It’s a Welu kinda Friday!!!

You know it’s a Friday when you wake up doing the Welu Dance…

Happy Friday!!!!

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Ndlela ntle Tata Madiba

I don’t think words can speak highly enough of him so I’ll just share the pictures I took while paying tribute to Tata this past weekend in Soweto, Orlando on Vilakazi street.

A remarkable life, long lived and so very well!

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“It is only too easy to exalt the virtue of the fallen and raise them to the status of Gods. But to do so would betray the reality of human existence and diminish the reason for which they are truly remarkable. And it would be to forget what ultimately sets such great men apart. It is not that they were God-like which makes them exceptional, it is that they were ordinary, they were human and they showed us what we could be”

Lala ngoxolo Tata Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela…

Umembeso – A fun & festive occasion

Umembeso is a fun and festive occasion and every Zulu family has its own unique way of celebrating this special occasion.

I recently had the opportunity to attend a friend’s Umembeso in Kwazulu Natal (KZN). For those of you who don’t know what Umembeso is, Umembeso is a zulu tradition that celebrates the union of marriage between two individuals but most importantly the union of the bride and the groom’s families. As a symbol of appreciation to the bride’s family the groom’s family presents the bride’s family with gifts (according to the list provided by the bride’s family prior to the membeso ), these gifts include but not limited to: blankets, pinafores, head scarves, clothes , food, straw mats, a live goat amongst others.

I had such an amazing time learning about this Zulu tradition. All the love, warmth and hospitality I experienced was so genuine and heart warming. Being part of such a wonderful cultural event is definitely an experience that I want to remember for a long time to come and I couldn’t help but share some of the pictures and videos I took.

The morning of the wedding was an atmosphere full of love, laughter, the sweet smell of traditional food on a three legged pot, ululation and good conversations between the women in the family from grandmas, aunties and the young women.

Photo Credit: OLiVEreign Morning preparations before umembeso at the brides house.

Photo Credit: OLiVEreign
Morning preparations before umembeso at the brides house.

The grooms family’s arrival was greeted with food, song and dance at the gate where both families competed in song while the groom’s family asked for permission from the bride’s family to enter the yard and announced that they come bearing gifts.

Photo Credit:OLiVEreign The bride's family welcomes the groom's family

Photo Credit:OLiVEreign
The bride’s family welcomes the groom’s family


 
Photo Credit: OLiVEreign Powerplay between Zulu warriors and maidens

Photo Credit: OLiVEreign
Powerplay between Zulu warriors and maidens

The powerplay between the impi and intombi dancers was one of my highlights, I truly enjoyed it and it was at this point where my camera failed me and the battery died on me. Nonetheless, the memories will always be entrenched in my heart.

The gift exchanging ceremony itself was another highlight that triggered memories of my own traditional wedding, I was suddenly flooded with a great sense of pride and joy for being from an amazing country filled with such a rich cultural heritage and where the spirit of ubuntu reigns despite our differences as a people and the social ills we are faced with.

Being present at this unadulterated celebration which was characterized by ululation, song, wholesome traditional food, beautiful souls and dance provided me with so much insight into the Zulu culture and I’m grateful to Nhla and Ayanda for having afforded me the opportunity to be part of this important occasion in the lives.

PS. Please don’t be shy to share your own traditional/cultural experiences, I’d love to hear them 🙂

A True Goddess

When I heard Kagiso Msimango was writing a book, I instantly knew that this was going to be one brutally honest book, one that would empower and invoke one’s highest purpose from a place within all women that is sexy, playful, restorative, healing, and uncensored. I must say that the book is everything I expected and more.

Kagiso is the founder of the Goddess Academy, she is Africa’s first certified IAW Facilitator Coach and author of the Goddess Bootcamp which has reached the Top 10 best seller lists in bookstores in South Africa *air punch*.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Kagiso Msimango about the Goddess Academy, her book and more. This is definitely a woman who is making things happen in HER.it.AGE!!!

Who is Kagiso Msimango?
I am a seeker who is keen to share whatever useful tools and information I acquire on my own personal journey to make my life work.

