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Joshua Kissi Is Using Photography To Build a Safe Haven for People of Color

An in-depth look into how creative entrepreneur Joshua Kissi came to be an influential culture curator to launching his newest venture, TONL.

Joshua Kissi wears unusual hoop earrings that hang low from his lobes, nearly caressing his jaw like branches dipping low from a tree, eager to kiss the earth. He tells me they are a gift from a friend who designs jewelry. Kissi wears the hoops so often that the designer now calls them “The Josh.”


Buildings, songs and even entrees are named after people, but jewelry is named after Kissi. This is representational of his character: he influences, or is influenced by, a specific part of art or lifestyle that is often overlooked. He highlights the details of the unexpected; he finds new dwellings in familiar territories.

Kissi poses in front of a salmon pink backdrop in a series of multi-hued menswear looks. The deep color of his skin against the brightness of the backdrop, and the sun bursting through the room like a spotlight, grants him a glowing melanous tone. His poses are fluid and natural: subtle stretches and casual bends of the neck, arms and torso, gradually evolving into more elaborate stances. Kissi’s model intuition is informed by his photographer’s eye, as if he’s watching himself through the camera lense as he poses.

Kissi mumbles along to the Wizkid track buzzing in the background, moving his arms and shoulders rhythmically between the camera snaps. When Pam, the makeup artist, applies shimmery blue highlighter to Kissi’s cheek, he calmly complies—something most men would refute.

The styling team tries guessing Kissi’s sign. I suggest that he’s a Taurus, and Kissi nods, surprised by my accuracy. Knowing his birthday is in April, I figured he’s either an Aries or Taurus. But within 20 minutes of sharing a room with him, I felt his energy clearly: calm, cool and contemplative, like a resting bull.

Photo by Leon Williams.

“I have a crazy obsession with rice and stew,” Kissi admits, reciting the mantra of every West African. We laugh in agreement, and I am suddenly thankful for the power rice and stew has to not only nourish and elate us, but bring us together.

We’re talking about home: NYC, West Africa and the homes we create. For most of us, home isn’t one exact place we can pinpoint: it’s a fading memory, a gentrified neighborhood, a chamber in the mansion of our minds, or a collection of continents and communities. Kissi tells me he was born and raised in the Bronx, but is Ghanaian American, just like me. Recently, his ideas on home have evolved, as he’s moved back in with his family in the Bronx after living in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn for several years.

“Going back home has represented everything I’ve thought of identity,” he says. “If I questioned myself or who I was, it was solidified as soon as I came back home.” I tell him that people usually say they find themselves when they move away from home, not when they come back. Yet, he hasn’t been back home—as in Ghana—in over a decade. I wonder how that homecoming would feel for him, and what my long overdue homegoing would be like.

“I found a version of myself when I left home at 22, but there was still a question mark at the end of all the ideas and identities around who I am,” he clarifies. “But that question mark turned into an exclamation point when I moved back home. It was like...I get it now.”

Photo by Leon Williams.

I too, live with my family. I tell Kissi it feels like I live with two roommates—an old married couple—rather than parents. As I’ve matured, I’m finally starting to see them as regular people, with hopes, heartaches and back pain, and not the strict African caregivers I grew up with. Kissi believes it’s crucial that we have friendships with our parents, but understands how difficult it is to do that, especially if your parents are immigrants. His renewed relationship with his parents and siblings has provided him an evolved outlook on family, moral values and marriage.

Family is the first place we feel at home, and the first place we practice building our own spaces and identities. I asked Kissi about his earliest memories of standing out. As a middle child (another thing we have in common), he noticed a “comma between me and my siblings.” Middle children differ from their brothers and sisters—while first borns can be leaders or rebels, and later borns are typically neglected or coddled, us middle kids are overlooked. We mediate between our bickering siblings, and grow to be oddly pensive and self sufficient, which fools our parents into thinking they don’t have to worry about us too much. Middle children stand out by sitting back.

Kissi also recalls feeling different from his classmates in high school. That’s where he fell in love with fashion, backpack rap-esque music, and photography. He spent hours on the internet researching travel, and after school, went straight to Soho to chill with his teenage tribe: kids who also left their boroughs to seek refuge in the designer-store studded streets of lower Manhattan.

