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Travel Diary: Karen Mitchell Explores Havana With Cuban Friends

In our second June travel diary entry, Karen Mitchell takes us to her favorite spots in Havana, Cuba.

Havana—June is “No Borders” month at OkayAfrica. That can mean a lot of things and we’ll get to that, but one thing we wouldn’t want to miss out on is the sheer joy of travel. So, to honor the carefree black traveler we’ll be posting new photo diaries from a wide range of African and diaspora super-travelers of their favorite places and why.


Our second diary entry—see the first here— is from the hair care expert Karen Mitchell, owner of the True Indian hair franchise. The Jamaican born entrepreneur has spent over a decade in the haircare industry. Beginning as a licensed cosmetologist, license honed her skills in salons from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Her experience as a stylist introduced her to her true passion: connecting image-conscious career women with easy-to-care for luxury extensions.

Mitchell’s dedication to this mission has propelled True Indian Hair to the forefront of the industry. Today Mitchell counts trend setting celebrities such as Taraji P. Henson, Ciara, Kelly Rowland, Rihanna, and Serena Williams among her devoted clientele. As a result, leading publications like ESSENCE, Black Enterprise and The YBF have all leaned on Mitchell’s expertise for stories as well as profiled her rise as one of the few African-American entrepreneurs in her industry.

Since it’s inception, the demand for Mitchell’s product has seen the expansion of True Indian Hair from it’s flagship Brooklyn boutique to Midtown Manhattan and Atlanta locations.

Mitchell is currently at work on expanding her franchise to Los Angeles and West Africa in the coming year. Check out her site here. Below, Mitchell tells us about some of her favorite moments from her trip to Cuba.

Roof top dining with friends at Havana's Hotel Inglaterra

Photos courtesy of Karen Mitchell

Photo courtesy of Karen Mitchell

This historic hotel has a prime location facing Central Park and very near the Capitolio, which means it’s perfectly situated for exploring the old town. Three cozy seating areas ensure optimum lounging and the roof terrace is legendary.

Visiting San Pedro de la Roca Castle in Santiago de Cuba

Photo courtesy of Karen Mitchell

Photo courtesy of Karen Mitchell

The large fort was built to defend the important port of Santiago de Cuba. The design of the fortification was based on Italian and Renaissance architecture. The complex is one of the most complete and well-preserved Spanish-American defense fortifications.

Taking a classic car tour in Havana

Photo courtesy of Karen Mitchell

Havana is known for its classic cars dating from before the American embargo. While parts can be hard to find, the cars are kept in top shape through a mix of Cuban ingenuity and care. Classic car tours are a great way to see the city in style.

 

Photo courtesy of Karen Mitchell

This YouTube Account Is Sharing South African Audiobooks For Free, And We Are Here For It

Listen to audiobooks by Steve Biko, Bessie Head, Credo Mutwa, and more.

Audio Books Masters is a YouTube channel that uploads audio versions of South African books and short stories.

Recent additions include Life by Bessie Head, Crepuscule by Can Themba, Indaba, My Children by Credo Mutwa, among others. South African poet Keorapetse Kgositsile, who passed away three weeks ago, also gets read. You can listen to his poem No Serenity Here. More books you can stream include I Write What I Like by Steve Biko, Africa is my Witness by Credo Mutwa, among others.

Audio Book Masters was started by two friends, Bonolo Malevu (24) and Hahangwivhawe Liphadzi (23).

Malevu is a University of Pretoria BA Drama graduate, who is currently doing his LLB. Liphadzi is an LLB graduate, who is completing his LLM this year.

"I found a hobby of narrating books to craft my art skill after reading Credo Mutwa's Indaba, My Children," says Malevu in an email to OkayAfrica. "After reading the prologue, I knew that this book was meant to be converted [to] many different formats such as stage plays, series, movies and audiobooks."

Then came the idea of creating a YouTube channel. That was when Malevu teamed up with Liphadzi.

They both bought themselves high quality recorders, and started reading, recording and uploading.

Authors from the olden days such as RRR Dhlomo and HIE Dhlomo, whose audio versions of their books are available on the channel, are older than 50 years and their copyrights have since expired.

The rest, though, Liphadzi and Malevu say they are trying to get in contact with the publishers, but it's not easy.

"We have contacted the Department of Trade Industry (DTI) regarding this issue," they say. "We have been in contact with various copyright holders and we are still in the negotiation process. However we are finding it difficult to contact certain publishers, and the consistent uploading of their books is to attract their attention."

The two friends say they started the channel to bring books closer to people who otherwise wouldn't have access, and to get people to appreciate literature, especially African authors. "We want to bring such literature to the digital age in the form of storytelling which has been a unique African form of literature," they say. "The channel also helps develop our voices as we are a voice company that offers all kinds of voice services. We also identified how South African authors lack audio books, and found that there is a gap in this market, and this could really create many job opportunities in South Africa."

The two are currently developing stories in indigenous languages for children in English medium schools. "This is drawn from the fact that in such schools, a lot of African students struggle to speak their own native languages. So we approach various schools to sell them such literature. We are freelance voice over artists who also do radio, content production, news reading and radio adverts."

We are so here for this.

Subscribe to Audio Books Masters' YouTube channel and follow them on Twitter.

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Nigerian Actor Sope Aluko On How She Landed a Coveted Role in ​'Black Panther​'

Marvel's Black Panther is already on the brink of being a blockbuster, as it already broke box office records within the first 24 hours of it's pre-sale. Beating Captain America: Civil War's record in 2016, Fandango reports results from a user survey, stating Black Panther was 2018's second most-anticipated movie after Avengers: Infinity War.

One up-and-coming actor who will star alongside Lupita Nyong'o, Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan (to name a few) is Sope Aluko. Come February 16, we'll see the Nigerian-born actor play 'Shaman' in the film. Her previous credits include recurring roles on Netflix's “Bloodline," NBC shows “Law & Order SVU" and “Parks & Recreation" and guest appearances on USA Network's “Burn Notice" and Lifetime's “Army Wives."

Her film credits include supporting roles in feature films including Identity Thief, 96 Minutes, Grass Stains, The Good Lie and more. Raised in the UK, Aluko studied acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA). Aluko speaks four languages, including her native language, Yoruba, French, and Bahasa, an Indonesian language.

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Music

Femi Kuti Spreads Some Much-Needed Peace In the Video For 'One People One World'

Watch the music video for the first single off Femi Kuti's upcoming EP "One People One World."

Femi Kuti drops the music video for his single "One People One World," the title song from his forthcoming 10th studio album.

The energy boosting music video sees Femi Kuti delivering an electrifying performance in the Kuti family-owned New Afrika Shrine in Lagos.

On the track, the accomplished musician promotes an unwavering message of peace and unity—things that the world could perhaps always use more of, but especially so in today's Trump-dominated political climate. His message of positivity is illustrated with graphics that appear throughout the video, showing various country flags and symbols of love and peace.

"Racism has no place, give hatred no space," Kuti sings atop brassy instrumentals. "Let's settle the differences, it's best to live in peace. Exchange cultural experiences; that's the way it should be," he continues.

"One People One World," (the album) is a plea towards global harmony and solidarity. When you look at what's going on in Africa, Europe and America, it's important to keep the dream of unity alive," the artist told OkayAfrica in November.

"When I was a boy, I listened to funk, highlife, jazz, folk songs, classical music and my father's compositions, so you will hear those things in the music."

"One People, One World" by Femi Kuti and his band, the Positive Force, drops on February 23 via Knitting Factory, and is now available for preorder.

Femi Kuti, 'One People One World' cover.

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