Art heals. art saves and art teaches; at least that is what I believe. I have been following a few artists whose work takes me to different worlds that I have imagined and the few that I have seen. I love how relatable all the painting are to me.
Michael W. Soi (1972) is a Kenyan artist who has been working in Nairobi since 1995 after completion of his fine art and art history studies. His work provides a photographic diary of Nairobi and other places. Michael Soi’s artwork satirically reflects some really interesting social, political and economical trends.
After three months of product testing, evaluation and thorough research, on 25th June 2016 my friends at Fashion Torch Africa officially launched East and Central Africa’s first Business incubation and mentor ship hub for fashion and and creative arts brands and ideas. FTA HUB works with a vision of Growing Africa Fashion and creative arts brands and ideas into successful sustainable businesses. FTA HUB equips these brands with training, access to funding, investors, office space, mentor ship, PR and marketing, media coverage and a space where Africa fashion entrepreneurs co-work from, collaborate, meet up, network together in a bid to grow Africa fashion and creative arts industry..
The launch had a total number of 109 people creatives in attendance who not only came to witness the occasion but also took part in themed concussions among them the impact the hub will have in the growth of Africa fashion industry. the main speakers of the day were Evelyne Odongo CEO Mefa Creations ( Kenya), Mr Obileye from Nigeria, Beata Otieno Award winning Stylist and Head Stylist at Couture Africa Magazine, Wendy from Couture Africa magazine,
This year has been the most inspiring year in my life as an entrepreneur, this is the year my heart started beating heavily for Africa fashion and creative industry… This is the year i felt a huge burden in my heart to see creative entrepreneurs doing well. This is the year i felt i needed to create something tangible that will spearhead the growth Africa fashion brands into successful sustainable businesses.-Wilkings Odinga Fadhili, Founder and CEO of Fashion Torch Africa
I remember when the incubation hub was still an idea and I always take pride in the African Youth who make moves and make things happening. There is no doubt that this hub will surely change and improve the lives of the entrepreneurs around Africa and especially Kenya.
Connect with Fashion Torch Africa
All photos by https://www.facebook.com/Ngash-Sage-Photography
It is always a great feeling when you finally meet friends you have been chatting to online face to face. On my visit to Kenya in December 2015 I finally met the Fashion Torch Africa team. A team I had been conversing with since Fashion Torch was merely an idea. What was meant to be a few friends hanging out turned out to be a small talk on fashion with me as one of the speakers.
Being the person who I am; a person who has a touch time standing in front of people, talking and being the centre of attention I decided to hold a discussion instead. We discussed challenges that many fashion entrepreneurs faces; from legislation to lack of funding among other things and solutions were shared among the group and I am glad that the Fashion Entrepreneur Meet Ups are going to continue every month tackling issues that we face as photographers, models, presenters, fashion designers and so on.
I am really inspired by the number of young people in Africa who are not making excuses about being unemployed but instead they are taking initiative and starting businesses in things that interest them. For instance I met Sally and Lola who are starting a publishing business and they will have a fashion magazine covering African fashion. I also had a chat with Tyrus who started an events company which happens to be doing very well regardless of being less than a year old.
Effective communication and complying with policies or legislation were key issues that were discussed. Most of the time creatives often overlook legislation they run unregistered businesses. I know how boring admin can be but it must be done. A right team is very important in order for the business to succeed. Someone whose name I cannot quite recall said you must take care of your team or employees so they can treat your customers right.
Speaking of customers, fashion designers always have problems with customers who demand lower prices for high quality products because they say they can always buy some cheap Chinese replica. As customers we need to support our local designers and we must try understand that material, labour and the time it took to bring the product into its present condition form part of the price.
I had so much fun interacting with my brothers and sisters in Nairobi and big up to Wilkings and the entire fashion team for having me around and showing me a great time. I cannot wait to see the empire grow #AfricaReign.
I had an interesting conversation with Winnie when I asked her what tribe she was. She told me that she did not know much about the Luos (her people) but she will do all she can to acquire more information and she did.
LUO TRIBE written by Winnie Odande
Twitter & Instagram @fitndiscover
So when I got an inbox from Vuyiso asking me what tribe I am, I was curious to know why. She is South African so that was a bit out of the blues. Then she tells she’s doing this African series on her blog and after a few chit-chats we decide I’m going to guest post about my culture.
Exciting as it was, it was also daunting because as much as I’m Luo, I’m your typical town girl having visited my rural area less than 5 times in my entire lifetime, (yea, I know). Meaning I basically know little to nothing about my culture save for what I learnt in school, which I don’t completely remember, and the few things I pick up along the way. Anyway, it was a nice opportunity for me to reconnect with my tribe hence I couldn’t let it pass.
My name is Winnie Odande and I am Luo, 100% Luo. I always get inboxes of people asking me whether I’m Nigerian because apparently Odande is a Nigerian name. I was told the other day by a Nigerian pal that it is a Yoruba name. What do I know? Ask my parents.