How did you come up with the Goddess Academy and Why?
I came up with The Goddess Academy almost 7 years ago when I realised that many capable women were just not fulfilling their potential, and I was curious about what leads talented, skilled and resources women to settle instead of going for their true desires.

You have recently launched your first book called the Goddess Bootcamp…

Photo Credit: OLiVEreign

Photo Credit: OLIVEreign

What is the book about and what inspired it?
The book is really an extension of what the Goddess Academy does which is to empower, inspire and support women to create lives they love.

How did you come up with this tittle?
The title was meant to be a working title that stuck. I wasn’t a fan of it but the publisher liked it a lot so ultimately I succumbed and we went with it.

Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
Any woman who is ready to stop settling for less than their heart’s truest desire in any or all areas of their life.

  

Kagiso Msimango at her book launchPhoto credit: OLiVEreign

Kagiso Msimango at her book launch
Photo credit: OLiVEreign

 What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Writing the book was very easy. Handing it to the publisher and waiting to hear if they think it sucks or not was hard!

The book has gained a fast following. What do you think makes it so popular? What resonates with your readers?
I think it’s time had come. The world has changes and people are increasingly more concerned with a personal path to success and fulfillment. More and more we want what we want rather than what we’ve been told to want. I think it’s also because it is a simply written and frank book, in which I share quite a lot of my personal dramas.

Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Why did you go with the birdcage and the colours gold, black and white?
The birdcage represents the concept of imprisonment. This book is meant to free us from our personal cages, which are often gilded cages, hence the gold. They look great but they are still cages. If you want to live on a farm and teach art to kids, being a top corporate executive in Johannesburg in your huge SUV is imprisonment in a gilded cage.

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book
I had 4 months to write, and I had a full-time job, so I’d wake up at 4am Monday to Saturday to write from 4am-7am. The cat is the only member of the household who bothered to wake-up with me. I love him for that, alas, he now STILL wakes me up at 4am.

Where can people buy the book and is there an electronic version of the book they can purchase?
The book is stocked by Exclusive Books, some CNAs and can be bought online via kalahari.com and even straight from the publisher http://www.jacana.com and yes, you get an ebook version.

Having read the book myself and also attended your book launch and heard Timothy Maurice who is not only an author but a thought leader in personal branding; Design & Innovation hail you as an advocate for conscious feminism, what is your response to this?
I am not too keen on the word femonist because it’s so loaded with history that it tends to distract, but I am advocating a certain consciousness around femininity, its place and its power. I call myself pro-femininity.

 

My signed copyPhoto credit: OLiVEreign

My signed copy
Photo credit: OLiVEreign

What other projects are you busy with at the moment?
I am always finding new ways to empower, inspire and suport women. I have a weekly feature called The Pink Church on Metro FM. I am looking for a way to turn it into a monthly gathering, where women learn and network. I do coaching, not a lot though, speaking, bootcamps and workshops.

How can we contact you or find out more about your book?
kagiso@thegoddessacademy.co.za
@kagisomsimango
@imGoddess
Facebook group = The Goddess Academy.

If you don’t have a copy of the Goddess Bootcamp, do yourself a favour and get one.

Every woman should own a copy of the Goddess Bootcamp!!!

African Songstresses

My friends and family consider me an aficionado of African music, ha ha ha, yes they do. The go to person for the latest African jams. Here is to sharing my playlist of some of the great young African female musicians. These are all African daughters who are making waves in their countries, the diaspora and Africa as a whole through their music. I must confess that this list is a little self-indulgent as these are some of my favourite songs 🙂

chidinma – Kedike – Nigeria
This song must be one of the best love songs I’ve ever come across, this is definitely playing at my wedding reception *wink* *wink*. It took me a while to figure out most parts of the song but thanks to google, I now know what “Kedike (heart beat)” means. Quick lesson: “you dey make my heart go Kedike” – translation “you make my heart beat”.

Nandi Mngoma – Goodtimes – South Africa
Beautiful, super talented and uber stylish!!!