“When I was 17, I started taking photos of me and my friends with this little camera I bought. But I didn't consider myself a photographer...didn't even know I could be one,” Kissi says. Unsurprisingly, black people expressing themselves online is what turned the internet all the way up. Through the awakening of social media, we started exhibiting our beauty and culture over the web, through snapshots of our personal style, journal entries as blogs, and homemade songs and music videos. Kissi would soon birth one of the most significant monuments of black web culture: Street Etiquette.

Funny story about how that happened: Street Etiquette started while Kissi was in college, as most great ideas do. But one day as he sat in class, it clicked for him: he didn’t want to be there. “I just got up and left. Told the professor I was going to the bathroom and never came back,” he says, breezily, as if it was as simple as walking out of a clothing store that doesn’t have the pair of jeans you want.

Photo by Leon Williams.

Kissi told his parents about leaving school and launching Street Etiquette, and they gave him an ultimatum: he had a year to prove the brand could flourish, but if he failed, he’d have to go back to school and pursue a degree of their choosing. Thankfully, he and cofounder Travis Gumbs had already launched Street Etiquette, and it was steadily taking flight. It was only a matter of fully committing time and energy into it to watch it reach it’s full potential. It worked.

“We were just going with what we felt was right at the time. Editorials like Black Ivy made us a cultural benchmark for black creativity and expression in style and fashion. But today, the fashion industry is not as interesting to me as it was in the past. It’s where I got started and met amazing people, but I am not as grounded in it anymore,” he says.

“We used that background of understanding “cool culture” to leverage for clients. We realized companies were emailing us, asking us to do certain things, so we decided we might as well provide these services. We were thrown into a place where we weren't familiar with art, photography or business, but we had to learn on the go. When you don't know (what you're doing) it makes it that much easier to risk everything.”

Kissi can muse over creative entrepreneurship for hours, if you let him. He is filled with wisdom and opinions about business and creativity and strongly encourages people of color to find ways to develop their passions and ideas into long term, sustainable projects. The 9 to 5 grind isn’t enough, he says, if you aren’t doing something that is truly making you happy and evolving into a form of financial comfort that you can scale back for yourself, and hopefully future generations. It is no secret that, in America, most black families do not have generational wealth. Not only were our ancestors’ bodies used for monetary profit, but centuries of unbinding systemic racism still holds us back in our careers and in our bank accounts.

“I had to figure out how to leverage this (SE) to build something I actually want for my life,” Kissi says. “For creatives, especially black creatives, that is a very important step that most people don't have the opportunity to take. There's so much focus on ‘making it’, but how do you maintain ‘it’?”

Photo by Leon Williams.

That is, essentially, why Kissi and I find ourselves sitting across from each other—because he is embarking on a new creative journey. Kissi’s artistic resume is connected by a specific pursuit: expanding on black life by using photography to construct homes for us to comfortably live in, particularly in landscapes where whiteness dominates. Street Etiquette celebrated black men’s fashion, highlighting the suave, sophisticated nature of brothas—an idea that directly combats harsh stereotypes around black men. TONL, his latest brainchild with friend and social entrepreneur Karen Okonkwo, will challenge the whiteness of stock photography, by showcasing the many colors of everyday people.

“A photo is like a page in a history book,” Kissi says, when I ask what inspired TONL. “It is a visual representation of how we live right now. You can take a selfie by the Highline, and 30 years from now, someone will know how we were living in 2017. It's literally a historical reference. It can be very powerful and it isn't going out of style. I was looking at community, commerce and culture, and figuring out what that means to me.” TONL is the cumulation of these c’s, with a burst of colors, shapes and sizes.

Kissi speaks fondly of Okonkwo, as more than a business partner, but a friend he looks up to: “She’s a badass...she just gets stuff done.” Okonkwo first approached Kissi with the idea, but he was hesitant to join her in the venture. It wasn’t until the devastating murders of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling that Kissi started to reconsider TONL. Our voices and visibility matters, he realized, and photography and storytelling can help humanize and hopefully diminish the stereotypes and prejudice against us.