My tribe is one of the 42 ethnic groups in Kenya with its own unique values, skills, languages and cultural practices. We mainly inhabit the Nyanza County of Western Kenya. If I remember my History well, we are believed to have originated from Southern Sudan, travelling along the River Nile. I think after years of walking along the river we were probably drawn to the water features because we ended up establishing our settlements in the lands surrounding Lake Victoria. I must tell you that Lake Victoria is quite beautiful. Over the years though its beauty has been marred by the effects of the hyacinth and we only hope that the government will do something to clear the problem because it is also affecting the existing water life. My home, read ‘shagz’ Kenyan slang for rural home, is a just a few metres from the lake and I remember us walking down to the lake and seeing people doing their house chores like washing clothes, bathing, and economic activities all at the same place. Trust me, there was order.
The Joka-jok who were closely followed by Jo-k’Owiny.The Luo tribe is the third largest community in Kenya .Our arrival took place in phases. The first groups to arrive were:
- Jok’ Omolo came in third and the Luo Abasuba made the final arrival; The Luo Abasuba are as a result of intermarriage between the Luo and Ugandan Bantu.
What we are famously known for as a tribe is our traditional practices and our mastery of the English dialect. We are also known to be quite intelligent persons and we also boast of raising serious scholars and intellectuals like Tom Mboya, Prof.Anyan’g Nyong, James Orengo, PLO Lumumba and the former Deputy Prime Minister, Raila Odinga to name but a few.
When it comes to the cultural practices, we have the most obvious ones which are known countrywide like; Luos don’t circumcise their men. The traditional Luo man was initiated by removal of the lower six teeth. Don’t ask me whoever came up with that and why they thought it wise. Although with time government initiatives and sensitization has seen the modern Luo man getting circumcised in the quest to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. Another cultural practice we are highly acclaimed for which I find quite retrogressive is the wife inheritance. If a man dies and leaves behind a widow, his brother or close relatives inherit the widow, she becomes his wife and he in turn must meet all her marital requirements. This tradition is also slowly fading away especially with the rebellious and learned crop of the urban generation and the entry of Christianity. In addition to this, we have the mourning ceremony, tero buru, which is still widely practiced. This is a unique, elaborate and dramatic ceremony that symbolizes the departure of a loved one.
Marriage is considered a vital rite of passage among the Luo. Traditionally, a marriage ceremony was conducted in two phases, which involved the payment of a bride price by the groom. The first phase is the Ayie involving a payment of money to the mother of the bride; the second phase involving giving cattle to her father. Usually, these two steps are carried out simultaneously, and as many modern day Luos are into Christianity, a church ceremony then follows.
In the Luo Culture the birth of a baby in the family was and still is a big celebration among the members of that family and friends. In the olden days, the celebrations included some rituals which were done. Among the rituals were:
- Naming the child – This was done a few days after birth, by the parents of the child. Luos were naming their children after their dead relatives, the time and the season the child was born, and if a mother conceived without seeing her periods.
- Shaving – In olden days shaving of a new born was a ritual of its kind. The shaving was done by a grandmother or an aged lady from the some clan, if the grandmother was not around or was dead. The person shaving was required to have a calabash (Agwata) full of water, a traditional razor and traditional Herb. A calabash full of water was used to prevent the baby from being obese, the traditional Herb was used as soup.
- Taking the child outside for the first time – Boys were taken out after 4 days and girls after 3 days. This was usually done in the morning hours between 9:00 am – 10:00 am to avoid the heat.
- Visiting the mother and her new born baby – According to Luo culture when a baby is born in a family, the relatives and friends must pay a special visit. In the olden days, many rituals were also performed during this visitation. The first visitation was done by the lady’s young sisters to represent their mother. The sisters were sent with cooked food and food which was not cooked. The cooked food included Meat (Sun dried) ,Ugali made from Millet flour, Indigenous Vegetables i.e. African Nightshades (Osuga), Spiderplant (Dek), Crotalaria (Mitoo). The cooked food was eaten cold and served in a small basket called (Adita). After this, one sister was usually left behind to help the sister until she was strong.
For Luos living in rural areas, fresh-water fishing in Lake Victoria is the most important economic activity. The fish are consumed locally while some, especially the Nile perch, are exported to Europe and other countries. Fish and ugali are our staple foods. Agriculture, especially sugarcane and cotton farming, is also practiced in other areas where we live.
Luos have immensely contributed in the political development of the country. The Luo community has been a key player in the Kenyan political scene since the pre-colonial times. Under British colonial rule, the Luo people did not have their land taken from them, unlike some other Kenyan tribes. Some of its favored sons in the pre-colonial and post-colonial period include.
- Jaramogi Oginga Odinga
- Ochieng Aneko
- Tom Mboya
- Robert Ouko
- Raila Odinga
We have very enriched traditional dance costumes; skirts made from sisal and colored beads worn around the neck and waist. Ladies usually use red and white clay to decorate them. All these costumes and ornaments are made from local materials.
