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March Issue 2014

Celebrating Women of African Heritage





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AFROELLE MAGAZINE | Encourage. Empower. Entertain. Elevate

Photographer: Tanesha Lambert, Emmanuel Falaise, Vanessa Blake Model: Linda Ruvarashe Make-up & Styling: Linda Ruvarashe Shop: seventhrow.etsy.com

Hair and make up by Edee Beau Photography by Condry Calvin Mlilo Model Lisette Mibo or Diana Silva

Thank you to all our contributors who helped make this issue possible! IMAN FOLAYAN Writer HOUSTON, TEXAS Iman Folayan hails from Texas but considers herself a world citizen. After graduating with a degree in Spanish and Sociology she sought out her dreams and launched Folayan Media, a company specializing in event planning and public relations. As a professional writer she works not only to entertain but also educate and has personal interests in everything from fashion to politics. At the end of the day her purpose and that of her company are the same: Making dreams a reality from creation to fruition. www.thepowermixer.com

ASHLEY MAKUE Writer SOUTH AFRICA Writer, poet and lover of the arts. Ashley Makue started writing as a little girl with a passion for African literature and languages. As her writing grew, she acquired the courage for questioning systems that were oppressive and tyrannical and wrote candidly on themes that are generally pushed under the rug. Ashley is an active feminist and through her work with The Ladies Empowerment Organisation, Love Life and The Lebohang Mokoena Project she contributes to causes for educating African girls about their important and immovable place in the world.

Share Your Unspoken !


verybody has a story and I’ve always been a believer in the power of sharing stories. With sharing our stories comes healing and freedom and not only does it free the storyteller but those on the listening end. It gives them courage to share their own stories. Many of our African cultures don’t encourage speaking up about certain experiences and issues because its taboo and seen as airing dirty linen in public. So instead issues are kept behind closed doors, silence is encouraged and some sadly die in silence.

Editors Note

In September 2012, My Unspoken—a reality TV show aired in Kenya. It was definitely a first of its kind in Africa where women bravely talked about their life experiences and issues such as depression, spousal abuse, self-hate etc on national TV. From their experiences, it encouraged other women to speak up and ask for help. The heart of AfroElle is about empowering each other by sharing our stories—of building business empires, of starting initiatives, of overcoming obstacles. And these stories inspires me. – that its possible because others who’ve gone before me have done it. March 8th is International Women’s day, a global celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women. I urge you to share your story, your unspoken, your experience. Use your story to empower someone else. Until next time, I leave you with the words of Iyanla Vanzant “When you stand and share your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you and you heal somebody else.”

Patricia Miswa Editor-in-Chief editor@afroellemagazine.com


28 Music, Books, Art & Culture


10 In Her Good Books– Mbali Sikakana

20 Future of Rwanda with Sonia

15 Records of the Season 13 5mins with Jennah Bell 14 a few words with Tracy Viverretta

28 Conversation with Vintage Queen Linda Ruvarashe Matiwaza


Fashion, Food & Travel 38 VĂŠnicia Guinot and Ventures Travel Interviews 42 Cooking with Oshin

Special Feature Women in Poetry

[Pg 48-53]

Nova Masango Sibongile Roxanne Fisher Safia Elhillo Alysia Harris Warsan Shire Catherine Labiran

In Her Good Books Mbali Sikakana runs Umuntokanje, a platform for the unselfconscious writings of women of mostly African origin situated around the world. This ranges from true story accounts, to highlighting business start-ups to opinions and inspirational interviews. The Johannesburg native who’s currently living in Cape Town, South Africa works as a chartered accountant in the financial service industry. She is a feminist and enjoys growing her knowledge and networks on social justice issues. Learn more about Mbali at umuntokanje.co.za

What kind of books do you like to read? Mostly literary fiction centered on African themes and women at the moment. My non-fiction reading includes books on history, neuroscience and psychology. What's the first book you remember reading that made you fall in love with reading and why does that book stand out for you?

identity and belonging and selfdetermination, important themes for me as a teenager. Most African high schools have set books for literature classes, which book would you make compulsory reading for and why?

I would have to say 'The God of My parents had a lot of Readers Small Things' by Arundhati Roy Digest books around the house is a good one. It highlights and subscribed to newspapers many pertinent social issues in and other journals. I would read a context that most aren't anything I could get my hands on. exposed to because of the dirth I was just enamored with the of writing we get to see being language and stories, especially canonized from Indian writers. those in the Readers Digest. It She adds an important was probably only in high school perspective that universalizes that I had a truly transformative these issues while at the same experience with a book and this time explaining the basis for was through Maru by Bessie their existence globally. Head. It was a set work. It's a memorable read for me because of how it tackled issues of

Who's your favourite author and why? Toni Morrison. In my view, she is a giant of an intellectual and her writing, aside from it's technical skill is transformative in how it opens up a whole new universe of experience. I find her writing also has integrity. She writes from a place that is anchored in her own identity as a black woman, but is unique to herself. Her writing is not an explanation of a people, it is an experience of what is, from her perspective. ' Half a Yellow Sun' the movie adaptation based on Chimamanda Adiche's novel will be out soon, did you read the book? What are your thoughts on tv or movie adaptations and do you have a particular favourite?

I did read the book and it a solid favourite that introduced me to Chimamanda as a writer. I think movie adaptations are fulfilling a different purpose to books. They may agree in terms of structure and themes, but with the differing mediums will always come some conflict in what the writer or director will want to be the ultimate experience or takeaway for the rest of us. I just ask that it be good artistically. I don't have any favourite but I'm looking forward to Half of a Yellow Sun. Which book has changed your life or has had the most impact in your life? This is a difficult question. As a young woman, I was somewhat shaped in thinking by Maya Angelou's autobiographical series, not because there was any proselytizing in it but because her trajectories made it seem I could think anything about anything and live a life appropriate to my own leanings and that that life was a lot less conflicted and rewarding despite the difficulties that can arise from doing as you are pulled to do as an individual with a unique compass.

Reading habits with Mbali What are you currently reading? I'm in-between books. But, I just finished 'Confessions of a Sociopath: A life spent hiding in plain sight' by ME Thomas.

What books are on your reading list this year? I don't use a reading list. I read according to my changing interests. The process though organic is quite random. Is there a book you feel was hyped about but you didn't find interesting? I usually steer clear of much-talked about books, just because I think the hype can dull the chance of a pure experience of it and this can become unfair to the work itself, which may be good because the reading is charged with others' experiences and opinions. I often read books after they are not spoken about. Do you read one book at a time or a chapter of different books at a time? I usually read several books at a time, especially of different genres. I find because I don't usually have a lot of time to read, it keeps my mind fresh and ready for more despite my schedule, tiredness etc. What book don't you mind rereading or have you reread? I don't think I have ever read a book more than once, but lately I have been considering rereading 'The Buddha in the Attic' by Julie Otsuka and 'The Power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle. If you were to have date with an author- live or dead, who would it be and why? I'd like to meet Junot Diaz. I have some questions about his narrator 'Yunior' and some of his commentary about him in interviews. I would also like to discuss some of his insights about family in his work, especially 'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao'. Some questions by Josette of booksloveme.blogspot.com


Jennah Bell

talks to us about being Jennah Bell, making the music and sharing her art. Words by Ashley Makue Who is Jennah Bell? I am my mother and my father. I am everyone I have ever touched and who has ever touched me. I am a rubik’s of music and literature. I am a unicorn. When did you discover your love for and talent in music making? While I was already enamoured with all of Alan Menken’s songs from Disney movies I had seen, and had watched “Annie” so much the VHS was starting to smoke, I think I fell in love with music in a very new way when I heard “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and Stevie Wonder’s “Musiquarium I”. The combination of those two records excited me in inexplicable ways for a 7-year-old girl. It was a pop-rock and roller coasters kind of excitement. I was sure that I was experiencing something incredibly magical. I think everything after that point was a pursuit to recreate that same sentiment through my own artistic endeavours. Gradually, my diary entries manifested into poems and I began taking piano and flute lessons. In junior high school I asked my parents for a guitar and taught myself to play by writing songs and I guess, the rest will be history someday. What is the biggest lesson you learned from the Grammy Foundation summer music programme that you attended as a teenager? Prior to attending Grammy camp, I was incredibly shy. I tried out for all the lead roles in my school productions but never got them because I was paralysed with stage fright. Every aspect of Grammy camp helped me gain confidence as a vocalist and writer. It was pivotal in my decision to continue music and apply to Berklee. You have had an indisputable talent, why was it important for you to study music formally? I was still figuring out what it meant to be a professional musician by the time I was accepted to Berklee. I wanted to have a full scope of what that could mean from more than my own perspective. It is important to know every aspect of my craft if I intend on mastering it.