Images have the power to instruct our realities and our perception of people. Seeing is believing, and the media knows this. That’s why, in some news outlets, white criminals who commit murders are pictured in suits or caps and gowns, while black people who get killed by the police are rarely shown in a positive light. It’s a way of preserving a racist reality that keeps America functioning. TONL aspires to use stock photography to disrupt these notions. “An idea like TONL is scary enough to change the world, and impactful enough to change the narrative we’ve been seeing in images about ourselves,” says Kissi.

Photo by Leon Williams.

At first, TONL mainly focused on racial and ethnic representation in the U.S., particularly black people. But as the idea started to spread, Kissi and Okonkwo realized that there's a global need for diverse visibility. Kissi tells me he received emails from people as far as the Middle East expressing interest in and gratitude for the project. This was one of many factors that inspired them to globalize their project, and collect images and narratives from an array of people, including Muslim people, Asian people and more. And there will be white people too—but they won't be the focal point, as we usually see.

“We hear a lot about how stock photography is so white,” Kissi says, “but another issue is that, traditionally, stock photography just looks...bad.” I chuckle. “We want to come through with strong imagery that tells a story before you even look at it.”

He swiftly pulls out his phone and shows me snippets of some photos for TONL. One unforgettable image is a of an elderly black woman with an afro of silver-black spirals, gazing intently at something I can't see. There's a moodiness, an ethereality to his images that will translate beautifully into stock photography, a medium that is often cliche or unexciting.

Kissi wants to make stock photography story driven. Usually, you have an idea or article and look for an image that best supports it, but with TONL, the picture will tell the story on its own. Some of the subjects of the photos will share their tales as well, in a section called TONL narratives. It’s text based for now, but Kissi hopes to build it into a podcast of conversations and personal stories.

TONL’s first client is the Seattle Indian Health Board, a nonprofit organization. They want photos of everyday Native Americans from Washington D.C. and Seattle, which is necessary. We rarely see Native American doctors, lawyers, and more, just living their regular lives. “Native Americans were the first people in this nation to be taken advantage of and exploited. For us to tell their narratives first is so powerful,” says Kissi.

But diversity exceeds skin color, religion and geography. I ask if TONL will represent people with different abilities, genders, sexualities and bodies. “It’s def something we’re doing! We’re planning on shooting people in wheelchairs, people with different sexual and gender orientations, and more. All their stories matter and they all need to be seen.” Inclusivity is more than a celebration, it’s a responsibility.

TONL will launch on August 21. The stunning site will house six categories: Tone, for fitness and athletics; Taste, for all things food and drink; Trust, for relationships, family and intimacy; Travel; Tradition, where images of weddings, fabrics and occasions will live, and Today, for flicks of everyday activities, work and home.

To build content for the site, Kissi posted a tweet announcing free photo shoots for all, as long as you didn’t mind it being used on TONL. “I received 300 emails that day,” he smiles. The tweet resulted in him shooting such intimate familial moments like baby showers and graduations. I tell him this was a way for him to use his talents to give back to the community. People feel good when their picture is taken, I say. “Good! Then I’ll take your picture too.” He does.

Before we part ways, I ask how he came up with the name TONL. He admitted that it was his girlfriend’s idea (Another thing I noticed about Kissi—his adoration for his partner. He sprinkles her into ordinary questions.). Kissi says he was searching for inspiration on the title, and found himself in museums and pondering color gradients. One day, while lounging on the couch with his girlfriend, the word started to escape his lips. “Tone...skin tones,” he mumbled. “Tonal,” she finished. Kissi always finds truth at home. Perhaps the answers to our burning questions are in the comfort of four walls, the clarity of family, the beauty of unwinding in a place made just for us.

Credits

Photographer: Leon Williams

Stylist: Tyson Perez-Harris

Market Editor: Janelle Grimmond

Makeup: Pam Somuah

Events

OkayAfrica and The Narativ Present The Fresh + Festive Holiday Pop-Up Shop

We've curated a group of our favorite black-owned vendors for a festive holiday pop-up in Brooklyn.

The holiday season is officially upon us and you know what that means: it's time to shower friends, family—and yourself—with precious gifts.

While holiday shopping can sometimes be a task, it certainly doesn't have to be. OkayAfrica has teamed up with global luxury design platform The Narativ for The Fresh + Festive Holiday Pop Up Shop to bring you a fun, colorful and chilled out retail experience.

