Africa Utopia is Here!

So for the second time, the Southbank Centre is hosting Africa Utopia, which explores the many dynamic and creative cultural elements of Afrika and its affects on the world.

The first thing when I encountered the food market is the sounds of the vibrant, bold beats of African music and the sumptious smells of Caribbean, Ghanaian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, South African and Kenyan food. Oh my gosh.


As I drift away from the outside market and navigate towards the Royal Festival Hall (where the inside events take place), I see lots of beautiful accessories and clothes with glamourous prints. Yellow, orange, wood, metal, cottons, rayons, the chitter-chatter of negoatiations and the bored looks of the chidren helping out their mamas on the stall.

Finding something to observe or participate in is not hard as there are so many events and opportunities. Take for example ‘Meet [the Author] Chibundu Onuzo’. At 25 years old, with two books under her belt (The spiderking’s Daughter and Welcome to Lagos – which is coming out soon!), a coloumnist for The Guradian and overall diva, she has a  young yet impressive quality about her! She was very quick with her back-handers and wit which made us all laugh.

This is her response when asked about her political stance as a hypothetical Nigerian politician: “Am I here to talk about my political ambitions or about my book!” I get you Chibundu. It’s not the one for me either. Despite that, she did answer well referring to education, female sanitation and the high levels of youth unemployement and crime.

In terms of fashion, my partner and I discovered a great talk about lookng beyond African prints in the fashion industry, as it can stereotype some African fashion designers! Unfortunately, we got hungry so we ate and missed the catwalk that was after.

The last day of the festival is tomorrow, Sunday 4th September. If you haven’t been before, or you like African culture and want to explore, please go! Visit the Southbank Centre’s website which will tell you the schedule if you’re pressed for time.

Enjoy!

M x

 

 

 

Look beyond the label.

Labels are everywhere, right? You have Gucci, you have Autistic, you have Terrorist, Millionaire, Gluten-Free, Smart, Tourist, Organic, Quiet, the list goes on. How positive and how useful are labels though? We have them in society for convenience of categorisation. It’s easier to classify someone or something as a label as it seeks to identify and associate an idea or a schema to that label. But I find it so damaging. 

You have White, Black, Asian, Latina, Poor, Rich. And you have a lot of stereotypes. 

This really annoys me. 

It annoys me because people are lazy or perhaps don’t have the time to look beyond the label to see who or what it is that they are dealing with.

Black: We all associate the term Black with negativity. And the ‘black race’ (i.e. people of African descent) with negativity. At least refer to people as Brown. That would be more logical. And it’s even more odd when people assume that I must be mixed race because I don’t look ‘black black’. What’s that even supposed to mean? “Oh right, you’re not in the ‘Black’ club so I’m not going to respect your ancestors?” It’s an issue that many people of Ethiopian and Eritrean descent face including me, as we have features very much similar to that of Arabs or European. 

Ethiopia geographically and genetically is at the birthplace of the Homosapien whether people care to recognise or appreciate it, or not. We are about as ‘black’ as you can get – if you were to refer to that scale. As a continent, Africa is the most genetically diverse in the entire world and Africa is pretty huge. People forget. It’s bound to be genetically diverse. What people are really referring to when they mean ‘black’ is people from west African societies as there are probably more descents of West African/Bantu origin outside of Africa then the other ethnic societies in Africa ( although Ethiopians are everywhere, especially in Washington D.C.). And don’t get me started on those Ethnicity Monitoring Forms which get you to label yourself into a nice little box. For me, ‘Black British African’ or sometimes I don’t even state it. 

Labels are damaging and it needs to stop or at least people need to look beyond the label  a bit more. That goes the same for clothing labels. Kanye loves him some Louis V. and they sure love his money and advertising! I personally don’t always buy into labels, both economically and psychologically. I’m not going to spend £2,000 on a designer handbag just because it’s popular or a status of wealth. Especially if I know I’ve got bills to pay and food to buy. I’ll buy a handbag because it looks cute and is functional and I actually like it for what it is. Not the label.

Welcome & Selamta!

At a local small town restaurant in Lallibela, Ethiopia. Lovely vibes.

If you’re reading this then thank you for visiting firstly! I think it’s about time I started a blog since i’ve just started my new Youtube channel of the same name!

Anyone who is habesha (that’s anyone who is Ethiopian or Eritrean) might guess from my title that, yes, I am habesha too! My mum is from Eritrea and my dad from Ethiopia. Me, I’m a born-and-raised Londoner, but that doesn’t stop me from questioning my identities now and again in terms of how I fit in this society that I live in, as well as other things….like being….akward…. lol. It’s harrddd.

So that’s why I will be sharing my passions, my views as a brown 20something female with Afrikan roots.

I’d love to know more about you too, hopefully you can share your thoughts too on topics like society, Afrikan culture, addressing the big questions…oh and what cartoons were the illest when I was growing up back in the late eighties/nighties (go ninja turtles!) and also what star sign you are (go pisces!)

Ciao! Ahmesegenalow! (That’s thank you in Amharic)