DYNAMIC AFRICA

Set up in 2010, Dynamic Africa is diverse multi-media curated blog with a Pan-African outlook that seeks to create an expressive platform for African experiences, stories and African cultures.



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Today’s style inspiration: Louis Philippe de Gagoue.

Hailing from both Cameroon and Cote D’Ivoire, the self-described eclectic fashion stylist, blogger and personal shopper is currently based in Morocco after half a decade living in neighbouring Tunisia.

With a style all his own, there’s a sense of vintage cool, classic sartorialism and modern vibrancy in almost everything he wears. From Congolese sapeurs to traditional North African garments, there’s always a strong African influence in de Gagoue’s visual aesthetic.

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All Africa, All the time.

In Photos: “Family Album” by Mamaki Rakotsoana.

This series of images by South African photographer Mamaki Rakotsoana is a project in which she took her deceased father’s photographs and reproduced them in a manner that investigates her relationship to him, as well as his relationship to the women in his life.

How a Ghanaian entrepreneur turned his “impossible” dream into a reality.

A few years ago, Fred Deegbe was working as a banker - a profession that left him somewhat unsatisfied with the lack of impact he was having in the world. After buying a pair of Oxford wingtips at a store to impress a friend, Deegbe began to wonder if such high quality luxury shoes could indeed be manufactured in Ghana.

Despite the negative feedback he received from those who believed that such shoes couldn’t be made in Ghana, Deegbe wasn’t dissuaded from his idea of starting a shoe company in Accra. With no knowledge of the shoemaking industry, and armed only with passion and his gut feeling, Deegbe teamed up with friend Vijay Manu (pictured right) to start their luxury shoe and accessories company ‘Heel the World’, based in Accra.

Although the shoes are all handmade in Ghana, the goods used to make them are imported from places like the United States and Italy putting the price range of the shoes between $200-$400. This is Deegbe’s greatest challenge: proving that the shoes are worth the money they command.

To hear Deegbe tell his start-up story in his own words, watch this clip from CNN.

Lupita Nyong’o lands top beauty gig as new face of Lancôme.

After being featured in numerous magazines from Vogue to Vanity Fair, and being chosen as one of the representatives of Miu Miu’s Spring 2014 campaign, Oscar-winning Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o has been announced as the new face of top French beauty brand Lancôme. Even though many of us are already familiar with her gorgeous face, the beauty brand ambassador will now be seen all over the world and I can’t help being excited at that thought.

This comes as no surprise as the actress and filmmaker is not only known for incredible thespian talents, she also consistently manages to leave us all in awe as she pulls off one beauty and fashion look after another.

Concerning her new role, Nyong’o remarked, “I am particularly proud to represent [Lancôme’s] unique vision for women and the idea that beauty should not be dictated, but should instead be an expression of a woman’s freedom to be herself.”

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All Africa, All the time.

Giving thanks to Alek Wek: The importance of a supermodel.

I never tire of reading Alek Wek interviews. Her presence in the modelling world did wonders for my often down-trodden self-esteem whilst growing up. It still does.

Wek, often the sole black face amidst a sea of the many white visages I’d see in the pages of the fashion magazines I became obsessed with was always greatly outnumbered. Few other black faces accompanied her on the runway and in print. Similarly, I constantly found myself in social settings comprised of the same demographics.

Before high school, most of the schools I attended were majority white. At one particular school, I was the only black student in my year for an entire semester, and the only black girl between grades 4 and 8 for that same period of time. You can imagine what this sort of alienation did for myself esteem being in my highly impressionable and formative pre-teen and teenage years. To my non-white friends with flowing hair and skin that was either much paler than mine or at least a ‘nice kind of brown’, I represented all that was undesired in the world of beauty. I was not white, I was not mixed or exotic by any means. I was black, another synonym for plain. My skin? Too dark. My hair? Too stiff when natural. Relaxed? Not even close to what they had. And so the list went on.