Mampi – walilowelela – Zambia
I’ve seen this woman perform and I can attest to the fact that she moves like she has no bones in her body. I call her the Shakira of Africa. Her latest single Nikutantule has that signature Mampi beat. This woman is the reason why I fell in love with Zambian music

Thandiswa Mazwai – Lahlumlenze – South Africa
Thandiswa has a way of elegantly fusing various musical genres thereby showcasing her renowned artistic and musical capabilities, a talent which transcends borders and music genres.

Shishani – Minority- Namibia
A good friend of mine introduced me to this award winning Namibian songstress’s music, whom she came across while she was doing some work in Namibia. This woman is simply amazing and has a way of addressing social ills that kind of reminds me of the great Tracy Chapman.

Eazzy -Wengeze- Ghana
She is an astonishingly talented woman. Very sweet, down to earth and hard working. She takes her craft seriously and is always on top of her game.

Lira – Rise Again – South Africa
She is a Multi-Platinum Award Winning South African Superstar, a strong believer and supporter in the fight against poverty in Africa and is one of the most beautiful African singers of our generation.

Nneka – Shining Star – Nigeria
Nneka just radiates light, you can’t help but fall in love with her and her music.

Toya delazy- heart – South Africa
A little bit of Toya is all I need to get my weekend started!!!

Meklit Hadero – Leaving Soon – Ethopia
Meklit is the founder of Arba Minch Collective, a group of diasporan artists who perform in Ethiopia in collaboration with local artists. Meklit became a TED Global Fellow in 2009 and a TED Senior Fellow in 2012

Sara Taveres – Bom Feeling – Cape Verde
This song makes me think of mangoes, peaches & figs. The kind of song that makes you want to wake up at dawn, wait for the sun to rise while dancing with words. “Bom Feeling” means “Good feeling”

Sage – So Alive – Kenya
The future of Kenyan music, watch this space!

Ntjam Rosie – Love is Calling – Cameroon
Netherlands-based Cameroonian songwriter and vocalist is soulfully jazzy, her voice supple and classy

fatoumata diawara – Bissa – Mali
Fatoumata combines elements of jazz and funk with the rocking rhythms and plaintive melodies of her ancestral Wassoulou tradition. Her gorgeously melodic songs address the tough choices facing young Africans, especially women.

Tiwa Savage – Kele Kele Love – Nigeria
This song is on that Beyonce girl power kind of swag. It talks about that dordgy kind of love, the “Kele kele kind of love”, this phrase always makes me laugh.

Efya – Getaway – Ghana
Afro-pop with a sultry dose of neo-soul

My dream is to see more collaborations between African musicians, we need more musicians uniting and using music to promote social change within the continent and globally.We need to tell our own stories thereby creating awareness and educating the world. Music is universal and knows no borders!

Happy Independence Day GH

Fifty-six years ago on this day, Ghana became the first black African nation to gain independence from colonial power. Today we celebrate the beauty that is Ghana and in light of this I decided to share something about Ghana, the Kente cloth locally known as “Nwentoma”, a rich, colourful woven fabric that is instantly identifiable to African culture, native to the Ghanaian people.This cloth is worn across west Africa amongst the people of Akan and Ewe of Ghana, Togo and the Ivory Coast as a nod to their proud heritage.

Asante King in Kente cloth and gold - Source Unknown

Asante King in Kente cloth and gold – Source Unknown

The word Kente derives from kenten which means basket. Patterns in the cloth resemble the weave of a basket. The cloth itself holds strong significance as it draws on ancient ancestral ties while also denoting the wealth and nobility of its wearer.

Kente is more than just a cloth; it represents the history, spirituality, philosophy, ethics, oral literature, religious belief, social values and political thought amongst other things. This fabric was historically worn by royalty in Ghana, it was limited to special occasions and all the thread used was silk.  

 

Kente cloth making headway in urban pop culture

Kente cloth making headway in urban pop culture

The cloth has evolved with time, today; kente is made from rayon, cotton, and silk, making it affordable for a greater number of people. New patterns with new meanings are constantly being designed, but many of the original patterns are still used in weaving, however, its prestigious status is still maintained, and it has continued to be associated with wealth, high social status and cultural sophistication.

