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    Boutique Fashion News

    A Fresh Look at African Home Decor

    maghreb look decor 3

    Spring cleaning is overrated! Of course jet-washing the patio, dusting the cobwebs and scrubbing the floors are necessary chores, but there’s nothing more rewarding than giving your home a refreshing facelift. If this Spring you’re thinking about giving your space a new dose of the unique and exotic delights of Africa, dive right in!

    So what is ‘African-inspired’ decor anyway? Needless to say, in a large continent with 54 countries and thousands of cultures, there is no such thing as one single African aesthetic. However, among the many features, some common threads run through, so we decided to focus on two distinctive themes: Sub Saharan Africa and the Maghreb region of North Africa.

    toghal lookbook5 ethnic

    Avoiding the cliched look

    Achieving an authentic and contemporary African-inspired look can be so much more impactful than hanging a couple of masks or batiks to the wall. If you’re looking to escape the cliches of clusters of wooden giraffes and antelopes in a corner of the room, there’s hope!

    It’s possible to transform a space into one that pays homage to anywhere from delightful Dakar to mystical Marrakesh, and it’s mainly about tying together and coordinating different aspects and making smart choices regarding colour, texture, furnishing, lighting and accessories to create a holistic feel. All of which must authentically reflect your personality. And it doesn’t always have to be natural shades – for example, if blue is your colour, work with it!

    toghal lookbook2 blues

    Sub Saharan Style

    When choosing wall colours, be guided by the tones of nature as these are reflected in African interiors. Clay, sand, mud or ochre shades work well. Wherever you are in the world, pay attention to the light. In places where the skies are more often than not on the grey spectrum, pick your wall shades and other decor carefully. Instead of four clay-coloured walls, make it your feature wall and lighten things up with cream or white to maximise light.

    Bold black and white zebra stripes are an iconic feature of African design – contrasting white walls with black furnishings or accessories can produce a fabulously chic look without going overboard with this look.

    And then there’s texture. In most African rural settings, homes are plastered with mud so rather than going for a smooth finish, consider using textured paint to give a rougher, more authentic appearance to the surface of the walls- consider this for your outdoor rooms and patios.

    toghal lookbook3 yellows

    Bring the outdoors in…mats woven from fibres like straw, grass, banana leaves, sisal, mudcloth and other naturally occurring materials are quintessentially African floor coverings and look great without overwhelming the space. Of course, in less than tropical climates, the look needs to be balanced with comfort and warmth. Wool rugs, either in earth or zebra tones scattered on concrete, terracotta tiled or wooden floors can work really well.

    Furnishings and Accessories

    Typically, African homes are uncluttered and this is all about keeping the house cool and maximising space. So consider shedding some excess ‘baggage’ like that nest of tables or that shelf unit. There are lots of ways to recycle excess household items.

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    If you do decide that your sofa is past its sell-by date and needs replacing, go for natural materials – leather, wood, rattan and stick to those earthy colours or, for a dramatic effect, black. Or add a a point of interest by re-upholstering an armchair with a stylish Wax print fabric.

    Adding a couple of strategically positioned piece of art will complement the look very nicely. Building around a concept, centre-piece or statement item like a special carving, mask or wall hangings with a few well-considered treatments will enhance the look of the entire space exponetially.

    For inspiration and ideas, check out these websites:

    http://www.architectureartdesigns.com/21-marvelous-african-inspired-interior-design-ideas/

    https://www.pinterest.co.uk/explore/african-interior/?lp=true

    http://www.smalldesignideas.com/african-interior-design-style.html

     

    Maghreb Style

    In my exploration of North African (particularly Moroccan) interiors, I’ve come across two broadly distinctive styles.

    maghreb look decor

    Firstly, there’s the ice queen, bridal look – a vision of dazzling white. White walls, rugs, furnishing and accessories. Lovely and light, airy and calming but unless you love cleaning, somewhat impractical for most of us mere mortals. Ideal for warm climates, white is not a very cosy look for the dark days of long Northern Hemisphere winters.

