I recently spent an evening dining and conversing with Radcliffe, my sister Leslie’s partner, and some friends, in Brooklyn. I was in the U.S. for a few weeks visiting family and renewing my Kenyan visa. Radcliffe, a painter, sculptor, and installation artist, was working on a series of paintings on sheet music, which he transported in an old Count Basie record cover. Brilliant. He told me that these pieces would be part of an upcoming exhibit in Europe. The work centered around a series of photographs of West and Central African sculptures. The sculptures were placed within surreal worlds, rich in color and texture. After a dinner of grilled fava beans, salmon, and ramps, I sat and watched Radcliffe work on the paintings. Later that evening, we went for drinks at a local lounge in Bed-Stuy, and then to the Eye Spy party in Williamsburg, whose theme was music influenced by the Native Tongues movement. It had been several years since I lived in Brooklyn and the changes throughout the borough were apparent – from the Barclay’s Center to the new residents who’ve moved into my old neighborhoods of Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights. Folks who have lived in Brooklyn for years will be the first to tell you – it’s not what it used to be. And I think that’s true…but somehow in my evening with Radcliffe, my sister, and our friends, I was reminded that home is where the heart is, and a piece of my heart still lives in Brooklyn.
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!
Address: Sauti Za Busara, PO Box 3635, Zanzibar, Tanzania firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +255 24 223 2423 or +255 773 822 294. Website: http://www.busaramusic.org/
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.