Flower child is a narrative based on a flower that can grow beneath the concrete and still manage to blossom through the surface. The individuals that are never broken down from upbringing and lifestyle situations. Individuals that walk out on the streets and manage to give joy and happiness to others even with the odds stacked against them. The corners of our four rooms have enabled the vibrations of life to shine through our dimmed windows and our two plates have fed a generation that stomach the lifespan of what it means to live beyond your means. How we grant the ability to water our living nature with nothing but positive attributes to those that believe in a better tomorrow.
Life is a circle of energy, it rotates between those who attract the frequency it provides. A flower child will soon realise that happiness is not embodied around material confinement but courage and strength to understand and accept that being true to self has greater success, and that alone is the biggest accomplishment. Kasi Vogue, a generational influence movement to a society of self awareness, belonging and the everyday shift of universal contributions to a community of love and solidarity.
The longevity of our existence is measured by the ability to identify the wealth we inhabit within our roots. In that note we will then begin to undergo a beautiful transition of self empowerment and empowerment of others. The race doesn’t become a spirit but a marathon to a world filled with opportunities of enlightenment for a better tomorrow for us all.
PHOTOGRAPHER : @thato_director_p
CD : @warren_meko & @prince_okem @shoster_dresscode
FASHION STYLISTS : @warren_meko & @prince_okem
WARDROBE BY : @dresscodexxl
MODELS : @warren_meko & @prince_okem
HAIRSTYLIST : @urban_mimz
MAKE UP ARTIST : @bassie_makeupartist
LIGHTING ASSISTANTS : @stdhedpic & @sisterbozza
ACCESSORIES : @sisterbozza
A cinematic portmanteau paying homage to the culture, identity, and digital creativity of a global Africa.
Welcome to the first stop on our cross-continental tour exploring how the internet has enabled filmmakers from the African diaspora to trade visual motifs and styles—giving rise to a bold, black, and globally influential aesthetic. Curtis Essel is a British-Ghanaian filmmaker whose creative agency lies in pedagogy, drawing on his personal experiences to educate audiences on inclusive and diverse narratives.
Allumuah was selected for the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival and was announced as the winner of the Vimeo Best of the Year Award (Experimental). Its instant success and beauty lie in its mix of digital imaginings, spoken parables, and vivid scenes shot across Ghana’s capital. Intergenerational storytelling, the theme of this project, is a time-honored form of knowledge-sharing across Africa, where pearls of wisdom are used to instruct younger generations.
Not only does this film honor Essel’s grandmother, who went by the name Allumuah and was an admired storyteller, but it also honors the lineage of African artists who have gone before the director.
Allumuah is a cinematic portmanteau, blending the thinking of Ekow Eshun’s 2002 book “Black Gold of the Sun,” the aesthetics of filmmakers John Akomfrah and Ngozi Onwurah’s The Last Angel of History (1996) and Welcome II the Terrordome (1995), and pulls frames from renowned photographers Felicia Abban, Samuel Fosso, and Malick Sidibé. “Simply put,” says Essel, “Allumuah is a love letter to all Africans around the globe, championing the idea of unity for Africa’s dignity, progress, and prosperity.”
Read on for an interview with the director…
What impact did reading “Black Gold of the Sun” have on you as an artist?
An extremely profound one, especially when it comes to understanding the politics of identity. “Black Gold of the Sun” allowed me to introspectively examine some of the subconscious ways people of the African diaspora act. The book allowed me to understand my position and how I’d leverage it within communities in England and Ghana.
I went to Ghana for the first time as an adult in 2018 and, in hindsight, it was nearly impossible not to embody some Western conceptions of cultural hierarchy. I’d subtly exert more authority by putting on my “Britishness” to negotiate better results for myself. I grew up in England and claimed to be Ghanaian, which is ironic because I wasn’t well versed in the culture or the language. When I was in Ghana, I removed this identity in order to thrive. It wasn’t a conscious effort but symptomatic of systematic colonialism embedded within the community.
