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Wanuri Kahiu's 'RAFIKI' Is the First Kenyan Feature Film To Premiere at Cannes Film Festival

The film is a combination of struggle and the power to dream and love.

This coming of age feature film set in Nairobi has been invited to premiere at this year's Cannes Film Festival—a first for Kenya.

RAFIKI (Friend), directed by Kenyan storyteller and OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree Wanuri Kahiu, tells a tale of a community affected by a relationship that grows between two young women, Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) and Ziki (Sheila Munyiva).


Inspired by the 2007 Caine Prize Winning short story "Jambula Tree" by Ugandan writer Monica Arac de Nyeko, the film celebrates love and asks whether it's safer being invisible or if it's better to defy conservative rules, while discovering one's identity and destiny through love.

"The love story resonated with Kahiu, who had the vision to change the setting to Kenya and place the film in a vibrant, present-day urban environment," the film states in a press release. "Kahiu worked with co-writer Jenna Bass and together they added further elements to the screenplay that speak to the present-day concerns and conflicts affecting people like Kena and Ziki even in young, vibrant, millennial Nairobi."

RAFIKI's supporting cast includes Jimmi Gathu, Nini Wacera, Patricia Amira and Dennis Musyoka. This is Kahiu's second feature film, with its coproducers Big World Cinema, Afrobubblegum (Kenya), MPM Film (France), Shortcut Films (Lebanon), Ape & Bjorn (Norway), Rinkel Film (Netherlands) and Razor Film (Germany).

The Cannes Film Festival runs from May 8 through May 19.

Photo by NurPhoto via Getty Images.

A Year After #EndSARS, Nigerian Youth Maintain That Nothing Has Changed

Despite the disbandment of the SARS units, young Nigerians are still being treated as criminals. We talk to several of them about their experiences since the #EndSARS protests.

On September 12th, Tobe, a 22-year-old student at the University of Nigeria's Enugu Campus was on his way to Shoprite to hang out with his friends when the tricycle he had boarded was stopped by policemen. At first, Tobe thought they were about to check the driver's documents, but he was wrong. "An officer told me to come down, he started searching me like I was a criminal and told me to pull down my trousers, I was so scared that my mind was racing in different ways, I wasn't wearing anything flashy nor did I have an iPhone or dreads — things they would use to describe me as a yahoo boy," he says.

They couldn't find anything on him and when he tried to defend himself, claiming he had rights, one of the police officers slapped him. "I fell to the ground sobbing but they dragged me by the waist and took me to their van where they collected everything including my phone and the 8,000 Naira I was with."

Luckily for Tobe, they let him go free after 2 hours. "They set me free because they caught another pack of boys who were in a Venza car, but they didn't give me my money completely, they gave me 2,000 Naira for my transport," he says.

It's no news that thousands of Nigerian youth have witnessed incidents like Tobe's — many more worse than his. It's this helpless and seemingly unsolvable situation which prompted the #EndSARS protests. Sparked after a viral video of a man who was shot just because he was driving an SUV and was mistaken as a yahoo boy, the #EndSARS protests saw millions of young Nigerians across several states of the country come out of their homes and march against a system has killed unfathomable numbers of people for invalid or plain stupid reasons. The protests started on October 6th, 2020 and came to a seize after a tragedy struck on October 20th of the same year.

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Interview

Meet Uyi Omorogbe: TikTok's Resident Menace and Founder of Clothing Brand NASO

We spoke with the viral 'Annoying My African Parents' creator about online success and his upcoming brand collab with Converse.

TikTok sensation Uyi Omorogbe has figured out a way to get a laugh out of your African parents without a life lesson being attached to it. The Nigerian-American's account has amassed more than 3 million followers for doing something few of us are brave enough to even think about - annoying his very African, very tired parents.

Uyi's TikTok success came from a very well-thought-out, fearlessly millennial approach using the undeniable power of social media. After learning about the app and how quickly creators found audiences, he figured that creating videos while donning his own garments would garner attention to both his comedic talents, as well as his African-inspired clothing brand NASO. And he was absolutely correct. The 23-year old gained millions of followers within 10 months, and his audiences continue to grow as his brand and talents expand.

