May/June Issue

Page 1













With every issue of AfroElle we feature amazing women making great moves in their lives, careers, businesses and society, women from all over the world with inspira- 54. AYANNA MOLINA tional stories of strength, courage, wisdom, perseverance and success. It was exciting putting this special feature 56. HAPPY FEET together because these women have in many ways inspired me with their stories, they have motivated me with 57. SUMMER GODDESS their drive to achieve more in life and I’m sure their stories will equally inspire you 58. FASHIONISTA OUMOU SANOGO


CONTRIBUTORS Adeola Gboyega: SUMMER GODDESS Adeola recently graduated with a degree in Communication and Media studies. She has always had a passion for the cosmetics and beauty industry and works full time as an account manager for a skincare company. Her ambition is to become a successful makeup artist and educate women about skincare and positive self image.

Iman Folayan : HAPPY FEET 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 to stay abreast with her community efforts or visit to hear her new

JoVanna Rodriguez : Relationship Basics 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

Nonie Maingi : Imagine, Drive, Grow Muthoni Maingi is the Director of Deviate Advertising a company whose vision looks to making impact-filled branding, marketing and advertising accessible and affordable to growth-minded companies and entrepreneurs. She is also a blogger on Kachwanya, and Affrinovator as well as her own personal Wordpress blogs On Brand and Girly Gone Biashara.

Donnie Nicole : Insecurely Confident Donnie Nicole is married to one of hip-hop’s finest, a High School English teacher &community activist who lives in Chicago, IL. She blogs regularly about any & everything because her blog has an identity crisis at


AFROELLE Celebrating Women of African Descent PUBLISHER Patricia Miswa CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Adeola Gboyega, Jovanna Rodriguez, Iman Folayan, Nonie Maingi, Lynn Irungu, Renee Flagler, Donnie Nicole, Amani, June Kanini, Elizabeth Karina



To subscribe, visit For inquiries regarding general information, advertising, contribution or feedback email

AfroElle Magazine is published monthly. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in parts without written permission is strictly prohibited.


Shailaun Maninng 1st Face of Simply Afrosheek



rowing up, I was a ‘someday girl’. I had dreams of someday publishing a book, someday working for a newspaper, someday being an editor, someday. Until one day many years later I woke up to the realization that someday was today; because today is the only assurance we have, not 2 years from now or tomorrow but today.

I remember while in my sophomore year of high school, I published a Christian newsletter, only twenty copies for two terms. Even though It wasn't much it proved to me that we can dream and wake up and make our dreams a reality.

This is the start of another year for AfroElle Magazine and before we look forward we have to look back, what we call SANKOFA. Sankofa is an Akan word that means we must look back to move forward so that we can understand why and how we came to be who we are today. You will notice this word in three different features in this issue. A year ago in May, I shared the idea of starting this space with two friends and I haven’t looked back since then. After many nights burning the midnight oil editing interviews, proofing pages, designing layouts and dealing with stress induced deadlines, here we are with AfroElle’s Anniversary issue and first digital issue. Yipee! I know I still have a lot to learn about this publishing world but I’m grateful for this far I have come.

And because life is about creating imaginary Oscar moments, *clutching imaginary award*, I’d like to thank my Lord for His strength and guidance and for making all things possible with Faith. Much gratitude to my family for believing in me and my dreams and encouraging me to push on, I’m equally grateful to my friends and the strangers who have supported me and offered words of encouragement along the way. Special thanks to our team of contributing writers who take the time to submit articles and ideas amidst their busy schedules and to you the reader for taking the time to read AfroElle! Thank you all!

Apart from our usual interviews, features and articles, this anniversary issue has a special feature called ‘Women Making Moves’ where we profile amazing women, from different parts of the world, sharing their stories of success. I hope you enjoy the read, feel free to contact me with your feedback and suggestions and let us know how we are doing so far.



THANK YOU FOR BEING PART OF US. WE APPRECIATE YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT Get inspired by AfroElle Magazine, they feature great black women and causes. ~Shimmer & Bliss Awesome magazine, we are so excited that there are magazines out there like this and when we stumbles on AfroElle the excitement was ten fold. ~Diaspora Darlings I love AfroElle and its celebration of young women of African descent. Via @TerahEdun Absolutely amazing work, I cant get enough of this magazine, keep up the good work. ~Kanini Kaseo Ladies & Gents, Writers & Readers Make Sure you read AfroElle Magazine, Inspiring Women across the Diaspora through Beauty Health & Information! ~ Iman Folayan

AfroElle Magazine is yours! If you have any suggestions on what we need to improve, who we need to feature and what sections we need to add, feel free to let us know. Email WE ARE SOCIAL







AMANI LIBERIA When Becky Chinchen, founder of Amani, fled to Nairobi, Kenya with her family during Liberia's civil conflict in the mid1990s, the experience of exile, grief, and loss common to refugees is what gave birth to the Amani project; a place where women affected by conflict and injustice can work together to find healing. Every month we feature great causes that empower women. One such organization is Amani ya Juu which means ‘higher peace’ in Swahili or Amahoro ava Hejuru in Kinyarwanda Amani is a skill training program for marginalized women in Africa seeking to restore hope.

Amani aims to sow seeds of peace in the hearts of women as they grow in community and in their faith together. Apart from the sewing and marketing skills they are taught, they also gain experience in management and design, book keeping, purchasing and quality control.

At Amani, the women work together through faith in God who provides higher peace that transcends ethnic differences. The peace initiative with roots in West Africa serves 70 women from 11 different countries. It portrays diversity as the women come from Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and other African countries with sister centers in Rwanda, Burundi and now Liberia.

Amani Liberia was launched in May 14th with a goal to rebuild, empower and educate women to reach their full potential. For the launch, Amani Liberia held a fashion show dubbed; The Sankofa Fashion Show, a story of transformation told through fashion, dance and narrative. Sankofa means ‘looking back but moving forward’; which is Amani’s vision, to move forward and discover true worth and value despite the past, this vision also serves as Liberia’s reality.

Kortu Momolu

Amani Liberia teamed up with Liberian born Korto Momolu; an international fashion designer and stylist and a runner up in Project Runway. Korto came back to Liberia after 23 years, for the Fasion show she made a 27-piece collection designed specifically for Liberia’s Fashion show. Ms.Momolu who has been featured in major international media outlets such as Essence, People Magazine and Women’s Wear Daily and she serves as a great example of the potential women have to develop their talents and obtain their dreams.

According to Amani Liberia’s contact, Kate Finley, the fashion show is to encourage and inform the people of Monrovia and around the world about Amani Liberia and the opportunity for the women of Liberia to work in peace and learn together. “We want to provide a way for women to earn an income and support their families within a positive, safe environment that restores their hearts and their sense of value. The women of Liberia are smart, strong and creative and we want to help them cultivate those qualities to reach their potential!” she said. Amani Liberia is a peace initiative that not only teaches the women learn practical skills to improve their quality of life, they also experience God’s healing, moving them beyond their traumatic and difficult pasts.

Source :Amani ya Juu {}



Becky Chinchen and Husband

The Team that put the show together






hailaun Maninng who describes herself as poised, pleasant and ingenious is the 1st Face of AfroSheek, a competition that was for the first time held last year. The multi-talented Shay, as most people call her, sings and dances as a hobby but she is a professional model and actress.

Being impersonalble as a majoy key to success is on of the valuable lessons she has learned as a model. “Your peers, your associates, your clients, and your audience all must find you pleasant and have a desire to have you around. Of course your talent and skills play a role in your possibilities of being booked, but ultimately, you are being booked because they would love to be your friend.” Shailaun, who would like to be remembered by the world for her continuous courage and determination to achieve her innermost dreams and goals, hopes to become an international model, actress, and a household name starring in films and commercials all over the world. “ I see myself getting Grammy awards for best female actress and married to the man of my dreams , yes, I said married, and we’re exploring the world.” She adds.

“A woman of substance is a woman of essence, a woman of soul. To me, a woman of substance means the world. She loves, she’s pleasant, and she utilizes power to believe in herself and survive for herself and uplift those whom she inspires and is inspired by.”


hat was Face of Simply Afrosheek all about and how was the experience like for you?