Kente bow-tie design

Kente bow-tie design

Here are some of the symbolic meanings of couloues in Kente Cloth:

black — maturation, intensified spiritual energy
blue — peacefulness, harmony and love
green — vegetation, planting, harvesting, growth, spiritual renewal
gold — royalty, wealth, high status, glory, spiritual purity
grey — healing and cleansing rituals; associated with ash
maroon — the colour of mother earth; associated with healing
pink — assoc. with the female essence of life; a mild, gentle aspect of red
purple — assoc. with feminine aspects of life; usually worn by women
red — political and spiritual moods; bloodshed; sacrificial rites
silver — serenity, purity, joy; assoc. with the moon
white — purification, sanctification rites and festive occasions
yellow — preciousness, royalty, wealth, fertility

 

African prints seem to be emerging as a global fashion trend

African prints seem to be emerging as a global fashion trend

 

I think it’s only fitting that we end this post with a “young” Azonto…lol

 For further reading on traditional kente cloth, be sure to visit http://africa.si.edu/exhibits/kente/top.htm as well as http://kente.midwesttradegroup.com/history.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kente_cloth

And for more information on the unique weaving process of kente cloth, be sure to visit http://www.popularpatchwork.com/news/article.asp?a=33

 For products inspired by kente and other traditional African textiles, visit http://sapelle.com/collections/bags/products/glitter-medium-clutch

 

 

A date with destiny

Bright eyed and bushy tailed we began our two hour day trip to Mombasa from Malindi. The air was thick and humid, the kind that made you feel sticky and sandy straight after a shower, I didn’t mind though, I embraced the heat and humidity, I wanted it to coat my face and body, I wanted it to seep into every pore of my being.

When we finally reached Mombasa, I looked at the sky in excitement and gasped; the clouds contained traces of red soil and somehow covered the earth with an elegant pink haze. The lush forest we had seen on our way to Mombasa had changed into ancient Arab architecture, narrow streets with flower gardens by the road side and lots of curio shops.

Our first stop was at Tamarind Restaurant, an Arab elegant style building perched on a cliff overlooking the Nyali/Tudor creek with cute charming boats as a backdrop. Here we entered a well-attended interior courtyard parking lot and we were greeted with heartwarming smiles. This is where I had one of my best meals on the entire trip. The food is to die for and the attention to detail is mind blowing.

Lunch at Tamarind Restaurant

Lunch at Tamarind Restaurant

It was at Tamarind restaurant where we met up with Willis, Mosito’s longtime varsity friend. The moment we started chatting him up it felt like we all had been friends since childhood. The afternoon was filled with delectable food, drinks, laughter, sunshine, stunning views and great conversations. What better way to conclude this lunch, than to toast and cheer for yet another great day of travel in the sun on the beach at sunset with a sundowner, with this in mind we made our way to Nyali Beach for sundowners.

Sundowners - Nyali Beach

Sundowners – Nyali Beach

As the sun turned burnt orange we watched kite surfers take a break, sailboats dancing on the waves of the ocean, people swimming along the shoreline while some took camel rides and children building sand castles. A gentle warm breeze flew over my body, as my feet were soaked in the warm sand. The sun gradually fell into the ocean and with this we decided it was time to head back to Malindi.

On our drive back I started reflecting and unpacking the day’s events in my head. My most vivid memory was captured by this photo.

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While taking a stroll along the beach I ran into a sailor who was frantically scooping water out of his worn out sailboat. Out of curiosity I stopped to chat to him to find out what he was doing. It turns out he was cleaning his boat just like one would their own house. As worn out as the boat looks he still takes good care of it so that he can take tourists on boat rides, this way he makes a bit of money. “I take care of the boat, it takes care of me” were his exact words. Before I can catch myself, tears well in my eyes at this very thought and I quickly remind myself that our continent is literally built on the back breaking work of these resilient men and women. When I asked to take a picture of him, he nodded with excitement. I looked down to focus my lens and when I looked up his face had lit up and he gave me his best smile.

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When I reflected on this precious moment and the time well spent with friends on this day trip I realized that sometimes it is the small memories that make traveling worthwhile. This was definitely a date with destiny, truly fulfilling and a lifelong dream.

