DYNAMIC AFRICA

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.


Dynamic Africa is a diverse multimedia platform, which curates global ideas, memes, attitudes and other phenomena that shape popular culture, with both a local and global African perspective.




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Posts tagged "dynamic africans"

DYNAMIC AFRICANS: Teboho Mahange.

We may be going out on a limb here but we think we’re pretty sure of ourselves when we say that Tebogo Mahange is undoubtedly one of the most stylish people in South Africa, at least as far as our exposure to social media is concerned.

Tebogo first came on our radar through a previous Dynamic African we’ve featured, photographer Cedric Nzaka who’s behind some of Tebogo’s photos. Although we couldn’t quite figure out how to define his style, that’s exactly what we love about him. Beyond boxes and beyond barriers, we couldn’t help but want to know more about the mind behind the threads.

In a few words, how would you introduce and describe yourself - who is Tebogo Mahange?

Tebogo Mahange is a 21 year old Marketing Management student and an Urban Street-Wear Model. I am a creative. A visionary whose had a critical eye and my own opinion regarding aesthetics and design, particularly clothing. 

You’re someone who wears many hats, literally and figuratively speaking. Describe a day in the life of Tebogo Mahange.

A day in my life would involve seizing the day ‘Carpe Diem’ - whether it be attending classes on that day, shooting, going to meetings or just hanging out with friends. 

Africans often find themselves defined largely by their “African-ness”, both a positive and a negative depending on the context, you’re never just what you do. Does your South African, or perhaps even African, identity play a role in your style choices? Is it something that you remain conscious of when sourcing inspiration?

To a certain degree, yes. No matter where you go your style will always be inspired by your roots. No matter the amount of influence the Western Culture might have on us it all traces back to where I am from, who I am, and where I’m yet to go. It’s something that happens subconsciously because I am an African.

How do you think South Africa rates on a global scale when it comes to fashion? Who are some local leading fashion and style pioneers you’re aware of?

South Africa is a country that has originality and diversity in its fashion industry. While fashion brands and other retailers appear likely to expand organically, we are on the right track of growing and expanding into bigger, wider markets internationally. 

When it comes to fashion pioneers, I would have to go with Dion Wang who is a South African fashion analyst and has been for 20 years and counting. 

Designers, none other than David Tlale. He has played a vital role in the country’s fashion and is still continues to break barriers that African designers often face. 

Bloggers, believe it or not but I hardly visit blogs unless it’s to check myself out, haha (inside joke). But from the ones I’ve checked out locally one of my favourites would be from Cedric Nzaka of Everyday People Stories. The way he captures South African street style whilst simultaneously paving a way for future movers and shakers in our local youth community is honestly amazing. I love his work! Cedric is also one of my favourite photographers to work with. 

As for brands, we have quite a few that are still on the rise and other that have a good standing position in the game, but we are still growing in this highly Westernized fashion industry.

How important is personal style to you? How much does your look define who you are?

Personal style is very important to me. Although they say ‘imitation is a form of flattery’ I strongly advise people out there to always find their own personal style so that you don’t go around looking like a duplicate of someone else. Whether it be someone you look up or just taking what you see on social forums like Tumblr. Be different.

My look defines everything about me. It’s who I am. It’s how I actually started modeling for street-wear brands in the first place. It was my personal style/look that attracted the public to me and here I am now using my personal style as a tool to inspire and create for the youth.

You have some pretty visible tattoos, can you tell us a bit more about them? How are they usually received by people?

Man, my love for tattoos started at a very young age although I started filling myself up with them last year. Basically, the pieces I’ve got up until now are creations my tattoo artists and I come up with together. I could have easily searched the net and copied and pasted someone else’s work onto my body but that wouldn’t differentiate me from the masses.

The way my tattoos have been perceived can easily be broken down to how the younger generation and the older generation see it. The youth sees them as cool, new, hip, different. The older generation, our mothers, uncles, elders in malls see the artwork totally differently because of the stereotypes that come with it. There’s always the good and bad side of everything.

Are there any current or future projects you’re working on? Can you share some info about them with us?

At the moment, our team of creatives and I are currently working on a new personal project called RepublicCouture. It will be launched towards the end of this year and it’s something I’m really excited about! It’s been over a year in the making. I’m just glad we are almost at the end of the road before dropping our first line of products.

Lastly, what are five things you can’t leave the house without?

1. My iPhone (that’s like my life companion, haha). 

2. Clean pair of sneakers, mostly my Vans (I hate dirty shoes) 

3. My shades 

4. Earphones. (I enjoy listening to music no matter where I’m going) 

 5. Any of my oversized garments. 

Thanks so much Tebogo!

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DYNAMIC AFRICANS: Yannis Davy.

Gabon may not be one of the first countries that pops into your head when you think of great African photographers, or even visual artists, but 19-year-old Gabonese photographer-in-the-making Yannis Guibinga is not one to let this void easily deter him.