Oddly enough, you’d think I’d be somewhat relieved to see someone like Alek Wek receive the kind of seemingly positive attention she did from the fashion world. Au contraire, mon frere - at least at first. At the time, I couldn’t understand why they’d chosen her. She seemed to represent all the things that seemed wrong with blackness in the eyes of my non-black peers. Her skin? Much too dark. Her hair? Much too stiff (if she weren’t bald). And so the list went on. How, in any way, could I look to this woman as a source of inspiration when nothing about her seemed to comfortably fit the standards of beauty defined, and often confined by, whiteness? After all, these standards plagued not just my personal life, but that of the world I lived in. Why had fashion chosen her, or at least someone that looked the way she did? Was Wek chosen because she represented an anomaly in the world of beauty? Or because despite all the notions of beauty that seemed to stand against her, she defiantly refused to accept them and in doing so, redefined how we see and construct beauty and what we consider beautiful?

Being of Dinka descent, Wek stood out physically not only from the white models that overpopulated the fashion industry, but also from the small number of black models the West had heralded both before her and during her time. Her looks seemed to make a statement, whether she liked it or not, in a world that, rather oddly, both embraced and rejected her at the same time. Where she was hired by top Haute Couture designers and graced the covers of numerous high fashion magazines, she was often a token in the fashion world and seen as exotic by the very people that claimed to celebrate her beauty.

In all of this, I found it extremely difficult to interpret, at the time, that Alek Wek’s presence was important primarily because she was there. Not that there hadn’t been black models before her, but her particular beauty had never been celebrated in such a manner before. Whether or not the world approved of her beauty was something that didn’t matter to Alek Wek. She was visible - highly so, and she was not going anywhere. Whether I was aware of it or not, Alek Wek’s visibility was important for the reasons that made me reject not only her but myself during that time. Alek Wek was important because her presence assured people like myself that we deserved all the things we were made to believe we were not worthy of, and needed no one’s permission as proof.

This recent Guardian interview of Alek Wek highlights so much of why Alek Wek is truly one of the most important women in the world of fashion - ever. Here’s an except that demonstrates why she’s so incredibly important and inspirational.

Wek was born in South Sudan, arriving in London when she was 14, and was acutely aware of how different she was from the other big models of the day, women such as Kate Moss, Claudia Schiffer and Eva Herzigova; while growing up, she had no knowledge of trailblazers such as Iman and Grace Jones.

“There was no concept of fashion and catwalk shows where I came from,” Wek says. “There were no magazines. I never saw women in makeup, or with different hairstyles. Absolutely not.” Now, she says, there are so many South Sudanese girls working as models it is not a big deal; in the late 1990s, she was one of very few successful African models. “There were black models, but no one as dark-skinned, and none with Dinka features, that’s for sure.” Even so, she was regularly mistaken for Naomi Campbell, an entirely different-looking model from Streatham with a Jamaican-born mother. She laughs at the ridiculousness: “A black woman is not ‘a type’. I never had any interest in those jobs that asked for only black girls. What the hell is that? Would you be comfortable saying you wanted only white girls, or Latin? Are you kidding me? It’s baffling.”

At a time when black models were considered commercially more viable if their hair was relaxed, their complexions light, Wek (very dark skin, cropped natural hair) was confident of her value. I have interviewed many models and, without fail, when asked if they always knew they were beautiful, each of them has given me a look of mock horror before going on to list their unsightly features as a child: big feet, too tall, gawky features. But when I ask Wek, she immediately replies, “Oh yes, of course.”

(Read more of the original article ‘Alek Wek: ‘You don’t have to go with the Crowd’)

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All Africa, All the time.

NEW MUSIC: Wande Coal - My Way.

Released just yesterday with already over 20, 000 views, Nigerian artist and serious R&B crooner Wande Coal’s Maleek Berry-produced track finally has a video of its own filmed in South Africa’s financial capital, Johannesburg.

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All Africa, All the time.

NEW MUSIC: Blitz the Ambassador ft Seun Kuti - Make You No Forget.

The third single and video released off Blitz’s “Afropolitan Dreams" album, the Ghanaian MC’s latest track was filmed in Jamestown district of the nation’s capital and features stunts from Accra’s BMX “Bikelordz”, amateur boxing and some of Blitz’s biggest fans as a backing sing-a-long ‘choir’. It’s a solid Afrobeat tune with trumpets and a catchy but conscious hook.