    The other look is altogether warmer and snugger, a comforting nest to hole up in for a chilly weekend of mint tea drinking and pastry eating. Think A Thousand and One Arabian Nights. Every shade of red is represented from pinky fuchsia to fiery scarlets and vibrant crimsons on walls, flooring and accessories. Clashing these colours with burnt or bright orange is all part of the Maghreb vibe. Teamed up with wooden furniture, metal pots, mosaic patterned vases, plump floor cushions, these colours look amazing.

    maghreb look decor 2

    For inspiration and ideas, check out these websites:

    http://www.home-designing.com/2014/10/moroccan-style-interior-design

    https://www.theartofbespoke.com/editorial/interior-design-how-to-do-moroccan-style

    https://www.pinterest.co.uk/topupyourtrip/morocco-maghreb-design-archi-interiors-decor-fashi/?lp=true

     So, this spring, if you’re tired of staring at the same 4 walls, transforming your living space using African inspiration, one paint pot, one rug, one cushion at a time could be, if not life changing, at least mood shifting and energy boosting.

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    Words: Yvonne Lloyd

    International Women’s Day: Celebrating African Changemakers

    International Women’s Day is a big deal: the world unites to celebrate the awesome achievements and the tough challenges faced by women. This year feels especially significant – in the UK women have had the right to vote for a century but as we know from the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns, there’s still a way to go.

    For many women, even in so-called developed countries, it still feels like a man’s world with genuine female equality as far away as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

    But for now, let’s shine the spotlight on female success stories, loudly applauding the unsung gamechangers. We pay tribute to just some of the outstanding African women who have broken through the glass ceiling, sometimes in the face of almost impossible odds.

     Feminism in Africa

    Some history books may lead us to believe that feminism was invented in the 1960s by and for women in Europe and North America. High on the idea that, thanks to the Pill, we were now in control of our own destinies, with much fanfare and hullaballoo we burnt our bras, cast off our pinnies, and marched fearlessly onto male terrain.

    But this version of feminism is only half the story.

    For the past 100 years, a parallel movement addressing the African sisterhood’s trinity of gender, cultural tradition and race of the has been gathering momentum, standing up for the rights of women across the continent. Some of the early trailblazers may not be household names but their words, actions and achievements rocked many patriarchal boats in their respective countries.

    In her comprehensive overview, Minna Salami* traces the roots of African feminism back to such women as Sierra Leonean, Adelaide Casely-Hayford (1868-1960) who devoted herself passionately to the education of girls.

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    Adelaide Casely-Hayford

    Charlotte Maxeke (1874-1939) was the first black woman to graduate from a South African university and a political activist throughout her life. She protested about the exploitation of women in the workplace and vehemently opposed passes for black women during Apartheid. In 1918, she founded the Bantu Women’s League, a branch of the ANC.

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    Charlotte Maxeke

    Huda Sharaawi (1879-1947), philanthropist, writer, nationalist and political campaigner, she is credited with setting up the Egyptian Feminist Union back in 1923 and being the founder of Egyptian feminism. Her political reach extended beyond her native country to women in the rest of the Arab world.

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    Huda Sharaawi

    Ms. Salami also notes how the liberation struggle in Algeria, Mozambique, Guinea, Angola and Kenya when women fought alongside men, played a major role in the strengthening of the feminist movement in those countries and beyond.

    So, these legendary women earned their place in history as role models, icons and pioneers by putting equality firmly on the agenda, creating a platform from which future generations of women across Africa have continued to challenge gender stereotypes and campaign for women’s freedom and empowerment.

     Entrepreneurs

    With children to feed, clothe, and educate, women across Africa have traditionally been at the heart of economic activity. Small-scale farming and trading are widespread across the continent and according to the Master Card Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE), almost 80% of these farmers and traders are women.

    From selling vegetables in local markets to medium and increasingly large-scale operations, women have proved again and again that they have an excellent head for business in a wide range of sectors – IT, media, security, finance, oil, fashion. This aptitude for entrepreneurship was confirmed by the MIWE which found that female entrepreneurs across Africa demonstrate resilience, determination, ambition and a keen desire to provide for their families, that they are astute opportunity-seekers and bold risk-takers – all essential qualities for successful entrepreneurship.

    You want names? Sure, though of course to pay tribute to the thousands of dynamic and successful African female entrepreneurs would fill a book the size of the complete works of Shakespeare, so I have to limit myself to just a tiny sample of these superwomen.

    Shortlisted by Forbes as one of Africa’s most successful women, Divine Ndhlukuka started her security business with 4 employees at her home in Zimbabwe. Securico now employs over 3000 staff, of whom 900 are women.

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    Divine Ndhlukuka

     Folorunsho Alakija is a self-made Nigerian billionaire. Starting her career as a secretary, she has since turned her hand to the banking and fashion sectors and is now making huge waves in the oil industry.

