Game Changers:In historic fashion parade, rapper Emicida releases his clothing line at São Paulo Fashion Week with cast featuring 90% black models

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In an historical parade, Emicida puts black and overweight models on as protagonists in SPFW with his clothing line

It took a rapper invading the catwalk to show the obvious: a parade with mostly black models is as or more beautiful than a parade of Scandinavian whites. There is no possible argument after watching the the LAB parade.

By  Wendy Candido (Rap Nacional Download) with info from Ego, Vogue, Elle, M de Mulher

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The second day of parades of São Paulo Fashion Week ended in a grand and exciting way, and certainly made history on Monday (October 24th) with the debut of the Laboratório Fantasma, the clothing line of rapper Emicida and his brother Evandro Fióti.

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With a casting, comprised of 90% black models, the mission of the brand at the event was to bring the fashion world a more inclusive, democratic discourse, and, of course, representativeness.

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The main objective of LAB, as the line is affectionately known, is to show the diversity and freedom from all knowledge of the struggle of black people throughout the world and the harsh reality of everyday life of the broken, very well known by the brothers Emicida and Fióti.

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The collection, which is called Yasuke, the name given to black Samurais, had creative direction of João Pimenta, a renowned designer who participated in SPFW for years, and mixes Eastern, African and street influences. Under the blessing of Emicida, the pieces were presented by people of all types (black, fat, tall, short…) escaping from world standards of the catwalks and representing those who we see on the streets every day, that is, real people, who consumes a lot of fashion and often only don’t consume more because most brands bar offering offer sizes that go past 44. In short, the LAB parade is nothing like what the one is accustomed to seeing at the São Paulo fashion week.

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Entre the looks, all in black, white and red, the singers Seu Jorge and Ellen Oléria also paraded in what was a great celebration of cultura afro and national rap.

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In an interview with Vogue, Emicida detailed he how deals with the similarities between the creative processes in music and fashion.

“Creation is a blank sheet on all platforms. Creating a track or designing shirt, what I want is to tell a story. This is a delicious sensation.”

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For its first participation in SPFW, the line came with a lot of maturity, full of innovation and authenticity – Watch the whole parade, complete with an Emicida rhyme.

Knowing full well the importance of the visual of his parade, the rapper and his brother explained the vision they had for the parade.

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“We put on the catwalk ordinary people, who deal with reality. We see a many things, not only in fashion, that don’t reflect the reality of the country. We are showing what Brazil is,” Emicida said. When asked about the casting of the models, the rapper replied:

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“In general, people look at the catwalk here and it seems that they’re looking at the catwalks of Sweden. We can look at the casting of our show through the lens of the occupation and also the representation of beauty, self-esteem and elegance. For a long time it was not associated with pessoas pretas e à periferia (black people and the periphery). What we are doing now is getting all this back. Evandro and I participated in the choice of each person to participate, we didn’t leave this decision in the hands of anyone. And we didn’t go only by the profile, we also exchanged an idea to know who they were.”

“We aren’t not making any kind of protest. Just portraying Brazil as it really is. Fashion has to be inclusive and not generate grief or destroy dreams,” Fióti said. “We want to show a Brazil rarely or never seen in this structure of the fashion week. LAB wins with the entry in the line-up and the SPFW wins with the veracity of our work. This may reflect positively in the minds of many people, hopefully act as a further help to change thoughts and attitudes of the entire ecosystem of the industry. That’s what I hope to garner,” he concludes.

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The models celebrated. “The idea is very cool. Society needs to see that there is room for everyone. If it was the reverse, with mostly whites, no one would find it strange,” said Arthur Lopes. “I thought the initiative was incredible. In other clothing lines, when there are two black girls it’s a lot,” said Natiele Alves.

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The challenge to a SPFW that’s usually lilly white was also not missed by Elle magazine:

“In Emicida’s show, he really wanted to reflect on the beauty of the streets, of the public using their clothes and not bending toward the standards. […] It’s clear that the rapper was keen to reverse the percentage and put on a beautiful display of 90% black versus 10% white to show how a more colorful world of fashion would be. And whoever saw it, knows: it’s beautiful, proud, with intelligent and desirable clothes.”

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Are black and money are rival words???

By Bruno Rico

We must learn to recognize something historic, and this week something happened up for history, which was the launch of the brand Lab, by rapper Emicida and his brother Fióti, in the biggest fashion event in Latin America, São Paulo Fashion Week.