Intrigued by his background, the photographs of Gabon he shares with us, and the sense of youthfulness he captures so well, we interviewed Yannis ahead of his instagram takeover for us this week. Here, the young college student shares his life experiences growing up in multiple countries across several continents, as well as his journey as a young Gabonese and African photographer.

How would you describe yourself in a few words?

My name is Yannis Davy Gérard Guibinga but I go by “Yannis Davy” on the internet mostly because it is easier to say and remember. I am 19 and currently live in the Toronto Area (Mississauga) while studying Digital Enterprise Management at the University of Toronto.

I was born in France but lived in Gabon, a small country in Central Africa, most of my life before travelling for university.

I also take photos sometimes.

You’re from Gabon where you traveled to recently and took these photos you’re sharing with us on our blog and on instagram. Can you tell us a little bit about your trip back there, as well as your experiences being a young in the African Diaspora, Canada specifically?

My mother and I moved back to Gabon when I was around 1 and to be honest I don’t really remember what life was like in France. My earliest childhood memory consists of me playing with my toys in my grandmother’s living room. I guess we can’t really generalize about what growing up in Africa or even in Gabon is like since we all have different lives and live in different situations, but as far as I can remember it was nice. I was always surrounded by family and friends so I guess I had a pretty decent childhood.

Though I only have one sibling, a little sister, I grew up around most of my cousins, some of them older; it was nice to grow up around people I could look up to.

Photography is definitely something you enjoy, it’s how you landed on our radar. How long have you been taking photographs? Tell us about your relationship with photography and how you got started pursuing this particular visual art form.

I think I started photography three years ago in high school. Before that, I was mostly into graphic design. As a graphic designer, I started out working with images of my friends and random celebrities to play around with but I quickly realized that using other people’s photographs was extremely limiting in some ways, so I started taking photographs of my own.

My foray into photography began with a small and inexpensive camera that I used to take random photos of my friends around school, which I would use later for graphic design purposes. I quickly realized that I was better at taking the photos than I was at editing them to create some sort of visual art piece so I eventually dropped graphic design and focused solely on photography. A friend eventually taught me how to use a DSLR and from then on, my confidence built up and I began organizing “photoshoots” with friends.

As much as I enjoyed this, I felt a need to expand my horizons and find other ways to express myself through photography. In order to diversify my work and try new things, I’m hoping that with time, my work will continue to develop as I’m still a young photographer. I can only be excited by what is next and thankful for my journey so far.  

What role, if any, does being Gabonese or being African play in your creative process? Are these parts of your identity something you’re aware of as a photographer?

I think being African plays a part in everything I do – especially since I am currently living in a country in which I am a minority. Whether I am aware of it or not, being African is a part of my identity. I think my creative process is greatly influenced by culture and experience; I don’t believe the way I think while taking photos and the way an occidental photographer thinks would ever be the same because we have different perspective on life. We come from different backgrounds, have seen different things and have a totally different culture. But Africa is a huge continent so I think that even among African artists the creative process might be different for the same reason.

To me, your culture shapes the way you see and experience things and ultimately, it shapes what you do and how you do things.

Do you think of yourself as a ‘photographer’ or an ‘African photographer’, or perhaps a mixture of the two?

I really believe that I am African (and Gabonese) before I am anything else. I may stop being a photographer one day but I was African when I was born and I will be African when I will die. So yes, I guess I think of myself as an ‘African photographer’ more than anything else.

Are there any particular photographers that influence or inspire you? 

Mert & Marcus, Alice Kong, Tamara Lichtenstein, Dennis Auburn, Jorden Keith, David Urbanke, Grant Legan and David Bellemere are fashion photographers whose work I really admire.

When it comes to African photographers I admire and am inspired by “Quazimotto On Wax”, Omar Victor Diop and of course the late and great Seydou Keita.

Also, shout out to Solange Knowles’ extremely inspiring instagram account, lol.

As a young African creative at a time when African photographers are celebrated more than ever, do you plan on pursuing photography as a career? Are your parents supportive of your foray into the arts, we all know that stereotype?

If I have the opportunity to pursue photography as a career I think I will but I don’t think this will be the only thing that I’ll end up doing. I truly love what I do but I also like what I’m studying right now and I’m thinking about possibly going to Law School after my bachelor’s degree. Honestly, I don’t think my parents would be too thrilled about me ending up as a photographer when they spent that much money in my education. But it’s always nice to know that I have something I still can go back to, just in case.

Thanks so much for a brilliant interview Yannis!

If you’d like to see more of his work or connect with him on social media, you can find him on his Tumblr photography page, instagram, twitter, and personal tumblr page.

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DYNAMIC AFRICANS: Cedric Nzaka of “Everyday People Stories”.

