African-based news, lifestyle & popular culture platform that brings you stories and information concerning Africa and the African diaspora. Set up in 2010, Dynamic Africa is a rich content-driven creative space with a Pan-African outlook established as an expressive platform for African experiences, African culture and African stories.

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Posts tagged "Kenya"

Kenyan Woman Makes Desperate Plea to Be Rescued From Abusive Employer in Saudi Arabia.

This is heartbreaking.

Njeri Mwaura, a Kenyan woman in Saudi Arabia, recorded and uploaded this desperate plea asking her fellow Kenyans to help rescue her from the country.

In the tearful video, Mwaura is visibly shaken and tearful as she details the ways in which her employer in Saudi Arabia is mistreating - including starving her for several days. Mwaura states that she got her job through an agent in Nairobi before arriving in Saudi Arabia.

One of the saddest aspects of this appeal is that Mwaura’s story is far from unique. Saudi Arabia has a terrible record when it comes to the treatment and protection of domestic workers in the country.

(H/T: Ghetto Radio Kenya)

Pharrell’s GQ Masai-inspired Cover Sparks Outrage From Masai Community.

The British have a terrible history when it comes to cultural sensitivity. Looking at this world map, one can see that the vastness of the once-British Empire is not a display of greatness, but rather the markings of a former global system of oppression of brutality that has left its mark on our world today. Whilst far from the level of British imperialism, Pharrell Williams’ happy-go-lucky self doesn’t have an outstanding track record when it comes to cultural appropriation either. Perhaps that’s why this pairing featuring British GQ and Pharrell Williams isn’t altogether shocking.

Earlier this year, the singer, rapper, producer and ‘New Black’ spokesperson swapped his Vivienne Westwood mountie hat for a Native American war bonnet as he posed on the cover of Elle UK. How he and the entire Elle UK Magazine crew have managed to miss the countless articles and posts that have been published and circulated widely online against this form of cultural appropriation, I have no clue. But it seems like neither camp was aware, cared or showed any concern about their offensive actions until they were lambasted on social media.

Prior to the shoot, the Elle UK Magazine’s website posted a description of the editorial saying, “We persuaded Elle Style Award winner Pharrell to trade his Vivienne Westwood mountie hat for a Native American feather headdress in his best ever shoot.” Post-criticism, the message was later changed to read, “We persuaded [Pharrell] … to collaborate with us on his best ever shoot.” This weak attempts at a “cover-up”, if you can call it that, shows that Elle didn’t quite got the message. Not only were they fully aware of what Pharrell Williams was wearing from the get-go (they referred to the item by name), they neglected to concern themselves with the significance behind the item. Rather odd as fashion magazines are notorious for publishing well-researched in-depth articles about the designers behind the clothing featured in their magazines - especially on their covers.

Posing in yet another Western fashion-related magazine, this time British GQ, Pharrell’s multi-page spread sees him wearing arbitrary face paint and items of clothing associated with Masai people. Shot by lens duo Hunter & Gatti, the two said about the shoot, “all the inspiration concept of the shoot is related to the Masai tribe paintings. We brought a real Masai tribe just to make the ambient music around the shoot and inspire Pharrell.” If you’re wondering what this ‘tribe’ looked like or what the so-called ‘ambient music’ sounded like, GQ posted a video of the behind-the-scenes action on YouTube. But what’s really frightening in this case isn’t their overuse of the word ‘tribe’, it’s how they refer to the Masai people and culture as nothing more than items and props to be used at their disposal exposing the ways cultural appropriation rids a people of agency. That and how this cover makes Pharrell a repeat offender and serial cultural appropriator.

Whilst there has been outrage from members of both the Masai community and people leaving comments on Kenyan blogs concerning the commercial use of their culture, it is yet to receive the attention it deserves in mainstream media making a formal apology less likely in this case. What’s more, the specific use of Masai culture as a source of ‘inspiration’ speaks to the greater problem of companies that have been profiting from the image of the Masai, an already marginalized group in their home country, for decades.