What place do local proverbs have in the international communities of today?
I feel as though proverbs have more of an impact on the diaspora as a binding tool for connecting us back to home. My parents would often throw proverbs at me, sometimes using contexts that I wasn’t familiar with but made more sense when I got to Ghana.
Just how a picture can paint a thousand words, so too can an adage that can affect how one perceives the world. It is a beautiful tradition that has to be protected and needs to be passed down the generations.
What did your No Direct Flight collaborator bring to the project?
Kojo Ampo’s (Motion Designer based in Ghana) animations were a perfect fit with this project. Kojo and I discussed my academic background as a Mathematics & Finance graduate and felt it was important to infuse this somehow. So, we used Dutch graphic artist MC Escher’s designs as a reference for many of the animations as well as the concept of duality which is prevalent throughout the film.
Kojo’s designs were used as a form of transportation, taking the audience on a journey into another realm as we explore and celebrate the different themes touched on in the film.
How does one go about creating a film that is subconsciously, if not universally, understood by Africans and the diaspora?
The initial idea was to respond to the brief and create a project that would be received well by a wide audience. However, as the film developed, it became more personal. As much as it’s a love letter to Africa, I wanted to make sure that it spoke to all people who experience similar feelings of duality in their lives.
I brought on board my friend Dami Khadijah who has always been a gifted wordsmith, known for speaking in parables to convey her message during conversations. She always wanted to do a project where the entire visual film was spoken and based around African proverbs. The use of non-English narration was intentional so it was clear who our message was for.
In your utopia, what does the future of cinema look like?
Although cinema provides escapism, entertainment, and information, I believe it needs to play a more active role in the communities it sheds a light on. That is why I am currently working on producing progressive, safe spaces in Sub-Saharan Africa where they can develop their understanding of identity through creative, fun, and purposeful programs.
So, as well as producing films that tackle complex subject matters, I intend to continuously strive toward building spaces where this utopia can come about.
MANAGING EDITOR : GAVIN HUMPHRIES @NOWNESS
VIDEO COMMISIONER : KATIE METCALFE @NOWNESS
THE BRITISH COUNCIL
PRODUCTION COMPANY : 33 BOUND
PRODUCER : Kobby Parker
CINEMATOGRAPHY : Kofi Asante
1st AC: Kwame Acheampong
MOTION DESIGNER : Kojo Ampo
STYLIST : PC Williams
SCORE : Tariq Disu
DESIGN : Axel Kacoutié
COSTUME DESIGNER : Muntari Massawudu
HAIR STYLIST : Keren B
MAKE-UP ARTISTS : Gifty Enyinful & Nafisa Abdul-Aziz
GRADE : Karol Cybulski
WORDS : Dami Khadijah
On a well-ventilated patio, surrounded by lush vegetation and totem animals, we got to sit down with Hussein Suleiman, one of the three founders of the Amsterdam based, pan-African, world-wide brand DAILY PAPER, to get under his skin about guidance from the ancestors, African creativity and the way forward.
How did the three of you founders meet?
Jefferson and I were in the same year at university back in 2012. We didn’t know each other at the time and studied completely different things, so it was out in the Amsterdam nightlife that we eventually got talking and realized that we were living in the same area of town. That was where our friendship started and about two years later I got introduced to Abderrahmane, our third founder, who had been a friend of Jefferson’s for many years already.
What do you have in common, what made you connect?
We were all living in West Amsterdam, were the children of first or second-generation immigrants and had our roots in Africa. We also weirdly realized that all three of us knew more about European history than the history of the African countries that our heritage stemmed from.
What is West Amsterdam like?
It’s very multicultural with diverse nationalities. The majority is from North Africa, but you also find a lot of West African people living there, along with people from the other Dutch colonies such as Suriname and Indonesia. I feel grateful for having had the opportunity to grow up in Amsterdam and the opportunities that it came with, but at the same time – still to this day and possibly for generations to come – a lot of prejudice exists. My parents recently retired and as all of us kids are grown up and independent, they decided to move back to Somalia.