I recently saw a series of pictures that really caught my attention more than once. It was on a cricket field and the most eye catching moment was the Maasai men draped in their Maasai regalia laying cricket. A facebook friend of mine once said “Imagine if we as black Africans could walk into a boardroom draped in our cultural regalia, Imagine the amount of respect that you would command”. Looking back at that statement now I realize how true that is. It was respect that kept me interested in the Maasai Cricket Warriors because of their pride in their culture and its regalia. Pride so much so that they chose to continue representing the Maasai even while playing cricket.
I have since gotten a chance to converse with Sonyanga Ole Ngais the captain of the Masai Cricket Warriors who is also pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Electronic Media at Daystar University in Kenya.
Cricket was introduced to the Ilpolei village by a South African lady called Aliya Bauer in 2007. Since then they have participated in a number of international matches in South Africa and England.
It was our first time to play cricket, therefore we had to undergo some basic coaching, it wasn’t that easy for us. Our natural style of throwing the spear for example to animals while defending our livestock was just the same way as bowling in cricket, also the batting technique in cricket was just the same way as we use our clubs when battling- Sonyanga
As a way to preserve their culture the Maasai Cricket Warriors play cricket in their traditional attire, and this is also the way to tell the world that the Maasai too can play cricket. They say that they are used to their traditional ways of dressing and as such they are comfortably with playing cricket in their traditional regalia. “Our principles are; since cricket has its own rules, we also have our culture and ways of life and playing with our traditional attire is just as comfortable as playing in the normal cricket attire”says Sonyanga.
There is a documentary about The Maasai Cricket Warriors that is in the pipeline and it will be released later this year on warriorsfilm.co.uk and it will be covering their day to day lives. Ilpole now has a cricket field which was constructed by Gurkah Engineers with the collective help of the British Army and the Australian Aid. Cricket has become a huge part of the Ilpole community.
We have learnt to integrate cricket with our culture in many ways, we actually don’t just play cricket but we use it as a tool to educate our society. We are in a society where culture is so deep rooted and we have some retrogressive practices, like Female Genital Mutilation(FGM), Gender Disparity and Early Marriages among girls, we also spread message on HIV and AIDS awareness and conservation of our wildlife and environment and we are actively involved in the rhino conservation.
THESE YOUNG MEN MAKE ME PROUD TO BE AFRICAN
Wilkings Fadhili is a 23 year old Kenyan journalist by profession, a blogger, Fashion PR, founder and CEO of the Fashion Torch Company. Wilkings started The Fashion Torch Company as a medium to connect fashion designers, models, stylists, buyers, investors and the consumers. Fashion, writing and networking are at the very top of Wilkings favourite things. He fancies himself an innovator of some kind.
Change, revolution, and beauty inspires Wilkings: the change to see things better than the way they are, the revolution we bring to push change forward and the beauty to see everything positively whatever the state they are in. The Fashion Torch TV Show /Company believes in these three things.. Motivational change, sweet revolution and inspirational beauty.They definitely work hard to see Africa Fashion being one of the things that is changing and impacting our lives.
Mmmm..Africa Reign is where Africa stands up, all African countries joining hands together in making sure we reign and prosper. Standing together and facing out challenges and getting solutions to our challenges.If we stand together, walk together, believe in each other that’s the start of great Africa Reign. So Africa Reign is about togetherness and unity.
Wilkings is a very spiritual person and he believes in building the “African Dream” we must put God first.If we put God first that’s the starting point of solutions being born, the starting point of unity, if we are in unity, believe in each other, connect with each other and work together then definitely we will build the Africa Dream. So being in touch with our spiritual selves will help us have some direction towards building a better Africa for ourselves. Things are definitely changing thanks to the internet that has allowed us to come together as the African Youth. With conferences being organized and attracting many young Africans the youth are definitely motivated to help develop Africa.
Contact Wilkings on
AFRICA REIGN BRANDING BY Brandit Promotions https://www.facebook.com/BranditPro
Papa Petit and Velma
2manysiblings is a duo composition of brother & sister ,Velma Rossa and Papa Petit who are style and art enthusiasts from East Africa, Kenya. I caught up with them to discuss a few things, so get to know them better below.
What or who is 2manysiblings?
Velma Rossa: 2manysiblings is a creative duo. Consisting of my brother and I, Papa Petit, respectively. We are art, photography, fashion and style enthusiasts. Our aim is to incorporate all these elements in the images we produce.
How did the name 2manysiblings come about?
Papa Petit: The name 2MS basically came out of word play and our life’s experiences as we grew up. As kids we were inseparable we almost did everything together. We specifically enjoyed dressing up for Sunday service as it gave us a chance to wear our best outfits. So we knew we had to use our bond when coming up with the name.Initially we thought of 2siblings but we ended up adding “many” to give it a cool word play twist , people loved the name and it stuck.
What is your personal style?