Na na na....
As I kid, one of my all time favorite TV shows was 'The Jefferson’s'. As I write this, the theme song is playing in my head. “Well we’re movin’ on up, to the east side, moving on up, to a deluxe apartment in the sky. Moving on up, to the east side, moving on up,we finally got a piece of the pie.”
Na na na....
Na na na....
It seems that with every new month, I’m personally faced with the desire to ‘move on up’; to progress in all aspects of my life. This means continually setting new goals and striving to achieve them. Where am I getting with this, you ask, well, each month I look forward to making this magazine something greater. It’s slowly taking form, we might not be ‘movin on up to a New York deluxe apartment on the East side’ like George and Weezy, but I have played with the thought of seeing AfroElle not just as an online magazine.
In the months to come you will notice some changes. Change might be foreign but it is good. I want to enhance the way I bring AfroElle Magazine to you, I will be preparing a digital version which you can receive in your email through subscribing and then you can circulate it to your friends.
And talking about transitioning and changes, this month we welcome a new Hair feature by two Kenyan ladies over at Kurly Kichana. Now, I transitioned to natural hair a year ago, my hair is the type that just doesn't sit still; even a perm couldn't handle it. So I had my fears and I had many questions like; what products should I use? what styling options are available? and how to care for my natural hair at home? Well, If you have just gone natural and you have questions, then you will find Kurly Kichana's article very informative.
I prepared this issue having in mind that this month we have been celebrating women with the recent International Women’s Day and March being Women’s History Month in the United States. Our lifestyle writer Amani Bush tells us why our history is our strength as she talks about 10 Phenomenal Black women we should all know. I also had the honor of profiling amazing women for different features this month; as always, all of them were full of inspiration.
I enjoyed putting together this issue but it would not be possible without the help of our team of writers; I appreciate their creativity, time and support. I'd also like to thank everyone who has encouraged and supported me on this mission thus far! We always like to hear from our readers, so if you get a minute, send us an email and let us know how we are doing so far.
Thanks for reading and continue to March Forward.
In This Issue:
Cover Model: Amazing Kenyan Model THOGI
Featured Cause: Mangoes and Lemons
After the January 2010 earthquake that struck Haiti leaving more than 200,000 people dead and rendering a million homeless, all the attention was on Haiti. A year later and there are many efforts out to help rebuild Haiti. Every month AfroElle highlights great women led initiatives or initiatives for women, I came across the Mangoes and Lemonade; an information resource for people who want to get involved with initiatives in Haiti. I was amazed at the many organizations doing amazing work in Haiti. This led me to a conversation with Claudeen Pierre the woman behind Mangoes and Lemonade.....READ MORE
Featured Article: 10 Black Women You Should Know by Amani Bush
March is National Women’s History Month in the United States. The theme for 2011 is “Our History is Our Strength”, allowing us to examine and revisit our roots. In ancient African civilizations, women were viewed as a prominent figures in the family, social and leadership structures. Women were creators of royal dynasties, led armies and ruled nations. These women were self-determined and fearless, yet were still seen as loving, beautiful Goddesses, and the givers of life......READ MORE
Cover Story: Matu Saye 'A Jill of All Trades'
Matu Saye is a jill of all trades; she is the founder of Technology in Liberia, a singer and a model; an activity she says she does for fun. Born in Monrovia, Liberia, Matu who is also a database administrator in Philadelphia says she loves her country because of its people, their resilience, adaptability and warmth, a warmth that she too possess from our conversations during the interview....READ MORE
Featured Couple: Jonathon and Amy Mauritz
Amy Ohen and Jonathon Mauritz met at a coffee shop. When asked what her first impression of Jonathon was, Amy says she thought Jonathon was a college frat boy. “I was surprised that he was flirting with me because I was minding my own business studying in my comfy sweatpants and t-shirt. I was definitely not looking my finest!".....READ MORE
Sisterpreneurs; Emily and Irene Wasonga
Love’s Hangover is the name of a boutique jewelry store in Noblesville, IN co-owned by two sisters; Emily and Irene Wasonga. Born and raised in Kenya and living partly in Botswana; The two are now making their dreams come true with their jewelry business that started out as hobby in their teenage years....READ MORE
Most people are cautious about going natural because as you know our hair i.e. African curls can be very dynamic and hard to tame. Going natural can be scary at first but as you see the little curls and a coil sprouting from your scalp it all gets very interesting..........READ MORE
Fashion Inspiration: Christine Neptune