I believe the Face of Simply Afrosheek contest is about being inspired, being elegant, and unleashing the queen in you. Beautiful women of African descent are being judged on their personalities and their abilities to inspire an international audience. When I became the Face of Simply Afrosheek, I knew right then and there that my life was under transformation. This contest was the first one that I have competed in and won. Immediately becoming a spokes model and 2011 summer edition cover girl of Equanimity Magazine was a thrill alone. Having the title has been uplifting and is surely a push on my professional resume. How do you define success? My definition of success is having your cake and eating it too. I’m kidding, well, not really. I get an idea, come up with a goal for it, work towards achieving the goal, and accomplish it. That is success. What does a woman of substance mean to you? A woman of substance is a woman of essence, a woman of soul. To me, a woman of substance means the world. She loves, she’s pleasant, and she utilizes power to believe in herself and survive for herself and uplift those whom she inspires and is inspired by. Wow! I really pulled that out of the deep… and it’s true. Any words of encouragement? Everyone in the world was given a mind, but not everyone knows how to use it. Simply visualize where you want to be and what you want to do. If you can see it, you can believe it and if you can receive it, you will achieve it. Follow your dreams and never look back. Stay focused.





e talked to LilliaN Mbabazi, the lead singer of Blu3, one of the hottest Ugandan girl groups about how it feels to be a mother and how she juggles motherhood and music. Lillian came into the limelight in 2004 when she emerged one of the winners of the Coca Cola Pop Stars competition. She singing back in Rwanda during her Senior 6 vacation and she went on to perform with a band at Hotel MilleColline and Mango. Last year, the members of Blu 3 went on leave to pursue solo projects, Lillian, a Rwandese by nationality and Ugandan by birth, became a mother to a lovely baby boy and has released her first single ‘Vitamin’. I got in touch with her manager for an interview with Lillian to tell us more about her new title as mother to a beautiful son Asante {Swahili word for ‘thank you’} and how she is juggling it with her career. How is the motherhood experience so far? Motherhood is fantastic. It’s challenging and overwhelming too but I love every minute of it. My son is truly my little angel and I just can’t imagine my life without him. Being a new mother, how do you balance your music career and the baby? Finding a balance is not easy but so far I have managed to make it work. I have not had to be away from my son for more than 24 hours yet. He is my number one priority so I will never allow my music career to interfere with his well being.


“Motherhood is fantastic. It’s challenging and overwhelming too but I love every minute of it. My son is truly my little angel and I just can’t imagine my life without him.

Do you plan on raising your son as Rwandese and if so, how will you impart your Rwandese heritage to him? Of course it’s inevitable that I will impart my Rwandese heritage to my son. I want him to be proud of his heritage. That doesn’t mean that Ugandan heritage is not a part of him too after all he was born in Uganda. But right now the most important thing for me as a mother is that my son grows up happy, healthy and well adjusted. Do you intend to start making music for the Rwandan community? Definitely. I have already recorded a song with Rwandese artist Kitoko called ‘Niwowe gusa’. But I also hope that my Rwandese fans will appreciate my music even if I’m not singing in Kinyarwanda. How do you find working in Uganda compared to Rwanda? I’ve never really worked in Rwanda so it’s difficult for me to compare the two. I used to perform with a band at hotel in Kigali but it never felt like work because singing is what I love doing. I hope I get the chance to perform again more regularly in Kigali but for now Kampala is my base. Will Blu3 ever work together again or they have all taken up solo careers? Yes we definitely will work together again in the future. Right now we’re giving ourselves the chance to work on our solo projects and explore that side of our artistic careers. What should your fans expect from you this year in regards to your music? They should expect a more mature and soulful sound from me as far as my music is concerned. I’m not afraid of trying out new sounds so definitely they should expect a more eclectic mix of musical styles from me. I think my first single ‘Kawa’ clearly represents that. I’m also looking to work and collaborate with other amazing East African artists and producers this year. I’m very grateful to all the love and support my fans have shown me so far. All the words of encouragement mean a lot to me. I definitely think I have some of the best fans in East Africa.





hat is relationship? How do we define dating, courting, engagement, and marriage? How do we define these words and roles in modern times? How critical are our definitions in placing our connections in the proper place? This will be a 2-part article where we will go back to the basic of relationships. In the Part 1 of the series we discuss; what a relationship is ? How do we define this in modern times? And Part 2: How do we define dating, courting, engagement, and marriage, and how do these definitions determined our connections?


elationships are the foundational rocks of life. We build bonds with other people in every avenue of life. Our personal relationships sometimes dictate our professional careers and opportunities. Our friendships are representations of our favorites, interests, and personality. Our love life, one can say, is a combination of our desires, but not always a reflection of them. As human beings, it is vital to create worthy relationships with others. However, the dynamics of these relationships are often overlooked, underappreciated, and not properly defined in order to benefit both parties. A relationship is defined as a connection (sometimes emotional), association, or involvement between individuals. That is very broad for some of the specific interactions that we build with others. This is why it is critical for one to define the connections that they have with the people in their life. FRIENDSHIP Some questions to ask yourself in a friendship include; Is this person dependable at ALL times? How well is “follow through” in the friendship? Is the friendship strong during good and rough moments? Defining your friendship helps you put individuals into their appropriate category. Depending on your level of interaction, your friendship can be considered the following: best friends, friends, associates, and bored bonding. Bored Bonding occurs when you are searching through your contacts for someone new to connect with out of boredom. ROMANCE When it comes to Romance, ask yourself, are you obtaining what you initially desired? Are both parties on the same page in terms of trust, wants, future, stability, and the overall direction of the relationship? Is this conducive for your success? In today’s society, media, music, literature, and environmental and suggestive circumstances often influence the romantic relationships we build with others.


The places we meet individuals and our first interactions often dictate the purpose and length of the connection. It is okay to create menial relationships with others, as long as it is understood and consistent. We often expect the most out of relationships that we have yet to put the most work/value into. We must always be real with ourselves and the relationships we have in order to acquire the true things our heart desires. Make sure your goals are realistic! Make sure your relationships reflect your growth! Make sure you constantly evaluate your own expectations and your partners! FAMILIAL RELATIONSHIPS When it comes to Familial relationships how strong is the bond between parties? Is it consistent? Healthy? What grudges/past events are you holding on to? How does this change the dynamics of your interactions? Does your “family” encourage your success? How is this relationship productive? Often times, we get really emotionally hung up on issues dealing with our family because we expect so much from them. However, we forget that they are not exempt from making the same human decisions as any stranger we may interact with. Because of this, it is important to be open-minded to friends and others who become “like family” and family members who become strangers. Your expectations of the relationships you foster with “family” must be examined continuously for preservation, nourishment, and overall agreeance with your personal life. Do not hesitate to approach family in the same upfront and honest manner you would approach a friend. Do not hesitate to keep your distance from family in the same manner you would from an enemy. Most importantly, do not hesitate to over think mixing business with family. What does this have to do with being single? Well, first off, in order to acquire a relationship one must know what a relationship is and consists of. Every relationship should be accessed for clarity. In respect to obtaining a mate that will be fulfilling, they should go through every phase of being your friend, romantic interest, then being absorbed into your family. Remember to set boundaries and define your relationships for yourself using your own form of measurement instead of what popular song, media, belief, or your friends may say!






How do you resolve conflicts and what helps you love each other when you are mad at your spouse?

“ We were platonic friends for years. When I first met him, I thought he was cute but I left it at that. It wasn’t until our 20’s where we noticed that there were real feelings between us. I do not know when I knew he was the one. I guess in a way I always felt he was but there was no “aha” moment. We dated for a while and we began to talk marriage. It just felt natural.”

We resolve conflict by talking it out and resolving to makes some changes. I had to learn am learning how to let go of the little stuff. This was a problem early on for us because I’d start arguments about minor points. Another thing I love about my Husband and helped me see that he was right for me was that he always apologized first even if the argument was my fault. One thing I try to remember is that no matter how bad my Husband makes me…he isn’t the enemy. We are always on the same team. Thinking about this helps keep everything in perspective.

artavis and Ashely Strickland knew each other since childhood, a record of 13 years. Martavis’s grandfather was the pastor of the church Ashley attended. The couple officially dated for 1 ½ years, were engaged for 5 months and have been married for almost 2 years.

AE: What do you love about your husband? Ashley: I love that my Husband loves God. I love that he loves me and my family. I love that he is humble enough to admit he is wrong and actually takes steps to change himself to make me comfortable. He is very patient with me and allows me to be me, quirks and all. He is a genuine family man and I like that. What part of marriage do you love the most and why? I love the fact that it forces me to grow. I am an only child and marriage often reminds me that it really isn’t “all about me”. I have grown a lot being his wife. I just love the fact that I have my own family to love cherish and nurture. Marriage truly is a gift.