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    Folorunsho Alakija

    Khanyi Dhlomo from South Africa proves just how far an aspirational young woman can travel. A journalist in her 20s, she has gone on to become a commanding figure in her country’s media industry. CEO and co-founder of Ndalo Media, she has a string of glossy publications to her name

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    Khanyi Dhlomo

    Hot off the press are these 2 women, finalists in the Sub Saharan 2018 Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards, founders of hugely profitable businesses. Their successes benefit both themselves and some of the most vulnerable people in their countries.

    Melissa Bime, founder of Infiuss in Cameroon

    As a nurse in Cameroon, Melissa saw for herself the toll the inefficient delivery of life-saving blood supplies took and so has developed a digital supply-chain platform that gives hospitals access to local ready-to-use blood supplies.

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    Melissa Bime

    Evelyn Namara, founder of Vouch Digital in Uganda

    To support farmers in rural Uganda, Evelyn has developed a digital voucher system vastly improving the way subsidiaries are exchanged.

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    Evelyn Namara

    For each and every one of these formidable women who have carved their names in the history books, there are multitudes of other female entrepreneurs as well the unsung heroes, labouring away at grassroots levels making ends meet to provide basic necessities to their families.

    And finally, to those who argue that there’s still so far to go before women in Africa (or anywhere else for that matter) are truly equal, I say, hey, it’s a glass half full/half empty thing. Yes, it’s a long walk to equality but a huge amount of ground has been covered. Campaigning over issues such as FGM, forced marriages, land ownership, dowries, domestic violence, sexuality continues and will continue into the foreseeable future but let’s not underestimate what’s been achieved.

    Change takes time – neither Rome nor Accra or Addis Ababa was created in a day!

     Happy International Women’s Day!

    *https://www.msafropolitan.com/2013/07/a-brief-history-of-african-feminism.html

    Words: Yvonne Lloyd

    Mother’s Day: Little Things That Count

    What a great day to remember to pause and say thank you to all the mothers and mother figures that grace our lives with love, care and compassion. This isn’t a day of grand gestures, what means the most to mothers is the knowledge that we see them and appreciate what they do for us. So if you’re looking for some tips on little things that will make the day count, here are some tips from Sapelle.

    1. Start the Day with Breakfast in Bed

    A classic one but a fantastic way of starting the day. Whether its buttered toast and some juice, or a full English breakfast – breakfast will set the tone for a day of pampering her. And if you’re not a dab hand in the kitchen, pop out to your neighbourhood cafe and bring back some warm toasty pastries.

    2. Create an At-home Spa Sanctuary

    If your Mom makes the ‘chipped nail varnish’ look cool, or she never has time to give herself a proper facial, here’s your chance to brush up on your pampering skills. We can almost guarantee that she’ll be purring at your shoulder and back rubs or manicure and pedicure, however new you are to it. Even just a day of ‘peace and quiet’ where a truce is called on all ongoing sibling disputes, filled with abundant calm, smiles, hugs and kisses can go a long way.

    3. Let her Bask in Nostalgia

    Bring out the baby photo albums, put on her favourite movie or songs and let Mom bask in a little bit of nostalgia. Even if you’ve heard the story of how you were born a thousand times, one more time won’t hurt on Mother’s Day. If she hasn’t spent time with her favourite friends because she’s been so busy, make a phone call and let them have a long relaxed chat.

    4. Pen her Some Words From the Heart

    You could go out and buy a beautiful card from the bookshop, but no words are sweeter than words that come from the heart. We think it’s a lot easier to write a letter than a short punchy message in a greetings card. So why not sit down and compose a love letter to your Mother, and let the words flow?

    5. Select Gifts that Count

    If you have the budget for a gift, however modest it is, buy her something that has a special meaning. Like an item that reflects her identity, or something from her favourite holiday destination. Buy her a gift that will last and don’t forget to tell her why you chose it so she’ll remember it always.

    6. Tell her How you Feel

    Whatever you do on Mother’s Day, remember the power of ‘I love you’ to heal hearts, dry tears, re-build bridges and create smiles.