This month's fashion inspiration is 19 year old Christine Neptune, also known as Khristy-Joy. She is a Brooklyn girl; born and raised with a Guyanese background. The 5 feet 9 tall fashionista says she is in love with fashion and everything pertaining to fashion. A student at Lehman College in The Bronx, Christine is studying English with a minor of childhood education. She is also an intern at "Hott Shotz Photography". Christine also has an athletic side which is her Track and Field career; 6 years and counting. Her specialties include the Pentathlon and the Heptathlon......READ MORE
In The Kitchen With Yoli's Green Living
She is the owner of Ou!ya; a boutique eco-style outfit and a member of the Junior Board of The New York Coalition for Healthy School Lunches; mix these two and you have Yoli Ouiya, the green living chic! Though born in America; Yoli’s paternal heritage is from Burkina Faso, a small country in West Africa. In Burkina Faso, preparing food is a great symbol of cultural pride for the women. Yoli says she has always had a natural love for food, “I love the experience of preparing food. I love creating food memories and recreating them.” She continues, “I love the process of learning and teaching simultaneously.”........READ MORE
The Little Things by Shiko
The other day, my husband bought me a gift that made me fall in love with him all over again. He bought me a pair of pajama pants. The pants themselves were ok: red and blue, plaid, nothing special. What made these pants special was the size: SMALL. Bless his delusional heart! He actually entered the store, walked over to the pajamas, pictured me in his mind and then reached for a SMALL. Oh! What a wonderful man I married! Now, this glorious incident would probably go unnoticed by many women. Infact, a lot of the things that make me appreciative of our relationship would probably mean little to others; the way he always serves the dessert (because the calories don’t count if somebody else serves you, duh)......READ MORE
Break- Up Survival Tips by Renee Flagler
Parting ways with someone you love can be a truly devastating experience. Whether the break up is the result of a shocking infidelity or an amicable agreement, the affects can be life altering. Both parties will now have to get used to living without the other. For some letting go and moving on is extremely hard.Here is a list of tips for surviving a break up with your sanity in tact......READ MORE
Love Ain't No Instant Coffee by June Kanini
2011 has begun on a great note. I am actually enjoying every bit of this year. Notable is my new addiction to Dancing Latte from a coffee house here in Nairobi. The presentation of this coffee accompanied with a ginger nut cookie has me thinking perhaps I should take on the job as Gibson’s coffee house spokeswoman. All this coffee addiction after my first love chocolate got me on a coffee quest. I know it sounds quite the task to take on but for what it’s worth I guess I love knowledge to bits.......READ MORE
Avoiding Debt by Elizabeth Karina
Mary has just set off in the morning to look for a new house. She looks to get an agent, they should know where the best houses are, she is able to go round a few other houses with another agent and voila she comes across one that she likes. With the deposit and rent paid she moves in immediately before night fall. In Mary's case the next thing on her mind is figuring how she can spruce up her house at the snap of her fingers, since money is not easy to come by she turns to the nearest bank that can ease her off her misery, with that comes the necessary repercussions........READ MORE
Going Natural by Kurly Kichana
Enjoy and please join our online community. We are on Facebook and Twitter. We want to hear from you email us at [email protected]
After the January 2010 earthquake that struck Haiti leaving more than 200,000 people dead and rendering a million homeless, all the attention was on Haiti. A year later and there are many efforts out to help rebuild Haiti.
Every month AfroElle highlights great women led initiatives or initiatives for women, I came across the Mangoes and Lemonade; an information resource for people who want to get involved with initiatives in Haiti. I was amazed at the many organizations doing amazing work in Haiti. This led me to a conversation with Claudeen Pierre the woman behind Mangoes and Lemonade.
Introduce yourself to us
I was born in Brooklyn, raised in Long Island and my parents are from Haiti. I am a young woman on a journey to becoming the greatest person I can be. The ‘pursuit of happiness’ is my primary focus, everything I do stems from that ambition.
Why are you so passionate about Haiti and when did this passion develop?
I developed a real interest in Haiti as a teenager. Listening to my family speak about growing up in Haiti led to a curiosity; a wanting to see Haiti as others in the past had the privilege of seeing her.
Aside from my cultural connection there are many reasons that I am passionate about Haiti. For one, the earthquake left an enormous impression on me. To see a city reduced to rubble in 35 seconds is beyond humbling; I remember waking up to that and feeling like the world stood still. My prayers are with them every day.
The name ‘Mangoes and Lemonade’ is very unique, what is it’s relation to Haiti and the inspiration behind it?
