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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Posts tagged "diaspora"

MORNING SONG: Seinabo Sey - Younger.

You’d be seriously hard pressed to find anyone who possess both the depth and youthfulness of 23-year-old Gambian-Swedish singer Seinabo Sey.

In her debut single, produced by Magnus Lidehäll, Sey doesn’t shy away from expressing her philosophies on the things that inspire her and motivate her to pursue her dreams with every waking moment. She’s full of wise words. Her infectious statements linger and settle in your consciousness. As the group of young believers accompanying Seinabo Sey through this serene and picturesque setting go about doing the wonderful things that young people do, Sey stays grounded in the deliverance of her message. Whilst it may sound, and look, as though she’s romanticizing youth, right at the very start of the video, through symbolism, Sey acknowledges the fragility of life and the human spirit - a theme that plays out throughout the video.

Supported by the song’s continuous and climaxing beats, Sey’s voice carries a sense of both freedom and urgency. No syllable uttered or lyric sung goes to waste. The advice she dispenses is both instructional and filled with a sense of upliftment that only makes you want to fulfill all the things you once gave up on.

"There’s a way to be yourself, I assure you this
There’s a way to get your dreams without falling asleep.
You might as well get it while you can, babe,
Cause you know you ain’t getting any younger”

Want to be wow’d some more? Watch her perform ‘Younger’ live.

Born and raised in France with a French mother and Malian father in a household that was more culturally French than anything else, blogger Fan Sissoko attempts to answer the one question that has been plaguing her her entire life: “Am I African?”

On the subject of cultural identity, I remember my childhood as being the most fruitful time for internal questioning. I looked at my mum, and I looked at my dad, and I wondered why they both looked so different to me. I guess I wasn’t the only one wondering. When I was about 6, a random woman in the streets walked towards my mum and asked about me and my brother, who were holding her hands: “Did you adopt them? They are so cute!”

Despite that, I don’t think I ever wondered if I was adopted. I accepted the fact that light beige + dark brown = a slightly darker shade of beige, or a slightly lighter shade of  brown, depending on the season. My internal  questioning was more about culture than ethnicity. I looked at other children at school and felt a bit jealous of how they managed to be so assertive about their own cultural identity. I grew up in a very diverse area of Paris, and every child I knew seemed to have a ‘bled’ to go to over the Summer holidays, be it Burgundy or Algeria, Portugal or Senegal. I had Montreuil, and the closest I’ve ever been to Mali were the Malian foyers (workers’ accommodation) where my dad first lived when he immigrated to France, and where he sometimes used to go to feed himself maafe when he had enough of my mum’s boeuf bourguignon.

By the time I was a teenager, I had learned to deal with annoying questions with either humour or icy cold silences and was no longer perplexed when people addressed me in Creole in the streets. I suppose I was dealing with a much grander type of identity conflict, wondering what I could do with the rest of my life, and discovering what it meant to be a woman, and all that jazz.

When I moved to Ireland, in my early twenties, the question disappeared altogether. I was just Fan. People knew I was vaguely French, but that was the extent of their curiosity. Or perhaps they were just to polite to ask (set aside the farmer who asked me if I knew what a tractor was, and if I had any  in my country – he quickly backed away when I told him with a contemptuous stare that my country was France). Either way, the whole “being 20 in Dublin and making up my own identity as I go along” experience was very liberating.

Then I moved to London. I have lived in London for nearly four years, and have come up with two definitions to sum this city. The first one is a big hungry monster that swallows people forever. And the second is an identitary minefield. If you are not sure what I mean by identitary minefield, take a colonial past, mix it with a class structure that hasn’t quite been questioned yet, add to this a status of immigration metropolis, and finally layer with a sheet of truly exciting multiculturalism and you get what I call an ‘identitary minefield’ where every assumption you make about where someone else comes from and what they stand for is bound to be wrongly assumed, in the best case, or outrageously offensive in the worst case. Not only I moved to London, but I chose Brixton, out of all places. So add to the mix described above a backdrop of gentrification (which, of course, as a young creative professional, who has recently moved into the area, is not an issue I can ignore), and you rightly wonder how  I can be at peace with who I am, where I come from, and most importantly what I represent.