How did you get to the idea of starting Daily Paper?
Daily Paper was created as a vehicle to learn more about ourselves, our roots – where we come from. In the beginning it was really about us searching for ourselves, looking into the history of our heritage and translate that into contemporary menswear, but since then, we have also had the opportunity to visit other African countries and discover stories beyond our direct lineage. We like to look into parallels of what is going on in the world and how our ancestors used to deal with similar issues. You know, there’s just so much wisdom in Africa that never got to us – so many beautiful stories and ways of thinking and connecting to yourself.
Was it a hustle getting the business working?
Well first and foremost, we never really approached it as a business. It wasn’t about becoming big and making a lot of money. We used more of a freestyle approach, “If it works it works”. I was still in second year of university when we dropped our first collection and it didn’t exactly sell. The minimum order for producing our t-shirts in bulk was about 1,500 shirts and in the first month we only sold about 80 of those. Sitting in a student apartment looking at boxes all day trying to figure out how to move the stock, we eventually gave a lot of it away in hope of getting the word out about our brand. But we didn’t quit, we just kept on going. Every season we tried something new, something different and just by doing that, our name grew, and money started coming in from retailers who wanted to sell our products. They loved our campaigns, loved the clothes and eventually we were starting to form a community of people who loved our message.
Apart from telling the African stories, how are you more directly involved in supporting African creativity?
We shot our first campaign on the continent in 2014, in Morocco, and since that moment we made it part of our practice to go to the place in Africa that inspired the collection. This year we went to Ghana and we are super happy about how the campaign turned out. We have also shot in Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as in Nigeria. For us, this is our way to support amazing local African creatives. We tried to produce some of our garments in South Africa, unfortunately it turned out to be too challenging with meeting timelines, but who knows what potential the future holds. We are also looking at ways of connecting to the African youth and help them channel their creativity. Jefferson is currently in Ghana, where he is from, doing research, so depending on what he comes back with we may start a project there soon.
How have you found yourselves adapting to the times of the pandemic?
From a personal perspective, I think fashion in general was moving at a very high speed. It felt like it was fashion week every week and I think it’s almost like a blessing in disguise for many brands that everything has slowed down now. In terms of adapting as a brand, we have definitely found ourselves investing more in digital content and finding more innovative ways of connecting to our customers directly through our platforms.
Did the slowing down and adapting also filter through to thinking and acting more sustainably?
Sustainability has been an integral part of our business for the last four years and is something that we place a lot of importance on. We’re a young company with the majority of our employees being under 30, so it’s something that comes naturally to us. We constantly ask ourselves what we can do differently and that’s something that stems from within the company rather than from external pressure.
To make a bit of Daily Paper yours, bring yourself over to the pop-up store @177 Oxford Rd, Rosebank in Johannesburg before the 31st of March 2021, or visit their online store here.
Style meets structure.
Graphic shapes create synergy with bold linear prints and colours of this Collection.
The Super African Acrobats joined forces eight years ago after leaving Tanzania, and moving to South Africa in search of a better life. Their group has now grown to six members. These skilled artists are self taught. They choreograph and train during the week, and weekends find them busking, as it is their sole source of income. They perform with perfect precision, combining acrobatic gymnastics with somersaulting and hand balancing, forming perfect human pyramids and figure formations.
Fashion is emotion and with every garment or textile I design, I remember my story. I become that hopeful little boy all over again. I remember that strength comes from pain, that joy comes from sorrow, and each cut, each color, shape and elements used in designing our textiles and garments carry the energy and strength of those who I come from. My ancestors – the pillars of my Africanness, my strength and whose DNA and blood runs through my veins. Their Identity, stories, values are the DNA that is in each textile and garment that I design. I am one of the chosen ones to carry the torch that shines upon every African child – MASAMARA
THE NOW, THE NEW, THE NEXT
What a strange year 2020 has turned out to be, right?
But “unprecedented” times really force you into evaluating what’s actually important and what’s actually just static. Here at Africa is Now, we took pause to think about what elixir is needed in times like these.
