Is the Congolese community ready for the Art industry to prosper?

Is the Congolese community ready for the Art industry to prosper?

The answer is YES!

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On November 9th, I attended the exhibition AKAA ( Also Known As Africa ) in Paris. This is the first contemporary art and design fair for African art.

It took place at the usual Carreau du Temple and had over 49 exhibitors and 130 artists who came from all around the world.

Here are a few images from my favourite artists, but you can see more on their website www.akaafair.com

ARTIST JP MIKA

 

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DIDIER CLAES

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FREDDY TSIMBA

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PATRICK BONGOY

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MON LOOK PARISIENNE

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Let’s chase the waterfalls in Zongo, Condo RDC.

Let’s chase the waterfalls in Zongo, Condo RDC.

When I first heard there were waterfalls in Congo, I couldn’t believe it. Then a feeling of shame came because again, I realised that there was still a lot of things I didn’t know about my own country.

It made me sad so I decided that for my next trip, I will surely become a tourist in my country. This October, I visited Congo for a modelling competition we were working on so I finally planned this dream escapade with a friend.

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We left around 10am for a four hours drive. It was so exciting but really I had no idea what to expect. We were lucky as there wasn’t much traffic, and traffic jams in Congo lasts for hours… We went through rural villages, small towns, markets and mountains.

Although I was born in Kinshasa, This was the first time I was in a real village with its school. No roof, but the basics, benches and a board. It was a strange feeling. We are so spoilt in the world I live in. We complain about the water being too hot, the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the places we are at. I may never know what it is like to carry water on my head for kilometres, waking up at 4am to make that route, building a house with one room to live with my whole family. Saying that it humbled me feels cliche and wrong because I left the 5 stars hotel I was staying in to go to a private villa in the middle of the jungle. And this is a blessing. A thousand thoughts were running through my head. Presidential elections are coming soon in Congo, I didn’t see a single thing about it through that drive. How do these people hear the news? How do they get electricity?

So many questions gave my friend a headache so I decided to stop so I could at least enjoy the trip I was dreaming about for so long.

We arrived at the property and were surrounded by beautiful plants, flowers and the whispers of the river.

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Faune and Flore in Zongo, Congo

Our private villa had 2 ensuite bedrooms and a big living room. Also 2 additional outside showers (literally) and a balcony with a view on the river. It felt amazing. No phone reception at all. We changed to meet the guide who would take us to the waterfalls. Prior to that we ordered our dinner for the evening. I took all my favourite local food and fell like I was in heaven for real.

Our breakfast veranda 

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There was a swimming pool as well and of course I had to put my feet in there. We arrived around 3pm as we stopped a few times and our guide was waiting for us at 4pm.

The swimming pool

 

The forest and the waterfalls

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I highly recommend this peaceful retreat for yourself or with your family. Congo is not only a magic place, but it is a town that Congo should cherish within its cultural heritage.

If You have been, please share your experience with me with your comments. Happy Sunday 🙂

Do you wonder what a 23 million Euros house in Spain looks like?

Do you wonder what a 23 million Euros house in Spain looks like?

I arrived at the airport of Marbella on a Sunny day and I could not wait to see these houses. My spanish is very basic but I could guess the words as they are very similar to French, which I speak fluently. It was very warm and only 11am.

A driver was organised to pick me up in a brand new Range Rover, my favourite car… and bring me to Los Monteros where my friend just bought a new villa. I was very excited about this travel as it was my first time. Marbella seemed like another version of Ibiza without the parties and massive crowd. I was not deceived. The drive to the villa was about 30 minutes and completely worth it. the ocean view made me wonder why I chose to live in London. I started thinking about how my life would be if I agreed to move with my ex to this sunny place.

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My friend’s house was a delight of modern architecture. Every detail and furniture looked like they were taken straight from a catalogue and arranged accordingly.

I was showed to my master bedroom, with an ensuite bathroom of course and all the toiletry you would expect in an hotel room. I was in heaven. The villas had a heated swimming pool, sauna, a cinema, a massage room and so much more.

