effects bigger than itself, solve social problems, change lives, and heal spirits. This in turn inspires me as artist to paint, to write, to sing, to dance, to breathe.”
Did you pursue art in your academic studies or you pursued something totally different academically? I pursued something totally different, I majored in neuroscience. As much as I am an artist I am very much the
Tell us how you felt when you sold your first painting? It was a double sided sword. It was hard because my paintings are like children and I was having a problem letting go. On the other side it was an honor to know that someone found my work worthy to be purchased. The piece was purchased by a serious art collector and is now a great friend of mine.
Nzingah notes that over the past 6 years she has been working as a teaching artist which is not the same as an art teacher. Instead of teaching art for the sake of art I use art as way to teach other subjects. Most recently I have had a relationship with a juvenile detention center where I reaching some of the children there through a residency that I did at the facility.
Did you grow up in a creative environment/family?
What are you working on right now?
Yes and no. My parents both supported me artistically but neither one were feeding themselves artistically. Both of them when younger were artistically inclined, my mother was into sewing and my father worked with clay. I recently found out that I have internationally known artists in the family; Sisson and Smith Blanchard, father and son respectively. Their work is sought after by Haitian art collectors. I have an uncle who is the same age as I who is an artist and who I am currently collaborating with. Do you think your background has influenced your work? My background definitely played a role in my work, especially my sensitivity to color. Although I was raised in America I lived a very Haitian household. The food, the smells, the taste, and so on were Haitian. This has very much shaped me into who I am today which in turn influences my work.
hat's the most challenging part of being an artist?
Being what I call artistically constipated. It’s the worse you have all these things that you want to let out but you're so clogged that nothing happens.
Since I could hold a crayon I was an artist.
When did you decide to pursue the art of painting? Do you have a favorite medium? Visual arts have always been my first art form. With time I was able to refine that skill through classes and practice. The decision was innate it was made before I was born. My favorite medium is pastel (soft and oil) and graphite. I love acrylic to but i can satisfy my need for instant gratification with the first two mediums. Can you describe your creative process of coming up with a painting? Sometimes my process comes out of pure inspiration and it just flows. A lot of times I have an idea. I do research, draw sketches, play around
I am currently working a multimedia installation that deals with sexual abuse. It’s one of the hardest series for me because of its personal nature and the stories of victims that I’m recording in the process. The unveiling will occur this fall in September. What do you hope to achieve by the end of your career/life as an artist? I hope to leave a body of work that will impact the world for generations to come. I hope to connect my work as an artist and a neuroscientist so that I make ground breaking discoveries in the areas of cognition and brain damage. Most recently I have had a relationship with a juvenile detention center where I reaching some of the children there through a residency that I did at the facility.
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Sounds of The
MbiraQueen HOPE MASIKE is a percussionist, dancer, vocalist , songwriter and is well known in her motherland, Zimbabwe and for her magical Mbira playing with a passion to dress Zimbabwean music in a new cloak.
ope Masike wears many hats; apart from establishing herself as an artist of substance, she is also a percussionist, dancer, vocalist and songwriter. Known for her magical mbira playing, the young Zimbabwean musician starting singing professionally in 2007 and in 2009, with her band Kakuwe, released her debut album ‘Hope’; a portrait of the highs and lows of life in her country Zimbabwe during the years of socio-political hardships.
Hope blends many music styles with her solo, acoustic Mbira. According to her, her music is called Kuwe ;a unique Afrofusion of traditional Zimbabwean music and Jazz and has been likened to that of Chiwoniso Maraire. A graduate of Zimbabwe College of Music, Hope studied ethnomusicology and is also a textile designer and painter. She is currently based in Norway teaching African music at the Culture School of Fredrikstad. Masike’s desire is to dress Zimbabwean music in a new cloak while maintaining her roots.
Has music always been a big part of your life? It definitely has. Each day as I grow older, music's part in my life becomes more magnified. My mum, like many Christian African mothers, was in the choir of our local Highfields Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) church. As a young girl I used to sit in on rehearsals, and I remember being wowed by the amazing music. It really felt like angels singing. At some point I joined this church choir but very informally, before leaving for boarding school. Unfortunately there was no choir at all in the boarding schools I attended. But at Danhiko Secondary we used to play marimba, rather informally too, with our Shona teacher called Mrs Mavhengere. Back home, our family had, and still has, a culture of getting together in the evening singing a lot of AFM hymns and choruses and then praying together.
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Growing up, on TV there were a number of popular music shows like Ezomgido/Mutinhimira Wemumhanzi and Afro Beat which played Zimbabwean and African music respectively, as well as Sounds on Saturday which later on became Coke on the Beat, played music from all over the world. I was one of the many people that watched these shows and I remember singing along to the likes of Salif Keita, Zap Mama, Busi Mhlongo, Angelique Kidjo and others.
Where did you get your influence from and what made you pick up your musical style? I get influences from all over, but my Jazz studies at Zimbabwe College of Music and tours with Umoja Cultural Flying Carpet, a multicultural music initiative combining Southern African artists with their European counterparts, have influenced me the most. I have been moulded into the ambassador I am by these two programmes.
