Black Panther: Lessons for the Diaspora

 At this point I’m not even sure if there is a need to put any spoiler alerts in this post – we’ve all seen the epicness that is Black Panther by now (if you haven’t on a serious note, look away now).

Since it’s release, Black Panther has initiated a number of conversations about race, culture and identity and I am honestly so here for it. Why? Because amongst all the Twitter rants and threads, thought pieces and articles what we are doing is having conversations amongst ourselves.  I believe engagement amongst Africans and the African diaspora (Afro-Latinos, Caribbeans, African Americans, African Europeans) is so important for our development and with the help of social media, it is becoming more and more of an occurrence. The Black Panther movie is just one of the most powerful catalysts for this type of engagement so far.

The purpose of this post is really just to put my thoughts and feelings on some of the debate I’ve seen online in writing. Overall, I believe the feelings of pride and empowerment in its many forms that the Black Panther movie has brought about are justified, positive and something to be embraced.

African traditional wear as ‘cosplay’

One of the main features of the Black Panther phenomenon has been the wave of African pride, particularly amongst African Americans. This has seen cinema-goers across the globe dawning African traditional wear. Plainly the Black Panther movie has become synonymous with African pride. We’ve all seen the images of cinema-goers doing the absolute MOST – from Dashikis and African drums to Coming to America costumes and Egusi Soup in the cinema (the MOST).

Opinions about this trend have been divisive. On one side many people (Africans in particular) are not impressed and feel the wearing of their traditional cultural wear has been reduced to nothing but ‘cosplay’ and that such trends are similar to the scenes of any other Marvel movie. This is understandable. The narrative around Africa and its cultures have not always been this complimentary. In fact, many first-generation Africans who grew up in the West often recall being bullied for their backgrounds and it is common knowledge that amongst the African diaspora embracing one’s connection to Africa has historically been met with reluctance, to say the least, and even straight up denial of one’s African roots. So for it to take a fictional African country created by Hollywood to ignite one’s pride I can see why this would be problematic…

 

Firstly though, in my opinion, any film with a mostly black cast (and black director) that is not about slavery, struggle or gang violence is something to get hyped about! Representation of the kind displayed in Black Panther is something to get hyped about!  I think this is particularly relevant within the African American context. Living in the world that we do,  every one of us as Africans will continually take a journey of enlightenment about one’s identity and self-worth. It is important that we understand that this journey will be different for everyone depending on the context of one’s environment. It’s great if you are an individual that has held African pride from a young age but this will not be the case for many. For many African American’s, for example, African pride has been ignited recently by racial tensions and issues surrounding police brutality and indeed the Black Panther movie.

Black Panther
Black Panther

Sharing and learning 

My next point is this: if you are truly for the genuine portrayal of your culture and cultural wear, what are you doing to ensure this? I’m of the belief that making Twitter rants about your dislike for traditional wear at Black Panther screenings on its own no matter how valid your opinion is plainly redundant if we are not doing our part in the sharing and creation of positive narratives about our African identities.

I particularly loved this thread by @thediasporicblues on African tribes and cultures featured in Black Panther. That thread has received millions of hits and has been shared across all social media platforms – that’s millions of people possibly learning something new about the nuances of African cultures and traditional wear (I certainly did).

Part of the reason I created this platform was to share knowledge about the continent. After the UK, my largest audience is from the USA. I’d like to think there is an audience of African Americans who read my content and are learning about African cultures and opportunities from the perspective of a British Ghanaian. I think it’s important to make the most of the variety of perspectives and rich culture within the African diaspora which is ripe for sharing and learning. 

Black Panther
Black Panther

Even as first generation Africans with strong ties to our countries and tribes and even villages – what we know and understand about our cultures and the cultures of our fellow Africans is nothing but a drop in the ocean. We have still so much to learn about ourselves and about each other. Therefore who are we to look down on others with limited knowledge?

The evolution of culture 

When I was discussing this debate with a good friend of mine she raised a very interesting point about our use of traditional African wear as young Africans. For example, as second generation Africans living in the UK when we decide to wear ‘traditional’ clothing, we adopt modern and arguably ‘westernised’ styles to fit our dual identities. By the same argument, older Africans could attest that our portrayal of traditional wear is wrong since it does not fit their standard of what traditional wear is.

