Kemi and Kiisha, aged 8 and 6 years olds, are just so cool! It's Saturday 2nd June and the girls' brand Kishem (a blend of both of their names) holds a stall at Camden market. On the table, there are numerous gorgeous items so very girly: badges, keyrings, lucky dip sachets, cookies, colouring books.... Kemi is pointing at the illustration of their lead character dressed Wakanda style. I ask her if she watched Black Panther and naturally this 8 year old Tycoon has. Moreover, she has her own tag line for it "Wakanda rock". I proceed looking at all the items and I am totally in love with them and Kishem's concept.
There is no doubt in my mind that being a little girl again, I would simply love rocking "Kishem style". In fact, all of us ladies present, secretly love all of the characters of Kishem's world and would happily get colouring the pages of the story book there and then. Kishem's oldest sister's favorite is Afia because this character loves science. Unsurprisingly, Kishem's sister loves science herself. And that is the point, that's what we call Positive Representation. These characters in Kishem's storybooks are neither princesses, nor ballerinas. They are powerful, talented, creative, entrepreneurial girls.
- Zhen is a photographer and you get to see her editing in her studio
- Mya is good at cooking
- Kishem loves karate and sports
- Eve is a great swimmer
- Ruby makes jewellery
- Amor loves technology
..... and so on and so forth!!!
These two little girls totally achieved what they set out to do one day of Summer 2016.
"We got the idea to create the Kishem colouring book after asking our mum and dad why there weren't colouring books with all types of children who look like us or our friends in school. Our Dad said "girls problems are meant for solving" (he says that all the time), so we decided to make our own" .... "We wanted the book to have different types of children who are all talented and unique. It was also important to make it more than just a colouring book so after creating and naming each character, we added short stories about them and what they enjoy doing. We think all children have something special about them and we hope this book helps them to realise that they are really cool and that they can do anything".
Two years down the line, Kishem has been able to show their books in UK schools, shipped their books to America, had requests from Africa. I have no doubt Kishem will continue to go from strength to strength. Their multicultural characters offer representation for every girl and ethnic group they represent in our schools nowadays, especially in the UK.
For more info about Kishem or to invite them for a talk at your local school, check their website below....
I wish all the very best to these two precious stars on their Kishem's Journey and have been delighted to meet them. They are greatly inspiring!
At age 23, when Angelique Kidjo left Benin for France, she was once again able to listen to all the rock bands she had discovered on the radio in the pre-communist regime. such as The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. In Paris, of all the music she loved, one record was particularly unique to her: Remain in Light by Talking Heads in 1980.
"I remember vividly every time the music came in, I said, 'There's something African to it,'"
Interestingly at the time, some of her peers at the jazz school she attended, would try to talk her out of it, not sparing condescending comments such as "This is not African. It's too sophisticated for you.' to which she would respond "OK, whatever you say.'" 'It might be rock & roll, but there's something African to it.'
Ok, maybe in the 80s, we didn't have such easy access to the web but anybody would know today that Angelique Kidjo was totally spot on.
In 1980, in his interview to the Rolling Stone, David Byrne, the lead singer and guitarist of Talking Heads explained "We wanted to develop an understanding of the African musical concept of interlocking, interdependent parts and rhythms that combine to make a coherent whole,". Drawing on the influence of Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, the group experimented with African polyrhythms, funk and electronics recording instrumental tracks as a series of looping grooves.
Almost 40 years later, Angelique Kidjo has now recorded her own interpretation of Remain in Light, which she has been performing Live at various concerts over the past year. The album, due out on the day of her performance at the Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre on Friday 8th June 2018 on Kravenworks Records, is a perfect counterpart to Talking Heads' record. With explosive percussion, bubbling horns, tribal harmonies and a multilingual approach. David Byrne, himself, has enthusiastically endorsed the project, skilfully directed by Jeff Bhasker.
"Music has always been my way to teach people on how connected we are and to try to find a common ground to build the bridge where we can walk together in respect of one another". And this album - Remain in Light is a pure demonstration of it and possibly the pinnacle of the artist's fusion and creativity, continually building bridges with others, musically and in her political activism. Angelique Kidjo is eternally African and yet in unison with the rest of the world. It is inspiring.