The launch was historic for many reasons, the parade managed to insert practically all the elements that everybody involved in militancy always complain of not having, and when it has it, here come people complaining, and that my text today is especially directed to this group.

First it is important to say that the Laboratório Fantasma has been around for a long time in the market, it functions as a record label, producer, cultural vehicle, etc.; I can say that I’m talking about a collective created to promote hip-hop, urban and black culture in general, in addition to other things, and of these things emerged a clothing brand, which until recently sold the clothes of its latest collection for the single price of R$14.00. All this already shows how Emicida was always a man ahead of his time, a born artist, a visionary entrepreneur, black with no strings attached, and he is more than right, as our ancestors were already tied up for too long, the equivalent of several future generations, and now this next generation is saying we have to be imprisoned again, this doesn’t cut it anymore!

In spite of already having done a lot, Emicida decided to go beyond, and from  Laboratório Fantasma he launched a collection that comes with a new look, getting his foot in the door of the fashion market.

In my thirty years, I’ve never seen a black guy who rose from poverty to launching his clothing brand and already the guy launches it in an event that is a world reference in terms of fashion. If this isn’t showing off to you, for me, it’s a lot!

Another extremely important point of the parade, and for me the most important of all is the question of representativeness, because almost all models were black, not to mention the designer was also, and is this not what the guys are always complaining? In addition, the brand even bothered to put on overweight models, but I’m not talking about those chubby ones with no stomach that appear in most plus size fashion shows, I’m talking about gordo de verdade (the real fat ones), people who need 5G clothes, and with Lab they will find these cloths.

Mas Emicida and his brother Fióti could have just been around there, after all, a bunch of blacks together in a walkway was a lot of already, and already would be an achievement, but they still went further, as the brand even bothered to release prints with African themes, all connected to the history of Yasuke, a black samurai that I had never heard of, but that I learned about thanks to Lab. Look how sensational this was! You launch a brand and still convey culture with all of this; search for Yasuke, the parade was cool, there’s a cartoon and everything and all the kids will fall in love with it. Soon, I’ll release a book called Piye, which is already ready, only missing a publisher, and Piye, for those who do not know, was the first great black Pharaoh of Egypt, so I thought the history of Yasuke was sensational.

In the midst of such representation, we still had as models: musician Seu Jorge, actress Cris Vianna, rapper Karol Conka, Rashid, the former Globeleza Nayara Justino, who was practically fired from the post for ser preta demais (being too black), remember her? Well then, all of this crowd was there, among many others, including models who live in slums.

But all of this wasn’t enough, there were still a lot of people complaining, and gente preta(black people), because I didn’t see white people commenting on the matter, and even I saw them, it wouldn’t matter to me, because what bothers me most is when I see blacks criticizing blacks, especially when that black seems to concern himself with the evolution of the other black, because I can only understand it in this way, as in my Facebook I already questioned three siblings that were against to the show, I asked them to show me a solution, in regards to the problem they had submitted, only that so far no one has responded.

To be continued…

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Game Changers : Ghana-Based Digital Arts Company Brings African Folklore to Life Through Interactive Comics, Mobile Games

<iframe id="2c77404f98" name="2c77404f98" src="//mirrordigital-d.openx.net/w/1.0/afr?auid=538565249&cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="728" height="90"><a href="//mirrordigital-d.openx.net/w/1.0/rc?cs=2c77404f98&cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE" ><img src="//mirrordigital-d.openx.net/w/1.0/ai?auid=538565249&cs=2c77404f98&cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE" border="0" alt=""></a></iframe><span id=”mce_marker” data-mce-type=”bookmark” data-mce-fragment=”1″></span>Say goodbye to Clark Kent and hello to a host of badass superheroes known as Africa’s Legends.

These aren’t just any superheroes, however. They’re a unique set of characters drawn from the rich African tradition of storytelling and African folklore.

For Ghana-based gaming studio Leti Arts, the mission is to present these stories on a worldwide stage, mainstreaming the continent’s rich culture through a series of digital comics and interactive games.

“Leti Arts reimagines African folklore and historic legends, interspersed with fictional characters, as elite superheroes fighting crime in present day Africa,” the company’s website states. We’re poised on delivering “world class entertainment to our consumers.”

Developing quality interactive media games for the world to enjoy is just one part of the Leti Arts empire. The company also works to create job opportunities for young talent in Africa while working to cement the continent as a viable contender in the world gaming industry. Their commitment to fostering local talent, industry growth, and providing internships/training is what has earned the company international success thus far.