    Black Panther: an A-Z of African Nuggets

    Black Panther is so much more than just another Marvel blockbuster. Not only because it’s the first that’s based on a black African superhero, but because the film builds on this concept in a very deep and authentic way. From start to finish, the movie strives to represent Africa as the culturally rich place it is, adopting its history, mythology and folklore, and showcasing not only its raw minerals but other outstanding attributes and heroic elements in a way that’s both empowering and entertaining.

    black-panther-movie-release-date-trailer-cast-768x432As students and lovers of African culture, we’ve put together this spoiler-free A-Z guide of nuggets abundantly scattered around the movie that create a tapestry of an authentic African world rooted in true culture and history. Don’t watch the movie without it!

    A IS FOR: AFROFUTURISM

    While Black Panther breaks new ground in Hollywood, the movie owes its vision to Afrofuturism. Afrofuturism is a cultural movement featuring futuristic or science fiction themes which incorporate elements of black history and culture. It imagines a radical utopian future of prosperity and progress, incorporating African and Diasporan peoples as one. Afrofuturism rose into prominence as early as the 1950s, a reaction to the injustices being faced by African Americans during that era, appearing everywhere from literature (read Octavia Butler’s sci-fi books), art and music (think George Clinton and the jazz musician Sun Ra), and have continued to be adopted by artists like Erykah Badu, Solange Knowles and Janelle Monae. Afrofuturism has predominantly been in the US, but African artists are increasingly visible, carving their own unique interpretations.

    B IS FOR: BASOTHO

    Although Wakanda is a fictional place, director Ryan Coogler, his costume designer Ruth E. Carter, production designer Hannah Beachler and their teams ensured that everything else about it is very firmly rooted in real African cultures, peoples, ideals and practices. The Wakandan Border Tribe for example borrows heavily from the BaSotho people of the Kingdom of Lesotho. One of the first African countries that Coogler visited was Lesotho, and what he saw there has lent itself to elements of Black Panther. Basotho have lived in southern Africa since the 5th century. The BaSotho were principally herdspeople, and to this day using horses to navigate the mountainous terrain and wearing the distinctive wool Basotho Blankets (the Seanamarena, which means ‘to swear by the Chiefs’ in Sotho language) against the harsh climate.

    Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHER L to R: Shuri (Letitia Wright), Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman) Credit: Matt Kennedy/©Marvel Studios 2018

    L to R: Shuri (Letitia Wright), Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman) Credit: Matt Kennedy/©Marvel Studios 2018

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    BaSotho horsemen of the Kingdom of Lesotho

    C IS FOR: COMBAT COSTUME DESIGN

    Black Panther’s Virbanium-infused combat gear and the all-female Dora Milaje royal guards’ uniforms are the epitome of Afrofuturism.  Carter has crafted these Oscar-worthy costumes using traditional African geometric shapes, and created pieces that combine technology, aesthetics, practicality and authenticity that are a exciting and inspiring.

    black panther costume

    D IS FOR: DANCE

    It’s no secret that dance is an integral part of many aspects African and Diasporan life. The Black Panther movie deftly weaves dance into the main rituals that occur throughout the story. Look out for infusions of styles of dancing from West, Southern and East Africa when the Wakandans come together for key events.

    E IS FOR: ELDERS COUNCIL

    The elders of the five tribes of Wakanda are seen in council session several times during the movie. From ancient times, in traditional African societies elders have always played an important role in decision-making, maintaining peace and order and fostering reconciliation in the community. The council of elders is not about autocratic rule but about consensus – making Black Panther’s collective wisdom unique among the Marvel superheroes. Look out for the special touch: in the midst of an ultra-modern setting, the council meeting area’s cracked clay flooring is reminiscent of the traditional setting of councils, often in a large open hut or under a tree in the community’s square.

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    Wakanda council of elders with a clay floor reminiscent of traditional African council settings

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    A historical image of a Ghanaian elders council

    F IS FOR: FACE MARKINGS, SCARIFICATION & TATTOOS

    Facial markings are an important part of many African cultures, signifying social status, commemorating events, attracting or repelling spiritual forces. The movie is abundantly adorned with many glorious examples influenced by different cultures, from Forest Whitaker’s red clay markings that echo those of the Karo people of Ethiopia, to Daniel Kaluuya’s and Eric Killmonger’s scarifications like those from West and Eastern Africa and the Congo Basin, to Danai Gurira’s shaven head tattoos, a practice seen in Central Africa and the Sahara region among others, and the ceremonial chalk markings of Lupita Nyong’o’s Nikai’s River Tribe which are applied across the continent.