The Fresh + Festive Holiday Pop Up will be a one-stop shop, featuring items from some of our favorite black-owned clothing, jewelry, home decor, food and beauty brands.

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Events
Photo courtesy of Little Havana

OkayAfrica's Guide to December Parties in Lagos and Accra

Where to find the hottest parties in Ghana and Nigeria in December 2018

I arrived at the Little Havana party, just after midnight. We were a short drive in the hills outside Accra, and it was still hot. I walk through the the gardens of the Little Acre Lodge set up with cabanas while coloured lights bounced off the palm trees. Music from the best Afrobeat DJs echoes through the hills. The harmattan haze creates a beautiful ambience and make the cold drinks go down a lot better. And the people! The dancing, the compliments, the great conversations with random strangers; What makes December in Accra truly wonderful is the energy we bring to it.


During December in Accra—or as some affectionately refer to it "Dezember"—parties end when day breaks, and as soon as night falls you get right back to it. If you are about the party life and love travelling, welcome to "Dezember." First of all, to get this straightened out, it's not a physical location or a month exactly. "Dezember" is a period in time—a series of thrilling experiences and moments locked within the tight traffic and unfiltered heat of Accra's streets.

Lagos and Accra have become famously popular during December for the best African parties. In Accra, there are back to back parties for two weeks straight. From night clubs, day parties, house parties, parties in the hills, concerts, themed events and more. International performers and DJs are flown in from all over the world, to play and perform at multiple events.

The Rise of Global Afrobeats

Dj Juls—Photo courtesy of the artist

The spike in interest in December, be it in Lagos or Accra, can't be pinpointed. However, one can identify a general symbiosis between the growth of Afrobeats and the growth in diaspora relations. "'Dezember' has significantly contributed to the growth of afrobeats internationally," says Ghanaian Afrobeats superstar, Kidi.

He explains, "People come and hear these fresh jams and take it with them when they leave".

Kidi who was booked for over twenty shows last December , has added a similar number of shows to his calendar this December.

DJ Juls, a UK producer and DJ by way of Ghana, also relates the boom of Afrobeats to December festivities.

"I think the artists really work on dropping riddims around Christmas time," the award winning DJ says, "There's always one song that everyone loves, and people who travel down get to experience the hype of that song. When everyone goes back home the DJs just run with it. It gets more popular and in the long run boosts local artists' chances of going on tour or doing little gigs here and there. It's then up to the artists to build on that hype."

Africa Taking Hold of its Narrative

Afrochella—Photo courtesy of Edward Adjaye

The trigger for the number of flights being booked for December can be attributed to a number of things. The internet and the ways we document our day to day lives could be one. Africa taking a hold of its narrative has done more good for the continent than most international publications. University students spot their friends balling in clubs in Lagos or Accra, having the time of their lives on Snapchat or Instagram stories, and want the same experience.

Edward Adjaye, one of the organizers of Afrochella, an afrobeats centered festival in Accra, believes it's all about the experience.

"People used to come (to Accra) and do nothing, but clubbing," he says "but now there are festivals and parties in the hills and day parties. So many options outside of just clubbing."

The annual festival, Afrochella which Adjaye hosts has its date scheduled within the depths of the season for a reason.

"Throwing Afrochella in 'Dezember' helps, because the festival is mainly about the promotion and celebration of Afrobeats and the culture as a whole," he reveals, "'Dezember' is the season where everyone; from diaspora to first timers, most likely visit Ghana and are ready to party".

OK, now what's next?

The conversation, however, must go beyond leaving the club at 8am and sipping coconut juice on private beaches. "Dezember" creates an amazing bond between Africa and the rest of the world; one based on relationships. How can the opportunity be fully realized?

"Event organizers need to stop looking at each other as competition and help each other with everything; from sharing information and promotion," says Adjaye, "Everyone eats when everyone succeeds. Also, the big brands need to put up more, in terms of sponsorships and collaborations with event organizers. Everyone wins only when everyone works together, pretty much."

Kidi shared a different perspective, focusing more on the national benefits of this blossoming relationship.

"If 'Dezember' is properly marketed, it'll generate a lot of revenue for our tourists sites and event organizers," he says. "Carefully planned activities, shows, exhibitions and markets can be organized, because these people are here to have a good time."

