Saturday, March 15, 2014

First World Music: Akenataa Hammagaadji


Akenataa Hammagaadji, the person behind the online African music radio program, First World Music, was born in Monrovia, Liberia.
His mother had immigrated to the U.S. Virgin Islands, and sent for her children when Akenataa was 12 years old. Later they moved to the continental United States.
After attending college, he hosted an African music program for 12 years on Columbia University's WKCR station. Nine years ago he started working on his current show on WVKR, showcasing musicians from the entire African continent, known and unknown.
What keeps him going? There is much negative news out of Africa, and much of it is nor untrue; but his goal is to highlight the positive & beautiful: "Something from our heritage. Melodies, lyrics & instruments that are our own intellectual property."
As per his website, among the goals of the radio program is: "to promote African artists to that they cab be rewarded for the music (...) they invited. We hope that by airing music music of African artists, some royalties will accrue to them which will help them live in dignity, care for their families and build their community." First World Music plays music from the entire African diaspora, including musicians from Brasil, Haiti, Perou...
Hugh Masekela, South Africa






Thione Seck, Senegal




Akenataa's personal goal is to own his own online radio station in the future. In the meantime, he also works in the hospitality industry as a waiter, party planner, and DJ, in the Hudson Valley (New York State).His influences? "My mother and maternal grandmother & maternal aunts are big influences on my life. I hear my grandmother's voice whenever I am thinking of doing something that degrades my humanity or brings harm to another person. She stops me from the grave."
Miliki Music, Nigeria
By the way--if you miss the show on Sunday at 9pm, you can listen to it the next day: visit http://www.firstworldmusic.org/7-links.html.

Julius Essoka, Cameroon

Saturday, February 15, 2014

De La Case A La Villa - it's published!

The book "De La Case A La Villa" is a reality... and will be presented at the Paris Salon du Livre on March 22, 2014, at 6pm, along with Samuel Mbajum's book:  “Les combattants africains, dits « Tirailleurs Sénégalais » au secours de la France. 1857-1945” about African soldiers pulled into not always voluntary service in European wars.
Our publishing house is Riveneuve Editions.
Samuel Mbajum is also originally from Cameroon, like Epee Ellong, and we look forward to meeting him!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Post by Wendy Lee: Impressions of Ethiopia


By Wendy Lee
Since I left Cameroon at the end of my Peace Corps service in 2010, I return to the continent for the first time. At the end of 2010, I did 
take a trip to Tunisia, which is technically in Africa. Though this time, nearly 4 years later, I feel like I’ve returned home.
Impression of EthiopiaI took Qatar Airways & Emirates from Shanghai via Doha, Dubai, and finally to Addis Ababa, Ethiopian’s capital city. If anyone has a chance to fly Qatar or Emirates, do it! These airlines put US operated airlines to total shame. There is a meal for even a 90 min flight. Flight attendants greet you with warm towelettes as you situate into your seat. With the right airline, flying can be luxurious!A good friend of mine from grad school is living and working in Addis, and I took the opportunity to visit. I always prefer to visit a new place that has friends who can play your guide. If for nothing else, that very expensive graduate degree from Columbia/LSE has resulted in a global network of places to vacation! I continue to marvel at the places that people end up, and the interesting career paths that they take. The chance to know such unique individuals is priceless.

Shanghai-Doha-Dubai-Addis. I go far for a good cup of coffee!