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    Daniel Kaluuya’s W’Kabi with facial scarification and Basotho and Himba inspired costume

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    Photo: agnautacouture.com

    Image result for scarification african

    G IS FOR: (TYPICALLY AFRICAN) GESTURES

    Watch out for typically African gestures like the formal salute of Wakanda, the familiar and affectionate handshake between T’Challa and his younger sister Shuri, and the high-fiving hand-shake that’s often exchanged among people sharing a joke. It is little nuances like these that we all take for granted that’ll trigger your nostalgia and make you smile.

    H IS FOR: HAIR STYLES AND HEAD GEAR

    Whether it’s the awesome Zulu-inspired hats of Angela Bassett’s Ramonda, the Wakandan Merchant Tribe’s thick hair locs treated with oxidised red clay and shea butter borrowed from the Namibian Himba people, the modern plaits worn in various styles by Leticia Wright’s Shuri, the sub-Saharan turbans, the simple and practical headscarves or Lupita Nyong’o’s natural curly tresses, you will appreciate the diverse modern and ancient hairstyles worn all over Africa and abroad for centuries.

    Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda

    Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda inspired by Zulu traditional dress

     

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    South African woman wearing a Zulu hat. Photo: UKZN

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    A young woman of the Himba tribe with red clay and shea-treated hair style

    I IS FOR: INDIGO

    Indigo is a very important element of West African textile and creativity, first imported from South Asia and now deriving from locally grown plants and adapted over time to suit its many uses. This movie would have been remiss to exclude it in its fabulous regal costumes. Here we see Forest Whitaker’s spiritual leader Zuri and his tribe adorned with brilliant indigo robes and caftans that reminded us of the nomadic peoples of subSaharan Africa. Look out for lots more beautiful examples in the movie.

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    Forest Whitaker’s Zuri blends facial markings, adornments, clothing and weapon from different cultures around Africa

    J IS FOR: JEWELLERY & ADORNMENTS

    As with facial markings, jewellery and body adornments are a crucial part of African life and again we applaud Carter and her team for cutting no corners in creating beautiful pieces that are authentically and gloriously African. Dora Milaje jewellery was designed to be both adornment and protection, shielding the neck, shoulders, torso and limbs, making the all-female army look both formidable and stunningly glorious. Also wonderful to see the gorgeous Fulani and Tuareg gold and silver jewellery – some of the most beautiful in Africa, make its appearance among the Merchant and other tribes.

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    The formidable Dora Milaje make being badass look easy. Jewellery not only looks good but also doubles as protection

    K IS FOR: KIONDO BASKETS

    In the 80’s and 90’s everybody who’d been anywhere near East Africa seemed to own a Kiondo bag – the sisal woven bags with a leather strap that could carry everything from school books to overnight luggage. Somebody in the design department really loves Kiondos – see if you can spot them in the street market scenes and tell us if, like us, you think their revival is long overdue.

    L IS FOR: LIP PLATES

    Isaach De Bankole’s Elder of the River Tribe wears a lip clay plate which are a body modification practiced from as early as 8700 BC among the Sara people and Lobi of Chad, the Makonde of Tanzania and Mozambique and the Suri and Mursi people of Ethiopia. We like how this rather brutal look that we associate with an ancient or rural version of Africa is balanced in the movie with modern, stylish Sapeur-like clothing of Congo.

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    Isaach De Bankolé’s River Tribe Elder’s clay lip plate meets sapeur elegance. Check out the display of Aso Oke / handwoven textile tradition of West Africa on the guards.

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    Les Sapeurs – the gentlemen of Congo

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    Mursi woman’s Clay Lip Plate. Photo: Marc Veraart

     

    M IS FOR: MUSIC

    Ludwig Göransson, Black Panther’s Music Supervisor has crafted a musical backdrop that reflects the variety of African and Diaspora traditional and modern sounds. The beautifully melodious voice of Senegalese singer Baaba Maal greets us on our first entrance into Wakanda, we tap our toes to the ultra-cool SA House music playing in the kingdom’s scientific facility, we nod our heads to the ubiquitous African drum beating during ceremonial moments, and we shake our bodies to the hip hop beats pounding the cinema during the fight scenes.

    N IS FOR: NDEBELE WALL ART

    Don’t miss the bold, colourful wall art peppered all over Wakanda’s interior spaces and market streets that’s inspired by the unique Ndebele and Malian traditions.

