Afroelle Magazine April Issue (2016)

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APRIL Issue 2016

Celebrating Women of African Heritage


Saycon Sengbloh Shining Star



Overcoming Obstacles: 3

Women Share their Empowering Stories MOTHER’S DAY GIFT GUIDE Fabienne Dervain Thais Diarra Hamamat Montia



Years of Celebrating women of African Heritage CLICK HERE

To read our past issues

Afroelle Magazine is a monthly digital publication celebrating and empowering women of African heritage in Africa and the Diaspora. FOUNDER & EDITOR

Patricia Miswa PUBLISHER



© Phillis Kwentoh 2011

Afroelle Magazine is published by Afroelle Media copyright © 2016 All rights reserved.



Patricia M.

Brenda I.




Los Angeles




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APRIL ISSUE 13 Motherâ€&#x;s Day Gift Guide 14 Thais Diarra: The Swiss Afro Soultress With A Heart For Africa

18 Princess Halima and the Kingdom of Affia 20 Hamamat Montia 22 Fabienne Dervain 26 Focus on Saycon Sengbloh 33 Special Feature; Overcoming Obstacles Diana Washe, Dami Olawaiye - Adewole, Karissa Clarke


Overcoming Obstacles:

3 Women Share their Empowering Stories Pg. 33


50 20


34 40



elcome to our April Issue! This issue is special to us because we‟ve just launched our crowdfunding campaign on Freudon, a funding platform for millennial entrepreneurs and artists.

Its been an amazing 6 years (in June) working on this magazine and we thank you for your support. As a team we‟ve poured a lot into Afroelle ; we‟ve featured 1000 + women and grown a huge community, but we feel like we‟ve just been scratching the surface. When I started Afroelle, my greatest fear was that we‟d run out of stories to tell but that‟s never happened because there are so many women making moves around the world. Right now my greatest fear is that we‟ll run out of resources to sustain the magazine. From the beginning, we‟ve been operating with limited resources but with a whole lot of passion, but to be honest, no matter how much we enjoy doing this, its not enough to sustain the magazine. We would love to expand and reach our full potential, our desire is to go beyond the computer screens to covering stories on the ground. We‟d also love to compensate every creative on our team for their time and efforts, have an interactive website, buy basic equipment for coverage , organize empowering events for our readers and so much more. The success of this campaign will help us achieve these goals. But we can‟t do it alone, we need your help. Please take a moment to read about our campaign HERE and consider contributing any amount. If you can't pledge money towards our goal you can help us by getting the word out there, this will help us a great deal! [ Click here to Tweet ] Back to the „ISSUE‟ at hand, on the cover of this issue is Broadway star, actress & singer, Saycon Sengbloh who is currently in Danai Gurira's Broadway run of ECLIPSED, she talks to us about her special connection to the play, what it‟s been like working with an all-female cast and everything about her role as Helena a.k.a „Wife #1‟. In our Special Feature, ‟Overcoming Obstacles‟, we share incredible stories of three women; accessories designer Diana Washe, CEO of L.O.G Cosmetics, Dami Olawaiye Adewole and 23 year old artist, Karissa Clarke. From losing a spouse to beating cancer, their stories of strength, courage & wisdom will encourage and inspire you. We hope you enjoy this issue. Till next time, I leave you with the words of Helen Keller, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." Thanks for reading!

Founder and EIC

Thais Diarra

The Swiss Afro Soultress With A Heart For Africa Written by BRENDAH IBARAH | Photography by LIA WAGNER

Born in Switzerland to a Swiss mother and a Malian Senegalese father, Thais Diarra struggled with her identity as a mixed race child. When she finally got in touch with her African roots at the age of twenty, Diarra felt she had found the missing pieces to the puzzle. She has been living between Switzerland and Mali and Senegal ever since. Her second album „Danayaâ€&#x; was released in November last year. Her long term affair with music began when Thais was a child. Her father played bass and her mother is a deep lover of soul and reggae music and so she was constantly surrounded by music. She also tried out instruments like the guitar and piano but it's in the school choir that her vocals were noticed. Later on she became a member of a small soul-rap beat box band with a friend.

However, it was while doing back up gigs in Senegal, when she was discovered by Fred Hirschy an afro producer also from Switzerland. They worked on several music projects together including her debut album 'Metisse'. Thais describes her music as a fusion of Soul, Reggae, Hip Hop and West African traditional music. Some of her influences include Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, Bob Marley, Nneka and African greats like Salif Keita and Yousou N'Dour, who she dreams of working with someday. She hopes to use her music to open minds, build bridges between Africa and the rest of the world and help fight against prejudice. She also uses her music to inspire African women, both in Africa and the Diaspora to embrace their heritage, love

themselves and take control of their own lives. This was the inspiration behind the „Metisseâ€&#x; album which is centered more on themes of self discovery, identity and growing up in the Diaspora.' Danaya on the other hand is about feminism and celebrating African women at home and in the Diaspora. Unlike 'Metisse' which was an acoustic album, it is more hip hop and reggae, fused with percussions and brass. The album is also part of the singer's 'Women, African and Diaspora' project that is targeted towards working women in various expressions of art and business. It aims to recognize and support African women living in the Diaspora in their different fields. In the long run, the singer wants to work with different women's projects to promote education in Africa.

On her recently concluded tour in West Africa, Thais described it as 'feeling at home' and plans on moving to settle in Senegal which she refers to as her first love. Diarra has also previously toured in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. She hopes to eventually tour all over Africa and the world. Through her travels, she has met and connected with various artists, some of whom she will be working with on different projects. With her music and women's projects, Thais Diarra is on a mission to empower the African woman and change the way the world view Africa as a continent. 'I really believe in Africa's future. There's so much to do and the time is now.'