I think Black panther and particularly Killmonger’s character is a lesson for us all as Africans – our culture is our wealth and keeping that in our pockets only stifles our development and leads to division. #WAKANDAFOREVER

What are your thoughts? Comment below!

Follow:
annettebena

An Interview with Okwu ID

Okwu Ndi Igbo na Ala Beke

(Igbo Diaspora Media)

 

Okwu ID is an independent platform of young Africans, telling their own stories and documenting their culture. Earlier this month I joined Okwu ID for the filming of a panel on sexism within the Igbo culture. On the agenda was:

How much to blame are women for enabling sexism within Igbo culture?

How much do you personally identify with your Mother’s/ Father’s view of manhood/ womanhood?

 Okwu ID lady’s panel 

These hard-hitting questions made for fascinating, passionate and often heated discussion which was amazing to observe from young Africans in London. As a non-Igbo (and non-Nigerian for that matter) learning about the Igbo culture in its own right in the organic form that is presented by Okwu ID has been incredibly interesting. So far it has been valuable to discover the nuances of Igbo culture as well as it’s similarities with my own.

 

My only exposure to the Igbo culture had been from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s depiction of the Igbo language and history in her novels. I also remember listening to a BBC World Service podcast entitled ‘Forgetting Igbo’ which was a fascinating account of one man’s exploration of the Igbo language and the idea that it is effectively ‘dying out’. I feel as though Okwu ID has tied all these themes together in a consistent platform.

 www.okwuid.com

Birthed Out Of Frustration

After the panel, I caught up with brother and sister Chukudubem (Chids) and Chinye, who form the sibling duo that makes up the founding members of Okwu ID. They discussed with me their motivations for creating the platform and what they see its purpose as. Chids who works in psychiatry and Chinye who works in the construction industry both run Okwu ID alongside their day jobs. However, the concept was the birth child of Chinye whose return from studying abroad ignited a frustration with the African community. “I studied and worked abroad for about 6 years and one of the things I learnt (especially in Denmark) was how societies work together to create a cohesive unit, and how having a unified identity and support system could change the face of a nation. When implemented this can allow them to direct their narrative.”

Thinking about her own cultural identity, Chinye realised that this was not a concept that was being applied within African/ Igbo communities worldwide. “When I returned from Denmark I came back to London wanting to know what Africans were doing across the board. I attended various events of different cultural groups trying to figure out what we were doing as a community. And to be honest I was quite disheartened as I felt like there were so many issues in our community that were not being addressed, and that if we do not act to direct our own narrative and to control our self-determination as people, looking into the future – where does the African stand?

Having a good cultural brand is important – it is important what people think of Nigerian people because it affects whether we get visas, our ability to travel and do business it is important that people respect your country and that’s what I learnt from living in a Nordic country. They have a fantastic PR system and we don’t and it affects the everyday lives of Nigerian people inside and outside of the diaspora and back home. Plainly, no matter where you go and whoever you are, you will always be African, so it is important that our image and narrative is a positive one. I think all that frustration just lead to a feeling that we had to do something.

 

Chinnye decided to take matters into her own hands and create her own initiative. But after trying a few things that did not really work especially as she was going it alone she created a poster which called for African creatives to get in touch. This is where her brother, Chids who, with a significant Twitter following and social media presence came in. He shared the poster and it was met with great interest. “We then specified that we needed people to take part in a discussion especially after seeing loads of discussion panels out there. Once we started getting responses from social media we thought ok wow, people are actually responding to this let’s do a pilot and see how it goes.” The pilot went well and after its success, they along with their brother Ike began to build the Okwu ID platform.

 

Okwu ID
Okwu ID
Okwu ID

Chids’ motivations for getting on board were aligned with Chineye’s, “Similar to my sister the project was birthed out of frustration from the lack of access to information and available networks within the Igbo and West African community. I also think Igbo culture can be quite individualistic and hyper-ambitious, so you have a lot of people that are not particularly concerned with group identity.” Chids also has a strong passion for dispelling misinformation about the Igbo culture, “there are a lot of things that you find online about our culture which is plainly incorrect. So part of the reason why we wanted to set up Okwu ID was to express a pro-Igbo and African narrative because we knew there was a lot of misinformation out there and a lot of people narrating the culture in a way that is detrimental to our people in general.