With all the negativity, fears, challenges, how do you make your marriage work? Drum roll please. We actually want to make it work. It seems so simple but I’ve noticed that this isn’t the case with BOTH members of each marriage. We keep God in our marriage. I pray for him constantly and he does the same for me. We also have a great group of married friends that we hang out with, solo and in groups. This helps us to see that we aren’t the only ones dealing with certain issues and it really helps keep things in perspective. “Oh, your Husband is constantly forgetting to do the dishes too? Even after you’ve asked him 2 hours ago and he said he would? Well that’s good to know because I thought he was the only crazy man on this earth!”



hat is the best advice you received before you got married, that helped you through rough times or helped you prevent rough times? "Your marriage is your baby. You have to protect it and nurture it just like you would a child. In a marriage, you won’t always have 50% to give and you won’t always receive 50% back. Sometimes you will only have 25% and he will compensate for the other 75%. Sometimes you will have to give 60% because all he has to give is 40%. But as long as you both always give 100% of whatever percentage you have to give and it totals 100%, your marriage will survive and thrive.” What steps do you take to make the marriage feel "alive" or "new" each day? I’m very creative and I love coming up with new ways to show my Husband how much I love him. We try to spend quality time together when we can. We like to play card and board games, try new restaurants, and just hang out and enjoy each other. We also have begun to do “guys only” and “women only” outings. What advice would you give you’d like to give any newlywed or a single woman hoping to get married some day? To the newlyweds: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Study and realize what your roles in marriage should really be and give it your all. Your spouse reacts off of you. If you have an attitude, more than likely, they will get one too. Lead by example, if you want romance, give romance. One of the funniest but honest pieces of advice I got about how to keep my Husband happy was:

“Don’t sweat the small stuff. Study and realize what your roles in marriage should really be and give it your all. Your spouse reacts off of you. If you have an attitude, more than likely, they will get one too. Lead by example, if you want romance, give romance.”

“Remember the 3 P’s and the E: 1. P- peace (don’t nag or keep up confusion), 2. P-piece (cook) 3. P- piece (sex) E- ego (make him feel like a man). I swear it’s so simple but it is THE TRUTH. To the single women: Tell God what you want, trust Him and his timing and leave it there. God sees he hears and He knows your desires for marriage. Use this time to work on yourself. Find out what YOU like to do. Learn the skills you will need to be a successful wife and mother; forgiveness, patience, cooking, cleaning, etc. Enjoy the moments of silence you have and the time you have to yourself, because you will miss it once you add a husband and kids to the mix.


INSECURELY CONFIDENT BY DONNIE NICOLE “I'm not the average girl from your video and I ain't built like a supermodel But, I learned to love myself unconditionally Because I am a queen”- India Arie


ccording to the Dove Self Esteem Fund 62% of all girls feel insecure or not sure of themselves and 57% have a mom who criticizes her own looks. As a young girl, I was certainly in that 62% because I did not “fit in” to the mainstream standard of beauty. From the time that we become conscious, the media does a job on our self-perception. The relics of white supremacy are still alive and well and the legacy of “black get back” beats our self-esteem into submission. We all remember how our first names became linked to our striking physical characteristics. For me it was, “Donnie with the big nose…” Big, meaning above or larger than the average size. I can remember certain adults pinching my nostrils together in hopes of decreasing the size. Plus I had to wear glasses which felt like a "Kick Me” sign for my fragile self-esteem. All women, but more specifically black women have it difficult in an America where media representations of beauty are so limited in scope – thin, hour glass, long-hair don’t care, etc. Perhaps your claim to get defamed was dark skin, big lips, elephant ears or a big forehead. Many women are walking around insecurely confident and even those who fit into the mainstream mold are simply posers. How did my nose “grow” on me? It was all about perspective. When I left the United States and traveled to Jamaica, I was inundated with the experience of being in the majority. Women who looked like me were not only walking next to me on the street but they were all over the TV. They were the norm. Shortly after that India Arie’s “Video” became my theme song and I celebrated the courage of this sista who broke through the glass mirror. I started learning the history of the hierarchy of complexion and physical features, realizing that I was powerfully and wonderfully made. After that I knew that little black girls (and boys) must realize that they are beautiful too. They must see their mommas embrace their stretch marks and hold their heads up high no matter where they find themselves in the world. We must: •

Counter the campaign to poison black beauty by subscribing to magazines, blogs& programming that celebrate our beauty. This may mean turning off the TV, searching the internet or hanging out with your authentically fabulous girlfriends/family members.

Accept the love from partners who love you au naturale. If someone criticizes or verbally abuses your physical characteristics then that is not healthy for you. Run. Fast.

Praise the children & young people you have influence over. This is especially important if you have your own children. Tell them how beautiful they are. Let them know the history of race and racism in America.

Celebrate yourself! Learn how to dress in clothing that flatters your body type. Spend some time at the spa. Exercise. Do things that bring out the best you!













ith every issue of AfroElle we feature amazing women making great moves in their lives, careers, businesses and society, women from all over the world with inspirational stories of strength, courage, wisdom, perseverance and success. While trying to map out this special anniversary issue, I played around with story possibilities that would make this issue special. Having in mind this was an anniversary issue it was important to reflect what AfroElle magazine stands for and what we have represented throughout the year and that’s when the idea of profiling ‘Women Making Moves’ came about.

The next hurdle was coming up with the list of women, fresh faces from different parts of the world. After taking up reader nominations, I sent out emails, follow ups and the cycle was pretty much the same for awhile. At the end of the day, I came up with eight women from different parts of the world, different career paths but with one common factor, they are all following their dreams and making moves.

It was exciting putting this special feature together because these women have in many ways inspired me with their stories, they have motivated me with their drive to achieve more in life and I’m sure their stories will equally inspire you.



“Success and failure are like a union of marriage, you cannot mention one without the other.�


manda Ebokosia is the founder and CEO of The Gem Project, Inc. The Gem Project is a nonprofit organization that educates school-age children, youth, and young adults about issues that are affecting them and their communities. Through the use of the organization's innovative programs, the Gem Project is able to hone the skills of leadership and community organizing skills of our youth. What does your work entail? My work involves the management of the entire company. I am responsible of delegating duties of all projects, creating partnerships, interviewing volunteers, overseeing nine divisions and programs for youth and young adults, and fulfilling monthly and yearly goals. I am also responsible for creating an amicable environment for volunteers, while nurturing and cultivating the relationships we have with our supporters. Are you living your dream? Yes, I am blessed to have the experiences that my line of work entails. I have a great team and we have witnessed so many wonderful things by just helping others. It has truly been this continuous ride of lessons, hope, and practice of humility. There are many moments where I feel like I am living my dream, but it became most apparent on April 27, 2011. I was with a Gem Project member one afternoon and we had just finished one of our programs for the youth called, The Gem Project Interactive Literacy Program. We interviewed casually two sisters about the current program and the last one before it, which occurred 3 weeks ago. The responses they both gave made us feel equally appreciated. At this very moment we felt for than connected, we felt needed within our society. We were actually trying to interview them as another form of knowledge assessment to see how much they remembered from our last event. When I think of the Gem Project, I think of the moments where I met Christina Lugo, a mother who gave a speech about life raising an autistic son at a Gem Project autism awareness luncheon 3 years ago. I often think of marching with Bashirah Brown, a breast cancer survivor at age 24 in 2007, at a Gem Project College Campus march. I also have memories of her when we filmed our first Gem Project documentary called, " The Gem Project and Young People for Change." She spoke highly of the Gem Project. She was one of the many persons who we had welcomed into our lives in pursuit of positive change within our community. What's your definition of success and how has your journey been like to where you're now? Success is the moment you feel when the world is acting in your favor and everything just seems to be in alignment. All the failures you have encountered, suddenly feel like stepping stones to your ultimate goal--your vision. Success and failure are like a union of marriage, you cannot mention one without the other. One valuable lesson I learned was that building a great team does not happen overnight, you have to be patient. Be focused, good things will come if you remain focused on your path. What advice would you give women so that they can go out of their comfort zones and start making moves in their lives and society? My advice is to go out and develop a support system or network of women who share similar goals as you. Build your contacts from networking events, social media, or join groups and associations. The road to success may be tough but it does not have to be traveled alone.