Visit her website to listen to her music

Princess Halima and the Kingdom of Affia Exposing young readers to the many beautiful and eclectic cultures, landscapes and beauty of the African continent Lucy Fye and her daughters-- Anna, YaAdam and Jainaba Fye are from the African countries of Tanzania and Gambia. They are the authors of the children's book Princess Halima and the Kingdom of Affia. Led by their mother Lucy Fye, a two time Harvard University graduate and World Bank Economist, it‟s no surprise that her daughters are following in her footsteps. Anna is an impressive wife, a fiery business woman and mother of 2 lively children. She received her Master‟s Degree in Public Policy and Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from New England College. YaAdam is the president and co-founder of Mhina Tumaini Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to improve the well-being of at-risk youth. She also works full time while running her non-profit. She received her Master‟s Degree in Management from New England College and her Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy from the University of Hartford. The youngest, Jainaba, recently graduated from Spelman College with an undergraduate Degree in Economics and Gender Studies and is currently studying for her LSATs with plans to go to law school. She is also a mother of an energetic toddler and wife of a successful and supportive businessman. This dynamic mother and daughter team is incredibly creative and passionate. There is no question that this high-powered and accomplished group of women, was able to have a meeting of minds and author a majestic children‟s book that is geared to a population of young girls of color, that are often underrepresented. The Princess Halima project was inspired by the birth of the first baby (grandchild) in the family, Halima Bah. Halima is of Guinean, Gambian, Tanzanian descent. - With such a rich combination of African culture and history, they thought the best way to educate Halima

about her many homelands was to start the series of books through which she will get to not only discover her heritage, but also learn about the African continent as a whole. The Adventures of Princess Halima is a series of tales that will excite, amaze and educate the reader about the different countries in Africa while unlocking the wonders, mysteries and secrets of each nation through Princess Halima's adventures. Princess Halima and the Kingdom of Affia is a riveting tale that invites young readers to follow Princess Halima as she discovers the dark secrets hidden in the enchanted valley that divides the rivaling kingdoms of Affia and Sahelia in ancient Western Africa. Since publishing the book, The Fyes have received an overwhelming response from the African diaspora in the US, England, Germany as well as Sweden. They have also received huge support from their local communities. “We feel encouraged to keep on writing the Princess Halima Series and continue to expose young readers to the many beautiful and eclectic cultures, landscapes and beauty of the African continent.” “We want to bring Africa to the forefront and educate our readers that Africa is a continent full of rich history, and not the misconceived idea that Africa is a country. We want our readers to find an escape into Africa's vast richness and history while following Princess Halima in all her adventures. And most importantly, we want to empower young minds with knowledge that will peak their interest to one-day jump on a plane and make the journey to Ghana, or Nigeria or any country in Africa!” Their next book will be out December 2016 and Princess Halima will be visiting the beautiful country of Tanzania.

Purchase a copy of Princess Halima and the Kingdom of Affia from and/or

Hamamat Montia On Improving literacy and develop reading culture in Ghana and Africa at large.

Hamamat Montia, founder of Africa Eats Now, a non profit organization that works to feed malnourished children, has launched a childrenâ€&#x;s book series, Zuzu & Sasa, with the hope to improve literacy and develop reading culture; promote confidence amongst African children and grant easier access to books for children. The 24 book series highlights the everyday adventures of two Ghanaian sisters, Zuzu and Sasa. The stories are a collection of experiences shared and narrated by the girls. Their journey offers lessons, fun and exposure as they embark on travels across the African continent with their mother, who is a philanthropist and makes an impact through her work. Each destination teaches them something new about the 54 countries on the African continent. Through each country, Hamamat plans to interact with locals and narrate their experiences in the books.

Zuzu & Sasaâ€&#x;s adventures aim to educate children and parents about the African continent, promote reading comprehension and encourage cultural understanding and for children 0-7. Hamamat wanted to keep the series fun while offerings multiple lessons for the children to learn. She hopes that it will help the children to think big, and to encourage diversity and creative understanding of their environment. The international supermodel and philanthropist is passionate about education for young children. She is committed to raising future leaders who are well read and confident. To that end, Montia is also developing a project to build libraries around Ghana to grant children easy access to books. “We would like the book to grow to a point where it can support our longterm goal of building a network of libraries throughout the country and especially in the northern parts of Ghanaâ€? Hamamat aims to get the Zuzu & Sasa to schools. For publishers and those interested in her mission you can get in touch with her through

Fabienne Dervain

Bringing the Coffee Culture to Ivory Coast Written by Elaine Pirozzi

s ubiquitous as coffee shops may be in the United States, Fabienne Dervain is the owner of what she says is the first coffee shop in all of Ivory Coast. Instant coffee is extremely popular in that country, while consumption of good quality coffee is relatively low, so it‟s hardly surprising that coffee shops are rare. But Dervain has plans to change all that, one coffee shop at a time.


spent time in the United States and the UK. It was while she was working on her Master‟s in International Management at Kings College London that she first heard that her mother was closing Couleur Café, the coffee shop she had owned for nearly 12 years.

Named after the Serge Gainsbourg song of the same name, Couleur Café was originally opened by Dervain‟s mother in 2000. Unfortunately, in 2012, after Dervain was born in Abidjan, Ivory successive political crises Coast, and lived there until she weakened the business climate in was 13 years old. Because of the Abidjan, her mother was forced to political tensions and unrest in shutter the business. But the the country at that time, her younger Dervain had always loved parents decided to send her to Couleur Café, and didn‟t want to boarding school in France, and see it close for good. “I thought – I over the next 11 years she also knew – that this coffee shop had

real potential. So I made the decision to return to Abidjan and take up the challenge of giving the café a second life. It was an opportunity I couldn‟t pass up.” Asked why she believed that she would be able to make the coffee shop a success, she replies, “As I had lived in Europe and the US for many years, I had been exposed to the coffee culture. And I‟ve always been passionate about the food industry and cooking so I saw untapped opportunities.” And so she began making the changes that she believed were necessary to ensure her new business‟s success. “I worked with my sister, who‟s an interior designer, to redecorate the cafe and create a charming and cozy atmosphere. I also changed the menu, adding more beverages and signature sandwiches.” Dervain began the reincarnation of Couleur Café with $60,500, made up primarily of personal savings and some contributions from family members. In addition to refurbishing the interior

of the café, the money also allowed her to purchase the necessary equipment. The new Couleur Café officially opened on August 28, 2013. “Looking back, that day was a mixture of adrenaline, stress, and excitement. It was a quite a jump in my professional life. Not only did I have my first real job, but I was my own boss.” Dervain was just 24 years old at the time and knew she had taken on a lot for someone so young. “I have always wanted to be