“If I could go back and change anything about my music career when you first started, I would dream unapologetically bigger from the beginning.” When did you know music is what you were meant to do in life? When I tried it. I have many talents and finding the correct one to concentrate on was determined by many things. But now, I feel at peace with what I am doing and for as long as I have that peace; aluta continua. What message do you try to get across in your music?
I must also mention a dread-locked man called Sekuru (uncle in Shona) Romeo, who used to walk barefooted with his mbira in his hands. This man was the first person to introduce me to mbira dzaVadzimu/ Nhare, one of the more difficult-toplay types of mbira. He has been a great influence too. He used to tease me so much I would be embarrassed when I’d miss a key. Do you get nervous before a performance and do you have any pre-performance ritual?
All sorts of messages. It also depends with what's going on around me at a given time. I can suddenly sing new lyrics and a new melody to a song during a performance because at that time, that's what I am feeling very strongly. Generally, my music is there to help relax and also make listeners better people in all sorts of ways.
I believe everyone gets nervous at some point before a performance. You are meeting new people for the first time. They are all looking at you; listening to every note you play or sing, watching your every move, observing what you are wearing. That's scary by all measures,
I have a song called “Vamwe Vanhu” meaning “other people” in English. This song talks about how some people rejoice at other peoples suffering, asking the listener if they are this type of person. It goes on to ask the listener if the tables were turned, would they be happy to be one of these unfortunate people.
hero you are’. At times I am naturally relaxed. I feel like, 'Bring it on!' Other times however, for reasons even I cannot fathom, I get really scared. At times the fear is because there is someone who makes me uncomfortable in the audience, the band and I are not well-rehearsed,
nyangwe urigamba rakaitasei, meaning ‘no matter how much of a
or I am so tired to the bone that I can't trust myself to sing all notes perfectly, uncomfortable attire at times, like a dress with a fault I am hoping no one else will see. Then at times it's just blissful because there is someone in the audience who lifts my spirits. Like when half of my family is in the audience and I know they will dance to anything I sing! At times I am so mad I need to go on stage and take it out on the music and dancing- in times like this ndinenge ndiri mudhinhiwe , meaning I’ll be nonchalant’. At times, because something happened that made me feel like life has been unfair to me, I want to be on stage to prove, even to myself at least that on stage I rule, that I am the queen when I am on stage. Many things are at work when am artist goes on stage. At times its things you can never imagine, like hunger. You know how they say a hungry man is an angry man. It applies to artists too! That's why we all need a center, something we trust that we can fall back on at any time. For me it's not quite a ritual but my trust in God helps me a lot. Many times the band and I pray for excellence and mere thanksgiving before we go on stage. I am blessed to have a band of Christians whom I must say are more diligent at it than me. How do you stay motivated to keep doing what you do? Mine is a calling, a stress-reliever, prayer. It’s so much a part of my life, the same way I stay alive is the same way I keep doing what I do. Motivation, for me, comes from setting goals and meeting them. I get very motivated when I see what I can do if I set my mind to it, and what other people can do too once they really decide to do it.
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I like reading leaders' biographies and other inspirational stories. That's also fuel to keep looking forward. For instance, right now I am reading `”The Now Habit”` by Neil Fiore. It's a book that tries to help the reader overcome procrastination and enjoy guilt-free play! I recently watched documentaries on Mandela and Gandhi. It`s all very inspirational and motivates me to do my best as well. However, over and above all this, watching some of these great musicians on stage is quite the ultimate fuel for me. Every musician on an international stage is evidence that you too can be there. Which African musician would you like to work with in the future? It's hard for me to mention just one. I love many of them. I like Youssou N'Dour's percussion energy. I would like to have an album produced by Lokua Kanza too at some point in my life. His vocal abilities impress me time and again. I would like to work with Zap Mama, Dobet Gnahore, I mean, who wouldn't? I would also like to have the honour of doing something with our very own Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi. What are you currently working on? A tour in Europe and the States this summer. I was in Benindorm, Spain just a few days ago. In four days I will be in Bordeaux, France. I am also working on my second album in Netherlands and Norway. I met a fabulous producer called Lars Andreason here in Norway. I will be working with him after the tour. This album, unlike my debut is not about the wars we fought during bad times at home. It goes deeper than that, beyond home. It celebrates where I have been and where I am going in a manner that remains respectful of my roots. If you could go back and change anything about your music career when you first started, what would it be? I would dream unapologetically bigger from the beginning. You know what; they are many people who say the wrong things to you when you are a beginner. Most of them have no idea what damage they are causing or how wrong they are until you prove them wrong. If I could have had the wisdom to do so, I would have not listened to the wrong voices and believed in my talent even more, from the word go.
We all need to do that because unless we discover our correct place on this earth we will never know how special we are, especially if we listen to the wrong comments, from the people, and take it wrongly too. Is there anything you’d like to share with your fans? Oh yes, too much actually. I have a pleasant Christmas surprise when I go back home to Zimbabwe. I finish my contract in Norway in December but I shall come back home in November for a Southern African tour with a band called Monoswezi. Then, I shall announce my surprise to my Zimbabwean fans.