Jambo

With bags packed we began a trip of a lifetime. On arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi at 5:00am Kenyan time, the plane’s exterior windows were immediately beaded with humidity. Inside the airport, there was no air conditioning, which further heightened the oppressive humidity. After going through passport control we proceeded to claim our luggage and then we were off to boarding gate 1 where we boarded a flight to Mombasa.

When we arrived in Mombasa, we were met at the airport by Roger our tour guide, Roger generously handed out bottled water and mint scented face cloths for us to wipe our faces and took us on a two-hour bus ride from Moi International Airport in Mombasa over a long and narrow road. It was during this trip that I noticed how hard life was for most people, from my comfortable seat in an air conditioned bus, digital camera, iPod in hand and oversized shades, we drove past mud huts and houses on the busy road, hawkers begging to have their goods sold and children running after the bus waving at us.

Drive from Moi International Airport to Malindi

Drive from Moi International Airport to Malindi

After 120 kilometres northeast of Mombasa we had reached our destination, I remember thinking to myself “this must be Kenya’s or should I say Italy’s best kept secret – Malindi”. It is the ‘little Italy’ of Kenya. Billboards advertise in Italian, Kenyans speak Italian including Kenyan kids, grocery stores stock shelves of olive oil, salami and prosciutto, and tanned Italian men wander the beaches in skimpy bikini trunks with tall, skinny dark model like Kenyan girls young enough to be their granddaughters. Did I mention pizza, pasta joints and fine wine?

In typical Maasai Manyatta village-style, with chalet-like rooms made out of indigenous wood and the roofs covered with palm branches (Makuti roof) was our home away from home – Sandies Tropical Village. Crystal clear, tranquil waters, white beach sand, the coconut palm trees, free flowing booze 24/7 all add to this paradise. Here we were warmly greeted with the phrase “Jambo” Swahili for “hello”, this became our way of greeting for the duration of our stay in Kenya. We were welcomed with drinks, drums, dancing, singing and I immediately felt my heart smiling as this reassured me that I was home. The staff were friendly and offered to take our bags up to our rooms while we were whisked away to have lunch.

Sandies Tropical Village, Malindi Kenya

Sandies Tropical Village, Malindi Kenya

The days that followed my arrival in Malindi were filled with nothing but adventure from weaving through traffic jams while holding onto a metal rod for dear life and zipping by Malindi’s distinct architecture on a tuk-tuk on the narrow back streets with beautifully carved doors, shops stacked with metres and metres of colourful kikoy cloth, coconuts being sold by market women,  a trip to Mombasa to have lunch with friends with the ocean and charming boats as a backdrop, sundowners as we watched the sunset, feeding bananas to over enthusiastic monkeys in a forest  by the Gedi Ruins, dancing the adumu “jumping dance” with the maasai around the fire, long walks on the  white sandy beach of Malindi, lunch at old man and the sea, celebrating a friend’s birthday party at Pata Pata, one of the finest upmarket  clubs in Malindi , discovering Soweto Bar in the middle of a remote village in Muyeye on Christmas and visiting a marketplace full of local handicraft, paintings and beautiful maasai cloth.

Christmas in Muyeye spent with villagers/Soweto Bar – Malindi Kenya

Christmas in Muyeye spent with villagers/Soweto Bar – Malindi Kenya

soweto

However, one of the most rewarding experiences of my trip was experiencing a completely different culture than my own, becoming the minority, being reminded of how privileged I am, making friends and getting to know my fellow travelers out of their comfort zone.

Ofcourse I will always remember the more tourist excursions that I took while in Kenya like the famous Vasco da Gama Pillar which is believed to be one of the oldest European monuments in Africa and having been built in 1498, Francis Xavier Church which is the first Portuguese church in East and Central Africa and the  Gedi ruins, what was once a rich trading hub from the 13th to 17th century and was mysteriously abandoned and taken over by the forest until the 1900´s when it was excavated amongst other things. The ornaments that were found inside the ruins are on display in the museum next door which we visited.