“I definitely think I can be a role model to women. More and more young women in Côte d‟Ivoire are daring to start a business. The new generation of women is more confident!”

an entrepreneur,” she says, “but I never imagined I would be one so early.” Unfortunately, being young is not her only challenge. “This can be a very chauvinistic country, and often men minimize a woman‟s skills. People tend not to respect you, not to take you seriously. They think you‟re an amateur.” Still, Dervain refuses to allow gender and age discrimination to hold her back. In fact, she hopes her presence will inspire other females to go into business. “I definitely

think I can be a role model to women. More and more young women in Côte d‟Ivoire are daring to start a business. The new generation of women is more confident!” Although it hasn‟t been easy and she did not meet her financial projections in the first year, the shop has grown. When Dervain started, she had just one employee; she now has six. At this point, all of the profits she makes go directly back into the store, but that hasn‟t dampened her enthusiasm for expansion. “I have a big vision for the next five years. I would like to be the

Starbucks of Africa.” And knowing that Starbucks is, in fact, opening its flagship store on the continent, located in South Africa, sometime in early 2016, does not concern her. “The fact that Starbucks is opening shows there‟s a real market on the continent. And Starbucks will help with the democratization of the coffee shop industry. It can only be helpful for my business, because Couleur Café offers a different experience.” Moreover, expansion is not her only goal. “I aim to make my loved ones and my country proud. I dared to start my business; I‟m here, I‟m staying, and I‟m growing.” Visit to find out more about Couleur Cafe

This article originally appeared on She Inspires Her, a website dedicated to story-telling the lives and lessons of female entrepreneurs in emerging markets. By sharing relatable stories of women who have achieved a certain degree of success, we hope to offer role models and lessons for others. We want readers to understand these entrepreneurs‟ motivations, the barriers they face, the challenges they have overcome, and the plans they have for the future. Our hope is to paint a picture of what differentiates women who go for growth from those who stay small. We also aim to change people‟s perceptions (especially in the banking and investment community) of women entrepreneurs in emerging markets and show they possess the abilities, traits and determination to be successful and sustainable business owners. You can follow She Inspires Her on Instagram (she_inspires_her), Facebook and Twitter (@sheinspiresher).


Shining Star

Broadway star, actress, singer, songwriter, recording artist, Saycon Sengbloh is a shining star that has made the Broadway stage and New York City her home! She is currently in Danai Gurira's Broadway run of ECLIPSED, a play that tells the story of five extraordinary women brought together during the Liberian civil war. Her character, Helena, is "Wife #1" of the commanding officer who abducted the women who are now confined to his compound. Within an ensemble that includes three other "wives" (one, a runaway rebel with a penchant for machine guns and knock-off designer duds) and a female peace warrior, she is the den mother-like force of nature. Saycon recently played Rita Marley in MARLEY at Baltimore Centerstage and was the leading lady of the Tupac musical, Holler If Ya Hear Me. Saycon was also featured in the Original Cast of the hottest and only Afro-beat musical “Fela!” on Broadway. As a woman of both American and Liberian heritage, the Atlanta native shares with us about Eclipsed and why she considers the Off-Broadway production „moving and very personal.‟

© Phillis Kwentoh


My Liberian heritage gave me a special empathy for these characters but I think that as a woman I can relate to these women regardless of my ethnicity these women that our Eclipsed characters represent deserve love and protection.

Š Phillis Kwentoh

Tell us a little bit about where you grew up and how it was like.


I had a very genuine, audition process for this play. The script came in through my agency I read the first few pages and I I grew up in the American south in immediately was excited about the Atlanta Georgia and started project. I had never read a play that performing theater at a young age. Having an American mother spending featured Liberian characters before. My mother is American and my time with my American family and dad was from Liberia so that also spending time with my Liberian absolutely intrigued me the family has had a profound effect on opportunity to play Liberian my understanding and compassion woman made me so excited. I will for people and their differences and never forget that time of what makes them unique. auditioning because on a personal Back in the day I wanted to be a pop level I was having a very difficult star like Janet Jackson or Sade, my two all-time favorite singers, but once time in my life, yet having the most I saw Prince in Purple Rain I wanted to awesome opportunity in my career for me I had to fight through do both movies and music! I was a part of a youth theater group called a personal issues to keep my focus on my work. YEA. Also known as the Freddie Hendricks Youth Ensemble of Atlanta! My mentor Freddie Hendricks was How did you prepare for quite influential in my zest for your role ? performance.

What inspired you to pursue acting? I have always enjoyed film, movies, soap operas. Acting has always been in my blood . All the drama, all the pomp and circumstance, the glamour of it all has been a part of my style of communication for as long as I can remember.

How did you come about the opportunity to play Helena in

My Liberian heritage gave a special empathy for these characters but I think that as a woman I can relate to these women regardless of my ethnicity these women that our Eclipsed characters represent deserve love and protection. In order to prepare for this play we did a lot of research. We had access to documentaries and books that focused on the atrocities of the Liberian Civil War. I also spoke with my mentor Kona and friends and family members

mattress. But I need only remember there are women living in a war zone without a comfortable couch, all What is the greatest challenge around the world and I only do it for a few hours a day. you’ve experienced in your who had direct contact with people before and after the war.

this role as Helana, if any?

The role of Wife #1 is emotionally and physically taxing. This play is very hands on and the physicality of a woman who does most of her work on the floor or sitting on a small box is very different than my New York lifestyle of sofa and

What do you love about Helena? I love that she is a hard-working woman I love how she's not afraid to put her hands in the dirt or to pound Fufu, and she is ready to wash clothes with her hands. I am

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus-The Public Theater

Playing Rita Marley was emotionally taxing and musically thrilling the research about their lives together taught me so much about relationships and the human capacity for love. I would say one of my How has it been working with hardest roles to date has been an all-female cast? Elphaba in Wicked, singing, acting, It's absolutely beautiful working with dancing and running around in a this fabulous cast of women, there's a dress that seems like a big black wedding gown can be taxing! shorthand that we speak with things we have in common that we don't What has been by far your best have to overly explain. But I do role to date and why? sometimes miss having men in my cast, in my movie, Double Play, there Wife #1 in Eclipsed is pretty amazing, were men from several different that character has a nice arc and countries on the set with all sorts of growth . But Nora Fiel, the role i ideals and ways of being , that was played in my upcoming film Double really cool too. I love people! Play is some of my best work ever! I get to be a sexy strong mother and an What do you think will island woman full of mystery I love captivate people about that! Eclipsed? surprisingly practical in that same way I think people don't expect that out of me because I can be quite glamorous.

