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Afropreneurs: Meet the Home Décor Company Fusing Brooklyn Cool with Afro-Chic

Okayafrica catches up with Ugandan-American interior stylist, Nasozi Kakembo, on her home décor company, xNasozi.

While other children grew up playing video games, Ugandan-American interior stylist Nasozi Kakembo designed blueprints. After a stint in the human rights and social justice world, Kakembo harkened back to that childhood creativity to launch her home décor company, xNasozi.


Originally launched under the name “Origins Style by Nasozi,” Kakembo’s venture in home décor has come a long way. “It all started with six really badly photographed pillows,” she laughs. Poor images or not, a gradual uptick in interest on Etsy helped the Brooklyn-based designer realize she was on to something. As orders trickled in, Kakembo began to wonder what would happen if she worked full-time on the company. The answer came soon enough when the challenges of juggling her young son’s elementary school schedule with a full-time position increased. In April 2013, Kakembo decided to devote all of her energy to growing the brand, re-named the company xNasozi, and shifted from Etsy to an independent e-commerce store.

Nasozi Kakembo. Photo by Alena Banks; courtesy of xNasozi.

Now 4 years old, xNasozi bridges Brooklyn cool with Afro-chic. With a wide variety of minimalist prints and unique textiles sourced from artisan networks across Africa, Kakembo also stands out from the recent wave of African-inspired design with her innovative approaches to mud cloth and indigo. Her e-commerce store is a design addict’s paradise full of everything from a wax print yoga bag to mud cloth Christmas stockings. An indigo butterfly chair, a bestseller among Kakembo’s wholesale clients, is a particular standout.

Based in New York City, Kakembo sources textiles from the wide network of West African businesses in Harlem and Brooklyn. Some of the fair-trade woven products, such as baskets and sisal bags, are imported from Uganda with the help of her supportive family. Kakembo has recently started to design mud-cloth-based textiles with her own original hand-painted work. In addition to a mud-cloth version of her signature butterfly chair, xNasozi also sells an industrial, modern mud-cloth-upholstered bench.

The more unusual takes on modern African design, like the bohemian denim and wax print aprons she sells as part of her kitchen collection, are inspired by Kakembo’s neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. “There’s a very playful juxtaposition in the environment of Bed-Stuy,” she says. “There’s nothing that fits into a box; everything is whimsical and people express themselves fully through their style and interests.”

Photo courtesy of xNasozi.

A quick glance at the xNasozi Instagram shows that the poor photos of the past have been replaced with sleek images of modern, colorful interiors. Kakembo credits these ideas to learning on the job. “xNasozi is more-or-less a one-woman show, so as my brand grew, I had to explore other skills in order to grow my sales,” she says.

Brands and blogs from Travel and Leisure to West Elm's blog, Front + Main, have taken note of Kakembo’s new-found expertise. In addition to the xNasozi home décor products, she also writes and photographs for a variety of clients including crowd-favorite Apartment Therapy. “In the independent e-commerce world, there’s a lot of competition, so you have to have strong visuals with high-quality photographs of your products as well as lifestyle photos. I taught myself photography by picking the brains of my photographer friends.”

In addition to her hats of designer, writer and photographer, Kakembo has recently added philanthropist. Drawing from her experiences in humanitarian assistance, Kakembo supports Suubi Nursery and Primary School in her father’s native Uganda by donating a portion of Nasozi sales. As a small business, xNasozi’s contributions are small, but Kakembo hopes to scale the impact over the next few years. With a growing network of retailers in over 10 states, xNasozi might just meet its goal and live up to the meaning of Kakembo’s own name—“something to look up in praise of.”

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Photo by Giles Clarke/UNOCHA via Getty Images

Cameroon Holds Vigil to Remember Children Killed in School Attack

Residents in Kumba paid their respects to the seven lives lost, and those injured during the attack over the weekend.

In the latest tragedy to come from Cameroon's historically violent clash between Anglo and Francophone citizens, seven children were murdered after attackers stormed a school with guns and machetes over the weekend.

In what has been deemed as the "darkest and saddest day," by Bishop Agapitus Nfon of Kumba, armed attackers stormed the Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy, targeting students aged 9 to 12. The tragic event saw dozens of children injured, some critically.

The attack has shocked the nation, with both local and international agencies condemning the horrible offense. On Monday, Cameroonian President Paul Biya denounced the "horrific murder" of the school children, and alluded to the "appropriate measures" being taken in order to bring justice to the families of the victims. Prime Minister Dion Ngute Joseph shared his condolences via a tweet saying, "I bow before the memory of these innocent kids."

The Cameroonian presidency and governing body have blamed Anglophone 'separatists' for the attack, though the group claims no part in the attack.

Human rights groups, however, have blamed both opposing parties, as the conflict has led to the death of over 3,000 deaths and resulted in more than 700,000 Cameroonians fleeing their homes and the country.

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Interview: Meet Velemseni, Eswatini’s Queen of Soul

Soul artist Velemseni's music reflects Eswatini culture and aesthetics. "The Kingdom of Eswatini is a magical and mysterious place, and my music aims to interpret and document that mystique, drawing from genres like Swazi gospel, soul, African soul, cinematic and traditional music," says the artist.