The Black Yogis

The Black Yogis

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Who are the black yogis? This is a question that’s been on my mind for a long time. Several years ago I maintained a subscription to Yoga Journal and was consistently disappointed by the magazines failure to represent people of color in its pages. It was a harsh irony that the publication didn’t do more to connect its content with the creators of the practice let alone other people of color. It was clear that Yoga Journal pandered to the same clientele that frequented the studios. I was disappointed when I considered the magazines failure to use its platform to represent a more diverse body of practitioners.

Having moved to Kenya several months ago, I rediscovered Bikram Yoga Nairobi. Upon returning, I was delighted to observe a diverse group of practitioners and teachers at the studio. Kenyans were definitely in the expected mix of European and American expats during classes. Within my first couple of weeks I met Kent, a Trinidadian teacher who had a fantastic story. Apparently Kent, who had a small frame, weighed over 200 lbs. a few years ago. Then he discovered Bikram Yoga and turned his life around. Side Note: for a long time I resisted Bikram Yoga as a regular practice. There was something about the flashiness and blatant capitalism that the founder Bikram Choudhuroy seemed to embody; what appeared to be a purely physical practice; and an uncertainty about the safety of the instruction. That being said, historically I’m not one to proselytize about the benefits of Bikram yoga BUT having revisited the practice in recent months the personal benefits have been notable. Back to Kent: during his classes I really appreciated Kent’s presence of mind and motivational style. I also liked that he was a black yoga teacher teaching a class filled with Kenyans. This was the moment that Yoga Journal had missed.  I talked with Kent about the two of us doing a photo shoot to represent The Black Yogis. This is a moment I’ve been waiting for for a long time. In the future I’ll do a post on some of the amazing Kenyan yoga teachers that have emerged in recent years, many of them coming through Africa Yoga Project. But for now I start at home. Thank you Kent for being that lamp post (to use a Bikram idiom) and safari njema wherever your travels take you.

photos by Elísabet Cárdenas

@ Bikram Yoga Nairobi, Lavington Green

An ​Intersection of Afropolitan ​C​ulture at Sauti Za Busara (the Zanzibar Music Festival)

An ​Intersection of Afropolitan ​C​ulture at Sauti Za Busara (the Zanzibar Music Festival)

What happens when a Hawaiian born Chinese/African-American photographer, a Somali/Norwegian stylist and a French raised Sudanese/Somali producer meet at Sauti za Busara in Zanzibar? The definition of an Afropolitan experience was put into action; Stone Town inspired the creative globetrotting trio with its Swahili culture of the Indian ocean, African/World music and the idea of a visionary global African diaspora. All these elements create a memorable fashion story that planted Swahili roots in the hearts of the collaborators.​


Two weeks ago, my good friend and stylist Liban visited me in Nairobi and scooped me up to Zanzibar to Sauti Za Busara. I arrived into the mayhem and beauty of the magical festival on the Swahili coast. Keeping up with the festival schedule, which had performances from 4pm – 2am from Thursday to Sunday was a bit of a challenge but we did our best. We were joined by the photographer Nicky Woo, who helped document our adventure. In addition to an amazing lineup of musicians, such as Culture Musical Club (Zanzibar), Tcheka (Cape Verde), The Brother Moves on (South Africa), Sarabi (Kenya) and many more, the three of us bonded and had a spontaneous artistic collaboration after an afternoon at Darajani Market, culminating in a photo shoot for a fashion story. I think the pictures tell the narrative best so I’ll let them speak for themselves. Enjoy!

 

 

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Address: Sauti Za Busara, PO Box 3635, Zanzibar, Tanzania busara@busara.or.tz Tel: +255 24 223 2423 or +255 773 822 294. Website: http://www.busaramusic.org/

 

Sauti Sol at The Koroga Festival

Sauti Sol at The Koroga Festival

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I’m officially a fan of The Koroga Festival which is sponsored by Capital FM and takes place every other month in the Arboretum Gardens. Admittedly I’m an outdoorsy person who appreciates intergenerational gatherings … mommas and babas have to get our groove on too! The festival this past weekend did not disappoint. Sauti Sol, one of the biggest names on the East African music scene,  gave a rousing performance. The highlight for me happened towards the end of their set when they invited all the youth in the audience onto the stage. The kids had a ball. There were also performances by emerging artists Mayonde and Juliani as well as jumpy castles, a food court, multiple bars and numerous fashion and design vendors. Check out The Koroga Festival facebook page for upcoming events and more pics.

Elsa’s Kopje at Meru National Park

Elsa’s Kopje at Meru National Park

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I had the good fortune of taking a 7 hr. road trip to Meru National Park last weekend with a group of friends. The drive was amazing. I didn’t know Kenya had such lush mountainous terrain. A friend of a friend got us a discount at Elsa’s Kopje, a stunning boutique lodge which is sculpted into Mughwango Hill in the middle of the park. A couple of my “firsts” included: observing a dung beetle rolling its dung/mud ball along a path; siting a hyena during a night drive; and driving a Land Rover through the park. Needless to say it wasn’t easy to return home to Nairobi from paradise.