Showing posts from June, 2012

An American in Ghana

My curiosity was piqued when my colleague told me about his daughter,  Emily Silver, who  just returned to the United States from a  semester abroad in Ghana, Africa. She is 21 years old, and a double  major in Dance and Arts for Children, studying at The College at  Brockport  (NY State). She studied dance for most of her life, and now  hopes to channel her childhood passion into a  fulfilling adult career.  After meeting her (and after hearing about her from her proud father!), I asked to interview her for this blog, as she demonstrates much passion, not only for life and dance, but also about her time in Africa. Emily, what brought you to Africa?  During this pivotal time in my life, I have  done a lot of self reflection and come to recognize that my friends  are my world, I am interested in the less glamorous walks of life, I  enjoy finding hidden treasures and that I am a self proclaimed  extremist and wouldn't have it any other way. I thrive off of  challenge and I e

Julius Essoka, Musician from Douala

Julius Essoka After a couple of years on Twitter, I started following--or did he follow me? I don't remember!--@JuliusEssoka, who seemed to be living in Douala, Cameroon, and who was up at all hours, as he'd answer my tweets when it was late evening in New York, but in the wee hours of the night in Cameroon! When I returned to Cameroon in January, I hoped to meet him. He braved the ridiculous traffic jams that are now a mainstay in Douala, to come visit us in our Deido neighborhood. Julius Essoka works for MTN, in communications, by day. By night he is a talented musician. I brought back his CDs and mailed them to another African Twitter friend, Akenaata Hammagaadji, who has a weekly African music program: First World Music  on  @ WVKR . Of course, first I listened to the CDs, and really liked some of the songs. I can't label them--some are Makossa-style, some reminiscent of African-jazzy House Music: it's quite a mix of styles. I interviewed him via email to f

Le Pagne and African-made fashion

Display at R.W. King, Douala One of the first stops I made while in Douala was to buy pagne , African fabric, at R.W. King. Since a couple of years, women's clothing made with pagne is popping up in Saks Fifth Avenue and other upscale retailers' ads, at corresponding prices, in the many hundreds of dollars: Suno and Edun ; in France, Toubab Paris .* In Edun's case, it certainly helps that a celebrity ( Bono ) and his spouse, Ali Hewson--are behind it. These trademarks have one thing in common: non-African founders, which is sad, as the same thing happens in all design fields, and often not only for Africans, but all "developing" countries: if the designer is African (or Indian, or even Chinese), she/he is ignored by major Western media or trade representatives (retailers, galleries). On the other hand, when finally Africa joins the rest of the economically wealthy world, and I am convinced the day will come, this will become be a moot point. Pagne