What was the biggest step you took towards a music career?

Moving to NYC was definitely a milestone. Placing myself in one of the world's arts Mecca’s was a giant step towards growth. I am fairly certain if you can make it in New York, Jupiter doesn’t look so scary . In this pop-culture time where pop music dominates most music spaces, what advised your decision to make folk music? I don’t think I made a conscious decision to create folk music however, my affinity for the genre in tandem with my love for wellwritten lyrics, certainly lent itself to my overall objective. I truly love music and that can translate in so many different ways. Your debut EP, Early Bird, featured only five songs, how do you know when a record is complete and ready to be shared? A project is ready to be shared when you have come as close to your own idea of creative perfection as you can possibly stand, and the last and only step is to take a deep breath, and let it go. The Early Bird EP was done long before it was released. It was an accumulation of songs (and eventually edited down) I had written over 4 years in my dorm room. I did not write/record them with the intention of releasing them. I had all this music in my head that I was finding the “vocabulary” for while simultaneously learning about the whole process. I was trying to come as close as I possibly could to what I had in my imagination. Eventually, when I listened back to them a year later, I realised that the songs would never sound that way again. That rerecording them would be a small injustice. I was docile and unafraid of criticism. The way that they sound marks a very specific time in my growth as a musician, a period of time that I am really proud of. In December 2012 you released a live EP, Live at Mother NY, how has it been received? The response has been amazing. I am so moved when I encounter people who share with me how the music has affected their lives. There is no greater feeling than to inspire love. Your work with the Strivers Row along with the richness of your lyrics indicates an influence of poetry, what are some of your favourite poems? So many of my favourite poems are written by members of the Strivers Row. They are a truly gifted group of artists. I also love Buddy Wakefields, “Hurling Crowbirds at Mockingbars”, and Robert Frost “The Road Not Taken", and anything written by James Baldwin. You were the only unsigned artist to perform at the 2012 BET Awards, how was that experience? It was surreal! It almost felt like a dream sequence in a movie about a girl who wants to become a successful songwriter. If it weren’t for the pictures and video footage, I would still think it was a dream. It was amazing. What are some of the biggest moments of your career?

Singing for David Foster, sitting down with Paul Simon, playing the BET awards, meeting Stevie Wonder, Playing the Roots Picnic, and touring in Europe and playing North Sea Jazz festival. What can you share with us about your current and prospective projects? I am currently in the process of recording some new songs that will hopefully be released on a project spring/summer of 2014. I am really excited to share new music with people. Which music makers would you like to work with in the future? James Blake, Justin Vernon, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, T-Bone Burnett, The Muppets, Stevie Wonder, Emily King, Paris Strother (KING), Elton John. What do you wish to ultimately contribute with your art? I want to enrich the magic that is art and ultimately, is life and I want to give my perspective that might in turn, give another a voice.

Check out Jennah at jennahbell.blogspot.com

" Rejoice in prints provides African print designs handmade in Ghana and the UK with a distinctive combination of style, good quality and value. Inspired by Africa's beauty and vibrant colors- every design has a story with a proverbial meaning"


Records of the Season Compiled by Ashley Makue

Once Upon a Time Once Upon a Time is the perfect playlist to put on repeat this season, with the biggest dance tracks of the summer and the warmest love songs, Tiwa’s latest album is a treasurable collection to make. In a bubbly and sunny voice, Tiwa sings about that hoped-for love affair. Her most celebrated songs of the record; Love Me (3x) and Eminado, essentially love songs, are the kind of hearty melody that immediately connects to your happy place. It is neither hard to want nor to understand the kind of romance that she sings about, and for the moments while singing along, you have it. []

Corinne Bailey Rae Corinne’s vocation can be easily associated with her ability to put all the warm and fuzzy about love into words and into melody. Her self-titled debut album carries some of the biggest love songs of our time; from the selflove hit song Put Your Records On to Like a Star and Breathless, she captures all the excitement of falling and being in love in a breath-taking communication of music. The enchantment of her voice, together with the wealth and poetry of her lyrics will have you sixteen and a believer again. []

Beyoncé Since venturing out into a solo music career, Beyoncé has been credited for the sexiest expression of music. In her latest self-titled album, she shares about her experiences as a wife and a mother in love. Her hit songs XO and Drunk in Love have quickly become the anthems of this Valentine’s season, dominating most music and entertainment spaces. Beyoncé’s gift of connecting makes this album a part of your life experiences, even if you have not had the love she sings about, it is inevitable to sing along to ‘we be all night’ and ‘surfing all in this good-good’ with great conviction.[]

Due Drop The imaginative, storytelling, singer-songwriter Toya Delazy’s first album is an explosion of colour, bliss and inspiration. Hers is the fun and electrifying compilation of love songs. The BET Award nominated Due Drop is a bowl of sunstrokes and spring. Toya expresses love in an effortless, unforced and remarkable art. Her biggest love songs of the album; Love is In the Air, Heart and With You are the beautiful image of love and its life-shaking power. With the kind of melody that will have you dancing and singing along with not enough care for sadness, this surely is an album to have and to hold. []

A few words with ILLUSTRATOR Tracy Viverretta “ Art, for me, is air, food, water, nature's beauty...my life !”


elf-taught artist, illustrator, recycling crafter, extreme diy-er and peddler of handmade goods, Tracy Viverretta confesses to never having an art class in her life and that none of her education ever included any art studies. Growing up in Las Vegas, Tracey was creating things since her childhood – dolls, pillows, embroidery, clothing, she was always making fun and functional things. As a junior in high school, she did some drawing, but that was it for her art not crafty, inclinations until 1994. 1994 would mark the beginning of finding her absolute passion. In that year, Tracey launched a monthly publication called Kid’s Press to encourage inner-city children develop a love of reading. Since she wrote, illustrated and edited all the content, Tracey thought she was on her way to becoming a children’s book writer, but what she didn’t anticipate was falling in love with drawing and illustrating. Kid’s Press lasted for seven years and this is when Tracey’s art career officially started. She talks to AfroElle about what it means to be an illustrator.

What do you like about being an artist? I appreciate very, very much that I get to do what I am most passionate about - art! Art, for me, is air, food, water, nature's beauty- my life. I also like that my work is happy, colorful, lighthearted, fun and funny. I sometimes catch myself smiling when I work and there are times when I laugh out loud because some of the characters I make are silly, strange, odd and funny. Where do you mostly get inspiration for your art pieces? Mostly, my imagination. My mind is quite busy. I wake up with many ideas, so I keep a mini notebook by my bed for all the ideas that come to me , this is one of the reasons I make so many notebooks. After that, my inspiration comes from everything and everywhere. I'm heavily inspired by faces and words. I love faces - the unique features to each face and how they come together to give each human being their own unique physical identity. I love that. I also love words, languages. Everything in my body pays attention to words and languages - any kind of language - even languages I don't understand. Inspiration also comes from love, kindness, happiness, givers, positive people, polite people, respectful people, compassionate people, good

energy, people who love themselves as they physically are, alphabetic letters, books, children’s literature, positive things people do, positive things people say, good people, kindnatured people, happy people, uncommon people, travel, my definition of beauty, innocence , in adults and children, animation, crayons, handmade anything, vintage photos, papers, all things vintage, animals, children, things children say, laughter, smiles, simplicity, life, color, different cultures, being in the moment and cherishing that moment, non materialism, things I see going on around me, I could go on and on – many, many things inspire me.