 

The siblings have since created a team behind Okwu ID with their complementary skills sets, “My sister came up with the concept and then it was lightning in a bottle: Chinnye who came up with the initial idea, my brother Ike who is quite tech savvy and myself who has a good network of people and a social media following so together we have consolidated our strengths and it has gone well from the first pilot.

Challenges

Okwu ID is currently a platform encompassing a Youtube Channel and Blogsite as well as the main social media platforms which currently each produce consistent content. This would be no easy feat for any content creator, but particularly for young people juggling full-time careers and education.

One of the main challenges I’ve encountered running Okwu ID is a constant conflict between the desire to do everything – keeping it in-house, within one small team of like-minded individuals, and not ‘burning out’” says Chids. “If all the major decisions are made between 2-3 people including organising and creating content, it’s easy to burn out and effectively create an ‘echo chamber’. In the future, it would be ideal to form a wider network of people who are truly interested so that we can delegate roles and have established roles but at the moment it makes the most sense to keep it in-house as we figure things out.”

Another challenge the siblings have encountered interestingly centres around the nature of the Igbo culture itself, Chinye mentions “an issue we’ve encountered is that certain people feel threatened by what we’re doing and it is quite disappointing as it is something that has plagued our community. Igbo people have historically democratic systems (i.e there are no Kings) and a lot of the cultural narrative is that you are your own King and that individualism can turn negative and can create unnecessary competitiveness. It would be better if we could come together. There is also a strange subculture amongst the older generation of Igbo people that want to keep Igbo culture in their pockets which is completely opposite to the premise of Okwu ID as we are about sharing, teaching and creating a network around our culture.”

Okwu ID on Youtube

 

Learning Points

I asked Chids and Chinnye what they have personally learnt about their own culture and history since launching Okwu ID.

Chids: “Getting an insight into different narratives. When you bring together different people across the Igboland you discover the impact of things beyond your immediate family or network e.g. when we discuss things like religion, patriarchy and gender dynamics I think – wow, these things have affected an entire nation of people in so many different ways

“From observing our analytics it has also been fascinating to see what culturally, people are drawn to i.e. men and women, British and US audiences. We can almost anticipate which subjects are going to resonate with who.”

 

Chinnye: “Learning more about the Biafran war. How it’s trickle-down effect has impacted people like our parents. Additionally, I have learnt more Igbo and since launching Okwu ID my Igbo has improved greatly from often doing infographics and language learning content and simply creating an environment where we can ask questions and practise.

 

There are also many misconceptions about Igbo people, culture and history. To Chinnye one of the most poignant to her is the idea that, “we are all light skinned. This narrative annoys me as often my Igboness is questioned as a dark-skinned Igbo woman” To Chids it is about the history of Nigerian Civil war and the view that “’Biafranism’ (the cessation of Igbo people from the rest of Nigeria to establish their own country) is something to fear.  One of the biggest misconceptions is that Igbo people are causing trouble and antagonising with the country, but Igbo people are just at the forefront of airing their grievances but all the grievances that Igbo people are airing are universal. I do not think there is any ethnic group that is particularly happy with Nigeria. We are speaking for the majority of Nigerians who are unhappy with the system.”

Goals and Takeaways

So what do the siblings hope that it’s audience take away from Okwu ID?

If there is one thing that I would like people who consume our content to know is that we (Igbo people) are African and we have been African since the dawn of humanity. There is another common misconception that we are descendants of Jews but we are not related to any semantic culture and our accomplishments have nothing to do with Palestine/ or Jews. This rhetoric is plainly anti-African.”

Through the Okwu ID platform, the siblings hope to encourage a pro-African narrative, the development of Igbo culture and language and create a network of young African people within the diaspora.

www.okwuid.com

Instagram: @okwuid

Twitter: @okwu_id

Contact

Are you Igbo? What is the most interesting thing about your culture? Okwu ID and I would love to hear from you, comment below!

Follow:
annettebena

The Crypto Craze: An Opportunity for Africa?