I think people will be surprised at how much beauty can be found in just watching a group of women eating, breathing, talking within their day-to-day lives, our humanity will captivate people.

You recently played Rita Marley in MARLEY and was the leading lady of the Tupac musical, Holler If Ya Hear Me and taken up other roles before Eclipsed, what’s the hardest role you’ve played and why?

Apart from acting you also sing, what would you do if you couldn’t sing or act? I've been trying to figure that out recently because I definitely feel the need to have another skillset, i'm pretty good at doing hair. I've become very good at organizing lately and home decor as well. But I think something to do with event planning can be in my future!

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

3 Women Share their Empowering Stories of



Accessories designer, Diana Washe was 29 when she lost her husband and became a single mother, CEO of L.O.G Cosmetics, Dami Olawaiye - Adewole was diagnosed with endometriosis and after an experience of being asked to leave a job she was passionate about, she knew it had had enough and 23 year old, Karissa Clarke is beating cancer with art! These women have different stories but they have one thing in common, they are overcoming their obstacles with courage & strength.

COMPILED BY Patricia Miswa

On Rising Again

Diana Washe

knows what it means to overcome obstacles. At the age 29, she lost her husband and became a single parent. The day before her husband died she lost her job. Through this experience she birthed her accessories business, Shaina (shona), which directly translates to shine, a word that she uses to encourage anyone to shine their light. Based in Johannesburg, the final year Communication Science student and a personal assistant in an Advertising Agency, Diana shares her story on how sheâ€&#x;s found her strength to rise again.

From the day we buried him, I became a zombie, I would spend days without bathing, and my movements would be to the kitchen and bathroom then back to bed. I didn‟t bother to open the curtains in my bedroom, all I did was sleep, That cry and eat. incident Three months happened later I gave birth on a to a healthy boy. Saturday As if the and the day problems I before my already had in boss had my life were not just told me enough, my she was not newborn son, going to barely two renew my I was diagnosed with months old, had contract. So depression. I was put on an extreme case in a space severe of two days anti-depressants for a of eczema. We I had month and that was my made a lot of suffered trips to different wake up call. major losses doctor‟s and it‟s in my life. on one of those To say I was trips that when I was diagnosed shattered is an with depression. understatement, up until this I was put on anti-depressants for day I do not know why it a month and that was my wake happened. up call. I told myself that I cannot In July 2014 my husband, Esau passed away. He died at 34, someone who had his life in order, now I was left alone to pick up all the pieces and raise our kids as a single parent.

My business was born out of depression.

rely on pills for my happiness. My business was born out of depression. Since I was jobless, my counselor advised me to look for a sport that I can engage in so I can be able to leave the house and the children. But I didn‟t want to meet people as I always felt people were seeing me as "that widow". I‟ve always been an avid magazine reader, so after going through some of my back copies I came across a shoe covered in African print, I went on YouTube saw a video tutorial on how to create

something similar. It‟s from there that I developed a love for print. I decided to make an Ankara print pumps and posted it on Facebook. I received a lot of positive reviews, so I made the next piece. The rest is history. I started an fashion brand called Shaina for African inspired accessories, bags, belts, journals. As an accessories junkie, I also have more lines of accessories coming, like beads and mesh jewelry. My accessories are all handmade, with love. I have managed to buy a few machines. I call my business my drug of

choice, as it makes me happy. Itâ€&#x;s my happy space. I am working on new lines fusing African fabrics and the modern day accessories like pearls. My dream is to open a shop to have a large social following and have my pieces worn on the runway. I want to show women out there that no matter your circumstance you can be anything you want to be. I have seen a lot of women who always blame their situations for their circumstances, on the contrary, one should be able to do what they can with what they have. I dream of one day becoming a power player in the African fashion scene. I want to be an icon for women empowerment. If i did it as a jobless widow & a single mum, then everyone else can do it. The journey to healing is long but I have learnt to take each day as it comes, if I want to cry that day I cry till kingdom

The journey to healing is long but I have learnt to take each day as it comes.

come, if I am happy I decide to be happy. I do have episodes of breaking down, emotionally. Personally I have chosen happiness and to live my life to the fullest. I still miss my husband so much, he was taken at a time when we were flourishing and when we were at the peak of our lives, having everything we had always dreamt of.

There have been challenges that come from losing a spouse. From financial, single parenting, emotional rollercoaster, to decision making. With finances I had to do a bit of income generating projects like my business. It is different from a household with two incomes. Single parenting is difficult as you have to be there for your kids all the time If they are sick you have to be up all night and then be at work the whole day the very next day, being the mother and father to the kids, wearing two hats on one head, teaching my sons how to ride a bike, raising them. There are days when you donâ€&#x;t want to talk, you feel like being by yourself, but I have learnt to accommodate others and not rub my bad vibes on them. Decision making is difficult as to which school Iâ€&#x;m taking them to, should we do this or not. I pray and keep calm I try and not make decisions when I am not in my normal state. I have also learnt to ask for help from my friends, if I


My strength comes from God and my boys. The vision I have for my children is larger than life, I want to make them proud, I want them to talk about me with pride. need time out, I also have an amazing house help. I stay far from my family but they are an amazing support system they travel to come and see me. I have lost some friends and gained some. They are great people, they visit, take me out, send me music and anything that they think

My advice to other women going through a similar experience is that we are human we are bound to cry and be hurt. Mourning is like My business keeps me sane because it requires concentration fingerprints it differs from one person to the next. Do not that keeps my mind occupied. Funny enough I decided to wear bottle your feelings. Take each day as it comes; do not be too make-up to stop myself from hard on yourself. Accept what crying and it has helped, every has happened and do less time I want to cry I tell myself "Make-up is expensive, don‟t questioning, the more you waste it" or I tell myself, "Don‟t question the more you will stay mess this up you still have a long in the same space as we as day to go" humans do not have answers. might help. The greatest therapy through my journey has been Shaina and my boys.