My friend asked if I wouldn’t mind joining them for the visit of a house which just came on the market and may be a good investment for him. I said yes. I do not own a property, especially in the past 10 years living in London, and I didn’t make permanent plans. I feel like I didn’t know where I would end up. The real estate lady was supposed to be the best in town, catering for the rich and famous, she was tall and pretty. Another friend from Germany joined the venture. Tall and good looking too, he was also investing in properties globally. We drove together to this gated house. All the signs had angry dobermans on them to scare away thieves and intruders. To be honest, that scared me too.

From the outside, the house was like a museum and nothing like I visited before. I was curious to see the inside. As you can imagine, no photo were allowed but you can imagine what a 23 million Euros property has to offer.  It was splendid. The owner did the visit, from the bedrooms, to the studies, the walking wardrobes, the garden, tennis court, the nightclub and the view. We were there for 2 hours.

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When we left, I was thinking about what I would have to do to be able to afford a 23 million Euros luxury home, family home slash museum. Yes, I said museum as there was a couple of art pieces which were taller than the house in their own space.

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Unfortunately, my friend did not purchase it. What he failed to say was that he was building something similar to the white house which would be worth more than the treasure I just witnessed. The experience made me think of relocating and the reasons why so many people just go for it.

  • The sunny weather
  • The easy going lifestyle
  • The good and healthy food
  • The beach
  • and what seems to be, freedom of time.

Marbella was a delight. I stayed for the week and familiarised with the locals, took a lot of pictures and will surely go back in due time.

If you are also thinking of investing in a property abroad, knowing the market is not enough. My friend has a network of friends and colleagues he could trust for advice and this was very important for the process to go well. He took him a few month to properly settle in his current villa and decided to stay and invest in more properties.

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What is the best make-up look for black skins this summer?

What is the best make-up look for black skins this summer?

I was having an interesting conversation with a friend of mine who is a make-up artist. I really wanted to have her opinion on what the latest make-up trends are and here are the 4 options she gave me.

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ROSE-GOLD EYESHADOW AND ROSE LIPS

  • Apply an eyeshadow base with a neutral or soft pink tone
  • Use a soft burnt orange colour as a transition colour through the crease
  • Apply rose gold shimmer throughout the lid
  • Apply dark brown to the outer corner of the eyes to smoke it out
  • Apply black liquid or gel liner
  • Apply mascara to lashes and add strip lashes if you desire for this look
  • A bold pink lipstick or lipgloss

Classic red lip with black eyeliner

  • Apply a soft shade of pink or gold all over the lid
  • Create a sharp winged eyeliner with a blackest black liquid or gel liner.
  • Apply mascara to lashes and add strip lashes if you desire for this look
  • A bold red lipstick like MAC Lady Danger, Red Rock or Ruby Woo (discontinued)

 

COPPER SMOKY EYES AND MATTE berry LIPS

  • Layer bronze and copper shadows on top of a burnt orange wash all over the lid, and lower lash line.
  • Smoke the eyes with a black or brown pencil in the water line.
  • Add lashes and mascara for dramatic effect.
  • A berry lipstick like MAC media will work well with for this look.

SULTRY SMOKY EYES

  • pencilling around the eye with a black Kohl Eye Pencil in Stormy Grey to create a base
  • Blend out black base and set with black eyeshadow
  • adding depth by applying Kohl pencil along the waterline/rim.
  • Apply Mascara and lashes to add to dramatic effect
  • Keep skin and lips neutral, creating the perfect base for an edgy smoky eye. Skin can still be contoured but in a natural way.
  • A soft nude with a brown or peach hue to finish the look like MAC Strip Me Down or Velvet Teddy

Is Jnane Tamsna The hidden gem of Marrakech?

Is Jnane Tamsna The hidden gem of Marrakech?

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We booked our tickets as soon as the hotel confirmed this feature for the magazine ESIMBI. My photographer from Paris, Alena joined me to make this trip a time to remember, and it certainly was.

 

I was looking forward to going back to Marrakech after 4 years. The flight was pleasant and fast. Yes, I slept through it.  We landed on time and all I started to think about was if the hotel owner received my email about arranging the airport transfer, and she did.

Originally from Senegal and the French Caribbean, Meryanne Loum-Martin began her career in law in Paris. In 1985, she fell in love with the city of Marrakech, nicknamed the “red city” because of the color of its walls. She is not only stunning but also the most impressive woman I have met in a long time.

