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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Posts tagged "Kenya"

#EarthDay DOCUMENTARY: “Taking Root - The Vision of Wangari Maathai” (film clip).

Taking Root tells the dramatic story of Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai whose simple act of planting trees grew into a nationwide movement to safeguard the environment, protect human rights, and defend democracy—a movement for which this charismatic woman became an iconic inspiration.

Born in Nyeri, Kenya, in 1940, Maathai went on to study at Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kansas where she obtained a degree in Biological Sciences in 1964. Maathai furthered her studies at the University of Pittsburgh where she graduated with a Master of Science degree in 1966,  obtained a Ph.D. in 1971 from the University of Nairobi, where she also taught veterinary anatomy. This qualification saw Maathai make her history as she became the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree. At the University of Nairobi, Maathai became chair of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy and an associate professor in 1976 and 1977 respectively, once again becoming the first woman to occupy those positions in the region.

Wangari Maathai is best known as the founder of the Green Belt Movement, which she founded in 1977, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and the author of the book ‘Unbowed’.

The Green Belt Movement is an environmental organization that empowers communities, particularly women, to conserve the environment and improve livelihoods.

NEW MUSIC: Kato Change ft Lisa Oduor-Noah - Aparo.

Two Kenyan artists - one on vocals and one on guitar, team up to create a sultry melodic tune that explores the battle between personal belief and the pressures of society to conform. The chorus expresses one of the strongest human emotions; doubt. It tries to convey the question that remains — “Is what I believe truth? And if so, how can I sustain it?”

Aparo, written as a fusion of English and Luo, means “to think, wonder or ponder”.

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.

Writer and Director of Pumzi, Wanuri Kahui, Talks about afrofuturism and Africa’s changing standing.

(via frozenfoxtails)

Hopefully this is the beginning of many more great things to come for Lupita Nyong’o.

A few of my top Lupita Nyong’o red carpet dresses.

New Music: Namesless - African Beauty (Ring the Alarm).

Kenyan artist Nameless has come along way from his breakout single ‘Sinzia' back in 2006. His first release of the year, 'African Beauty' is a song and video dedicated to, as the title suggests, the beauty of African women.

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All Africa, All the time.

In photos: “Turkana” by Jehad Nga.

A photographer of Libyan descent born in the United States and raised between Tripoli, Libya and London, England, Jehad Nga's lens has explored many stories and identities all over the African continent. From photographing a beauty contest in Botswana for HIV affected to women, night commuters in Ugandan, and the Liberian civil war, to illegal migration in to South Africa and documenting his own country, Libya, Nga's body of work is unique in that it contains projects that cover all regions of the African continent.

In this 2010 series titled ‘Turkana’, Nga’s photographs highlight the people of the Turkana region of Kenya - perhaps the area worst hit by drought in the country. Despite oil and water reserves in Turkana, the people reap few of the benefits as the government and large corporations take control of these resources.

According to Nga, the Turkana are ‘dwindling in numbers’ due to drought and subsequent neglect from them Kenyan government. Devastatingly, as a result of food and water shortages and with little to no aid reaching them, for some of the people photographed by Nga, these are the very last images of them. Shortly after photographing them, several of the individuals photographed passed away as a result of starvation caused by drought.

With the darkness filling up the negative space in the photographs, the significance of this sombre effect is to show the disappearing of a people. Nga’s aim, through these photographs, is to highlight the neglected plight of the people of the Turkana region and create a consciousness and awareness concerning their situation. 

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All Africa, All the time.

Art by Michael Soi.  

"Girlfriend" by Kenyan artist Michael Soi.

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All Africa, All the time.

DYNAMIC AFRICANS: ‘2ManySiblings’ - Papa Petit & Velma Rossa.

Images of the stylish and highly creative Kenyan brother and sister team Papa Petit and Velma Rossa, who operate under the partnership title ‘2ManySiblings’, have been make frequent rounds on my tumblr dashboard for quite some time now - much to my delight.

As frequent submitters to Dynamic Africa, I’ve been intrigued about the personalities behind their breathtaking photographs since I first became aware of their blog a couple of months ago. Feeling inspired by their work, I recently chatted to the eclectic proudly Kenyan, proudly African duo and got to know more about them, their influences and how this project of theirs came about.

Briefly tell us a little about yourselves:

Velma Rossa: Hi, we are 2manysiblingsPapa Petit and I, brother & sister style and art enthusiasts from Kenya. I work for a styling management company which has also exposed me to an ethical fashion mission that helps poor communities be sustainable through international fashion projects.

Papa Petit: I am a personal wardrobe stylist & shopper. I have a Lux T-shirt design project on the side too.