Shanghai-Doha-Dubai-Addis. I go far for a good cup of coffee!
My friend Jenn has taken her consulting and private sector background to Ethiopia to work with its Ministry of Agriculture. Conversations with her and her friends in Addis Ababa inspire me to consider a future back on the continent. Oh, and in our conversation, we realized one of the girls from Peace Corps Cameroon is now also working in Addis, on public health related work. Small world!
My first impression of Ethiopians is how calm they are compare to Cameroonians. The catcall is nowhere as bad, and the service is a million times better! Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that was not colonized, and the pride for this culture shows through the people. Although one can (sort of) get by with English, Ethiopia’s official language is Amharic, which is fascinating. The individuals have a very unique feature; given the geographic locale, their skin color is lighter, and features are a cross between Africans and Middle Easterners. The women here are gorgeous!
Ethiopia Church
Communities are similar in all corners of the world.
On my second day in Addis, I went to church with Jenn and taught a Sunday School class with her to a bunch of 4-year-olds. Ethiopia as a country is very religious, and predominately Christian. Attending church is a great way to observe the local culture. Beyond Ethiopians, the church was also attended by quite a few West Africans. I met a lady name Grace from Kumbo, Cameroon. I had visited her town a few times, so we chatted about the progress in Cameroon. She informed me that there is a new road between Bafouasam and Douala, so the road that used to go through my village (Batié) is used less frequently now. She also said the government has finally begun to pave the ring road in the Northwest province! When I visited her town back in 2010, most of the roads were unpaved. The updates made me terribly nostalgic, and wish I were also visiting Cameroon.
Ethiopia Sunday School
4-year-old Sunday School
Church, Ethiopia
Jacob’s Sheep!
This encounter put me in a delightful mood, and the group of 4-year-olds took it to the next level. Children at this age are adorable, and the universal good nature make me smile. We did some craft together where they had to color and make a paper sheep. Their creativity never seize to amaze.
Even through the culture is quite different, so much is similar. I love the clear skies and the smell of firewood in the morning. Even the dust of dry season and the exhaust in taxi cars make me nostalgic. It’s good to be reminded of a simpler life, to be back in time when they isn’t hyper connectivity, and individuals in a restaurant are fully in the presence of their company, and no one is looking at their smart phones.
Finally, I miss conversations like this one with Million. Million is a taxi driver used frequently by Jenn and her friends. He told us that he’s been busy because his sister just had a baby.
Million: “I need to go to the market and buy her a sheep.”
Me: “Do you buy a sheep for everyone who has a baby?”
Million: “No, only people who are close.”
Jenn: “How will you bring home the sheep? And do you take it to a butcher?”
Million: “In my trunk. No, we take the sheep home and slaughter at home and eat it. That’s how it’s done.”
Addis Ababa
Good morning, Addis!

Reblogged from Life of Wendy: Impression of Ethiopia

More posts (and photos) about Wendy's trip to Ethiopia:
Oasis in Debre Zeyit
Journey through Ethiopia




Sunday, January 12, 2014

TMS Ruge: creativity and initiative from Uganda

Twitter is different for different people who use it. For some, it is a pure source of information; they rarely participate in the conversation. For me, Twitter resembles a big cocktail party, where you enter and exit at will, and meet interesting and wonderful people if you make an effort.
TMS Ruge
One of the people I "tweet-met" is TMS Ruge (@TMSRuge). I had no idea who he was, except that he was from an African country and seemed interesting. I didn't even know what his real name was. In September 2013, I noticed that he appeared to be in New York City to speak at a couple of conferences--so I tweeted to him, and we were able to meet in person for a cup of coffee and some conversation.  Later I sent him a few questions, which he graciously responded to.
TMS Ruge--also known as Teddy--was born in Uganda, and raised in Kenya and in the United States. He trained as a communications professional, and works in graphic design, photography and social media consulting. He is also actively involved in various international development projects in Uganda.
Hive Colab







He cofounded several organizations and startups in Uganda including Hive Colab (@hivecolab), Uganda's first tech coworking space; Redcore Interactive, the company behind the http://remit.ug remittances platform; and http://UMPGl.com, an agricultural value-addition startup. He also blogs at http://tmsruge.com.
Bahiyah Robinson from D8ta,
one of the funders of Hive Colab
Below are answers to my interview questions:

1. What brought you to what you are doing now?
A dissatisfaction with the status quo. I am always on the quest to do things better. I am trained to see opportunities and I see most problems in development in Uganda as an opportunity to make a difference. As an African, as a Ugandan, I am eager to show that we are not just underdogs and recipients. I want to prove that we can build the future that we want.

