A cure for Ebola, Yes you read correctly .

A cure for Ebola, Yes you read correctly .

The weeks were very important news for the African community. A cure for Ebola was confirmed and we all mourned a musical genius in a tragic accident, DJ Arafat.

The end of a cursed disease?

Until this week, 11th August, there was no cure for Ebola. But Congolese doctor Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum has finally acheived the work of his life. This will save many people especially the ones currently suffering in Congo DRC. The solution is called mAB114, which was developed in DRC and the United States.

This made me really proud for my country but also Doctor Muyembe has proven once more that hard work pays.

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DJ ARAFAT

The world has lost a music genius and African artists were present last week in Abidjan to pay their last respect. DJ Arafat passed away shortly after he had a road accident (motor) which put us all in shock on the night of the 11th August 2019.

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How to feel alive? Every year, try to visit a new place.

How to feel alive? Every year, try to visit a new place.

 

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This year, I made myself the promise to visit a new country, to educate myself and face the fear that some people try to put on me by telling stories from their bad experiences. Now when I fear something, I try to find a way to just do it and deal with the consequences. The opportunity came to cover the Fashion Week in Niamey, Niger and I was really excited!

The African Union also had a summit with all the head of States and I was invited to attend the gala dinner and the seminars.

The Visa

The visa process was quite easy in term of what needed to be done. It was all online. The only issue I had was at the airport. I didn’t receive my invitation letter on time, so it took some a while for them to check through all the emails and let me through.

The Flight

I was flying with Royal Air Maroc and the flight was good. I was lucky that none of my luggages were lost but many other people on the same flights did not get their luggages for days. When travelling, I must say that I always try to keep to a minimum number of luggage.

The Hotel

We were supposed to stay in a nice hotel but due to the Summit and the lack of available rooms, we simply had the worst time I could ever imagine. From one day to another, we didn’t know where we would sleep as everywhere was fully booked. Even hotels that had cockroaches as big as a mouse running like they rule the world. This definitely made the trip very difficult but the people were so lovely that I would like another opportunity to visit the country and be able to stay at the Radisson or Noom hotel.

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This trip experience taught me the importance of going with the flow. It is true to say that not everything always go as planned but there is always a reason for everything.

The African continent has so many beautiful undiscovered places. I hope to visit many more.

The culture in images…

Facts about the Kuba textile from Congo DRC

Facts about the Kuba textile from Congo DRC

Here I present my styling for the Kuba textile from Congo DRC. I got the material from the local artisan’s market and met with my cousin’s seamstress. She made a few belts for me and I am so happy with them.I previously shared the story of the tribe who makes them. I look forward to your comments.

 

 ESIMBI in Kinshasa: how the charity is pushing for arts and culture in education.

 ESIMBI in Kinshasa: how the charity is pushing for arts and culture in education.

ESIMBI believes that there has never been a better time to instill the values of arts and culture in the lives of children and young adults. It is especially important now, as the education system in Congo is not doing significantly enough to develop the talents of the young Congolese population. The world is in a constant state of change; schools need new accountability measures and often struggle to reach the minimum requirements to educate their students.

For Congo to advance, we must do thing differently, financial and institutional capital have been the focal points of education and for addressing society’s challenges. Perhaps changing the way we look at things and take a more creative approach will most definitely have a different social impact. And, this is where the arts and culture are necessary in the Congolese curriculum.

 

 

Arts and culture nurtures and sparks the cognitive ability to imagine, and unleashes creativity and innovation, letting people think differently, develop differently and solve problems differently. Arts and culture is known to breaks barriers, connect people across cultural differences, and engage people who share the same values and skills. There is no investment that brings people closer together and moves people to action more than arts and culture.

The arts sector in Congo is very silent and invisible, so pushing schools away from arts subjects is the norm. There has also been relatively little public discussion of the way that arts and culture or creative learning might need to shift and change in order to play a role in the Congolese education system.

 

 

Article 31 of the UN Convention on the rights of the child states that– All children to be able to participate freely in cultural life and the arts – without providing ‘first access’ at the very least within the school system, how can a Congolese child, understand and develop artistically? The reality is, if the nurturing of arts and creativity is left to families and informal institutes, the Congolese arts and culture sector cannot and will not thrive.

What is ESIMBI doing?

Focusing our efforts on strategies that foster real collaboration—finding the best ways to leverage existing partnerships, work around them where they get in the way, and eliminate them when there is no growth or progress.

Identify the stakeholders who must join, support, and advocate for solutions—we must reach beyond the “choir” to find the right and best people that we can work with and advocate our cause.

We urge Congolese people and Congolese organisations to get out of their own way. Often we are too busy trying to rally people that we are not identifying any solutions (programs, structures, policies, practices, and financial models) that might be outside our comfort zone.

