Africa Is Now Magazine is proud to present our recent collaboration with Afropunk and Facebook Africa in the showcase, Unlocking Freedoms. We collaborated on the stills campaign photographer by the ineffable Trevor Stuurman. Compelling portraiture captures the essence of South Africa’s leading creative talent; Andiswa Dlamini —Founder of Same Sex Saturdays and community curator; David Tlale — South African fashion designer and owner of David Tlale; Karabo Poppy Moletsane — South African illustrator and street artist; Llewellyn Mnguni — Dancer, choreographer and performance artist; Bongi AKA Sad Boy — South African artist and skater; Sylvester Chauke — Chief architect, DNA Brand Architects; Thokozani Ndaba — Activist and director of Nthethelelo Foundation and Prince and Warren Meko — Fashion directors and owners of Kasi Vogue.
For activist and director of Nthethelelo Foundation, Thokozani Ndaba, freedom is about forgiveness.
Ndaba’s work with the Foundation draws on her skills as theatre practitioner; enabling young girls in Alexandra to heal their trauma through expression.
“Freedom is forgiving; to forgive yourself to be able to move forward so you can be able to do the things for self and gets their best knowledge of self.”
Bongi AKA Sad Boy — South African artist and skater
When it comes to challenging the binary normative, South African artist and skater, Bongi AKA Sad Boy, puts it perfectly when they say that it’s not about gender, it’s not even about the belief that girls can do what boys can do but more about believing that “you can do what you want to do.”
Sad Boy is an idea suggesting that we should just “express our sadness” by not “running away from our vulnerability, because that’s where our power is.”
Karabo Poppy Moletsane — South African illustrator and street artist
Karabo Poppy Moletsane, a South African illustrator and street artist, love of art started when she noticed the graphics and illustrations at a barber shop. It was really the first point of representation in the media that felt like home to her. Now, over time, her keen eye and inspiration comes from the aesthetic of Africa which is unlike no other.
Karabo is passionate about visually healing and bridging the gap between African identities; those that were displaced by slavery; and those remaining on the Continent. Karabo believes that it is in the process of healing through her artwork that she will help unlock individual freedoms.
“I am finding a lot of people who resonate with my art that aren’t necessarily South African … there’s a whole other African identity that obviously was displaced because of slavery … I would like to explore those similarities and see how visually I could translate or begin to heal or begin to make the gap smaller.”
David Tlale — South African fashion designer and owner of David Tlale
In a world where clothing expresses individuality, South African fashion designer David Tlale has his own ideals on freedom. For Tlale, freedom is “the power to be, the power to decide what you’re wearing, the power to say that as a young black man, it is possible to make it.”
In 2007, David Tlale was one of four designers to showcase his work during Paris Fashion Week and then in 2012 he was the first African designer to showcase at New York Fashion Week. He puts it down to determination and faith but also very importantly states, “the willpower to say that I can change the world.
Andiswa Dlamini, Founder of Same Sex Saturdays and community curator, is at the forefront of creating safe experiences for queer people. Andiswa’s goal is to create spaces that offer a form of healing, to be a home-base, and to be a place where people from the LGBTQI+ community can communicate and express themselves.
Llewellyn Mnguni — Dancer, choreographer and performance artist
Llewellyn Mnguni, dancer, choreographer and performance artist, freedom is expressed when they are dancing.
Having grown up in Mafikeng, their mom, who was a Latin and Ballroom dancer, was her inspiration and now, having learnt many dance forms while attending the National School of Arts (NSA), and even choreographing their own piece called Prozac, Llewellyn eloquently tells us that for them, “choreography and identity go hand-in-hand.” Their freedom is being able to express their story in as many ways as they wants to.
Kasi Vogue, is the brainchild of Prince and Warren Meko. The Katlehong-born brothers started Kasi Vogue as a way to inspire their friends in the Kasi who did not have the benefit of living outside of the hood, as they did.
When it comes to freedom, Warren believes that “freedom begins with you first… if you allow yourself to be free within your domain, within yourself first, it’s much easier for you to be free with everyone else.”
Leading African brands globally, Sylvester Chauke, Chief Architect of DNA Brand Architects, was born and raised in Soweto. A city with multiple languages and multiple cultures, he believes that to be free, is to be diverse. Chauke is an ardent supporter of local travel; and encourages South Africans to explore beyond their communities.
Chauke’s passion for diversity has played a key role in his advertising and brand communications, helping bridge the gap and to allow like-minded people to connect.
The ultimate goal for this trail-blazer is “to be part of the team and part of the network of men and women who are committed to building African brands.”
PHOTOGRAPHER : TREVOR STUURMAN
FASHION DIRECTOR : CHRISNA DE BRUYN WWW.CHRISNADEBRUYN.COM
FASHION ASSISTANTS : WARREN & PRINCE MEKO
MAKE UP & HAIR : NOMBUSO @HERO
CREATED & PRODUCED BY ACTIVE IMAGINATION, IVAN TURANJANIN & SHARON COOPER
LOCATION : FLAME STUDIOS @ CONSTITUTION HILL
TEXT BY HOLLY BELL BEATON
Since Covid has kept most of us homebound for the last year or so, I reflected on some of my favourite travels in the last couple of years. One that has stood out is my trip to Kenya where I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time with the Samburu tribe.
Leaving behind the bustle of Nairobi, I was excited to experience this way of life first hand. Arriving at the nature reserve in the north-central region of Kenya, we were warmly welcomed by the tribe. As it turns out, also in time for a very special ceremony celebrating the young boys becoming men, an event that only takes place every five years.
The overriding reason for my visit was to summit the sacred Mount Ololekwe. This mountain is of extreme cultural significance to the Samburu, hence best experienced in the company of a Samburu guide. John, the eldest son of the chief, was my guide, and as we set off at dawn, it was evident that he had a lot to teach me about the mountain and all of its wonders. Although we came from two different worlds, we share a mutual and deep respect for nature.
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.