Prêt-À-Poundo: Nicolas Premier and Patrick Ayamam's Africa Is The Future!

Nicolas Premier and Patrick Ayamam's Africa Is The Future's new t-shirts just dropped.

Africa is the market of the future and offers enormous development potential in different sectors, depending on their various resources. The continent is facing obvious challenges but, also present, is an economic dynamism that should be welcomed and encouraged. Africa, like all developing countries, has been hit by the economic crisis without contributing to it. Let's not forget that the continent has rebounded faster to record growth rates that many Europeans countries would envy. Africa has attracted widespread media attention and triggered a revolution of artistic creation all around the world.

Back in September 2001, photographer Nicolas Premier was visiting Brazzaville, Congo for the first time and arrived amidst the concrete reality of post-civil war which caused 300 000 deaths. This war had gone largely unreported in the international media while the attacks of September 11 had been widely discussed all around the world. He was shocked by the lack of exposure and decided to use his art as a way of communication, "My background is more artistic, like photography, painting ... My work in fashion is more a pretext and a way to highlight a new way of conceiving the world for a wider audience than the art."

*Shaolin Movements by RZA

This is how Africa Is The Future was born. In 2004, Nicolas Premier and Patrick Ayamam started  a collaboration and took Paris by storm with their tee-shirts sporting "AFRICA IS THE FUTURE". Since then it's been a creative work in constant progress and now, AITF is launching a new website featuring a magazine, store and tee-shirt line including a new capsule called Mirrors. This 10 tee-shirt limited collection featured the "Africa Is The Future" slogan alongside Addis Abeba Panthers or Brazza Ville Boxing Club. There's an appeal here for us to think about the future and how we want it to be represented. The beginnings of AITF Apparel is to develop a medium of communication. The tees are produced with 100% certified biologic cotton and are approved by the Fair Wear Foundation. Below, we spoke with Nicolas.

Africa is the future magazine cover Prêt-à-Poundo

*AITF Magazine Cover

Where are you from?

Born in France to a Congolese father and a French mother to me and Patrick was born in France to parents of Togo.

How did you start this project? When did you start to put it in place?

This project was born in 2004. It has undergone several phases up to its current form. It is important for us not to freeze in a particular form and allow it to evolve with the times and the context.

You produce t-shirts so you're somehow part of the fashion industry. How do you feel finding yourself in this sector indirectly?

For now it's not our purpose. For us, the shirt has two main advantages: it's a great media, accessible, participatory and non-controllable and guarantees our freedom to create.

*Musician Kirikoo Des                                                      *Musician Walter Dal Gren Mecca

What are your inspirations and your influences? How do you maintain this inspiration?

Very simple: open the eyes and ears!

How do you get from the design to finished product?

Like many creative processes, it's in a somewhat random manner. Sometimes it's very direct but often successive round trips that allow to reach a stage where - after removing, adding, removing again, you say that's it, it's over!

Africa is the future Prêt-à-PoundoAfrica is the future Prêt-à-Poundo

*New Capsule Mirrors - Africa is the future(women)

I think you have a very good initiative regarding the image of Africa, do you aim to change the view of the continent in the public eye?

Probably. In any case it does not cast the image of Africa. What we do is to give the leading role to the African continent. We  present an unusual image of Africa, an even nonexistent one. For example, in AITF MAGAZINE, Africa may have some points in common with the USA. I'm not sure it's to the continent's advantage. But the interest of this new position is that it disrupts our way of representation of the world, our references, our way of finding justifications, and it answers to what is going on every day.

Today we are witnessing the emergence of African fashion in many international cities and countries. This development is evidence of its existence, but these events are called "African Fashion Week." What do you think? Do you think there is discrimination?

Africa is present in every fashion week — certainly in a  very, very distorted and exaggerated manner. Acknowledged or unacknowledged, African culture, lifestyle and creations are sources of inspiration for the Western world in many fields of art — be it music, painting, dance or models. But these cultural or stylistic loans are often more akin to theft than a citation because the authors, the original creators, are absent at the banquet festivities. They call events AFRICAN, this is a niche but honestly I don't know if it's something, in any case I don't see the purpose. To take the example of the fashion week, they don't call some Northern or Western Fashion Week Fashion Week? No, it's the Fashion Week.

Africa is the future Prêt-à-PoundoAfrica is the future Prêt-à-Poundo

*New Capsule Mirrors - Africa is the future(men)

How would you describe the signature of AITF in a sentence.

Independent, fearless and true.

Image supplied by Candice Chirwa.

In Conversation with Candice Chirwa: 'Menstruation is More than Just Bleeding for Seven Days.'

South African activist Candice Chirwa, the 'Minister of Menstruation', speaks to us about what a period-positive world looks like, the challenges menstruators face even in 2020 and her important advocacy work with QRATE.

It's 2020, and naturally, tremendous advancements have been made across various spheres of society. From the prospect of self-driving cars and drones delivering medicines to rural areas to comparatively progressive politics and historic "firsts" for many disenfranchised groups, we've certainly come a long way. However, in the midst of all that progress, there is still one issue which continues to lag behind considerably and consistently, particularly in less developed countries: menstruation.

Candice Chirwa is a young Black woman on a mission to fiercely change the disempowering narratives and taboos that still shroud the issue of menstruation. The 24-year-old South African activist, who is endearingly known as the "Minister of Menstruation" on social media, wants young girls and women to not only accept but embrace their bodies fully in a society that insists on speaking in hushed tones about a perfectly normal biological process. Both Chirwa's research and advocacy work with the UN and her award-winning NGO, QRATE, has focused on dispelling common myths about menstruating, removing the shame and stigma around it and giving menstruators the knowledge and tools they need to navigate their world through impactful workshops.

And when Chirwa isn't collaborating with Lil-Lets, one of the biggest sanitary product brands on the continent, or co-authoring a bad-ass book titled Perils of Patriarchy, she's dominating the TEDx stage and making sure that her audience, no matter how diverse or varied, leaves the room feeling comfortable and courageous enough to boldly shout the word "vagina".

We caught up with Chirwa to discuss what initially compelled her to become a "period-positive" activist, her continued advocacy work with QRATE and what kind of world she imagines for menstruators.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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