We learn from others and ourselves—a great deal of thinking and work goes into what we do and it shows in the results that we yield.

 

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We know and understand that it will be hard and will take a long-term commitment—this is a meticulous task. The political challenges, economic constraints, competing interests, priority gaps, and complexities are all real and significant challenges.

Ultimately, we must act now. Congo is unstable and has been for some time. We do not need or want to be another African study or statistic. Yet this is the time for substantial challenges that can lead to significant reforms and investments in Congo but only if we have a game changing approach which can transform the country.

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

Ways to refashioning the future of African fashion from an expert.

Ways to refashioning the future of African fashion from an expert.
Leanne is the founder of the platform called Refashionafrica which is dedicated to African Fashion. It serves as a fashionable eye on urban Africa and its various styles.

 

Could you please tell me about your background? 
I have a commercial, marketing and branding background. Prior to founding Refashion Africa I also had my own marketing and sponsorship agency.
Do you really think the African continent is ready for a Vogue Africa? If so why?
I do think it’s time. As I tried to lay out in my article for the “Business of Fashion” website,  we have proven long term economic growth with future prospects, a vibrant fashion eco-system which still has its challenges but I feel must be represented in an authentic way. We have an affluent class and a growing consumer class which will be driving the new modern African narrative. We are more inter-connected than ever before and already have luxury brands present on the continent.
African Vogue could have been the unity element between all the african nations, do you think this may be why, the western media has not given it a chance yet?
I am not sure about that. But what I know is this, this is about us, in Africa. We are a force and the African Renaissance is underway. We must continue to make our own tables and take our place on the global stage.
With South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana leading the fashion industry on the continent, how do you imagine the infrastructure of an African Vogue?
I imagine that the engine driving Vogue Africa will be the best creatives, digital, commercial, communications, publishing, etc… African talent, in other words a collective effort to create a narrative that reflects what is happening inside the continent from major fashion cities to capture the African Zeitgeist and elevate our stories. We need an attitude of openness and willingness from many parties not fingering strong leadership.
You are a very successful writer, what is your opinion about diversity and how social media is helping break barriers globally in the beauty industry? Can the fashion industry follow?
There is continuous pressure for things to change. In the new world diversity is key. The world is in a state of continuous flux and more change is coming. Technological change is a major force shapeshifting the future, and in Africa we have a very high adoption rate for example of mobile technology. Expect new conversations, new ideas, to go beyond what was once thought impossible.
What is the next step for African fashion if this magazine doesn’t not happen in the next 3 years?
African fashion is not dependent on a Vogue Africa happening or not. It will continue from strength to strength, no doubt. We are a force to be reckoned with and Vogue Africa shouldn’t feel like this far fetched idea.

Is accidental entrepreneurship a real thing in Congo?

Is accidental entrepreneurship a real thing in Congo?

Although being the richest country in terms of natural resources, people in Republic Democratic of Congo live on under $5 per day.

Despite these challenges, they tend to come up with new ideas to generate revenue to live adequately. Last year Harvard business review wrote an article about why African entrepreneurship is booming. If there is real growth in Africa and there is to be predicted growth in Congo, why isn’t entrepreneurship valued?

These entrepreneurial activities can have a huge impact on the economy of Congo as well as the quality of life of the population in the form of employment. However, an important factor is the missing legislations, training and investment in entrepreneurs. This fact makes business development and business growth stagnant.

Entrepreneurial forces are relatively strong in Congo, as most people become accidental entrepreneurs based on necessity due to the poor economic situation. However, we have failed to realise that entrepreneurship development is the foundation of all economic evolution in any nation.

I took the below pictures on my last trip to Kinshasa with Gaelle who works with me on my social initiative ESIMBI. I wanted to share them as they completely represent how street businesses are the force that sustains the neglected Congolese population but shows their strength and resilience.

 

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Entrepreneurial challenges in Congo

  • The country’s economic has been declining since the 1990’s and its instability have made Congo an unsuccessful place for entrepreneurial capital investment.
  • The lack of adequate electricity, basic internet, which is a must in the business climate, stifle entrepreneurial activities.
  • Female entrepreneurs, are often underestimated and overlooked because of cultural barriers labelling women inherently inferior to men.

 

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The prospect of entrepreneurship in Congo

  • Economic Development: the development of entrepreneurs will increase the National gross domestic product.
  • Reduction in unemployment: entrepreneurship encourages and increases the creation of employment in Congo which contributes the country’s development.
  • Improved way of life: encouraging entrepreneurship development will go a long way to improve the standard of living of the country’s population through innovations.

 

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To fully encourage the development of entrepreneurs in Congo, we need to prioritise education, investment and continuous development. Not only in the entrepreneurs but also the industries that they are working in, this will generate a surge of potential from everyone in the country to see and recognise that they have the ability to change their live and that of others through business, mentorship, and apprenticeship.

 

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