Do you have any favourite art pieces? Oh, good question. Well, I have a special place in my heart for my plush dolls because I believe they are strongly unique. Also, dolls are nostalgic for me because I've been making them since childhood and I have so many different design styles. I thoroughly enjoy conceiving, sketching and constructing them and seeing them go

through all the different stages to become a finished product. It doesn't always go as you think it's going to go and the result can be surprising in a good way, or surprising in a bad way. Also, I can be conservative with the design or let my imagination go wild and that's quite fun. I love creating different and unique looking plush characters. How has your work developed over the years? Since I learned art on my own, my style in the beginning was naturally, quite raw and very naive. I remember using a ruler to draw straight lines. I thought things had to be perfect and measured. Indeed, I was very naive. My work has become a bit more polished perhaps since then, but I think it still has a strong element of naivetĂŠ. Also, in the beginning I felt like I needed to define my style, so a friend and I started doing a bit of research and came upon a style called Pop Art. She concluded that I was a Pop Artist and I started describing myself as such. These days I just call myself an illustrator.

In this highly competitive field - think out of the marketing box. There are so many ways to earn a living in art. Art is everywhere, on food boxes, on coffee packaging, on business signs, on business windows, in parks, inside buildings, on billboards...everywhere. Find your niche. Be a consummate professional by returning emails, phone calls, etc. Find out everything you can about your specific field of art, such as promotion, marketing, what to charge, etc. Above all, don't make a habit of working for free. Many art books will tell you that this devalues your work and the work of other artists and it keeps the belief alive that artists should work for free.

Do you have any artists that have influenced your work or whose work you admire ? Being a completely self-taught artist, I can't honestly say that anyone influenced my work in the beginning because I didn't know any of them for years after I started. These days, since I'm online much more, I come across many artists whose work I love and admire, such as Marcellous Lovelace, Matte Stephens, Mickalene Thomas, Margaret Kilgallen, Jeff Hughart and many more. What advice would you give to aspiring artists? Firstly, confidence , not arrogance, is everything. Be confident about your work and the price/value of your work. Use your creative mind to think of creative ways to market your work.

People never ask an architect, a doctor, an engineer, a nurse, a teacher, etc., to work for free, but they come to artists and want us to work for free and "donate" or give away our work. They want us to just give away what we put our time, energy, money, materials, conception, execution, talent, love and hearts into. Don't misunderstand. I am not saying we should not support philanthropic efforts. I believe in giving to my community and I currently do so and have always done much in the way of giving back - particularly where children and children's organizations are concerned. What I am saying here is that I don't feel that artists should always work for free on a regular basis. We have the right like any other professional to earn an income and support ourselves from our work. Artists should always remember that the person behind the desk asking them to work for free is earning an income and so should the artist.

Are you currently working on any pieces you can share with us? I'm currently working on some soft sculptures that I haven't made in about 12 years and I'm very excited about returning to that medium. I've also got new illustrations coming soon and I'm working on some things that are top-secret right now. If I could talk about them, I would. If you start reading my blog, you can find out about my handmade adventures and what things I have coming up. I invite your readers to come visit me at the following locations, where I share my work, craft tutorials, business tips for artists/crafters, blogging tips and much.

To see more of Tracy’s work Blog: tracyville2.blogspot.com Shop: tracyville.storenvy.com

The Future of Rwanda

We profile four change makers talking about their dreams for Rwanda. – Complied by Ashley Makue

Sonia Mugabo– Founder of “Afrikana Exquisiteness” (AE) Sonia has always been passionate about fashion and having lived in the USA for 5 years, she interned in New York– the fashion capital of the world at three different occasions. Her biggest influence was interning at Teen Vogue where she got experience working with editors and influential people in the industry. Sonia showcased her first collection “Mix n’ Match” at the 2013 Kigali Fashion Week where she received International Coverage from The Guardian, BBC and Der Spiegel. She is currently working on opening a showroom and online store for her brand. “I want to make women feel beautiful and empowered by my designs.” she says.

Where do you see the Rwandan fashion industry in the future and what responsibility do fashion makers in Rwanda have in ensuring that these hopes are actualized? Rwanda, as a country is developing in different areas, and for the fashion industry being a boost for the economy, I see the Rwandan fashion Industry growing and putting Rwanda on the world style map. I am a firm believer that “as long as you are passionate about your vision, you should keep moving forward with it and believing in it.” If young Rwandan designers have this sort of mentality, no doubt we’ll be able to compete with more established African fashion places such as Accra and Lagos. Rwandan fashion has a lot to offer in the sense that we have a very rich culture with a very artistic side to it. For instance with our weaving and beading techniques, I’m always blown away with the detailing, vivid colors and the overall design. I also feel as though since the fashion industry is so new here, people are curious to see what us Rwandan Designers have to offer. We’re like a breath of fresh air.

“Rwanda has shone a light on me as one of the pioneering women in aviation and I am honored everyday that young girls can look up to me as a role model. I think it's very important for young people to have one.�

Mbabazi Esther- first officer at Rwandair 25 year old Esther has been working at Rwandair as first officer for over 2 years. As a young girl Esther loved the skies, and even though she was only a passenger, she was determined to get into the cockpit . Years down the road and she is living her dream. What is the future of aviation in Rwanda and does it include women pilots? The future of aviation in Rwanda is bright, Currently, we have about two women in maintenance, three female Air traffic controllers, about four females training to be pilots already and possibly more, flight dispatchers, load controllers. These are just a few I know of, young girls all over the country have shown their desire in joining aviation some have contacted me others just reached out to my colleagues and with the rate at which Rwandair is

growing, the new aircrafts being brought in, the new destinations being launched, we are so far the fastest growing airline in the African region, more cockpit crew (male and female), more cabin crew, more engineers and all the other professions I mentioned before will be needed not just doubled but probably tripled, and aviation in general in Rwanda is growing too with the construction of the new airport. There is no more limit for us women. Rwanda is supporting us and we have confidence in ourselves, now our surrounding is not limiting. And the sky for women in Rwanda is no limit. We have come a long way as a country and it is reflected in the aviation industry as well.

Photo Credit: Illume Creative Studio

Isabelle Kamariza - CEO Solid’ Africa

When Isabelle Kamariza left Belgium where she was studying law to spend a three week vacation with her family in Rwanda, she had no idea she would be spending the next three years helping vulnerable patients in public hospitals. At first, it was her faith that drew her to visit patients at the Kigali University Hospital Centre (CHUK) for as she puts it “it is nice to always pray for the sick but that won’t bring them their daily bread”. When visiting the hospital, Isabelle was stunned by the despicable conditions in which some of the patients were living in : lack of food and hygiene products, so many patients could not go home because they did not have means to pay their medical fees or transport, others simply did not have enough to pay the necessary medicine for their recovery. That is when she decided to call upon friends and family in order to help—Solid’Africa was born. Today Isabelle is still the backbone of this initiative and runs the organization as the president. Since the beginning of the project, she has won the Young African Women Leaders Forum Award 2011 and the Imbuto fondation CYRWA 2013 . Solid'Africa has been nominated for other awards celebrating successful initiatives.

“ We cannot ask our governments to do everything; we as the citizens, civil society and businesses, have the prerogative of looking at ways to transform our respective communities and to fill the gaps as needed.”