2. What is your impetus? What is your dream, your goal?
I want a self-reliant Africa. But of course it is silly to think that I alone can make that happen. The best I can do is execute in my own little corner of Africa. If I succeed in being successful, hopefully that lights the fire in other individuals and maybe that cascades. But mostly, I do what I do because I think it is always better to criticize WHILE you are doing, instead arm-chairing issues. It's good to get down in the development trenches and get dirty. You learn better that way.

3. What is planned for 2014?
TMS Ruge in New York, September 2013
The year is starting out fairly quiet. I have been traveling a lot over the last few years. It is nice to be immobile for a bit. I am busy working on my startups, planning a pretty big year, so it is nice having some desk time. Maybe later in the year I'll get back to airport hopping, but for now, it is nice to be with family, while I plan out the rest of the year.

Teddy was the first Ugandan I met, and he presented a fine example of a young African who wants to help build not only his country, Uganda, but Africa in general, from the inside, with whatever modest means at his disposal. We can only hope that many more, in many disciplines, will be similarly motivated.

A Class at Hive Colab
Moringa plant being harvested.
TMS Ruge and Ruth Aine at Hive Colab

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Nigerian expat in London revives the art of the telegram

My Twitter friend Yemmi Agbebi, originally from Nigeria and a long-time resident of the United Kingdom, recently founded a new company, Telegramwire. Below is the company's press release (with British spelling, of course!). 

London, England - BBC Inspired News Broadcast, Inspires Telegramwire, A Worldwide Telegram Messaging Service And "Greeting Card Killer" which Launched December 16, 2013.

A BBC News broadcast of the closure by India of it's 160 year old #Telegram service, was the inspiration behind a new Berkshire dot-com and start-up, #Telegramwire, which is based along UK's M4 Berkshire Corridor.

#Telegramwire is a Worldwide, cloud based, Letter Telegram service, which gives control back to customers, to create and send, original and thoughtful contents in the form of telegram cards to friends, families and loved ones. Telegramwire's Letter Telegrams, are suitable for celebrating a range of special and exciting moments including birthdays, christenings, engagements, bar mitzvahs, weddings, new baby, get well and so forth.

Unlike pre-printed or online greeting cards which tends to recycle the same "production line" sentiments and poetry, Telegramwire gives customer the freedom to create unique, contextual and personalised greeting telegrams. This sender and recipient centric approach, encourages customers to do two things: (a) deploy their creative writing skills to create memorable telegram greetings that a recipient would value (b) the opportunity to engage the receiver, no matter how brief, on the common ground of memory; in order to write something meaningful and personally relevant; and which achieves something of an emotional connection between sender and receiver.

Telegramwire carefully laser prints each telegram message, on a retro-style Telegram Form, using a unique and evocative font. The finished telegram is then despatched in luxurious and uniquely branded Letter Telegram packaging via Special First Class Mail, Air Mail or Signed-For Courier. The whole experience is designed to make the sender and receiver feel connected; in particular - the recipient is left feeling very special by the sender's originality and thoughtfulness.

It costs only £4.99, EUR 6.20 or US $8.20 + P&P for one telegram from any country in the world to more than 190 countries Worldwide. This price point compares favourably with greeting cards, especially with some cards costing over four times as much as our telegram. Besides, it is not uncommon for some telegrams to be framed and cherished for their sentimental value. By comparison, no matter how pleasing a greeting might be, they are rarely framed.  Framing as a keepsake is a unique gesture reserved for telegrams only.

Life is full of many incredible moments worth celebrating, and Telegramwire's main purpose is to provide a unique and innovative channel to celebrate these exciting moments. Worldwide, telegrams have always enjoyed the unmatched distinction of conveying the most important news. For instance, in the days before Smartphones, Text Messaging, Email and The Internet; telegrams were the first messages to be read out at weddings, engagements, Christenings, Bar Mitzvahs, and so forth etc. The goal of Telegramwire is to bring back the wonderful feelings of exclusivity and nostalgia to our customer base of senders and recipients - during the most important moments in their lives.