My strength comes from God and my boys. The vision I have for my children is larger than life, I want to make them proud, I want them to talk about me with pride, I want them to have a normal upbringing although they are growing up in a single parent household. God will never take me from where I was to leave me in the wilderness. He gave me my husband, Esau for a reason and he accomplished his purpose on earth, ran his race, I have the burton now, I will continue my journey till my time comes.

Choose to celebrate the life you had with your better half. Find someone to talk to but remember who you talk to, not everyone will help some are just there to hear your story.

To see some of Diana‟s work, visit Shania Accessories at

Dami Olawaiye -Adewole Passion over Pain

For many years Dami Olawaiye - Adewole, CEO of L.O.G Cosmetics, had been suffering with a pain that didn‟t have a name at the time. After going through several surgeries, she was diagnosed with endometriosis, a condition that affects a woman‟s reproductive organs. It happens when the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside of it. Dami found a way to connect her personal ordeal and passion for beauty and health conscious products to create L.O.G Cosmestics, a beauty brand that prides itself in helping Women of Colour find a healthy way of beauty. I began experiencing some pains

from my teenage years but it was often deemed to be normal as part of a woman‟s menstrual cycle. In my school days, I often had to be away from school to be catered for. When I started working, I would need to request for time off as it became unbearable to manage and overtime this became an issue for employers to sustain. Socially, I was often dependent on close friends and family around to look after me, God bless them. I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2011 after an episode of excruciating pain in my lower abdomen. Initially the doctors thought it could be a bladder problem or appendicitis. In fact, I was operated for my appendix but only until a further laparoscopy procedure was

carried out was I then diagnosed with endometriosis. Given that I was used to the pain, it was not my main cause of worry. It was more to the fact I was told there was no known cure and that I may not be able to conceive. But God came through for me years later with a beautiful daughter which I‟m grateful for. With my everyday life, I practically lived on strong pain killers, changed my diet to eating more fruits and vegetables and consciously making more healthy dietary choices. Spiritually, I began to meditate on Godly principles which have been instrumental in keeping my faith. In my mind I felt that at least I finally had an explanation for

the condition and probably managing it would give me somewhat of a normal life (far from it). I remember being asked to leave a particular job role I was very passionate about due to this condition. There was/is still no cure for endometriosis, but for me that was the point where I had had enough! I sought to build that on that passion, to turn the impossibility to possibility and this is what inspired L.O.G Cosmetics.

“ Some researchers have linked a number of diseases including endometriosis, to being exposed to endocrine disruptors’ chemicals in personal care products.”

disruptors‟ chemicals in personal care products. On completion of my course, I was able to identify a niche and combine my knowledge about health conscious beauty into developing a number of products. As a makeup artist My earlier career was with a number of beauty companies as and certified organic skin care formulator, I began to infuse a beauty consultant. I also had my share of office experience as natural oils, butters and fruit extracts to create products that an account executive at an nourish the skin. So over the insurance company. However, years we have seen our ideas, deep down inside me was my passion for makeup artistry and creativity and passion for beauty so I sought to develop myself as come together. a certified organic skin care L.O.G Cosmetics prides itself in formulator. It was during this offering high quality natural course I really began to pay cosmetics for all women. We more attention to the strive to ensure that our ingredients in most beauty cosmetic products are made products and discovered the with safe ingredients. We pride damaging impacts to our skin. ourselves in maintaining the More so, some researchers have values of elegance, grace, inner beauty and, self-esteem as we linked a number of diseases believe every woman should be including endometriosis, to free to express these qualities being exposed to endocrine

and with lots of glamour. For most people, it can become difficult to separate your individual identity from the business or start up you create and Iâ€&#x;m no exception. However, what I have done is to connect my personal ordeal (due to pain, employers not being able to accommodate unplanned time off request) with my passion for beauty and health conscious cosmetics" I enjoy the feeling I get when I see my ideas come together. I also think I have learnt a lot in the process and become a more rounded business person. Believe me, I work harder as my own boss, funny enough, but I appreciate the flexibility it gives

particularly in my situation. Iâ€&#x;m humbled by the fact that people around me feel inspired by my story and want to pursue their own dreams regardless of their limitations. I thank God for being alive to be able tell my story after one too many surgical procedures. I feel blessed to have the most supportive family who have sacrificed so much for me and friends who have stood by me. Finally, Iâ€&#x;m privileged to be able to watch my dreams come true. Find our more about L.O.G Cosmetics at

Shining Her Light CLARKE 23 year old, Karissa Clarke is a young artist who recently started a series redoing Disney princesses and reimagining them as if they featured aspects of black culture, more specifically Afro Caribbean or West Indian culture titled 'My Creole Fairytale'. Art is something that she describes as being therapeutic and cathartic to her during her chemotherapy. While undergoing chemo she has been working away at her artwork, which has served as a way for her to escape the world. She transforms her imaginations into tangible things that she dreams of or wishes she could see, as she believes that if you think something is missing in the world, create it yourself. Karissa considers Art to be one thing that gives her true expression or escape in everything she has been through. She shares her story, shining a light on her work & how she stays encouraged.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

What are you currently doing in Toronto?