What is the future of the Rwandan public healthcare and how can organizations such as Solid Africa facilitate the availability of adequate public health facilities for all? Food security in public hospitals remains the biggest challenge in the Rwandan public health system; as hospitals do not provide food and its cost is not included in the "mutuelle de Sante" insurance scheme. Solid'africa’s main purpose is to find a solution that will bring peace of mind to the most vulnerable patients and allow them to go seek treatment without any fear about their living conditions. We hope that one day we can ensure that everyone who goes sick and has limited means can go to any medical centre with an assurance of food availability. Currently we feed 300 patients for breakfast every day and lunch on Mondays at one of the biggest public hospitals in Kigali. In the near future we are going to build an industrial kitchen with the target to feed 1000 people twice a day with special diet meals. This project will target 5 main public hospitals in Kigali. And this is just a pilot project; if successful we will decentralize it. Food is a basic need and everyone should have access to it, especially when you are sick and with no means. We consider that it is everyone’s concern to make sure that his fellow Rwandese eats. If the government cannot have the means today to do it, it is because we are still a country with limited resources, but after the 3 years’ experience doing the work, I am convinced that it is possible, all that is required is for each one to be conscious that they can do it. Imagine if each person reading this could sponsor one person for a meal for one day, a 2 dollar meal. That could change someone’s life. It is also the right thing to do, any religion you can be in teaches you that you can only demonstrate love by caring for the less fortunate. We cannot ask our governments to do everything; we as the citizens, civil society and businesses, have the prerogative of looking at ways to transform our respective communities and to fill the gaps as

Salha Kaitesi– Founder of Beauty of Rwanda Salha Kaitesi is a British– Rwandan mother , social entrepreneur, sister, friend and founder of Beauty of Rwanda. She is passionate about ending poverty, development, empowernment, justice and equality. Salha is also the founder and editor of ElleAfrique, the first all African women blogzine. What is the anticipated contribution of trading opportunities such as Beauty of Rwanda for the economy of Rwanda? International trade is playing a significant role in expanding Rwanda's economy. Beauty of Rwanda is doing her small bit in this role. Goods that were at first only sold in Rwanda are now able to be bought in the west. Families are economically uplifted and the overall wellbeing of those involved is improved. But even though trade openness has contributed to development the logistics hinder this. They are very expensive and larger cooperation's seem to always benefit the most.

Vintage Flair

Conversation with Vintage Queen

Linda Ruvarashe Matiwaza On her passion for serving vulnerable children, and all things vintage Can you share a bit about yourself and your background? I’m Linda Ruvarashe Matiwaza and I am from Zimbabwe. Currently I reside in Brooklyn, New York with the love of my life, my husband. My family is from Chimanimani, a mountainous region in Zimbabwe; however, I grew up in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe. I always treasure the experiences I had growing up in Zimbabwe, and many of those experiences helped forge my perception of life. Life was simple yet full of so much character and depth. There were life lessons to be learned all around me, as long as my eyes were open. My parents always made it a point to teach us to seek after God with all of our hearts, to have a teachable spirit and a strong sense of identity. I serve in several non-profit organizations that aid orphaned children in Africa, most of my work being focused in Zimbabwe. I serve as Deputy CEO for ZOF Africa, a 501(c)3 tax exempt NGO that funds vocational training for vulnerable children in Zimbabwe. As a young high school girl, I once visited an orphanage in Zimbabwe, Chinyaradzo Children’s Home.

I remember holding the most beautiful baby girl in my arms, so innocent and full of faith, orphaned at infancy. So many questions went through my mind – why, how, who? Who would love her, who would teach her, who would guard her innocence, who would tell her that she is the apple of God’s eye and that He loves her with an everlasting love? I will never forget her face. I believe it was at that point that it became clear to me that I had to do something. I am devoted to this work because I see the value that “parents” bring into a child’s life. I see it in my own life particularly and in the lives of those around me. I am who I am today to a large degree because of the parents God gave me. They helped to shape and mold my character, they taught me how to have a relationship with my Creator, they gave me a solid education, and they showered me with love and showed me how to love another. The value is literally eternal. Orphaned children should have this same experience. We all have a responsibility to help those less fortunate than us, and the key is to start where you are. I would love to do so much to serve vulnerable children. I am not yet where I want to be but I am moving on that path. I am also the owner and curator of Seventh Row, an online vintage store that carries vintage women and menswear, vintage accessories and vintage home décor pieces. Above all I am a devout Christian and love the Lord with all of my heart. What life lessons have you taken away from your experience working with ZOF?

A few days after returning from serving in one of the children’s homes ZOF Africa funds in Zimbabwe, I had a dream. I started to sing a song in my native tongue and the children joined in to sing. At the end of the song, some children came up to me with tears in their eyes. They said, "Will you come back?" There is a need that vulnerable children have that is far greater than any physical need. Yes, a roof over their beautiful heads, food in their tummies, education you know, the needs we tend to fund but this is a need money can't buy. It is the greatest need for any human being; it is the need to be loved and to love. A consistent kind of love, a love that never ends. A love that will come back, a love that just sits there and lets the tears do the talking, a love that rebukes, a love that sees no failure but only opportunities. I could go on and on about this type of love. During my time at the children’s homes, I realized that LOVE is their greatest need. All things stem back to the need to be loved and to love. Each day I miss the children so much. I'm so glad I got to see their beautiful faces again, even if it was just in a dream. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not selfseeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails! 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 This is the greatest life lesson. LOVE.

As the owner of a vintage store, when did you realize your love for vintage clothing or when did you first discover vintage? I discovered vintage in my mother’s closet. I had such a great appreciation for how intricately the garments were constructed, and I liked that they were unique and different from what was common or modern. I believe I have an “old soul.” I generally like all things of old, not just limited to vintage clothing. I like old love – it is so pure and sincere. I like the way women conversed in times past – so poetic and intentional. I like old concepts and ideas, old books, old photography, the list goes on. I have a deep appreciation for the character of times

“I have a deep appreciation for the character of times past, and yet I am all about change and adapting. I always seek to merge the past with modern day living to strike a beautiful balance.””

past, and yet I am all about change and adapting. I always seek to merge the past with modern day living to strike a beautiful balance. I think there is a beautiful blessing in that. It’s growth as opposed to creating something new. How do you describe vintage and what qualifies an item of clothing as vintage? What defines vintage is somewhat relative. Typically twenty years and prior would be considered vintage; however, many people don’t even consider the 1980s as vintage. So, it is all relative. Clothing prior to the 1920s would be considered antique. Describe your style to us? Every single day I wear at least one vintage item, it

never fails. I have a particularly soft spot for the 20s and the early 70s era. The 20s offered ornate yet fluid and romantic garments, and those are right up my alley. I enjoy wearing romantic, ornate pieces such as an embellished maxi or lace dress. I also enjoy awesomely tailored pieces as they serve as a great juxtaposition to my romantic style. I give homage to my African heritage by my love for mixing unexpected prints. What are some favorite pieces of vintage clothing that you own?

I have separation anxiety every time I mail off sold items from my store, so you can imagine how I feel about my own vintage closet. My favorite pieces would have to be lace dresses – add some beading and you take my breath away. Every time I acquire new inventory I have to give myself a limit on what I can keep for my closet, otherwise I wouldn’t sell anything. The beauty about vintage is that as it waxes old, the value increases. I believe we call that appreciation. What inspired you to start your own vintage store? It was a collision of vision, passion and circumstance, with faith being the greatest ingredient.

My career had been in Finance and Treasury, and my hobby was collecting vintage. My subconscious always knew one day I would open a store, but at the time it was merely a passion and something I would do independent of any remuneration. After I got married I made quite a few transitions and decided that it was the perfect time to move in this direction. I had faith and continue to have faith that God leads and guides my every footstep.

Before He formed me in my mother’s womb, He had a specific plan and purpose for my life. Each day that purpose unfolds, and when all is done and said, I want to be able to say I lived the life God intended for me to live. I want to die empty, depositing all that God has put within me into this world. I see my store as a platform to let my light shine and to allow others to let their light shine. How did you settle on your stores name Seventh Row? My store was initially Ruvarashe Vintage Boutique and I recently rebranded and changed the name of the store to Seventh Row. I desired a name that speaks to the succession of eras but in an abstract and indirect manner. I also desired a name that is both masculine and feminine, as I

will be adding a men’s collection to the store this season. Seven is the number of completion and perfection, and each piece of clothing is “complete” in my customer’s hand. Seventh Row is a place to find that perfect vintage gem. I always say, “Provide a lovely home for a lovely vintage gem.” What do you love about owing your own store? I love that I have the ability to do what I enjoy each and every day. Being a storeowner has been character building on so many levels, and I am grateful for the opportunities to grow and blossom.