Angelique Kidjo's version of Remain in Light has a greater emphasis on rhythm and horns than the original, as well as instrumentation by members of her band, Fela Kuti drummer Tony Allen, bassist Pino Palladino, Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig, former Paul Simon's bassist Abe Laboriel, Sr., Blood Orange and others. Kidjo's powerful vocals, along with new vocals in African languages such as Fon respond to Byrne's lyrics. On "Crosseyed and Painless," she addresses the negative perception of Africa in the media; the mistreatment of Mother Earth on "The Great Curve," the after effects of slavery on "Listening Wind" and people's basic right to live on "Once in a Lifetime."
"The classic Talking Head Album came out right in the era of Reagan. It was a moment of anxiety and fear existed at that time, war on drugs, abuse of power, so for me it’s just to reply to it because we’ve gone full circle and we are there again. I want music to tell us it’s about time we fight, we have the power". True to herself, Angelique Kidjo always reminds us that « music is my weapon for peace ».
She would conclude her interview at Ace Theatre earlier on this month by saying "As an artist, how do I be the voice of the voiceless, how do I generate a platform for everyone to come together. I want people to come to the concert and have fun and listen, and to come out of the concert to feel energised to do things, I am passing you the light.. Be fully the human being that you are!"
And all in all, this remains Angelique Kidjo's message, especially to Africans. She wants them to write their own narrative and tell their own story, one that speaks of the beauty and the legacy of Africa, the mother of humanity.
To get your ticket now:
Next Tour Dates
June 8 - London @ Royal Festival Hall
June 9 - Cardiff @ Wales Millenium Centre
July 11 – Arles, Fr @ Theatre Antique
July 26 – Vic-Fezensac, Fr @ Tempo Latino
July 28 – Katonah, NY @ Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
August 6 – Highland Park, IL @ Ravinia
August 7 – Vienna, VA @ Wolf Trap
August 9 – Denver, CO @ Denver Botanic Gardens
Maurice Bishop est né le 29 mai 1944 et sera assassiné le 19 octobre 1983.
Maurice Bishop était un révolutionnaire de la Grenade et le leader du New Jewel Movement qui visait à d'accroître les efforts populaires dans les domaines du développement socio-économique de la Grenade, l'éducation et la libération des Noirs.
Maurice Bishop arrivera au pouvoir pendant la révolution du 13 mars 1979 et sera à la tête du gouvernement révolutionnaire du peuple de la Grenade de 1979 à 1983.
Le gouvernement de Bishop instaure la gratuité de la santé, de plus, il fait de la lutte contre l'analphabétisme une priorité et le taux d'analphabétisme passe de 35% à 5%. Pour développer l'économie, il vise à développer le tourisme et relance le projet d'un nouvel aéroport dans le Sud de l'île.
À partir de 1983, la position de Maurice Bishop se détériore, et il doit accepter de partager la direction du parti avec Coard. Mais à cause de l'opposition entre les deux hommes, ce compromis ne tient pas longtemps. Le 13 octobre, le comité central du New Jewel Movement, dominé par les partisans de Bernard Coard, place Bishop en résidence surveillée. Le 19 octobre de la même année, Maurice Bishop est libéré par une foule de partisans. Mais quelques heures plus tard, l’armée intervient et tire dans la foule, tuant plusieurs personnes. Sommés de se rendre, Bishop et ses fidèles sont arrêtés et immédiatement fusillés.
On 24th May, we had the privilege to meet Noel McKoy at Nudawn in Hackney, London before the Happy Days Festival.
See below for full review:
I was totally honored to have a sneak peek at Noel McKoy's next Live performance at the Bank Holiday Weekend Soul Festival "Happy Days" in Sussex with a combination of legendary artists from the 70s, 80s and 90s such as Gloria Gaynor, Earth Wind and Fire, Cameo to name but a few....
Thursday 24th May 2018, we were at Nudawn, 206 Well Street in Hackney and Noel McKoy just vibed intimately with his band in front of friends and colleagues.
All I can say is "Happy Days Festival is going to be the place to be over the weekend" in 40 acres of land in Surrey with a legendary lineup!!!! The aim of the festival is nothing less than genuinely take you back to those Happy Days with good, good Music!!! And yes, we need it!