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    Ndebele Art

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    O IS FOR: OMO RIVER VALLEY

    The little-known Omo Valley/ Lake Turkana area of southern Ethiopia/northern Kenya is rich with distinct cultural practices and traditions untouched by the outside world that lend heavily into Black Panther movie design. Think face paints, lip plates, metal jewellery, shaven and plaited hairstyles, floral headpieces. The tribes of the Omo Valley live happy and harmonious lives with many of them oblivious to the existence of the outside world until relatively recently. We are still learning about them and their fascinating traditions.

    Omo River Valley Photo: Nomad Expeditions

    Omo River Valley Photo: Nomad Expeditions

    P IS FOR: PEOPLES & TRIBES OF AFRICA

    We lost count of the number of distinct African tribes, cultures and peoples represented in some way in Black Panther. The decision to blend their attributes and practices together rather than focus on just a handful was a master stroke, in our view, and makes the movie burst with life, giving viewers a colourful melting pot of stimulation to savour. Look out for influences from the Yoruba, Igbo and Akan poeples of West Africa, the Bambara, Maasai, Himba, Tuareg, Songhai and Fulani. And tell us if you spot any we haven’t mentioned in this blog.

    Q IS FOR: QUEENS

    We salute the regal Queen Ramonda, mother of Black Panther. But let’s also take a moment to salute the queens with a small ‘q’ that are very much a feature of this movie. According to Coogler, Black Panther was an opportunity to illustrate the importance of women, and a chance to show different forms of feminine beauty and strength that we don’t see in most mainstream media. After watching Black Panther, we want to enlist in the all-female Dora Milaje army, go on spying missions with the fearless Nikai, innovate in the tech lab like Shuri, and just be a queen in Wakanda for a day or two.

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    Queens slaying it

    R IS FOR: REMEDIES

    Many believe that, without the insertion of colonialism and Christianity (which often branded traditional medicine as unGodly and uncivilised) into Africa’s history, African traditional herbal medicine would have flourished beyond recognition. In Wakanda, modern and traditional science work side-by-side to cure injuries, connect the living with the ancestors’ spirit world and enhance the performance and wellbeing of its people. This is an ideal we’d like to see more of in reality around Africa.

    S IS FOR: SYMBOLS

    You can’t ignore the unique iconography and symbols inscribed into the furniture, walls, street signage and costumes of Wakanda. Although we’re not yet sure whether these are from one single language, one can see clear links to ancient African languages and symbols including the Nsibidi, Punic, Adinkra, Hieroglyph and Mudcloth inscriptions.

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    Focus on the symbols, ladies. Focus on the symbols.

    S IS (ALSO) FOR: SUDANO-SAHELIAN  & SHONA ARCHITECTURE

    If you’re familiar with the beautiful buildings found in the ancient city of Timbuktu, you’ll be thrilled to see them given the Afrofuturistic treatment in Black Panther. Sudano-Sahelian architecture refers to a range of similar indigenous architectural styles common to the peoples of the Sahel and Sudanian grassland regions of West Africa, south of the Sahara. We also got hints of the under-appreciated Shona architecture of modern-day Zimbabwe, which featured tall cylindrical towers built out of stone.

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    We picked up elements of traditional African architecture in this shot of the capital city of Wakanda.

    A classic example of Timbuktu Sahelian architecture. Photo: Alberton Record

    A classic example of Timbuktu Sahelian architecture. Photo: Alberton Record

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    The Great Zimbabwe ruins of the Shona empire, built with no mortar

    T IS FOR: TEXTILES

    When asked what he knew of Wakanda, Martin Freeman’s CIA agent mentions textiles, shepherds and cool outfits. He was off the mark about the shepherds, but he wasn’t wrong about the rest. How Black Panther blends the glorious textile traditions from around the continent to adorn the Wakandans is a topic that deserves its own essay. But for now, we’re just going to list the ones we were able to spot in our first viewing of the movie: Mudcloth, Kuba, Kente, Maasai Shuka, Kitenge/ Ankara/ Wax Print/ Indigo-dyed Brocades, Aso Oke, hand-woven cottons, raffia, leathers, wools and furs.

    U IS FOR: UBUNTU

    Ubuntu is a Bantu word describing an African philosophical and ethical worldview that “I am because you are,” meaning that individuals need other people in order to be fulfilled. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in his book No Future Without Forgiveness, says: “Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language… It is to say, ‘My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours.'” Who needs words when the underlying tenet of Black Panther is the very concept itself?