“ As a child I dreamed of being an author and it is a dream come true to have not just one book but two in print .


igerian blogger and author, Nkem Akinsoto is greatly known in the blogsphere by her pen name Myne Whitman. The full time writer and blogger has a Masters degree in Public Health Research but decided to follow her childhood dreams of writing popular fiction to get people writing. Myne is also the founder and managing editor of a critique site for aspiring Nigerian writers.

What does your work entails? I write mostly relationship articles and have published two romance novels. My blog is a constant work in progress. I share first draft excerpts of any current manuscript, short stories, as well as being part of the blogging community. My articles have also been published by lifestyle magazines, both online and in print. Are you living YOUR dream? This is usually a hard question to answer but I can honestly say yes now. In 2008 I fell in love for the first time in my life and got married to my husband soon after. Also, as a child I dreamed of being an author and it is a dream come true to have not just one book but two in print within a couple of years on pursuing a writing career. I am working on more stories and hope to have another book out soon. What’s your definition of success and how has your journey been like to where you are now? My definition of success is being able to make a business of what you love doing and being happy doing it. It is equally important that you can touch other lives and positively affect the dreams of those coming after you. One thing I have learned in the time since my first book is that, it is essential to be able to balance work and life, and keep your feet on the ground even after success comes. Any words of advice or role models that have inspired you or changed your life? I have been inspired by women writers, who are also wives, mothers and successful business women. My advice is to set achievable time-bound goals, to be consistent and to keep your eye on the ball. What advice would you give women so that they can go out of their comfort zones and start making moves in their lives and society? I would like to encourage them not to be limited by what people say, or what they think that society wants or expects from them. We women need to make our own choices, and not be afraid of hard work.



“If you can clearly identify your dream, are willing to move heaven and earth to realize it and can maintain a healthy level of delusional optimism, there is NOTHING that you cannot accomplish.


iffany Aliche, better known as ‘The Budgetnista’ describes herself as a preschool teacher, tomboy,travelnista, social butterfly/chatterbox turned financial coach, speaker and author. A passionate teacher of financial empowerment, the New Jersey native earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Montclair State University and passed up a career in corporate America to teach undeserved youth in Newark, NJ. Tiffany believes that the purpose of life is to live a life of purpose and that’s why she started her own financial consulting company called CLD Financial Life LLC where she helps others master their money. What does your work entail? I specialize in teaching fun and engaging financial literacy under the name "The Budgetnista", for clients like American Express, Columbia University, Princeton University, The Boys and Girls Club, Mary Kay, Newark Housing Authority, public schools and the like. My new book, The One Week Budget and I have also been mentioned in Essence Magazine, USA TODAY and various other media outlets. Are you living YOUR dream? While I was still in college I decided that I wanted to live a life of service. My favorite part of what I do is that I’m able to help people. I’m also a classic “social-butterfly chatterbox” and I LOVE meeting new people, talking and traveling. My business allows me to do all of that, as well as afford me a tons of freedom. So yes, I am truly living my dream. Ultimately my goal is to secure a regular spot on a TV show as the go-to-fun-financial-tip-girl! What’s your definition of success and how has your journey been like to where you are now? My definition of success is seeing one’s Personal Legend (dream) through to completion. I learned that there are three keys to entrepreneurial success: 1) 2) 3)

Crystallized focus Extreme hustle Positive attitude/energy

If you can clearly identify your dream, are willing to move heaven and earth to realize it and can maintain a healthy level of delusional optimism, there is NOTHING that you cannot accomplish. Any words of advice or role models that have inspired you or changed your life? My parents Irondi and Sylvia Aliche are my greatest inspiration. The most important lesson I’ve learned from them is that no matter how many detours or adjustments need to be made, continue toward your star and no worthy journey follows a straight path. Have faith without ceasing. What advice would you give women so that they can go out of their comfort zones and start making moves in their lives and society? SIMPLE and SOON. If you really want to change, you have to stop overcomplicating the process and take action now.



I learnt a lot over the years, one is focus, it is very important to focus on one thing, integrity in business is important, business success is not yours alone so always acknowledge others, I have learnt to respect other people’s points of views, I have learnt to work hard even if I am not getting paid for it and to always stick to my word.


part from being an International Speaker for Schools in the UK, Lisa Mundembe-Chuma, originally from Zimbabwe is also the founder of Inspirational Woman Magazine a global women’s magazine that promotes unity amongst all women and celebrates women despite possible differences. Lisa has her own radio show; Lisa’s Inspirational Talk Show which is aired every monday night between 8pm – 10pm GMT ( She mentions that her desire is to make a positive impact in the world and see women come together in unity worldwide.

“I always encourage women to realize that they are very important in their own way, which makes us all unique and if we accept that we can become a stronger community because we will have different things to offer.”


hat does your work entail?

I am the founder and editor in chief of a global online women’s magazine with a difference. I started inspirational woman magazine because I want to see change amongst women relationships, I want women to stand together in unity despite race or other possible differences, I want young girls to dream and to be given the chance to those dreams a reality, I want to be more influential than I am now to as many women as I can, I want women from all over the world to help each other, appreciate each other, inspire each other, to promote each other and support each other.

This is what our magazine is about, I bring the change through a magazine that will impact all women positively all over the world and because I want to see all this, I believe it is my responsibility to make it happen. I have made it my responsibility to ensure the change happens. I cannot expect someone else to do it but myself. It is my desire and I am making it a reality every day.

Our ethos is for women to unite and they is no other magazine in the world doing that. We want women to see beyond color, height, past experiences, background etc but instead see the strength that another woman has and appreciate it, appreciate their hard work and acknowledge it, see the struggle of another woman and stand up to help, to see women beyond what you have and what I don't have.


e aim to support and help women become better women and in return these inspired women will help others around them. We are not a magazine for just our readers, we want our readers to also commit to say when they have been inspired, they are also going to make it their duty to inspire others and go on that way so not just our reader’s benefits. We are making this a global impact - are you inspired, inspire me too. We are aware not everyone has access to the magazine but it does not mean they can not be inspired or do not want the inspiration.



f we use the are you inspired, inspire me too rule everyone will benefit. We are also running a very powerful campaign in aid to our ethos: inspirational women pledge unity. We are encouraging women to pledge unity to other women in their lives. We are in the process of publishing this campaign as a book and will be available alongside our one off print issue some time next year.

Are you living YOUR dream? I cannot say I am living my dream yet but I know I am in the right direction; soon I will be when our readers are above 4 billion a year. Having said that, I feel very proud of myself to have come this far.

What’s your definition of success and how has your journey been like to where you are now? My definition of success is being able to have a very wealthy business and stay humble. I learnt a lot over the years, one is focus, it is very important to focus on one thing, integrity in business is important, business success is not yours alone so always acknowledge others, I have learnt to respect other people’s points of views, I have learnt to work hard even if I am not getting paid for it and to always stick to my word.

Any words of advice or role models that have inspired you or changed your life? I love oprah and a lady in the united states called Brittany K Earls. These two women have truly inspired me. What advice would you give women so that they can go out of their comfort zones and start making moves in their lives and society?

If you give up on your dream the person who will lose the most is yourself. Remember because you dreamt it, it means you can attain it and it is yours. The question is how bad you want it and do you want to change your situation.

Never give up on your dream because if you do it means you are letting other people down in society who need what you have to offer. People that could have possibly fed their families had you created a job. We all have dreams and your dream is your dream, it's never to big for you. It all depends on how you tackle it and whether you want to create opportunities or just look for opportunities from others. You have far more to gain by following your dream remembering to leave footsteps for others to follow so go for it, why not when it is yours. A few words from Lisa ‘Let us embrace each other remembering sisters are just not biological, lets us stand

together to make the world a better place, let us help and support each other through experiences and tackle issues together. Together we can celebrate our successes/failures without the fear of sharing them. Let us desire to LOVE more and disappoint LESS.’



“ Well success is fulfilling your God given purpose. There's nothing that makes me sleep like knowing that I am passionate about my work and that I am changing lives.


young, energetic rising star, Jinna Mutune is an aspiring Director from Eastern Africa whose native country of East Africa provides the perfect backdrop and inspiration for her creative mind. Jinna majored in Directing and Producing at the South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance [AFDA, Johannesburg, South Africa] and a course in Film Studies from the Houston Community College in Texas, USA and Fitchburg University (MA) Jinna’s idealist spirit means that she is future focused with an eye on achieving her potential. This is why 15years down the road, Leo has gone from an idea to a dream to a reality. Her temperament allows her to promote personal growth and to push herself beyond limits where most others would give up. A go-getter by nature she is the primary driver as well as creative mind behind Leo. For the readers who may have not heard yet, what is LEO the movie about? Leo Movie is a simple story about a Maasai boy who thinks he is a superhero, fails to be a superhero and discovers that he is a hero In a different way. It's a simple story of a child who is opened up to the possibilities of dreaming.



re you living YOUR dream?

