Category Archives: Blogging

So, what do you do, Ngozi Odita of Society HAE?

When you see the name Society HAE, one question that may come to mind is, What does HAE stand for? The acronym stands for Harriet’s Alter Ego.  Who’s Harriet, you might ask?  C’mon, you know who Harriet is…

Yes, that Harriet.  Harriet Tubman!

Initially Harriet’s Alter Ego was a Brooklyn-based fashion boutique and

art gallery that also served as a performance space. Think of everything you’ve learned about Harriet Tubman.  Then imagine a place where a wondrous woman with that kind of passion, talent, and commitment to freedom could go to just…chill.  Express and pamper herself. Get cute. Maybe read a little poetry.  Or just hang out and enjoy the atmosphere.

When the store closed in 2009, the question for its founder, Ngozi Odita, and team became, “Where do we go now?”

They moved online, converting the project to an arts and entertainment social media platform. The Harriet’s Alter Ego crowd found them online and supported them in this new medium.   Society HAE was born.  Ngozi describes the community they’ve created as a place that resonates with artists, musicians and designers because it gives them a bigger voice.

In December 2010, the Society HAE team of bloggers, or Team SHAE, traveled to Dakar, Senegal to blog from the World Festival of Black Arts and Culture. Since its inception in 1966, the festival has provided a forum for political as well as artistic and cultural dialogue, attracting the likes of Alvin Ailey, Duke Ellington, and Clementina de Jesus.   This time around, Yossou N’dour, Jay-Z, Wyclef Jean and Rhianna were on the guest list.

Team SHAE gave their readers live coverage of the three-week long event that showcases fashion, photography, theatre, architecture, music, design, literature, film, and even sport from people of African descent throughout the diaspora. (See SHAE video below)

Ngozi Odita

“I wish everyone could have seen it, “ says Ngozi.

Ngozi’s love for the arts began during childhood.   She is proud of her heritage and remembers growing up dancing to her father’s Nigerian music in a household where there was always music playing.

“Fashion and the arts were always a part of me,” she says.

A humble and modest woman who laughs easily, Ngozi has grown this appreciation into a business that allows her to travel the world.  She shares some words of wisdom for the budding entrepreneur.

“There are opportunities everywhere,” she says.  “If you’re passionate about something, there’s an opportunity [to pursue it].  Look for the opportunities within that passion.”

What does Living Unchained mean to Ngozi Odita? To Ngozi, living unchained means being free, doing the things that move you.  It means having the freedom to be who you are, free to engage people.

Article by Ciara Calbert of Everybody is a Journalist

“Afri-Love is a feeling”: Lulu Kitololo Discusses Her Vision, Art and Life Unchained

Imagine all who are inspirited by Africa – all whose lives and hearts have been touched by the spirit of the continent – sharing their passion through collaboration, in the name of mutual empowerment. –Lulu Kitololo

Illustration by Lulu Kitololo

Lulu Kitololo is a self-defined “ideamonger,” using painting, graphic design, illustration, writing and workshops, to tell stories that honor the beauty in women, Africa, life and nature. Lulu is creator of the Afri-love blog, which explores the connections between creativity, self-love and growth for Africans and those inspired by the continent. The blog features commentary, interviews, resources and reviews on art and culture.

Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Lulu moved to New York to earn a BFA in Communications Design from Pratt Institute. After working there as an advertising Art Director, she moved to the UK to pursue a Master’s in African Studies at the University of London.

Can you tell us about Afri-love?

Afri-love is a feeling. I remember being this really opinionated, patriotic kid, before I even really knew anything … about anything! When I left Kenya to pursue higher education in the US, I gained an even greater interest in where I came from. I was constantly meeting Africans, from all over the continent, and I observed that, diverse as our homelands were, there was so much we had in common. Especially, a love for the lands that were so much a part of us, no matter where we happened to be.

Design by Lulu Kitololo


Last year, I finally gave a name to that strong feeling and created an online space to express it, to share it with others and to collect all the expressions of it that I could find. I like to think of the website as a community for creativity and passion for Africans and all those who identify with or have an affinity for the continent.

Essentially, it’s a blog where you can find African and African-inspired art, design, literature and more. One of my favorite aspects is the interviews. I’ve had the opportunity to profile some amazing people who are living their passions and who are inspired by and devoted to Africa.

The vision of love you describe on Afri-Love is beautiful.  You say:

Imagine Africans who love who they are, as they are, and so love each other and the environment that nurtures them. Confident and assertive, they are engaged in charting their growth and celebrating success as defined on their own terms.

Imagine all who are inspirited by Africa – all whose lives and hearts have been touched by the spirit of the continent – sharing their passion through collaboration, in the name of mutual empowerment.

What compelled you to write this as you did?