It could increase my fan base at home, or the direct opposite, but it is a very important move in my life and career. I hope you will embrace it as much as you embraced my album 'Hope', at home and abroad. To my audience at home, I miss you all. The Zimbabwe audience is very special in many ways. It’s very different from any other audience I have performed for so far. People at home know how to express their joy...and believe you me there is a lot of it there! In the depths of all the challenges, people are still happy and grateful to be alive.
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Balle alleR Rina POET K
eabetswe Molotsi is known as the Ballerina Poet. The 20 year old has a great passion for the arts; dancing and poetry to be specific, as her name tells it all. She started ballet dancing at the age of 7 and at the age of 9 she wrote a 20 page book , complete with hand-drawn pictures and a manila paper cover. Her writing passion was sparked by JK Rowling and her Harry Potter franchise. “I mostly wrote because I’d be unhappy with a certain ending or section of a book and think ‘why don’t I just my own ending” KEY says . And she did, she has just finished working on a book she started writing when she was 16. She desires to write a magical exciting story, ‘just classic story telling’ she adds. Get inspired by our Keabetswe Molotsi
Q & A with
Can you tell us more about who the ‘ballerina poet’ is? The biggest part of my life is that I'm a Christian woman and I really respect that. I'm also a city girl, born and raised in Gaborone but I'd really love to change that soon because I LOVE to travel.
“There is so much talent in this country, but all the schools and tertiary institutions are so focused on academics and sports that the arts is just neglected.”
Twenty– year old KEABETSWE MOLOTSI is not only a ballerina but a poet, she shares her love of both passions and more. I actually have a list of places I must see before I die; places like New York, Provence in France, Egypt and I'm working on Cape Town for Christmas holidays. Glad to say that I've accomplished Victoria Falls and Durban. I come from an awesome, loving family. I have a little brother and an older sister. I'm really just a right-brained person. According to most people, I'm kind of dizzy and hippish. I enjoy drawing, mostly just with charcoal.
My clothes are a canvas for me, I like to say I dress how my brain feels; I hope that makes sense! I play the guitar and I consider it my diary. I get too nervous to play in public, only around friends and myself. I'm really shy and it always takes a lot for me to perform my poetry, oddly enough. I love rock music because it's so dynamic and expressive and fearless. My favourite band is Incubus from Florida.
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When did poetry?
Poetry kind of followed when I was in high school falling in love with every guy I met and writing poems about them. It's really indescribable to be able to write how I feel and express myself like that. I am so infinitely grateful that God gave me something like writing to express myself. As I got older, my poetry matured. This is awfully cliché, but my greatest muse is William Shakespeare. I mean, the guy practically invented his own words
Do you normally have a particular time of day /place when you are most inspired to write your poetry? I write when inspired. I can be inspired by anything from a song, to an emotion to even a color. I'll just be in a taxi on my way wherever and suddenly get a verse in my mind; I write it down and later just work on it from there. But like a lot of writers, I’m inspired by emotion. When I'm feeling it, wow, the Holy Spirit just takes me wherever.
Has your upbringing influenced your writing?
I kind of have a style. People say I use very unusual analogies in my poetry. I really like alliteration, it emphasizes the emotion. My poetry is also free-verse; I rhyme every now and then just to show that I can actually do that.
My upbringing hasn't had much of an effect actually, but my dad loved to read and I suspect he used to play Hendrix and Fleetwood Max when i was a baby because his apparent 'coconut' behaviors have rubbed off on me. In high school I did literature and that's when I really stared to appreciate different styles of poetry.
I've never actually given anyone my poetry to perform, but I often read pieces out to a small group of friends just to get myself ready to perform it. I haven’t really had the opportunity to perform on a big stage, just at my old high-school school and at church and once at the poetry group at school in university.
I actually have had the amazing opportunity to work with a fantastic local dance group called Mophato Dance Theater; they specialize in African jazz and afrofusion, a blend of contemporary and African dances. I love poetry, but wow, dance is my calling; its pure art and beauty to me. I want to point out a dancer/ choreographer called Travis Wall who is simply an artist. I am in LOVE with his dancing! Do you have any embarrassing ballet moments you wouldn't mind sharing?
Do you have a specific writing style?
You mentioned being shy about performing your poetry, do you ever give out you pieces to be performed by other poets?
I'm grateful for the technique it has taught me, but it always made me feel stiff and confined. I started doing more contemporary dance and African jazz.
Now let’s talk about your ballerina side, can you tell us more? Was ballet your first style of dance? I’m really passionate about dance. Ballet was the first style I've ever learnt. I really don't know how I got to do it, but i know my older sister and two cousins also did ballet, but I went the furthest with it.
I can't really say I have embarrassing moments. But there was this one time when I was really little, we had a show where my grade was supposed to be butterflies. I was behind this other girl and was convinced she was always too slow when we were running around in a circle, so i got impatient and gave her a little push. I came across the video of that show a few years ago and saw that the push was very obvious and i just looked like some mean kid pushing the other away. But nobody got hurt, it's funny now. Oh my, once we were doing La Fille Mal Garde and my grade got the 'privilege' of being the chickens. We wore these awful masks with gigantic beaks and had to peck around in the background whenever there were people on stage.
