August Fashion Issue 2014

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August Issue 2014

Celebrating Women of African Heritage




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AFROELLE MAGAZINE | Encourage. Empower. Entertain. Elevate

ON THE COVER: Samar Khoury PHOTOGRAPHER: John Oakley LUXURY CLOTHING DESIGNER: Ramazani African Contemporary Luxury by Made In Kigali Ltd MAKE UP ARTIST: Karolina Guzowska LOCATION: Gisenyi, Rwanda

Thank you to our lovely team!





BRENDA IBARA Writer UGANDA @afrifleur


If you have a story idea or would like to share your wisdom or insights with women globally email with ‘Submission’ on the subject line.


AFR ELLE Celebrating Women of African Heritage

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’m excited to share with you our August Issue. On the cover of this issue is international model, Samar Khoury and this fashion editorial was taken as part of a fashion campaign in Kigali, Rwanda showcased during The African Development Bank’s 50 years anniversary in May. The inspiration behind this shoot was to promote Africa through fashion. Our issue is specifically about fashion, in our special feature we profile four women in fashion from Ekua Odoi, the blogger behind one of the largest growing fashion platforms, African Prints in Fashion, sharing with us how the African Diaspora is participating in the fashion industry, to Fashion professor, Zandile Blay and the lovely ladies, Jen and Dunja of Be Frolicious. Their stories and words of wisdom will leave you inspired about all things fashion. We also talk to Nelson Mandela’s grandchild, Zoleka Mandela as she shares about the inspiration and process behind her book, When Hope Whispers. In addition, we have a conversation with 2011 Caine Prize Winner, NoViolet Bulawayo about her book ‘We Need New Names’ and the importance of telling our stories. We also feature Parisian photographer, Diane Audrey Ngako and talk to Danielle Scott– Haughton the producer of the award winning web series, DEAR JESUS. This issue is a labor of love, I’d like to thank our team who worked tirelessly to put it together. I’d also like to thank you, our readers for supporting our vision issue after issue. I hope you enjoy reading every page and when you are done, share our magazine with other women and men in your life, join us on Facebook and Twitter (if you haven’t already) and email us your feedback to let us know how we are doing so far. Until next time, Peace & Love!

Patricia Miswa Editor-in-Chief


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26 64

INSIDE 10 In her good books 12 Conversation With NoViolet Bulawayo 18 Artists You Should Know 20 Behind the Lens With Francesca Andre

26 Capturing Diane

Special Feature: African Fashion

19 Fashion blogger heads 40 Made in Kigali 28 The Storymaker’s Story: 50 Finding Paola Danielle Scott-Haughton 54 In Her Prints with Ekua 32 When Hope Whispers 58 Zandile Blay with Zoleka Mandela 60 Being Frolicious 68 What’s your 64 Bohemian Rhapsody Herbalosophy? Audrey Ngako

In Her Good Books Kuda is a 23 year old banker by day and nerd by night. She lives in vibrant Lusaka, Zambia. I don’t care too much for genres because I find that they often overlap. I really just love a good read. But I have notice that lately I am drawn to books that have a strong female as the main character. This all began when I read and watched “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston. Fantastic read.

The book itself is not exactly what you would term a classic but I have never been so I think much of the emotion came from the fact that it made me question a lot of the things I held to be true. Like how could I be drawn to a character that had done such an appalling thing. I like it when a book challenges you and that book did.

I really don’t have a favorite author. Matter of fact I don’t want to have a favorite author because I fear that might limit me. I feel that if I can’t travel physically the books I read should do that for me and so I’d like to read a diverse range of books written by equally diverse folks.

My ever growing reading list. I I started reading pretty like to early on in life as a result of write my grandfather’s influence. However, I never really felt it down as an emotional activity until books that I think I might my second year of University. I I’m currently like so I have a not so little had been reading “The reading list in my journal. Needless Chamber” by John Grisham. I Khaled to say, I want to read had never been drawn to a character as I was to Sam the Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. I Calling Me Home by Julie am not far into it but I like it. death row inmate.

Kiebler and We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo. I really try to scout for my own good reads because I find that hype around a book often does not mean it is a great book so I try not to set myself up for disappointment.

as a young woman in modern day Africa.

I like to scout for my own good reads. I had such high expectations for The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I was gravely disappointed. For me it felt like the story was being told My life, I like to, believe is as it came to mind. However, an aggregate of the books I I do respect have read. However, it is a those that recent read for me, Their Eyes enjoy it. It Were Watching God made me just wasn’t want to put on a cape and be my thing. Superwoman. The fact that it was written many years ago but still resonates with plenty I find it of young women is a plus. incredibly difficult to Many young African women read one still struggle with following book at a their own voice or going with time. My job what society tells them. The will not book explores this theme in allow me to great detail. In fact it is a do any day time reading recurring theme throughout that’s for sure. And truth be the book. I would happily told there is something recommend this book to any almost poetic about reading woman. However, I am hungry at night I like the silence that for a book that discusses life comes with it, I am able to

absorb what I am reading much more. I’d definitely reread Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg . Simply because it is a practical read. I really don’t like the idea of re-reading a fictional book until after a substantial amount of time. I feel like the characters lose their magic that first made you fall in love with them. They become much like your best buddy down the road save for the fact that they remain stagnant in their fictional world. Date with author, living or dead? I’d definitely go with Zora Neale Hurston. It took a special kind of courage to write what she wrote in her era. Also she lived a life as illustrious as her stories that’s a plus. []

Conversation With

NoViolet Bulawayo On Her Love Letter to Zimbabwe Words by Brendah Ibara

NoViolet Bulawayo—pen name for Elizabeth Zandile Tshele, is the author of ‘We Need New Names’ a novel whose first chapter ‘Hitting Budapest’ won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2011. The novel was also awarded the Pen/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction and was short listed for the Man Booker Prize. NoViolet means ‘with’ in Ndebele a Southern African language and Violet is the name of her late mother who passed away when she was 18 months old. Bulawayo is her hometown in Zimbabwe where she grew up. NoViolet is currently a Stegner fellow at Standford University. AfroElle caught up with the Zimbabwean writer during a book signing in Kampala to talk about her debut novel and her writing.

Photo credit: Gareth Smit

“ By giving my characters such names I was also quietly saying ‘we need new names, we need a new president, a new reality’.

” While reading ‘We Need New Names’ I was struck by the spectacular names of the characters and the title of the book itself, how did you come up with the title and what influenced the names of the characters? The title of the book was a happy accident. I actually came up with a list of possible titles and I had decided on a different title altogether when I chanced upon ‘We Need New Names’.

I settled for it because it spoke volumes about what I was going for in the book. The names in the book are a celebration of my culture. All our names mean something and speak something. In this story, I was writing about the things that were happening at home and by giving my characters such names I was also quietly saying ‘we need new names, we need a new president, a new reality’. I call this book a love letter to my country. I also believe it applies to the rest of Africa. So much needs to be done and we need new ways of doing things. >>>

What influenced the character of Darling, your female protagonist? Darling was inspired by a photograph of a kid in Zimbabwe who was sitting next to the remains of what had been his home after it had been bulldozed. The operation had been carried out by the government to destroy all informal settlements. As I looked at this photograph, I wondered to myself what would happen to him now, where would he go and how would his story unfold. I imagined his life after his home was destroyed and that is why Darling ends up in the United States. I also wanted to share the story of the many Darlings I know of who leave Africa to go abroad expecting paradise only to be disappointed by the hardships they face including race. I personally left Zim when I was a little older than Darling but I experienced the same “ I DO NOT WRITE STORIES TO MAKE ANYONE things as her. People COMFORTABLE.” found my accent strange and I also struggled with school others think I went too far with it. Some tuition. So my characters cut across between my have even asked why the little girl had to experiences and of those around me. be raped by her grandfather of all people, that I should have used someone else. But I do not write stories to make anyone One of the scenes that caught my attention was comfortable. I am very sensitive when it the abortion scene where one of the young girls comes to issues of child abuse and as has been impregnated by her grandfather and Darling and the others try to remove the someone who has been a girl child before; pregnancy using a coat hanger but they have no I know how powerless they can be.

idea how it’s done. What does this scene mean to you and how do you manage to write about such confronting issues?