For Noel McKoy, it will also be a time to reminisce and honor artists and friends that passed early. For instance, Claudia Fontaine, the British backing vocalist who performed on Pink Floyd's Tour, who passed on the 13 March of this year; she was signed on the same label than Noel "Studio 16" at the age of 14 and a lifelong friend. Noel McKoy's set of 50mns, following Omar's set of 3 songs, will also be in memory of the late Lynden David Hall and Eddie Amoo from the Real thing, remembering their happy days together in and outside the industry!
However, 30 years on of his musical career, Noel Mc Koy's passion for his craft and music is untainted. He is going strong!! Noel McKoy has got it all!! Talent, technical ability, the life, the stories, the emotion and the right attitude. He treats his people and others right. He is a great musician and human being. I sat at Nudawn yesterday and was blown out by the quality of the acoustic and intimate experience with Noel McKoy's newly formed Live Band, in the midst of vocalists, musicians, creatives attending, for most, Noel's childhood friends. It is so evident in Noel McKoy's life : family and friends matter. It is no surprise that one of his first track that brought him to prominence i n 1989 "Family", with he collective of brothers Cornell, Robin and sister Junette, is still very much part of his repertoire today . Kevin, Nudawn's manager, remembered when they organised 30 years ago an event showcasing Young and Gifted Blacks. The 4 organisers succeeded in having Noel McKoy perform "Family" at the Brixton Academy. Little did they know that Noel was coming with 30 siblings and extended family members to perform.
And since amazing artists make their mark in this world, Noel McKoy is building a legacy to pass on. King jp who is a talented upcoming soul artist said it all yesterday "Noel McKoy is legendary...." meaning this generation of new artists will listen to Noel McKoy's tracks and remember what good music is all about. They will continue to watch him perform and direct his band and be inspired. You just learn from him.
And when it comes to legacy, Noel has already 4 albums in the pipeline of Reggae, Soul, Northern Soul and Dance which will be available for purchase online on his website and will be on Vinyl too. With his reggae label "Foundation records", Noel McKoy has an explosive 70 songs with 20 artists waiting to be launched at Regent Street Cinema on Saturday 11th August 2018. More info to come!!!
Noel Mc Koy's final words " keep your music alive - keep listening out for Noel Mc Koy's" and we surely will for decades to come....
One of the song Noel performed for #iamnot4sale campaign. See if you can see me at 2:06 in to the video
ABDIAS DO NASCIMENTO (14 mars 1914 - 23 mai 2011) est un icône afro-brésilien.
Il fut un éminent chercheur brésilien de l'Afrique, artiste, et homme politique. Il était également un poète, dramaturge et activiste panafricain.
Nascimento a créé le Théâtre Expérimental noir (1944) et The Black Arts Museum (1950). Il a également organisé la Convention nationale des Noirs du Brésil (1946), le premier congrès des Noirs du Brésil (1950), et le troisième Congrès de la culture noire dans les Amériques (1982).
Professeur émérite à l'Université d'État de New York à Buffalo, il a été le premier membre du Congrès afro-brésilien à défendre les noirs en matière de droits de l'homme et des droits civils à l'Assemblée nationale où il a présenté en 1983, la première loi d'action positive.
Il a servi comme secrétaire d'État de Rio de Janeiro pour la défense et la promotion de la population afro-brésilienne et était secrétaire des droits de l'homme et de la citoyenneté. Tout en travaillant à titre de conservateur de l'art noir Museum project, il a commencé à développer son propre travail de création (peinture), et à partir de 1968, il a beaucoup exposé aux Etats-Unis, au Brésil et à l'étranger.
Il a reçu les honneurs nationaux et internationaux pour son travail, y compris le prix spécial de l'UNESCO Toussaint-Louverture pour la contribution à la lutte contre le racisme, qu'on lui a accordés en 2004. Il a été officiellement nommé pour le prix Nobel de la paix 2010.
Situated at 99 Morning Lane, close to the Burberry outlet in Hackney, the Hackney Shop is featuring the Modern African Inspired brand "GITAS PORTAL" until Sunday 27th May 2018. The shop is open everyday from 11 to 8pm with unique pieces to boast and a personal shopping experience.
Established in 2011, GITAS PORTAL embodies confidence and sophistication and caters to women from all walks of life. In keeping with its social responsibility promise, Gitas Portal garments are produced locally to ensure that the working conditions and quality can regularly be monitored.