I launched Mangoes and Lemonade about two months before the anniversary of the earthquake. The idea came to me one night and I just went with it. The name mainly comes from the idea of turning lemons into lemonade. In my opinion, Haiti produces the best mangoes in the world metaphorically the people of Haiti have learned to ‘ make lemonade’ out of the lemons that they have been given. What inspires me to blog about Haiti is a desire to see positive change at the forefront. To me mangoes and lemonade are symbols of prosperity that represents ‘A Brighter Future for Haiti’
What is your mission and vision for Mangoes and Lemonade?
Mangoes and Lemonade is a website that is dedicated to sharing information and resources that can help people of Haiti, while serving as a reference place for those who are interested in getting involved with relief of sorts. My vision is to continue building the site and allow it to grow into a more effective tool over time.
In your blog you highlight various organizations that are contributing to the positive movement of Haiti, can you tell us about some of them?
On the site several organizations have been featured, including Yele for the Yele Vert tree planting initiative in Gonaives, Haiti. It’s a program that I am very fond of because it addresses the environmental issue of deforestation while maintaining a connection to the people engaging local farmers.
Another organization featured is KOFAVIV (Komisyon Fanm Viktim pou Viktim) which translates to (Commission of Women Victims for Victims) I admire these women for leading an important mission, to address the issue of rape and gender based violence in Haiti.
What do you think is the role of the Haitian Diaspora in Haiti’s recovery?
I think that proactive involvement is an important role for the Diaspora to play in Haiti’s recovery. I cannot speak for everyone but that is how I approach the situation and I am very interested in understanding what others believe that role should be.
If anyone wants to get involved, how can this be possible?
There are many ways for people to get involved with the work that is being done in Haiti. As I continue to discover some of those outlets I will share them with my viewers and supporters. In terms of getting involved with M&L, I enjoy working on the site and I welcome the contribution of others who share that passion.
Find out more about Mangoes and Lemonade through their ;
Facebook Fan Page
Facebook Friend Page
Twitter Page: @MangoesLemonade
Personal Twitter: @NeoClassiCDP
Posted by AfroElle On 9:59 PM 3 thoughts
March is National Women’s History Month in the United States. The theme for 2011 is “Our History is Our Strength”, allowing us to examine and revisit our roots. In ancient African civilizations, women were viewed as a prominent figures in the family, social and leadership structures. Women were creators of royal dynasties, led armies and ruled nations. These women were self-determined and fearless, yet were still seen as loving, beautiful Goddesses, and the givers of life. Our sisters have continued to contribute in every aspect of human existence from politics, economics, labor, religion, military, art, science, education, and entertainment. Through their accomplishments, they have nurtured and allowed us to dream bigger than we ever have before. It is important that we take time to honor these women who have paved the way, opened doors of opportunity, and helped to shape our lives and nations. In celebration of these pioneering women, I have compiled a list of the ten inspiring black women everyone should know. Please continue the conversation and offer your comments on black women who have inspired you to make your own history!
Nefertiti, meaning “the beautiful one has arrived”, is one of the most well known queens of Egypt. She ruled alongside Akhenaton in the 18th dynasty. Her bust is the most copied work of ancient Egypt. She is known for her iconic beauty and often regarded by historians as the most beautiful woman in the world. Nefertiti serves an important symbol reminding us all to take pride and embrace our Africaness.
Josephine Baker is an American dancer, singer, and entertainer who expatriated to France. Her international fame lasted for over five decades. She is known for her provocative image, such as performing with just a string of bananas around her waist while dancing to African drums. Baker served as an intelligence liaison for the French Resistance and revered for her role in the Civil Rights Movement.
Madam C.J. Walker is America’s first black female millionaire. She created a line of hair care products that revolutionized how black woman cared for their tresses. She employed thousands of African American women and trained them on her methodology, marketing, and sales. She was a philanthropist, giving back to the community, providing scholarships, and was politically involved in the NAACP’s anti-lynching campaign.
Miriam Makeba, or ‘Mama Afrika’ as she is affectionately called, is a South African singer and political activist. Makeba was the first artist that internationally popularized African music. She was also married to Black Panther, SNCC leader, and Civil Rights Activist Stokely Carmicheal. Makeba vehemently spoke out against the racist system of Apartheid in South Africa. After her testimony on Apartheid before the United Nations, her South African passport was revoked. Makeba had nine passports throughout her life and was an honorary citizenship of ten countries.
