Jimi King on African Fashion and Art

September 5, 2016 § Leave a comment

Jimi King

Jimi King

You can’t call Jimi King a “fashion designer,” even though he is quite a successful one. You can’t really call him an “African artist” either, even though he is an artist, and most definitely a proud African. Like many individual artists in the art and fashion world, Nigerian artist Jimi King is uncomfortable with labels. “I don’t like to be boxed in,” he revealed in an interview with Afrofusion TV on a recent visit to the Washington, DC area during his 2016 summer tour. Given the length and breadth of his experience, it’s understandable. In addition to fashion (wearable art, as he calls it) King does painting, sculpture and music (drumming). He has been a regular in Paris at the UNESCO Africa Week and Bazaar for the past five years, and participated in Africa Fashion Week London during the « Read the rest of this entry »

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Reparations, Race and Religion at 10th African Diaspora International Film Festival

August 28, 2016 § Leave a comment

This year the African Diaspora International Film Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary in Washington, DC at the Marvin Center on the campus of George Washington University. Over the course of three days, from August 19-21, the festival showed narrative and documentary feature films and short films from just about every corner of the African diaspora. The biographical documentary BadddDDD Sonia Sanchez, (2015) shared the opening night with another movie, Discipline. Noted Black Arts Movement poet Sonia Sanchez herself was in attendance together with one of the film’s directors Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, for a Q&A which was followed by a VIP reception where attendees

Sonia Sanchez (right) takes questions with the director of BadddDDD Sonia Sanchez, Sabrina Schmidt Gordon

Sonia Sanchez (right) takes questions with the director of BadddDDD Sonia Sanchez, Sabrina Schmidt Gordon

got to mingle, take photos with, and get autographs from Ms. Sanchez. The closing night films focused on celebrating the African religions still vibrant in Brazil and Cuba. Oggun, an old classic by Afro-Cuban filmmaker Gloria Rolando and Yemanja: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil, (2015) directed by Donna Roberts, who participated in a lively Q&A after the film’s screening. « Read the rest of this entry »

African Arts and Fashion on Display in DC

May 26, 2016 § 4 Comments

AA Fashion Showcase_

AAFWDC Founder Uche Ibezue (l) with Maria, makeup artist.

When Uche Ibezue of Omak Designs started African Arts and Fashion Week DC, her idea was not simply to bring attention to the nation’s capital as a fashion force. Grabbing the attention of the fashion market, both national and global, was an abiding aspiration. Last week, the third annual AAFWDC featured a panel discussion and fashion showcase, and many of the burning issues regarding African fashion were raised.

A few years ago it was nice to see a number of celebrities wearing African print designs to red carpet events worldwide. Famous names like Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Solange Knowles and her sister Beyonce, Angela Simmons, and even Gwen Stefani were all spotted in gowns and complete sets that were made from African prints like Ankara and Kente. The popularity of those designs has since trickled down to the young ones, the rebellious youth that are always finding innovative ways of expressing themselves. In that vein, a young lady “broke the internet” when she created a stunningly beautiful African print gown, posted it on Instagram, and « Read the rest of this entry »

Defining the Future of African Writing at PEN World Voices Festival

May 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

Ngugi wa Thiong'O on a panel at the PEN World Voices Festival in New York City

Ngugi wa Thiong’O on a panel at the PEN World Voices Festival in New York City

What will the future of “African Literature” look like? Will there be a better defined space for literature written in African languages? Will there be more books by African Diaspora authors? A wider role, perhaps, for African women writers? These were the questions that came to Afrofusion TV at the PEN World Voices Festival in New York City last week. At the panels we attended, the topic of language kept coming up, with a number of writers discussing the viability and importance of writing in native African languages. I wanted to get the perspective of noted Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong’O, but I was also keen to speak to Senegalese author Boubacar Boris Diop, who teaches Wolof Literature, and is the author of one of the few books in modern times to be written in the Wolof language, Doomi Golo (2006). The festival this year chose Africa as its focus, and was co-curated by celebrated Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who delivered the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write closing night lecture. The intent, according to festival organizers, was to showcase a diverse group of writers from around the African continent and the diaspora; writers and poets from Congo-Brazzaville, « Read the rest of this entry »