“Seven is the number of completion and perfection, and each piece of clothing is “complete” in my customer’s hand. “

“Vintage clothing also has a story and in most cases you will never know. I like to make up stories in my mind for different pieces - of the journeys they have traveled.�

Do you think 'vintage' is an in thing right now versus contemporary fashion? I don’t necessarily think vintage is the “in” thing, nor do I encourage people to wear the “in” thing, unless it is their style. The joy, however, about vintage is that you wear a one-of-a-kind piece, and most people treasure that. The detail in vintage clothing is quite impeccablefrom the buttons, to the seams in all the right places, to the lining, etc. Each piece has so much character and love. Vintage clothing also has a story that in most cases you will never know. I like to make up stories in my mind for different pieces - of the journeys they have traveled. Does your love of vintage extend to your home decor? Absolutely! I admire the craftsmanship of antique furniture and vintage home décor pieces because they have so much more character. It’s all about the details for me. I typically love to mix old pieces with modern pieces, which creates a beautiful balance. Eventually I hope to add a few vintage home décor pieces to the store. What are some misconceptions about vintage clothing? There is a misconception that vintage clothing is for smaller body types. This is false and in fact in days of old women enjoyed a fuller figure. Most of my 50s dresses would look so much better on a

fuller figured women. Vintage can be worn by all sizes. There is another misconception that vintage is unsanitary. This is also false because as long a vintage piece is cleaned or sanitized properly there is nothing unsanitary about it. I take time with each garment to either hand wash or dry clean each garment and make sure it is as good as new. Another misconception is that wearing vintage looks costumey. Depending on how you style a piece, you do not have to look like you just stepped out of the 60s. I advise mixing vintage with modern or mixing pieces from different eras to avoid the costume syndrome. I like to wear a vintage dress with an African head wrap - it creates the perfect juxtaposition. Another great styling tip is to wear an ultra modern shoe with a vintage dress. For men, think of wearing a modern suit with a vintage tie and pocket square, or a vintage blazer or sports coat with modern jeans and a t-shirt. Do you have any tips for buying vintage? Buy what makes you smile!!!

Visit Linda’s shop seventhrow.etsy.com


ultimedia Journalist, Radio Host and Producer, Vénicia Guinot has just launched a new media project called the "Ventures Travel Interviews," a series of interviews that feature the trail of African and international globetrotting personalities who share their most memorable African travel experiences. Vénicia who is the founder of the Tropics Media Group & Tropics Magazine, first bi-lingual (English/French) magazine from Africa was recently nominated in the “International Media Woman” category at the 2014 WOMEN4AFRICA Awards talked to AfroElle’s Iman Folayan about her new project and journey as a journalist.


ow did you get your start? Did you face any difficulties being a woman?

First of all, I would like to send my compliments for the New Year 2014 to the AfroElle team plus readers all around the globe and thank you very much for having me. Well, to answer that question, one needs to take a look back at my humble beginnings to better understand how I got here. First of all, I was admitted to a Media School at the age of 17 in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. I used to present the news, every Monday, in front of the entire school and this is one activity that has helped me sharpen my dream of becoming a Multimedia Journalist. In March 2010, I founded Tropics Magazine which is often referred to as the first bi-lingual

(English & French) magazine from Africa and decided to write about an array of subjects that still interest the Afro-Caribbean communities worldwide. As a global lifestyle magazine, we started writing about arts, beauty, fashion, lifestyle and publishing international news on a monthly basis. I always wanted to be a Business lawyer or a journalist, even though my late mother, Mrs. Julienne Mankassa, thought that Communications would be a great career for me. I followed her precious advice and became a professional journalist instead. I am truly grateful to her not just because she was a visionary but also because this career allows me to be creative, see the world and meet influential and interesting people from whom I learn a lot. Throughout the years, I have watched many women facing challenges of communicating powerfully to bring about positive results for their own career and their future. This is, unfortunately, not my case because I

know where I come from and where I am heading . Women need to stop being reluctant to stand up and take credit for what they have accomplished, achieved and initiated. This way, they will project self-confidence and a powerful presence. My advice to fellow women in the corporate world is to keep speaking for success. The media has never been a leader in showing positive images of people of African descent, how do you plan on reversing this trend? A very short answer to this question is that at the core journalism is still the accurate chronicle of events from the smallest local story to the largest global story with universal impact. The values of journalism remain the same in Africa and everywhere else in the world, but the specifics of how to gather the news, the facts and how to distribute the news have changed dramatically. Why do we, Africans, not take advantage of this revolution? What are we waiting for to project a sophisticated image of our beautiful continent when we have idyllic views that could boost our tourism industry? The very fundamental questions every African journo should ask themselves is: ‘How is my work contributing to the development of Africa?’

direction; journalism will become a very powerful tool that anyone in the community will take advantage of in order to bring upon change. You will notice that journalism will be more exciting than it has ever been and that’s a fact. What advice would you give to women looking to start a business? What have been some of your greatest challenges and successes? That is a huge question! African women have made great strides in the business world, and I personally look up to two incredible women, state presidents namely; Joyce Banda of Malawi and Liberian Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who are great examples of this progress. In addition South African Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma became the first female Chairperson of the African Union Commission. Need I say more? With many African women daily involved in determining the destinies and changing the lives of their communities, they are doing everything that is right by the motherland. I can only encourage everyone to make the decision of launching their own businesses. All they need is creativity, fulfillment and passion.

Reversing the trend is a very easy task if we all develop the will to change and keep in mind that change begins with you, first.

Money comes in third place and connections count. Women can make great entrepreneurs compared to men because most of them have a sense of responsibility and they are used to juggling many other elements of their life, that gives them an edge in the business world.

Should we all look in the same

Who has been one of the most

memorable people profiled in your "Venture Travel Interviews" and why? It would be so difficult to point at a single person and state that the have been the most memorable personality profiled in these interviews because each one of them added a certain value to the whole project which has helped me better understand what our own people expect to get from our tourism industry. Nowadays, many African entrepreneurs prefer travelling to Dubai, New York, Geneva, India, etc. and some of them find no interest in visiting other African countries other than their hometown. This is simply dangerous and I just hope we could become proud of our continent. The interview I conducted with Adiat Disu, the visionary behind the Africa Fashion Week in New York is simply moving. She shared lots of valuable information anyone can relate to and I am praying this project will turn out to be an eye-opener for the international community as well as for our people. I am a thought leader and being passionate about my work, I am pretty sure that the “Ventures Travel interviews” will change the way we look at Africa

“Write because you love to write and you want to take the time to improve your skills. Do not get into this field because of fame. Become a Journalist because you can’t live one day without telling stories that matter.” What further work can we look forward to in the upcoming year? Well, 2014 just kicked off and I am excited to get involved in few key projects I have been working on for the past 3 years . Those who are familiar with Tropics Magazine will notice that things are changing for the best and God willing, things are looking up and I am grateful for God’s blessings. I got into content production last year and produced the “Venicia Guinot Show” on www.radiotongolo.com which featured more than a hundred African personalities and friends of Africa. Since 2011, I have grown to become a diligent Executive Producer and I look forward to launching new projects that will interest both the African and international community. Your French-speaking readers can catch up with me every Wednesday on www.radio-tongolo.com (evenings) to participate to my upcoming second radio show called “Opinions Plurielles” to debate on issues that matters. I look forward to a productive year and wish to achieve more for Africa and its people. What three things do you think no woman should ever be without? With the fresh season upon us, I think this is the perfect time to reflect on what I believe to be the top 3 things a woman cannot live without. Education: To better understand why, here is a quote from Madiba that I cherish so much and which should come in handy: “Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world.” A can-do spirit, which is necessary for any human being who is ready to help himself. Having the willingness to take initiatives in the corporate world or at home is important and relying on others is not always the way to go. Lastly, ‘Home is where your heart is.” Create your sanctuary and find a home, space,

apartment, room, retreat and allow yourself to be alone with your thoughts and feelings. A woman without the ability to unwind in her own privacy will quickly buckle under the stress of daily life. Choose to be happy and be! Share any final thoughts or anything that wasn't mentioned that you'd like to include. I appreciate this free question which allows me to close this interview with one piece of advice to those who wish to become journalists one day: “Write because you love to write and you want to take the time to improve your skills. Do not get into this field because of fame. Become a Journalist because you can’t live one day without telling stories that matter.” Africa needs you right now and do not forget that this is the best time to be a journalist, and if you happen to be a woman , remember that you will have more opportunities now than ever before to succeed. Network with other successful journalists and help each other climb the ladder. As Ms. Oprah Winfrey said once: “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.”