Feeding monkeys at the Gedi Ruins

Feeding monkeys at the Gedi Ruins

However, I think what stays with me more and what impacted me more was the spirit and kindness of the Kenyan people, the smiling faces of the children and enthusiastic waves as we drove/walked past and more importantly Hashim, an unassuming kind man whom we met outside our hotel as we were looking for a tuk-tuk to take us to the Vasco da Gama Pillar, Hashim became more than just our driver, we became friends, he made our stay in Kenya a rich, vibrant experience. This man shaped our memories of Kenya more than the place its self.  Hashim shone light on our ignorance and taught us about Malindi and ourselves in ways that he himself will never know and for this I will be forever grateful.

Hashim – This man really took care of us

Hashim – This man really took care of us

 It was also at the Vasco da Gama Pillar were we met Festo aka Captain Vasco who was to show us around. Festo is a care free soul who seems to enjoy the simple things in life. We exchanged numbers with Festo and asked him to take us to a spot where locals chilled for a good time. After a long day of touring Malindi, we finally went back to the hotel to have dinner and freshen up. We then hit the town with Festo and Hashim. They took us to Club Kienyeji which is situated along Tsavo road in Malindi, here, we entered a small, well-outfitted room and we were greeted warmly, we discovered a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of people dancing to the greatest Kenyan new generation music, bands we’ve never heard of before. Some playing pool while the boys were sipping on cold Tuskers. It was at this club where we left with that authentic Kenyan clubbing experience and it felt amazing. This is a real downtown gem!

Me and the boys at the Vasco da Gama Pillar, Malindi - Kenya

Me and the boys at the Vasco da Gama Pillar, Malindi – Kenya

My experience in Kenya did not leave me empty, I take home with me the spirit of the Kenyan children, the humility, courage and kindness of the Kenyan people and  the strength of the Kenyan women who carry wood on their arched backs and walk long distances  to make fire and feed their families.

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My love for Africa and my desire to contribute to the development of this beautiful continent strengthens more with every trip I make within the continent. This experience opened me up to the idea that, even in a blink of an eye, you can make lifelong friends. I can only try to paint a picture with words or capture these moments through my lens but some experiences can only be understood and felt through the naked eye. Africa is definitely the place to be, best believe it!

l’Afrique, my first love…

by: Mathapelo Ramokgadi
 
Tarred roads, cars, theatres, universities, skyscrapers, restaurants, women in their heels carrying ipads/blackberries, gorgeously brightly dressed on their way to the mall/market. People of all shades – black, pink, green brown and white …wait hold on… whatever happened to the jungle and naked uncivilised human beings hunting for their next meal? These thoughts would probably be racing through a first-time Western visitor to any of the major metropolitan areas in Africa, with further expressions of astonishment as they drive from the airport to the city centre.
 

In the face of false coverage on Africa, disasters, disease, famine, poverty and wars, what makes Africa desirable and what makes us love this continent unconditionally? 

I love Africa not because of the lack of good governance or corruption. I love Africa not because its leaders are more accountable to their western donors than they are to their people. I love Africa not because of power hungry leaders that will sell their own and their own souls for money and power nor do I love Africa because its leaders cling to power or snatch money from the mouths of the hungry and marginalised to stash it away in foreign banks. I love Africa not because of the division lines between western Christianity, orthodox Christianity and Islam that we see especially in the North and West of the continent. I love Africa not because of the famines that cause poverty in East Africa and most parts of the continent. I love Africa not because of the civil wars and women and children as young as 9 being sexually assaulted by rebels while trying to walk 200km towards the nearest city where they can find food and water to survive. I love Africa not because of a genocide where more than 800 000 people were killed because of ethnic divisions and the rest of world turned a blind eye nor do I love Africa because of modern day slavery, human trafficking, blood diamonds and child soldiers amongst other things. Having said this one must understand that these problems are not only unique to Africa.

This is why I love the African continent:

1. I love Africa because of the warmth of its people, the forgiveness and the hope that they have and their fighting spirit

2. I love how when people feel overwhelming happiness or sadness, the only thing to do is break out in song and dance. Africa sings when with the plenty, sings when faced with injustice, Africa sings when faced with justice, the birds even sing along with Africa.