You both come across as highly creative individuals, merging photography and fashion which you showcase wonderfully on your blog. What led you two to these artistic disciplines?

V.R: Be eccentric now,don’t wait for old age to wear Purple!

I can comfortably say that our youth and fashion curiosities pushed us to start this blog. It is a fun project, a visual space for us to document our style and daily lives, as well as a way to let people into our little African world and collaborate with various Kenyan photographers to showcase their talent.

How long have you each been involved in fashion, styling and photography? Do you plan on making this a profession (if it isn’t already)?

P.P: Velma has been involved in fashion longer than I have, about five years now. Heck she was my personal inspiration into this art form.

We only just started playing with the camera recently - there is so much beauty out there and we want to frame all of it!

Fashion and styling is already a profession for us we can only wait to see where photography will take us.

How is working with each other? Is this something that happened naturally or did you decide to collaborate for other/specific reasons?

V.R: We are very lucky to have similar ideas and ways of thinking when doing projects for our blog. It’s like we missed our calling to be TWINS, haha!

The work dynamic between us pretty much comes naturally as we both creatively come up with concepts for shoots and direction: though I tend to be the clown and my brother, he is more of a mentalist.

When creating your looks/styling yourselves & taking these images, how conscious of you of your heritage as Kenyans, and as Africans in the greater sphere of things? How would you each describe your aesthetics?

P.P: We each have a personal aesthetic when it comes to dressing. I am more of  dandy punk and Velma, Hobo Afro-chic.

We are proud of our Kenyan heritage and we subtly show this through our choice of accessories which we source from local craftsmen from the Maasai Markets to support the crafts & artisan industry in Kenya.Their accessories are both contemporary and timeless.

Africa is so rich in culture and scenic landscapes.We try to share these aspects of Africa through locations we pick for shoots. Kenya is known for growing high grade tea which we export and in one of our favorite projects yet, we worked with photographer Sarah Marie at the Limuru tea plantations to capture that heritage.

Finally, who and/or what inspires you, creatively speaking?

P.P: Inspiration comes to us in all forms.We are influenced by 70’s Afrobeat music, art, architecture, culture and colours of food - not to mention our dad’s old photo albums. His clothes had English sensibilities.

All these together offer something that feeds our creative hunger.

Taking road trips across our country, stopping in little towns, seeing what’s happening there and discovering something new inspire more concepts for our blog projects.

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All Africa, All the time.

Karen Walker collaborates with local Kenyan artisans for UN initiative.

Noted New Zealand eyewear designer Karen Walker recently teamed up with the United Nations’ International Trade Centre’s Ethical Fashion Initiative, collaborating with local artisans in Kenya to make unique screenprinted and beaded pouches for her Summer 2014 collection.

The campaign, photographed by Derek Henderson, also features some of the individuals who made these pouches including machinists, cutters, tailors, production managers, metal workers and members of the Maasai group who created the beading work, modelling the collection. The workshop took place in Waithaka, a small village 20 minutes from Nairobi.

When I first saw this campaign and the design of the sunglasses, the first thing that came to mind was Cyrus Kabiru and his incredible c-stunners. Would’ve been fantastic had he and Walker collaborated on a range of exclusive eyewear.

The sunglasses range will be available in February.

Read more about the initiative.

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All Africa, All the time.


How to make Kenyan Kachumbari (or salad)

Currently Watching: ”We Have To Free Our Imaginations”

"We Have To Free Our Imaginations" is Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina’s  a six-part series in which speaks on “the fear of imagination”. In it, Wainaina speaks on the need to decolonize our educational frameworks in Africa, the boundaries and limitations we enforce on each other through stigma, ignorance and even policy, globalisation, and the importance of ‘madness’.

Watch the entire series above (YouTube playlist).

Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina publishes ‘lost chapter’ of his memoir, proudly declares ’I am a homosexual’.

(A lost chapter from One Day I Will Write About This Place)

11 July, 2000.

This is not the right version of events.

Hey mum. I was putting my head on her shoulder, that last afternoon before she died. She was lying on her hospital bed. Kenyatta. Intensive Care. Critical Care. There. Because this time I will not be away in South Africa, fucking things up in that chaotic way of mine. I will arrive on time, and be there when she dies. My heart arrives on time. I am holding my dying mother’s hand. I am lifting her hand. Her hand will be swollen with diabetes. Her organs are failing. Hey mum. Ooooh. My mind sighs. My heart! I am whispering in her ear. She is awake, listening, soft calm loving, with my head right inside in her breathspace. She is so big – my mother, in this world, near the next world, each breath slow, but steady, as it should be. Inhale. She can carry everything. I will whisper, louder, in my minds-breath. To hers. She will listen, even if she doesn’t hear. Can she?