Connect with Vénicia Guinot and follow her work : Tropics Magazine : tropicsmag.wordpress.com Ventures Africa : ventures-africa.com/category/lifestyletravel/travel/

Cooking With Oshin


n paper, in the boardroom, or when she meets the Queen of England, she is Shamis Yassin, Corporate Affairs Director at Bara Kali Limited. To her family, friends, and for her preference, she is Oshin: a wild fire, writer, reader, but more importantly, she says, an epicurious adventurer seeking sensual pleasures. Oshin was labeled "epicurious" by a friend, based on the fact that she is always on a journey of gastronomic discovery, that and the fact that she has an insatiable curiosity for all things food and beverage. A Kenyan living in Nairobi, hrough food, she says, she is both rural and as global as they get! If it tastes good, Oshin will eat it! Read on for our Q & A conversation.


hat encouraged your love for

much in terms of good food and drink. I


was quite the rolly polly child and my love

My most outstanding inspiration for the

for eating is still evident in my "extra

love of food and cooking is my multi-

medium" frame..My mother also took us

cultural lineage and upbringing. I

out to all the best restaurants every Friday

descend from a rich and beautiful

night while growing up and my fascination

cocktail of Somali, Ethiopian and Italian

with fine dining grew from that ritual. My

bloodlines. Through marriage in the

cousin too used to take us to dine out

family I have Arab, Swahili, Indian,

often. I guess eating and a healthy

Guyanese and German relatives. I've

appreciation to food runs in the family.

had very close American, Seychellios, Kikuyu, Kamba,Pakistani, Japanese,

I built my cooking interest early when I

British and Rwandese family friends.

used to spend time with my mum, aunt and granny in the kitchen. Then I got a

By virtue of this I have always been

toy cooking set and I'd pretend-cook

around all manner of cuisine and food

imaginary meals for my cousins with

both exotic and traditional and I have

leaves and whatever else I could lay my

eaten my way through it all. Big families

hands on. Then my mother bought my

like mine always have epic cook-outs,

cousins and I miniature jikos and sufurias

pot lucks and cultural celebrations that

and we actually finally had the chance to

introduced and got me addicted to so

really attempt cooking. It was a whole new

“ A great meal would be one that transcends the food. The food is the piece de resistance of any meal but it also takes so many more elements to make it a special experience.� world! I remember one Eid my mother and granny told my cousins and I to light up our jikos and they gave us ingredients to make pilau and garlic meat and we were all trying to be the best! It was hilarious and intensely competitive. By the time I was 10, I was cooking pasta for Sunday lunch. I've grown up loving my time in the kitchen and my mum and other relatives have taught me well.

I can now brag about being quite a phenomenal cook as far as the home standards are concerned, and I cannot wait to cook for my husband and my children and eventually teach my children the culinary skills I have learned. Nowadays, I spend my weekends watching The Food Network and trying out the interesting recipes I see and sometimes I just get into the kitchen and add my own twists to meals I know well or even take a chance on inventing something new. Cooking is my catharsis and I love playing some Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bob Marley

“I love how intimate food is: when someone cooks for me, I feel as though they are sharing a part of their soul with me, trusting me with their most heartfelt expressions.�

or even some rap on occasion and just "throw down" in the kitchen


love how multi-faceted food is: we use it to impress, celebrate, comfort, lament, seduce- you name it! I love how hat is your definition of a great meal?

multi-purpose food is: that you can use a frozen cut of steak

Personally, a great meal would be one that

to pacify a bruise or lemons to bleach hair! Amazing! I

transcends the food. The food is the piece de resistance of

absolutely love how food manages to combine the things I

any meal but it also takes so many more elements to make

love: art, architecture, culture, adventure, tradition, novelty,

it a special experience. The setting, the ambience, the

imagination and story telling. I also love that food keeps us

general mood, the company, the service, they all play

alive. Evidently, as that is least of all, I'm a live-to-eat kind of

major roles in creating a memorable and magical


experience. I love sharing a meal with people I love and feel at ease with over some lovely stimulating conversation, lighting. Or maybe just a light hearted picnic in the great


outdoors with nothing but nature and God to keep us

to try the Panake menu at Black & Gold cafe at the Panari

entertained and interested. A great meal, I feel, is one that

Hotel. I went to Panari for a solitary shisha as I usually do on

manages to satisfy not only my appetite but my soul as

Sundays and I got hungry. I remembered that I'd seen a


sinful picture of their pancakes on Eat Out Kenya's Instagram

laughs and mood enhancing background music and


hat is your best food memory? Oh I have so many wonderful food memories! My

best food memory would have to be the first time I decided

page and had vowed to try it so I decided that was the best hat do you love most about food?

time to do it. I went to the cafe and luckily they were having

This question brings the beginning of a favorite

a pancake festival. They gave me a menu with over 20

sonnet to mind: "How do I love thee? Let me count the

different pancake variations and of those, you could opt for

ways. “ Your entire publication might have to be dedicated

either crepes or waffles instead: so many yummy choices

to me should I answer this in its entirety! I just love how

and any foodies dream come true and nightmare all rolled up

expressive food is in aroma, texture, taste, look. Literally

into one!

food for all of my senses. I love the buffet of emotions food manages to evoke in me. I love the fact that food

After careful deliberation, I finally decided on the blueberry

allows me to travel through the world and affords me the

pancake and a glass of vanilla milkshake. Now, I expected

luxury of exploring different cultures and peoples without

good pancakes from the picture I'd seen on Instagram but

ever having to book a ticket. I love the way food manages

what they presented was a pure treat! It was three fluffy

to bring people closer together in friendship, brotherhood

American pancakes with blueberries, blueberry syrup,

and camaraderie.

chocolate syrup, fudge, crushed almonds, crumbled Oreos and the marvel was topped with a heavy serving of

I love how intimate food is: when someone cooks for me, I

homemade vanilla ice-cream and an Oreo cookie on top! My

feel as though they are sharing a part of their soul with


me, trusting me with their most heartfelt expressions. I

“ She has taught me that food is all about bringing people together, that goats are never slaughtered over tears. Always to love and laughter. That a family that eats together means nobody goes hungry.� The first bite was so spectacular that I just started laughing from

But the most valuable lessons for me have been the

sheer joy. I have had food that has made me sigh, squeal, shut

family, love and life lessons I have learnt.

up and close my eyes and let out a soft moan even. But that was the first time food ever made me laugh! A few of the patrons

My granny rarely cooks humble meals. Every time I see

saw my reaction and ordered the same thing. Magic!

her cooking, we are having a lavish or grand meet and


eat. She has taught me that food is all about bringing o you have any bad food memories?

people together, that goats are never slaughtered over

Oh I have the absolute worst food memories. They still

tears. Always to love and laughter. That a family that eats

haunt me! Why does bad food happen to good people? Okay,

together means that nobody goes hungry. As the

okay, my reactions might sound a tad too dramatic once you

Matriarch of our family, she united us and appreciated us

read the story but hey, Adding a bit of salt when talking about

through food and collaboration. I love it and I love her

food never hurt anyone .

for it. I learned that family lesson from her.