Batswana dancers dancing for the Bakgatla Kgosi and guests

3. I love how when a child is born, when someone dies, when one graduates from school or gets a promotion at work, during the festive season,  Africa celebrates by eating, drinking, singing and dancing. When there is a wedding the celebration is for all, and no invitation is needed, the only place where gate- crashers are embraced with open arms. I love how everyone comes together and contributes towards these celebrations.

4. I love how people gather in large numbers to mourn with those who mourn and to rejoice with those who rejoice.

5. I love how I find lemons, pomegranate, black berries and peaches in my yard.

6. I love how delicious new foods can be once you get used to them.

Trying out new food

7. I love how the simple things become such a joy.

Lagos, Nigeria

8. I love how women and their babies, swathed tightly in colourful fabrics/chitenges/kangas, so not a moment of workable daylight is wasted.

A woman carrying a baby in a chitenge

9. I love how there are tailors and shoe repairers on every corner everyone sews, and there is an abundance of material everywhere you turn.

10. I love how I can drink tap water in South Africa.

11. Green leaves+garlic+coconut+peanuts boiled into mash = heaven on earth, and nutritious to boot and if you’re fancy in the city, toss in some prawns!!!

12. I love how in some parts of Africa, when you walk in a house, you take off your shoes. When you sit down at the table, you wash your hands in a basin. What’s simple is true. And cleanliness is next to godliness.

13. If a child is to wear one and only one item of clothing, it is a t-shirt, not underwear.

14. I love how cousins become brothers and sisters and your in-laws become more than just that.

15. I love how topics arise in the mini bus taxis (carrying people from all walks of life) diverse in nature are discussed: from socio-politics to economics and how arguments arise and leave you laughing your lungs out. At the end of the trip, every passenger goes their separate ways having enjoyed the company of others.

16. I love how the market-women, commonly regarded as illiterates, discuss any and all issues and are knowledgeable about history, facts and figures. 

Me @ the market

17. On Sundays in the rainy season – while the thunder rhumbas and the rain does a cha-cha on the roof – the mellifluous lyrics to this music is my granny’s narration on past African heroes, as we – her audience – treat ourselves to some tribe and samp.

18. I love seeing women in their hairstyles and the solemnity with which they walk displaying the strangest arrangement on their heads with such pride and dignity. While they comb and plat it, they chat away about anything under the African sun – visiting with their words all the neighbours’ houses, while the chatting goes on for hours and hours, the new hairstyle takes shape.

African Queens

19. In Africa, a child is not owned by its biological parents alone, but by the entire community and extended family.

20. In Africa, a guest is made to feel comfortable at all costs even if it means the host sacrificing their own bed to accommodate the guest. To the outside world this might seem weird but in Africa this is seen as Ubuntu.

21. Who says Africa is not endowed with abundant human resources when you find mechanics in the townships who have never seen the inside of a university lecture theatre. They can fix anything whether be it German, Japanese, French etc.

22. I love how everyone is in everyone’s business and how someone’s pain and suffering doesn’t only remain their own.

23. The food in Africa is to die for, from the peri-peri recipes in Mozambique to the succulent giant prawns in Maputo, the creamy European-style puddings in Southern Africa, to the injera bread served with spicy chicken stews or tender beef concoctions in Addis Ababa, the Koshari which is a traditional dish in Egypt and oh and how can I forget the delicious grape leaves stuffed with rice or even better how about some jolof rice from the West.

Ethiopian-injera-bread-with-doro-wat (Spicy Chicken Stew)

24. Africa is home for scenic beauty, from the stunning Victoria falls along the borders of Zimbabwe and Zambia to Namibia’s Fish River Canyons and then we climb up to the tallest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro. For greenery we have the rainforests in the Virunga Mountains (Rwanda, Uganda, and the DRC) . If you are looking for ancient civilization, Egypt is the place to be, the Pharaohs left behind the great Pyramids of Giza  and not forgeting the Nile while West Africa will let you experience the darker period of the continents history through it’s slave – tours while in South Africa you can see the world through God’s window and also get to experience Roben Island just to name a few.

