The African King Of Pinterest: Re-Visualizing The Continent Through Color

"The African King of Pinterest," William Chitangala, shares his ideas on color as a concept for reimagining and redefining the Continent.

When Okayafrica came across the stunning Pinterest boards of German-Zambian luxury brander William Chitangala we quickly dubbed him “The African King of Pinterest.” When he’s not applying his marketing know-how to the Frankfurt-based company Saint-Germain, he's creating collaborative pinning boards inspired by Afrocentric design, fashion and culture. In the op-ed below, Chitangala shares his ideas on color as a muse for reimagining and redefining the Continent.

I started “pinning” circa three years ago. My main motivation was I wanted to be inspired. I wanted to understand this divine love affair we have with design and art, and I wanted to cultivate ideas around the conceptual business, or an enterprise that corresponds with the environment.

The first thing I discovered was that Pinterest helped me to categorise my digital explorations and develop a habit of putting them in a convenient order. Out of that, came my personal brand, HOC, short for House of Conceptions. I had focused on design, fashion and cultural topics, but momentum arose out of my efforts to visualise – and engage a community – on Africa-related aesthetic stories.

For collaboration, I invited others to contribute and share their explorations. Together we digitally curate Pinterest boards to reflect the beauty and diversity of contemporary and traditional African art, design and societies. How people engage with these boards is amazing. They really consider the boards as their own (which they are, in fact).

We launched the first group board in autumn 2013, with just a handful of pinners. Over the past months we arranged pinning sessions, in which we rendezvoused through different time zones, just a couple of tweets away, ending with our hashtag #ColoursOfAfrica. Now, we are more than 20 pinners from six continents, with close to 550 followers and thousands of pins interpreting the rich hues of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.

Organizing contributions by colour -- rather than by geography or culture -- gave us the opportunity to realign Africa with its diaspora of influences and influencers. To illustrate this, and judging from the number of contributions we’ve seen on our boards, Africa is the “indigo-blue” continent where you can align Miles Davis’ album Kind of Blue next to the mathematically-precise, deep blue architectural ornaments of Marrakesh; or, post a series of menswear designer Ozwald Boateng’s bold cobalt suits, add a style story on Street Etiquette's Travis Gumbs and Joshua Kissi, and finally highlight Lupita Nyong’o in Nairobi blue couture.

Colour is a sublime concept. It easily annihilates political and social concepts, such as race, nationality, ideology, and epochs. It’s allowed me to access other perspectives, and view African-related visual stories from different points and angles.

For example, recently I started to look at urban planning and architecture as inspired by British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye. In his seven-volume book Adjaye, Africa, Architecture, he photographed thousands of buildings, sites and places over ten years in the 53 major African metropolitan cities he visited. What’s most notable however was Adjaye did neither tell the conceptual narrative of architecture by nation, nor did he tell the story of an architecture by epoch. Rather, Adjaye presented these metropolitan cities according to the terrain in which they are situated: the Maghreb desert, the Sahel, the Savannah & Grassland, the Mountain & Highveld and the Forest. A great approach, I find.

Similarly, what started out as a leitmotif to categorise our creative works has profoundly helped me realign my understanding of African visual cultures and about “the brand Africa” – where breaking down narratives placed upon us means redefining the timeless and colorful richness of the Continent.

William Chitangala is the co-founder of creative agency Saint-Germain in Frankfurt, Germany. He also sits on the Youth Advisory Board of Brand Africa. His favorite color is black.

Felicia Abban "Untitled (Portraits and Self-Portraits)" (c.1960–70s). Digital images generated from original prints 50×40 cm. Courtesy the artist.

Photos: Inside Ghana's First-Ever National Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

The "Ghana Freedom" pavilion, designed by David Adjaye is the first of its kind at the international art exhibition and features the works of six prominent Ghanaian artists.

The 58th Venice Biennale, a top destination for international design, art, architecture and more is underway now in the Italian city.