For a long time, I ignored the question. Of course, I sometimes had bouts of confusion that turned into guilt, or the opposite. But a recent event made it clear to me that I need to be stronger and more assertive with my self-defined identity, no matter how complex it is. 

So the event. Some time ago, in the office, someone made a comment about the fact that we were becoming more and more diverse as an organisation (it was not meant as a joke, but it could have been – I have never worked in a more homogenous organisation). This person remarked: “We almost have every continent represented! Well, apart from Africa and South America.” I interjected: “Hey, I’m African! My dad is from Mali!” To which she replied: “Well, that doesn’t really count.”

I was hurt. Why would it not count? I was born and grew up in France, and culturally, I define myself as European, yes. But my father is from Mali, and although he didn’t raise us ‘à la malienne’, 50% of me is and will always be Malian. Sometimes, claiming I am Malian feels like an imposture, because I did not grow up there. But dismissing my Malian self is much worst. It would be outrageous if I did it to myself, so having it done to me by someone who knows close to nothing about me feels like murder.

I drew the series of flags above when I was 24 and still living in Ireland, to remind myself and others that the “Where are you from?” question is never innocent, and the answer is always more complex than one expects. I am, and will always be confused about my cultural identity, and that is fine. I see it as a comforting symptom of the fact that I am an evolving being, and that I am lucky enough to be able to define my own identity, not only based on where I was born and where my parents are from, but also on the places I lived in and learned to love, and on the people that inspire me.

What I will not allow is someone else to be confused about my identity and to make assumptions about who I am, and where I should fit in their view of the world.

DYNAMIC AFRICA PRESENTS: DOOM SOUL MIX PT II.

After the awesome response I received after posting my first experimental ‘doom soul’ mix, thought I’d go ahead and do another longer one.

This one features some artists seen on the first mix, some more than once, as well as additional artists and songs that I thought were a good fix.

Tracklist at the link.

More music mixes.

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All Africa, All the time.

All images via the FaceHunter.

"OK Computer": i-D Magazine presents the Givenchy Spring/Summer 2014 menswear collection.

Shot by Olivia Rose and styled by Jack Botkett, the editorial features models Akinola Davies, Andre Brown, Curtis McFarlane, Jay Kirton, Jean Sebastian Pougnand, Jerome Brown, Larry B, Mitchell Dyer and Richard Kelapo.

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All Africa, All the time.

Images of Nigerian women in Italy, victims of sex trafficking, taken by Elisabeth Cosimi.

Once in Europe, these young women are immediately put to work in order to pay a debt that can be as much as 50, 000 Euros. Reduced to the level of slavery, this young women are often forced to work up to 20 hours a day on the highway and some times in bad weather conditions.

passaxpassa:

First 3 of 15 photographs from the Quick Money photo reportage by Elisabeth Cosimi.

No. 1 Une fois arrivées en Europe, les jeunes femmes nigérianes sont immédiatement mises sur les trottoirs pour rembourser une dette qui s’élève à 50.000 euros. Réduites à  l’état d’esclavage ces jeunes femmes doivent travailler parfois jusqu’à vingt heures par jour sur les bretelles d’autoroute et quelque soit les conditions climatiques.

No. 2 Jeune femme nigériane se prostituant sur les routes d’Italie aux abords de Naples.

No. 3 Cette Jeune fille nigériane victime de la traite reste cloitrée toute la journée chez un “bienfaiteur” d’origine italienne en attendant de pouvoir rembourser sa dette.

via La beaute de Pandore

(via rajfrancis)

"Being African is absolutely the most beautiful thing to me." - Amy Sall

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

Chiwetel Ejiofor red carpet looks this awards season.