Yemmi Agbebi, MBA, CEO and Founder of Telegramwire said '...Rumours of the demise of the Telegram, as Mark Twain once observed in a similar situation, are greatly exaggerated. The telegram and it's evocative symbolism are very much alive and can be found at http://www.telegramwire.com/ "

Visit http://www.telegramwire.com/ for an immersive 'test-drive' of the "greeting card killer"!

Media inquiries: Yemmi Agbebi, MBA, CEO & Founder +44 7894 952 046 or by email at yemmi.agbebi@telegramwire.com

Monday, November 11, 2013

African Travel Association congress in Buea, Cameroon

ATA Cameroon
Opening Gala Dinner
The following information was provided by the ATA after a successful event in Cameroon in October 2013.
AFRICA TRAVEL ASSOCIATION 38TH ANNUAL WORLD CONGRESS IN BUEA, SOUTHWEST CAMEROON
International event convenes delegates from business, government and the non-profit sectors to explore Cameroon's newest attractions in the Southwest Region.

Cameroon delegates emphasize importance of attracting U.S. tourist arrivals and investment.
November 7, 2013 - The Africa Travel Association, the leader in tourism promotion to Africa, held its 38th Annual Congress in Buea, Cameroon from October 16-20, 2013. Under the banner of "Re-Discovering Cameroon," nearly 200 international and local delegates, including tourism ministers from Cameroon, Uganda and Zimbabwe and representatives from the public and private sectors, gathered at the
Buea Mountain Hotel
newly-opened Mountain Hotel to explore how tourism is one of the most promising industries across Africa and an evolving industry in Cameroon.
The Congress was hosted by the Cameroon Ministry of Tourism and Leisure under the auspices of Honorable Minister of State, Minister of Tourism and Leisure, Bella Bouba Maigari. In his opening remarks, the Minister said, "The 38th edition of ATA's Congress in Buea is taking place at a time when tourism, a sector with a strong added value that cuts across sectors, is ranked as one of the biggest industries in the world. The important role it plays in Cameroon's economy contributes significantly to improving the trade balance."
Drawing on the theme of the event, the Minister said Cameroon will be "re-discovered" time and again, particularly when there is so much "to newly discover, given the country's incredible tourist potential, natural resources, cultural diversity, peaceful cohabitation of religions and political stability, which makes our country a tourist El Dorado, known as "All Africa in one country."
Also building on the theme, ATA's Executive Director challenged the delegates to take a new look at Cameroon and to share ideas and insights on how to grow the industry and refine products. "Please consider how we can diversify a country's attractions by investing in new niche tourism products; please also consider how the public and private sectors can partner together to support the packaging and growth of tourism in the region."
Reaching out to the U.S. Market
Throughout the deliberations the Cameroon delegates from both the government and private sector emphasized their desire to connect with the North American market. In his remarks, Minister Bella Bouba Maigari spoke about the importance of turning Cameroon's diversity into innovative products that could be sold to the North American marketplace. He said, "The Government is determined to spare no effort in order to boost up the tourism industry," announcing that Cameroon recently opened a new tourism information bureau office in Washington, D.C.
A number of U.S.-based speakers explored this topic in their presentations. John Riggin, President of Partner Concepts, spoke about how to promote a successful African destination, product or service in the U.S. market. Bianca Menendez, Political/Economic Chief at the U.S. Embassy, spoke about the realities of doing business in Cameroon; and Mark Walton, Managing Director of Onyx Global Marketing, spoke about strategies and tactics for a country to adopt to improve its brand.
Engaging New Partners in Tourism Growth in Africa
For the first time, representatives from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) participated in an ATA congress. Both in the Opening Ceremony and in a panel on public-private partnership, Estherine Lisinge Fotabong, Director-PICD at NEPAD, spoke about NEPAD's role in economic growth across the continent and the possible role travel and tourism can play in increasing trade and investment. African Development Bank (AfDB) representative, Beejaye Kokil, Division Manager of the Economic & Social Statistics Division, provided an overview of what's happening in business in Africa right now. 
ATA Cameroon