Mum. I will say. Muum? I will say. It grooves so easy, a breath, a noise out of my mouth, mixed up with her breath, and she exhales. My heart gasps sharp and now my mind screams, sharp, so so hurt so so angry.

“I have never thrown my heart at you mum. You have never asked me to.”

Only my mind says. This. Not my mouth. But surely the jerk of my breath and heart, there next to hers, has been registered? Is she letting me in?

Nobody, nobody, ever in my life has heard this. Never, mum. I did not trust you, mum. And. I. Pulled air hard and balled it down into my navel, and let it out slow and firm, clean and without bumps out of my mouth, loud and clear over a shoulder, into her ear.

“I am a homosexual, mum.”

July, 2000.

This is the right version of events.

I am living in South Africa, without having seen my mother for five years, even though she is sick, because I am afraid and ashamed, and because I will be thirty years old and possibly without a visa to return here if I leave. I am hurricaning to move my life so I can see her. But she is in Nakuru, collapsing, and they will be rushing her kidneys to Kenyatta Hospital in Nairobi, where there will be a dialysis machine and a tropical storm of experts awaiting her.

Relatives will rush to see her and, organs will collapse, and machines will kick into action. I am rushing, winding up everything to leave South Africa. It will take two more days for me to leave, to fly out, when, in the morning of 11 July 2000, my uncle calls me to ask if I am sitting down.

“ She’s gone, Ken.”

I will call my Auntie Grace in that family gathering nanosecond to find a way to cry urgently inside Baba, but they say he is crying and thundering and lightning in his 505 car around Nairobi because his wife is dead and nobody can find him for hours. Three days ago, he told me it was too late to come to see her. He told me to not risk losing my ability to return to South Africa by coming home for the funeral. I should not be travelling carelessly in that artist way of mine, without papers. Kenneth! He frowns on the phone. I cannot risk illegal deportation, he says, and losing everything. But it is my mother.

I am twenty nine. It is 11 July, 2000. I, Binyavanga Wainaina, quite honestly swear I have known I am a homosexual since I was five. I have never touched a man sexually. I have slept with three women in my life. One woman, successfully. Only once with her. It was amazing. But the next day, I was not able to.

It will take me five years after my mother’s death to find a man who will give me a massage and some brief, paid-for love. In Earl’s Court, London. And I will be freed, and tell my best friend, who will surprise me by understanding, without understanding. I will tell him what I did, but not tell him I am gay. I cannot say the word gay until I am thirty nine, four years after that brief massage encounter. Today, it is 18 January 2013, and I am forty three.

Anyway. It will not be a hurricane of diabetes that kills mum inside Kenyatta Hospital Critical Care, before I have taken four steps to get on a plane to sit by her side.



Will leave a small window open the night before she dies, in the July Kenyatta Hospital cold.

It is my birthday today. 18 January 2013. Two years ago, on 11 July 2011, my father had a massive stroke and was brain dead in minutes. Exactly eleven years to the day my mother died. His heart beat for four days, but there was nothing to tell him.

I am five years old.

He stood there, in overalls, awkward, his chest a railway track of sweaty bumps, and little hard beads of hair. Everything about him is smooth-slow. Bits of brown on a cracked tooth, that endless long smile. A good thing for me the slow way he moves, because I am transparent to people’s patterns, and can trip so easily and fall into snarls and fear with jerky people. A long easy smile, he lifts me in the air and swings. He smells of diesel, and the world of all other people’s movements has disappeared. I am away from everybody for the first time in my life, and it is glorious, and then it is a tunnel of fear. There are no creaks in him, like a tractor he will climb any hill, steadily. If he walks away, now, with me, I will go with him forever. I know if he puts me down my legs will not move again. I am so ashamed, I stop myself from clinging. I jump away from him and avoid him forever. For twentysomething years, I even hug men awkwardly.

There will be this feeling again. Stronger, firmer now. Aged maybe seven. Once with another slow easy golfer at Nakuru Golf Club, and I am shaking because he shook my hand. Then I am crying alone in the toilet because the repeat of this feeling has made me suddenly ripped apart and lonely. The feeling is not sexual. It is certain. It is overwhelming. It wants to make a home. It comes every few months like a bout of malaria and leaves me shaken for days, and confused for months. I do nothing about it.

I am five when I close my self into a vague happiness that asks for nothing much from anybody. Absent-minded. Sweet. I am grateful for all love. I give it more than I receive it, often. I can be selfish. I masturbate a lot, and never allow myself to crack and grow my heart. I touch no men. I read books. I love my dad so much, my heart is learning to stretch.

I am a homosexual.

(originally published on Chimurenga Chronic)