Nominated in the category of ‘Best Actor’ for the 86th Academy Awards ceremony, Chiwetel Ejiofor has received over 60 nominations for his portrayal of Solomon Northup in the Steve McQueen-directed historical drama 12 Years a Slave. 

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All Africa, All the time.

Weekend Fashion Inspiration.

Pieces by British-Nigerian label Soboye as featured in XXY magazine, as well as other items from its boutique from designers like Ituen Basi, ChiChia London and more.

(via ONB)

DYNAMIC AFRICANS: Senegal with Amy Sall.

Amy Sall is not a hired travel photographer, nor is she a photojournalist on assignment. Yet, her images of her recent trip to Senegal are far more moving, far more real, far richer and possess more authenticity than any embedded journalist could ever attempt to capture. The difference between Amy Sall and other photo amateurs or professionals? Her attachment to Senegal is personal. She’s a first-generation American, born and bred, but culturally, Senegal has never been far away. Additionally, she’s unburdened with the need or pressure to tell a specific kind of story. The narrative was a story to be told along the way, along her path of self-discovery.

For these reasons, and more, I fell in love with her posts on instagram as she visually documented her emotional visit to a place that isn’t quite home, but isn’t a foreign country as well. Through the story she creates with her images, Amy’s photo-documentation illustrates the need for Africans to tell their own stories through any and whatever medium is at their disposal.

Here’s my interview with Amy Sall as we discussed the emotional journey of her multicultural upbringing:

In about five sentences or less, briefly tell us a little about yourself. Who is Amy Sall? How would you introduce and define yourself to those who don’t know you?

I am a 23-year old, first generation Senegalese-American, born and bred in New York City, trying to navigate my life with my best foot forward, while staying true to my values. I think in all aspects of my life, there’s the inherent nexus of integrity, selflessness, and grit. What I do and who I am are intrinsically linked. Currently, I’m a Masters Candidate in Human Rights at Columbia University, focusing on children’s rights and youth issues in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the past, I’ve worked within a few sectors of fashion where I’ve had experience at Vogue, written for Lurve Magazine, and worked for Rick Owens to name a few.

You’re first generation Senegalese-American, born and raised in the US. What was your experience growing up being a part of two very distinct cultures? 

It was interesting, but not easy, growing up between two cultures. It’s not the easiest experience to sift through because it’s quite layered and muddled with all sorts of intricacies. I can say that there were times where my “Africaness” and my “Americaness” had points of contention. I was born only a year after my parents came to the states, so I grew up in a very culturally Senegalese home. Everything in our home was inherently Senegalese, from the food, to the music, to how daily life was constructed.

However, once I stepped outside my home, I was confronted, daily, with the fact that even though I am, in the literal sense of the word, African-American, I did not fit in with the African-American kids. They saw me as other. They saw me as African. They saw me as a dark African. So, it was difficult to reconcile that tension between two cultures as a child. My being rejected by my classmates (and when you are a child, the approval of your peers means everything) led to the resentment and disavowal of my culture and dark skin.

My childhood in that regard was tricky, and it unfortunately caused some damage during my transition into adolescence. There eventually came a point when I just didn’t care about what people thought, and my parents had a heavy had in getting me to that point. Straddling the line between two cultures became easier, and eventually something I thought less about. The biggest relief was ridding the shame I felt toward my “Africanness” as a child. Being African is absolutely the most beautiful thing to me.

On your blog, you mention that you hadn’t been back to Senegal in ten years. What prompted your visit back home? What was the experience like?

What prompted me to go to Senegal was simply realizing that I no longer had the excuse not to go. The last time I was there, I was 13 or 14. The fact that I was approaching the ten-year mark of not being in Senegal was incredibly important and symbolic to me. I decided that I wouldn’t let another year pass without going to Senegal. The possibility of my grandmother’s dying without a chance to see them again started to weigh heavily on me.