DJ Juls believes "Dezember" has formed a brain of its own. The only way to benefit from it, is to capture the opportunities it presents.

"A lot more people flock to Ghana over the Christmas and the summer. An estimated 75,000 people are expected in Ghana this year," DJ Juls says. "That means business opportunities and networking."

He however lays bare a pressing negativity to Dezember, "Only negative I guess is traffic and over capacity venues. Kills the vibe sometimes." Pack your bags! We're going for Dezember!

If you're heading to Dezember, here are some events and places you shouldn't miss:

December Events in Accra, Ghana

Mr Eazi's Detty Rave 2017—Photos courtesy of Detty Rave

Afrochella—The day festival on the 29th of December, celebrates afrobeats and the culture surrounding it through music concert, art installations and exhibitions and fashion. Buy tickets at afrochella.com/tickets

Detty Rave—The annual Mr Eazi-curated concert hosts international musicians from around the world in a rave like no other. Get tickets for the 28th December concert at dettyrave.com

Little Havanna—A party thrown in the hills on the outskirts of Accra, Little Havanna lives up to its name. Endless drinks, amazing people and back to back music from the best DJs.

The Day Party—Think Gossip Girl parties, but with Ankara designs and champagne flutes.

The Throwback Party—Hosted by DJ Juls and DJ Neptizzle, the throwback party is back to back hip hop bangers that rocked the 2000s on New Year's Day. Buy tickets at ayatickets.com/events/throwback-new-years

Manifestivities—Rapper Manifest hosts some of his favourite Musicians at the Bukom Boxing Arena for an exciting experience. Rap battles, DJ battles, performances and more are the highlight of this 23th December event. Get tickets at ayatickets.com/events/manifestivities

BHIM Concert—Dancehall musician Stonebwoy takes up the challenge to fill the 15,000 capacity Fantasy Dome on the 28th of December. With performances from Morgan Heritage and other musicians, this event promises to be one for the books. Find tickets at ayatickets.com/events/bhim-concert

Rappaholic Concert—Get drunk off back to back hits from the rap maestro Sarkodie at his annual Rappaholic concert on Christmas Day at the Conference Centre.

Liquid Gold—Private club Front/Back opens its doors on 31st December for Liquid Gold party. A night of opulence, wealth and unhinged partying.

M.A.D. Fest—The burgeoning rapper, Ayat, hosts the annual Music of African Descent (MAD) festival at Madina Number 1 Park, on the 22nd of December. For the third time the show will host top rappers like Medikal, Edem, Teephlow, Akan, Kwesi Arthur, Worlasi and Manifest.

Crusade 3—The thriving Ghanaian collective La Meme Gang host their 3rd concert at Crystal Park. Performing songs off their just released album "Linksters", along with artists featured on the tape.

The Magna Carter—Villa Grace chef hosts guests to a Hip hop themed lunch on December 22. Endless chutes of champagne will be available.

December 2 Remember—The annual music concerts hosted at the International Conference Centre comes back again this year. Enjoy hits from your favourite Ghanaian musicians back to back. Dress code is blue denims and a white top.

The Loud Concert—The annual girls only concert takes place on the 21st of December at the National Theatre. With award winning singer Efya headlining, it promises to be remarkable.

Lokkofied—Concept store and art hub Lokko 08 celebrates its 10 year anniversary with an insane party. Accra's best DJs, drinks food and music in abundance, it definitely sounds like the type of party to look forward to. Happening at Lokko House on 22nd December.

Sabolai Radio Music Festival—The annual music festival celebrating indie and alternative musicians from across Africa returns this year at an unusual new location. Catch teh crew at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange on the 12th to 15th of December. Tickets available at accradotaltradio.com

Ghana Rocks—The popular annual show makes a comeback after a hiatus with an impressive lineup. Local artists like Kuami Eugene, Kidi and more with be joined by international acts like Jidenna, Burna boy and more. Happening at the Fantasy Dome on 29th December 2018.

Accra Gidi Cookout—Grab a barbeque and enjoy the sounds from around the world spun by DJs like Juls, Vision DJ Loft and more.