The Divine Comedy: African Artists explore Dante’s Epic at the Museum of African Art

April 11, 2015 § Leave a comment

Aida Muluneh, part of The 99 Series. Photo courtesy the artist

Aida Muluneh, part of The 99 Series. Photo courtesy the artist

What do you envisage when you think of heaven and hell? Most people’s imagination of the afterlife is tied to something written in a novel or depicted on screen. At the Smithsonian’s Museum of African Art until August 2nd you can see a refreshing new take on Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, collected and curated by noted art critic Simon Njami, and featuring a host of contemporary African Artists from the continent and the Diaspora. Divided into themes of Heaven, Purgatory and Hell, the exhibition takes up all three floors of the museum, with art also displayed on the entry pavilion and

Wangechi Mutu, "The Storm has finally made it out of me"

Wangechi Mutu, “The Storm has finally made it out of me”

the stairwells. Forty women and men that include both established and emerging artists have their work displayed here, and it ranges from paintings to textiles to sculpture to collage to photography and video. Well known names like Kenya’s Wangechi Mutu and the UK’s Yinka Shonibare share the space with up and comers like Angola’s Edson Chagas, who was one of the breakout stars at the Venice Biennale in 2013. On Wednesday at the opening of the exhibition, Ethiopian photographer Aida Muluneh (Howard University alum), Egyptian artist Moataz Nasr, Senegalese painter Pélagie Gbaguidi and Benin’s Dmitri Fagbohoun were part of a discussion panel led by the guest curator Simon Njami.

Moataz Nasr, Aida Muluneh and Simon Njami at the opening of The Divine Comedy Exhibition

Moataz Nasr, Aida Muluneh and Simon Njami at the opening of The Divine Comedy Exhibition

(Nasr was later kind and accommodating enough to grant us an interview for Afrofusion TV’s upcoming web series.)

Students and artists alike are invited to submit an original poem inspired by three of the works from the exhibition, by Abdoulai Konaté of Mali, Wangechi Mutu, and Edson Chagas. For more information about submitting work to the contest, go their website. The deadline for submission is April 17. Bless.

A Conversation with “An African City” actress Esosa E.

April 21, 2014 § 2 Comments


Ghanaian Restaurant and bar Bukom Cafe was perhaps the apt setting for a recent interview we did with actress Esosa E., one of the stars and producers of a new web series An African City. The gorgeous Ivy Leaguer, also a model, writer, director, and radio show host joined us at the Washington, DC joint – a staple in the Adams Morgan neighborhood for decades – to discuss her role in the popular series set and shot in Accra, Ghana. Created by Nicole Armateifio, a Ghanaian American with a background in International Development and Communications, the series follows five successful African women who return to Ghana after living in the west, seeking primarily a rich and rewarding love life. It’s « Read the rest of this entry »

Decoding The Expats : Wayna’s Interview with Afrofusion TV

March 27, 2014 § Leave a comment


I don’t know if it matters that Ethiopian American singer/songwriter Wayna‘s sophomore album Higher Ground is high on a list of top 25 most slept-on soul albums of the last decade. After all it’s common knowledge that to hear really good soul music, hip hop, or R&B you have to hunt for it. Mercifully we didn’t

Wayna performs at U Street Music Hall in Washington, DC, Nov. 2013

Wayna performs at U Street Music Hall in Washington, DC, Nov. 2013

have to go searching for The Expats, her third and latest album; we had a delicious preview two days before its release at a U Street Music Hall show last November, where the Grammy nominated singer joined two other DC based artists Wes Felton and Asheru for a “Triple Threat” performance promoted by Munch’s Hedrush Music. Fusing her soul sound with elements of afrobeat, alt rock, reggae, indian music, and hip hop, Wayna does with The Expats what she deals with day-to-day – navigating that « Read the rest of this entry »

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