Both my grandfathers died when I was younger. One of them I’ve only seen once, the other I’ve seen twice. I regret that I wasn’t able to get to know my grandfathers. The reasons for the 10- year gap vary, but I will attribute them to the unfortunate ills of migration. It wasn’t always easy for my parents to take my siblings and I to Senegal often. Those opportunities did not always present themselves. It’s a sad realization to know that you can’t go home and see your family as often as you would like to, for reasons beyond your control.

So I decided, now that I’m older, nothing was to stop me from going back home and seeing my family. I wanted to get closer to my family, especially with my grandmothers, and develop a real relationship. I wanted to deepen my sense of self and rediscover my roots. It was also important for me to make this trip so that I could see the socio-economic issues of the country with my own eyes, especially as they pertain to children and youth. Much of my graduate research is centered particularly on Senegal, so being on the ground was necessary for the work I’m doing academically, and aim to do professionally.

During your trip back to Senegal you visually documented your stay there by taking and sharing photos on instagram. Was this something you decided before travelling, or was it done on more of a whim? 

I definitely knew I wanted many photos to have as keepsakes, but there were many times where I didn’t bring a camera with me because I just wanted to truly feel Senegal and be immersed in it. When I did have my camera, all I was trying to do was simply capture the country in the truest way possible. I did not want to glamorize or romanticize Senegal. It is an incredibly beautiful, rich and vibrant country, with beautiful people, however there are very real problems that I felt were not to be excluded.  I wanted to share a holistic view of Senegal, from the colors of Gorée to the talibés begging in the streets.

You’ve been blogging for quite some time now so you’re no stranger to sharing bits and pieces of your life online, something I enjoy doing myself. How important was it for you to share this part of your personal life online? How has the response been?

I like the idea that with the Internet, I can carve a space for myself, curate it however I please, engage in a dialogue, and maybe even teach someone something new. I had no expectations when I posted my photos on social media. I was surprised that they garnered the response that they did. People really took a liking to them. I know absolutely nothing about photography. A country as beautiful as Senegal makes it quite easy to photograph. It made me happy that people were appreciating and enjoying my journey, and were able to take part in it. They were discovering Senegal as I was rediscovering it, so it became this shared experience. 

This trip was personal, but it was one that so many can relate to. I am not the only person that has been away from their home country for so long. I am not the only person that hasn’t seen their aunts and uncles in years, or hasn’t hugged their grandmothers in a long time. As personal as this experience was, there were those who were able to connect to it on varying levels. That is what probably surprised me the most, because I didn’t think sharing my trip through these photos could have that effect. I realize that sharing them was much bigger than me, and it was much bigger than a series of Instagram posts. I am really humbled by that. I don’t care about having a large number of followers because I don’t seek validation through that kind of stuff, but I value when someone can take something positive away from what I have shared, whether on the Internet or in real life.

Would you ever consider compiling and publishing your photographs and experience into a photo-book of some sort?

Working on it!

That’s faboulous! Can’t wait ‘til it’s published. Lastly, what are three words you’d use to describe Senegal?

Vibrant, beautiful, home.

Thank you so much, Amy! 

All images via Amy Sall’s instagram.
Amy Sall’s site.

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All Africa, All the time.

Prints on prints on prints at Stella Jean RTW Fall 2014.

In the world of Haitian-Italian designer Stella Jean, prints never go out of fashion. Showcasing her latest collection at Milan Fashion Week, the designer stated her ‘ultra feminine’ Fall RTW range took inspiration from “the crossroads of Italy, Japan and Africa” (the entire continent, Stella?) shown in her Italian tailoring and symbols, kimono-inspired outerwear and dresses, and use of Dutch Wax print, the unofficial 20th-century adopted fabric in many parts of West and Central Africa.

