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Photo by Joshua Kissi, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

First Look: Kente Gentlemen’s Latest Collection, ‘Sodade’, is a Vivid Ode to Emotion

Ivorian designer Aristide Loua shares his newest, colorful kente threads with OkayAfrica.

Côte d'Ivoire's own Aristide Loua is the mind behind the brand, Kente Gentlemen. Launched in 2017, the brand's story is one of a young man who fell in love with kente—the traditional material native to the Akan ethnic group. Where kente cloth varies in design and patterns, Loua fittingly draws inspiration from poetry, cultures and colors. Having lived in Côte d'Ivoire, India and all over the United States, Kente Gentlemen is Loua's passion project that encompasses everything he has experienced in his travels.

"In such an interconnected world, Kente Gentlemen is a means to discover, value, celebrate, and foster our diverse sociocultural heritage and identities through fashion, aesthetics, photography and other visual arts," Loua says.


His collections are comprised of homegrown fabrics that are meticulously cut and sewn. There's a communal effort as hand-weavers, tailors, artisans and vendors work together seamlessly. Sodade, his latest Autumn/Winter 18-19 collection, forms a relationship between colors and emotions. "Each color is an emotion. Blue represents hope. Pink—romance. Yellow—happiness," he explains. "And the dark color speaks for sorrow, or despair." He examines the volatility of his emotions: "Sometimes I feel a bit of romance...other times, I feel hope for a bright future. I rejoice in happiness, even when my soul drowns in an ocean of sorrow."

The suit jackets, though dark, are distinguishable by flaps of bright colors for pockets and lining as a means of normalizing and accepting every emotion as it comes. Loua combats a society that attempts to dictate how we should feel, at any given time. He also affirms, "When you have the means or the luxury to wear exactly what you are and what you want in your life, your clothes become the reflection, the outlet of your being, of your personality, of your style, of your dreams and most certainly of your emotions."

Check out our favorite shots from Kente Gentleman's lookbook for Sodade below.

Photo by Alexandre Tako, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

Photo by Alexandre Tako, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

Photo by Joshua Kissi, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

Photo by Joshua Kissi, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

Photo by Joshua Kissi, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

Photo by Joshua Kissi, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

Credits

Photography: Joshua Kissi + Alexandre Tako

Model: Nana Kwasi Wiafe

Art Direction/Styling: Aristide Loua

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Photos: How La Sunday Became Abidjan's Favorite Party

Faced with a lack of party options, a group of friends in Côte d'Ivoire sought to revolutionize the way their city turns up.

The opening line of DJ Arafat's hit song "Maman Sery" plays and the people on stage scream it as loudly as the crowd facing them below. Lighted phones are up in the air. Where some strangers embrace one another, others clutch their chests. The setting? A garden in Abidjan's commune of Cocody on a Sunday night.

Sundays in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire had always been reserved for beach trips and family time. All of this changed dramatically in December of 2018 when Fayçal Lazraq, Lionel Obam, Aurore Aoussi, Charles Tanoh-Boutchoue, and Aziz Doumbia, better known as Bain de Foule Creative Studio created La Sunday and it took Abidan by storm.

According to Charles Tanoh-Boutchoue, co-founder of La Sunday, "The idea was to create an alternative event for fun amongst friends." The differentiating factor here was these "friends" weren't just anyone; they were trendsetters at the epicenter of Abidjan's bustling creative scene. Shares from these creatives were instrumental in creating the engagement surrounding La Sunday and its subsequent expansion.

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OkayAfrica Presents: 'The Adinkra Oracle' November Reading with Simone Bresi-Ando

We're back with another Adinkra reading from Simone Bresi-Ando to help guide you through the new month.

It's the first of the month and that means we're ready for a new Adinkra reading from Simone Bresi-Ando to help you navigate your November.

After cleansing the space, Simone will pull five Adinkra Ancestral Guidance Cards from a deck of 44 Adinkra symbols—these cards help to channel information, messages and direction from your ancestors using Adinkra symbols when read correctly. Remember, as Simone says, "these readings tell you what you need to know and not necessarily what you want to know—our ancestors are emotionally pure." Pay attention, this month's reading has multiple cards the ancestors want us to take particular note of.

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Photo by Lana Haroun

From #FeesMustFall to #BlueforSudan: OkayAfrica's Guide to a Decade of African Hashtag Activism

The 2010s saw protest movements across the continent embrace social media in their quest to make change.

The Internet and its persistent, attention-seeking child, Social Media has changed the way we live, think and interact on a daily basis. But as this decade comes to a close, we want to highlight the ways in which people have merged digital technology, social media and ingenuity to fight for change using one of the world's newest and most potent devices—the hashtag.

What used to simply be the "pound sign," the beginning of a tic-tac-toe game or what you'd have to enter when interacting with an automated telephone service, the hashtag has become a vital aspect of the digital sphere operating with both form and function. What began in 2007 as a metadata tag used to categorize and group content on social media, the term 'hashtag' has now grown to refer to memes (#GeraraHere), movements (#AmINext), events (#InsertFriendsWeddingHere) and is often used in everyday conversation ("That situation was hashtag awkward").

The power of the hashtag in the mobility of people and ideas truly came to light during the #ArabSpring, which began one year into the new decade. As Tunisia kicked off a revolution against oppressive regimes that spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook played a crucial role in the development and progress of the movements. The hashtag, however, helped for activists, journalists and supporters of causes. It not only helped to source information quickly, but it also acted as a way to create a motto, a war cry, that could spread farther and faster than protestors own voices and faster than a broadcasted news cycle. As The Guardian wrote in 2016, "At times during 2011, the term Arab Spring became interchangeable with 'Twitter uprising' or 'Facebook revolution,' as global media tried to make sense of what was going on."

From there, the hashtag grew to be omnipresent in modern society. It has given us global news, as well as strong comedic relief and continues to play a crucial role in our lives. As the decade comes to a close, here are some of the most impactful hashtags from Africans and for Africans that used the medium well.

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Screenshot from the upcoming film Warriors of a Beautiful Game

In Conversation: Pelé's Daughter is Making a Documentary About Women's Soccer Around the World

In this exclusive interview, Kely Nascimento-DeLuca shares the story behind filming Warriors of a Beautiful Game in Tanzania, Brazil and other countries.

It may surprise you to know that women's soccer was illegal in Brazil until 1981. And in the UK until 1971. And in Germany until 1970. You may have read that Sudan made its first-ever women's league earlier this year. Whatever the case, women and soccer have always had a rocky relationship.

It wasn't what women wanted. It certainly wasn't what they needed. However, society had its own ideas and placed obstacle after obstacle in front of women to keep ladies from playing the game. Just this year the US national team has shown the world that women can be international champions in the sport and not get paid fairly compared to their male counterparts who lose.

Kely Nascimento-DeLuca is looking to change that. As the daughter of international soccer legend Pelé, she is no stranger to the game. Growing up surrounded by the sport, she was actually unaware of the experiences women around the world were having with it. It was only recently that she discovered the hardships around women in soccer and how much it mirrored women's rights more generally.

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