I have had many people come up to me asking about the abortion scene. Some people applaud it while

It is very unfortunate how girls are abused. I feel it’s my responsibility to tell their stories and engage people in these issues even if they don’t like them. They may not like them but they will talk about them. >>

The story of Darling and her friends is pretty sad but I could not help but laugh along the way in spite of the harsh circumstances that the children were faced with. You somehow managed to capture their playfullness and humour regardless of their demise. What were you going for with that? I was raised in a home filled with laughter. No matter how hard things would get, people would find humor amidst tough times. Growing up, the women around me had a certain lightness and humor that they carried with them that made you forget that they had any problems at all. I think it’s an African thing. You have to maintain a sense of humor lest you go crazy. Also as a writer, I feel that readers are often times bombarded with serious literature and they just can’t take it sometimes and so I had to keep it lighthearted.

You also tackle the issue of foreign aid with wit and humor. What were you going for and do you think you achieved it? I just wanted to talk about foreign aid differently. Yes, everyone knows about the evils of foreign aid but when you hear about something in the same way over and over again, it becomes monotonous. I wanted to engage people in these issues without sounding boring. I hate sounding like a broken record so I had to play around with the issue but also make sure that it leaves a reader confronted and I’d like to think that I did that.

I have read that, your family didn’t know about your writing until you won the Caine Prie for African Writing. Can you tell us a bit about that?

“I wrote because I enjoyed it. In a way writing for the sake of it protected me from writing for other reasons like money or fame or whatever. I’m glad that I was unaware of all that and that helped me to find myself on my own terms without the pressure of making it as a writer.”

Photo by Lauren Mulligan

That was definitely a huge secret I carried around for a long time. My father thought I was studying law. I remember having to lie to my family about why I was taking so long to graduate. They kept on asking when I would start working and start sending them money but I just kept telling them that I was finishing soon.

your thoughts on such labels? We live in a world where we cannot escape some of these labels. We have all sorts of labels and African writer is a label I embrace because it’s true, I am African and that doesn’t take away anything from me as a writer. I’m comfortable with my Africanness and when I write about my country, I’m writing about my Zimbabwe and I like that my Zimbabwe is mine to own.

I even got to a point where I made the tough decision not send them any money when I As for being labelled a woman writer, I‘m okay started working because I had to pay for my with that. I am a tuition. It’s a sacrifice I I’m comfortable with my Africanness and woman who writes had to make . Of when I write about my country, I’m writing women's stories. It course I would have comes naturally to me about my Zimbabwe and I like that my loved to tell them the because I relate to Zimbabwe is mine to own. truth from the some of their stories beginning but my and I feel it’s my responsibility to tell them. I father is so old school I couldn’t ask him to don’t cease to be a writer because I’m called a woman writer or African writer for that matter. understand why I wanted to write. I’m just glad all that is out of the way now.

Did you always want to be a writer? Actually I didn’t think much about being a writer, all I know is that I liked writing and when I started writing I didn’t know that it would turn into a career. I wrote because I enjoyed it. In a way writing for the sake of it protected me from writing for other reasons like money or fame or whatever. I’m glad that I was unaware of all that and that helped me to find myself on my own terms without the pressure of making it as a writer.

There’s a lot of characterization of writers who as ‘African Writers’ and if they are women they are ‘women writers’. What are

What are your thoughts on the progress of African literature? I think we are doing quite well. I love how there’s so much talent especially in the young people. I also like that we are investing in our young writers. Many are coming through to tell their stories and I’m at peace knowing that our stories will always be told. So, what next for NoViolet? Ha! NoViolet doesn’t tell what she is cooking! I like surprising people so you’ll just have to wait and see. (laughs).[]

Artists You Should Know Compiled by Ashley Makue

Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy



Anna Mwalagho is a Kenyan actress, comedian, poet, dancer, singer/ songwriter and storyteller. To call her only a “triple threat” would speak very little to all else that she is; a storm like black woman with words that make chaos of winter evenings. The award winning artist who is warmly recognised as “The Queen of spoken Afro beat” is credited for her ability to fuse spoken word, African dance, music, comedy, acting and storytelling into any expression she desires. Her spoken word work stands out as inspirational and emotive. Anna could have the communicativeness of her art a superpower. She has shared a stage with Hugh Masekela and Oliver Mtukudzi and continues to share her art with audiences in America where she resides. []

Singer, writer, poet and actress, Naima McLean studied theatre and performing arts at the University of Cape Town. She has performed in South Africa and Europe, collaborated with some of Africa’s biggest names in music and claims her portion in fame as “The First Lady of Urban Soul”. Naima’s debut album, Things I Wish is a musical story infusing poetry, hip hop and soul to express a truly authentic work of music. Her grand debut was at the world acclaimed Cape Town Jazz festival. She has since nurtured and grown a special place in the hearts of music lovers from all over Africa. []

FLORINE DEMOSTHENE Florine Demosthene was born in Port -au-Prince, Haiti and currently resides both in Brooklyn, New York and Accra, Ghana. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Parsons and her Masters of Fine Arts from Hunter College. The Capture: A chronicle of Florine’s journey through the Caribbean and West Africa in a series of drawings that portray voluptuous female bodies in a strange world of erosion and obliteration, speaks to her interest in black female bodies and contemporary visual culture. Her work studies how black culture is commoditised and fetishized and seeks to magnify the elusiveness and covertness of racial paradigms and how viewers have become comfortable with derogatory images.

PATRICIA KIHORO Actress, performing artist and radio personality, Patricia Kihoro is a Kenyan artist whose stars are aligning for greatness. Following a few shows on the theatre, Patricia went on to television on the Mnet Production, Changes. Thereafter she appeared on TV shows; Demigods, Sauti and Rush, and a short film, Miss Nobody which earned her a Kalasha Award Nomination for Best Actress. The multitalented artist is well on her way to great stardom. [] Photo courtesy

This blog is curated by Funeka Ngwevela from South Africa. She describes herself as a modern day flower child. She is Glamour women of the year 2012 ‘Style Icon’ Award winner and Marie Claire Best Street Style Award Winner (SA Style Awards).

Image source: Quirky Stylista

Fashion Bloggers Compiled by Sifiso Maposa Ruvarashe Linda Ruvarashe Matiwaza is a Zimbabwe native now resident in New York City. Her blog is about vintage fashion and lifestyle. She is also the founder and COO of Ruvarashe Vintage Boutique.

Joy Loves Fashion Joy Adaeze is a NigerianAmerican style blogger, stylist and fashion host. Her blog was born in 2009 to showcase all things fashion. Photo courtesy

Because I am Fabulous Sierra Leonean Sai Sankoh is a fashion blogger and style guru. Her blog is about fashion and beauty.

Photo courtesy

Styled By Africa The co-founders are Kiran Yoliswa and Alae Ismail. The blog carries a curated selection of the best in African fashion, lifestyle, creativity and innovation.

Marian Kihogo The self-titled blog is curated by Ghana born; London based celebrity personal stylist and creative consultant Marian Kihogo.

