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A New Documentary Explores French Fashion Designer’s African Roots

The African origins of Olivier Rousteing, creative head of Balmain, are revealed in a new film and article.

The last few days have been a very public emotional rollercoaster for Olivier Rousteing, 34, the visionary creative mind behind French high fashion brand, Balmain. The New York Times published an article earlier this week unveiling the content of the forthcoming documentary about his life, Wonder Boy.


The film is directed and produced by Anissa Bonnefont–a woman Rousteing met while purchasing his stately Parisian apartment from her mother. Bonnefont's initial reaction to Rousteing is what sets the tone for the subject matter of the film. As she tells the New York Times:

"I just thought it was so unusual for this mixed race guy to succeed like this...to hear his story would be very necessary for our country because of all the issues around immigration. People need to see the reality of how you can achieve a dream and come from nothing. That's the American story, but it's not the French story. In France where you come from, what family, what school—that is who you are."

As the article unfolds, it is clear that the idea of identity, blackness and being mixed-race in today's social and political climate are at the heart of Wonder Boy–not the glitz and glamour of the fashion world. It is a peculiar story given that Rousteing is a light-skinned French man who was adopted as a baby and skyrocketed to the upper echelon of the fashion world, becoming creative director at Balmain at just 25.

As the face and image of an iconic brand, Rousteing felt that it was about time he actually understood himself. Given his adoption, he never knew his birth parents. In the documentary, he finds out the truth of his origins and that–despite his complexion and hair–he is not of mixed race.

"She was Somalian and he was Ethiopian, which means I am African-African," Mr. Rousteing said. "I'm black." It's discombobulating discovering, in your 30s, that the myths you told yourself your entire life, even if you knew you had made them up, were all wrong."

The film, though it is about a high profile man, seems to unpack aspects of modern living and racial diversity that are at the core of many people's lives. It also speaks to an often misunderstood concept of blackness and that lighter complexions always denote mixed race. The issues of origin and color are particularly nuanced in France–due to its colonial past and citizenship laws–as was on the world stage during their 2018 World Cup victory.

In response to the film, Rousteing had a positive outlook on the revelation and on himself. Though the article is prompting some passionate responses on Twitter, he says this:

"After the movie, I started to like myself more," he said. "Instead of feeling like we had to fight for everything, instead of having a Balmain Army — us against the world — I want to bring people in. I want everyone to understand you can have the dream, without perfection. Inclusivity is speaking to not only the fashion elite."

The film is scheduled to play on French channel Canal Plus for one night on October 16 and open in theaters in November. It is not yet certain if it will show internationally.

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Still from RTN TV's YouTube page.

Prominent Somali Activist Almas Elman Shot and Killed In Mogadishu

The organizer and sister of activist Ilwad Elman, was shot dead while riding in a car on Wednesday.

Almas Elman, a prominent Somali rights activist and organizer was killed today in Mogadishu. She died after being hit by a bullet while riding inside of a car in the Halane compound, reports the Somali news site Hiiraan.

Though details surrounding her death remain uncertain, according to security on the ground Elman "was riding in a car along a road inside the airport," Mohamed Omar, a Somali security official told News 24. "A stray bullet hit her, and she died within a few minutes." The complex is also the headquarters of African Union soldiers.

She was believed to been heading to the airport after attending a meeting at the Elman Peace Centre, which was founded by her mother Fartuun Adan in 1990.

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Image courtesy of Riveriswild

#BuyBlack: The 8 Black-Owned Brands To Shop For On Black Friday

It's that time of year again, here is OkayAfrica's 2019 gift guide for you to #BuyBlack this Friday.

You know we're near the end of 2019 once the holiday season comes back around. Thanksgiving is upon us and the bargain shopping and gift-giving is set to commence thereafter. While this American "holiday" being questionable in of itself, Black Friday is a prime occasion to highlight, support and spend exclusively with black-owned businesses.

Just like we mentioned last year, let's keep the 'for us, by us' energy going. Even beyond the hustle and bustle of Black Friday, tap into the businesses that continue to contribute to wealth-building, development and employment in Black communities around the world.

Here is OkayAfrica's curated shortlist of black-owned brands to take note of this Black Friday, including some standout home decor, fashion, skincare and beauty brands you should know.

Take a look below.

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Listen to Davido's New Album 'A Good Time'

The 17-track album features Naira Marley, Zlatan, Popcaan, Summer Walker and more.

Davido's much anticipated sophomore album A Good Time has finally dropped. Trust us when we say that it's aptly named. Seven years after his debut album Genesis and a string of incredibly successful singles and collaborations with the likes of Demola, Big Narstie and Jeremih, the Nigerian superstar is in top-form on this new 17-track project. Naira Marley, Zlatan, Popcaan, Yonda, Summer Walker, Wurld, Dremo and several other talented artists are featured on the album.

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Photo by Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images via Getty Images

The Ndlovu Youth Choir Wins the Hollywood Music in Media Award

South Africa's favorite choir continues on its winning streak.

The Ndlovu Youth Choir continues to fly the South African flag high. Recently, the choir was awarded the Hollywood Music in Media Award in the category of "Best Independent Music Video" alongside Grammy award-winning South African flautist, Wouter Kellerman, for their Zulu rendition of Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You".

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