Wangari Maathai is the first African woman to win The Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace. In 1977, she founded The Greenbelt Movement to mobilize community consciousness for self-determination, equity, improved livelihoods and security, and environmental conservation. Maathai has been educated in her native country of Kenya, the United States, and Germany.
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is the first black woman elected as head of state in an African nation. Johnson-Sirleaf became the 24th President of Liberia in 2006. Her administration has made advocating and empowering Liberian woman to take part in all areas of national life a priority. Newsweek listed her as the ten best leaders in the world in 2010 and Time magazine acknowledged her among the top ten female leaders.
Nina Simone is an American jazz and blues singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist. Her catalog consists of over 40 albums throughout the tenure of her career. She has influenced music, as we know it today. Simone lived in the Barbados, Switzerland, France, Liberia, Trinidad, Britain, and France. Simone's ashes were scattered in several African countries.
Michelle Obama is the first African American First Lady of the United States. Obama studied sociology and African-American studies at Princeton University. Afterwards in 1988 she graduated from Harvard Law School. Obama juggles motherhood, family, administration programs such as Let’s Move!, and advocating for military families with intellect, style and grace.
Oprah Winfrey is an American talk show host, actor, producer, and philanthropist. She is best known for The Oprah Winfrey Show which is syndicated in more than 132 countries. The show has received 25 Emmy Awards, 6 of them for best host and is the most popular talk show ever. In 1996 Time magazine named Winfrey one the 25 most influential people in the world. In 2007 she built The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls opening its doors in South Africa.
Mae Jemison is an American astronaut, physician, and professor, and the first African American woman to enter space in1992. Jemison previously joined the Peace Corps in 1983 and worked as a medical officer in West African until 1985. After retiring from NASA, Jemison started her own constancy company called The Jemison Group, Inc., whose projects include a satellite based telecommunication system to improve health care delivery in West Africa.
Amani Bush is the Founder and Creative Director of Amani at Home, an ethnic décor and home furnishings company based in Washington, DC. Amani specializes in creating African-inspired spaces she refers to “Afropolitan” home décor. Amani is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers and holds a certificate in African American Studies. In addition, she is the Executive Director of Roots to Freedom, a nonprofit that promotes the study of African and African Diaspora life, history, and culture through education. In her spare time she enjoys international travel, decorating her home, and her newest pastime of cooking ethnic cuisine.
For more information on Amani's work follow her on Twitter, visit her shop or read her blog.
Matu Saye is a jill of all trades; she is the founder of Technology in Liberia, a singer and a model; an activity she says she does for fun. Born in Monrovia, Liberia, Matu who is also a database administrator in Philadelphia says she loves her country because of its people, their resilience, adaptability and warmth, a warmth that she too possess from our conversations during the interview.
Can you tell us in detail about who you are and what you do?
Currently, I work as an Oracle and SQL Server a database administrator for the City of Philadelphia.
I am also involved in non-profit; I am the founder of Technology for Liberia which is a non-profit organization whose overall goal is to integrate information technology into education in Liberia. Liberia, it is a small country located on the west coast of Africa which was founded by freed slaves from America in 1847. It suffered a brutal civil crisis which lasted for over 14yrs leaving the country destroyed, both physical and human infrastructure distabilized. Today we have the first female president elect in Liberia and the entire continent of Africa.
Technology for Liberia was officially established as a 501(c) (3) organization in Philadelphia in 2009. Since our inception, we have had a few successful awareness and fundraiser events. Our first trip to Liberia is schedule for this summer, hopefully sometime in June. My hope for Technology for Liberia is that it thrives because I believe it has the potential to ignite innovation and creativity, it has the potential to lay a solid foundation in our education system that will overtime impact every system in the country; like health, government and education.
Music is another that I am involved with a lot. I am a singer and a song writer. I have been singing since I was little girl, in fact singing is one of the things I do effortlessly. Sometimes I think it's my calling just because of the response I get when I sing. I say this humbly. I have traveled to many countries and places to sing. I am currently working on a CD project; I haven't titled it yet.
What prompted you to start Technology for Liberia?