Behind the Lens With


Photographer Francesca Andre was born in the Port-au-Prince city of Haiti where she stayed until she moved to New York when she was 15 years old. Francesca studied at the Classical Feminine College as well as the Fairfield University in Connecticut. Her work has been featured on many world-followed publications including the New York Post, News Day, Stamford Advocate, AOL Patch, SHE Caribbean Magazine, Floss Magazine and her own Fanm Kanson Network. Francesca’s film career includes her work on the 2013 film, Happy Hour in which Julianne Moore narrates the story of writer, director and producer Fretl Clagget. She is currently working on a series called 3L (Live, Laugh and Laugh) and plans to create a short film in Haiti. AfroElle enquired behind the lens to learn just how Francesca Andre changes the world one image at a time.

“ I am in a field that often ignores or misinterprets the stories of people like me, so it is important for me to connect with my subject and respect their spirit.”


What does photography mean to you?

A great deal. It’s an outlet that allows me to express myself and be a storyteller.


Would you say that photography is a hard line of work to get into?

Nothing good in life comes easy. Photography is no different. When I started, getting published was the focus; it took a while to mature and realize that discovering my voice and exploring the craft was crucial.


Was it after you had published your first work that you realized being published could not be the focus of your photography? It actually took me years thereafter to change the focus of my photography.


What makes the good picture stand out from the ordinary?

Capturing emotion, expression, and composition.


How important is it to connect with the subjects of your photography?

It is very important to me because I am in a field that often ignores or misinterprets the stories of people like me, so it is important for me to connect with my subject and respect their spirit.


How do you manipulate all the elements of the photographic process in order to capture all your photographs in their authenticity? It depends on the project. With my personal projects I am in a better position to influence and control the elements, however, it is a lot more sensitive when I shoot for magazines and newspapers.

You explore Black and White in a lot of your photography, is there a preference of Black and White above Colour photography?


Black and white gives a certain authenticity- I like black and white for that purpose.


Is the photographic process the same for Black and White pictures and Colour pictures?

The photographic process is the same; I shoot in colour and if I want to change it into black and white, I just make the changes in post (Light room or Photoshop).


Where do you draw inspiration?

Haiti, my mother, life, my own setbacks and mistakes. They fuel me.

10 What genre of photography do you enjoy most? Portraits.


What would you say is more important, good knowledge or good equipment?

Good knowledge. Good equipment is important as well- when I am shooting news and weddings, I know it is crucial to have two cameras- that knowledge allows me flexibility which makes me more prepared because you just never know.


What projects are you currently working on?

I am working on a dynamic web series titled 3L; Live, laugh and love about a young woman coming into her own and finding her voice. Check out the teaser when you get the chance. watch?v=MBIwGu_FEYI []


Diane Audrey Ngako By ASHLEY MAKUE A 22 year old Parisian photographer with a flair for capturing beautiful moments, Diane Audrey Ngako was born and raised in Cameroon. She is the editor-in-chief of Roots Magazine (a French print publication) and a curator at Studio Africa. Diane works as a media consultant for brands and companies that market in the African diaspora in France and is also the creator of a tourism platform called Visiter L’Afrique where people share their tourism experiences in Africa.

Before going into photography which she calls her passion, Diane spent up to three years intrigued by photos; she would spend significant amounts of time staring at pictures by other photographers without the courage to create her own. “The more I looked at the work of others, the more I felt that they were better artists than me, it was true because I had no experience” she says. In 2011 she felt charged and bought a 550D Canon reflex and started practicing, she describes her first picture as “random and okay”. Because photography is an ever-growing field, we asked Diane how she keeps her art growing to adapt to the changing

“For me, Africa has never been late in photography, the advancement of African photography is definitely at the same rate as the rest of the world”.

requirements of her work and she said, “I don’t think I have to actively help the process, it happens naturally. By practicing photography, my eyes see things differently and people see that my photography grows”. Diane gave us some tips for ensuring that a photographer captures their subject the way they desire, and translate that image flawlessly to film and to paper, “I let my subjects be natural- no posing with me. I want my pictures to be natural. I take time to observe people, to see who they are, what they can share and when I get it, I capture a real moment”. Diane says that she loves to take portraits because they do not lie; they always draw emotion from people- she loves when people look at her work and feel, she wishes that she had known before she got into photography that, “the camera is not the most important, it is the eyes and maybe the lens”. Our conversation with Diane dispelled two big

myths when she explained to us that; One, “Photography is accessible to black women, it is not about your colour but about your network” and two, “Africa has never been late in photography, the advancement of African photography is definitely at the same rate as the rest of the world”. Although she cannot yet answer the question about the highlights of her career, Diane admits to being encouraged and inspired by the feedback she receives for her work. She is also inspired by the work of Kwesi Abbensetts, Mbeng Ngassa, Orphee Noubissi, Malick Sidibe, J. D. 'Okhai Ojeikere, Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, Seydou Keïta, Mutua Matheka, Hélène Amouzou and Zanele Muholi. Keep updated with Diane’s work through:

The Storymaker’s Story:

Danielle Scott Scott--Haughton WRITTEN BY: ASHLEY MAKUE

DEAR JESUS IS AN AWARD WINNING WEB SERIES WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY DANIELLE SCOTT-HAUGHTON. THE SERIES DEPICTS THE LIFE OF YOUNG CHRISTIAN, MERCEDES THOMPSON; HER NEW RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AND ITS IMPLICATION ON THE RELATIONSHIPS SHE HAS WITH FRIENDS, FAMILY AND CO-WORKERS. IT DOCUMENTS A SERIES OF MISFORTUNES IN THE LIFE OF THE NEW CHRISTIAN; THE LOSS OF HER JOB, HER HOME, A FRIENDSHIP AND A RELATIONSHIP WITH HER BOYFRIEND. IT FOLLOWS MERCEDES THROUGH HER ROUGH PERIOD, TO A PLACE WHERE SHE IS COMFORTABLY WORKING THROUGH HER FAITH, LIFE AND RELATIONSHIPS. AFROELLE CAUGHT UP WITH DANIELLE, WHO IS THE DIRECTOR AT WONDERLAND FILMS TO CHAT ABOUT HER WORK AS A FILMMAKER. HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU WANTED TO GO INTO BROADCASTING, AND HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT FOR YOU TO MAKE THAT MOVE FROM FASHION JOURNALISM? London College of Fashion was a brilliant place to study and my degree was split into three strings; Journalism, Broadcast and Public Relations and in the first year, we had to take all three classes. I was enrolled as a Journalist, but soon realised, while I liked writing, journalism was not my forte. It was the way they taught broadcast that got me; the camera work and the editing. It was important to me to change my focus because my main goal in life is fulfilment and to create stories has always been more important to me than reporting them. Broadcast allowed me to be more creative. DID YOU WORK ON ANY OTHER PROJECTS BEFORE DEAR JESUS? Dear Jesus was the first drama based project I

It is very easy to get up and say I'm going to do something; I have started a lot of projects, but the process it takes to get to the end line is very taxing and really what defines you as a writer or director.