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Keabetswe Molotsi in 5 Seconds
ow is the arts & culture industry in Botswana? Do the people appreciate arts?
Oh, don't get me started on Arts in Botswana. There is so much talent in this country, but all the schools and tertiary institutions are so focused on academics and sports that the arts is just neglected.
Although, there are countless dance groups and crews around, as well as singers and they've had a great opportunity with this huge talent show called My African Dream and My Star (for singing). I feel as if poetry is well known, if you are a poet. I don't know if you get what I mean. It's there, the nation is just bursting with it, but it's on the down low. I know where to find poetry sessions for example the poetry sessions at Maitisong Theater on Thursdays. Appreciation is another issue. It's not all about the money and fame but, it's important that producers and agents realize that an artist (singer, poet, dancer etc) does a lot of hard work, practicing, doing their own make up, catering to their own transport, and organizing their own rehearsals.
The biggest part of my life is that I'm a Christian woman
Places I must see before I die; New York, Provence in France, Egypt
My favorite band is Incubus from Florida
I'm obsessed with Rob Fosse, he was a Broadway writer and choreographer. He's pure, enthralling energy!
My mom, sister and I all have dreadlocks.
This behind the scenes stuff is not appreciated. So often artists don't get to rehearse on the actual stage until the last minute and the people hiring don't seem to understand how important this is. In Botswana artists are abundant, but the problem is that they are taken for granted. There are no real art schools, scholarships for arts, and hardly any workshops that are helpful to us. This idea is quite close to my heart and I've always told myself that if I ever make tones of money I'd try to set up a scholarship programme strictly for the arts. I can't stress how much talent is here. Just looking at my family, my brother's a dancer, my sister taught herself how to play the keyboard, and my two closest friends play the guitar and can sing. Sadly, appreciation is lacking. But I'm confident that we're working on it.
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Financial Planning There's no magic formula to saving money and creating wealth, but there are a few good money habits that can aid you in the journey writes Business Development Manager and financial writer ELIZABETH KARINA
magine you are planning a get away for a well-deserved holiday. You will need to consider budget, time, convenience and practicality. Financial planning has the same concept; once you determine where you are now; you can get a better picture of what you need to do now to enable you to achieve your future desires. There's no magic formula to saving money and creating wealth, but there are a few good money habits that can aid you in the journey. It comes down to three things: Budgeting, Paying yourself first and Spending less than you earn. Seems easy doesn’t it? Well, it really is, but that doesn't mean it's easy to do. Here's how you can tackle the three secrets to saving money so that you begin building wealth and getting out of debt. The secret to tackling the three steps is simply deciding to be disciplined and taking immediate action. Budgeting This will easily show you where your money comes from and how you eventually spend it during the course of the month. There’s simply no way around it. Having a budget will act as a guide and you can then decide where you can cut expenditure and voila!! You soon realize there is extra cash that you can channel towards savings and or investments. Initially you will feel like it’s out of your element, and very boring, with time the picture will be clearly drawn out as you get to find out where your money is going.
Going forward you will spot trends and problem areas which can be worked on to ensure you are on the right course. Paying Yourself First To pay yourself first means that: Before you pay your bills, before you buy groceries, before you do anything else, set aside a portion of your income to save. By changing our good old car for the newest model in reward for the hard work you have put in over the years does
“One thing is certain. If you can budget your money so that you are spending less than you earn and put some of that money into a savings or retirement account before you have time to spend it, you will be able to save money and build wealth.’’ paying yourself first, in the long run you will have affected our retirement nest egg without realizing it. Though our Wants are infinite, our resources are finite! Financial Planning will help you realize and understand that in life, there is always Trade-Offs or Sacrifices
that have to be made to achieve the overall picture. Spend Less Than You Earn This is the holy grail of personal finance. You simply have to spend less money than you earn and there’s no way around that. It’s all about cash flow. If you earn $ 500 and spend $600 you’re now at a deficit of $100. Where does that extra $100 come from? Usually it’s borrowed money, either from a credit card or some sort of soft loan. That in itself automatically comes with interest, so in reality you are more than $100 On the other hand if you earn $500 and spend $400 you now have $100 surplus, what you do with the extra amount will determine if you will actually achieve your goals, and how fast you do so. Putting the extra money towards an emergency fund would be a great start as this acts as a cushion in case of any unforeseen circumstance.
Elizabeth is a Financial Planner, Business Development Manager and Trainer with a passion for all things finance, having trained over 70 women on how to handle their finances efficiently. She has been instrumental in creating awareness of the Centsible Woman Brand which is a wakeup call for women to take charge of their finances. She has been a guest speaker on two of our local TV stations NTV’S PM Live and K24. Elizabeth holds a bachelors degree in International Business Administration from the United States International University -Kenya.