Interest and speculation in cryptocurrency have spiked in the last year. Most of us have heard the stories about people making crazy returns on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies or of the growing masses who’ve flocked the markets in an attempt to get a slice of the ‘crypto craze’.

If you’re anything like me you’ve arrived late to the party and the world of cryptocurrencies remains a complex one. Despite being a phenomenon created in the West much of the discussion into its impact has been around it’s potential in emerging economies such as Africa.

I want to look into the opportunities that cryptocurrency could present on the continent and whether despite Bitcoin’s recent market turbulence and talks of an inevitable bursting bubble, cryptocurrency technology could be monumental for Africa’s development.

Firstly though lets’ begin with some very high level and basic definitions:

What is a ‘Cryptocurrency’?

A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that can be used to buy and sell things. However, unlike traditional currencies there are no coins or notes – cryptocurrency exists only online. Transactions made with these digital coins are added to a growing database known as a blockchain – an open ledger that records all transactions.

A defining feature of cryptocurrency is that it is not issued by any central bank or government e.g. The Bank of England is the central bank in the UK. Instead, individuals undertake mining of cryptocurrencies which is the process by which transactions are verified and added to the blockchain.

So theoretically it is immune to government interference or manipulation and you and I can transact directly with one another without a ‘middleman.’ By cutting out the middleman and having an open and secured ledger stored on each user’s computer – this removes fees and potential risk of inefficiencies, manipulation or corruption that comes with having one central repository of our information.

What is ‘Bitcoin’?

The first type of cryptocurrency to enter into the public domain (2009). It is important to note that Bitcoin is just one form of cryptocurrency (although the most popular) that is available in the world at the moment. There are over 100 cryptocurrencies (e.g. LitecoinXRPClubcoinIota etc.)

Cryptocurrencies already have an active presence on the continent with many dedicated African Bitcoin and crypto start-ups, initiatives, and individuals that are building an African cryptocurrency ecosystem and are facilitating the trading and even mining of cryptocurrencies.

There are some very clear opportunities that the development of a cryptocurrency ecosystem on the continent could bring:

Banking the “unbanked” 

If you live in a ‘developed’ economy it is easy to take advantage of your ability to make transactions instantaneously and with little effort, as you make up 50% of the world that have access to bank accounts. For the remaining 50% without the financial infrastructure to participate in traditional banking as most of Sub- Saharan Africa is – technology like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have the ability to bring this remaining 50% into the financial system.

Africa has already demonstrated a technological ‘leapfrogging’ as the adoption of mobile technology and fin-tech solutions have been unprecedented. The success of companies such as M-Pesa, a mobile phone-based money transfer, financing and micro-financing service (which boasts 30 million users in 10 countries) demonstrates just how ripe the market is for technological adoption.

Much like how local fintech companies are creating products and services to plug gaps in the local financial system, cryptocurrency technology has some potential across Africa given the lack of “advanced financial infrastructure,”

Tim Akinbo co-founder of Tanjalo a Nigerian Bitcoin Exchange.

Focusing on one type of financial transaction that plays a major part in local economies on the African continent is remittance which makes up a significant source of finance. In 2015, Africa received an estimated $63 billion in remittances. Companies like Western Union currently cater to the ‘unbanked’  by giving them the ability to receive and transfer money without bank accounts. However such transfers come with expensive fees as a result of currency conversions. Since crypto technology is borderless it has the potential to give many Africans the ability to send and receive money for less.  

 

Opportunities for (intercontinental) trade

Given cryptocurrency technology’s borderless nature, its adoption could be the answer to boosting Africa’s intercontinental trade. It has long been the opinion of economists and other international institutions that for Africa to grow it must trade amongst itself consistently. Since crypto technology eases the movement of money it has the potential to facilitate cross-border trade as it opens up commerce to masses of people without discrimination. Of course physical borders and political will play a part in the ease of trade itself, but cryptocurrency allows for the type of economic flexibility that is essential for facilitating trade across different time zones and regions.

There are already companies such as Nuru Coin that offers a comprehensive Intra-African trading platform complete with its own integrated payment system by way of crypto technology. Once more entrants occupy the market, Africa can begin to build an ecosystem that could facilitate trade between every nation.