created, but I had worked on documentaries before that and as an assistant to other directors and creators. OTHER THAN YOUR RELIGIOUS BACKGROUND, WHAT INSPIRED DEAR JESUS? After the magazine I worked for once I graduated, folded and I began working at my family's business; a Jamaican take-away owned by Aunt Alice. I was inspired by the customers that came in and the interactions that we'd have, so Dear Jesus was a way that I could express my frustration at my circumstances. The self-pity Mercedes expresses in the first season of the show was a reflection of my own situation. IS IT HARDER TO GET STARTED WITH A PROJECT OR TO SEE IT THROUGH? Oh! What a great question. It is definitely harder to see it through. For me, it is very easy to get up and say I'm going to do something; I have started a lot of projects, but the process it takes to get to the end line is very taxing and really what defines you as a writer or director. The fear of failure is what has always pushed me to achieve my

goals and to me the ultimate failure is not getting to the finish line or my end goal. DID YOU IMAGINE THAT DEAR JESUS WOULD HAVE SUCH A GREAT REACH? Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought Dear Jesus would have done so well. I started the project because I saw my counterparts doing so well; Issa Rae in America with Awkward Black Girl and Baby Isako here in Britain with Venus Vs Mars. I knew that I could write well, but after the first season didn't do as well as I had hoped, I was very naive, I didn't want to do a second season. But people believed in me. Mostly it was Tilsa Wright, an author from New York and Seye Isikalu, a photographer here in London who pushed me, encouraging me that I had something good, but could be better. I find that God always puts people in my path who will encourage me when I'm not feeling as confident. HAVE YOU CONSIDERED SHARING DEAR JESUS ON ANY OTHER MEDIUM? Yes, and I've been approached to do so. But after years of investment it is important to strike the right deal that will be fair to both me as a creator and the people who have supported the show from day one.

WHAT IS THE VALUE OF VIEWERSHIP FOR A WEB SERIES AND HOW DO YOU ENCOURAGE AN INCREASE IN VIEWERS? The viewership is highly important. High views encourage people to watch and share any show. People will also tune in if they know people who are involved in the project. This season we approached comedian ADOT to do a cameo in the show which helped us astronomically. Our associate producer Dean Russell was also able to broker a deal, whereby a trailer for this season of the show was aired at the beginning of one of Issa Rae's show's First which helped increase our subscribership by 100%. Although we are one of the longest running web based drama series around, we also have a humble following. Our views are important and we cannot afford to be cavalier with the way we run the show. We try to make sure our episodes are out on time and that our audience knows when to expect the next ones. Consistency and reliability is what has helped us. >>>>>>>

While high views are important, strength in the story and characters is what has kept our core audience happy and returning. WHAT WENT INTO THE CASTING PROCESS FOR DEAR JESUS? Linda Adey who plays Mercedes is a long-time friend of mine who I've always trusted as an actress and I wrote the part with her in mind from the beginning. I found all of my other actors on the internet through Casting Call Pro and Star Now where there is an abundance of talent waiting to be discovered and I've also held open auditions. The hardest role to fill was Alexis. I saw so many women for that role, but it was obvious when I met Samantha Earle that she was the one. My favourite roles I've ever cast were Jade played by Nansi Nsue and Abike played by Landi Oshinowo. I live to write strong, powerful women and finding actresses who could fill these roles was a joy. WERE THERE ANY CHALLENGES DURING SHOOTING AND HOW DID YOU WORK THROUGH THEM TO PRODUCE A SEAMLESS AND AUTHENTIC SERIES? Thank you so much! The size of our production team has always been a challenge. There has never been more than three people working behind the scenes at any one time. The first season of the show it was just me doing all the camera work and technical things. Then on season

three it was Seye Isikalu, myself and a production manager. Now on season three it was just Seye and I alone again. I'm a big believer in people being compensated for their time, but I fund the show myself and therefore can't afford for a big production team. At times, I did wish that there were more people on our team, but other times I was thankful for our size because it meant that we were able to change location quickly and set up faster because there were less people to manage. DOES THE SERIES FULFIL AN EVANGELISM DESIRE? I wish I could say that Dear Jesus' purpose was to bring people to God, but it wasn't. If it had been I would have been more careful with the language and the content which has been criticised because maybe people thought that was the purpose. As a tenet of Christianity evangelism is important but it is not the focus of the show. Dear Jesus is entertainment, and while evangelism and entertainment can be mutually exclusive, in this case they are not. If the show has brought people to give their lives to Christ, I am very happy for that because I long to bring glory to God. But my desire with creating the show was to heal myself; a rather selfish desire but one which has been fulfilled and I can only hope it brings healing to others. WHAT IS THE CORE MESSAGE FROM MERCEDES’ STORY? Mercedes message is one of the faithfulness of God and fulfilment of His promises. The bible says that the righteous are never forsaken and

“My desire with creating the show was to heal myself; a rather selfish desire but one which has been fulfilled and I can only hope it brings healing to others.”

Mercedes for all her complaining has never been forsaken and neither have I. There has always been a way out where there shouldn't have been. No matter how bad things may seem, her head is anointed, her hands are blessed and her steps are ordered and I hope that all those who watch the show will feel the same; whether they are believers or not. WHAT HAS BEEN THE GENERAL RESPONSE TO THE SERIES?

appreciate criticism; but I'm careful about which kinds of criticism I receive and keep and which kinds I politely reject. ARE THERE MORE STORIES TO BE TOLD? Now that the cast has grown in size, there are so many stories to tell; we're very excited about what the future holds past season 3. We have more for both The Alexis Show and Dear Jesus. ARE YOU WORKING ON ANY OTHER PROJECTS?

People either love the show or they hate it. Thankfully, I haven't had too many people tell me they don't enjoy the show. But I find the most negative criticism from the hard-line Christians who believe the show to be blasphemous and offensive with the cursing and the sex. But thankfully, I don't care too much what people think as long as I have prayed about what I've written and am happy with where the show is going, I'm not too concerned about the nay-sayers. That's not to say I don't

Yes. Seye and I recently completed work on as short film called The Beautiful Ones which I wrote and he co-directed. It stars Chinwe Nwokolo, James Barnes and Linda Adey. And I'm looking forward to collaborating on many more films in the future. Watch all three seasons of Dear Jesus here

Cast of Dear Jesus

When Hope Whispers On 12th November 2013 Zoleka Mandela released her tell-all memoir, When Hope Whispers, in which she shares her personal struggles with sex, drug and alcohol addiction, the tragic loss of her daughter Zenani and her son Zenawe, as well as her empowering story with breast cancer.



o ordinary girl; Zoleka could not escape her extraordinary life even if she tried. She was born to the daughter of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, spent a significant amount of her childhood in exile, witnessed her mother’s tact with guns, according to the opening line of the book, “By the time I was born, on 9 April 1980, my mother knew how to strip and assemble an Ak-47 in exactly thirty-eight seconds.”, her grandfather’s imprisonment and maybe the harsher reality of apartheid South Africa without any immunity from adolescence and raging brokenness. Zoleka’s young life was filled with painful experiences of sexual abuse, relationships that were bigger and deeper than her age, experimenting with drugs and falling pregnant for the first time in her teens. Her adult life was no more sheltered; her experiences with sex, drugs and alcohol blew into a consuming addiction- an addiction so intensely paralyzing that a drug induced psychotic episode ended with her hospitalized after setting her bedroom on fire just a few days before her daughter Zenani was killed in a motor accident during the 2010 World Cup. In 2011 Zoleka experienced another loss when her son Zenawe died of organ failure resulting from a premature birth.

Another significant experience in Zoleka’s adult life was her journey with breast cancer which she describes as having saved her life. Seven months after the release of the autobiography published by Jacana Media, AfroElle Magazine caught up with Zoleka to chat about her candid and inspiring book and its impact on her life and the lives of those who have read it.