From the street to the runway, and back to the streets again, Cedric Nzaka is a man on a mission. Armed with nothing but his great eye and passion for style, fashion and culture, and his camera, of course, the Kenyan-born South African-based creative has been documenting everything from the faces of Jozi’s style-conscious youth to the runways of fashion weeks in South Africa.

Intrigued by his documentation of the monthly Johannesburg brunch series THE WKND SOCIAL, I caught up with the jack-of-many-creative-trades to find out more about the man behind Everyday People Stories.

In a few words, tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do. 

I’m Cedric Nzaka, Kenyan-born and raised, but currently based in South Africa. I’d describe myself as a humanitarian, social documentary and landscape photographer, with a particular interest in NGO photography, and with a keen detailed eye for urban and street wear photography. Most of all, to paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche: “I’m an artist and no artist tolerates reality”.

It’s always so interesting to meet other foreign Africans in South Africa, and Johannesburg has become a magnet for many Africans from all over the continent and all walks of life in recent years. What brought you to South Africa? What’s it like being Kenyan in SA?

The main reason I came to South Africa was to discover a nation’s struggle for freedom whilst following the footsteps of Nelson Mandela, Hector Pieterson and many other celebrated revolutionaries. The South African freedom struggle is a compelling story that tells of the sacrifices made by the people in overcoming the oppression of colonialism and apartheid. 

Living away from your country can be a really interesting and unforgettable experience, but at the same time it has very important effects on one’s life. The major effect, and also a very common one, is that once you begin a life away from home, you find yourself missing everything from your past. This is not to say that you are unhappy, but rather that you are aware of your newfound solitude.

Missing your family and the attention they all paid to you is a very common feeling. Little details like sitting on a Sunday morning watching TV alone instead of helping your dad organizing his things or having a nice chat with your mom makes you realize how valuable your family really is. For me, being a Kenyan in SA has made it possible for me to achieve a certain kind of newfound knowledge. You learn how to accept being in another type of society and a foreign culture, as you’re now living in a place with different customs and traditions from yours. You have to be able to develop yourself in unknown conditions. This means making new friends, learning other points of view, accepting different opinions and values, and seizing every opportunity you have to go to new places. 

How long have you been involved in photography? Did you start out wanting to photograph fashion portraits or was there something else you had in mind when you began using a camera?

 I started out with documentary photography because I considered documentaries to be a powerful means of conveying social messages to the world. Many people use television and film as a form of entertainment and if one can add factual information to the mix, the medium of documentary films can produce great changes by creating awareness and simultaneously educating the masses.

But somewhere along the line while I was working on a travel documentary, I felt the urge to do something different and out of my conform zone. Something that would help me grow as an artist and as an individual, which led to me choosing to get involved in urban and street style photography.

You’ve photographed a range of different fashion scenes, from the street to the runway. Is there one particular environment you prefer over others?

Street Photography is art photography that features the human condition within public places and does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment. Truth be told, I do enjoy shooting on the runway as much as I enjoy working in the streets because it allows me to challenge myself as a photographer. But there is not that much that can be done when it comes to runway photography compared to street photography. To me, street photographs are mirror images of society, displaying “unmanipulated” scenes, with usually unaware/aware subjects. 

You’re someone who seems to be able to capture a certain kind of youth culture and soulful essence of what’s hip in Johannesburg. Where are your favourite places to photograph in Jozi? Can you tell us about some of your favourite hangout spots in Jo’burg?

One of my favourite places to photograph is Braamfontein Centre. It borders the city centre and is joined to Newtown by the Nelson Mandela Bridge. Braamfontein is fast becoming the hipster capital of Johannesburg as it’s home to a number of museums, theatres, restaurants and coffee shops, the Neighbourgoods Market - a Food and Design Market that’s open every Saturday, galleries and quirky design stores.

My second favourite place to photograph when in Jo’burg is definitely Maboneng which has been converted from industrial properties to a happening lifestyle playground. Street art is a big feature here, along with an eclectic selection shops. The pioneer development is Arts on Main and it’s also home to the Market on Main.

Third favourite place would be Newtown. Jo’burg’s original cultural precinct, Newtown is a vast heritage site with the impressively renovated Turbine Hall and immense Mary Fitzgerald square that hosts thousands of people for major cultural events.

My favourite hangout spots therefore would be anywhere around those three above-mentioned areas - from the famous Great Dane and Kitcheners in Braamfontein, all the way to Goethe on Main in Maboneng.

The Johannesburg street scene seems to be evolving from one great thing to the next. What are some of the trends you’ve noticed unfold in recent months?

Johannesburg is shedding its painful, crime-ridden past to emerge as Africa’s hippest hub for art, music and fashion. The fashion industry in Jo’burg is constantly growing - especially the design front of it all. The trends I’ve seen emerge a lot more are centered on the question of identity where most people communicate and express themselves through what they wear.

Besides photography, are there other things you’re involved in?