Technology for Liberia is an idea that I conceived while working for the management information systems department of a company in Pennsylvania called AmeriGas Propane; whenever we deployed new systems to various departments of the company, I came to the understanding that the company(AmeriGas) would paid a recycling company to get rid of the old/used computers. I said to myself that it would be wise to take some of the computers that weren't terribly old, refurbish them and share with students back in Liberia which would in some ways enhance their learning processes, install some of the basic applications like the Microsoft office suites and other simple applications.
|Matu with former Liberian Ambassador to US|
|Matu with Isaiah Washington of Greys Anatomy and her friend Dr.Major|
I spoke with my manager at the time about the possibility of taking some of the computers, he was very willing to donate them, however, he wanted to know if I had/knew an organization that would be responsible for the computer and for tax purposes. I didn't know anything about the non-profit environment then and I had no experience establishing anything of this nature, but I had a passion to help; I knew there was a need in Liberia and I also knew that I wanted to be a part of meeting this need. Prior to the opportunity at AmeriGas, there was a desire in me to do something in Liberia; I remembered that we've come from war and there was so much work to be done; to rebuild what had been destroyed and to build what that which was needed.
|Matu with Hosea Chanchez of the hit show The GAME|
|Matu with Jean Baylor formerly of the group Zhane|
I just didn't know what I would do or when I would do them, but working at that company gave me a glimpse into what I could contribute toward change. Today this idea has evolved into something bigger than just giving a computer to a student or two. I believe it is a project that will lay a strong foundation for Liberia's future. When I think about Technology for Liberia, my heart leaps for joy because it is an opportunity for me to serve; it is a chance for me to take responsibility for what belongs to me. Too long in Liberia and in some parts of Africa, we have maintained this mentality that others should do for us, give to us, be responsible for our resources, and well being, I think it is time we take the lead and take initiatives. I can only hope and pray that our effort is successful.
With work and your organization, when do you get time for your love for music?
That is a good question. Honestly I haven't quite figured out a good balance to them all given the fact that each of the things that I am involved with is very important and each requires that I allocate quality time to be able to produce my desired result. However, music/singing to me is a like a lifestyle; it is something that is a part of me. I'm working, I'm singing, I'm walking I'm singing, I hear sounds, music, melodies, lyrics; it is sort of constant for me, if I can put that way.
What genre of music do you sing?
My choice of music to sing is gospel music; I sing about love, life, courage, etc. I think that gospel music is more of a message or a theme than it is a genre. I say that simply because it is a kind that is very eclectic but one message/theme; you will find different styles and ideas of music; Jazz, soul, rock, bluegrass, funk, country etc.
Has there been a defining moment in your professional career and in your music career?
Defining moments for me are usually the little things you know. For example, several months ago I sang at a concert and an Haitian lady came up to me after and said to me with tears in her eyes that my music blessed her, that the sincerity of my heart through my music was a blessing to her. That for me is a defining moment. After working on important projects, an email with a sincere thanks for ensuring things worked seamlessly is a defining moment for me.
"A phenomenal woman to me is one that has a great purpose; she is passionate, compassionate, humble, caring and giving. She exudes a beauty that reflects great values, wisdom and strength. She is one that will use her influence to bring about positive change. She is a servant."
What else are you passionate about?
I would say that I am passionate about other productive efforts that others are initiating; I keep my eyes opened for other great ideas and people that are making a difference. I think about ways I can help to make their efforts successful; I see all of our initiatives as a collective effort.
What inspires you to keep going and how do you keep yourself motivated?
My faith, family and friends inspire me everyday to be the best person I can be. I am entirely grateful to God for His love, for loyal friends who believe in me and family who loves me. No matter what, my motivation comes from knowing that I am able to inspire or make someone better through my gifts, talents or the sharing of knowledge that I have acquired. I believe that my life's purpose is to serve God and to serve others and so my motivation comes from knowing that I am impacting someone positively through service. I believe that I make myself matter when I make others better.
Is there a role model or mentor who has helped you along your road to success?
I have been truly blessed to have had many great influences in my life. I wish I had the time to mention them all and share about how each has impacted my life, but there is one that has transformed my life tremendously. He has challenged and demanded me to do/be the best I can like none other I know. He has given me insight into abilities I didn't know I have and, has helped develop in depth the ones I know I have .He has thought me in deed that I can attain and reach my goals and aspirations without fear. He has without any hesitation to instill into me valuable lessons and principles that have taken him years to cultivate. I am truly humbled and blessed to have him in my life. I am indebted to him for all that he has done for me.
What advice or motto do you live by?
Learn to treat others with the dignity and respect that they deserve, take some time to know people, you never know, he/she could change the world. Do your best to live life to the fullest .One of my favorite quotes, ”The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience." - Eleanor Roosevelt. Another recent favorite of mine is by Isaiah Washington "You don't have the time to make the time to do anything. Just do it.”