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BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT They wanted to use their God given talents to propel themselves in launching a business that would inspire, uplift, and increase the esteem of women of all nationalities, but especially women of color.
BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: VENUS VISUALS
enus Visuals is an online boutique specializing in unique, eccentric, affordable fashion jewelry for the woman who appreciates what is not ordinary! It carries a wide assortment of hand crafted earrings, cuffs, bracelets, bangles, rings, and neckArt (necklaces). It also carries hand selected imports from all over the globe that reflect matchless beauty!
We wanted to believe in ourselves again, feel beautiful again, and encourage others to do the same. Through all the obstacles endured, we have arrived- as college graduates, mothers, and artists working hard to expand and further excel within our company.” explains Imani. Imani is the Head Creative Designer of Venus's Women's Line while Muslimah uses her flawless taste to focus on unique imports, and is soon to be launching Venus's Exclusive Men’s Line.
Venus Visuals believes that a woman's femininity is her strength and power, and aim to accentuate her natural beauty with captivating creations that are “out of this world”, while emphasizing and connecting concepts of healthy selfimage, inner beauty, inner peace, creativity, and spirituality. With a passion of making things out of nothing, Venus Visual jewelry is made from an array of materials- from wood, shell, and precious stones to old shoe scraps, glass, and wire. A lot of Venus jewelry also has spiritual meaning such as pieces incorporating ancient scripture and symbols. Venus Visuals finds inspiration in Archaic, Afrikan, Asian, and Islamic culture. From that womb births an original style, a dash of ethnic elegance and a twist of funk! Venus Visuals was founded by sisters, Imani and Muslimah Bilal. They launched their company in 2009 as single mothers on a mission. With a desire to leave behind a legacy for their children, they craved a creative outlet.
“We wanted to believe in ourselves again, feel beautiful again, and encourage others to do the same. Through all the obstacles endured, we have arrived- as college graduates, mothers, and artists working hard to expand and further excel within our company.”
It encourages women to embrace their original feminine nature, nurturing their internal and pampering their external through Art, healthy eating, meditation/reflection - holistically tending to the inner and outer workings of Self. VENUS hosts annual Beauty and Wellness Parties. These gatherings have included massages, henna, sound therapy, belly dancing, poetry, and presentations on a variety of topics such as "how to attain inner peace", and “how to eat to live”, to name a few. During these parties the sisters also showcase their newest jewelry collection! VENUS has also launched youth workshops this summer that introduce young girls to the basics of beading and other beginning jewelry techniques. “We are dedicated to our community, and especially focus on young girls – handing down our crafts and traditions to the younger generations, just as these traditions were handed down to us.” says Imani. With the help of those who support us, our goal is to launch the grand opening of our [physical] boutique by 2013, in the Greater Washington DC Area.
BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THIS GREAT BUSINESS BY VISIING THEIR ONLINE STORE http://www.venusvisualsonline.com/
Venus Visuals is more than a jewelry company. It is an entire movement geared towards the elevation and empowerment of women through creative and spiritual means.
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Taking Care of Business Statuesque Events
“Statuesque Events is unique because our core values; integrity, grace and organization are at the heart of everything we do. We make sure that each event maintains its integrity.”
Feyisola Ogunfeni is a talented Nigerian woman with diverse interests that ranges from event planning, community work and non - profit work and she is the sistrepreneur behind Statuesque Events; an event management company. Born in New York and raised in New Jersey, she left for Ogun State in Nigeria to attend boarding school, she would later graduate from University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences where she majored in Computer Science Engineering and minored in Engineering Entrepreneurship. During her years in university, Feyisola served as a leader in six different organizations and become the president of two of them; The National Society of Black Engineers and the Engineering Student Activities Council. Apart from her passion for leading initiatives and innovation, Feyisola has a deep passion to give back to her community, Nigeria and Africa. During her reign as Miss Nigeria Indepenedence, she put her faith in the power of education and entrepreneurship to work by creating the Miss Nigerian
Independence Scholarship Ball and raising $1,500 in scholarships and over $700 in educational donations. The mission of this annual event, now known as the Afripreneurs of Tomorrow Scholarship Ball is to encourage our youth to create new opportunities in Africa and the diaspora which have a positive effect on the continent. Currently, Feyisola is a consultant at Accenture and a candidate for a certificate in Meeting, Conference and Event Planning from New York University and AfroElle got a chance to talk to her regarding her event management company. When did business?
I officially registered Statuesque Events towards the beginning of this year, though I've been planning events for the various organizations that I've been a part of for the past few years including the National Society of Black Engineers, The Engineering Student Activities council at the University of Pennsylvania and the Miss Nigerian Independence Program to name a few.
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â&#x20AC;&#x153;At the end of the day, when people approach our clients after a successful event and ask how everything came together, we want them to talk about the value that we added to their event.â&#x20AC;?
