October 28, 2017

The Festival of Exodus

Image: Travel with April
Hogbetsotso festival takes place on the first Saturday of November each year, commemorating the migration of the Anlo Ewe people from Notsé town in Togo to Anloga town in Ghana. Legend has it that these folks escaped a wicked king back in the day by traversing backwards, so their footprints would be deceptive to observers that would only conclude that the people were going into town.
Image: Vindice 101
Image: N D C
Agbadza, also known as "the chicken dance." Image: JY Midey
Celebrations are marked by a peace making period, marking a new beginning and a time of harmony for the Anlo's; a purification of ceremonial stools, a general cleaning of the villages, a pageantry display by the village chiefs in colorful regalia, with villagers paying homage to them. This is also a time to see the Agbadza at its best—a music and dance routine popularized and trademarked by this group, seen in parts of Ghana, Togo and Benin.

October 10, 2017

Houston's top designers grace the runways of Africa Fashion Week Houston.

Houston designers showed out early this Fall in an unprecedented fashion show, creating one of a kind designs that pays ode to the African continent. The showcase at Africa Fashion Week Houston this year demonstrate what these designers can whip up and then some. More designers are experimenting with the juxtaposition of the ethnic and contemporary. Some of the pieces I wanted for my closet. I'm reminded of the fact that fashion is an extension of personality, not just a piece of cloth on your body. A well put together outfit for me has always made a signature statement. A well curated set can define my mood. Only if I can take the designers home to make me an outfit everyday of the week. I'm also reminded that days are becoming long gone when you simply fit into defined standards set by big fashion industries, and not fitting meant changing who you are and how you viewed your self worth. Anyone can wear beautiful clothes. The runway showcase presented wearable pieces for many shapes and sizes as represented by the models.

You'd be hard pressed to observe a runway dedicated to African fashion without its main show piece—the Ankara. Ankara is an inclusive print, the beautiful thing about it now is it has become universal, appearing on countless runways and this show is no exception. There's the element of exoticness in them that appeals to many and happily, anyone can pull off an outfit made in this African inspired print. The material presents with endless possibilities and has become a fashion designer's colorful canvas of creativity.  Designs in Ankara made repetitive appearances, infused in collections as part of a piece or a stand alone piece making for designs that are either exotic chic or refined glamour.
The folks at Fall Of Signature Essence have steadfastly presented Africa Fashion Week Houston since its inception four years ago with special guest, top model Nneka. Since then, they have helped launch the careers of some Houston designers and models. Houston has taken notice, giving the platform a proclamation, attracting major sponsors and patrons of fashion. This alludes to the platform's goal of making this a widely accepted fashion event on par with other mainstream platforms. This year, they ambitiously took out a whole week in display of art, culture and fashion. They created opportunities for both upcoming designers to well known ones. Although the upcoming designers still have a long way to go in honing their craft, they do show some promise. I especially enjoyed the designers that showcased at the grand finale, namely House of Takura, Nma Couture and Rocky Boston. These designers are clearly talented, being able to pull off a coveted collection in less than a week. 

AFWH 2017 Designers

  • The Cultured Market
  • African Queen Fashion
  • Effects Couture
  • Kachi Designs
  • Classic Beginnings
  • House of Detola
  • Masterpiece Boutique
  • Adeara
  • PR Customs
  • The Art Institute of Houston
  • House of Takura
  • Adot Designs
  • Nma Courture
  • Rocky Boston

Check out event photos on Facebook.

September 11, 2017

Houston AfriFEST

The fifth annual Houston AfriFEST took place September 9th 2017 pulling together vendors and performances celebrating the rich and diverse cultures of Africa, organized by NAMC Houston
This event attracted a diverse group of people of all ages. It was a day of family friendly fun and educational, and of course, no there's always the authentic African cuisine and the latest in Afrobeats to get the crowd going.
More photos are on Facebook.

September 5, 2017

African Houstonians still have love for Davido

August 18th. Davido fans in Houston came out in droves to catch a glimpse of the artist's performance at Ayva center. It would be another leg of his 30 Billion World Tour.  The event was met with much anticipation following his Dallas show where a record number of fans turned up. They would wait until the early hours of the morning when the artist finally emerges on stage to perform current crowd favorites such as If and Fall as well as long standing hits like Skelewu and Tchelete. Tour dates have been slated for a number of cities in North America, Europe and Africa and he's performing to sold out crowds at each location.

The artist's success is an indication to how far Afro musicians have come, contemporary African pop music, also known as Afropop or Afrobeat have become a well known genre in mainstream music is enjoyed by a variety of audiences worldwide and with the latest collaborations by some of the artists with mainstream musicians, there's a glimmer of hope that one day, these musicians will become household names beyond the African continent. Some argue that these musicians should not be quick to embrace the mainstream so as to not get lost in a space that would otherwise take them out of their musical identity and while not fully embracing them as mainstream artists. Some are willing to embrace a new musical climate where a new generation of music lovers are dictating what they like and shifting the industry's perception of a musician's success. Were preceding artists may have had little success, artists such as Davido himself and others like Mr. Eazi and Wizkid are reshaping the cultural perception of the genre and are making Afro pop more acceptable, appearing on platforms like Beats One radio and Apple Music.

Davido have come a long way since his university days, recording popular hit songs and winning numerous awards. He's signed endorsement deals with MTN Group and Guiness Nigeria.

Photos from the concert can be found on Facebook.
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