Winnie Mandela : leader of a nation
Thursday 21st June 2018, on the Summer Solstice day, ushering us into a new season, over 100 leading women and men from across the corporate sector, government and civil society, congregated at the Regent Street Cinema in the West End to pay tribute to Winnie Mandela, who passed on 2nd April 2018 at the age of 81 years old. The aim of the event organised by Blaksox and Kush Films, hosted by Patricia Lamour (MBE), representing GEEDA (Gender Education & Enterprise Development for Africa), was to educate and empower a generation of young women’s leadership focussed audience for change and to redefine the role of African Women, by extension of Black Women in Society.
See trailer of the movie below:
For pics and more info on the event, continue reading
An after-film discussion followed the screening of the movie with a panel composed of Micheline Ravololonarisoa, independent gender consultant and activist, Advocate Sabelo Sibanda, serving in the Office of the Presidency of the Pan-Afrikanist Congress of Azania (who joined the discussion via video link), Hayley Sarah Jane Mills, (OMD EMEA) a South African National and a strategy manager for EMEA of the global media network OMD and Pascale Lamche, « Winnie »’s film director.
“She was the barometer for the political temperature in the country and brushed patriarchal and conservative conventions aside, within her own culture, by keeping a finger on the pulse of the youth and by leading from the front.”
Pascale Lamche explained that the aim of the documentary was to show how Winnie Mandela was politically neutralised by those who wanted to control the entire transition process of the ANC coming to power once Nelson Mandela was released after 27 years of incarceration on 11th February 1990. In this historical account and perspective of the life of Winnie Mandela, we see how she remained a voice of resistance, never to be silenced, despite the forces unleashed to ban the ANC revolutionary movement, in spite of being demonised by the apartheid regime which used counter revolutionary tactics such as « Operation Romulus » to discredit her and oust her from the political scene. Winnie remained undeterred as a warrior Queen for her people.
For more info on the event, continue reading below:
Panelist Hayley Sarah Jane Mills would portray Winnie Mandela as the soul of the nation and the heroine of South African women who had to be the breadwinners of their households, as drugs and alcohol diabolically flooded South African shanti towns, one of the the many tactics used by the Apartheid regime to wipe out and disempower black men to contribute positively to the economy and development of their communities.
Although Winnie set the tone for the conduct of Black South African women, old and young and was a role model to them, Hayley didn’t consider Nelson Mandela in the same way. Chris Hani, who was in charge of the military section of the ANC, was her choice for president ; she considered Nelson Mandela to be the Apartheid regime’s choice or « The White man’s choice » as she would state. When Chris Hani was brutally assassinated on 10th April 1983, the hopes for important grassroot reforms to be on the top of priorities at the table of the negotiations with the ex apartheid regime were greatly compromised. Nelson Mandela, now isolated from Winnie, whom he eventually divorced prior to running for presidency, was considered to have agreed to too many compromises. The consequences are still visible today as reforms that would empower Blacks are still lacking such as land restoration and access to free education. Chukuma, an attendee, would rightly point out that as we speak 78% of the land is still in the hands of a small minority of white settlers.
For more info on the event, continue reading below
The event was a resounding success ; it touched and inspired all attending.
« I am inspired and empowered to be for my nation and my generation what Winnie Mandela was to hers… a powerful, purposeful and progressive black woman. My life will never be the same » Karen Allen, attendee
Today, the life and struggle of Winnie Mandela, mirror those of powerful ancestral African Warrior Queens, who led nations and stood firm against colonialism, defiant in the face of injustice. It is our LEGACY !! as African, Black women and as a Black nation.
Mama Winnie, as we call her, is a tribute to African women’s inner strength, their efficiency, bravery and resilience. Winnie Mandela teaches us that it is possible to be political and a woman. GEEDA invites young women to construct their own narrative and map their vision of the future and their contribution to society as leaders. Young women must redefine their reality for a better and a fairer world !!!!
To follow GEEDA’s work, an international consultancy hub of gender and women empowerment experts and advocates, part of the Aspire Education Group Ltd, visit www.aspireeducationgroup.com @GEEDA_blog
Blaksox is an Asset Based Community Development movement committed to social action that is self-determining. They benchmark those organisations that have survived and more importantly thrived, as very few of them are African/Black organisations based in the UK and Europe. For more info, visit www.blaksox.com .