Tell us more about Statuesque Events and what makes your business unique? Statuesque Events is unique because our core values; integrity, grace and organization are at the heart of everything we do. We make sure that each event maintains its integrity, and like I always say, every event is not a white wedding, so it should not look or feel like one. We make sure that each event is tailored for the clients' needs and reflects their personality, and is not a carbon copy of a past event. We also are not purely decorators, but we manage vendors, time lines and the overall production of the event from the time we get involved until the end. What is your companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s philosophy when working with your clients? Our philosophy is to always do what is best for the client. If the client suggests something that we think should be done differently to better achieve their goals, we take the time to research and suggest alternatives and explain the pros and cons to each, so that ultimately, the client gets the best results. What are some highlights of your career so far? One highlight of my career was working on the 1st Annual FACE List Awards for the Face 2 Face Africa magazine. The format was awards seating with designated lounge and VIP areas. It was a major production so I worked with a co-coordinator who managed the volunteers and sponsors while I managed
the decor, floor plan and tableware. The event turned out awesome, got rave reviews for the atmosphere and planning, and it really launched the magazine in a huge way. Another highlight was the Miss Nigerian Independence Scholarship Ball. This was a huge event for me because I was Miss Nigerian Independence at the time, and also because it was an event strictly about giving back as we approached the 50th anniversary of Nigeria's independence. The format was a banquet and the color scheme of course was a beautiful mix of green and white! It was a great event featuring speakers, dinner and presentations, but the biggest highlight was that I was able to double each scholarship amount that I promised to the winners due to the surplus in ticket sales and donations. What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow your business? The most effective thing that has grown my business is being myself, and giving everything that I do 100%. When I get new clients and referrals, sometimes it is actually from people who have never attended an event that I've planned since opening Statuesque Events, but its from people who remember the diligence that I worked even on volunteer and work projects in the past. Something else that is effective is putting my all into every event that I do. At the end of the day, when people approach our clients after a successful event and ask how everything came together, we want them to talk about the value that we added to their event.
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re there things that can help guarantee the success of an event?
One of the biggest things is advance planning. There is only so much that can be determined and changed within a few hours of the event and many people overlook that. It is imperative that anything that can be planned is planned well ahead of time.
Another big thing is understanding your budget, especially if it is a fundraiser of some sort. It's so important to know your limits and your goals to make sure that all of the necessary things are accounted for first. What brings out the most excitement for you in event planning? I always smile when people ask me this question. I discovered the joy I get from organizing events while I was a student in college. In addition to the events that I planned with different student groups, I got my friends together and periodically organized huge dinners. We would shop and cook for hours and hours just to see everyone come to my suite to eat, drink and get to know each other better. At every event I've ever done, the best moments have always been when I take a step back to the corner of the room and watch people interact. In this day and age of e-mails, text and social media, there is just something so special about watching people enjoy each others' company.
“The most effective thing that has grown my business is being myself, and giving everything that I do 100%.”
Have you had any bad experience organizing an event, preferably something that you didn’t expect and how did you handle it to make the event a success? There was one event earlier this year that had a bit of a hiccup, but turned out very successfully. I had a prior engagement to attend to during the morning of the event, and I could not be there until a few hours prior to the event. The event required a lot of set up, so I enlisted a few people that I work with to go early in my place, and I gave them a very detailed design script of what to put where, and the client wanted to pick up all of the materials to deliver to the venue. The problem was that a lot of the materials arrived late and were lost, so we were left without a lot of the pieces needed to complete the VIP area of the room at the last minute. I had to work remotely to coordinate some things over the phone, and we eventually got replacement essentials just in time to pull off a slightly different, but great look. Things turned out well because they were planned to such a level of detail that when something went wrong, we could recognize it and knew exactly what was needed to fix it.
Do you ever get to attend an event and just enjoy it, or are you always thinking about it from a planner's perspective? I definitely attend events just to enjoy them! I just enjoy events, and you never stop learning, so it’s important for me to stay active in that sense. Sometimes I do look at other people's events from a planner's perspective, just so that I can continue to stay sensitive to the things that make people happy, frustrated or excited at events, so that I can continually forecast and plan to evoke the right emotions and send the right messages during my events. What kind of events do you love planning? I really love all events, but I especially love receptions and lounge parties. I love being able to build the spaces up, and the freedom that they give to inject the client's personality into them. FIND OUT MORE ABOUT STATUESQUE EVENTS THROUGH THEIR: Facebook Page www.facebook.com/ StatuesqueEvents
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Advertise in the next issue of AFROELLE Rates as low as $20! Contact us for more information AfroElle@gmail.com
HEALTH & WELLNESS Collage- Use magazine photos, personal photos, random objects, etc to create an expressive collage. The purpose of this technique is to create an image that explains how you feel. Creating a collage of positive expressions is one to combat any negativity you may feel. Your creation will should always make you smile.
Art Health and Fitness writer IMAN FOLAYAN reveals her findings on how art can be the answer to our health problems Art is the answer, or at least the International Art therapy Organization (IATO) believes so. With the help of a global community, IATO is able to heal the world the best way they know how, the Arts. At the core of their organization is art therapy, a series of techniques designed to improve mental health and emotional well being through creativity. As a mental health profession, art therapy is employed to combat the adverse effects caused by trauma, depression, chronic illness, and abuse, and can be implemented on diverse populations. At the University of Johannesburg Natascha Pfeifer and Gertie Pretorius conducted a study of the effects of group art therapy with sexually abused girls. A group of twenty-five girls ages 8-11 participated in the study that featured a series of activities designed to improve self-esteem, and reduce depression and anxiety caused by sexual trauma. The art therapy included role-play, painting, and discussion, and upon completing the program the abused girls showed an overall decrease in depression and anxiety.