I‟m Vincentian, or “100% Vincy” I‟m in Toronto now as I‟m as we would say back home. I‟m undergoing medical treatment. from a Multi Island State (32 to I was diagnosed Lymphoma be exact) in the Caribbean called cancer in August of 2015 and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. all of the circumstances of my I‟ve lived in SVG my entire life diagnosis and illness were very but for the surreal, past few because you months I‟ve never think been in these kinds One minute my doctors Toronto, of things were saying I had the flu Canada can or will where I was happen to or bronchitis and the born. With you. In a next minute I had respect to nutshell, cancer. my family one minute and my doctors upbringing, were saying I never gave it much thought but I had the flu or bronchitis and I grew up in a very creative the next minute I had cancer. household. My mom is a pianist and my dad How has it affected you and was a singer „back in his day‟. My your life? formative years were spent learning the piano, attending Art Hearing that you‟ve been camps, reading and painting. As diagnosed with cancer sounds the years progressed I‟ve always like a death sentence at first. expressed myself creatively The reality is that for many whether through painting, persons, it is. Sickness has a writing poetry or dabbling in way of paralyzing us with a fear event planning and décor. of the unknown and a

hopelessness too because in most instances you have little to no control over what‟s happening to you. As a result I‟ve been irrevocably Inspired. I had this horrible tendency of overthinking and analyzing every situation, planning things to a „T‟.

share my story also as I found it difficult to find cancer related tips online. It is my hope to share my experiences, the knowledge I‟ve gained as well as hope that everything will be ok with others.

During all this I realized how much that affects my ability to enjoy the moments of my life. I‟m often so caught up looking forward that I don‟t really look around and enjoy the moments, or say thank you for them. So I made a pact with myself to let go and live, because absolute control is really an illusion to begin with.

How is your treatment going?

Also, whether we like to admit it or not, as young women there‟s often something in the back of our heads that makes us conscious of others‟ perception of us. Sometimes that gets in the way of us going for what we want. I‟ve been inspired to just go for it from now on. „It‟ being all of the things that I‟ve dreamt of and hoped for, without shame. I‟ve been inspired to

Well my treatments ended recently. The overall process was draining, especially in the beginning. I actually finished my treatments and I‟m in the stage where they run extensive tests to see how I responded and so on. As someone who up until now had never even broken a bone, and wasn‟t used to hospitals and their protocols, it was a lot. I don‟t want to glamourize the process or that type of experience at all. It‟s scary but for me, it eventually became a routine that I somewhat adjusted to, for a new lease on life. And by reminding myself that someone in the world is always going through more than or worse than me.

Where do you get your strength from and who has helped you along this journey?

During this time you’ve been expressing yourself through your artwork, how did you become passionate about art?

I‟m blessed to have a super supportive family and small circle who pray for me, keep me laughing, and encourage me. My parents, brother and beau have been my rock. I‟ve definitely strengthened my spirituality along this journey. It sounds cliché but at every turn in the road things have just fallen into place and for that I am forever grateful.

Well, those closest to me and some of my schoolmates would know that Art has always been a very big part of my life. My friends would always joke that all my pants in high school always had a paint splatter here or there. I rekindled my love affair with art during my treatment. I‟m a Law student and treatments caused me to take a leave of absence from school. That left me with a lot of free time. So rather than watch television I‟d sketch or read.

What do you do to keep encouraged?

One day I decided to try filling in the sketches. I have a background in Graphic Design Whenever I‟m feeling down or as my first jobs included worried I try to pray or I have a providing artwork for tourist few little mantras that I say to sites on my Island as well as myself as a reminder that working at a local newspaper everything will work out. I believe now more than ever that where I wrote and did you‟ve got to be ever so careful advertisements and layout. I with your thoughts, because we attempted to fill in the raw really are what we think about,. sketch on my computer and was hooked on digital art ever since. so I‟ve been on a mission to think happy thoughts.

Art has been everything to me recently. It allows me to bring the characters in my head to life and escape the reality of my situation. Also, it allows me to share a lot of the things I imagine or imagery that I wished I could see, with the world by creating it myself. What inspired your Disney series 'My Creole Fairytale' and what do you hope to achieve through it? Just about every little girl loved Disney growing up, truthfully even now I still enjoy a little good old Disney Channel as a guilty pleasure. When I was younger I would always imagine the princesses looking more like me. I tried to recreate them in more traditional cultural wear and feature popular African fabrics such as Ankara as well as Caribbean Madras which is usually incorporated in most national dresses in Caribbean Islands.

It’s unfortunate but it’s still rare to see Black heroines in mainstream media. Beyond representation of skin color, I hoped to add another dimension by incorporating representation of our culture which I believe is an intrinsic element of us all.

One of my best friends recently had a daughter and so I was inspired to create imagery that could remind her of her own beauty. I believe that representation matters. It‟s unfortunate but it‟s still rare to see Black heroines in mainstream media. Beyond representation of skin color, I hoped to add another dimension by incorporating representation of our culture which I believe is an intrinsic element of us all. What’s next for you? Well artistically, the next series of art I'm sharing is a Zodiac Series featuring Black Women representing each sign and putting a fun twist on that

imagery. As I‟ve come to the end of my treatment I‟m focusing on making the most of my life. I‟ll be opening an online Arts hop where persons can checkout my artwork and buy merchandise as well as an Art and Lifestyle blog where I‟ll be sharing my creative process and tools, thoughts, cancer related tips and more. I‟m also scheduled to get back to school for the upcoming Winter semester.

To see more of Karissa’s work, visit

Stockholm Travel Guide WITH AMINA TOURAY

Stockholm; the capital of Sweden. A medieval yet modern city with cozy cafe's and restaurants, a variety of shopping, and long scenic walks. In the busy streets of Stockholm there is always time for a "fika"; a sociable coffee break together, with some nibbles. In fact "fika" is a very important part of the Swedish culture, it is both a verb and a noun. As a Stockholm native, I am familiar with its beauty, but after my move to the U.S West Coast a few years back I've learned to see it from a new perspective. Photography by Amina Touray


Enjoy the breathtaking viewpoints of Södermalm We begin this beautiful and cultural trip together in the heart of Södermalm; a community, also considered an island in central Stockholm Sweden, where I grew up. Most people describe it as a hipster, boho, place to be, with friendly and sociable people. Personally, I would say that it is the intimate, artistic neighborhood where my story began in the late 80's. Södermalm is an artfilled, cozy neighborhood, with old homes, some cobble stoned streets and with many memories of shooting marbles on the streets, long walks and runs in the various parks, public block parties, and multi cultural friends playing basketball together in the school backyards. It is a beautiful community where you can watch Stockholm from many places above - for example Monteliusvägen; a viewpoint and walking path where lake Mälaren, Old Town, Riddarfjärden, and the city hall can be seen from distance. I started my walk along Monteliusvägen (with my brother Lamin) from the street Hornsgatan in the midday sun to reminisce about our upbringing in this neighborhood. After being away for four years, it is surreal to be back,

almost a bit nostalgic. It's almost like time has frozen, yet the atmosphere is different, perhaps as a newer generations is coming yet "the old" is in my past. After a few hours of walking with Lamin around Monteliusvägen and its various blocks, we continue onto Slussen where we visit Katarinahissen; another charming viewpoint that offers an elevator that takes you to restaurant Gondolen right under the footbridge! The view is amazing, especially at sunrise and sunset. We are not the only ones to enjoy it, a lot of people are gathered here for the same reason - the outlook over the city and the clearly blue spring sky. I visited SÜdermalm a few different times during my 3 week stay in Stockholm to meet up with old friends and to enjoy the beautiful scenic environments. This is a must if you enjoy long scenic walks and appreciate charming old homes.