I’m a marketing consultant, graphic and fashion designer, fashion trend analyst, writer and illustrator. I’ve also had a passion for soccer from a very tender age and it’s something I still take part in when I’m not using my camera.

Lastly, what are five things you can’t leave the house without?

My iPhone, DSLR Camera + 50mm lens, clean pair of sneakers and most of all head gear. I’m always wearing some sort of head gear be it a beanie, snap back or 5 panel cap. I always have to have something on my head. 

Find him on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

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

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.

I am on constant quest to find answers to my African identity and more specifically my South African identity. It is the quest of finding my heritage that directs all my aesthetic choices and ultimately it directs and dictates my world.”

- Trevor Stuurman.

DYNAMIC AFRICANS: TREVOR STUURMAN.

No success story comes without a certain amount of passion and hard work. Trevor Stuurman is no exception. Over the past few years, the growth of Trevor Stuurman, the young stylist, style connoisseur and brand ambassador has been amazing. From becoming the first ever winner and representative of ELLE South Africa’s Style Reporter search, to working with top local brands such as Markham, Mr Price and Edgars, Stuurman seems to go from strength to strength. 

But behind the man with lens almost always kitted out in eclectic patterns and his strong sense of young Africana cool is a man whose artistic and visual development has been a lifetime in the making. Part-time student, fashion stylist, photographer, visual artist, brand representative, and blogger, I recently chatted to Trevor to talk about how he manages to have his fingers in so many pies all at the same time. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself - who is Trevor Stuurman?

I am the results of my Mothers prayer.
A visual slashy: film maker/ film post grad (Hons) student / photographer / stylist / art director
First ELLE Style Reporter in association with Blackberry.

What initially drew you to the highly visual and interconnected worlds of fashion, art and photography? 

I would like to believe that it is something I was born for. I cannot remember a time in life where art and fashion did not feature.

Every artist is not without a source of inspiration - what’s yours?

For me, home is where the art is. My immediate environment and circle are my fountains of inspiration. So that is Kimberley, Cape Town, Johannesburg and the African continent as a whole. In terms of people that inspire me, my mother Naomi Matshidiso Stuurman is the first name that comes to mind and then secondly my people, Africans. I love how we (Africans) are resourceful and creative by nature. 

Absolutely! We live on a continent that’s teeming with such astounding diversity. But back to your professional life. Tell us a little bit about your time as an ELLE Style Reporter - the first one, too?

The year I spent at ELLE has changed my life forever. My journey as an ELLE Style Reporter has to be one of the top highlights in my life. Winning the competition fast tracked my career in the fashion industry and gave me the price power to inspire others and especially those back home in Kimberley. This is probably the best prize ever. Lastly who has not dreamt of working alongside Jackie Burger?

Indeed! So, since beginning your career in fashion and photography, what has changed - both for you, personally, as well as in the landscape of the local SA fashion industry that you’ve been exposed to?

Personally, the growth never stops. Everyday is a new and exciting door opens, sometimes it is overwhelming and intimating but it pushes me to keep conquering. 

 In terms of the SA fashion landscape, I have noticed a movement/ trend of locals trying to reclaim African pride and aesthetic. This a movement that’s far more visible in Johannesburg as opposed to the laid back Cape Town. There is something fun and fierce about the Jozi fashion and cultural scene. The energy feels far more real and closer to home for me. Globally, the spotlight is on the dark continent. We are the centre of all attraction and inspiration which can be seen on most international runways and editorials. 

How important, and what role, does your identity as both a young South African and African play in your aesthetic?

I am on constant quest to find answers to my African identity and more specifically my South African identity. It is the quest of finding my heritage that directs all my aesthetic choices and ultimately it directs and dictates my world.

Besides working for ELLE as a street style and fashion photographer, what other projects have you been involved in?

I have contributed to a number of fashion magazines such as Grazia SA, Edgars Club Magazine and Style Mania (Nigeria). I have also hand my hand in styling for leading menswear retailer Markham and also a music video for Spoek Mathambo I am currently a brand influencer and street style reporter for Sunglass Hut SA. Lastly I am a cultural researcher for commercials and local films.

Lastly, where can you be found online/on social media?

Twitter: @TrevorStuurman
IG: @Trevor_Stuurman
Tumblr: www.stuurmanstylediary.tumblr.com

Thanks so much, Trevor!

I highly recommend you follow him on instagram for tons of visual inspiration.

__________________________________________________________

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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.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Google+ | YouTube | Soundcloud | Mixcloud

All Africa, All the time.

DYNAMIC AFRICANS: Habiba of Habiba’s Project

When travelling to a different country, there’s no better way to get a fulfilling and non-commercialised experience by understanding and navigating terrain that is new and foreign to you with the help of an insider - someone who knows and is sensitive to the intricacies of the culture there.