I remember this like it was yesterday: Eid ul Fitr when I was

My father worked abroad for most of my life. When he

about 8 or so. We were all having fun cooking outside for one of

would come home for his holiday, my mother would cook

those family cookouts we used to have often. My granny was

all of his favourite meals and serve them hot and by his

working on several things including popcorn and I couldn't wait

bed. She would really pamper him for breakfast lunch

to have some. She told me she would call me when they were

and dinner. It brought her such joy to be able to cook for

ready and she proceeded to dry roast some coffee beans. The

him again and the fact that her food and her special

aroma was heavenly at first but the more she toasted them, the

treatment made him happy, made her happy. I grew up

more it started to bother me. I ignored it and went about

knowing that this is the norm when it comes to feeding

playing. She finally called me and handed me a bowl to which

your husband. Until I grew up and found that it wasn't.

she added some milk boiled with ghee and sugar and infused

But I learned from watching my mother that making sure

with the roasted coffee beans and finally topped off with the

your man is well fed and happy is not a chore but a

popcorn. I was excited to try out this Somali treat , usually

source of satisfaction, pride and happiness for a woman

served to pregnant women in their 7th month, called Shadhali. It

as well. I learned that love lesson from her.

was the worst, I threw up so much from all the sugar and ghee and milk. To this day my stomach turns at the sight of popcorn.


My sister is one of the most calculated people I know. From helping her cook I learned two of the 48 Laws of

hat life lessons or food lessons have you

Power Robert Greene speaks about in his book: Lesson 1

learned from being in the kitchen with the

"Get others to do the work for you, but always take the

women in your family?

credit." She would make me prepare all the ingredients, and do the actual cooking, all she would do was instruct

The kitchen and the table have been two of my most important

me. But then she would be the one that "cooked" the

classrooms in life. For me, it's more than just the verbal wisdom


imparted on me by my mother, grandmother, sister, aunts or self given mothers like my best friend's mother , who makes the best

Lesson 2 from the same was " Never outshine the

damn tiramisu ever!. Sure, they will teach you about food tricks

master" because any time I would try to take credit or

and give you etiquette tips etc.

get praise for the meal It would not end well! For me! She taught me those fundamental life lessons.


hat food trends are you currently excited about?

The most exciting food trend to me is the fact that in my city, Nairobi, and in Kenya at large, food IS trending! I feel like we are deliciously living through a culinary golden age marked by delectable milestones like amazing new restaurants and global food franchises (KFC & Subway) coming up all over, a surge in food and fine dining appreciation and novel marketing for such. In the last year alone, I have been to about four amazing restaurant openings and inaugurations (Lucca at The Vila Rosa Kempinski and The Emerald Garden to name a couple) but unfortunately missed several. The diversity in cuisine is exciting as restaurateurs are racing to cater to the eclectic and metropolitan demographic we have. We even have international Michelin starred chefs visiting our top restaurants more frequently, hosting a number of themed and exclusive menus which enjoy grand publicity and support. Beverage companies that specialise in alcohol, like Nederberg Wines, Skyy and Absolut Vodka, and even Macallan and Johnny Walker, have also taken a keen interest in the Kenyan market where they come in and hold lavish food and beverage pairing and tasting parties that draw in the crowds. Bar tending, mixing and flaring competitions have taken the food scene by storm. Foodies, new and well seasoned, are exposed to huge food fairs like the Fashion High Tea charity events where decadent menus and fashion are stylishly brought together for a good cause. My favorite is the just concluded Nairobi Restaurant Week (hosted by Eat Out Kenya and HSK Consulting).

It is a week long , usually extended due to public demand, restaurant promotion whereby the top restaurants in the city offer prix fixe menus in order to encourage people to sample what they have. Eat Out Kenya and HSK Consulting, whom I consider the revolutionaries when it comes to this culinary golden age in Kenya and every foodies' dream come true, also established the Taste Awards: a superior restaurant and chef award ceremony that has set and elevated the standards eateries about the country have to live up to by gauging them based on public reviews and executive assessment by some of the more experienced gastronomes in town. We even have executive chef and restaurateur Kiran Jethwa, proprietor and head chef at Seven Seafood and Seven Grill , whereby I organized / hosted an exclusive birthday dinner for Saudi Arabian Prince HRH Fahad AlSaud courtesy of Bougi's Rozan Ahmed, producing and hosting a culinary show called Tales of a Bush Larder that has been commissioned to be shown on cable network Zuku and syndicated by Fox Tv worldwide. I am especially obsessed with Eat Out Kenya, the pioneering and leading online food and restaurant guide in East Africa, started up by Mikul Shah. I have been a loyal fan all through the five years it has been around and I just adore how they changed the food game in Kenya by making restaurant information more open and accessible to Kenyans by sharing their menus, pricing, maps and reviews as well as promoting them on social media.

They work closely with my favorite food bloggers Susan Wong of Capital FM and Eat Out Kenya's own Jeanette Musembi. Together they make sure to cover every food event or trend and share them with the public.


f you were to carry only 3 ingredients to an island, what would they be?

Is this a trick question? I should be glad to be on an island if I am to bring limited ingredients because most of the islands

Foodpreneuers like Esmeralda D'Souza have also played a

I know are blessed in having abundant ingredients to keep an

role in this food uprising through her gourmet food delivery

eater like myself well satisfied. From spices to seafood to

services Spez Gourmet and The Good Food Company that

herbs to fruits. I will be lacking in very few food essentials.

allow Kenyans to order quality food online and delivered

My three picks would have to be fresh water, cooking oil, and

right to their doorsteps at affordable prices and in the most

garlic. With my epicurious ways and imagination, I am confi-

darling packaging. I love how trendy food has become in

dent I would find whatever else I needed. Well, maybe not

Kenya an for an epicurean like myself, this smorgasbord of

everything. I would be missing a dining companion!

gastronomical delights is the most yummy treat ever!

Directions 1. Heat the cooking oil in a saucepan and add the grated onions and crushed ginger and garlic. When it starts to brown, add in the minced meat and cook until the water has cried out and the meat is brown. 2. Add the tomatoe paste, some salt, the garam masala, oregano, dried rosemary, and tumericto the meat and cook until the meat is tender and in a spicy smelling thick red sauce.

Oshin’s Lasagna Recipe

3. Boil some salt water and cook the lasagna pasta in it for a few minutes. When ready, drain it.

Ingredients -lean minced meat -grated red onions (I prefer the red as it is sweeter) -some crushed ginger and garlic -tomato paste -Salt -ground mixed dry spices (again, I like to use garam masala)

4. In a sacepan, slowly heat some butter until it melts and slowly stir in the all purpose flour until you form a smooth paste. Keep stirring until it starts to turn golden then add some boiling milk and whisk the mixture until it turns into a very smooth consistency. Add a pinch of salt to taste. You now have the bechamel sauce.


5. Lightly butter or dust with flour, the inside of a baking


dish. Then carefully arrange the lasagna pasta lengthwise

-dried rosemary

over the bottom of the baking dish. Ladle some bechamel

-lasagna pasta

sauce over this. Add some of the mince meat you had

-assorted cheese (I usually combine parmesan, mozzarella, and cheddar)

cooked over this and top off with a thin layer of the


ner and finish up with a layer of the lasagna pasta, be-

-all purpose flour

grated asdorted cheese. Contunue layering in this manchamel sauce and cheese.

-Milk - cooking oil

6. Bake this in an oven that is preheated to 375 degrees, for 30 mins or until golden brown at the top. Serve hot.

Exploring the Imprint of the African Diaspora on Fashion

Click to visit africanprintinfashion.com

A Love Supreme: A Lesson in Poetry Women and Jazz Men (Acknowledgement. For M.M) When I met him His presence spoke in tongues to my skin It was written Everything that is beautiful Has its beginning in Spring

You a man of music, moving


You, my favourite Coltrane ballad, soothing

ova Masango is a poet, performer, writer and student. Passionate about Anthropology, literature, feminism, social justice, Jazz music and the excellence of Africa, Nova uses her writing to explore and engage with the world around her.