Our view? In a world that is constantly in flux and a society that constructs power structures as a way to control life’s natural chaos, the most powerful magical spell is unashamed, unabashed authenticity to self. It’s these authentic souls that will define the 21st century’s roaring twenties.
This world has outlawed (often literally but more often and more ominously socially too) the individual’s right to live their truth. It is in this world that the bold bravery of authentic living breathes life into the now, the new, the next.
In this spirit, we set about collaborating with some in the Mother City’s LGBTQIA+ community, providing a platform for a conversation about the commitment to oneself.
Championed by our magazine Creative Director, Chrisna de Bruyn, with styling, casting and curation by Gregory Russill, Cape Town based creative consultant, OUTLAWS is that conversation.
In partnership with WeAre_Creative, a local production company, and photographer Michael Oliver Love, we’re proud to release OUTLAWS, featuring Music Direction by the beloved artist Queezy and Movement Direction by the much-loved performer Chester Martinez – both also prominently star in the piece, alongside proudly queer models Michelle Drake, Fernando Denté, Ramsey Lewis, Jeremy Pelser, Olivia Sang and Chad-lee van Wyk.
It’s a celebration of authenticity that demands you stand up and take notice. In the now immortal words of ‘Pose’ star and LGBTIQIA+ activist, Dominique Jackson: we “will never, ever ask any of you for respect – [we] will demand it!”
To those who live their truth, we see you and we respect you.
To those who look down at anyone living their life, we can no longer see you – you belong to yesterday. Today belongs the outlaws – the now, the new, the next!
PHOTOGRAPHER: MICHAEL OLIVER LOVE @HERO
STYLIST & ART & CAST DIRECTION: GREGORY RUSSILL
ASSITANT: WESLEY JVR
WRITTEN BY KYLE BXSHXFF
SOUNDTRACK BY QUEEZY
PRODUCED BY AFRICA IS NOW MAGAZINE
MAKEUP SPONSORED BY MAC COSMETICS AFRICA
MAKEUP ARTISTS: GARETH COLEMAN & MICHELLE-LEE COLLINS
MODELS: QUEEZY, CHESTER MARTINEZ , FERNANDO DENTE @MYFRIENDNED, JEREMY @BOSSMODELS, OLIVIA SANG @BOSS , MICHELLE DRAKE @MYFRIENDNED, CHAD-LEE VAN WYK @TWENTYMODELMANAGEMENT
FASHION DESIGNERS: LARA KLAWIKOWSKI, THEBE MAGUGU @MERCHANTSONLONG, GAVIN RAJAH, CHULAAP @MERCHANTSONLONG, W35T, CRYSTAL BIRCH, GITHAN COOPOO @AKJP, LILY LABEL, PINA JEWELRY @AKJP
LOCATION: INFINITY STUDIOS
FILM BY: DILLON BUIRSKI & CHRISNA DE BRUYN & GREGORY RUSSILL
DOP: PATRICK QUINN SPILSBURY @WEARE_CREATIVE
STEADY CAMERA OPERATOR: RICHARD BELLON
1ST AC: THAAKIR ACKERMANN
2ND AC: NICOLAS SPILSBURY
PRODUCTION: CALVIN SHUSHU @WEARE_CREATIVE
ANJA MARAIS @WEARE_CREATIVE
EDITOR: LUKA SCOTT @WEARE_CREATIVE
GAFFER: JOHN MUREYMI
SPARK: JOHN NDAKAKMA
SOUND TECHNICIAN: NICK RUHOFF
AIN: Let’s start with an easy one: who is Tamara?
Laughing: That’s the hardest question of all!
Let’s start with hi. I’m Tamara Moeng: I love to create and tap into expression through various avenues, like modelling and dancing. It’s hard for me to box myself up into only one thing.
I’ve recently started to really enjoy being behind the camera, for example through styling. Besides co-directing shoots with friends, I’ve also been fortunate enough to assist and learn from a few fashion directors and designers, who’ve really opened their arms to me in encouragement and support.