Despite her ambiguity on her last-mentioned geographical source of inspiration, with heavy vintage 1950s-1970s silhouttes, Dutch Wax prints and use of men’s fabrics, Stella Jean had me coveting every single outfit that cruised down the runway. Come next fall, no wardrobe will be complete without a hint of Stella Jean.

View the entire collection.

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All Africa, All the time.

Came across this interview on ‘Honest by’ with Europe-based South African stylist Pholoso Selebogo. Aside from the accompanying eye-catching photoshoot that sees her and model Ezekiel in fabulous prints and colours, she says some key things about the fashion industry and her personal life that resonated with me:

BP: WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON THE FASHION INDUSTRY TODAY?
PS: It’s too fast…. there are the main collections, resort, pre-fall and so forth, a mother brand having multiple off-shoot brands etc…. did I miss something? I can’t keep up with such a pace, or at least have the time it takes to stop and love something long enough. I am not able to consume all that is available to me. And certainly most people’s pockets, including mine, cannot keep up. Just like any other industry, the fashion industry has to ask itself whether profit comes before fairness, lives and the environment.

BP: I REMEMBER YEARS AGO YOU ONCE TOLD ME MY CASTING FOR MY SHOW WAS TOO WHITE AND YOU THOUGHT IT WAS INSULTING. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE GIRLS ON THE CATWALK TODAY WHEN YOU GO TO FASHION SHOWS?
PS: I would not say insulting, or would I..?
Take, for example, your typical high school movie where you have a group of white kids/friends and then the complimentary funny black kid to suss and shoosh the viewer. I felt fashion had the same attitude towards race. The balance is getting better now and I am especially thankful to such platforms as Vogue Black that creates a stage for such discussion. The next step would be to coalesce the ‘usual’ Vogue with the Black version, in order to make that complimentary kid really part of the group. This applies to Asian groups, and all of the diversity within our world.

Don’t get me wrong; I understand that there is more than just the selection of models involved…there is the overall concept, artistic vision and the story that is being told through the specific collection’s presentation. The trick and challenge in life is always finding that balance.

BP: WHAT IS YOUR DREAM?
PS: Not to have to dream anymore… I dream for there not be a difference between my reality and my dreams….I dream that people would put humanity before profit… I dream at least, if not lead by higher ennobled aspirations and true intellect in our decision making as a species, that we are led by objective logic and empathy and not by our emotions filtered through our self-serving animalistic urge and survival instinct fuelled by fear…. I dream that my beautiful South Africa would get out of its dark racist cave and not just gloss over it…. I am forever marked. I dream of returning to Eden, looking fabulous!

(Read the full interview)

Did you know that 12 U.S. presidents were involved in human trafficking and slavery?

As the United States marks Presidents’ Day, Democracy Now turns to an aspect of U.S. history that is often missed: the complicity of American presidents with slavery.

“More than one-in-four U.S. presidents were involved in human trafficking and slavery. These presidents bought, sold and bred enslaved people for profit. Of the 12 presidents who were enslavers, more than half kept people in bondage at the White House,” writes historian Clarence Lusane in his most recent article, “Missing From Presidents’ Day: The People They Enslaved.”

Art - Diaspora: “African Diva Project" by Margaret Rose Vendreyes.

If any of the above images look in any way familiar, that’s because these artworks are based on some of the most iconic album covers from some of the greatest black women artists of the 20th century.

From Betty Davis and Tina Turner, to Grace Jones and Nina Simone, this series by Jamaican-born Vendreyes includes 33 paintings modeled after a 12” LP full-figure portrait of a black woman soloist. What makes this project stand out, however, is not simply the homage to these legendary women, but the masks that each woman wears. Named after specific African ethnic groups such as Malinke, Ibibio, Kwele and Yoruba, Vendreyes combines the beauty and power of these women with the same characteristics in these masks, “replacing their psychological mask with a literal one”.

This symbolic gesture also plays on the fact that in many African societies, although these masks may be of female ancestors and deities, they are only worn and performed by men during masquerades. 

What are your thoughts on this series?

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