But this study was not the first of its kind. The MATISSE study conducted on schizophrenic patients yielded similar results, and a study found in AIDS Care revealed that patients suffering from HIV/AIDS symptoms greatly improved their physical and psychological symptoms through art therapy. In a clinical setting art therapy has been tested and proven, but a doctorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s office is not necessary to explore and experience the health benefits of creativity. Many of the same techniques used by doctorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s can be done in the comfort of home and friends and yield the same enriching effects.
Family Sculpture- Using clay, sculpt each family member. What is their representation? Your sculpture should reflect their personality with attention to their symbolic role. For example a large figure to symbolize an overbearing father. After the sculptures are made, reflect on their artistic meaning. Are these representations accurate? Color Spectrum- Paints, oil and soft pastels, watercolors, pencil, charcoal, etc all evoke a different emotion through color. Play in the color spectrum and make reference to how they make you feel. Implement positive colors in your daily life and avoid those colors that stir negative emotion.
Iman hails from Houston, Texas but considers herself a world citizen. As an active member of the West End Community in Atlanta, GA she uses her writing to promote change but can still be found writing a poem or a song, and if you're lucky she'll perform it for you. She considers herself to be "a renaissance artist" so paintbrush or pen if it's art she's all in. Visit www.thepowermixer.com to stay abreast with her community efforts
The answer to mental health problems may be a canvas away.
orvisit www.iamiman.bandcamp.c om to hear her new works.
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How to Travel Cheap ! Real estate lawyer CAROLINE ONYANGO kicks off with a brand new travel column where she shares her secrets of traveling on a shoe-string budget.
y dream job would be an Anthony Bourdain type job. I love to travel, and have been lucky to have been to lots of countries. I got bit by the traveling bug when I left Kenya in 1996 to go to Germany. I vividly remember that very first flight I ever took in my life, Lufthansa Airlines. At the time Lufthansa had a hub in Nairobi. Not anymore. I was so excited about leaving Kenya, as I had actually never left the country before. I literally just went to Germany, without knowing a soul, other than the au-pair family I was paired up with. I really started having a travel adventurous spirit then. It is like I was making up for all the time I never traveled, and wanted to do it all, at once. While in Germany, I discovered traveling, and the art of traveling cheap. I was an au-pair at the time, and not making much money.
The au-pair organization would organize weekend trips for the girls to visit other parts of Germany, like Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt, as well as other major European cities like Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels etc. Through these excursions, I discovered the Wochenende Zug (weekend train) which was dirt cheap. However, this train operated only at ungodly hours, between midnight and 6 a.m.
I remember taking this train many times to Nordrheinwestfalen and visiting friends in Bonn, Bochum, Dusseldorf, Dortmund etc. I also made friends with some girls from Ghana and Ivory Coast, and we went several times to Paris, usually via Brussels. The very first time I was in Paris, in 1997, I went to Boulvard Des Chanselise, and I knew I wanted to come back to Paris, over and over again. I fell in love with the city, albeit for the 10 days that we were there. However, I was a very “poor” au-pair, so of course Paris was not as fun as it would otherwise be. I have since gone back, and really enjoyed the city. As I got to travel all over Europe on a shoe string budget, I found ways to travel cheap, which I will share with you. One of the best ways of traveling cheap is to visit countries where you have friends. I usually made arrangements to stay at my friends’ houses to avoid hotel costs.
I absolutely did not mind being put on the couch, or even sleeping in my friend’s daughter’s bedroom, which I did when I visited London back in 2005. Another I travelled cheap was to buy the cheapest tickets available, meaning 2 or more layovers, but I still made use of the layover to see the city where I was laying over. I also found that travel can be cheap when you do it of season. Tickets are cheaper on non-holidays, and sometimes when you buy it the weekend before, you could get a great deal, as the airlines are trying to fill up all the empty seats. Somehow I have managed to travel, not necessarily on a big type of budget, but on a reasonable budget that does not break the bank. Travel is fun, exhilarating, and exciting. It opens one’s mind and eyes to all the wonderful people, cultures, food, and yes, even fashion, that fills our earth.
Caroline Onyango is a lawyer in Washington DC. She left Kenya after high school to go to Germany, and lived in Nurnberg for two years, as an au-pair. She then moved to the US to attend college, and thereafter law school. She practices real estate law, and decompresses from the law by writing a travel/relationship/fashion blog. She loves to travel and has visited many countries.
71|JULY ISSUE |www.afroellemagazine.com
Its summer time and Guest writer JANAY NABESA shares some useful tips to get your hair through the summer heat .