Currently it is easier to send money from America to Nigeria than to send money from Nigeria to the Gambia but the technology can power these things,

Timi Ajiboye co-founder of Bitkoin Africa.

 

Democratisation

As mentioned much of the appeal that has been linked to cryptocurrencies has been the fact that it is not a currency issued or controlled by any central government or institution. In fact, the creation of Bitcoin coincided with the 2007/08 financial crises off the back of a very anti-establishment sentiment after the failure of our financial institutions. This is a state that many African citizens, unfortunately, know all too well. It is no coincidence that Zimbabwe’s interest in Bitcoin trade is soaring and at one point was trading at over $13,000 on the Golix (a Zimbabwean cryptocurrency exchange) nearly double the global price. This is because the nation has a long history of failures by central government and dysfunctional currencies leading to hyperinflation.

Similarly in Nigeria, when the government placed controls on access to the US dollar during a financial crunch in 2015, Bitcoin made it much easier for businesses to transfer cash abroad, something that has increased interest in cryptocurrencies in the country ever since.

Essentially, the adoption of cryptocurrency allows citizens to take back control of their finances and in economies that have been stung by their central governments many are willing to try something new and take the risk if it means taking matters into their own hands.

Criticism

Much of the critique that surrounds cryptocurrencies such as regulation (or lack thereof), the facilitation of crime and illiquidity can be applied to its adoption on the African continent. Looking at two possible drawbacks which I believe to be particularly pertinent though is first, the fact that cryptocurrencies can be extremely volatile which could severely limit its use as a currency for the type of transactions we would like to see on the continent i.e. intercontinental trade. Simply because of such price swings, you cannot place a reliable price on goods and this could act as a disincentive to trade in itself.

At the beginning of 2018, Bitcoin suffered a dramatic price plunge and crashed by 40%. Arguably, extensive adoption of a volatile currency in vulnerable economies whose fortunes are already dangerously tied to the value of raw materials has the potential to be really quite dangerous.

Secondly, facilitating the trading of cryptocurrency takes extensive electricity and power.  According to Digiconomist, the mining of bitcoins in 2017 consumed more energy than the average electricity consumed annually by 159 nations – including most African countries! Mining and indeed trading needs huge amounts of data and electricity that plainly most Africans do not currently have access to cheaply. This begs the question as to how local homegrown crypto traders, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts can effectively participate in the global market and facilitate a viable ecosystem.

Plainly, it is still early days for the development of digital currencies and crypto technology on the continent. There are very clear opportunities in the development of a robust cryptocurrency ecosystem made up of indigenous technology, self-taught and intelligent homegrown entrepreneurs. Where the opportunities are clear so too are its risks. It is certainly a market to closely observe on a global scale.

Are you into cryptocurrency? What are your thoughts on their potential on the continent? Comment below

*Please note that the information provided does not in any way constitute investment advice. Remember to do your own research and adopt best practices when investing.
Follow:
annettebena

The Changing Face of Fitness in Africa

The post-festive period usually starts with good intentions and resolutions, new gym memberships or diet plans (guilty!). In fact, around 12% of gym members sign up in January alone according to the Fitness Industry Association with similar #fitjanuary trends seen across the globe. As a result, in developed markets like North America and Europe, the fitness industry makes over $30 billion every year.

Fitness Trends in Africa

It is a popular theory that as a result of a growing ‘middle class’ and increasing urbanisation (people moving from rural areas to cities) similar trends are now being seen across Africa. According to smallstarter.com, the continent is fast becoming a huge demand pool for the fitness industry with yearly memberships surpassing $1000 in countries where per capita GDP is just above $500 – this speaks volumes of the increasing consumer demand for gyms and health clubs in certain parts of the continent.

 @thefitlawyerr

Getting fatter is one side-effect of economic growth. For instance, Sub- Saharan Africa’s most developed nation, South Africa has the highest density of gyms and health clubs on the continent – it is also the plumpest country on the continent with 61% of its people overweight or obese (South African Medical Research Council.) International brands such as Virgin Active have had huge success in the country. It currently boasts 138 Virgin Active clubs in South Africa located in places like high- end suburbs in Cape Town to Townships like Soweto as well as Namibia and Botswana. The international firm is looking to replicate its success in Ghana, Kenya and Zambia with future sites.