If you are a fan of photography and arts you also need to visit Fotografiska while you're in Slussen

A large photography space with exhibits and with an incredible cafe/restaurant that offers pastries and beverages and/or lunch and dinner. I was lucky to see amazing photographs by various African photographers during my visit, such as the talented Nigerian photographer Samuel Fosso's self portraits and the appreciated Malian photographer Seydou Keita's posed photographs, known to have strong contrasts in patterns and tones. Finish your visit at Fotografiska's cafe and restaurant on the second floor as you enjoy the incredible view of the ferries that cross the blue water from their panoramic windows.


The Metro system in Slussen is built very conveniently So catch the train's green line one stop away to Old Town (Gamla Stan). Call it a tourist spot if you want, but it's still a must see if you're visiting Stockholm! With buildings from 1300 century and antique shops. Also filled with cafes that offer delicious "fika". One of my favorite cafes there is "Under Kastanjen". I not only appreciate the location of the cafe, but mostly the pleasant surrounding and the feeling of being in someone's warm living room as I enjoy my cinnamon bun!


An additional option while in Slussen is to take the ferry Djurg책rdsf채rgan , that goes to the island Djurg책rden which is known for it's historical buildings, museums, cafes, and parks. I visited Skansen which is an open air museum and park with Scandinavian animals founded in 1891 by Artur Hazelius - a teacher and folklorist. The spirit of a folklorist is definitely there. When you walk along the museum and its idyllic and historical paths, you are truly taken back in a different time zone. Skansen is a very family friendly museum. Make it a day trip and walk around for few hours as you enjoy the old houses (that you can go inside), the animals and cafes.


Stockholm also offers a lot of great shopping!

offers stores such as Urban Outfitters, Replay, Tommy Hilfiger and much more. Keep walking on Biblioteksgatan until you reach the If you are a fan of vintage street Birger Jarlsgatan 15 where jewelry pieces (like me!) you need to Zara Home is located. Their home visit boutique "Antikt Gammalt & fashion is an ultimate inspiration to Nytt" on the street Mäster complete or rebuild one‟s home. Samuelsgatan 11. The store has Another place you want to visit if been around for 40 years and the you're in the center of Stockholm is pieces are astonishing, timless and Hötorget; a big square and market unique! The selection of jewelry place where you can buy anything pieces and hats seems endless and from travel suitcases, to books and they also offer a great amount of food. I met up with the beautiful clip on earrings which is usually pretty hard to find. Samantha Braun there who usually comes to Hötorget to buy fresh Close to Mäster Samuelsgatan is flower bouquets. And yes you can also the street Biblioteksgatan that bargain here!


If you want to see other parts of Stockholm that might not be as talked about as Old Town and the city, but still has a modern day charm. You should take the Tvärbana (a light rail line above ground, known as Crossways line in English) from Liljeholmen to Årstaberg. Årstaberg has beautiful nature. Perhaps you want to come here after all the shopping to enjoy the quietness and feed the ducks, (like Lamin and I did). This is the place to take a jog or long walk along the water as you inhale the fresh air. Perfect little getaway from a hectic city. From Årstaberg you can take the Tvärbana and continue straight to the echo-conscious neighborhood Sickla Udde. It's pretty similiar to Årstaberg.

Sickla Udde offers modern architecture, street art, and a long beautiful dock that you can walk along as you perhaps enjoy a takeway tea in the chilly early spring, which I, Birgitta Nilsson and her family did for a few hours, before we finished of at Cafe Gården with a chai tea latte and delicious pastries. Cafe Gården had a very warm, welcoming and friendly service! Not only did I enjoy their pastries, but also the vintage

interior decorations, with wooden tables and warm low lights. It was perfect in contrast to the overcast sky outside. The best time to visit Stockholm is summertime between June to August because of the nice climate and outdoor activities. However if you (like myself) want to visit during a "low-key" season with less tourists and more intimate atmosphere with a nice spring weather, then you should go in March and celebrate the colorful Easter. The weather might be tricky as it goes from rainy and overcast, but in the end sun always shows! Links for visiting Stockholm

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

African Inspired Mother's Day Gift Ideas for Every Budget

Afroelle Magazineâ€&#x;s monthly gift guide features gift ideas for everyone, every budget and every season.

If you own a small business, Etsy store or are a blogger and youâ€&#x;d like to advertise your brand, products or services to our global audience in our upcoming Gift Guide Email for more details.


Photographer : Isreal Delike @isreal_delike Model: Karen Kane @karenkashkane

Bespoke baby blankets, accessories & toys from Ankara & Kente prints

Large bespoke Unicorn cushion

15" x 15" Africa cushion

A Prince relaxing with his own bespoke House Of Mimi baby blanket set

Bespoke baby Prince blanket, matching cushion & baby bell ball

Bespoke baby Elephant blanket set

African print bangle and earrings

African print necklace and earring set

Three-tired African fabric on wood earrings

African print necklace, earrings, cuff and clutch bag set

African print clutch bag

Cross Kizimba Cuff

Kisiwa Glass Beaded Necklace

Sarafu Purse Chocolate Brown

Anga Glass Tri-Bead Bracelet

Handmade Purses and Accessories for Modern Chic Girls!