I’m really excited to see where I can take myself with this – more importantly, I’m excited to keep growing. The goal is to produce work that I can fully stand behind – like with real representation for young people, like myself, who are part of a ‘sociological minority’. And to sustain myself through creating, of course!
AIN: So Tamara, how’s your ‘house arrest’ going?
Lockdown has been… interesting, for lack of a better word. I’m currently with my mom at home, while my dad takes care of a plot we’re invested in. If anything, it’s been a pleasant adventure with my mom – we’re have many chats that I didn’t’ think I’d ever be able to actually have with her.
I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen cooking – and snacking! I’m even pretty sure I’ve mastered how to make the perfect crêpe, I admit.
But, Lockdown hasn’t been all rainbows and sunshine. On top of the constant anxiety, I’ve been forced to really spend a lot of time with myself – I haven’t done that in a minute, so you can imagine the kind of spiralling that leads to.
AIN: Productivity or pause, during this pandemic?
I haven’t been productive whatsoever. Sometimes I feel really bad about it – but then, I just come to terms with the fact that it’s okay to feel whatever I’m feeling. If anything, this will probably be the only actual ‘down-time’ I’m going to have for a while, so I’m soaking it up. I’m also really trying to avoid my phone as much as possible. I’ve even turned the internet off most of my apps.
AIN: How are you staying sane, while staying home?
Colouring in! I don’t think I’d still be sane without it. It keeps all my anxiety at bay and helps to pass the time. I’ve also been doing a little bit of yoga and a workout, most mornings. But, I think the cute vide calls with my friends is at the top of the list!
AIN: It can feel awfully tough to get creative with all that’s going on. How do you keep creativity alive in the time of COVID-19?
Staying creative has been very difficult but, I’ve been tapping into a bunch of new music, which usually sparks my creative process. I’m also watching all the movies and series that I never had time to watch, which has been a great source of inspiration.
I also recently found myself writing down random thoughts. I don’t want to call it journaling, because it’s far too sporadic and incoherent for that. Laughing.
AIN: What are you looking forward to after lockdown?
Seeing my homies and giving them the biggest hugs ever – if hugs will be allowed “oop”. I can’t wait to sit at a table with loved ones and share a meal. After that, I can’t wait to collaborate and create.
AIN: Describe your lockdown-look: is it all sweats or are you still getting dressed, with nowhere to go?
It’s been sweats and sweaters, all the way! I’m pretty sure that hoodies are the uniform of Lockdown. Laughing. I saw a tweet that said, ‘I think my shoes think I have died’ and I couldn’t relate more. I specifically wore corduroy and a pair of sneakers when I went out for groceries for the first time in 4 weeks, just so I could feel the closest thing to ‘normal’.
AIN: What do you think we can all learn during this time? Should we go straight back to business as usual – or are there ways that we can evolve from this?
I think that working spaces are going to change, because this pandemic has made us realise that some methods are just not very efficient. Personally, I’m definitely going to appreciate experiences and interactions way, way more – really live in the moment, you know? Hopefully, we’ll all be inclined to make this change.
Style is a form of self-expression to me which articulates my inner thoughts. Editorial fashion is all about breaking boundaries and finding the highest pinnacle of telling your story, which is something I’m totally in love with, Soft touches, attention to detail and a bit of feminism is how I love to tell my Narrative. I prefer the high end dramatised fashion but not losing focus on the perfection of the garment, also having my own fashion studio I’m able to create looks and take my time to perfect every creation until I’m satisfied. I’m also blessed with having a brother that is as creative so that helps drastically because two heads are always better then one.