We’ve all seen tourist images of Egypt and really, they’re the same ol’, same ol’: relics of Ancient Egypt - the Syphnx, pyramids, monuments. and other bastions of this period in history. But the truth is, Egypt is so much more than it’s past and it seems that many still see it as a country that reached its peak in centuries gone by. For this very reason, the work of Egyptian-based photographer Habiba sheds an intimate and important insiders perspective of life in parts of Egypt, mostly Cairo, firsthand.

As part of this month’s focus on ‘Travel & Exploration’, I spoke to Habiba about her experiences photographing sights, sounds and scenes in her own country.

In about five sentences or less, can you tell us a little about yourself. Who is the person behind the blog?

I am Habiba, a self-taught Egyptian photographer who’s absolutely fascinated by Art & travel. I live in busy Cairo where my inspiration comes from. I try to show the beauty in the simple things I see while adding a touch of my identity even when I travel. I love Architecture and things that bring dynamism to the eye, and that’s what I try to capture.

What are the main objectives of your blog? What led or inspired you to create it?

I have always wanted to study photography but never really got a chance to, so I decided I need to keep doing what I love and teach myself somehow. Photography is all about practice and trying new things and so a yearly project seemed like a perfect idea to challenge myself and keep up with my progress. I also consider it a way to document special moments and the wonderful underestimated things I see in daily life.

Since starting this blog, what has kept you motivated and/or what new things have you learned along the way?

The project is really helping me figure out my own style in photography. It pushes me to try new techniques and shoot new things and therefore get better as a photographer. 

In my experience, I learned to shoot with whatever camera I’ve got, whether it’s a phone, digital or film camera, and I learned that good cameras don’t make you a good photographer. Of course, better cameras help with quality but It’s really all about showing the world things from your own creative perspective rather than depending on advanced technology.

Most of all, I learned that the best shots are natural spontaneous ones. Anyone can get a pretty model and ask her to fake a smile but it takes a true photographer to freeze real moments and turn them into Art.

You never accompany your photos with captions, can you explain the reason behind this?

I feel like this helps my audience interact with me and, in a way, get involved in the project. I want them to wonder what this photograph is all about and trigger their imagination. I also really encourage and appreciate questions about my work as well as feedback.

African women photographers seem very hard to come by, something I find incredibly frustrating as both a woman and lover of photography. Do you share these frustrations or have you ever felt that being a woman has ever restricted you in some way from areas in the world of art/photography that men can more easily access?

That is so true! I get so frustrated for the same reason. Of course, it depends on what kind of work the photographer wants to do. For example, I find Travel and Street photography harder for females. It’s no secret that women have not been exactly looked at as equals in many societies for many reasons, so it can be odd for a woman to go out shooting alone in some areas. I also have to admit that I sometimes worry about other people’s reactions to me taking photos of them or something around them, whereas men are usually more brave in cases like these.

To be fair though, it does have its advantages such as shooting sensitive or intimate cases that involve women, or even in wedding photography since the bride can feel more comfortable.

In the end, sexism is an issue suffered around the world in most fields and not just in photography. I am personally not worried because a lot of actions have been taken against this issue so far and more people are becoming aware of it everyday.

Who and or what inspires/motivates you/your work? Any fellow African photographers?

I am always checking Art blogs and websites such as mymodernmet & colossal, nothing inspires me more than seeing good Art by amazing artists around the world.

I can’t think of a specific photographer or artist right now but I have met amazing photographers around where I live that truly inspire me. As for motivation, it’s enough knowing someone appreciates or relates to my work.

Lastly, where else can you be found online? 
I’m one of the few people who are not on Facebook but you can find me on:
Tumblr: habibasproject (365) & bebba (main blog)
DeviantArt & Behance: habibaelg
Thank you for reading! :)

DYNAMIC AFRICANS: I Love Southern Africa

This blog first caught my attention perhaps a little over a month, or so, ago, and it’s safe to say it was love at first sight.

Dedicated to representing a total of 12 countries, from Angola to Zambia, Madagascar to Lesotho, the individual behind the blog manages to take it all in stride shedding essential knowledge on each country, posting incredibly thorough, diverse and in-depth content that’s is beyond enriching.

Having a thorough appreciation of this blog, and thus it’s curator, it seemed only right to feature them in this series of Dynamic Africans on tumblr. My interview only made me even more of a fan and I’m left even more inspired by the person behind I Love Southern Africa.

In about five sentences or less, can you tell us a little about yourself. Who is the person behind the blog?

I’m a young woman from two of the countries I blog about, currently starting a new chapter in my life after having taken care of family for a while (the African immigrant’s story!). 

What are the main objectives of your blog? What led or inspired you to create it?

My main objective was to shine a light on everything time can permit to blog on Southern Africa.  Outside of the countries themselves, not much is known or spoken of Southern Africa other than HIV/AIDS, Robert Mugabe, Malawi as it pertains to Madonna, Namibia as it pertains to Angelina Jolie and Madagascar as it pertains to the animated movie of the same name. 