With a new digital game in the works, Leti Arts is looking to take its folklore-inspired projects to new heights. Atlanta Black Star spoke with Leti Arts’ PR manager Abena Addai to learn more about the company’s history, mission and influence behind its digital arts concepts.

ABS: When and why was Leti Arts founded?

Addai: Leti Arts was founded in 2009, and we currently have two offices in Ghana and Kenya. Leti was founded on the grounds of preserving our heritage and culture. Contemporary Africa hasn’t kept up with modern forms and genres of storytelling. This has caused a disconnect between millennials, our history and culture, and the actual content they consume. Leti aims to remedy this by curating all these stories, including our history and folklore, and present them in a way that our current generation is used to. We do this by creating interactive digital comics and mobile games that present stories of historic African legends in the 21st century with compelling visuals. We believe that digitization is a better long-term bet for preserving our heritage for future generations.

ABS: Your digital comics and mobile games are unique in that they draw inspiration from African folklore. Why did you think it was important to feature African culture in your digital projects?

Addai: We want to present the African heritage in a way that will make millennials both in Africa and the Diaspora genuinely excited to engage and interact with. The current ways of telling our stories are boring and not innovative. They also tend to be extremely exaggerated or watered down. We want to bring these stories to the world in a simple, fun, entertaining and authentic way. Our comics and games tell the stories of all these great legends that many millennials might not have even heard of.

ABS: What are the names of some of the characters featured in your Africa’s Legends superhero series, and which historic African figures/folklore characters were they inspired by?

Addai: We have Shaka Zulu, who is a descendant of the great Shaka Zulu from South Africa. He is a policeman who finds out that he can command the ghost army of his ancestor to come to his aid when he is in trouble.

Pharaoh was inspired by the ancient Pharaohs from Egypt. Our Pharaoh is unnamed and has just been awakened by a cosmic event after being dead for 200 years. He brings the Africa’s Legends together while seeking the reason why he has been awakened from his slumber.

Sundi and The Wadaabi Assassin are based on the nomadic Wodaabe tribe that can be found in Niger. These characters are highly skilled in martial arts and don’t see eye to eye despite having been trained by the same master.

ABS: How many downloads have your digital comics and mobile games gotten so far?

Addai: So far we have had 70,000 downloads without any aggressive marketing. [The] majority of these downloads are from Africa, especially Egypt. The rest are from America, Canada and the U.K.

Shaka Zulu 1Shaka Zulu from Leti Arts digital gaming series Africa’s Legends. Image courtesy of Leti Arts.

ABS: What educational purpose(s) do your comics/mobile games serve regarding African life and culture?

Addai: Our oral traditions are dying out, which means that most of our stories and traditions which have been handed down from generation to generation will go with it. These are the stories we hope to capture in our comics. A kid wouldn’t have to read a whole lot of pages to learn about Shaka Zulu or Okomfo Anokye. These would all be accurately summarized in the comic. They would also have superheroes that they can relate to.

Apart from this, the Africa’s Legends franchise addresses some of the prevalent issues Africa faces. These include sanitation, corruption, jet fuel sniffing in children, child trafficking and a few others. We hope that by bringing these issues to light, Africans will rise up and work towards making our continent better.

ABS: In what ways does Leti Arts create job opportunities through gaming?

Addai: The business of developing Africa’s game industry will require business majors, intellectual property lawyers, entrepreneurs and institutions to teach and certify industry professionals. The potential for gaming to create jobs and improve lives in Africa is therefore extensive.

Already we have had success in empowering about 60 interns from tertiary institutions in Ghana. We have also mentored and encouraged 10 talented high school students to pursue degrees which allow them to follow their passion of developing games.

ABS: What does Leti Arts hope to accomplish over the next five years?

Addai: We want our superheroes to become household names worldwide. We want to have partnerships with African and global businesses to develop Africa’s Legends into a multi-faceted franchise that covers core comics, games, merchandise, feature films and animation (TV and TV series).

We also want to see increased downloads of our games and apps on the devices of young people in Africa and around the world.

Africa’s Legends True Ananse character. Image courtesy of Leti Arts.
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Superhero Ruddy Sans, the illegitimate child of President Mubacha and Donald. Image courtesy of Leti Arts.
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Africa’s Legends Pharaoh character, inspired by the ancient Pharaohs of Egypt. Image courtesy of Leti Arts.