I channel my style through feelings, surroundings and adding a bit of personality to the pot for the perfect recipe. Styling is more than just putting clothes together; you need to develop an inner relationship with one-self and be able to express all those wild thoughts, feelings and imagination to life. I personally have a simple dresscode, you will never see me in any colour besides black but my work is totally opposite. I like to merge when it comes to styling, dramatic garments and loud colours, I’d describe my work as bold but understated, not too much but not to simple, I put the right balance to catch the eye. I have a very feminine dresscode style and I display that in my work, from accessories to garments. Like Kenzo Takada would say “Fashion is like food, you shouldn’t stick to the same menu “ you should always test the waters, always push the work to the edge, the best part about fashion is that your thoughts can never be wrong, if its right for you then go ahead with it. We’re not here to follow trends we are here to create the new and that’s why I love fashion and styling, I get to express how I feel through others. Expressing my art without even saying a word. Fashion is a language we all understand, fashion is my confidence, fashion is my life as well as my imperfections which makes my fashion perfect.
Kasi Vogue which means the prevailing fashion or style at a particular time in the township, and is soon to be one of the biggest movements of our century, where we provide a platform to tell our stories of where we come from using fashion and creative direction, we’ve learned alot from growing up on the streets. This concept fashion series will focus on the merge of modern photography and fashion infused together to explore a dynamic spectrum of idealism and identity of the culture the township has inherited through its people.
This journey will unfold the out-layers and the foundation cemented by the creatives that come before us, that have paved the way for us to nurture the skill and provoke awareness about the tales that lay within the soil and the grounds that we walk on. The narrative of our story is told through the focus of our lenses that capture the raw contrast that navigates through environmental barriers that have allowed fashion to dominate as a source of self-expression.
Often and most of the time we hear about the notorious lifestyle about the township which changes our views, perspective and judgement about the life that is lead in South African townships, this is what happens when we allow the outside world to narrate our stories. Kasi Vogue is a personal journey that has manifested drastically over the years, but now has come to life merely because we believe that we have a lot to share. We express the voices that echo through our subconscious, the feeling that invades our bodies with suspense and the irresistible urge to create that pounds through our hearts.
The mist of the dust that blinds us to the truth that is left untold, is exactly what we are meant to incorporate in our tales to highlight the fundamental structure of the history and the background of township creativity. This journey not only represents us but also the people that lack the ability to express themselves because of financial barriers and the poverty. We try to eradicate this by providing a voice and telling the stories of all our people oppressed by physiological and the mental mindset, being judged for being different. We aim to eliminate the fear that has us drowning in our own thoughts, and evoking us from reaching our full potential. Kasi Vogue is for the people.
Seeing young black people come together to occupy space unapologetically is exactly what keeps me going to Afropunk.
On its third festival in 2019, Afropunk Joburg has finally found its footing as a great way to close off your year and to welcome the New Year. I’ve attended all the Afropunk festivals since its initiation in 2017 and with each iteration, Afropunk keeps getting better and better.
Perhaps what sets the 2019 festival apart from previous years began with the uncharacteristic lack of summer thundershowers, allowing our outfits to stay intact from day into the night, and especially for Afropunk, this is a blessing as the fashion is always the gift that keeps on giving. The festival became has become more organised with the use of the Howler cashless payment platform, which they continued on to this year, and also was more considerate by offering rain ponchos so that rain or shine, the party could keep going.
HBO’s hit show Euphoria clearly inspired the makeup looks, with everyone dazzling, shimmering and shining with their jewel and glitter accents. If you didn’t already come with the Euphoria style, the beauticians at the Hair and Beauty village tent applied some jewels to enhance your look. Bold statement headdresses, hats and hairstyles dominated the fashion choices, with references to Lil Nas X, and Moonchild Sanelly faux locs and Sho Madjozi braids had attendees stepping out in bold colours.
Although Burna Boy pulled out just before the festival, the line-up still delivered excellent performances from local talent to bands from the diaspora. The Doberman Boys came through with the classic punk rock sound. Umlilo captured my attention with their invigorating Afro-pop songs and exquisitely styled performance outfit. I’ve never been much of a Masego listener, but after watching his Afropunk performance, I just might be a fan. His stage presence was infectious, you catch on to his sense of joy – live performance is clearly his strong suit. Masego daringly composed some new song mixes on the fly with us, a very impressive feat.