In a BBC interview, Lemayian Ole kereto, an elder from the Masai community, expresses some key concerns with regards to the case against appropriation. Not only is cultural appropriation an act of suppression done primarily for commercial gain and usually enacted on already oppressed and marginalized groups, the use of “culture without consent” is never complimentary as it disregards the history, traditions and identities of those it depicts and affects the most. Ole kereto further adds that without prior consent from those representing the communities or culture in question, use of any facet of their culture falls directly into the real of cultural appropriation. If no body or agency exists that represents the majority or totality of the people in question, then companies should then refrain from this form of cultural ‘borrowing”. Ownership must be respected at all times.

Often, when discussing the issue of cultural appropriation, the question of whether or not it can be complimentary or not is sure to arise. The answer, quite simply, is no. Cultural appropriation has no benefits to those it affects. Cultural sensitivity and awareness are at the crux of addressing issues pertaining to cultural appropriation. When buying or making use of an item that is said to represent or belongs to a certain community, it is important to inform oneself of who is benefiting from this transaction. There is a possibility that cultural “borrowing” can benefit all parties involved. As Ole kereto says, “partnership attracts responsibility” which in turn creates effective awareness beyond commercial gain and profitability.

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NEW MUSIC: Sauti Sol - “Sura Yako” (Official Video).

If you never paid attention to Sauti Sol before 2014, then this is the year that you finally should.

After beautifully seducing us with their video for Nishike, the boys started a Lipala dance hype that shows no signs of stopping thanks to their single Sura Yako, and the instructional dance video that came with it. Fans from their home country of Kenya and all around the world have recorded videos of them doing the dance, leading in part to the band being nominated for a Kenyan Social Media Award in the category of f Best Use of Social Media for Entertainment.

Already a hit, Sauti Sol have now released the official visuals for Sura Yako and I’m tempted to say it’s their best yet, thanks to Kenyan director Enos Olik. Sung in Swahili with an infectious Soukous melody, Sura Yako is a song that celebrates the joys of love and beauty - something the video captures so well.

OK, off I go to do the Lipala dance.

This Year’s Afrika Handmade Symposium in Nairobi Highlights the Need for Support of Local African Entrepreneurs.

Spurred by the need to bridge the gap between craft and design entrepreneurs and access to profitable and sustainable markets, Craft Afrika’s have developed the Afrika Handmade Symposium - an advocacy initiative that focuses on creating awareness of creative local African entrepreneurs and their brands.

Where sites like Etsy may not be available to many individuals and brands based on the continent, this event offers a platform through which new market opportunities will be created and existing ones will be strengthened in order to create viable enterprises and sustainable youth employment in Kenya, and perhaps eventually the rest of Africa.

The very first edition of the Afrika Handmade Symposium will take place at Nairobi’s Jacaranda Hotel from October 2nd-3rd, 2014. The event will include a dynamic array of speakers from both the public and private sector. Top designers such as Mark Stephenson from Sandstorm, Nalina Rupani from Adelphi and Sam Imende from ENZI Footwear will also be present sharing insights on craft entrepreneurship. Government agencies including Kenya Copyright Board [KECOBO], Export Promotion Council [EPC] and Export Processing Zones Authority [EPZA] will be represented by Catherine Kahuria, Evelyn Noah and Ruth Mwaniki respectively.

Registration for Afrika Handmade is now open and closes on 15 September, 2014.

Fees are 8500 Kenya Shillings or USD100 for Kenyan and East Africa residents and 17,000 or USD 200 for international delegates.

For those not attending the event as sellers, there’ll be plenty of amazing handmade goods to choose from so don’t miss out if you’re in Nairobi!

Update: The event will only consist of speakers!

NEW MUSIC: Victoria Kimani - Prokoto ft Diamond Platnumz & Ommy Dimpoz.