Continue reading

Interview with Imaginative Scientist Nyokabi Musila: What Science Can Teach Us About Art, Africa and Ourselves

Kenyan blogger Nyokabi Musila has a scientific mind and an artistic spirit. She believes science is a tool that can help us decide which questions to ask. While living in London, Nyokabi came to wonder: “What does Africa really mean?” She continues to return to this idea, exploring the representation of Africa and Africans in the arts.

Nyokabi is a pharmacist with a PhD in pre-clinical drug development and is currently based in Nairobi, where she has been working in a research team that has supported the development of Kenya’s first national evidence-based policy for pediatric care. Also, a columnist for a national Kenyan newspaper, she discusses the medicinal properties of food.

She nurtures her creative side by writing on various arts, including film, theatre and photography that reflect African realities on the blog www.sci-cultura.com, under the not-so-secret pseudonym, “sci-culturist.” One of her latest posts discusses photography and film projects on Nubians in Kenya and colonial legacies in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Here she shares her views on scientific thought, the arts, Africa and what she wants people to gain from her writing.

Why did you start the Sci-Cultura blog? What does Sci-Cultura mean?

I started Sci-Cultura for the very self-indulgent reason that I wanted to create a space where I could express my thoughts and also engage with like-minded people who were interested in the similar topics. I was bubbling up with stuff I wanted to say and blogging was the easiest outlet. In effect it is a public journal. I started off rather impersonal and factual but somewhere along the way, quite early on, I unknowingly started to inject more of me in my writing.

The meaning of Sci-Cultura is a bit like the blog itself – it has evolved, which I suppose is reflective of me as a person and what is going on for me. I’m sure you’ve gathered that I made it up. I wanted a name that expressed my scientific persona and that also incorporated a single word that captures the human experience. Cultura is the Spanish word for culture, which just rolled off my mind and I liked the ring to it. Overall, it is about the meeting of 2 worlds – science and the arts. I had initially planned for the science aspect to be obvious but found myself being led to a more subtle expression – the root of science is about seeking answers to questions.

Can you tell us about your background, and how it influences what you feature on your site?

I started the blog as a Kenyan living in London, England. Someone has said this before – when you land in Heathrow, you take on a new identity – you are labeled an African. I felt the drive to explore how being African was being expressed in the arts and to answer the question: “What does African really mean?” Continue reading

She Dreams in Digital: Interview with Artist and Creator of African Digital Art, Jepchumba

Given the lack of African representation in the digital media industry, Jepchumba, the creator of African Digital Art, thought it was important to showcase and connect various artists across Africa that are making their mark on visual culture. The quality of innovative, professional and thought-provoking works we see on African Digital Art is amazing. Jepchumba is a visual artist, herself, specializing in web design, digital art and audio and video production. She tells us why she started African Digital Art, how she keeps up with the trends and how you can get connected with the network of artists she represents.

"Attack of Jepchumba" by artist Jepchumba

How did you become interested in digital art?

My journey into digital art was a reluctant one. Since I could remember I was always interested in graphic art, I think I get it from my Mom, she is the creative one in my family. However, I never considered myself an artist mainly because I didn’t recognize that I had any talent in it. When I went to college for my undergrad, I majored in Criticial Social Thought and we were always required to write long long papers, I found that I always ended up doing some sort of creative project to express my ideas rather than just using words. I soon found out that I had successfully completed a large amount of digital projects from films, animations, web design projects, games and more. I recognized that I actually loved combining technology and art and pursuing digital art would only be a natural progression.

You’ve linked your appreciation for digital art with your love of Africa on African Digital Art. Can you tell us about the African Digital Art website? Why do you think it is so important to curate this space online and bring together African artists?

Continue reading

The Diversity Within Us

Yaye Marie Ba has a passion for sharing the beauty, style and cultures of African people. On her blog she speaks with African women on many topics ranging from art to life. Her blog truly shows the diversity of Africa and the importance of learning from each other. We are pleased to have interviewed her and to share her thoughts with you.

Can you tell us about yourself?

My name is Yaye Marie Ba, I am half Senegalese and Guinean on my father’s side, and Malian on my maman’s side. I moved back to the capital of Senegal, Dakar, after having spent 10 years in the United States.

Can you describe your blog at www.yayemarieba.blogspot.com to us?  Why did you create this blog?  What do you hope to accomplish with this blog?

I started my blog close to four years ago out of curiosity and hunger for knowledge about my African culture. I wanted to know more about the youth of Africa, wanted to discover what we are all about. I wanted to find out what a Tunisian or Togolese young woman, for example, was all about. I know what we came from, but I didn’t know enough about where we are today in terms of social development, self confidence and entrepreneurship.

It started slowly, but today I’m proud to say that through this blog, I know that we’ve learned, and are still learning, how to keep our traditions and develop ourselves with Western ideas. Finding the right balance between the two can be hard sometimes, but I think that we’ll get there. Continue reading