Absolutely, I’m currently working on my next book and I can’t wait to finally share it when the time is more appropriate. When Hope Whispers is an important and communicative book title, what was the inspiration behind it and what does hope say when it whispers? I wish I had a more profound story to tell about the name of the book but I simply jotted a few titles in my note book closer to the time it was published - When Hope Whispers spoke to the central message of my book. I wanted the book to instil hope in others. Hope says that even through the loudness of desperation, listen to the whisper of hope and be encouraged.

How did you find the writing experience in terms of finding a voice and a writing style? Writing from the heart, so to speak - it was the most emotionally challenging having to be brutally honest about who I was but it was important to me to be vocal about my truths despite having to revisit painful and shocking chapters in my life that I was so completely ashamed of.

Growing up, did you imagine that you would write a book? I think if anyone had to tell me that long ago that I would be a published author of my autobiography decades later, I wouldn’t have believed them. Growing up I always imagined myself as a mother and a social worker.

Is this book the beginning of a book writing journey?

That risk I felt would one day encourage someone else to make honest changes. One of the most striking elements of When Hope Whispers is your ability to accurately capture moments without dwindling or over exaggerating experiences, what has aided your storytelling? Thank you. I have my publisher and editor to thank for that. I think remaining focused on its purpose; detailing my experiences for lack of a better word, in an honest and personal manner. >>>>>>>>

You have written honestly about a lot of intimate experiences of your life, what has been reception of the book in terms of the information the world now has about you? To be quite frank, I underestimated the impact my book would have on all those individuals who have reached out to me. I was so afraid that someone or some people would lambaste me without giving my book a chance at changing their lives so that they wouldn’t ever have to go through what I went through. The reception locally and internationally, has been both positive and rewarding to say the very least. Did you ever feel like this book was an opportunity to tell your side of the story, with regards especially to media reports on your struggle with drug and sex addiction? Undeniably. I had to be honest about all my addictions; sex, drugs and alcohol. The media before my book had been reporting only on my drug addiction up until I spoke openly about all the others. What are your favourite moments in the book? All those moments that brought me back to how I felt about the birth of my three children. Despite the circumstances they were born into, I was always at my happiest at their arrival.

Has this book fulfilled its purpose in your life? Not entirely but I do believe it’s one of the many ways in which I am able to inspire change and instil hope in many. I’m currently working on getting funding for my documentary film on my journey with breast cancer. There are still so many ways that I can help save and change lives even through my road safety and breast cancer campaigning. In the first part of the book, you wrote candidly on addiction both to drugs and sex, how did you know you were dealing with addiction? When the relationship with the men I involved myself with or the drugs and alcohol came before my own children. If there is a time that sticks out the most it is when I experienced a drug induced psychotic episode that had me trying to burn myself alive with my children in the next bedroom. You had an extraordinary life, being the granddaughter of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, would you say that your childhood and adolescent life contributed to your addiction? Yes. The physical and sexual abuse I experienced as a child all the way through to my teenage years definitely contributed to my addiction.

“ If there is a time that sticks out the most, it’s when I experienced a drug induced psychotic episode that had me trying to burn myself alive with my children in the next bedroom.”

With the unwavering support from your grandmother, your aunt Zenani and your mother that you have expressed throughout the book, what caused you the emptiness and depression that fuelled much of your painful experiences? Apart from the abuse from loved ones, it would be my relationship with my parents and being born into the political family I belong to especially in that particular era. I do believe though, that all these life changing experiences have made me a better person today. The loss of your daughter Zenani and all that was related to it, was a traumatic and an excruciatingly tragic experience that you are still dealing with, what helps you get by? The road safety campaign work I do in her memory and that of all our children who have lost their lives on the road. As well as, being a better parent today than I was to her. I know the work I do and the changes I have made to become a parent would make her proud and that helps me get by. Contrary to Zenani’s unexpected death, you had a chance to say goodbye to Zenawe, has this meant anything for the healing process? I suppose in more ways than one. I was even robbed of that opportunity due to the injuries she sustained to her face and my family refused to let me see her that way, I think they were only trying to protect me and my last image of her. Your journey with breast cancer was another overwhelming part of the book, what is the biggest lesson you have learned from battling and surviving cancer?

“ I have never felt more liberated in all my life than owning my bald head. I’m a survivor of this life threatening disease and I conquered it, I did that with unashamed pride.”

Breast cancer has honestly changed my life for the better. I have learned that early detection really saved my life and that through my own experiences, I can help change and save someone else’ life. While many women who have survived breast cancer worry about hair, your obsession, following your mastectomy was with breasts, why was this? I think it is because the result of my last breast surgery would then be indication that I had won; that and being declared cancer free. The obsession developed in shopping for sizes, I guess and it was exciting just thinking of the final result of my new man made breasts – my trophy. I still have my breast tissue expanders and yet to undergo two surgeries to replace the expanders with implants and to have my nipple reconstruction done.

What is the significance of the unashamed showing of your bald head during and after chemotherapy? I have never felt more liberated in all my life than owning my bald head. I’m a survivor of this life threatening disease and I conquered it, I did that with unashamed pride.


You wrote beautifully about the women warriors in your life, what strikes you most about black women heroes? It would have to be their sense of forgiveness. I would imagine that they would have had to forgive many on their journey to conquering life and it’s many unexplainable hurts. Your issues with selfesteem were a theme carried through the book, what has caused you to recognize and appreciate Zoleka’s place and power in the world? For one; having my grandmother tell me how proud of me she is, truly inspires me even after all the pain I caused her and my family. I’m a work in progress and realizing that the more positive changes I can make within myself, the more successful I can be in empowering others.

I’m a work in progress and realizing that the more positive changes I can make within myself, the more successful I can be in empowering others.

You are a lover of love and of family and children, is it accurate to assume When Hope Whispers is a happily-ever-after story? Indeed. During the editing process of my book, I

had already conceived! After my breast cancer diagnosis and six whole gruelling months of chemotherapy treatments, I gave birth to my fourth child a year after my last treatment. I hope I am a testament to many on their journey with breast cancer, that there is indeed life after cancer. The Zenani Mandela Campaign requires road safety and less on-the-road deaths, what are some of the milestones reached by this campaign? Since the launch of the campaign; the Zenani Mandela Scholarship for road safety was launched, which affords young South Africans the opportunity to improve road safety within their own communities. In addition to that; the Long Short Walk campaign was also launched to highlight the importance of safe walking by encouraging all to capture images of unsafe areas in their communities and sharing them online to make these areas safer. Just recently, we launched a Safe Schools project at one of the primary schools in Kayaletsha with the purpose of improving the roads near those schools. Have you done any work to aid the struggle against addiction? I have been very fortunate with the numerous platforms to share on my struggle against addiction which I never shy away from be it at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, rally or at any of my speaking opportunities. Other than When Hope Whispers, what ways have you sought to raise breast cancer awareness? From as early as my first chemotherapy treatment; I captured images and video footage of my journey. I am hoping that I will receive the funding for my

documentary film which will include my personal experiences captured in the footage in hopes that it will aid in raising the awareness of breast cancer. Are there any special projects that you are currently involved with? I have a new column on Mamas & Papas magazine which is dedicated to inspiring hope to those affected by breast cancer and look forward to sharing it with the readers in our August 2014 issue. Later this year, I will be launching the Zoleka Mandela Foundation which aims to promote the awareness of road safety as well as breast cancer. In addition to this, we will also be promoting health and wellness in women and highlighting the dangers of drugs and alcohol within the youth. What are your plans for the future with regards to sharing hope? Finding more ways that I can help others who are going through what I went through; addiction, death of loved ones, breast cancer, physical and sexual abuse. I am hoping that my foundation and I will continue to create more opportunities for many to find ways that they can instil hope in others and contribute to society. []

Zoleka Mandela Foundation Twitter : @MandelaZoleka Facebook: Zoleka Mandela Foundation

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Finding Paola

BY TATENDA KANENGONI is a fun life-style blog encompassing fashion, trends and dream chasing. Hailing from Haiti, Its author Paola Mathé chronicles her life in the most interesting way and shares with her readers an interesting fusion of her love for her country and her experiences in New York City where she currently resides. This culminates into a tourist guide of sorts, the journey of a Haitian beauty making her way through life pursuant of what we ultimately strive for, love, purpose and fulfillment whilst looking good of course! Paola also owns her headwrap line Fanm Djanm, meaning ’strong woman’ created to empower and inspire women around the world to live boldly through arts and fashion. In this interview, Paola takes us through her life, loves and aspirations.