American-born Kenyan artist Victoria Kimani releases a brand new video for her single ‘Prokoto’. If you’re wondering why the song has a heavy West African sound to it, it’s because Victoria, who briefly lived in Nigeria during her teenage years, is signed to Nigerian record label Chocolate City.

The track features to other East African artists, MTV MAMA and BET Awards-nominated Diamond Platnumz and fellow Tanzanian Ommy Dimpoz.

Producers of ‘Nairobi Half Life’ Bring to Life New Kenyan Drama ‘VEVE’.

Homegrown Kenyan political thriller ‘VEVE’ is an action-packed drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Recently screened at this year’s Durban International Film Festival, where it had its world premiere, VEVE is the latest film from the producers of one of Kenya’s most talked about films Nairobi Half Life.

Set in the Kenyan town of Maua in the north of the country, VEVE is crime thriller that follows the lives of several characters as they find themselves navigating a world of political intrigue, revenge, love and ambitious aspirations for success, all centered around VEVE - a local term for the plant stimulant known more commonly as ‘khat’.

Directed by Simon Mukali and written by Natasha Likimani, the film stars a range of local actors including Emo Rugene as leading man ‘Kenzo’, Lowry Odhiambo as ‘Amos’, a shrewd businessman, and Lizz Njagah as ‘Esther’, Amos’ dissatisfied wife.

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NEW MUSIC: Sauti Sol - “Sura Yako (Your Face)”. 

Kenyan boyband Sauti Sol have a brand new dance (called lipala) to accompany their latest single, and a music video that shows you just how to get down to it (with the help of the Sarakasi dancers).

Their last single Nishike went viral for all the right (or wrong, depending how you look at it) reasons and is still raking in views. Will this one keep up the Sauti craze? 

UPDATE: Sauti Sol are hosting a Lipala dance competition on instagram. Find out more about it here

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Kenyan Women Dominate 3000m Women’s Steeplechase Final and 10, 000m Race at Commonwealth Games.

It was a brilliant day for Kenyan athletics as the east African nation took home all three medals in the 3000m Women’s Steeplechase final at the current Games in Glasgow.

Coming in first at a time of 9:30.96 was runner Purity Cherotich Kirui, followed by fellow Kenyans Milcah Chemos Cheywa at 9:31.30 and
Joan Kipkemoi 9:33.34.

This win comes a day after another Kenyan clean sweep as Joyce Chepkirui led a Kenyan one, two, three in the Women’s gruelling 10,000m final, followed by Florence Kiplagat and Emily Chebet.

On day 10 of the 11 day event, Kenya is one of three African countries currently in the top ten of the overall medal standings chart.

With a total of 19 medals - 7 of them gold, Kenya sits in ninth position in-between South Africa and Nigeria.

Kenya have also won the Men’s 5000m, Women’s 800m, Women’s Marathon, Women’s 1500m, and the Men’s 3000m Steeplechase.

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Shujaa Misuli by Osborne Macharia.

Shujaa Misuli, meaning ‘muscle warriors’, is a photo project by Kenyan photographer Osborne Macharia that celebrates the diversity, dynamism and accomplishments of Kenyan athletes and sports heroes.

Click for descriptions and names of athletes.

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NEW MUSIC: Just A Band - Probably For Lovers.

Been a minute since Kenya’s Just A Band has released anything new but this music video for their beautiful song Probably For Lovers is probably the cutest thing we’ve ever seen from them.

JAB are no strangers to making great music videos. The band are a highly creative bunch and I was won over by the video to their song If I Could. Now, for their catchy love song taken off their Sorry for the Delay album, they’ve put together a video that consists of compilations of their fans from around the world singing along to the song.

Definitely watch ‘til the end.

Lupita Nyong’o lands her first ever Vogue magazine cover.

Whilst not a throwback post, this is still history in the making. She’s won multiple awards, is the new face of beauty brand Lancome, has acquired the rights to produce Chimamanda Adichie’s ‘Americanah’, bringing it to celluloid, is starring in the latest Star Wars flick and now, she’s on the cover of American Vogue.