Against this backdrop, Associate Director of New York University-Africa House, Eddie Mandhry, announced the release of the first Africa Tourism Monitor, a joint publication produced by AfDB, New York University-Africa House and ATA. "This report presents some of the major opportunities and challenges facing Africa's tourism industry," said Mandhry. "The facts, figures, commentaries and case studies presented in this inaugural issue show how stakeholders across sectors and the continent are taking an innovative approach to growing the industry." Mr. Mandhry also revealed that Africa continued to show a growth trend, growing from 37 million in 2003 to 63.6 million in 2013.
After the launch of the report, the tourism ministers from Cameroon, Uganda and Zimbabwe participated in the Tourism Ministers' Roundtable, in which delegates had an opportunity to directly address the ministers and to learn about their tourism agendas.
Africa Rising
Tea
Bags of tea 
The Congress captured the spirit of Africa's economic growth in a number of sessions, beginning with the keynote by Valentine Ozigbo, Managing Director and CEO of Transnational Hotels & Tourism in Nigeria. Ozigbo spoke about the growth of hotels and lodging in Africa, its impact on the tourism industry, and how governments can support investment through public-private partnership.
Angelle Kwemo, founder of the Congressional African Staff Association, also articulated the message that Africa is on the rise in her presentation on global investment in tourism. "In the twenty-first century economy, any company that needs to grow needs an Africa strategy and any African country that wants growth needs a global strategy," she said.
The discussion on airline connectivity also captured the spirit of "Africa rising." Presenters included Esayas WoldeMariam Hailu, Managing Director of Ethiopian International Services at Ethiopian Airlines, serving 46 destinations in Africa; Bobby Bryan, Commercial Director of Delta Air Lines, serving 4 in Africa; and Djanabou Ali, Sales Executive at Brussels Airlines, serving 20 destinations in Africa.
Discovering Southwest Cameroon
The Ministry of Tourism and Leisure organized two separate afternoon excursions for delegates to learn more about the products and attractions in the region. The first included a tour of the Tole Tea plantation followed by a visit to the Limbe Wildlife Center. A former zoo, the center is a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation project that is home to endangered wildlife including gorillas, chimpanzees, and several species of monkeys.
The delegates then headed to the neighboring Botanical Gardens in Limbe for some cultural entertainment. The day wrapped up with a special dinner, a blend of French and African cuisine, at the Fini Hotel. The Fini boasts a view to Limbe's black beaches and is home to one of the region's top night clubs.
The second Host Country day included ATA's annual tree-planting ceremony at the entrance of Buea University's
ATA Cameroon
Bimbia
Medical School. Then, delegates visited Bimbia, the trans-Atlantic and trans-Saharan slave port. In the words of one of the delegates, "It was an incredibly memorable experience, unlike no other heritage site I've visited in Africa, including Ghana and Senegal, but it requires an all-terrain vehicle to ascend the Limbe hills and sturdy and comfortable shoes to walk through the canopy of trees."
The potential of Cameroon's attractions was presented at a session with the country's leading tourism specialists, who all made strong cases for more increased attention and investment not only from the U.S. market, but also the Chinese one. Moderated by Elimbi Ebenezer, former Director of Tourism Marketing at the Ministry of Tourism and Leisure and a consultant to the UNWTO, presenters included Adam Mahamat, a Cameroon tour operator based in China;Elangwe Peter, a tourist delegate in the Southwest; and Rodolphe Simo Kam, Managing Director of SOFITOUL, one of the country's largest travel companies.
Additional Program Highlights
Amini Kajunju, President & CEO of the Africa-America Institute (AAI), http://www.aaionline.org/, set the tone for a number of presentations in her spotlight on "Building the Capacity for Inclusive Tourism Growth in Africa." In her remarks, she explored why tourism, if managed properly, has the potential to improve lives and support equitable growth on all levels. She also spoke about how tourism can create opportunities for marginalized communities like women, rural areas and youth.
On this basis, a number of sessions focused on the role nonprofits can play in expanding socio-economic growth. Georges Bwelle, a top ten "CNN Hero," spoke about how his non-profit, Ascovime, delivers medical services to underserved communities across Cameroon. Khalid Elachi, Chief Operating Officer of MCW, and Joseph Okelo, Country Director of Global Travel and Tourism Partnership, shared how their nonprofits create tourism jobs for youth.
ATA Cameroon
Edward Bergman, S. Emile Engoulou, Pierre Thiam
Chef Pierre Thiam, author of the cookbook on Senegalese cuisine, Yolele, who was joined by local Chef S. Emile Engoulou of Le Club Municipal Restaurant, spoke about the importance of using local food and ingredients in the tourism industry.
The congress also emphasized the diversity of Africa's products beyond the traditional sea and safari packages. Highlights included a spotlight on Nigerian fashions and textiles in a fashion show organized by Chief Margaret Bolanle Fabiyi, who is President, Webisco International Federation of Women Entrepreneurs & Tourism in Nigeria.  Additional topics included religious travel, diaspora tourism, national parks, and mountain climbing.
Also, Travel trade and mainstream media delegates explored the relationship between tourism and the media at ATA's second annual media exchange. Moderated by Claudine Moore, Managing Director of C Moore Media International, journalists spoke about how to leverage the global interest in Africa by adopting international communication strategies to increase tourism traffic.
The Congress welcomed strong participation from students and young professionals. "The YPP participants
ATA Cameroon
played an active and direct role in the Congress this year, organizing a presentation on Cameroon and a social night at the Chariot Hotel," said Bergman. "They participated in all the sessions, maximizing all the opportunities for networking and learning. Their enthusiasm and dedication makes us all excited for the future of Cameroon's tourism industry."
Taking the lead with the Young Professionals program were Eyong Ayuk Ako-Ebot, MA Tourism Management, and Hyppolite Mouaffo, Adjunct Professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Stratford University.
The congress wrapped up with the "Africa's Destination Travel Specialists Forum".  Participating travel agents included from the U.S., Dr. Gaynelle Henderson-Bailey, Henderson Travel Services; Michael Madison, President, Arbor Travel Associates; and Mohammed Zaki, President /CEO, RZ Travels, Inc., as well as Abigail Lubliner, Associate, Adventure and Eco Tourism from Israel, who shared top tips on how to conduct business in their markets.