For the first time, Afropunk Joburg completely sold out on the 31st and the main pull was Solange, the headliner for New Year’s Day. With a minimalist stage set and carefully composed choreography, Solange delivered a solid, gripping one hour and a half set to usher in the new year.
Throwing a little shade, Solange advised that “practice empathy” as we enter into 2020 because some of us were calling into question the legitimacy of her illness when she had to bow out. Solange, due to medical reasons, was unable to perform at the debut festival in 2017 and she was definitely worth the wait.
With the success of the 2019 festival, it’s clear that Afropunk has solidified its roots as a pro-black scene for the fashion conscious. I will definitely find myself at the next one; maybe Lizzo can headline next time?
Upon returning to his hometown after several years, Ivorian filmmaker and photographer Christian Goue felt an uncertain sense of belonging which would be familiar to most African expatriates returning ‘home’. Being an expatriate can be an amazing experience or the hardest one and returning home is usually going from being immersed in one culture to being in another. We rely on our memories to be our guide in what now seems to be a very ‘small’ place. Christian beautifully captures his complex nostalgia in his short film, BETWEEN LANDS. AFRICA IS NOW spoke to Christian regarding his upbringing, childhood memories and his new film.
Tell us a bit about growing up, at what age did you move to Canada?
The first thing that comes to mind when I reflect on my upbringing is the number of times my parents and I had to move from house to house for different reasons. The priority for them was to find the best environment for the intellectual development of my brothers and me.
‘One thing for sure is that the cultural gap between the two places impacted my ability to connect with people.’
When you moved to Montreal, how was the transition and was it easy or hard adjusting to your new home?
I can’t say it was an easy or hard transition. One thing for sure is that the cultural gap between the two places impacted my ability to connect with people. I think I was a bit socially anxious at the beginning and my life was limited to campus and home.
After a while, I started spending my days discovering the city (Montreal) which pushed me to capture every beautiful area. This helped me develop a passion for photography. Becoming a street photographer was the turning point. I think I excelled at it and things became way smoother and people started reaching out to me, as by this time I was being featured on different media platforms. I have connected with so many great people since.
That experience led me to collaborate with WordPress Photo and The Montreal House of Photography. They invited me to give a photography workshop to a group of young refugees from Syria. The idea was to share my immigration experience which I did and I related to them through their daily struggles in trying to integrate smoothly in a new country. Following those workshops, the group of young Syriaque had the chance to exhibit a series of photographs accomplished over six (6) months. They were able to show and tell their relationship with their new country Canada.
‘I don’t want to nourish the idea of immigrating to Canada as a symbol of success.’
How was the reunion with childhood friends and family?
It was weird. People gave me so much attention and respect at the point where I felt so different. You know, like a stranger. Until now, I don’t think I’ve been able to reconnect with childhood friends. The subject that constantly pops up is my experience being in Canada, which I don’t like to talk about. I don’t want to nourish the idea of immigrating to Canada as a symbol of success.
Everything was great with my family, I just felt like I missed so much and that feeling inspired me to write this film.
Have you ever at any point worried that you might forget Ivory Coast and therefore forget a part of who you are?
Forget Ivory Coast? Not really. I still have all my memories intact like it was yesterday. But that’s the problem, things have changed since, but I still have that old memory of home. I missed so many things that sometimes I feel like this was not home anymore or at least not the one I had in mind coming back. Also, people at home don’t consider you as a local. At this point, you have no choice but to question yourself about which place you belong to. Questioning yourself about this is really a struggle.
Something I know for sure is that making art helps me create a space for myself based on these two cultural influences. Every piece I’m writing is a part of who I am and defines the values I stand for.
What did you enjoy most about the making of this film?
Traveling across the Ivorian Coasts with my long-time friend and collaborator Julian Thomas was the most exciting thing in doing this film. Julian is my go-to cinematographer and he is behind most of the great visuals of the film. Then I had the chance to explore Sassandra, the small city where we shot the last part of the film. Sassandra is where my grandparents and my dad use to live.