Increased access to technology has also been said to have spurred on fitness trends. A qualified trainer, wellness coach and lifestyle consultant, ‘The Fit Lawyer who is based in Lagos agrees, “I think millennials, and technology and the media are responsible for the growth of the fitness industries in countries like South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. African millennials have easier access to the media; we are able to read more about what to do to improve our appearance and health long term, people are keen to do and be better.

 @bestbodybybry

Trends in Nutrition

Aside from gyms and fitness, changing attitudes towards food and nutrition which has been felt globally have not been missed in parts of Africa. There have been an increasing number of millennials at home and within the diaspora who are pushing for healthier diets within their cultural cuisines. 21-year-old Bryanne Hackman, a health and fitness enthusiast and blogger from Ghana shares healthy Ghanaian inspired recipes and fit lifestyle tips on her blog bestbodybybry.com, she says “more and more Africans are looking to create healthier versions of our food as opposed to eating foods that are prescribed by ‘Westerners’ which include ingredients which are difficult to find on our continent. As a result, through my brand, BestBodybyBry, I desire to create healthy versions of Ghanaian food to show people that living healthily is more accessible than they think.

 

@bestbodybybry
@bestbodybybry
@bestbodybybry
@bestbodybybry
 @bestbodybybry Ghanaian inspired healthy meals.

The Fit Lawyer also shares healthy recipes on her blog www.sofiticated.com (see Bodysofit by The Fit Lawyer) and observes that in Lagos “people are keen to learn, people want to keep up with the best practices, people also want convenience; so, for example, www.sofiticated.com does meal plans and to ensure convenience for our clients, we have partnered with another company to do meal prep… I try to encourage clients to have a different motivation asides aesthetics, as once they achieve their physical goals if there is no other reason to keep fit there is a tendency to slack and return back to the starting point.”

Adapting Trends & The Importance of Contextual Relevance 

Although an emerging fitness culture can indeed be observed across Africa, as diverse as the continent is, it is important to note that this will present itself in various forms based on the context of each diverse nation. For instance, whilst swanky gyms and health clubs have manifested as part of Cape Town’s fitness boom, in Accra Bryanne observes that “to the average Ghanaian working out in a gym comes at a high price. Gyms have existed for decades in Ghana however, there are increasingly more people enquiring into and attending the latest workout classes that Ghana has to offer and are jumping on the workout class bandwagon.

 

@thefitlawyerr

In Lagos, The Fit Lawyer has noticed similar trends, “trainers are making an effort to provide clients with diverse products; from dance classes to yoga and CrossFit sessions, and there is something for everyone.” Gyms, however, are something that she has observed to have manifested as part of Lagos’ growing fitness culture; “I have also noticed a trend of gyms springing up on almost every street/area in Lagos Island; the trouble is there are very few differentiating factors. Many people think that having the latest equipment alone is enough to draw in clientele, which is not the case. The lack of differentiation and overpricing of gyms has translated to home service personal training being popular, many people are saving costs by simply training with a personal trainer.”

Opportunities for African Entrepreneurs

For any entrepreneurial fitness enthusiasts, there are clearly exciting opportunities on the continent to make the most of. With great diversity and dynamism comes both opportunity and challenge:

1.Know your market

The needs and desires of your potential clientele will vary from country to country and city to city across the continent. Therefore understanding your market will be key to tapping into its fitness industry. What does the demographic consist of? What is their spending power? Are they well connected with access to social media/ technology?  For instance, the expansion of a fitness chain would require more strategy, networks and capital not so readily available in most countries, not to mention the exclusionary impact of membership fees in many African cities. An independent, mobile service may suit your target market best. In that instance, networks and relationship building will be key. Who do you know? How will you build your brand? Consider social media and networking events to promote your services.

2.Become an expert

Gaining qualifications may give you the credibility you need to attract clients, (especially in cultures where titles are King!). For instance, this year (2018) Bryanne will become a qualified nutritionist and has enrolled in a Nutrition and Weight Management course to better serve her online following and potential clientele; “Becoming a qualified nutritionist will make me better suited to give advice about health and better attend to my followers.”