This year, Ghana unveiled its first-ever national pavilion, designed by none other than star Ghanian architect David Adjaye and curated by Ghanian art historian Nana Oforiatta Ayim.

Commissioned by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the country's Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture with the strategic supervision of Okwui Enwezor, the pavilion—which opened to the public this past Saturday (May 11)—has been named "Ghana Freedom" after the popular independence song by E.T. Mensah.

The pavilion features the work of six Ghanaian artists who embody this spirit of freedom, including photographer Felicia Abban, painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, pioneering sculptor El Anatsui, as well as visual artists Ibrahim Mahama, Selasi Awusi Sosu.

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Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images.

Ozwald Boateng's Fashion Show at the Apollo Was an Exploration of Authentic Identity

The Ghanaian-British designer presented a new collection inspired by his African roots and the Harlem Renaissance.

Ozwald Boateng, the Ghanaian-British fashion designer known for his meticulous bespoke suits, recently held a fashion show at the iconic Apollo Theater in partnership with social networking platform, Vero.

When he made the announcement of the show, the designer floated around the abbrevation "AI" which we all know as "artificial intelligence," but this time, however, it was intended to stand for "authentic identity," CNN reports.

The models casted were a diverse multigenerational array of who's who in fashion, music and in Black Hollywood including Michael K. Williams, Jidenna, Adesuwa Aighewi, Aldis Hodge, Jo-Ani Johnson and more. They donned Boateng's classic three-piece suits as well as silk ensembles with wax print-inspired ensembles, Ethiopian-inspired jewlery across hues of greens, blues, earth-tones, grey and white.

"We live in a time where Authentic Identity is becoming a crucial part of who we are and the journey we are on," Boateng says to CNN.

Take a look at a few of our favorite looks below.

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Photo courtesy of CSA Global.

In Conversation with Congolese NBA Player Emmanuel Mudiay: 'I want more African players in the NBA.'

The Utah Jazz player talks about being African in the NBA, supporting basketball in the DRC and how 'everybody knows about Burna Boy'.

Inspired by his basketball-playing older brothers, by second grade, Emmanuel Mudiay already knew that he wanted to play in the American National Basketball Association. Then in 2001 his family, fleeing the war in Democratic Republic of Congo, sought asylum in the United States.

In America, Mudiay saw basketball as a way for him to improve his situation. After impressive high school and college careers, he moved to China to play pro ball. Picked 7th overall in the 2015 NBA draft, the now 23-year-old guard has made a name for himself this season coming off the bench for the Utah Jazz.

Mudiay attests to the sport having changed not only his life but that of his siblings. Basketball gave them all a chance at a good education and the opportunity to dream without conditions. Now he wants to see other talented African players make it too.

We caught up with him to talk about his experience as an African player in the NBA, his hopes for basketball on the African continent and who he and his teammates jam out to in their locker rooms.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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University lecturer and activist Doctor Stella Nyanzi (L) reacts in court as she attends a trial to face charges for cyber-harassment and offensives communication, in Kampala, on April 10, 2017. (Photo by GAEL GRILHOT/AFP via Getty Images)

Jailed Ugandan Activist, Stella Nyanzi, Wins PEN Prize for Freedom of Expression

The outspoken activist, who is currently serving a prison sentence for a poem she wrote about the president's mother's vagina, won for her resistance "in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her."

Stella Nyanzi, the Ugandan academic, activist, and vocal critic of President Yoweri Museveni has been awarded the 2020 Oxfam Novib/PEN International award for freedom of expression, given to writers who "continue to work for freedom of expression in the face of persecution."

Nyanzi is currently serving a 15 month sentence for "cyber harassment" after she published a poem in which she wrote that she wished "the acidic pus flooding Esiteri's (the president's mother) vaginal canal had burn up your unborn fetus. Burn you up as badly as you have corroded all morality and professionalism out of our public institutions in Uganda."

According to the director of PEN International, Carles Torner, her unfiltered outspokenness around the issues facing her country is what earned her the award. "For her, writing is a permanent form of resistance in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her," said Torner at the award ceremony.

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