Southern Africa is also known primarily for our animals but not the people around them, their history, dreams etc.  It’s a region with a very rich and intense history which influences the vibrant culture and life today. 

Since starting this blog, what has kept you motivated and/or what new things have you learned along the way?

I must admit I also didn’t know too much about the whole region and I feel like I am blogging for myself at times when I get excited about finding something I had never known. 

I am essentially motivated by my own ignorance about the area and my love for it as well. 

Other African diaspora blogs also inspire me to keep digging, sharing and finding what I would’ve never thought to look for.  I’m still stunned by the incredible history and roles played by everyone in shaping the region then and today. 

What do you love most about Southern Africa/being from Southern Africa, and in what ways are you able to connect with Africans from other regions?

Like all folks in the diaspora I love my people, culture, history, politics and self deprecating humour to name a few! I love watching us Southern Africans expand our Pan-Africaness (if there is such a term?) even though we are still unfortunately closed off from the rest of the diaspora in some ways. 

I always thought it would be politics that unite all Africans but I see how our current youth culture, specifically music brings everyone together.  I love reading comments under Youtube videos from people all across the diaspora showing love to a musician whose lyrics they don’t understand but they feel the music. 

I’ve been a wanna-be die-hard Pan Africanist since my early teens and I still fall in love with everything from the fashion from other regions to the literature and political heroes.  Oh and the food - I can finally make Egusi without following instructions on Youtube!

Being an African in the diaspora, what has been the most difficult and/or inspiring element of this experience for you? 

The most inspiring element has also been the most difficult:  Digging in the crates for photographs, books etc is worth every late night and eye bags. 

However, realizing how much of my own history I was never taught, how much of it exists in foreign institutions and not our own and how much of our history was recorded by others while our own methods of recording our history were forcibly wiped out, drove me to tears a few times.  

I’m reassured by current and past artists, musicians, writers, bloggers etc of the diaspora who have and continue to express our souls.

Lastly, where else can you be found online?

Twitter: @SouthRnAfrika - but I am rarely there.  Stuck on Tumblr!

 

DYNAMIC AFRICANS: Discover Somalia bloggers collective

Birthed out of the frustration of the mostly negative and one-dimensional depictions of their country, and armed with the ‘responsibility of building a better Somalia’, the curators behind the blog Discover Somalia make use of imagery and other sourced information in an attempt to “change the negative perceptions and stereotypes of Somalia”, and create a platform that showcases the diversity of life in Somalia.
In about five sentences or less, can you tell us a little bit about who the people behind the ‘Discover Somalia’ initiative are?
Discover Somalia was created by a group made of Somali diaspora, mostly college students in United Sates and the United Kingdom who are very much up to date on current affairs in Somalia and/or are involved with Somalia in their respective studies. After seeing how Somalia is portrayed in the mainstream media, we wanted to take ownership.
We ourselves relevant as free Somalis at this historic moment in our country wanted to help define and shape the country we want. We never got to experience how a stable Somalia looks like, but we want to take responsibility of building a better Somalia that can live up to the promise of all its peoples.
 
What are the main objectives of your blog? What led or inspired you to create it?
 
Discover Somalia is an online photography blog that attempts to change the negative perceptions and stereotypes of Somalia. Somalia is not a place of war and famine and destruction and all these horrible things, we so often hear in the mainstream media, but it’s a place where normal people do normal things all the time, just like we do. 
We wanted to start a project that could be more all-encompassing, we wanted a collection of images that showcases Somalia’s progress and normalcy. We have many present and future objectives, but for now we want display  images progress and history of Somalia, so that people understand that there is to Somalia . 

In visiting Discover Somalia, what would you most like people to gain from your blog?

For decades, mainstream and Somali media,  have and continue to documented a seemingly endless cycle of wars and famine in Somalia, exposing otherwise ignored tragedies to the global audience. But too often the subjects of these images seem to be reduced to symbols, and viewers do not encounter them as fully rounded human beings. And we rarely see photos of the Somalia’s  progress or the cultural heritage and history of Somalia. A complicated country is often reduced to caricature. So when people come to our blog we want them to instantly see a different Somalia that they don’t witness else where.

Photography seems to play a huge role in your blog’s aesthetic, do you plan on including other forms of artistic/media narratives?

Everyone sees things differently. Put 100 photographers in a room and you’ll get 100 different photos. The way you see the world is unique, and photography lets you share that perspective with othersWe saw too many people focusing on images of the deadly  explosions in Mogadishu, while turning  a blind eye to the entrepreneurs, footballers, beach goers and the reconstruction of Mogadishu. 

We believe that even though Somalia is busily rising out of the ashes, to the majority of the world; it will remain for a long while, the land of starving children, AK47 wielding rebels and greedy big-stomach-small-brain politicians. It takes a long time to change a bad image… but we can do it, one photograph at a time. 