Oh, and don’t think we didn’t spot Blitz’s awesome t-shirts. “Make Fufu Not War" and the Kwame Nkrumah "VISIONARY" shirts are both garments made by Kayobi clothing.

ETA: Sorry folks, Seun’s not in the video sadly.

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All Africa, All the time.

Cape Town’s version of Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’ is here!

I think it’s safe to say that Pharrell Williams’ jovial anthem is quite possibly the most globally infectious song of the decade.

Thanks to social media, people in cities all over the world have been creating and uploading videos of themselves dancing joyously to his Despicable Me 2 theme song. Africans are no exception. Cities like Cotonou, Tunis, Yaounde and Libreville have all participated in this trend.

Now, it’s Cape Town’s turn and as a dweller of the Mother City for the past three years, I absolutely love this video. The creators touched down in multiple areas of the city and its outskirts (not just the city bowl, thankfully) and the cast are an incredibly diverse array of individuals - a pretty darn good reflection of the city.

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All Africa, All the time.

FIFA U17 WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: QUARTER-FINALS STAGE.

Out of the three qualifying African teams at this year’s U17 Women’s World Cup that began on March 15th, hosted in Costa Rica, two - Ghana and Nigeria - have made it to the quarterfinals stage.

With only one win out of three against hosts Costa Rica, Zambia’s losses against Italy and Venezuela respectively sealed their fate early in the tournament denying them any chance of advancement out of the group stage.

Ghana was the first team in the tournament to make it to the knockout stage after beating Germany 1-0. Emerging at the top of their group with 6 points, Ghana kicked off their start in the tournament with a 2-0 win against North Korea followed by their win over Germany. Their loss to Canada didn’t hurt their chances of moving forward due to the negative results of Germany and North Korea.

Nigeria have smooth sailed their way through the tournament. Without a single defeat, the team made it to the quarterfinals at the top of their group with 9 points. The U17 ladies beat China PR 2-1 in their opening match, followed by a win over Colombia with the same result, ending with a 3-0 victory over Mexico.

In the quarterfinals, Ghana is set to play Italy on March 27th. Nigeria are pit against Spain on the same day.

Good luck ladies!

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All Africa, All the time.

Nandipha Mntambo - “Praça de Touros" (2008).

Shot in the now abandoned Praça de Touros arena in Maputo where black Mozambicans once fought for the entertainment of the colonial Portuguese, Mntambo rehearses the steps and takes on the persona of a professional bullfighter - a role usually reserved for men.

Where no animal is present, Mntambo dons an animal hide on her back suggesting that in the absence of an actual bull, she is both the fighter and the victim, the hunter and the hunted, both the fear and the feared in a scenario where neither occupant had agency over their being in the ring and the consequence of what lay ahead. 

About the cowhide, Nandipha says, “I have used cowhide as a means to subvert expected associations with corporeal presence, femininity, sexuality and vulnerability.”

Nandipha Mntambo was born in Swaziland in 1982 but grew up in Johannesburg. She obtained a Masters in Fine Arts from the Michaelis School of Fine Arts at the University of Cape Town in 2007, and in 2011, she was chosen as the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art .

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All Africa, All the time.

Unique furniture designs by Senegalese artist Babacar M’Bodj Niang.

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All Africa, All the time.

"Euphoria of two young men as they meet and greet each other"

Taken by Ambroise Ngayimoko, Angolan-born DRC photographer, in 1972.

Look at the children of the land leaving in droves, leaving their own land with bleeding wounds on their bodies and shock on their faces and blood in their hearts and hunger in their stomachs and grief in their footsteps. Leaving their mothers and fathers and children behind, leaving their umbilical cords underneath the soil, leaving the bones of their ancestors in the earth, leaving everything that makes them who and what they are, leaving because it is no longer possible to stay. They will never be the same again because you cannot be the same once you leave behind who and what you are, you just cannot be the same.
NoViolet Bulawayo, "We Need New Names".

Cathedrale Notre Dame du Plateau, Abidjan, Cote-d’Ivoire

http://yourdelicatesse.tumblr.com/

P.S: Photo by Esprit Photographie