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    Ubuntu: I am because you are

    V IS FOR: VIBRANIUM

    Vibranium is a fictional rare metal appearing in the Marvel universe and found in abundance in Wakanda. Throughout their history, the Wakandans have fought to keep its existence hidden for fear of the corruption, chaos, suffering and death that might be brought about by those who seek to amass and abuse it with little respect for the land or the people. There’s subtle message and a philosophical challenge to all to draw a comparison to real-life historical events in Africa and other regions of the world that have suffered because of their mineral resources, and examine what alternative future these places could have had, had they not suffered massive and extended exploitation. It begs the question, what would have happened to Africa if its inherent strengths – its peoples, its natural resources – had been left with Africans to manage?

    W IS FOR: WRESTLING, WEAPONS & WARFARE

    Every Marvel movie has a fight scene or two, and Black Panther movie is no exception. Here, Coogler opted to infuse elements of African warrior technique into his battle scenes. Look out for the graceful, balletic fighting technique of the all-female Dora Milaje, which may be inspired by the Donga stick fighting tradition of the Surma warriors of Ethiopia. And catch elements of traditional wrestling by the formidable Serer wrestlers of Senegal and the Dinka Bor of South Sudan. Read also about the 18th century all-female Amazons of Dahomey,  a military corps of women appointed to serve in battles under the direction of the Fon king, who ruled over a nation that included much of present-day southern Togo and southern Benin.

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    Some of the best battle scenes in the Marvel set, in our opinion

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    Sudanese wrestlers

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    The Amazons of Dahomey

    X IS FOR: XHOSA

    Listen out for the occasional ‘Wakandan’ language which is actually isiXhosa, a South African language known for its distinctive ‘clicks’. John Kani, who plays King T’Chaka, suggested that dropping in the odd sentence would add authenticity. Coogler described the moment you hear a father and son on screen speaking a real African language in a Hollywood blockbuster as “emotionally moving.” Kani worked with Coogler to make sure the moment felt authentic, also playing the role of language consultant.

    If like us, you find that ubiquitous ‘African’ hybrid accent in the movies that smashes West, East AND South African accents together a little distracting, you’ll be relieved to hear that Black Panther’s diverse cast strives to deliver one ‘Wakandan’ accent with lyrical Southern African inflections, elongated vowels and strong ‘R’s’.

    Y IS FOR: YAA ASANTEWAA

    Yaa Asantewaa (1840-1921) remains a much-loved figure in Asante and Ghanaian history as a whole for her role in confronting the colonialism of the British. Yaa Asantewaa was queen mother of Ejisu in the Asante Empire and chosen by a number of regional Asante kings to be the war-leader of the Asante fighting force. We couldn’t help but draw a link between this real-life African legend and Ramonda, Queen mother of Wakanda, for their shared matriarchy, love, courage and pride.

    Z IS FOR: ZULU x JABARI

    We’d like to think that the Warrior Tribe of the Jabari, led by the powerful and rebellious M’Baku is inspired by the awesome warrior nation of the Zulus who’s most famous general was Shaka, with some elements from Hannibal’s Carthagian army that gave the Roman army a run for their money.

    In the Marvel comics, M’Baku was one of the greatest warriors of Wakanda, second only to King T’Challa. In real life, The Kingdom of Zulu was a monarchy in Southern Africa that extended along the coast of the Indian Ocean. The kingdom grew to dominate much of Southern Africa, its people scattered as far north as Central Africa, winning battles and assimilating with many tribes and notably defeating the British army at the Battle of Isandlwana.

    Black Panther's Jabari warriors

    Black Panther’s Jabari warriors

    Young modern day Zulu warriors. Photo: God's Golden Acre

    Young modern day Zulu warriors. Photo: God’s Golden Acre

    An illlustration of Hannibal Barca of Carthage

    An illlustration of Hannibal Barca of Carthage

    If you hadn’t already guessed, we’re big fans of this movie and think it’s an important milestone for the rennaisance of African culture, mythology and traditions in the global world that we live in. We can’t wait to see others pick up this mantle and continue the movement.

    Daphne Kasambala

    @Daph_Kas

     

     

    22 Reasons To Come to the B.Creatives Christmas Popup on 9th December

    We’ve partnered with a team of quality independent brands to create a day of feel-good shopping in the heart of London’s East End. It’s an all-day event that’s warm, cosy and fun, with curated gift options they’ll actually love. So come and indulge in complementary treats on us, festive music, workshops and craftmaking, hot drinks and cakes…oh and a bit of Christmas shopping!