Kush Films is the UK's leading Marketing/PR and Exhibition specialist of Black Films and is pleased to be celebrating 20 years of the UK's longest running and most renowned urban film club the Kush Film Boutique - Join fellow film-fan professionals monthly at the Regent Street Cinema for the best in black film Entertainment. For more info, visit www.kushfilms.com
See links below:
1st canvas from the top:"Bamou" acrylique /châssis entoilé 60x70cm/ 02/03/2015 2nd Canvas from the top: "Racines-Nommo"acrylique/châssis entoilé 50x70cm/ 07/08/2015 3rd Canvas "kabèchaj" acrylique / technique mixte/60x82cm/ panneau de recup/ 24/03/2018
Rhalis tells me that his family name "Cangou", originates from the word Kongo, such as the Kingdom. As long as he can remember, Rhalis has always lived in an environment proud to teach about its origins. His father explained that they all came from the Congo. They immigrated to Guadeloupe when manpower was needed to take over from Africans who had been reduced to slavery, once slavery had become illegal in the French West Indies. Workers came mostly from the Congo, Senegal and Guinea.
Rhalis Cangou wondered about its origins since the age of 7 years. "Who am I? Where I come from and where I go? "Adult, it will remain his permanent quest of source of identity, both from the Caribbean and Africa, which he expresses through his art specializing in their cosmogonies. According to Rhalis Cangou, without culture, without identity, a human being is nothing. Its objective is therefore to speak through his paintings in retracing the triangular relationship between Mother Africa and its diasporas. This knowledge needs to be transmitted to our children and children's children as the transmission of the Afro Caribbean cultural heritage is increasingly threatened. He also seeks to enable young people, whatever their origins, to discover African cultures and Afro-Caribbean cultures, Africa being the cradle of humanity, through participative workshops.
Rhalis frequently exposes in PACA region such as for Bank of Afrika In 2012, Afrodizact Festival in 2013, a dojo for reo in 2015, art and cultural awareness in 2016 and more recently in Paris....
He is currently working on acquiring a pop up store with other artists residing in Marseille which will be dedicated to African and Afro-Caribbean Art.
To contact Rhalis Cangou, see the link below
To follow Rhalis Cangou and see more of his art, continue below:
This piece is hosted by LIFT, London Premier Festival of International Performance, at the Place 17 Duke's Rd, Kings Cross, London WC1H 9PY. See below for Link
In Search of Dinozord is a very intense political piece touching on the violence of the Congo Regime since the years of Sese Seko Mobutu up to now. It is an immersive and intimate experience which gives a face and a voice to Congolese nationals who have fallen in the trap of being statistics, whose sufferings are invisible to the international community.
Different stories are told; one of a friend who no longer is and dreamt to change African litterature; one of Vumi who was emprisonned with other political prisoners in Congo, who escaped and is now referred to, in the piece, as the last seed. "Seed, I am the last". This story is not fictional but real and it is documented with photos projected on stage while actors dance and mourn the absence of their friends, yet refusing to let go of the torn dreams for a better Congo.
Faustin Linyekula starts the journey alone with his face painted in white clay which for the Bantou people is the color of death and the other world. He delves into his childhood memories attempting to make sense of the agony of his people and to resurrect from the ashes hope and a new man.
The dancers from Studios Kabako master the dance technicality of Central Africa in a contemporary fashion, its codes, giving the sense of a continuous flow of life through the circular movement of their hips amongst ruins, violence and loss. It will conclude in a solo piece, fusion of jazz and blues, where the dancer would evolve effortlessly through breakdance and popping into a new man. The powerful Live vocals by the South African singer and actress, Hlengiwe Lushaba, embody the search of meaning and freedom through art of an African nation "once" in chains, desillusioned, forced to adapt and rebuild their lives in a forced exile. She sings from the depths of her soul.
"Where day meets night, agony meets birth" these words can be read on the screen.
As Faustin Linyekula and Vumi would conclude in the talk following the piece, "Congo is an open market for everyone and it belongs to multinational companies today. It is convenient to keep Congo as a war zone and messy so that they can get cheap minerals. We should all be concerned...
The last performance in London is tonight at the Place, not to be missed.
Ne Kunda Nlaba, Congolese filmmaker, talks to me about his journey producing films during a coffee break in Brixton Lounge
While his passion for art has been evolving from young, it is in 2007 that Ne Kunda Nlaba chooses to focus on cinematography. According to him, filmmaking is the fusion of all the arts such as music, dance, photography, acting and others. Yet, his experience in Kinshasa, Congo, was that " creativity was there but resources were scarce". Creative Africans were confronted with the fact that although rich in ideas, investors did not support them financially. Ne Kunda observes that there is a work of valorization of the African cinema which is necessary in order for African investors to understand the value of producing films as an art and industry which could, in turn, encourage its development. According to him, the old paradigm needs to change. Since cinema has existed in Africa, the sources of funding almost came exclusively from Europe and filmmakers solely relied on foreign grants to carry out a project. This culture must change and we must apply different economic models to attract local investments..