Over the last couple of weeks I have been on the hair boards a little bit more then I normally would have been and I’ve been seeing a lot of ladies say pretty much the same thing “its summer times and my hair is dry what should I do” or “my twist out aren’t lasting in the heat what should I do” and since I haven’t had anything extra dryness going on I thought I would share how I have been dealing with my hair over the last 9 months and what I do so that I don’t have the issue of dry hair. When it comes to your hair being dry, take it seriously because if it’s dry for too long then your hair is going to break off, and begin to give the illusion of it not growing. When I was 5 months natural and I started using puffs as my staple hair style and even thought it was quick, easy and cute, I quickly noticed my hair was a little dryer than normal because for one my hair was now always out and two I wasn’t retwisting my hair at night.
Don’t get me wrong, there are women who can just go to sleep and not re-twist their hair at night, but then there are others who need to make sure that their hair is protected at all times. With that said, here are some tips from being a dry tumble weed in the summertime. Re-twisting your hair at night; This helps your hair to not tangle or get little knots on the ends that will soon need to be dusted off. Deep conditioning; Do this every time you wash your hair. Deep conditioners sole purpose it to help retain and regain moisture in your hair. But a fair warning, too much of a good thing can definitely be a bad thing. Too much deep conditioning can be damaging to your hair and signs of over conditioned hair are limp or weak hair and in that case you may need to add in some protein.
Don’t style dirty hair; Just because you add moisture to dirty hair doesn’t mean that it’s going to stay soft for long. First of all because it’s dirty, all you are going to do is cause build. Your hair may develop a greasy feeling. During this time of the year washing your hair at least once every two weeks should be a should be a good place to start, reason being, its hot out there, your hair is sweating, and when hair sweats it omits a bad smell and causes more build up. However this time its natural build up being added in with product build up. When your hair is dirty for long the hair products you have used on it will build up and create a film on your hair thus affecting your hair growth. A clogged up keeps your hair from growing. Co-washing; washing hair with just conditioner in between wash days. I don’t recommend co washing every single day. From my personal experiences I discovered co-washing every day took out my natural hairs oil, and made my hair drier. However co-washing in between wash days to add in some moisture is very helpful.
Janay Nabesa is a Natural Hair/ Urban gossip blogger that lives in Seattle Wa. At the age of 19 she decided that blogging was her passion and took the time to make naybesa.com. naybesa.com is more then just a gossip blog, there's natural hair advice, and even advice in the dating world. Janay Naybesa is one blogger that you will always be able to relate to because of her friend to friend blogging style. For more on Janay Naybesa check out her website at naybesa.com, twitter/naybesa, youtube/naybesa, or email@example.com
FASHIONISTA DOREEN AFRIYIE Toronto (Motherland Ghana, West Africa)
escribe your signature style
I don’t have a definite signature style because I like to challenge myself by trying out new and different looks. My style is pretty much eclectic and limiting myself to a particular way of style is almost impossible for me. What's different about your style? I guess what’s different about my style is the fact that it’s unexpecting. I don’t have a definitive way of dressing so you never know what to expect when I do an outfit post. How did you get interested in fashion? I’ve always loved clothes and styling but got more into it as a freshman in the university. Fashion magazines and fashion television became my favourite things to spend time on. I got inspired and began trying out new pieces and looks for myself. Shopping became more than just buying clothes for me because I made sure that whatever I was purchasing was something different that can be worn in different ways...that way I was able to create a variety of looks each time. Playing around clothes is so much fun and it makes me love fashion even more. Where do you draw your fashion inspiration from? I get inspired by people I see on the streets and fashion blogs. I’m always on the hunt for an inspiration for my next look whenever I check out fashion sites. What's your favourite accessory?
That would be my oversized men’s watch. I’m sure most people are over it by now just because I wear it 24/7! It’s what I’m into right now and I don’t see myself doing without it anytime soon. What’s your perfect everyday shoe? I’m 5ft tall and so platform heels have always been my go-to shoe! It adds height and also adds to my confidence.
What fashion trend do you think is overrated? Clogs! It came back last year and they were almost everywhere. It seems to be fading away but I can’t wait for them to go away completely. What do you consider as fashion no-no's? Wearing tights as pants always gets me, I can’t stand it! I feel like if you’re going to wear tights, you need to wear a longer shirt to cover the butt area. I really hope that most of these girls change it up a little bit and try wearing longer shirts with their tights. What is the best way of looking sexy without going over board? Looking sexy to me is neither about wearing heels nor tight clothes; it’s all about looking effortless without trying too hard. What is your best fashion advice to every woman? Don’t follow fashion trends! They only last a season and most of them never come back. A little shopping advice...the 80/20 rule. Make sure that 80 percent of the stuff you purchase are classic pieces that will last a long time and maybe try out new trends amounting to 20 percent. Also, be yourself and wear what makes you feel good. When you feel good, you exude confidence and that attracts an audience.
Model: Keara Thompson Photographer: Nuru K (Tanzania) Hair Stylist: Andrea C. Samuels Make-Up Artist: Andrea C. Samuels Wardrobe: Andrea C. Samuels & Keara Agency: Lady Mirage Agency
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