Yes: since I discovered at the age of 17 years that my purpose was to make multi-cultural films that would entertain, educate and inspire the audience. I have been on the dream journey that has both arduous moments and memorable magical moments where everything works out. Film development can be unpredictable and full of unanticipated obstacles. I believe that the process of making an independent film is almost like trying to launch a rocket to the moon. The astronauts may not likely agree, but I am sure all the independent film makers agree J What’s your definition of success and how has your journey been like to where you are now? Well success is fulfilling your God given purpose. There's nothing that makes me sleep like knowing that I am passionate about my work and that I am changing lives. I honestly don’t think any dreamer should live for one break in the journey to achieving their dream: rather, I am convinced that every small achievement and set back is a step towards the dream. They say that achieving your dream is more of journey rather than a destination. It’s not one big hit that brings down a tree; it’s more like the little strokes that fell the 100ft tall giants that have grown over decades. So each step is like one stroke but ultimately, anything is possible if you believe, and don’t give up. Any words of advice or role models that have inspired you or changed your life? There are three things that I would love to leave with your readers: There's that gift that stirs your soul and stirs the souls of men: when you find it, you shine the most. Search it out, siscover it and use it well, knowing that you will give an account before God. Start small add up to big things, “A butterfly flapping its wings in South America can affect the weather in Central Park.” [Lorenz]. It’s amazing that a tiny little creature’s action could have a ripple effect thousands of miles away. This truth is embedded in many things and it makes life seem somewhat magical. My little, handwritten plays from childhood have created a pedestal for me to grow as a Film Director / Producer. My initial notion about this film has grown over many years to give me a deeper understanding of the truth that big things grow from little things. I read this expert from this book and it left me inspired Live Your Dreams by Les Brown; Be Persistent. “If you want a

thing bad enough, go out and fight for it; work day and night for it; give up your time, your peace and your sleep for it. If all that you dream and scheme is about it and life seems useless and worthless without it. If you gladly sweat for it and fret for it and plan for it and loose all your terror of opposition for it. If you simply go after that thing you want with all your capacity, strength, faith, hope and confidence, stern persistence and tenacity… if neither cold, famine…nor sickness, nor pain of body and brain can keep you way from that thing you want….. If dogged and grim you beseech and beset it…with the help of God you will get it.” What advice would you give women so that they can go out of their comfort zones and start making moves in their lives and society? Well, it's great being a woman especially in this century. There's so much that a woman can do. I think the trick is finding the balance between being a career woman and a home-maker; between the CEO in the corporate world and Honey or Mommy in the home. The balance between running multi-million dollar corporations and making multi-billion dollar decisions, and submitting when you get home and finding the time to distress and the skill leave work at work.



“ Don't be afraid of rejection, it’s just a word. You will be amazed how many doors can open when you won’t stop knocking.”


esame Mosweu is taking Bostwana media industry by storm; a true MOGUL in the making. She is not only a radio and TV presenter but an actress, lawyer and entrepreneur. Sesame has been on radio for 4 years and television since she was 19 years old. Her television career began when she presented a kids show called 'Bounce' that was aired on Botswana Television for 13 successful episodes. She then expanded to action with a role in the Number One Ladies Detective Agency, Soul City One Love Campaign; 'Second Chances' film and Re Bina Mmogo Season 3 (a local series that airs on BTV) and presented the Mascom 1 Million Pula Cash Give Away. Sesame currently presents The Fat Boy Challenge; a reality show that focuses on people who change their lives and lose weight for charity thats airs on e-Botswana (a sister station to e-TV) annually. The FatBoy Challenge happens to be the first reality show in Botswana and it is an initiative by Yarona FM.



hat does your work entail?

As a radio presenter, I host an evening show on Yarona FM, the biggest youth radio station called The Nightcap that is between 19h00-23h00. It is the second most popular show in Gaborone according to the National Broadcasting Board Radio Survey results conducted in 2010. My biggest project right now is putting together my legal show. I graduated in 2010 from the University of Botswana with a Law Degree and I can finally conceptualize a show that will merge my two passions; Media and the law. I am at the point of putting together sponsors for the show.

Are you living YOUR dream? Partly, I am because I do what I love. I enjoy working in the media industry so much that I would do it for free. If my radio and television jobs did not pay me I’d get a job to pay bills and still do them for free simply because I enjoy them so much. I am not where I want to be as yet, my dreams are HUGE, so big they scare me and they get bigger as I reach each goal I set for myself. I want a media empire and I will get there, without a doubt. I also want to act in a continental project; I am ready for that kind of responsibility and challenge. It’s been 6 years and I am ready. I would love to see my legal show finally on air but because of my perfectionist nature I understand everything has to be in order before it airs.

What’s your definition of success and how has your journey been like to where you are now? Success is a state of balance. Where all aspects of my life are in check and are at harmony with one another that is financially, spiritually, physically and emotionally. I wouldn't want to be a billionaire but be a bad mother. However at this point my career is a very pressing priority, I am 100% focused on it. My journey to this point in my career has been a learning process; I am always trying to learn something new. Even in difficult times I ask 'what can I learn from this?’ Once am confident in the lesson I have learnt, I move on. The number one lesson I have learnt is DO YOU! I focus entirely on me and what I would like to be, where I want to go. I have learnt that nothing is for free, if you want great things, your work ethic better be great, and your challenges will be great too, what matters is what you do in those times of challenges. Any words of advice or role models that have inspired you or changed your life? There are numerous people whom I have drawn inspiration from over the years; I love people who have turned nothing into something because they refused to give up even when the going got tough. Perseverance is an inspiring trait right up there with creativity, hard work, patience, vision and dignity. So people like Oprah, Steve Jobs, and Thomas Edison to name a few. Never let anyone tell you that you are incapable of doing something, it’s your dream, why would you let anyone kill it. What advice would you give women so that they can go out of their comfort zones and start making moves in their lives and society? I was made aware of a little difference between men and women, this of course has exceptions. That women are more afraid of rejection that women and for you to be the best at what you do, you must knock on doors, ask for more opportunities and milk what is at your disposal like your life depends on it. We women hate to be turned down, I would like to believe men do too its just that they can brush it off quicker and move on. Don't be afraid of rejection, it’s just a word. You will be amazed how many doors can open when you won’t stop knocking.



“ I'm really grateful for God's gift of the talent to write and sing and the guidance He's given through the various challenges that have come to make me a stronger and better person.



olumiDE, pronounced toe-LU-me-day, is a Nigerian - Canadian Singer & Songwriter. Her name is a fusion of er first name Tolu and last name Olumide. TolumiDE who currently lives in Washington, DC was born in Toronto, Canada, she attended Primary & High School in Lagos, Nigeria and later studied Fine Art in the University in Toronto, Canada.

Tolu has been singing and entertaining since primary school and decided to pursue music as a 2nd career before she graduated from university with a BFA/Graphic Design degree and worked for a couple of years. Last year she received a Channel O (South Africa) Music Video Award Nomination for Most Gifted RnB and she was also a Covenant Awards (Canada) Nominee for Urban/R&B/Soul Gospel Album of the Year and an ArtScape SOUND-OFF Competition Winner for Stage Headliner in Baltimore, USA.



hat does your work entail?

Constantly thinking about strategic ways to get my music to the masses. Still promoting 'My Love' music video on youtube and the debut full-length album available for purchase online Getting ready to shoot another video and also getting my band together for a Campus and Youth Event tour and upcoming bookings via my management team at

Are you living YOUR dream? Yes, being an Artist, Singer, Songwriter impacting & inspiring through art & music is awesome. My genre is unique fusion of RnB/Soul, Gospel & Afro-pop and I’m glad to be part of the new generation of Urban African Music and Entertainment.

What's your definition of success and how has your journey been like to where you are now? For me success is an extreme boost of happiness and fulfillment I feel when I’m able to accomplish a goal I set for myself. I get an extra boost when others are inspired as well and reviews are complimentary. The journey has certainly not been easy, requiring loads of hard work and money. I'm really grateful for God's gift of the talent to write and sing and the guidance He's given through the various challenges that have come to make me a stronger and better person. I've been blessed with an awesome family and network of people to work with as well. I'm so honored and grateful for the recognition I’ve received so far.