If you, like us, follow her on instagram you probably noticed that she was recently in Morocco. Whilst we know she was taking a vacation, we also now know that Nyong’o was hard at work shooting for her spread in Vogue, photographed by Mikael Jansson.

Don’t quote us on this but we think she’s the first ever Kenyan actress to land this cover and one of the few African women to do so, aside from Iman and Alek Wek.

Read about her interview with Vogue, to appear in the July issue.

Portraits captured on the streets of Johannesburg, South Africa, by Kenyan-born photographer Cedric Nzaka of “Everyday People Stories.

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All Africa, All the time.

Satao, Kenya’s biggest elephant, killed by poachers.

News reports this morning have confirmed that one of the world’s biggest elephants was killed by poachers in Kenya.

Named Satao, the iconic tusker elephant was known for it’s humungous tusks that were so large they almost reached the ground. He was also one of the last of his kind.

He had been living in the Tsavo East National Park in northern Kenya but had become a target for poachers, who were using GPS and mobile phones to track him.

For 18 months, the Kenyan Wildlife Service joined forces with the Tsavo Trust to monitor Satao’s movements using aerial reconnaissance and ground personnel within his known home range.

Despite this, poachers were still able to reach him and in March, the 50-year-old elephant was shot by poachers using poisoned arrows. Vets rushed to the scene to treat him and he went on to make a surprise recovery.

But in May, an elephant carcass was discovered by June Richard Moller, Executive Director of the Trust, and on Friday it was confirmed that the dead elephant was indeed Satao.

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All Africa, All the time.

Inside actress Emilyne Mondo’s East London apartment.

As a young 20-something not-yet-professional, I’ve become slightly obsessed with interior decor and the thought of both living and owning my very own apartment. Although the latter seems far off, it doesn’t stop me from constantly scrolling through pinterest for any tidbit of inspiration I can find for what will be my future living space.

My latest source of home aesthetic eye candy comes in the form of British-Kenyan actress Emilyne Mondo’s Dalston abode. She’s big on colour, but not in an overwhelming sense, and between the white accents and natural elements, the apartment has a fresh and appealing quality to it that is incredibly inviting.

All photos by Phoebe-Lettice Thompson.

TRAVEL DIARIES: 2manysiblings in Malindi.

This week, the Kenyan brother and sister creative team Velma Rossa and Papa Petit of 2ManySiblings are curating Dynamic Africa’s instagram account.

The two recently took a short trip to the Kenyan coastal town of Malindi and took some gorgeous photographs along the way. Intrigued by their travels, Dynamic Africa caught up with them to learn more about their time in Malindi.

Located in Malindi Bay near the Indian Ocean, the town of Malindi was originally established by Arab settlers in the early 13th century. In 1414, the King of Malindi initiated diplomatic relations with China during the voyages of the explorer Zheng He and for many years, the town flourished and the kingdom grew wealthy through trade.

Nowadays, the town has become one of Kenya’s most-visited tourist destinations. Malindi is located about 120 kms northeast of Mombasa, another top tourist location in the East African country. The nearly Watamu resort and Gedi Ruins (the remains of a Swahili town located in Gedi, a village near Malindi) are located south of Malindi. In 1948, the remains of Gedi were declared a Kenyan national park.

Malindi was inspired by the need to get away from the city’s ( Nairobi ) claustrophobic’ness. It was a project - pleasure type of trip.

Malindi is a little piece of Italy ( lots of Italian inhabitants), a beautiful simple town, really. It’s a place where we felt creative and with a real sense of purpose by just being there…taking pictures, trying out new cuisines and taking in various cultures, exploring the old towns and quirky antique shops.

The pictures of Malindi shared on our blog were a means of showing the rest of the world a town that is so visually inspiring, cultured, historical and a must do travel destination . A little gem in Africa.