HOW HAS YOUR CHILDHOOD IN HAITI AND LIVING IN NEW YORK CITY (NYC) SHAPED WHO YOU ARE TODAY? Haiti taught me strength. I grew up before I had to, and my most vivid memories remain the first twelve years of my life when I was a quiet, shy, awkward girl who no one understood. I learnt early that my nose was not small enough, and my hair was too kinky to be beautiful. I learnt that if I wanted people to like me, I would have to follow certain rules, and live how they wanted me to, I should stay out of the sun always wear pretty dresses, I should either relax or texturize my hair and I should never cry or speak loudly because it was not attractive, especially for a girl who looked like me.

Then, I moved to the States. I went to High School in Newark, NJ, and that place is not somewhere I ever pictured when I dreamt about living in America. I had to master strength to be the odd girl from Haiti that no one understood. My classmates were confused as to why I didn’t smell like goat or do voodoo on them. That place also taught me strength and resilience. Then, I moved to New York City right after college. I didn’t know what I would be doing there, but I got a job as a research assistant at Columbia’s Medical Center. I wanted to find myself, and that’s how my blog started. I don’t think finding myself will ever end, but I realize I was happiest when I started finding other things. Then I realized these things were part of who I was. Through finding them, I was finding myself. So living in New York City taught me how to be more open. It taught me to love and appreciate things and people who were different from me. It taught me that dreams come true. It taught me that no matter where you are in life, you are in charge of your happiness. I learned that it’s not just hard for you, it’s hard for everyone. It taught me to open my eyes and notice the small things, the things that are presently inspirations to my projects. I’m still learning who I am, and I’m not sure if I’ll answer this question the same way if I’m asked this five years from now.

YOUR BLOG NAME FINDING PAOLA HINTS AT A JOURNEY TO SELF DISCOVERY, WHAT INSPIRED THE NAME? I’ve always been adventurous, at least in my mind. When I was younger, I would sit in the backyard for hours and look up at the skies. I imagined tying

“ No matter where you are in life, you are in charge of your happiness.”

ladders on top of each other until I reached the clouds. I’ve always liked different things, but I never talked about them because I didn’t think my interests mattered much. I think I can move anywhere in the world, and I will find a way to survive and find things I love there. I always like to experience things before I judge or give my opinion on them. I have to try a beef tartar to know I don’t like the raw beef. I would not push the idea aside just because I’m from Haiti and we eat meat super well down there. It turns out that I absolutely LOVE beef tartar, how would I have known if I never tried it. That’s just an small example. So Finding Paola is about finding things, people, and experiences that come back to me.

Through all of these things, I’m finding myself. I know what I want or don’t want. I know what I love or don’t love. I know what I want to change. I know what’s worth fighting for. And I know how to live and appreciate all the different things around me. PLEASE TELL US ABOUT ANSANM NOU SE AYITI. Ansanm Nou Se Ayiti is a project in progress. It means, “Together We Are Haiti”. It’s a lifestyle brand and movement to promote unity amongst Haitians living in Haiti and abroad. Hopefully, one day, I will be able to collaborate with young Haitians from around the world to celebrate our country’s history and beauty. It’s kind of hard now to go with it full force because Fanm Djanm has taken over my life, but I’m excited to see where it goes!

YOU SPEAK ABOUT YOUR ENGAGEMENT IN THE DIARY SECTION OF YOUR BLOG, WHAT CAN YOU SHARE WITH US ABOUT FINDING LOVE AND WHEN DID YOU REALIZE YOU HAD FOUND THE ONE? I knew my fiancé was going to the love of my life within one month of dating him. I remember telling him that when I felt it. And I never expressed myself to anyone like that in my life. Actually, it took me a long time to learn to express myself. I’ve always been the person who observed, never expressed. So when I told him, I thought he would run away because it had only been one month since we started seeing each other. But he just said he loved me. And last year he proposed on top of Mount Madison. We’ve been together for almost nine years, but people always think we’re in a new relationship when they see us (that’s until they hear us bickering). He always tells me I’m beautiful even when I think I look like a crack-head because we all know I did NOT wake up like this. He’s amazing. He always tells me he’s proud of my achievements. And sometimes, I don’t even realize I’m doing something nice until he reminds me. At first glance we’re very different people, but we’re so similar in a lot of ways. I also love that although he’s a scientist, he loves literature and sports, and many other things. He’s very open minded and adventurous like me. He really taught me a lot about life and myself. We’re a true team!

WHAT ARE YOUR MOST PRIZED POSSESSIONS? My childhood photos, Letters and postcards from my fiancé when he travelled without me, my engagement ring and the memories that came with it. Some letters children from the DR wrote to me when I volunteered there. The contents on my computer. Everything else is just junk, really. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR LIFE-DEFINING MOMENT? I have had a lot of life-defining moments. I graduated college against so many odds, and I’m

the first in my family. I moved to New York City all by myself to live my dreams. Even sitting here typing all of this to share with you in English still amazes me with how far I’ve come in life. I’m grateful. ANY SECRETS TO SUCCESSFUL BLOGGING? Write about what you’re passionate about. Don’t follow what other people are doing. Do the things you love. You don’t need the most expensive clothes to start a style blog. You don’t need to look like anyone else. Take good pictures, and do some research.

Paola on 1

Fashion Trends

I really couldn’t care less about fashion trends. I get dressed based on my mood. Most of the time, I feel colourful, but my closet is a strange place where you’ll find too much floral, sequins, leather, African prints, animal prints, polka dots, hats, and vintage. I love hats. I love denim. I love white clothes and shoes. So I don’t really go by trends. I go by what makes me happy and comfortable. I also go by what my wallet can afford. And if a trendy pastel midi skirt happens to make me happy at that time, I will buy it. But I don’t scour through magazines to see what’s trendy.




NYC Nightlife

I love food. I love all types of food, and I think that love strengthened when I started dating my fiancé nine years ago in college. We go out to eat all the time. And he taught me many things I didn’t know before, why some meat is better cooked rather than well done, that oysters should be taken like a shot rather than chewed- I still like to chew them. We read about new restaurant openings, and we try to go to the ones that catch our eyes. My career in hospitality started in NYC where I had a part time job as a maitre d’ at one of the most upscale French restaurants in New York City. So while working there I had to learn about all of the different celebrity chefs and Michelin restaurants. I started reading New York Times reviews, and really got into the culture.

It’s the best! I know where to get great oysters at 3am, I know where to dance to African or Brazilian music on a Sunday night. There are diners open 24 hours for those who step out of the club at 5AM. I don’t really do those things anymore, but every now and then you need to let loose and dance the night away. When I first moved to NYC, I thought the nightlife scene was one of the most shallow things in the world. I was only introduced to the “trendy” night clubs, so that was the only place I went, and it was fun but frustrating at times. If you want to go to those types of clubs, you have to get prepared to be judged by the way you look. I couldn’t take some of my friends because they weren’t “tall or thin” enough, and that’s ridiculous. I prefer gorgeous cocktail bars, preferably speakeasies over loud night clubs. Places where mixologist know their craft so well, they make any kind of spirit taste like heaven.