 

Game Changers : Noirebnb and Innclusive

Noirebnb and Noirbnb – two separate businesses, despite their similar names – aim to provide a more inclusive home-sharing platform by bringing together black hosts with black people who are travelling.

Innclusive

After widespread complaints about racism and discrimination on Airbnb, two startups have set out to offer alternative services to African-American travelers.

Noirebnb and Noirbnb – two separate businesses, despite their similar names – aim to provide a more inclusive home-sharing platform by bringing together black hosts with black people who are travelling.

READ MORE: Airbnb’s alleged racism problem continues – North Carolina host removed following racist rant

Both companies were founded by black users who say they experienced discrimination while trying to book accommodation on Airbnb.

“Noirbnb” was founded by Ronnia Cherry and Stefan Grant; former Airbnb users who garnered a lot of attention last fall after a neighbour suspected they were robbing the upscale Airbnb home they were renting in Atlanta.

Yo! The Air B&B we’re staying at is so nice, the neighbors thought we were robbing the place & called the cops! 😂

Rohan Gilkes, founder of “Noirebnb,” came up with the idea in May after his Medium post detailing an alleged racist interaction with an Airbnb host went viral.

“Airbnb’s response to my Medium post was lacklustre at best,” Gilkes told Global News. “I just want to build an inclusive place where people can feel respected.”

While both companies exclusively feature images of African-American travellers on their sites – and Noirbnb’s tag line reads, “The future of black travel is here” – Gilkes said he won’t tolerate any type of discrimination on his service.

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“It’s not just a space for black people or people of colour,” he said, noting that he already has hosts with many different cultural backgrounds lined up to welcome guests on Noirebnb.

Gilkes said Noirebnb will allow anyone who feels like they are being discriminated against – whether because of their skin colour, religion, or sexual preference – to find a safe place to stay, with open-minded hosts.

This isn’t the first time discriminatory encounters have led users to create Airbnb alternatives.

Misterbandb – a home-sharing platform specifically for gay travellers – was created in 2013, after founder Matthieu Jost and his partner had a bad experience with an Airbnb host in Barcelona.

The website has since grown to over 55,000 rental listings in 130 countries.

READ MORE: Black Airbnb users speak out about ‘widespread discrimination’ on service

On Wednesday, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky addressed what has come to be known as “Airbnb’s racism problem” during the company’s OpenAir conference.

“Let me make it clear that we have zero tolerance for any amount of racism or discrimination on our platform,” Chesky said. “Over the next couple months, we’re revisiting the design of our platform end to end and look at how we can revisit decisions we’ve made.”

Despite the company making public promises to crack down on discrimination, interest in both Noirebnb and Noirbnb appears to be growing among frustrated users.

.@Airbnb lost my business as a host and a traveler after their failure to address . Looking forward to @Noirbnb!

Read about Noirebnb and the whole racists wont rent on airbnb saga. As a former and possibly future airbnb host… nothing more personal

And I hope that the market of people who dont use airbnb is big enough to support noirebnb, OR that Noirebnb just becomes a regular market

“I feel like there is a real frustration – people are telling their stories. The time is now, and hopefully this movement would be something that makes Airbnb better,” Gilkes said.

Because there has been so much overlap between Noirebnb and Noirbnb’s names, the two companies have been in talks to combine the platforms or work together in some way. However, Gilkes said the companies will remain independent, for now.

The Magufuli Effect: Tanzania’s New President and His Impact on Regional Affairs

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There’s a new sheriff in East Africa, and he goes by the name of John Magufuli. Since entering office in November, he has embarked on a number of initiatives and cost-cutting moves designed to stem corruption and unnecessary spending in Tanzania, a country with tremendous potential but one in which the average income is $79 a month (World Bank, 2014). Thus while the nation has enjoyed a decent status as the center for foreign direct investment — particularly from China and the United States — the average citizen is still poor and has not felt the impact.

In walks Magufuli.

Some observers were surprised he was chosen to be the flag-bearer for the Chama Cha Mapinduzi Party because of his reputation against inefficiency.

He reportedly has earned the nickname “The Bulldozer.” The day after he was elected, he made a surprise visit to the Ministry of Finance, presumably to put officials on notice that it would not be business as usual. It wasn’t long before he struck blood when he announced an audit for large companies who previously had avoided taxes.