 @BestBodyByBry

3. Be innovative

The dynamism and sheer diversity of the continent allow for so much creativity and an opportunity to find your niche. The Fit Lawyer has taken her love for fitness and has created three different brands which provide different services; The Fit Lawyer (a personal training company), Sofiticated(The Lifestyle Establishment) and Ikigai (The consulting Service);

“One of the things my company Ikigai does, is optimise gym spaces. Lots of people have great spaces but aren’t putting them to good use. For example, charging yearly memberships of 500, 000 naira immediately excludes a large market of young people who are the prime target market; we highlight this to you. We also then provide you with an optimisation plan which is geared towards helping you differentiate yourself from the rest, taking your gym to greater heights and helping you learn how to maintain those standards.” Ikigai is a great example of creating opportunity from gaps in a young and dynamic industry.

The growing fitness culture in parts of the continent is an exciting one. With still so much room for development with opportunities in the integration of technology and the potential for startups to become household names, it will be great to observe its progress.

Are you a fitness enthusiast? What are your thoughts on the potential of the industry in Africa? Comment below!

Dao Fitness

 

If this post has inspired you to kick start your fitness journey, Dao Fitness who are bringing African prints to fitness is a great start!

One of our goals at Dao fitness is to increase health and fitness in the motherland as well as in the UK”

 I recommend the Monochrome Kente Side Panel Leggings.They’re cute and super comfy…

Get 10% off with code ‘BENA10

Follow:
annettebena

10 African Inspired Christmas Gifts

The holiday season has come around already! If you’re stuck for ideas, I’ve got you covered with a Christmas list packed full of African inspired and African owned brands:

1. For Him

MIA Ldn – AW 17

Broderick Hunter for MIA LDN in the Maureen Fitzsimmons II Collection
MIA LDN’s new AW17 Collection of handmade formal wear from some of Africa’s finest tailors is the perfect gift for guys (and girls) this Christmas. You may remember MIA LDN from my Fashionomics Series – if not, get familiar as they’ve just launched their e-commerce store making it easier to shop their collection and bespoke services.

DSC_3988
DSC_4037
 AW17 Ethel Howard Collection

Shop: www.mialdn.com

Twitter: @mialdnapparel

Instagram: @mialdnapparel

Facebook: mialdnapparel

 

2. For Her

Kuba Wraps – A/W 2017

Another brand featured in my Fashionmics SeriesKuba UK a line of authentic handmade African head wraps and accessories, has just released some stunning pieces for Autumn/ Winter. Accompany one of Kuba’s satin lined (fro- friendly!), head wraps with a matching choker for her perfect gift.

3. Jewellery

Lonam Jewellery 

The Guardian pendant uses the Mmusuyidee Adinkra symbol and represents good luck/removal of bad luck.

A gift with meaning – Lonam’s collection is full of stunning sterling silver and 14ct Gold pieces adorned with Adinkra Symbols (visual symbols that represent concepts or aphorisms created by the Ashanti tribe of Ghana).

With such an extensive range (including bangles, pendants and wedding bands) and something for both men and women, you’re bound to find the right gift at Lonam.

The word Lonam means ‘Love Me’ in my father’s language, the West African language of Ewe (Eh-way) which is largely spoken by a tribe in the Volta region of Ghana. We specialise in traditional West African silver and gold jewellery with a strong Ghanaian influence and a modern twist. Our designs are both symbolic and meaningful using the Adinkra symbols created by the Ashanti tribe which aim to inspire the wearer with their spiritual concepts and simple truths.

Aisha, Founder – Lonam Jewellery.

*Get E-gift vouchers from £10

IMG_0441
IMG_0442

 Me in the ‘Starlight’ earrings and ‘Signature’ and ‘Hero‘ rings

Shop: www.lonam.co.uk

Twitter: @lonamjewllery

Instagram: @lonamjewllery

Facebook: lonamjewllery

 

4. Prints & art:

  Bonita Ivie Prints 

Bonita Ivie Prints are a gift and stationery brand that celebrates West African culture with the use of bold illustration and prints. These designs were born from the designer, Bonita Ebuehi’s dissatisfaction with the lack of ethnic influence in high street gift card and stationery stores.

Bonita is passionate about creating products that people of colour can easily identify with, to make both celebratory and everyday moments special. Add a personalised touch to your Christmas greetings cards and stocking fillers with Bonita Ivie!