In Her Prints A blogger living in NYC, Ekua Odoi has done a good job of promoting African Prints through her blog African Prints in Fashion (APiF) . Well documented on the APiF platform are the numerous ways in which prints can be dressed and any latest discoveries in fashion that she comes across. Affectionately known as Kukua, talking to AfroElle’s Tatenda Kanengoni, the fashionista takes us through her love for print as well as her favorite styles.



I created my APiF blog about 3 years ago. I saw Africa-inspired designs popping-up everywhere but I didn’t know any designers of African heritage besides Ozwald Boateng. I had no insight into what was happening regarding fashion on the continent.

Oh my, that is impossible. Everyone everywhere is an individual. Your surroundings can inspire and influence you, but if you have a fashion sense, are confident and like to mix it up it really doesn’t matter where you live or where you come from – you can be a fashionista.

I felt an urge to discover how the African Diaspora is not just inspiring but also participating in the Fashion industry and so African Prints in Fashion was born. The tag line of my blog is “Following the Imprints of the African Diaspora on Fashion”.

I FEEL LIKE WE WOKE UP ONE DAY AND AFRICAN PRINTS WERE TRENDING, HOW DID THE EVOLUTION OCCUR? Celebrities and fashion icons like Beyoncé and Gwen Stefani started to wear prints. Burberry Prorsum launched their Ankara collection and suddenly everyone talked about it and brands started their own spin on Africa-inspired collections. And this wave gave more visibility to designers from the continent and the diaspora.


I am German-Ghanaian and I live in NYC and I don’t think that my style represents any of these cultures specifically. I just use my heritage and my surroundings as an inspiration. I often chase someone down the street to ask them where they got their top or dress from. Or I see something online and thing “cool, I need to try that combination out next time”. Everyone takes their individual spin on fashion which makes it interesting!

“ In my opinion what differentiates African designers is their story.

DO YOU BLOG FULL-TIME AND HOW SUSTAINABLE IS BLOGGING AS A FULL-TIME JOB OR CAN IT ONLY BE PART-TIME? I don’t blog fulltime yet. I work as Marketing Director for an IT company by day and I blog at night and at the weekends. This set-up can be stressful at times but I like it that way. I am also offering marketing consulting to emerging designers and just founded African Prints in Fashion LLC and will start creating and selling bags and tees. So eventually down the line I hope to be able to focus on blogging full-time.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU THINK REPRESENTS AFRICAN FASHION APART FROM PRINT FABRICS? Many designers actually don’t even use prints literally anymore. They might create a one-off print -inspired Resort collection or use the print as inspiration and take it somewhere else or create their own prints. In my opinion what differentiates African designers is their story. Some designers weave their culture and heritage into their designs.

For example Thabo Makhetha who is using the basotho blanket for her designs. Or Maxhosa by Laduma who in his last collection had the claim “my heritage my inheritance” printed on some shirts. The other topic is sustainability and giving back. I believe that many designers of the Diaspora don’t just want to produce on the continent or support local artisans as a mere marketing or promotion tactic. Some of them really want to give back or re-connect/connect with their roots and support people back home.

WHO IS YOUR ULTIMATE STYLE ICON? I adore the style from the Fashion Bomb blogger Claire Sulmers, I like June Ambrose but I don’t really think I have one style icon. I follow so many bloggers, stylists and celebrities on Pinterest and they all inspire me.

WHAT WOULD YOU WEAR ON A NIGHT OUT WITH THE GIRLS? Right now I have a skirt in purple/white/black print from Bineta Sanor that I love and I combine it with my AfroPolitan tee , wear a light green cargo jacket over it and accessorize with hoop earrings, lots of bangles, my big green statement ring and chunky black & white summer shoes with wooden heels. I always have flats with me so that I can change into them for walking back home.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION AND WHY? My favorite travel destination is always the next one where I haven’t been yet. I was in China last year and I realized again how big the world is and how much there is to see and experience. So there are still many countries and continents to visit and of course I always like going back to Ghana.

Hot Trends According to Kukua 1

Silver shoes – flats or heels totally trending right now.

2 Print rompers or jumpsuits – must have!

3 Braids – ok I can only speak for

NYC but it seems everyone is rocking braids this summer, myself included.


Crop tops – tummy or no tummy crop tops are IT this Summer.

5 Dashiki is back – if you have Dashiki at the back of your wardrobe bring it to the front!

6 Peplum print skirts or tops were

trendy last year but still awesome this year!



Editor-in-chief meets fashion and beauty lecturer cum managing partner and blogger, Zandile Blay’s bio is impressive. With accolades which include a Masters Degree in Fashion, being named in Ebony Magazine’s inaugural WITH power list in 2010 and African Fashion International’s trend TATENDA KANENGONI communicator of the year in 2013, there is no better reiteration that she is making her mark in the fashion industry. BDM, a global media strategy firm for which Zandile is managing partner, has housed clients such as Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs, compelling achievements indeed. All the while, her positive girl next door appeal makes her relatable and an inspiration to women the world over.


A Q & A with Zandile allows us to learn from her, a woman I consider to be a Fashion mastermind.

Coming from a family of Political Journalists, When did you know that your path would be different? When I actually pursued political journalism as a major and an internship In Washington D.C. What I saw of it there, didn’t match up with the heroic, dynamic form of story telling and sacrifice I saw my parents practice. If I couldn’t practice journalism how they did, then I might as well do it how I want. If you were to describe fashion as a language, what message would you say it communicates? It communicates you: your essence, your feelings, your past, your present, your future. Its your inner self manifested. As a Ghanaian living in the US, how do you stay in touch with your roots? You don’t. Who you are never leaves you even if you attempt to leave it. New York City is described as one of the fashion capitals of the world, have you visited other cities in which a compelling fashion sense was exhibited, in turn inspiring you to adapt to their fashion, if at all? I don’t dress for the environment. I dress for my self. So no. I’ve lived and worked in several cities from London to Lagos. If you take the time - you will find that all cities - from small unknown ones, to large sought after ones - have their own spirit and as a result, their own style. As a fashion guru dubbing in different elements of fashion including editing,

styling and lecturing on the subject, we would like to put your many roles to the test, as a professor , what lessons have you learnt from teaching? That it is the student who teaches the teacher. As an editor, what do you think is the secret to the art of successful editing? Knowing and trusting your instincts. Period. What is the biggest fashion crime you have ever committed? None whatsoever. If the ensemble was inspired and organic and genuine to me - then it was valid - regardless of trend reports. Can you tell us about your biggest hurdle in life so far and how did you get past it? There have been many and I got past it by embracing it as part of my success. What would you say is your ultimate dream? I’m alive. And healthy. And happy. And loved. And paid well to do what I absolutely adore doing. That’s enough of a dream come true for me. What are the fashion trends of 2014? No idea. There was a time in my career when it made sense to follow them closely. That time is not now. []

BEing Frolicious The name Frolicious automatically channels your mind towards afro centricity, the afro hairstyle too in a way. Jen and Dunja, a dynamic duo based in Germany are the founders of Frolicious, an ode to individuality and a brand synonymous with boldness and courage. Their social media pages showcase unique styles in the form of hair styles, African prints and distinctive clothing. The funky two-some take us through their individual styles and what empowers them to be true to themselves. - Tatenda Kanengoni Dunja and Jen

Please share with us briefly your life stories. My name is Jen Martens. I am of Ghanaian descent and based in Hamburg (Germany). I lived in Kumasi and Accra (Ghana) for 5 years to learn the language Twi. Today, I am a state certified business economist and founder of Frolicious. Besides my interest in social media, I host a TV show called Africa Outlook which features news, entertainment and fashion topics focused on the African Diaspora residing in Germany. My favourite things to do are cooking, chilling with friends, reading and doing yoga. My aim is to focus on creating an awareness that promotes the full supply chain of the African versatility whether it is about fashion, music or beauty. My name is Dunja, co-founder of Frolicious and I'm from Togolese-German descent. I work for an international fashion company as a media manager, so I am thrilled that I get to do what I love! My other passion is dance, I love Salsa and Samba and I’m very much in love with Latin music. And then cooking is another thing I love to do, especially for friends & family. Showcasing new talented African designers is what I like a lot about Frolicious. I think the world should know more about them!