He also ordered import companies to pay for duties within seven days and ordered a crackdown on public officials who were reportedly working closely with these companies in exchange for bribes.

One week after the election, Magufuli showed up at the main state hospital in Dar es Salaam, to find patients sleeping on the floor and critical machines in poor condition. He immediately fired the director of the hospital and has since taken it upon himself to direct more funds towards the upgrade of the hospital and other medical facilities in the country. His acts resonated with the common wananchi (people) who felt that he understood their concerns and was truly upset by the corruption and the growing distance between the haves and have-nots in Tanzanian society.

Magufuli then made international headlines during Tanzania’s national day when he canceled expensive celebrations and instead ordered the funds to be diverted toward other areas of need in the country. Then, on national day, Magufuli himself went out into the streets with a push broom and began to clean up the roads and areas. This scene has been shared countless times on social media and is in stark contrast to other African presidents and even low-level politicians who shamelessly waste money on all levels of extravagance while the overwhelming majority of the people are mired in deep poverty. The cost for the national day celebration was budgeted for $100,000, but Magufuli used the funds to purchase  beds for the hospitals and other items.

In addition to budgetary discipline, he has also cut back on foreign travel for government officials and scrapped a plan for government spending on Christmas cards to be given out by officials. It should be noted this is possibly one of the many methods of corruption as officials have been known to increase the official price of such items. For example, they would charge $80 for an ink pen and then pocket the difference. (Note: $80 for a pen is not an exaggeration; it happened in Kenya).

However, Magufuli’s real impact will be his influence among voters in regional elections and politics. He is the first politician in East Africa, through the use of social media, to gain a popular following for his actions. There is a twitter hashtag, #WhatWouldMagufuliDo?, that is dedicated to cost-saving and anti-corruption measures. People in different parts of Tanzania and other countries are beginning to ask, “If Magufuli can do it in Tanzania, then what’s wrong with our politicians?”

The immediate impact will be felt in Tanzania, where voters will be looking for someone to clean up corruption and provide better services for the people. But in nations such as Kenya, Zambia and Uganda, the impact will be in their upcoming elections.  Uganda and Zambia are set to hold elections this year, whereas Kenya’s elections will be in 2017. However, Magufuli will likely make a major impact in Kenya because the election season has already started, and voters are already talking about how they’re looking for someone to actually “do something” and not just make speeches.

In Uganda and Kenya, incoming politicians will likely seek to channel the Magufuli vibe and promise to initiate acts of reform and cut back spending.  Both nations will experience financial difficulties in the coming year due to the slowing of the Chinese economy and the likelihood of their currency value taking another hit.

In Zambia, expect both the Patriotic Front and the United Front for National Development to espouse reformist rhetoric and promote themselves as the leaders of change. Magufuli-style talk will not solve the issues of tribalism, long-term cronyism or the coming Eurobond debt. Nor will it provide rain to enable Zambia’s hydroelectric dams to run more efficiently. Instead, it will serve as sound bites for politicians seeking to win over a few extra votes.

One interesting challenge facing Magufuli will be the response of the economic and political elite — many of whom made their fortunes on the corrupt system he is seeking to change. While Magufuli won the position as the party flag-bearer for the election, it remains to be seen if the CCM will choose him again in the next election. In fact, it has been suggested that Magufuli is outshining the party and is moving ahead much further than some stalwarts would have wished.

As Magufuli moves forward, he may have to carefully choose his battles carefully and not get overly bogged down in every aspect of the system or try to fight or investigate every instance of possible corruption. Such actions may prove to be popular to the media but will ultimately take away the focus from building the society and creating a more dynamic economy. In addition, he may risk being viewed as a micro-manager who alienates his supporters in business and politics who may have unclear dealings but generally positive intentions.

Magufuli’s role in Tanzania and East Africa will be talked about and debated by all levels of politics, society and business. Tanzania is widely viewed as the lead contender for East Africa’s next great economy. And due to its large gas reserves, mineral resources and major port projects in Dar es Salaam, Mtwara, Bagamayo and Tanga, it can possibly become one of the leading African nations in the next decade. Magufuli’s influence will be felt, and one thing is for sure: Some will like it and others will loathe it.

Jamal Bradley is an American businessman from Philadelphia and currently based in Kenya.