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The driver was there and very professional. The airport is really stunning. I remember the train station in Fez as being the most beautiful public place I have seen in Africa. The ceilings and the details of the architecture reflect the culture and the warmth of the people.

We arrived in the Palmeraie of Marrakech fairly fast, it was better than the images. Camels chilling in the heat is just a casual afternoon. I promised myself a picture with them.

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The boutique hotel has had many celebrity guests such as Brad Pitt, Giorgio Armani, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Mick Jagger and David Bowie, and here I arrived in these elegant and atypical villas.

I waited in the lounge whilst my room was being prepared. It was BIG!!! And the bathroom had a mirror who would make the every mirror jealous.

I jumped around with excitement and headed to my first lunch. Fresh food from the garden served in a luxury setting. It was delicious! I then walked around to take a few pictures whilst waiting for Alena who was landing from Paris a bit later.

 

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As soon as she arrived, we started checking out the different houses, swimming pools around the hotel. And it was no disappointment. The architecture was extraordinary with art pieces from around Africa. I am so happy to share these images with you and truly hope you will be inspired as we were if you can visit this hotel.

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We only stayed 4 days but really made the most of it. We also managed to take an afternoon off to visit the Yves Saint Laurent Museum and Majorelle gardens.

 

YOGA BY THE POOL

I took my first class in London but Yoga by the pool beats it! A relaxed atmosphere for you to find your inner self.

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THE GARDEN (one of them)

 

PRIVATE SWIMMING POOL

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My meeting with Meryanne about her hotel Jnane Tamsna allowed me to know moe about her source of inspiration and her daily life. I loved every moment and truly look forward to going back!

 

Is it necessary to check on your “strong friends” ?

Is it necessary to check on your “strong friends” ?
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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

The past months have been really hectic for many people I know. Some I used to call friends, some are just acquaintances, some are stories that were simply shared.

Truth be told, a few weeks back, I had plans with a friend outside London. I had to cancel the trip because I had some issues I wanted to deal with and didn’t quite want to talk to anyone. I spoke to my friend and simply said I could no longer make it. She replied that it was alright and she had other things she wanted to do that weekend.

On Monday, I stayed home all day as it was a bank holiday and I really needed to rest. A strange feeling took over me but I could not understand where it came from. In the evening, I sent a message to check on my friend and re-arrange a time to meet.

She didn’t reply. The next day still nothing. She then sent a message late afternoon on Tuesday to say that she quit on everything we were working on and just needed a break from everything. I was disappointed but after a stressful month, I just said ok. I then asked her to pass me over the things she was working on so I could find a replacement.

I could senses that she was hiding something. I guessed that something was wrong because she is not the quitting type, so I insisted. She started crying and said that she was at the hospital after she tried to commit suicide.

I cried. I was angry. I didn’t know what to say. She wanted to be left alone but I knew she  had a trip planned soon abroad so I thought at least she will be surrounded by family. So I gave her the space she wanted after saying that I was there for her if she needed.

This event really shook me as a week before the suicide of Avicii was all over the press. I decided to write this after I heard about the suicide of designer Kate Spade. We all live such busy lives, consumed by work, unnecessary commitment, keeping up with our social media appearances, and so on…  I felt like I needed to mourn a part of myself and think about what I was showing to the world.

As independant women, we always feel like we need to be strong, and be some kind of example to whomever is watching. This is also a choice. I now have chosen to be myself. To dealt with what is there and to focus on my own happiness. Many things sounds like cliche when you say them out loud. Being honest with yourself and accepting who you are is not easy. Expectations are truly what makes us miserable but how to stop being exigent with ourselves, our dreams, hopes, etc… ? Even if you stop reflecting on others because let’s be frank, that’s another lost cause.

I read that what makes human beings happy is progress. When things are happening the way we planned and we can see the results. Perseverance and the ability to think positive in times of crisis. But how do you prevent suicide, depression, anxiety, mental illness? All these tabou subjects no one wants to face or talk about. We all know someone who has been through something that drained their mind, their spirit and any sense of joy. The devil is a liar as Bishop T.D. Jakes would say. This is the sentence I tell myself now to get through the day.