*Get 20% off with your Jamii Card!

Shop: www.bonitaivieprints.etsy.com

Twitter: @ bonita_ivie

Instagram: @ bonitaivieprints

Facebook: @ bonitaivieprints

 

5.For Foodies

Hibiscus by Lopè Ariyo

www.lopeariyo.com

 

From okra and mango salad to hibiscus and sumac prawns – Hibiscus by Lope Ariyo shares a fusion of Nigerian and British recipes perfect for the adventurous foodie. I had the pleasure of tasting some of Lope’s hibiscus drizzle puff puff earlier this year at the Africa @ Spitalfields Market in London and loved every bite – this cookbook comes highly recommended!

Shop here.

                       

6.For the Bookworm

What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

Photo credit: @africanbookaddict 

For the book lovers, there is a wealth of African literature that

would make the perfect addition to someone’s collection. I reached out to my favourite African lit blogs: Afreada and African Book Addict for a recommendation this season, who unanimously selected Lesley Arimah’s short story collection:

The one book I’d recommend would have to be What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah. It’s a collection of stories that are like nothing you’ve ever read before, and nothing you’ll ever read again. It’s breathtaking and brilliant. The stories are short and sharp and witty, and it’s an illustration of the best that African Lit has to offer. I couldn’t recommend it any higher.”

Nancy Admimora Founding Editor Afreada

Grab your copy here

Follow @Afreada and @Africanbookaddict for more African lit recommendations and reviews!

7. Beauty 

Tsaka Beauty

Tsaka (saaa-KA)

(noun)

Happiness (Ronga dialect, Mozambique)

Tsaka Beauty is a hair care brand with African roots. I love the story behind this brand where it’s founder Celmira Amada remembers admiring her Grandmother’s beautiful long hair and learning her secrets. Now she endeavours to share her grandmother’s African plant-based hair care recipes through Tsaka Beauty. This is a gift suitable for all hair types (afro, curly and tex-laxed) and one for the natural beauty lover as its vegan-friendly and sulfate free!

We use carefully selected plant ingredients blended to unlock the rich nutrients of the African flora. Our hair care routine is part of a traditional beauty ritual, handed down from my grandmother.”

8.For the kids

Nana Dolls 

Remember the days you would search for hours on the net or in store for a black doll (often with no luck)? Yeah, me too. Luckily, Nana Dolls have got us covered now and not only provide beautiful black dolls but beautiful black dolls with afros and stunning Ankara & Kente print outfits. If that wasn’t enough each doll tells the story of a powerful woman in African history. I would have loved a Nana Doll as a little girl, but thankfully we’ve got the chance to gift our little-loved ones today! 

“On a recent trip to Ghana, we visited Cape coast Elmina castle. The stories we heard about slavery and the brave women who fought for black freedom really touched us. We felt it is very important for us to remember and also educate our children and future generations about these powerful women in history. It was this trip that inspired us to create Nana dolls. “

 

A doll for my doll – I picked up the Nana Nehanda doll for my little cousin at Notting Hill Carnival this summer.

*Gift wrapping services available

9. For the party

Grass-fields

Holiday season = party season! If you’re looking to enter the office/ Christmas/ New Years party in African style Grass-fields is the place. I absolutely love this brand for its variety, style and quality. Grass-fields also have a team making clothes in Cameroon, who are paid 3x the average salary! As well as Cameroon fabrics are sourced from Nigeria and Benin. With something for men, women, plus size and kids, Grass-fields is the place to find your festive outfits.

10. Something to do 

Africa Centre – African Christmas Market 

 Add some African sparkle to your Christmas shopping this year!

The Africa Centre presents The African Christmas Market on Great Suffolk Street Southwark, London, from Friday 8th to Sunday 10th December 2017.

The African Christmas Market will feature an incredible seasonal offering of African and Caribbean food, craft, fashion and jewellery stalls; gospel choirs; a special Santa’s Grotto and kids’ activities; Christmas lights; warming drinks and seasonal surprises. It’s free! – go along and share the Christmas spirit, African style!

Register here

Can you recommend any other African inspired gifts? Comment below

Have a good Christmas
x

Follow:
annettebena