 

 

Nigerian Comics Startup is Creating More African Superheroes

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Comic Republic, a Nigerian comics startup based in Lagos, is creating a universe of superheroes for Africans and black readers around the world. The cast of characters—”Africa’s Avengers” according to some fans—ranges from Guardian Prime, a 25-year old Nigerian fashion designer by day who uses his extraordinary strength to fight for a better Nigeria, to Hilda Avonomemi Moses, a woman from a remote village in Edo state who can see spirits, and Marcus Chigozie, a privileged but angry teenager who can move at supersonic speeds.
“I thought about when I was young and what I used to make my decisions on: What would Superman do, what would Batman do? I thought, why not African superheroes?” Chief executive Jide Martin, who founded the company in 2013, told Quartz. Its tagline is, “We can all be heroes.”
(Comic Republic)
The startup may be a sign that comics are having a moment on the continent as well as in a market once said to lack interest in African-inspired characters. The nine-person team has seen downloads of its issues, published online and available for free, grow from a couple hundred in 2013 to 25,000 in its latest release last month as the series has become more popular. Comic Republic plans to make money from sponsorships and advertisers.

So far, companies have asked Comic Republic to create comics for their products and NGOs have asked for help illustrating public health risks like malaria. The head of one of the country’s largest e-commerce outfits, has asked for a portrait of himself rendered as a superhero. The story of one the characters, Aje—Yoruba for “witch”—may be made into a movie by a local filmmaker. Another edition of Guardian Prime’s story is scheduled for this month.
The startup is part of what some say is a renaissance of made-in-Africa music, literature, and art that resonate beyond the continent. Over half of Comic Republic’s downloads are from readers in the United States, the United Kingdom, and a scattering are from other countries like Brazil and the Philippines. About 30% come from Nigeria, according to Martin. Lagos now hosts an annual Comic Con for the comic and entertainment industry. Kenya hosted one for the first time in 2015.
The comic book industry has potential in Africa in part because of the popularity of superhero-themed films, Martin points out. His company launched with Guardian Prime, “a black Superman,” he says, on the same day as the 2013 premiere of Man of Steel.

(Kwezicomics)
Other African characters have already emerged. A popular South African comic, Kwezi, or “star” in Xhosa and Zulu, created by designer and artist Loyiso Mkize, follows a teenage superhero in Gold City, a metropolis imagined after Johannesburg. The comic, which features plenty of local slang and cultural references, is a “a coming of age story about finding one’s heritage,” according to Mkize. Nigerian animator Roye Okupe’s graphic novel, E.X.O: The Legend of Wale Williams released in August, is meant to “put Africa on the map when it comes to telling superhero stories,” according to Okupe.
Comic Republic’s universe of heroes differs from its Western peers in other ways. Of the nine characters created by Comic Republic, four are women, which Martin believes is a reflection of the fact that women are active in politics and business circles. “Today’s Nigeria, we’re very indifferent to whether someone is a man or woman. I wouldn’t say there was any strategic decision. It’s just a way of life for us,” he said.
Beyond battling evil and saving the day, the comics are meant to show how individuals can come together to provide for a “better safer Africa,” chief operations officer, Tobe Ezeogu said in November.
That message appears to be getting across to some readers. One fan wrote on Comic Republic’s Facebook wall of its flagship character, Guardian Prime, “My favorite quote [by him]: ‘All it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to stand by and do nothing. I won’t stand by. I am Nigerian.’ I’m not Nigerian, but heroes are going to help the youth and stimulate patriotism.”

A Dominican Salon Specializing In Natural Hair Is Redefining Beauty On The Island

Like many women who decide to go natural, Carolina Contreras (raised between the Dominican Republic and the U.S.) set out on a personal hair journey that required unlearning and relearning everything about her once chemically straightened hair.

 

Contreras subsequently opened up a natural hair salon in the capital city of Santo Domingo. The salon’s mantra “Yo amo mi pajón,” or “I Love my big, or kinky hair,” is meant to advocate for women with Afro-textured hair.

“I would walk down the street and women would stop me and ask me how I got my hair like that,” said Contreras to New York Times writer, Sandra E. Garcia.

True to the millennial way, Contreras even blogged about her learning process. “There were many blogs in English but not many in Spanish,” she said about a personal website that gained considerable popularity and played a key role in the salon’s debut.

READ: What If Mulan, Snow White, Pocahontas & Tiana Were Selena?

Contreras used a majority of her savings, donations from friends and a benefaction of $10,000 through an Indiegogo campaign to open Miss Rizos Salon.

For those traveling to the Caribbean nation, make sure to book an appoint with Miss Rizos.