Any words of advice or role models that have inspired you or changed your life? Set goals, no goal is too small or too large to achieve. Work hard, read a lot about the industry, ask loads of questions, take classes if you need to (knowledge is Power). Save money or seek help from people who believe in you. Always strive to put out quality and think about elements that make you unique. My role models are people in my community that live trying to help and encourage others one way or another. Some artists that I listen to and inspire me with their voice and lyrics are Onyeka Owenu, Steve Wonder, Mary Mary, Anita Baker, Ledisi and Lira.

What advice would you give women so that they can go out of their comfort zones and start making moves in their lives and society? Ladies, always remember you are 'Shining stars brightly radiating beauty in your life" That's the first line of my current single "Specialty". We have all been wonderfully created by God and are blessed with unique talents. Just need to be confident with the gift and use it to the best of your ability with God's guidance.



“There is great strength and power in womanhood that lies deep within each one of us waiting to be awakened. Don't let anyone else define who you are or who you are going to be that power only lays

within you.


hile in grade school, most of the comments from her teachers on her report card noted ‘ very clever but too talkative” what they did not know was that Vickie was destined for greatness with her skill. Born and raised in Sierra Leone,

host Vickie Remoe, who is currently in Freetown, received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Haverford College in Pennsylvania, U.S.A. She says she is in state of transition getting ready to go to New York to start graduate school at Columbia University. The Twenty something global citizen considers herself as an innovative serial entrepreneur. She is the executive producer of the Vickie Remoe Show, country director for Canoe Magazine (an African Lifestyle Magazine published in Ghana) and on Saturday’s she Co-Hosts the Morning Show on Free Radio 95:7.

What does your work entail? To mark Sierra Leone's 50th Independence Anniversary we have just produced a DVD collection of our past season ‘African Adventure’ and ‘Ghana Film Industry’ both are now on sale and will be available in the US in August 2011. We are in production of a 4th season of the Vickie Remoe Show (VRS) which will include content from both Sierra Leone and neighboring Liberia in hopes to bridge and heal wounds across both borders. In 2010 the Vickie Remoe Show filmed and produced 14 shows that were broadcast on Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation TV over a period of 16 weeks. The show was recorded in 5 Countries in West Africa including: Senegal, Mali,Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone. This year I was also fortunate to meet and interview acting and singing talents such as John Dumelo, Jackie Appiah, Masjid Michel, Yvonne Nelson, Yvonne Okoro, Nneka, and Mo-Cheddah In December 2010 the Vickie Remoe Show in partnership with Airtel Sierra Leone provided video media coverage of the MTV Music Awards for Africa in Lagos, Nigeria

Are you living your dream? I am absolutely living my dream even though like most dream chasers, money is always an issue, I would rather be broke telling African stories than doing anything else.


What’s your definition of success and how has your journey been like to where you are now? Success for me is being able to live a purpose driven life in which every day is a journey towards personal and professional growth. While success is not about happiness it should definitely be about satisfaction. Hosting and producing my own independent TV show has been incredibly challenging in a country that up until 2years ago was primarily powered by generators. However, I felt that Sierra Leoneans after over a decade of war and strife needed to see positive media images of each other. Someone had to tell the story of post conflict Sierra Leone beyond the stereotypes of blood diamonds and child soldiers. As a people we are so much more than those images of conflict, and I try to share alternate stories of Sierra Leone and Africa on the Vickie Remoe Show and as a friend recently put it, ‘I am trying to find and showcase 'dignity in Poverty

Any words of advice or role models that have inspired you or changed your life?

I come from a family of strong independent African women so I never had to look outside my own family for inspiration. My grandmother who recently passed away had all the spunk, and wisdom a woman like me needed to get by in a modern world. From advice on men, to friendship, and work she always knew what to say and how to help me find understanding.

But I must also say that when I was based in the US, I found great comfort in the works of Chinua Achebe, Sembene Ousmane, Cheikh Hamidou Kane, Wole Soyinka, Fela Kuti and other African griots whose words empowered me in times when I felt that I could not. Living in the US, Africa is so negatively portrayed that we often forget the greatness that we have inherited. What advice would you give women so that they can go out of their comfort zones and start making moves in their lives and society? There is great strength and power in womanhood that lies deep within each one of us waiting to be awakened. Don't let anyone else define who you are or who you are going to be that power only lays within you. African women are naturally built to overcome. If all this abstract talk doesn’t do it for you, and you really want to get out of your comfort zone, I’d suggest going bald. It is the most liberating, experience I have ever had.



IMAGINE, DRIVE, GROW BY NONIE MAINGI “Ambition is the germ from which all growth of nobleness proceeds.” Oscar Wilde You began with a vision, one that hopefully transcended the wish to simply make money. That is ambitious, by that I mean your aim to do more for your business, your clients, employees, suppliers and the community in itself is one that pushes beyond the norm. It is an inspiring story that is pursued with a core focus on vision and a concentration on objectives to achieve your goal. You aim to be much more than just payments, returns, salaries and job perks. Your company is a lifestyle unto itself, unique, a great brand that is recognizable and understood in its entirety by the mere sight of your colors. According to Stephen Covey, we should always begin at the end. Imagine if you will exactly how you want your company to be like, down to the lounge, kitchen and lowest salary. Begin there and set up building blocks to achieve this. Drive the vision, manage the reality and strategize throughout. Tactics are for ‘biasharas’, yours is a movement. “Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simple passing time. Action with vision is making a positive difference” Joel Barker. Imagine that which you wish to achieve, really tap into the ‘childish’, creative side of you and go crazy. Then come back to reality, sane, focused and set on building it as you see it.

How to Make Your Dreams Come True By LYNN IRUNGU Do what you can, where you are and with what you have That is the best place to start. Our dreams may be big but making them come true starts small. Don’t wait until the day you get a lot of money to start that business, start now with what you have and build it from there. Don’t postpone your dreams time the ‘perfect’ time, there will never be a perfect time to do something, needs will always crop up, decide and go for it. Try, try and try again We are no guaranteed that the first time we go for our dreams that everything will fall in place, plans may fail, things that you did not expect may come up but don’t give up. It’s in the trial and error that you finally achieve what you want. Keep on trying till you make it. Like Albert once said, you never fail until you stop trying.: Dream Again Finally, if you cannot make one dream come true, it’s not the end; dream again. If you cannot attain a dream you have always desired get a new dream, wake up and make it happen. At the end of the day if you want to make your dreams a reality, you have to believe in yourself, it starts there.



THE WORD BY JOVONNA RODRIGUEZ The Word, edited by Marita Golden, takes you on a journey of transformation as Africa American writers discuss how the power of reading and writing changed their life. The book includes over ten interviews categorized into three parts: Reading Beyond Borders, Reading For The Mind, and Reading For The Soul.This book touches the heart of any reader or writer, but most importantly prompts reflection for someone who may have never valued the power of words in this way. In the introduction, Golden says, “Reading and writing are the twin pillars of modern civilization, endeavors that exists as a kind of oxygen necessary for the transformation of both individuals and societies.” She explains the intimacy of reading and writing, and the power within words, revelations, sharing stories, and embarking on new paths as a result of such affects on human communication. She then takes the reader on a personal account of how writing and the power of it all have affected her life. As you flip through the book, each interview is introduced with a picture and background on the writer, however, once you begin reading the interviews, you immediately feel like you are childhood friend recounting these visions, experiences, and emotions with them. It becomes very personal. You begin to question events in your life, when you first fell in love with a black character in a book, learned the power of journaling, or what your favorite books are. My favorites include: Ellis Cose, an editor for Newsweek, recounting his adolescents growing up in Chicago disinterested in English class until one teacher helped provoke his curiosity. She allowed him to write on the Chicago Riots, which resulted in a book in high school. It was a voice, a way for him to express himself like never before; it was the launch of his never-ending relationship with writing and journalism. Nathan McCall recalls how his experience in prison forced him to learn himself in ways he never had to before. He writes, “You get in touch with aloneness in a level that you never had to deal with before.”He goes on to explain how one day he grabbed Native Son by Ralph Ellison off the book cart, and since then his life changed. His reading sparked a personal connection with characters, as he explored a new world of African American literature and intellectualism resulting in his own writing. Having grown up in a Nigerian home, where reading was the norm, Chimamanda N. Adiche’s love for reading and writing had been cultivated since she was young. However, her earliest readings where influenced by colonialism until she read Chinua Achebe’s, Things Fall Apart and realized it was possible for people who looked like her to be in books. Reading helped bring the world into focus for Adiche, and send her on a quest to explore the truths behind her heritage and passion. The Word is an example of how words move off the page, stirring emotions, lifting up spirits, reliving experiences, and exploring revelations. Each interview captures your attention and magnetically pulls you in. The uniqueness of everyone’s personal relationship with reading and writing forces the reader to evaluate their own personal experiences. When was the first time you fell in love with a book? How did you feel afterwards? What does reading give you? Has it sparked a new turn in your life? How has it opened your view to the world or saved your life? When did you first value African-American literature? What books would you recommend to others? As you reflect on these questions, I invite you to explore The Word, and embark on the journeys of others. Marita Golden is an award-winning author of more than ten books of fiction and non-fiction. She is the co-founder and president emeritus of the Hurston/Wright Foundation located in Washington, DC. Her previous book, It’s All Love is a collection of pieces on African-American love.