Therefore, it is a year after his arrival in London that Ne Kunda Nlaba would have the opportunity to achieve his first short film. See below for the complete filmography of Ne Kunda Nlaba:
1. "The next" (2009), short film
2. "The Steel Pan" (2010) documentary
3. "Living without living" (2011) Documentary of 16 min
4. " Honey Bondowe" (2012), his first long-fiction film
5. "Abeti Masikini: The Battle of a woman" (2015) Documentary film
6. "Kimpa Vita: the Mother of the African revolution" (2016) documentary film
A committed artist, Ne Kunda Nlaba is often inspired by his own experiences and environment; as for example the documentary Living without living, which speaks of Congolese refugees waiting for regularization of their stay in England; or Kimpa Vita, the mother of the Kongo resistance to the western invasion and colonialism, yet occulted by history. He would say "Through this documentary, I wanted to trace the life of the mother of the African revolution" Kimpa Vita" her fight for freedom, against slavery and the massacre and deportations of the people of the Kongo, as well as the restoration of the Kongo kingdom …" Ne Kunda Nlaba is a filmmaker who wants to use art for change.
For more info on the project Afro Beat, please continue to read below:
Ne Kunda Nlaba's new project "Afro Beat" is a long-fiction film in pre-production in which he is the producer, director and screenwriter. With Afro Beat, Ne Kunda wanted to work on a project representative of the African diasporas in England. Afrobeat is a musical genre that is increasingly gaining fame and notoriety and which is in phase with a younger public. Through Afro Beat, Ne Kunda brings a message tackling racism, discrimination, the difficulties that the minority communities may face in order to find a job at the height of their qualifications or ambitions, which often lead them to pursue other professional activities to make a living. And such is the plot of the film. Mala, a law graduate is destined for a career as a lawyer but chooses dance and choreography after failed attempts to find a job in Law firms. By borrowing money to Cahsman to start his business, he will confront impossible situations orchestrated by the latter in order to compel him to sell drugs for him. His only way out: win a great competition of Afrobeat to reimburse Cashman.
Ne Kunda Nlaba invites us to take part and contribute to this project through crowdfunding. Afrobeat is a movie of positive representation of the Afro Community and which puts to contribution a young talented cast. The objective of the campaign of Crowdfunding is to raise £30,000, which represents less than a quarter of the budget of the film amounting to £100,000.
For more info, see the link below:
Just back from Angelique Kidjo's Live performance at the Royal Albert Hall. Angelique Kidjo is a firecracker and so are her musicians. She has such a mesmerising energy and stage presence, it's breathtaking!!!! She is an amazing and powerful singer, entertainer and she has some unique sharp dance moves ..... my friend and colleague Noel McKoy and I looked at each other and smiled when Angelique Kidjo hit the stage with some MJ moves like the King himself!!!
Angelique Kidjo's interpretation of Talking Heads- Remain in Light is a complete success. It has so much more rhythm and I love the horns of the album. I particularly loved Angelique Kidjo's performance of "The Great Curve" and her emphasis on our need to take care of Mother Earth and women, the givers of life. It was electric, got us all out of our seats dancing. In fact, Angelique Kidjo was totally in control and we would sway from "seat down" to "get off of your seats", "seat down", "get up"....She was so luminous and energetic ..so much so that she invited her audience to join her on stage. Did I go? Oh yes, I did and there we were about 40 of us on stage jamming with the musicians and the Diva herself. These moments of sheer joy are just unforgettable. It was Angelique Kidjo's aim that we all leave the concert boosted and uplifted and she totally succeeded in doing so.
Her legendary interpretation of Mama Africa for which the public became the backup vocals was top notch.
continue to read below about the after show and Angelique Kidjo's foundation Batonga
Angelique Kidjo performing Mama Africa at Grenada Festival 2016
Now Angelique Kidjo to me is a legend; my father is from Benin too and when I see her, she is nothing short of an auntie in my eyes. In my days growing up, we had many Afro Americans that stood out as talented people but we didn’t have many proud Africans. Angelique Kidjo always stood tall. I totally respect the fact that most of her repertoire is in Fon and Yoruba, as well as including European languages such as French, English and Portuguese. In her video clip, African symbols and imagery are ever present and underlie whatever she does. She presents Africa as her major source of inspiration and then fusion its rhythm with other genres of music.
Angelique Kidjo is a key ambassador for Africa. An African woman showing us how to carry ourselves with dignity and love for our motherland. I desperately wanted to interview her to relay her advice to our young artists on the continent who are aspiring to an artistic career and I was really privileged to attend her aftershow and private talk about the work of her foundation.