Lastly, why the title ‘Discover Somalia’?

We had many names in mind for our blog, but at the end we decided with “Discover Somalia”, because we wanted people to discover the other side of Somalia through photography ,showing Somalia’s progress and the resilient of it’s people.

Visit the blog at Discover Somalia.

DYNAMIC AFRICANS: Ghanaian photographer Yaa Annobil

Glancing through Ghanaian photographer Yaa Annobil’s incredibly captivating body of work, it’s not hard to become enthralled in the mostly black and white pixelated seemingly mundane, yet aesthetically captivating moments she captures. Moments framed as stories that seem interpretable solely between the photographer and those made eternal through these interactions. Wanting to know more, Yaa and I discussed his journey as a photographer and the intricacies of her artistic tendencies.

In about five sentences or less, tell us a little bit about who you are, where you’re based and what you do.

Put simply, I am a Ghanaian free-lance photographer, and I try to blur the lines between documentary photography and art. Aged 26, I am based in Accra, Ghana, but as I type, I am in London, making preparations for a photographic exploration of Nigeria.

I work with film exclusively – black and white primarily, and generally, I shoot with a cheap and battered old Pentax.

How and when did your exploration of photography as an artistic tool begin?

As a teenager I imagined I would follow in my father’s footsteps, and become a journalist / writer. However, my interest in the machinations of innumerable dictatorial regimes, coupled with a tendency to pen subversive critique, rendered this plan somewhat unwise (and dangerous). Consequently, photography is my ‘voice’.

I have always loved the art-form, but not the aesthetically beautiful & romantic, or deeply fatalistic depictions of Africa and the so-called developing world - 1D pictorial propaganda essentially. With this in mind, I picked up my ME Super at around 20, and decided to explore my country honestly.

You photograph almost exclusively in black and white, and there’s a very distinct relationship between the subjects in your photographs and you, the photographer, that is incredibly intimate without seeming intrusive. Stylistically, how would you describe your photography and photographic approach to your subjects?

Many of the people I photograph, live decidedly precarious lives. In simple terms, peace exists in Ghana, but its children have been failed theatrically. Though beauty is present in many things in Ghana, I sense sorrow in just about everything I see - specifically, I know the stories of everybody I shoot. I am never tempted to manipulate my subjects, as the decision to confront their pain, and not mask or avoid it, means interesting photographs simply present themselves to me.

Occasionally, I shoot in colour to capture potent societal irony, but something about textured greys and abyssal darkness appeals to me. I use B&W to capture deep emotion, but also the pain present in ‘the mundane’. I shoot the bulk of my images at night; surrounded by mosquitoes, stifled by heavy air, and the aroma of work-weary, sleep-deprived fellow countrymen.

What role does being Ghanaian - and thus, an African - play in your creative process, if any? Can you tell us a little about your experiences shooting in Ghana?

Shooting in Ghana breaks my heart, but I feel myself descending into cavernous misery whenever I leave the country (I think every African can relate to this).

As a Ghanaian I endeavor to capture Ghana as it is – epic magnificence AND tragic destitution. The latter angers many, and I am often pummeled with a barrage of accusations; apparently I am not a true nationalist, but this suits me, as I am driven by cultural obligation, and a deep commitment to my land - not childish denial.

In many ways, I believe Ghana is a microcosm of the contemporary African realty – without doubt, this informs my approach.

Why did you chose tumblr as a platform to showcase your work, and what are some of the highlights of your journey as a photographer thus far?

Tumblr interests me greatly. There is something interesting about viewing my images re-contextualized – working out what my work represents to a diverse batch of people is always enjoyable, often surprising, and always humbling.

Every re-post is a highlight.

Any future plans or projects you’d like to share?

Not too long ago, I traveled to New York, to work with amazing musician and extraordinary poet Kae Sun, and creative visionary / incontrovertibly remarkable / acutely intelligent Joshua Kissi. We created a collection of images of Kae Sun for ‘Afriyie’: his sophomore LP. I enjoyed this experience immensely, and I hope the world will like what we created.

My heart resides in Africa. I shall travel to Nigeria very soon, to complete an interesting project with my friend Nnamdi Awa Kalu. I also plan to explore the Northern regions of Ghana – particularly those ravaged by economic globalization climate change, and traditionally anemic governmental subsidy.

Where else can you be found? (other social media sites, official website, etc)

My website: www.yaaannobil.com

Thanks so much, Yaa!

Thank you :)

DYNAMIC AFRICANS: Yayra Sumah of ‘Ghana, I Love You

She runs one of the most up-to-date blogs about Ghana on tumblr that hosts everything from photojournalism essays and news articles, to poetry and music.