One of Nova’s first poetry milestones and public affirmation was the Drama For Life “Lover + Another” Poetry Challenge in 2010, where Nova’s poem Re-Enacting October made it to the finals of the competition. Her first introduction to a wider public poetry audience was at the Word N Sound Poetry & Live Music Series' Open Mic competition in 2011, which was established by Afurakan, through the performance of her epic poem, To Do List For Africa and has since gone on to be crowned as Queen of the Mic in August and September 2011 and in February 2012. She is currently featured in ZAZI, a social awareness campaign in which she performs along with singer Zonke, aimed at young women affirming and valuing themselves. This campaign, established by the Johns Hopkins Health and Education South Africa, is being aired across all SABC rdomedia platforms. She was one of the delegates of the 2nd Annual Polokwane Literary Fair held in July 2013.

Enjoyed you like a Miles Davis chorus The very first time I saw you Undeniably Your fragrance Captivated me Like Dizzy Gillespie melody How light notes of cypress, citrus and violet swirled all around me How piquant heaviness of Gucci teased me Closer to conversation How inside wanted out I only pretended to be interested in your words So that I could breathe you in And land on your mouth

And I did Again and again Until, eventually I knew nights soaked in kisses and drenched in Jazz By first name

Lovers of Words

y have a way with words– poets you need to know.– compiled by Ashley Makue A love built on praying trees I’ve heard the trees praying… Against curious winds, They branch out in a sacrilegious act of sharing their God with the city air, Filled with our breath, somewhat like how every morning your chest opens itself up to welcome my head, My love, your palms remind me of their leaves, Firmly clasped onto nothing like that’s where life begins… “The sense of touch is an experience between two things, no matter how thin” And your lips have touched my everything… I’ve known you, Underneath kitchen tables that hold up the scent of warm nostalgia, Fat cakes and roasted peanuts in the way your arms stretch over horizons to hold me up, No one makes love to my heart the way you do,


ibongile Roxanne Fisher also known as

Gratitude Fisher, started writing in 2005 and has not stopped since. She started performing from page to stage in 2008 while doing her matrix at Norkem Park High, however it was in 2009 when she rose to claim her space on the mic, this was the same year she joined the UJ Poetry Society at the time (now known as Foreword). She went on to perform in and around Johannesburg and has gone to perform in a couple of stages around Durban. Some of her listed works include being feautured on the KPN Mix tape vol.1 (this is her first recording of her poems). She has shared the stage with renowned poets such as Likwid Tounge, Mak Manaka, Myesha Jenkins, Phillipa De Villiers, Afurakan T Mohare, Natalia Molebatsi, Ntate Don Mattera and many others. She has since then performed at stages such as the Baseline, Market theatre lab, Jo’burg Theatre, Soweto Theatre, Bat Centre and many others. Gratitude Fisher is not only a Poet, Writer, Actress and overall performing artist she is an artist who is obsessed with seeing the art grow to the magnitude of its own right. She is a very spiritual being and draws her inspiration from how her spiritual experiences relate to the status quo. She is currently a student at the Market Theatre Lab and a resident writer for EMagazineFirst. She has since appeared on ZoneTv and Mzanzi insider and has done radio interviews with Ujfm and VOWfm.

i think i met all the wrong men before you and i think they ruined me but i think you’re really handsome the way a map is handsome, with skin wide open soaked in the whole world’s ink. i think i’m done pulling paint off the walls i think i want to read you the names of every city that ever burned down, i think we’d like it there.


Caits Meissner for Jellyfish Treasury- Photo credit

susie knuckles in love

afia Elhillo is a Sagittarius, and Sudanese by way of Washington, D.C., by way of

NYC. Safia is an alum of New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study with a concentration in “Poetry as a Tool for Therapy” and a minor in Middle Eastern Studies, and is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at the New School. She has performed at venues such as the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and the New Amsterdam Theater on Broadway, and has shared the stage with ?uestlove and Black Thought of The Roots, Gil Scott-Heron, The Last Poets, Immortal Technique, Bell Biv DeVoe, Faith Evans, and Sonia Sanchez. She is a founding member of Slam NYU, the 2012 and 2013 national collegiate championship team, and was a three-time member and former coach of the DC Youth Slam Poetry team. Safia appears in the upcoming season of Verses and Flow on TV1, and was a finalist in the 2011 Women of the World Poetry Slam. Her book of poems, The Life and Times of Susie Knuckles, is published by Well&Often Press.

You are the first adult I ever dated. The only man I never had to labor for. If anyone should ever ask, I would describe you as a wealth of Sundays. You found treasure where thieves before found trinkets. They used to gamble my bones for luck but there is honesty in your touch. From navel up, I have sailed your spine straight as a whistle and marvelled at the industry of your mind. The last time I saw you, you were just as beautiful as the first. So don’t bush. Don’t look away. Just hold my gaze.


lysia Harris is a heliotrope. She follows the Son. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, with a PhD from Yale University and an is an MFA student at NYU. She studies semantic change and aspectual shift in African American English and the genetic relationships between Semitic language. Though intrigued by the scientific study of language as a linguist, as a poet she uses it as a creative probe to explore the emotional, spiritual, and relational realms of the human experience. Alysia is a two-time national spoken word champion, being a member of the winning BNV 2007 and CUPSI 2007 teams, and was featured in the HBO Documentary Russell Simmons Presents: Brave New Voices . She has performed with the likes of Saul Williams, Buddy Wakefield, Carlos Andres Gomez, Anis Mojgani, Rita Dove, and Elizabeth Alexander. Her poems have garnished well over 3 million views on YouTube. Alysia is most passionate about God, love, and poetry. Her biggest loves in life are spontaneous group dance sessions, Hemingway, and clean endings. When not studying or writing, Alysia can be found dancing, Facebook stalking, crying over heartbreak, talking about theology, eating CLIF bars and hanging out in the deserts of the Middle East. She hopes in the future, to move to the North Africa to start a number creative writing programs in the region.

every mouth you’ve ever kissed was just practice all the bodies you’ve ever undressed and ploughed in to were preparing you for me. i don’t mind tasting them in the memory of your mouth they were a long hall way a door half open a single suit case still on the conveyor belt was it a long journey? did it take you long to find me? you’re here now, welcome home.


Warsan Shire is a Kenyan-born

Somali poet, writer, editor and educator who is based in London. Warsan has read her work extensively all over Britain and internationally – including recent readings in South Africa, Italy, Germany, Canada, America and Kenya- and her début book, ’Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth’ (flipped eye), was published in 2011. Her poems have been published in Wasafiri, Magma and Poetry Review and in the anthology ‘The Salt Book of Younger Poets’ (Salt, 2011). She is the current poetry editor at SPOOK magazine. She is a Complete Works II poet. Her poetry has been translated into Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Warsan is also the unanimous winner of the 2013 Inaugural Brunel University African Poetry Prize. Shire is the current Young Poet Laureate of London.

Catherine Labiran is a 19 year old African-American-British poet who uses her pen as a medium to speak for the silent. Born in Staten Island New York, raised in Harrow, London and now living in Atlanta, Georgia, Catherine is able to infuse her diverse cultural experiences into exhilarating bodies of work, enabling them to live lives of their own. She was selected as a winner of SLAMbassadors UK 2010, a winner of 30 Nigeria House, and was conferred the honor of writing the official Olympic Poem for London 2012 as one of London's "12 Poets for 2012". She has performed in venues in the United Kingdom, America and in South Africa. Her first publication 'Ayisat' was released in November 2013 and is now available for purchase internationally.

Virgin Sometimes my legs are so closed It seems that my thighs are Praying for him, Or swapping secrets about him, Or kissing before the day he arrives and they kiss goodbye, Spreading wide for his kiss. It seems my spirit is waiting for love Before allowing my leg to part, Which is the way limbs say amen. And through exhales I know I will breathe An anticipated Hallelujah For the years Of prayer And the physical form of prayer That is Making Love.

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Profile for Afroelle Magazine

March 2014- Art Issue  

Our Art Issue is packed with features on Rwanda change makers, poets you should know, an interview with vintage queen Linda Ruvarashe owner...

March 2014- Art Issue  

Our Art Issue is packed with features on Rwanda change makers, poets you should know, an interview with vintage queen Linda Ruvarashe owner...