Taking a stroll down the Nile

 
 

The Great Pyramids of Giza

25. Africa gave birth to heroes and heroines like the likes of the late Wangari Maathai, Nelson Mandela, Kenneth Kaunda, Cobhams Asuquo, Nazer Mende, queen Yaa,  Asantewa and the late Charlotte Maxeke just to name a few.

Mende Nazer Photo credit: Neil Matthews

I could go on and give you more reasons why I love this beautiful continent but I’ll stop here.

Gaaaaad dayuuumm… I *heart* Africa!!!

Guilty Pleasures…

YES CHOCOLATE, it’s my favourite too!!! I have fond recollections of chocolate soothing me as the sweet taste meltsin my mouth and inspires my taste buds with delight; no, make that more of a passion and enchantment. Is chocolate the pathway to enlightenment? It sure feels like it. Every time chocolate passes my lips and touches the tip of my tongue, I get this warm and tingly feeling inside

 

My love for chocolate propelled me to research more about the origins of the cocoa bean, during my research, I learnt the truth about chocolate and how slavery reaches from across the globe to my own pantry. It was troubling to learn that abusive child labour polluted the production process of products (including chocolate) I buy and consume on a regular basis: shoes, shirts, cars etc. I’m going to admit I felt like ignoring this, I didn’t want to stop eating chocolate. The idea of living without chocolate is abhorrent to me but there’s something about knowing that children are being beaten and abused just so that I can satisfying a caffeine-craving that seems morally off to me.

 

According to UNICEF (The United Nation’s Children’s Fund) 200,000 children are living in conditions of forced labour and slavery on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast.  Sadly, chocolate companies use large amounts of cocoa harvested in the Ivory Coast, which according to the International Labor Organization (ILO), produces 43% of the world’s cocoa.

I thought to myself that these horrendous conditions under which children must toil on the cocoa farms of the Ivory Coast are even more jarring when the facts are juxtaposed with the idea that much of this cocoa will ultimately end up producing something that most people associate with happiness and pleasure. The connection serves to illustrate that the existence of misery in one part of the world and joy in another part are no longer divorced as nations are connected together in a globalized web of trade.

 

 Many of us still find it hard to believe that slavery exists, this is simply because modern-day slavery does not fit our familiar images of shackles, whips, and auctions. Slavery in the 21st century includes such practices as forced child labour. Modern slaves can be concubines, child labourers, camel jockeys, or cane cutters. Though the vast majority is no longer sold at public auction, today’s slaves are often no better off than their more familiar predecessors. Indeed, in many cases, their lives are more brutal and hazardous.

The fact that millions of individuals in Africa and around the globe daily live in real forms of bondage contradicts our sense of history, our constitutions and moral progress. Such ignorance nurtures these human rights violations.

My consumer purchase may be my most powerful act of advocacy against slavery. When a million consumers start shopping with their conscience, they shift the economics of the market. Since my discovery I now look for chocolate bars with the fair trade logo on them which means the cocoa bean sources don’t use child slaves or abusive labour practices. Though there ain’t many choices in SA *rolls eyes*.

 Just as well Kraft Foods much-loved chocolate slab, Cadbury Dairy Milk (plain), is to become the first Fairtrade certified confectionery brand in South Africa, this was announced at a press conference on the 7th of June 2011.

So yeah, look out for it!!! Companies that ignore or blatantly disregard human dignity will lose business.  Governments also need to do their part.So it looks like I don’t have to end my affair with chocolate after all if I can buy chocolate brands that are fairtrade. There are many other products that one can verify to see if they are fairtrade certified. You can check out the website: http://www.fairtradelabel.org.za/ . We still have a long way to go but this is definitely a step in the right direction. Our actions truly can make an impact.

 

Robin Romano, a photographer, extensively investigated slavery and child labour in the Ivory Coast. He took this photograph on one of the cocoa plantations. In a lecture at the University of Connecticut, he quoted one of these enslaved worker as saying, “Tell them when they are eating chocolate, they are eating my flesh.”