    Whether it’s stocking fillers or more substantial presents you’re after, come find gifts for young and old, ladies and gents, and treat yourself too to lovely stationery, books, modern art and prints, natural skincare, haircare and cosmetics, handcrafted jewellery, fashion and accessories – all made with love from the B. Creatives.

    All the brands’ founders will be there to help you make the right choices, especially if you need advice on skincare, haircare and cosmetics – and all the brands are ethically made and tested. There’ll be demonstrations and workshops for Christmas cooking, kids’ crafting and headwrap styles. Here are the 22 reasons why you should not miss it:

    1. Jim + Henry’s Paraben-free vegan lab-tested hair products for babies, kids and adults, made from only EIGHT natural ingredients

    Jim+Henry60ml

    2. Love Rems luscious natural, vegan, chemical-free luxury skincare for sensitive skin and all skin types, with demonstrations by the founderLove Rems IMG_20171023_102533_484

    3. Real B Cosmetics offer makeup tips and indulgence with PETA-approved glamourous cosmetics that look and feel goodReal B IMG_0175

    4. The Study Room London’s range of super-sleek stationery and productivity products make great gifts for him

    Pen Uno - The Study Room London (2)

     

    5. Vitae London’s timeless high quality timepieces won’t break your bank, and for every watch sold, a child’s education is sponsored in disadvantaged communities in Africavitae 5

    6. Sapelle’s range of gift items, including men’ accessories gives you stocking filler options that look great and are uniqueNomi Cufflinks 2

    7. House of Loulee’s large range of funky kids’ clothes and toys that will definitely put a smile on their faces on Christmas morning

    House of Loulee IMG_9621_x_grande

    8. Wildsuga is inspired by indigenous life, the sacred ancient, geometrical patterns,  foliage and spirit life and this comes through in everything they make

    Wildsuga baby booties 5

    9. Bonita Ivie Prints gives much-loved classic African prints and popular sayings a new life with their stationery and gift line

    Bonita Ivie 20265041_250837605430611_4541828737554418141_n

    10. Dorcas Creates graphic art celebrates sisterhood, and the many shades of women, making their products the perfect gift for her

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    11. Mochi is the creation of visual artist and animator Nyanzi D, and is a series based on contemporary women and vintage pop art

    Nyanza D tumblr_inline_nz6czaClY51r8vd0p_500

    12. Streetwear brand Meen keeps its finger on the pulse of young fashion, fusing it with touches of African influences

    Meen clothing IMG_0358

    13. For the vintage lovers, Hand Me Down Glam has been saving gorgeous seasonal jummpers and more glam pieces

    Handmedownglam image5

    14. From the identical twin chefs who are currently crowdfunding to open their own vegan cafe, Twinz Cupcakes will be serving up delicious treats for the day and to take homecupcakes d2678e27bc461429945a8564ab80a8f2--dwarf-rosette

    15. Line & Honey was launched as a stress-reliever while the founder was completing her post-graduate thesis, and now the brand continues to illustrate versatile zip pouches with images of strong, beautiful women

    line and honey

    16. Biloko is an ethical and sustainable brand that collaborates with Congolese artisans to create beautiful, timeless jewellery pieces

    Biloko 19748857_1711644205515876_2268507513826978131_n

    17. Own Brown was born in Switzerland, and offers women of colour luxurious tone-matched tights, with a lingerie line coming soon

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    18. Jacaranda Books is an independent publisher of ethnically, socially & culturally diverse fiction and non-fiction – time to stock up!

    Jacaranda New release Tuesday 3

    19. Boite Luxury makes gift-giving and home storage extraordinary. Whatever goes into one of their boxes becomes even more special.

    Boite box 2

    20. Creative maker Akua Ofosuhene will be running a head scarf and head wrapping workshop, plus selling some of her lovely hand-made crafts

    akua workshop

    21. Betty Vandy, otherwise known as Bettylicious Cooks, an African, Creole and Soul Food chef and blogger will be giving us a Christmas cooking demonstration

    betty workshop

    22. Kids get to make fun and fantastic crafts with the multitalented artist and educator Sarina Mantle

    sarina workshop

    Don’t miss it, we open from 11am to 8 pm at Hanbury Hall, 22 Hanbury Street, London, round the corner from Truman Brewery, Spitalfields market and Brick Lane. Follow us on social: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

    hanbury hall image