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An African Minute: Gareth Cowden for Babatunde Designs


Gareth Cowden is the mind behind Babatunde Styles. He's a forward thinking African that's leveraging his fashion prowess and raising positivity in South Africa. We were first put on to his dope caps when NYC music video director, Vashtie, shared them on her blog. We caught up with Cowden on his way to a shoot with FHM (For Him Magazine) in South Africa to ask him 5 questions for our An African Minute series.

1. Where were you born and raised?

I was raised in the suburbs of Johannesburg. Although I enjoyed art at school, it was sport that intrigued me and consumed most of my time. When I went to University in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, I discovered my love for clothing as well as my creative side. This was also the first time I was exposed to mixing with other races and the beginning of many inspirational and life-shaping experiences.

2. What is the significance, or meaning behind the BABATUNDE name?

Babatunde is a Yoruba name. The direct translation in English means: " The father comes back" or " the father returns." I loved the name and meaning as I feel that we need more fathers in Africa. Africa needs men to behave like men and take more responsibility for their families, Africa's growth and also themselves.

3. When you're creating new pieces is there a message you want your work to carry, something you'd like people who sport BABATUNDE hats, umbrellas and other forthcoming attire to feel?

If possible, I would love for people who wear Babatunde to be more conscious

of themselves and how their actions and/or inactions affect others. Whether

it's someone close to you or a stranger in the streets. A greater respect if

you could call it that. Only through respecting ourselves and everyone

around us will we achieve more as a continent.

4. When did you know for sure you were meant to be a fashion designer? To whom or what do you credit your artistic eye?

I've been a fashion stylist for close on 10 years now. I never thought I would get into design/manufacture. It was just a natural progression I guess. I saw a gap in the market and took a risk. I would have to credit my wonderful experiences in Africa as well as the amazing people I meet and get to interact with for inspiring my ideas.

5. How do you think your fashions might contribute to the changing global perception of Africa?

That's quite a difficult question to answer. If anything, I would hope that Babatunde can change the world's opinion that Africa is a rural, traditional and backward continent. Hopefully we can show people around the globe that Africa is a progressive, creative, and contemporary design force and encourage the world to support Africa through buying African products rather than egotistical debt relief programmes. Or is that too harsh?

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Photo still via TIFF.

Watch the Striking Trailer for 'Farming'—Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's Directorial Debut

This is a must-watch.

The trailer for Farming, Nigerian-British actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's directorial debut, is here.

"Between the 1960s and the 1980s, thousands of Nigerian children were farmed out to white working class families in the UK," the trailer begins. "This is the true story of just one of them."

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Politics
Image by Fibonacci Blue via Flickr.

#IStandWithIlhan: Supporters Rally Behind Ilhan Omar Following Racist 'Send Her Back' Chant

"I am here where I belong, at the people's house, and you're just going to have to deal,"—Congresswoman Ilhan Omar

Social media continues to rally behind Representative Ilhan Omar, following a series of racist remarks targeted at her and several other congresswoman of color by President Donald Trump.

The president doubled down on his racist rhetoric during a re-election rally in North Carolina on Wednesday, attendees began chanting "send her back," referring to Omar—echoing anti-imigrant remarks that the president tweeted last week, in which he wrote that four congresswomen of color: Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib should "go back" to where they came from.

This is far from the first time that Omar has been on the receiving end of racist and Islamophobic attacks and referred to as un-American on account of her Somali heritage.

READ: Op-Ed: In Defense of the Black Boogeyman

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Sir Elvis in "Loving Man" (Youtube)

6 African Country Musicians You Should Check Out

Featuring Sir Elvis, Jess Sah Bi & Peter One, Emma Ogosi and more.

With Lil Nas X's EP going straight to number on the American charts, it seems like country music revival is taking over 2019 and beyond, thanks to its unlikely fusion with trap music. It only makes sense that black people are reclaiming the genre, as country was actually partly created by black American artists and heavily influenced by gospel music.

On top of that, plenty of lesser known black artists and bands are making country, or country-infused, music. This is especially the case in Africa, where the genre has been around for a few decades and an increasing number of musicians are gaining momentum. By gaining popularity in Africa, country is coming back to its roots, as country guitar and the way of playing it was originally inspired by the banjo— an instrument that African slaves brought with them to America.

Country music has a strong appeal across the African continent for several reasons: the similarity with many African instruments and the recurring lyrics and themes about love, heartbreak and "the land." At the heart of it, country music has an appeal to working class people all over the world who feel let down by the people that were supposed to help them.

Country music is played regularly on the radio in countries such as Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi but yet, the artists featured are overwhelmingly white and American. African country singers do not get the respect they deserve or are seen as anomalies. With the growing number of them making country music, here is a list of the ones you need to listen to right now.

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