Gitas Portal's boutique is currently based in Deptford Bridge. Known for its clever use of beautiful Ankara /African wax prints and vibrant colors, reflected in their tagline "Be Bold, Win, Wear Colour", Gitas Portal create pieces that transition well from casual day wear to event wear and has secured a clientele all over London and further afield.
By choosing Hackney as a location for their pop-up store, Mariatu, the brand owner, aimed to come a little closer to their East London customers and to give the brand more exposure. The response has been amazing, her designs and Summer dresses displayed in the shop window have attracted many residents passing by on foot or by car, such as a local dad of a 14 and 16 year old teenage girls who came in to search for sophisticated African attires with a view to encourage his two princesses to embrace their African culture.
In addition, Gitas Portal fans and brand ambassadors, such as Sarah Eckert, close to have practically purchased every single piece of Gitas Portal collections, have been coming in to support and purchase their new Summer pieces:
- The Lauren, in tropical colors, Green Ankara print ( a sell out last year) and a beautiful Red and Black vintage
- The Kelai, in Burgundy and Grey, Pink and Turquoise
- The Lady Seray in bold flower prints, Orange and Blue, earth tones and freedom print
Mariatu talks of these dresses as if they were her babies and she does admit to it jokingly.... "these dresses are named after the daughters I would have had...." - a bold statement as Mariatu is a mother of 5. Traditional names from Sierra Leone, her country of origin, inspire her too.
Summer dresses' prices range from £65 to £100 so you know what to do next .....get your unique piece from Gitas Portal before the sell out!!!
What's next for Gitas Portal?
Gitas Portal is always on the lookout for pop-up stores locations to meet new customers so feel free to get in touch if you have any suggestions!!!! Gitas Portal will also be travelling this Summer!! Another conquest of the US Market, after Atlanta, it will be New Orleans and New York...
I will be wearing myself their Summer Bomber in the next coming days..... Watch this space!!!
For more 2018 Afro Culture News, www.afroculture.co.uk and check us on Social Media Afro Culture 2018
From the get go, it was a delight to hear that Harry was dating a beautiful young lady who happened to be an accomplished actress. We all remember these two fair headed boys left motherless after the loss they suffered when Princess Diana passed away on the 31st August 1997. Any mother could only wish that they would both be comforted one day by finding true love.
However, what then became quite central to the story was the fact that this beautiful lady was of mixed parentage (Caucasian dad and Afro American mother). To those in doubt as Meghan is very fair and has long straight hair, a quick search on the internet would bring up pictures of Meghan’s mother who is undoubtedly black in every possible way. The question then became: Would Meghan ever be able to marry into the British Royal family knowing that she was from African descent?
As Harry and Meghan’s story unfolded and the proposal took place…. It looked that after all, in addition to welcoming a commoner in the Royal family in the person of Catherine Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge and the spouse of Prince William on 29th April 2011, the British Monarchy would once again break convention.
And it was quite understandable, Meghan is a stunningly beautiful and graceful woman. Harry and her seemed madly in love and totally compatible. Somehow, Meghan would fit in….
Now, today was another story… and this Royal Wedding surely was like no other…
What was phenomenal in what we all witnessed is how much Meghan Markle assumed her blackness and became a black symbol; hence, the representation of both English and Afro-American cultures displayed through the preaching and the music repertoire.
In St George's Chapel, at the heart of Windsor Castle and within the sanctuary of the British Monarchy, the oldest establishment of the United Kingdom, Whites and Blacks were both actors and witnesses of the coming together of two worlds. For lack of words, the wedding was described as modern and this was justified in saying that monarchy has a duty to be a link between the past and the present.
Modern!! What an understatement…
This wedding was nothing short of a political statement ……and a radical take on what the world should be like!!
After slavery resurfaced its ugly head in the news last year, The Trump era and his contempt towards Africa and Africans, The Rise of Far Right groups in Europe, The windrush scandal…… how refreshing to witness the respectful and celebrated joining of two worlds…
We take our hat off to Harry but we also acknowledge the endorsement of the Royal family….
Time will tell the impact that this union can have ….. but one thing is absolutely sure…. From today on, any little mixed-raced or black girls, anywhere in Europe and beyond, that will be judged by her looks or insulted because of her ethnicity… to those they will proudly say: Harry married Meghan and she is beautiful…..