Congress Sponsors
Arik Air,  www.arikair.com, served as the Official Congress Carrier and offered special discounts to delegates.  The Nigeria-based airline also served as Official Media Carrier.
ATA, in partnership wit Arik Air and the Ministry of Tourism and Leisure, organized a media delegation to the Congress, which included journalists writing stories for Travel Weekly, Canadian World Traveler Magazine, The Atlantic, CNN, Black Enterprise, Bet.com, Newsone.com and African Sun Times.

Photos above are all courtesy of the ATA. For additional photos, visit ATA's https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151757418252545.1073741832.92120452544&type=1
For copies of presentations and speeches, contact ATA at info@africatravelassociation.org.

Chef Pierre Thiam put together his own "foodie" photo album, which I posted on Facebook.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

African puppets

A photo gallery of new African puppets by Vickie Frémont, representing various regions and fabrics in the continent.
Indigo
Mudcloth
Baule woven cloth
Bazin fabric
Korhogo fabric
The puppets are to be shown at the upcoming SIRA event at the Maison de l'Afrique in Montreal, Canada, on November 7, 8 and 9, 2013.
Vickie will be holding three workshops on Saturday, November 9.

Maison de l'Afrique: 6256 Henri-Julien, Montreal - for more information: tel. 514-701-1433.