Timeless Elegance with a touch of Eclectic Sensitivity Fulani is a luxury handbag brand which signature mark is a contemporary twist on a ceremonial and iconic traditional fabric from Senegal called Rabal. Architect and Designer Suadou Barry is the founder and creative director of Fulani. She was born and raised in Senegal but now resides in the United States. She draws her inspiration in her childhood memories and in all her travels. In the design of this new collection, she preferred a simple silhouette with an elegant profile that showcases the richness of eclectic fabric she uses. Each handbag reflects a subtle aesthetic mix between Africa and the West, chic and avant-garde, designed for a diverse clientele. Fulaniâ€&#x;s philosophy is to offer a product of intuitive and accessible luxury. Each bag is a perfect everyday accessory, timeless elegance with a touch of eclectic sensitivity while remaining at the forefront of the latest trends in fashion. Model: Katy Chimere Diaw, Miss Senegal 2010 and star of the Serie "Un Cafe Avec" Photographed by Sidy Ba Model: Aissata Diallo Photographed by Villainoire Koélé was inspired by Leilani who is the Founder and Creative Director for the Koélé brand. Born to a Togolese father and a Ghanaian mother, Leilani spent over half her life in Cameroon and Nigeria where she developed a unique appreciation for the diversity in fabrics and designs that lie within West Africa: bright colors, bold prints and a variety of textures. Koélé is an amalgamation of those African experiences that makes Leilani who she is today. Koélé has set out to change the perception that anything made in Africa (Nigeria in particular) cannot be of good quality. Koélé's eccentric bags are

African Nouveau Fashion and Travel

Lumbar Pillows Pillow Set

Throw Pillows

Travel Pillow

Travel Bag & cosmetic bag set

Travel Bag


Duffel bag and cosmetic bag set

Duffel Bag


Culturally-inspired Handmade Accessories

Swirl Glamor Ring $15.00

Glass bead ring with brass wire made to order

Bangles Deluxe $16.00-$18.00 each

Assorted silver-plated bangles with gorgeous beads and accent focals

Leather Knot Earrings $20.00

Genuine leather knotted earrings with antique gold-plated accents

Cowrie Candy Earrings $ 15.00

Natural cowrie shell earrings wrapped in silver-plated cube beads and howlite turquoise

Afrofusion Necklace $55.00

Assorted beads on genuine leather cording with brass and antique gold-plated horn focal

Rock Paper Chic

‘Mkali’ Meaning fierce in Swahili,these studs live up to the name featuring brass paired with genuine peacock and pheasant feathers.

‘Cowrie Cascade’

‘Rights of Passage’

A unique ear cuff design featuring a falling cascade of brass chain and cowrie shells.

Cowrie shells and spiraled brass paired with African tribal cloth. The perfect combo for a bold celebration of self.

‘Nala’ A limited edition piece featuring refreshing blues and greens adorned with tribal print and brass.

‘She’ Bright colors and tribal designs pair with blackened brass for a fun and interesting ear cuff.


"Vivid Dreams" African fabric on wood and gold "Ancient Gifts" large chain and cowrie shell bracelet leaf, reversible necklace (2 necklaces in 1!)

"Vivid Dreams" African fabric on wood and raw, brass earrings

"Glimmer" Gold or silver agate and druzy agate necklace (each sold separately)

"Rare" Kente cloth on felt, fringe necklace with cowrie shells

Luxury Bags for the Everyday Fashionista

Fashion accessory hub where creativity and craftsmanship come alive

Fahari Necklace

Green accent ankara necklace intriguingly woven and interlaced with mint green seed beads to create a flawless statement piece.

Makena Earrings

Adepa Necklace

Finely detailed handcrafted afrocentric necklace finished with green crystal beads. This is a dainty yet versatile neckpiece

Dazzling green and pink African inspired earrings perfect for a day or night look. It is made of African wax print, green crystal beads and lever back French hooks.

Sika Earrings

Akili Necklace

Multi strand African print necklace woven with inspiration from traditional basket weaving and combined with multicoloured gemstone beads to accent your look

Sleek dangly blue and wine African fabric earrings designed with flattering geometric pattern. A sure trendsetter.

Chimsom headwrap

African print backpack

RM Cape Dress

KZR Maxi Dress


Azure Ankara Girl skirt & hair bow

Azure African Ankara bib Give your toddler's wardrobe some chicness and personality in our Exclusive Set! The skirt is made out of fine fabric of African wax print material.

This stylish AfroChicBeb e onesie and headband is sure to catch attention!

LEPI Platform sandals handmade to perfection. Comfort & style all in one.



Make them "green" with envy . PVC and Ankara never looked so good. These are finely detailed and feet friendly .

Get the feeling of sophistication you truly deserve in this Ankara infused heels. Turn heads with this piece.

Mo Sama BCN African Wax Prints.Fashion & Home Decor Stand out with this beautiful one of a kind retrocherry red Czech glass beaded necklace with my painting "United" set in an antique silver cameo. This necklace is bound to turn heads and inspire!

Add a bit of magic to your outfit with this elegant necklace with my painting "Badu" set in an antique silver oval pendant. To make this even more charming, I added a lovely antique elephant lobster clasp.

Koshee Bead Clutch This is an iconic purse embezzled with pieces of recycled beads hand stitched onto its' front flap. Details:- - Dutch wax print, recycled glass beads , sequins, magnetic snap, horizontal flap, interior wall pocket. Dimensions (l*h*w inches) : 14.1" *8" *3"

Jewelry Set - Necklace, Earring, Bracelet Vibrant hues add a pop of color to any outfit. It makes an excellent gift too. Details:- African Trade Beads(Krobo), faceted crystals, matte glass beads, clasp, fish hook

Zipped & Printed

Zipped & Printed is committed to bringing you beautiful handmade products using authentically sourced African wax print fabric.

Thrifty Upenyu

Measuring 5' x 4' these two tone zipper pouches are great for organizing items in your handbag.

Teacher appreciation month is coming up in May these retractable, clip on badge reels are a practical inexpensive thank you.

MuurSwagg Find your swagg at MuurSwagg! Dashikis are perfect for spring/summer fashion!

Ankara Leggings

Headwraps, Jewelry, and More Be Eclectic, Be Authentic

African City Bags Urban Cultural Savvy