Black Representation at the Royal Wedding
Reverend Bishop Michael Curry
Rose Hudson Wilkin - First black female Chaplain to the Queen
Sheku Kanneh Mason
Dès le départ, nous avons été ravis d'entendre que Harry fréquentait une belle jeune femme qui se trouvait être également une actrice accomplie. Nous nous souvenons tous de ces deux garçons qui venaient de subir la perte de leur mère, à la suite du décès de la princesse Diana le 31 août 1997. Toute mère ne pouvait que leur souhaiter que devenus de jeunes hommes, ils seraient tous les deux confortés un jour par l'amour sincère d'une compagne .
Cependant, ce qui est ensuite devenu assez central à l'histoire de Harry et Meghan, était le fait que cette belle femme était métis (père caucasien et mère afro-américaine). Pour ceux qui en doutaient car Meghan est très claire de peau et a les cheveux raides, une recherche rapide sur internet permettait d'afficher des photos de la mère de Meghan qui était sans aucun doute noire américaine. La question devint alors : Est-ce qu'un prince britannique serait autorisé à marrier une femme d'origine africaine ?
Eventuellement, la proposition et les fiançailles suivirent…. Il semblait qu'après tout, en plus d'accueillir une roturière le 29 avril 2011 dans la famille royale en la personne de Catherine Middleton, maintenant la duchesse de Cambridge et l'épouse du Prince William; la monarchie britannique serait une fois de plus en voie de briser les codes.
Et c'était tout à fait compréhensible, Meghan est une femme incroyablement belle et gracieuse. Harry et elle semblent éperdument amoureux et totalement compatibles. Meghan saurait s'intégrer ….
La céremonie, aujourd'hui est par contre une autre histoire… et ce mariage royal n'était sûrement pas comme les autres…
Ce qui était extraordinaire dans ce dont nous avons été témoins, c'est combien Meghan Markle assume ses origines afro-américaines et devint le symbole de la représentation des afro-descendants au travers notamment de la prédication et du choix de répertoire musical.
Dans la Chapelle St George, au cœur du château de Windsor et dans le sanctuaire de la monarchie britannique, la plus ancienne institution du Royaume-Uni, les Blancs et les Noirs ont été à la fois acteurs et témoins de la rencontre de deux mondes. La presse a décrit le mariage comme moderne et cela a été justifié de par le fait que la monarchie a le devoir d'être un lien entre le passé et le présent.
Moderne ! ! En notre sens n'est qu'un euphémisme…
Ce mariage n'a été rien de moins qu'une déclaration politique ……et une représentation de ce que le monde pourrait être ! !
Après que l'esclavage ait refait son apparition dans l'actualité l'année dernière, l'ère de Trump et son mépris à l'égard de l'Afrique et des Africains, la montée de l'extrême droite en Europe, le scandale de windrush…… Quelle bouffée d'air frais d'assister à l'union de ces deux mondes…
On tire notre chapeau à Harry, mais nous reconnaissons également l'aval de la famille royale….
Le temps nous démontrera l'impact que cette union peut avoir ….. mais ce qui est absolument certain…. À partir d'aujourd'hui, toutes les petites filles métis et celles noires de peau, où qu'elles soient en Occident, quant bien même elles seraient jugées par leurs apparences ou insultées à cause de leurs ethnicités… à ces personnes elles répondront fièrement : Harry a épousé Meghan et elle est magnifique…..
Voir ci-dessous la représentation Afro-Américaine et Afro-Britannique au mariage royal
Révérend Mgr Michael Curry
Hudson Rose Wilkin - première femme noire aumônier de la Reine
Sheku Kanneh Mason - musicien
Rose Lokissim (1955-1986) was one of the first women to become a soldier of the elite in Chad.
Following the taking of power by Habré in June 1982, she joined the opposition.
She was arrested on 14th September 1984 and incarcerated with political prisoners, being the only woman among sixty men. She would be tortured for eight months and then transferred in a cell reserved for women.
She then decides to record the facts, prisoners, the abuses, writing down the information on various pieces of paper and smuggled outside the prison. She is eventually denounced and again questioned in 1986 for these written evidence. Consequently, on 15 May, she is executed.
For more info on the facts