First of all, I had the opportunity to meet her musicians backstage, amazing drummers, saxophonists and trumpetists. They got talking with Noel McKoy, who was part of the James Taylor Quartet in the 90s and is a well-known British Soul singer who toured in France and all over the world.
Continue to read below for more on the work of Angelique Kidjo's foundation Batonga
Angelique Kidjo’s contribution to this world is more than music, although she often concedes that « music is my weapon for peace ». She is also a voice to the voiceless. Her Grammy nominated award Eve in 2015 is an album dedicated to the women of Africa, to their resilience and their beauty featuring 100 African women who sing in their native African languages.
Therefore, after such a powerful performance, Angelique Kidjo naturally chooses to center her talk on the work of her foundation Batonga. On stage, she urges us to do good. Backstage, she speaks of the young African girls she tirelessly supports and empowers in different parts of Africa such as Mali, Benin, Sierra Leone and more...Her foundation tag line is "transforming Africa one girl at a time"
See link below for more info. on the Batonga Foundation. Continue to read below for more info on Angelique Kidjo's work as a goodwill ambassador
Angelique Kidjo will recall how she started her work in 2007. Despite all the opposition she faced, she was determined to succeed. Acknowledging the scale of the challenge, she would respond "if it's easy why bother".
She decided to give a scholarship to girls to access secondary education and worked with grassroot organisations to tackle the causes of early drop outs. Angelique Kidjo sees secondary education as the greatest weapon to ensure that these young girls do not fall prey to child marriage, early pregnancies nor being subjected to female genital mutiliation. She empowers these girls to be "game changers in the community, the country and globally" and she also wants men and boys to be part of changing mindsets in Africa to ensure girls are not objectified. As a goodwill ambassador for Unicef, she would only support the song project "Say no to children's marriages" if both men and women artists were involved and singing in all the local languages of Benin so that the message of the song could reach grassroot people.
Angelique Kidjo is determined to see these young women know dignity and be empowered to choose their fate so that in turn they can support men in the making to play their role in society, investing in their family, their community and raise the GDP of the country and of Africa globally.
As Angelique Kidjo reinvents 'Remain in LIght", she definitely brings us hope, shines bright and inspires us to be a light too in whatever we set out to do for Africa.
See Boubacar Kafando the Zaamam Nooma band playing Live
As Boubacar Kafando, a virtuose of the N'goni and the Kora, singer, songwriter, composer and the leader of the great Zaama Nooma band, is finishing off the balance for the concert "Focus Africa" starting in a hour time, I am introduced to Joel Kabore, one of the five main musicians of the band. Joel plays Djembe and Tama and is also from Burkina Faso as is Boubacar. His friendship and musical relationship with Boubacar goes back a long way, over 20 years. The actual band came together in 2010. Joel Kabore tells me that the meaning of the band's name is "united we are stronger" in the Mossi Language, which is the dominant language of Burkina Faso, which counts approximately 70 languages and makes it a multicultural country, as many African nations. Boubacar Kafando and the band's love for people and unity really translate in their love for music; and the expression of their music is to call people to leave in harmony and love each other. They equally address the need for social justice and inequalities or injustice they see around them. It naturally makes perfect sense that the latest album of Boubacar Kafando, released in 2016, is called "faut pas se diviser", we must not be divided.
For more info about Zaama Nooma, Afrobeat band, check the link below:
Continue to read below for info on their charitable work
Their musical project is, however, far beyond the music industry alone. Zaama Nooma is also the name of the charitable organisation Boubacar Kafando founded in 2007 with the aim to pass on the musical heritage of Burkina Faso and sub-Saharan Africa to the youth. It accomplishes its goal through different actions such as musical workshops (Djembe, Kora), concerts, educational activities such as the repair and manufacture of instruments and research and preservation of endangered instruments. A cultural centre "le centre culturel Zounoogo" also opened its doors in 2009 in the town of Saponé, Burkina Faso.
For more info, https://www.boubacarkafando.com/association-zaama-nooma
Later on, speaking to Boubacar Kafando, it is evident that his passion and commitment for music is integral, touring throughout the world and raising funds for the work of his charity and he is actively working at promoting the band so that they can comfortably make a living from the art and their craft. That is one of the reason Boubacar Kafando loves performing in London which he considers to be a multicultural city, very open to African Culture and music.
For my part, I have loved seeing Boubacar Kafando and the Zaama Nooma band perform. I loved the energy, the fusion of rock and the traditional rhythmic of the Kora and other traditional instruments.
For Boubacar Kafando's and the Zaama Nooma's Band next concerts, find all the dates on https://www.boubacarkafando.com/
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
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
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