Uyi launched NASO in 2019 as a way to pay homage to his Nigerian heritage and have that manifest through his clothing and style while being able to give back to and share his success with his family and community. NASO loosely translates to "That's right, well done" in Nigerian slang and the name certainly matches the vibe created through Uyi's company. The Colgate University grad always dreamed of giving back to his communities - both Nigerian and American - and created NASO with the hopes of being able to make tangible changes in education while sharing West African fashion with the world.

NASO built their first school in Urhokuosa village in 2019 (only a few months after starting the company), where his father was born and raised, and has plans for more ways to help develop and improve education within the West African nation, as well as neglected communities within the US.

We spoke with Uyi about his funny bone, building success with your family, and NASO's upcoming collaboration with Converse.

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Pictures courtesy of Maeva Heim

Maeva Heim is the Founder the Beauty Industry Has Been Waiting on

The 31-year-old founder of Bread Beauty Supply is changing the conversation around haircare for textured hair.

It's nearing 9 p.m. in Australia, and Maeva Heim is dimly lit from behind and smiling warmly at her computer screen, ready to talk shop. We're here to discuss hair care, namely her brand Bread Beauty Supply, and how black beauty has made the globe smaller.

The 31-year-old is the founder of Bread Beauty Supply, a haircare line that encourages all textures and curl patterns to come as they are. "We don't want to tell you what to do with your hair. Enough people do that already," Heim says of Bread's brand philosophy. "We are just here to provide really good products for whatever you want to do with your hair at any point and not dictate to you how things should be. We're just women making the good products. You're making the good hair, and that's it. We're not here to define the rules."

But it's impossible to talk about recent strides in beauty products for textured hair without talking about the summer of 2020. In the weeks following the murder of George Floyd in the United States, a crescendo of cries rallied through global streets asking for not just equality but equity. The world watched with scrutiny as black boxes filled social feeds and brands made pledges to diversity. Those calls pinged from executive boards to the shelves of some of the world's largest beauty retailers. Meanwhile, after years of formulation, fundraising, and perfecting formulas and ingredients during a global pandemic, Maeva Heim introduced Bread beauty to the world in a perfect storm of timing and execution. The July 2020 launch filled a wide gap for Black beauty between homemade beauty products and behemoth beauty brands as Heim focused on an often under-explored direct-to-consumer middle.

Lauded on social media for their innovative packaging and nostalgic scents (the brand's award-winning hair oil smells like Froot Loops), Bread is a brand that makes hair care basics for not-so-basic hair. Typically, women with textured hair have not been included in the conversations around the idea of "'lazy girl hair" with minimal and effortless maintenance and styling - something Heim wanted to change. Part of Bread's mission is deleting category terms from the brand language – e.g. 'anti-frizz — that the brand feels unnecessarily demonizes characteristics that are natural to textured hair.

Photo courtesy of Bread Beauty

Born and raised in Peth, Western Australia, to an Ivorian mother and a French father, Heim grew up as one of the few Black kids in her neighborhood. Her days weaved between school and helping her mother run her braiding salon, one of the only of its kind in 1990's Australia. From sweeping floors, answering phones, and assisting with product orders, Heim's introduction to the world of beauty was rooted in the practice of doing.

Heim would go on to study business and law at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia, before working in marketing at L'Oréal, followed by an internship at Procter & Gamble in Singapore. But it wasn't until her relaxer exploded in her luggage during a flight between New York and Chicago that she began to think seriously about not only her personal hair journey but also about the beauty industry's gaps.

After ditching chemical hair-relaxer and returning to her natural texture, she pitched her idea to Sephora and, in 2019, was selected as one of the first-ever Australian participants in the Sephora Accelerate program, securing a launch deal for both in-store and online.

But what's most striking about Heim, aside from her penchant for focusing on the brand and the consumer, is her focus on the innovation gaps for Black beauty products. Uniquely shy on social media but poignantly focused on every nuance of her brand and serving Bread's prior overlooked customer base, Maeva is the founder the beauty world has been waiting for.

*This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity

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Sudan Declares State of Emergency, As Military Dissolves Transitional Government

As the North African country edged closer to democracy, Sudan's military has seized power.