As an entrepreneur, you can rarely predict what will happen so your entourage is very important. Keeping close to people who think on your level, people who understand your essence and why you work until 2 or 3am to achieve something which lives in your imagination. Life is not easy but it gets easier in time when you learn to focus on your purpose. My friend survived and still hasn’t spoken about what pushed her to the edge. But she claims that she knows what it is. It is a tricky situation and I did feel helpless. I had to accept her choice and just be the friend she needed.

Choosing our peace of mind is the best investment for your life. We are nothing without our health. Personally, I am learning to simply say No to things without feeling guilty. Anything that does not align with what I wish to do is removed from my life. I made a give up list to help and since ditching my television and newspapers that only highlights the bad in this world a few years ago, it has made a real difference.

I would love to hear your thoughts and if you have experienced anything similar. Please dont hesitate to write in private if you want to remain anonymous.

KUBA: The most underrated textile in the world

KUBA: The most underrated textile in the world

We are living in the best time to connect artisans to the Global market. – Tina Lobondi

 

It was important for me to take some time to explore the textiles of the country I am from, Congo. One of them significantly stood out every time. The Kuba textile…  You may or not have heard of it but you definitely have seen it a few times in your life on television, store, textiles, frames, and so on….. I recently discovered a brand called Duarra Limited. And immediately fell in love with the work they were doing.

KUBA KINGDOM HISTORY

The Kuba people of the Democratic Republic of Congo are located around the Sankuru river in the Kasai region. It’s a tribe made up of 18 sub-groups.

The Kingdom was established in the 17th century by king Shyaam. It had a more developed state institutions than other independent villages and chieftaincy in the region. It also had an unwritten constitution, separation of political powers, a judicial system with courts and juries, a police force and military, taxation and significant public provision.

The base cloth, called “Mbal”, is made from the dried leaves of the raffia palm tree. To produce the cloth, the leaves are first dried and then stripped down to individual fibers before being woven. In the the Kuba culture, men are responsible for the cultivation of the raffia palm and the weaving of the cloth. The women are responsible for transforming the raffia cloth into various forms of textiles.

 

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Photo credits: http://en.lisapoyakama.org/the-kuba-kingdom/

The patterns of the textile communicate essentials informations about the Kuba as individuals and as a society. They are an important marker of social status, lineage and ethnicity. Finally, some textiles are used for funerals and festive events.

The textiles isn’t decorated with human or animal fugures, but with exquisite abstract designs. Although the Kuba people have been producing textiles for four hundred years, their traditional designs are strikingly modern.

Avant-garde European artists like Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Grace Hartzel were greatly inspired by the various abstract pattern of the Kuba textiles.

 

SOME INTERESTING FACTS

The first explorer to discover the existence of the Kuba people was William Sheppard, a black American Presbyterian.

Whenever a king dies, the capital moves to the location of the new king

Several restaurant venues in Salzburg, owned by Austria’s Red Bull founder, display a good selection of Kuba textiles.

 

KUBA FACTS

Wealthy members of society supported Fashion and Arts, which in turn augmented their status and increased their chances of being named to a lofty post. As a result, the efforts of the Kuba artisans became sophisticated and varied.

 

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Picture credit : https://duarra.com

 

The Kuba are also called the Bakuba.

The Kuba kingdom wasn’t affected by the Arabs and European slave trades. It was only destabilised when the Belgians came to Congo at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The Kuba society is matriarchal. The eldest woman from the royal family is the true sovereign and she could make the kind stand down.

The Kuba is made up of 18 different tribes but only 4 tribes have gained recognition for their artistic endeavours. The Bushongo, Ngende, Ngongo and Shoowa.

The Kuba’s primary contemporary use of the textile is at funerals of wealthy elders and sometimes weddings.

The Kuba textile was also use as a currency.

 

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Picture credits: http://pandorasantafe.com/kuba-cloth-from-africa/

 

There are four major techniques for producing finished Kuba cloth: embroidery, applique, patchwork and dyeing.

Embroideries, often called “Kuba velours”, have a velvet-like texture while the uncut variety display similar pattern work with a flat appearance.

The applique and patchwork are mirror images of each other. The former required attaching additional pieces of fabric to a base cloth to create a pattern effect. The latter involves cutting away pieces of the base cloth to create a pattern then filling in the gaps by patching the front or back of the base cloth with fabric in the shape of the missing piece.

 

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Picture credit : https://duarra.com