A SANKOFA’S CHILD JEWELRY LINE “Where Strength is Beauty and Beauty is a Strength”


zingah Oniwosah is a multi-disciplinary artist I came across when I was surfing the net looking for inspiration and once I saw her jewelry line, I knew I had to pick her brain and find out more about it. I was greatly inspired by this massively talented musician who plays the piano and bass clarinet, poet, dancer, painter and the owner of Nzingah-Sankofa’s Child Jewelry Line. Born in Florida but with Haitian roots, Nzingah was named after the Angolan queen who defended her country from the Portuguese in the field through combat while still maintaining her feminine qualities. For years, Nzingah always wanted to make jewelry, but she never found the time to sit down and immerse herself into it. But she says that time is different when you’re self employed. During the summer of 2008, Nzinga took the summer off and that’s when she started making jewelry. By August she was shocked to see how much she had made and was encouraged to vend at a festival which turned out to be a major success and almost sold everything. The irony was that she grew up not wearing jewelry for religious beliefs and she mentions that up to date that her ears are not pierced. Nzingah mentions that her designs are inspired by everything, “I guess it just the reality of being an artist. To be more specific she says she is inspired by indigenous designs found globally partially those found in Africa and Asia. The beads Nzingah has been able to acquire definitely dictate designs. “Every piece I create is a new work of art for me and it’s what drives me, but instead of gracing walls like I do with my visual art it graces the body of women and men my new blank canvas.” She points out that the fact that she is a multi-disciplinary artist enables her to see the world through many lens and that undoubtedly influences her designs. Her creative process is very much the same across the line. “I literally will dream about a design, sitting somewhere and have an ah moment and sketch the piece. Once I create the creative high for that piece is moved onto something new. Hence the line being completely one of a kind. For me to duplicate a piece hurts-the passion, the drive, the love is lost and begins to feel like a burden. This for my client base is enduring in the sense that you know that no one else will have the same exact piece as you.” When asked how she juggles all her artistic passions, Nzingah says, “very carefully.” She believes that her passions interestingly feed one another. She may be to stifled in one area creatively and totally inspired in another. Nzingah has been self employed for the past 6 years and her ability to do multiple things has helped sustain her-financially, spiritually, and mentally. “I am doing the things I LOVE.”



AYANNA MOLINA No Longer A ‘Run Away’ Girl Ayanna Molina is a mother, activist, poet/author, artist, and teacher. Raised in the belly of New Orleans, she is a mix of soul, spoken word, and hip-hop. After years of life events, and find/loving herself, she decided to share her story with others in her first book Run Away Girl. She leads a movement of empowerment, self-reflection, and love for women, finishing this year with her Master’s in Counseling. Ayanna Molina is dedicated to helping others recognize the beauty within. Our writer JoVonna Rodriguez got a chance to speak to Ayanna also known as Mama Fiyah her love of poetry, her message and her movement. JoVonna Rodriguez: Describe your philosophy on life or purpose in life in a few sentences. Who you are is great enough (if you truly are Who You Are!). Ayanna Molina: I remember a time when I was scared to be what was under the mask I wore. What would people think if they knew? Then I woke up and found the secret to living a beautiful life is to have NO FEAR! Live your dreams in the full light of day, because you are always worthy, always loved, and always great enough. JR: When did you first fall in love with poetry (writing, words, spoken word)? AM: I remember being 5 years old making up songs and singing them for my family. My Mama would say,“Girl, you’re good!” By 12, I was a poetry junkie, reading (and writing) as much poetry I could get my hands on. From Walt Whitman to Nikki Giovanni, I read all of the greats. By 7th grade, my poetry was featured in my Jr. High school literary magazine. I enjoyed writing poetry because it came naturally and it helped me express the tumultuous times I was having in my life at the time. The first time I spit my poetry on the mic I was transformed instantly to a spoken word artist. If at 12, I was a poetry junkie, at 22 I became a microphone fiend! When people (especially women) started coming up to me after I hit the mic saying things like “Thank you for having the courage to say that.” and “Your stuff really touched me tonight.” I knew poetry and spoken word were more than just a hobby. It is a gift. JR: How has your style evolved over the years? What message do you aim to convey to your readers/ listeners? AM: Wow.My style has really changed a lot. Back in the day (Jr. high/ high school) my poetry was a tool to express the sadness, loneliness and drama that had plagued my life. Without poetry as this sacred tool, I would have drowned in the mess. As I began seeking out help through counseling, I began to use poetry to heal instead of just wallow in it. My voice started changing from a “broken girl” voice, to a “healing woman” voice.



hrough having the courage to go back (Sankofa: Age 28) into my past and face the harrowing parts as well as forgiving myself of past mistakes, I became empowered. My voice shifted here from healing to powerful! My power had been restored, and my voice distinctively changed. I would no longer dwell on past hurt or past love. My focus was finding the love for myself, the missing piece of the puzzle for all those years. This is where Run Away Girl comes from. I was no longer a “Run Away” girl, held captive to my decisions and guilt of my past. By 30, I began writing uplifting and empowering poetry. My voice was now one of a teacher. I would write from a place of, “This is where I been, so I know”. Women, especially young women, were drawn to my words. Now that I’m older, wiser and more resolved, I have taken another leap. My voice has transformed into a hip hop emcee. I have always loved real hip-hop, especially when I heard a strong woman’s voice (Sistah Souljah, Lady of Rage). Since my poetry has always rhymed and I always had a beat in my mind while writing it, I feel it is a natural progression for me. I incorporate my song writing capabilities with the heart of poetry, the depth of spoken word, and the energy of hip-hop! As a hip-hop lover it is an honor and a challenge! Hip-hop is an unforgiving genre of art where confidence, skill, and passion rule. And I’m working on it! I think I bring a unique voice to the current state of hip-hop. I call it “Grown Woman Hip Hop”. I’m sick of hearing from the sexually objectified, “vampy yet hard” voice of a female emcee (Lil Kim/Nikki Minaj). It’s been done, over and over again (Foxy Brown/Trina). Women are intelligent, brilliant and strong! Women are mothers, lovers and fighters. I have no desire to go “mainstream”. My desire is to teach from the hard lessons I’ve learned and to empower whoever will listen to empower themselves. Hip-hop is a powerful tool! I’m still working and cultivating this new aspect of my style. But really at its core, my voice is the same, just on a new journey. JR:How are you or your program, True Love Movement, giving back to the community? AM: When I started healing, I began looking at the women around me. My sistahs were suffering (to one extent or another) with the same personal issues I had been facing. Issues like feeling abandoned by missing fathers, suffering sexual abuse or rape, being in unhealthy and abusive relationships, and acting out through promiscuity, having multiple abortions and multiple children for different (missing) fathers, are plaguing our women. Whatever plagues our women plagues our children because she is her child’s first teacher. In an effort to help the community truly deal with these issues, I developed True Love Movement, a grassroots organization. True Love Movement’s mission is to empower women of color to achieve optimal health and well-being through the utilization of creative arts and media to promote selfawareness and self-love. My poetry/ spoken word/music/ art are ALL dedicated to this mission. After hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, I decided to go back to school for Community Counseling in an effort to assist women and their children in this healing process. I graduate in May 2011 and plan to continue teaching workshops, doing speaking engagements, as well as individual and group counseling for women and youth. I’ll go to prison camps, half way houses, group homes, community centers, churches, schools, homes, anywhere I am needed. I’m all about the holistic healing of the community: mind, body and spirit! ALL my work and art reflect this.