Monday, September 30, 2013

Ifeoma Anyaeji - "Transmogrification" at Skoto Gallery, NYC



Detail Cancer and Contours, 2011, 
Discarded plastic bags (Plasto-yarns
and bottles, twine and wood. 39 x 41 x 8 inches
Skoto Gallery has unfailingly shown high quality art in New York since 1992. The gallery’s specialty is African contemporary art, and Skoto was the first to provide an NYC space to El Anatsui, for example, whose art is now displayed in many museums worldwide.

The current exhibition, on view through November 2, 2013, is called Transmogrification: works by Ifeoma Anyaeji. It is a very original and also timely exhibition using surprising materials for the three-dimensional art and sculpture.

Ifeoma Anyaeji
Ifeoma, born and raised in Benin City, Nigeria, studied painting at the University of Benin in her hometown, as an undergraduate. However, sculpture was always her passion, and 3 years ago she won a Ford Foundation Fellowship award and attended Washington University in St. Louis (Missouri, USA). She eschewed traditional materials to concentrate on used plastic bags, “up-cycling” them, rather than “recycling,” in order to add value. One of the techniques she uses is threading, a traditional West African hair plaiting technique which uses thread.
Oche Onodu (Couch), 2012, Discarded plastic bags
(Plasto-yarns) and bottles, metal cans, wood, metal, 
twine, carpet yarn and video on DVD, 
128.04 x 68.04 x 27 inches (Couch);
 51.96 x 18.96 x 18.96 inches (for TV stand) and 14 mins 36 secs (for the video) 
Due to the petroleum industry in Nigeria, and plastic being a petroleum-based product,
plastic bags have become ubiquitous in Nigeria, and are usually discarded without being recycled, often polluting the environment.
Ifeoma’s works celebrate the extension of value in a material, otherwise condemned to be discarded, with no guarantee of being recycled. Not only does her work embrace this peculiar medium but it promotes a craft process, a hair braiding technique, that has been considered “out-of-fashion” in Nigeria. Thus, Up-cycling both material and culture.

Mmili (Water), 2011, Discarded plastic bags
 (Plasto-yarns) and bottles, wood, and twine. 
42.5 x 39.5 x 10 inches
My work embraces the idea of material usefulness and reuse through the transformation of a discarded object’s physical state, as an alternative to recycling by mechanized chemical disintegration. Using these unique mediums to create forms that visually express the narrative of a domestic object’s possible transition from the discarded to the aesthetic pictorial or the decorative or functional, in the absence of a mechanized process. This I conceive by creating a complexity of sculptural forms that allowed for multiple interpretations of the functionality of an object after it has been consumed. The object referred to been the discarded or that bound for the waste bin, as no longer having a value. Using forms inspired by architectural structures and household furniture I try to explore the possibility of achieving an environmentally sustainable practice through the means of unconventional Up-cycling (recycling) processes.”
Ifeoma calls her style of art "Plastoart", coined from the words plastic and art. She hopes her concept of “up-cycling” will encourage others to follow her lead in making art from plastic bags; it would form a model for small-scale entrepreneurial Up-cycled Plastoart craft initiatives in her home country, especially.
Ifeoma teaches at her alma mater in Benin City and also has another solo exhibition, Plasto-yarnings: a conversation with plastic bags and bottles, simultaneously showing at the Alliance Française in Nairobi, Kenya.

Detail of Akpalakpa II, 2012, Discarded plastic bags, metal wire and wood. 84 x 66 x 18 inches  
Akpalakpa II, 2012, Discarded plastic bags, metal wire and wood. 84 x 66 x 18 inches  

Oche Blue (Blue Chair), 2011, Metal, discarded plastic bags 
and plastic electric wire rim, and wood. 44.4 x 36 x 27.6 inches
Eze na Ozo (Red cap chiefs), 2013. Discarded plastic bags (plasto-yarns) and bottle caps, and twine  

Hair threading video demonstration, 2012