How did you meet and partner to form Frolicious? We met around the year 2000, as we were taking dance classes together. Dunja asked me where I come from and we connected immediately. Last year I asked Dunja to do a Blog with me. She was not sure if we would be able to do it. I persuaded her by creating a Facebook page, I knew Dunja would be on fire once she saw it.

What inspired the tag line - BE YOU for Frolicious? As children we had our own experiences. Growing up in a country where most of the people have a different skin color is not always easy. There was a

time where we did not feel pretty and had low selfesteem. In primary school we were called by many rude names due to the fact that we looked different. So whilst apart from each other, Dunja and I were going through almost the same experiences. As teenager we learnt about Malcom X. In his May 1962 speech he said: “Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair? Who taught you to hate the color of your skin that you bleach to get lighter? Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose and the shape of your lips? Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet?” These questions still remain unanswered. Even mainstream media sometimes excludes colored people. If you want to be happy and be loved by others you don’t have any choice but to love yourself. So we have to start here and now by embracing who we are and how we look.

Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair? Who taught you to hate the color of your skin that you bleach to get lighter? Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose and the shape of your lips? Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet?


Frolicious is a multicultural platform for people who are interested in African Urban Lifestyle: everything from beauty and fashion to events and music. By showcasing Africans in the fashion and entertainment industry, we create a different, positive image. We wanted to spread the self-love with our blog as we are comfortable in our skin, hair and clothes. We also try to be the fullest expression of ourselves wherever we go. We would never sacrifice our individuality to fit in. What describes it better as the line BE YOU. Frolicious beauty comes in all shades. We would like to empower other Frolicious ladies to feel the same. Visit us online and share your journey.

You both work in Media and play a role in communicating African Fashion to the European market, have Africans adopted European styles more than the other way round?

I think both continents adopt from each other. As I was travelling to Togo last year, I was fascinated of the beauty of the fabrics. People dressed stylish and traditional and I loved seeing their creativity, also regarding their many different hair styles! As the African Diaspora is huge, it’s just a normal result that African and European designs are mixed and it’s amazing to see this development. Obviously African prints have reached the big labels like Burberry, H&M etc. as well! I’m convinced that Africa is the future!

Is Fashion the perfect platform to showcase individuality? Jen: Yes it is. We love fashion, prints and colours. You can put everything together and create your

own style and the best thing is, it doesn’t need to To compromise would be okay but I would not be expensive. change everything to fit in. The important thing is to remain true to yourself and be you. Dunja: What I love about fashion is that there’s no limit to live your own creativity. Fashion will Please share your favourite individuality never be boring, it’s up to you how you mix and quotes. combine to get your own individual style.

You walk into a room full of people who are total opposites of you, how do you react? To be different is good. We would be interested to get to know the people. We are open-minded and love to get to know new people.

Jen: If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. ~Maya Angelou It always seems impossible until it’s done.~ Nelson Mandela Dunja: I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. ~Martin Luther King

Would you accept a job that expected you to compromise your personal style to conform to an organizational brand?

Bohemian Rhapsody Wax Story: Afro meets Boho Creative Director/Stylist/MUA: Jennifer Nnamani of Beau Monde Society Photographer: Oye Diran of Arista Imagery Hairstylist: Cassandra Normil Videographer: Rob Jenkins Models: Zoey and Hassam Designs by Royal Jelly Harlem (

From Gambia with Love!

Model: Lillian Bruce Oliver Photographer: Amina Touray

What’s your Herbalosophy? Creating a nutritional plan that fit your needs. with Iman Folayan


ieting can be difficult and what most people don’t realize is that while cutting things from your diet can help you lose weight; sometimes it’s more so what we add than what we take out of our diets. Coach P began like most of us, a family history of cancer, diabetes, and other health issues and a desire to break the cycle. After witnessing her mother’s struggle with cancer and the transformation she made after adopting a holistic diet, a desire to heal others was embedded in her spirit. We hear Dr. Oz and other health professionals rant and rave about what new products and diets are best for you but the truth is, as Coach P says, any change we hope to see in our body starts with our mind. Habits and routines over years can create complacency and when starting a new diet or lifestyle change that can be your worst enemy. When Coach P started Herbalosophy 101 it was for one purpose, to lead by example. “We believe in sharing this journey. It’s one thing to preach

something and to live something”. Unlike others, Herbalosophy 101 is based upon a realistic approach; there won’t be any miracle diets, only practical and attainable diets. But what exactly is the ‘herbalosophy’? Firstly, connect with nature. Secondly, eat the plant not something created in a plant. These are two ideals Coach P instills in all of her clients when creating their individualized health plan, but the most important is to be patient with your body! “I had a client who was trying to conceive for years and was unsuccessful. I created a nutrition plan for her but every time we talked she only spoke of her anxieties and doubts. I advised her to change her attitude and outlook and after three months she started see a change in her mind and body. I’m proud to say that she is now six months pregnant”. The core of health relies on what we believe and feel about our life, our experiences, and ourselves. So ask yourself how internally healthy are you? Don’t think that you have to do it alone. This is precisely why Coach P extends her services and is expanding her product line to include a detox e-book, custom blend juices and a tea collection. Visit to get started on your unique health and wellness plan.

Sweet Sun Relief

Here are a few tips to enhance your herbalosophy 1. Less is More- You don’t have to workout for an hour everyday to get results. If you don’t have the time, incorporate a 10-15 minute workout on your lunch breaks. Visit for fun fitness exercises 2. Keep it Tight- Your core is the center of your body and the house of most of your body’s strength. A strong core can improve balance and agility on top of keeping your abs swimsuit ready.

There’s nothing better than the warm kiss of the sun on your skin. But sometimes the sunrays can be stronger than we realize. Scientists from Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University conducted a recent study and discovered that ginger and turmeric extracts can help prevent DNA damage caused by UV rays. A few drops (diluted with water) on the skin and you can bask in the sun with no worries. So trade the sunscreen for a natural alternative, your skin will thank you for it. Never-Fail Insect Repellant 2 Tbsp eucalyptus oil 1 tsp cedar wood oil 1 tsp citronella oil

3. Breathe Easy- Breathing exercises are the easiest way to help restore lung health and promote mental serenity. Add a few aromatic scents such as eucalyptus, lavender, or lemongrass oil to optimize the experience

1 tsp pennyroyal oil

4. Keep Going- Health and Well-being is a continuous journey. Do not set goals only to reach them and plateau. Challenge yourself and you will continue moving forward.

Mix in warm water in a one-quart spray bottle. Shake and use liberally

Stay Connected and Join the conversation Twitter, Instagram, Facebook@herbalosophy101

1 tsp lemongrass oil

Source: Kathleen Barnes

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