ut your dancing shoes on and get ready to celebrate health. A recent study by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute found that dancing lowers your risk of heart disease, decrease blood pressure, and helps manage your weight. Even if you have two left feet you can still profit from a night on the town. Studies reveal that dancing can actually burn more calories per hour than riding a bike or swimming and with the summer months approaching this is a great relief. Sun exposure is recommended, as it provides the body with a natural dose of Vitamin D, however large amounts can be harmful and give way to skin disorders. Dancing is the perfect solution to beating the sunrays and still getting the swimsuit body you’ve been working on all year. How exactly does dancing affect your body? Dancing helps work muscles that you rarely use and in the process helps strengthen the bones in your legs and hips. Though muscle tone and definition are at the core of dancing, the health benefits extend from your toes to your head. A 2004 study in the Heart and Lung Journal concluded that the combination of music and exercise stimulates and increases cognitive function. If you are a music lover then let the tunes flow. According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy is ideal for healing brain injuries and physical or developmental disabilities. Music therapy and dance in particular is also favorable for pregnant women and the elderly struggling with Alzheimer’s or dementia as it activates parts of the brain that are not usually aroused. Schedule a night out instead of the morning workout and do your body and mind a favor. Here’s a breakdown of the health benefits of some popular dances, but remember, any type of dancing is better than no dancing. Belly Dancing • Improved posture and muscle toning • Helps prevent lower back problems • Tones and firms arm and shoulders • Help prepare women for childbirth Ballroom Dancing • Develops the circulatory system • Increases flexibility and balance • Strengthens and tones legs and body • Relieves stress Salsa Dancing • Builds endurance and stamina • Helps you release toxins via sweating • May help lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels • Helps with weight loss Dancing Off Those Calories How many calories will you burn while dancing? Here's a range of some of the most popular varieties, based on a 150pound person, per hour: • Swing dancing: 235 calories/hour • Ballroom dancing: 265 • Square dancing: 280 • Ballet: 300 • Belly dancing: 380 • Salsa dancing: 420+ • Aerobic dancing: 540+ Make your feet happy; DANCE!





don’t know about you but summer is one of my favourite times of the year, well...apart from Christmas that is! Not only do you get your daily dose of Vitamin D, but the sun has an amazing ability to bring out the summer goddess in me. There is a new spring in my step and I instantly feel compelled to experiment with bold lipstick, bright eye shadows and vivid colours. It’s as if my alter ego is unleashed and the shy woman who normally sticks to the same old colours and routine, suddenly wants to stop traffic and add a little sex appeal to her look.

What I enjoy most about summer are the long summer evenings, BBQ’s with family and summer parties with friends. Weather permitting, (because realistically this is Britain after all) summer is the perfect excuse to try out a new look, but also to celebrate looking and feeling gorgeous. Luckily for us ladies who are blessed with a darker skin tone, it means we are able to pull off bright colours without looking like we just stepped out of clown school. Here are two of my favourite summer trends, hot off the press for 2011. So why not try ones of these great looks at that BBQ you’ve been invited to, or on that hot date you have lined up and reveal your inner goddess…go on, you know you want to! The statement lip Make a statement that says ‘look at me now’ and try a bold colour on the lips. This look was all over the catwalks from Fendi to Gucci and is a sure fire hit on darker skin tones. Choose colours such as coral, orange and hot pink to have maximum impact and attract attention to your lip area. Keep the rest of your makeup minimal with just foundation and black mascara on the lashes. Make sure your lips are well exfoliated and moisturised and use a primer to prep the lips before applying the lipstick with a lip brush for precision.

So take a Look at me now… Gold and bronze are on trend this season especially in metallic eye shadow. The richness of these colours looks amazing on the eyes and really gives you that Wow factor for that special evening event. You can either use one shade by itself, or two shades which compliment each other. Again the emphasis is on the eyes, so keep the rest of your makeup simple. Apply a primer to the eyelids first, so that the eye shadow is able to stay on for longer. Then apply the eye shadow to the lids without going above the crease line. Finish with lashings of black mascara on the lashes and bronzer to the areas of the face that the sun will hit, such as the cheekbones.

Finally celebrate being beautiful There are many looks on trend this season and some are bolder and more daring than the ones I have mentioned, but confidence is key. What I Love most about make-up is the fact that it is a form of self expression and a way of celebrating the way you look and feel. I love that feeling you get when you try out a new look and you instantly feel lifted, or when you wear your favourite lipstick and your confidence is boosted. What I really wanted to share with you is the way that we as females can utilise make-up to boost confidence, but most importantly to celebrate being fun, fearless females.




umou Sanogo was born in Mali but at the age of 2 she moved with her parents to Senegal then back to Mali in 1996 and finally to Montreal in 2003. Since then, she graduated with a degree in International business and she is now working full time for a ceramic tiles importation company. For fun, this fashionista enjoys blogging, going to the movies, discovering new gourmet restaurants throughout the city (especially anything Italian or French inspired) and of course, trying out (finding out/exploring) new places to shop. Describe your signature style I don’t know if you could quite qualify it as a signature style but it’s definitely what I enjoy wearing the most and that would be dark skinny jeans, with sky high heels, that I always pair with a Statement blazer or leather jacket, that is preferably really fitted with strong/structured shoulders. That way, whether it’s for a date night or a nice outing with friends, I feel like I can be both comfortable and effortlessly stylish. What's different about your style? I guess a certain duality that invariably goes with my personality. Because even though I like everything girly, chic and Elegant, I’m also all for the rocker/biker chick look.I absolutely adore motorcycle jackets, wearing “all black everything”, short edgy haircuts and tattoos!So despite the fact that I’ve been more color oriented in my looks recently, in preparation for the sunny days ahead, I’m definitely looking forward to showing off my «Rocker Chic» side in the future. I guess you could also say that I have a never ending need to always switch hairstyles. I get bored really really easily and I also have an obsession for bold colored lipsticks. How did you get interested in fashion? It started when I was a kid; my mother used to dress me like a little doll back then; puffy dresses, white socks and everything, but by doing so, she gave me the inspiration to always be mindful of how I put my clothes together. She is my true inspiration and the person who started it all for me, since then, I’ve always loved playing dress up and expressing myself through my clothes! I felt like it was the only thing I had as I was an extremely shy kid. Through the years, fashion and style definitely helped me come out of my shell. I mean fashion is great but defining and developing your own sense of style is what’s interesting to me and also exciting about the whole thing. It’s always fascinating to see how people’s style choices throughout the years mirror the changes in their inner self, that’s what happened for me at least, so, after years of insecurities, awkward fashion phases and self-defining, I can safely say that today I’m happy with what I came up with and I’m very much looking forward to see what the future will bring lots and lots of pairs of Louboutin hopefully.


Where do you draw your fashion inspiration from? On a daily basis, pretty much like everyone else mostly magazines and celebrities,yes, I’m not afraid to admit it ,but also people I see on the street who might be wearing something interesting, in a different or original way.Most of the time though, I like challenging myself to put together an outfit in order to reflect my mood or a certain idea that I’d like to convey,that’s the fun part,creating something and wearing it like no one else could have. What's your favourite accessory? Bags; I love them in all shapes, colors, textures and sizes! They’re so much fun, so handy and on top of all, soooo pretty!!! What’s your perfect everyday shoe? Ballerinas; I can’t be wearing heels everyday so ballerinas are definitely a comfortable , yet oh -so -chic option for me not to kill my feet, and I guess they also remind me of the shoes my mom used to force me to wear when I was a child, now I see why she liked them so much! What fashion trend do you think is overrated? Fur; It’s just not my thing, I don’t mind other people wearing it, I can even find it nice but I don’t know what all the fuss is about,I guess it’s my African side showing , we’re not used to those things and even though I’ve been living in Canada for almost 8 years I still don’t get it. What do you consider as fashion no-no's? Mixing two different animal prints together; zebra & leopard for example,. that's just bad, bad, bad! What is the best way of looking sexy without going over board? Wearing a nice high-waisted pencil skirt. It’s not too revealing yet sooo feminine. What is your best fashion advice to every woman? Know and love your body. It may sound cliché but when picking up clothes, it’ll be easier for you to know what you should look for, instead of being completely lost. Good fitted clothes really can change everything, so take the time to know yourself and most of all, try to be confident!! It may be hard because as women we always have those insecurities filled days but once you stop worrying so much about what people might think or say, trust me, it feel so much better !


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

Millions discover their favorite reads on issuu every month.

Give your content the digital home it deserves. Get it to any device in seconds.