In celebration of Ghana’s 56th independence day in March (sorry this post is a little late), I asked Yayra Sumah a few questions about herself, the sentimental weight behind her emotionally titled blog, and about the current state of the West African nation currently heralded as one of Africa’s ‘success stories’, which resulted in a very interesting and eye-opening discussion.  

Tell us a little about yourself:

My name is Yayra Sumah. I was born in Ghana, raised in Austria and am currently a graduate student at Boston University.

What inspired you to start this blog and how long have you been running it?

I started this blog in 2010 because I had looked for blog about Ghana that displayed the multifaceted nature of Ghanaian life and Ghanaian people and found very little. I was also making a conscious decision to counteract the media and literature that portrayed Africa from a colonial lens: negative, patronizing and two-dimensional.

Since starting this blog, what has kept you motivated and/or what new things have you learned along the way?

Running a blog is a lot of hard work - especially when I have to balance it with academic coursework and life. I run this blog because I see there is still so much for me to learn about Ghana, I run this blog because my education has been predominantly about the achievements of the white Western male and I need to depart from it. However, when it gets hard to stay on top of things the ‘queue’ function on tumblr saves my life (ha).

In the past few years, developments in Ghana’s economy and the political stability in the country have led to it being heralded as one of Africa’s ‘success stories’. Do you share in these sentiments?

I do think that Ghana is a success story, but I don’t think we should be getting comfortable just yet. Political stability and economic growth is not guaranteed - particularly when these positive trends are so eerily similar to those of the immediate post-independence years and we face a looming crisis of resource scarcity concerning water, oil and minerals, as well increased militarization and climate change.

One of the things that strike me on my frequent trips to Ghana, is the disconnect between the hype of international media, and people themselves. Ghanaians are not necessarily aware that ‘Ghana is on the rise’ - this is probably due to a general lack of access to international media, information, internet and social media- Ghanaians go about their daily lives and have to deal with the daily frustrations of poor infrastructure government corruption and widespread unemployment.

That being said, the contours of Ghana’s economic change are visible - airplanes are flying overhead bringing oil businessmen into Takoradi, consumer and banking industries are cropping up all over the country, Indians, Roma people, Chinese and other immigrant groups are mingling in Accra. Highways are being built and lavish suburbs are being constructed by the returning diaspora. Government initiatives are partially working. Ghanaian civil society is actively engaging with the government, ‘development’ is hotly discussed on talk shows…. It’s fascinating, so much is changing, but at the same time, so much is still the same. 

What do you enjoy most about blogging on tumblr and what do you want most for people to take away from your blog?

Tumblr is an amazing resource. I greatly appreciate the work of other bloggers who make information available by compiling resources and links for scholarly material, relaying news, opinion blogging and shedding light on the activism of other bloggers around the world - I learn more from tumblr sometimes than I do from the standard academic setting. Ultimately I think what I want is for people to respect Ghana - to expand their horizon beyond the narrative of charity and children. To look to Ghana as a source of upcoming leaders, role models, creators and amazing contributors to the world. I want them to see Ghana and be knowledgeable about it’s complexity, shortcomings and sophistications.

As a way of introducing more original content to this blog, the ‘Dynamic Africans’ feature was conceived almost a year ago. Since April 2012, Dynamic Africa has put the spotlight on several Dynamic African bloggers who’re using tumblr as a platform to showcase unique and diverse perspectives on the parts of Africa that they are most passionate about, and who may or may not be well known both in the tumblr and African-centered blogosphere.

With more bloggers to come in the future, here’s a quick look back on those who I’ve been fortunate enough to engage with thus far:

DYNAMIC AFRICANS FEATURE #1: SABISIERRALEONE

DYNAMIC AFRICAN FEATURE #2: TYPICAL UGANDAN

DYNAMIC AFRICAN FEATURE #3: AFROKLECTIC

DYNAMIC AFRICAN FEATURE #4: 37TH STATE

DYNAMIC AFRICAN FEATURE #5: ALEX I.

DYNAMIC AFRICAN FEATURE #6: LOUIS MAJANJA (THE DAILY STRUGGLE)

DYNAMIC AFRICAN FEATURE #7: COUCH ZAMBANE (SA TV ADS)

DYNAMIC AFRICAN FEATURE #8: HANAAN (RIDICULOUSLY SUDANESE)

DYNAMIC AFRICAN FEATURE #9: NANCY TWUM-BAAH (CFADC)

DYNAMIC AFRICAN FEATURE #10: HOLAAFRICA!

DYNAMIC AFRICAN FEATURE #11: ABDIRASHID (SOMALI TIMES)

DYNAMIC AFRICAN FEATURE #12: BRADLEY OGBONNA

DYNAMIC AFRICAN FEATURE #13: KAHINA

DYNAMIC AFRICAN FEATURE #14: OLAYEMI (NIGERIAN NOSTALGIA PROJECT)

Thank you for your support of this feature and above-mentioned bloggers!