Promiseland—Rising afropop star King Promise, headlines his own show on December 15th at Crystal Park.

Pine x Ginja—Enjoy dancehall, reggae and full blown jamaican and island vibes at the PinexGinja party, at Crystal Park. Tickets available at Eventbrite.

Nostalgia—A celebration of the best hits of the 2000's in one night! Happening on the 15th of December at Bosphorous Rooftop, this party looks like the perfect start for the Dezember activities.

T.I.N.A Festival—Fuse ODG hosts the first ever This is New Africa (T.I.N.A) festival to celebrate the unique African culture through music, fashion and food. Happening on the 4th of January at the Fantasy Dome. Get tickets at ayatickets.com/events/tina-festival

Fast Food Festival—Accra Fast Food Festival is calling out all foodies for the ultimate cheat day. Enjoy an assortment of Accra's favourite fast food joints and the best tunes at this all day event on the 22nd of December at the Accra Fast food festival.

A Taste of Christmas—Accra's nomadic Chef, Biishville invites all to a culinary experience on Christmas Eve. Fine wining and dining, complete with a dinner party and endless proseccos. Limited seats available to grab one by making a reservation at biishville@gmail.com

Brunch at the Palm—Food blog Taste Tales hosts guests to a food and mimosa filled brunch on the 30th of December. Enjoy live jazz and DJ sets at this foodie haven. Tickets available at Eventbrite.

#BeCurious—Hosted by the afrocentric movement Tribvl, #BeCurious is the last of the groups monthly parties. With strictly afrobeats music and an afro-inspired theme, #BeCurious is the party to be at if you want to party. Happening at Cleaver House on the 30th of December. Buy tickets on Eventbrite.

Twist—Start your night right inside the coveted Accra club. The bouncer may not let you in for absolutely no reason at all, but it's always amazing once you're inside.

Bloom Bar—Pre-game at Accra's open air bar. Split their signature drinks with friends and enjoy fine selection of chill music.

The Woods—A chill, relaxed bar perfect for just hanging out with friends and getting away from all the Accra city mess. The perfect hideout within the heart of Accra.

Sky Bar—A rooftop bar on top Accra's Villagio apartments. It's perfect for quiet drinks and cool vibes.

December Events in Lagos, Nigeria

Catch DJ Tunez in Lagos—Photo: OkayAfrica

‪Simi Live in Lagos—The songstress sets December off with her silky voice at the Eko Hotels in Lagos on the 9th of December.‬

AG Live—Adekunle Gold promises a golden experience at his 3 day show. Catch him on the 13th, 14th or 15th of December at Terra Kulture in Lagos. Buy tickets at nairabox.com

‪King Coal live in Concert‬—The Afrobeats king made a comeback this year with some amazing music. Now you get to watch him live perform his music with some favourites at Eko Hotels. Check out Wande Coal's show on the 14th of December in Lagos. Buy tickets at nairabox.com

‪Mayor of Lagos Concert—Mayorkun‬ takes over the Federal Palace Hotel in Victoria Island for his Mayor of Lagos concert. 14th of December is one for music lovers.

Pretty World—‪New school Nigerian musician Pretty Boy D-O‬ headlines his first show on the 17th of December at Artisan, Victoria Island. Get tickets at pluggrecords.ng/prettyworld/

‪Wizkid VIP Experience Night—Afrobeats king Wizkid brings all the heat home to Lagos, Nigeria for his Wizkid VIP Experience Night. Seats available for only 5000 VIP guests at the Eko Hotels, Lagos.

‪The Beat FM Christmas Party—Top Nigerian radio station The Beat FM hosts a myriad of musicians at this years Christmas concert. Featuring performances from musicians such as Lil Baby, Kojo Fundz, Lotto Boys, Kizz Daniel, Mr. Eazi, Peruzzi, Teni The Entertainer and more. Federal palace is the place to be on December 19th for this once in a lifetime event.

Blackout Lagos—DJ Tunez hosts the popular New York party, Blackout in Lagos on the 20th of December at Hard Rock Cafe. Featuring artists such as Sarz, Wizkid, Reekado Banks and more.

‪Urban Music Fest—Nigeria's premiere music festival ‬brings in the best from the city of Lagos on to one stage. Join Wande Coal, Niniola, Tiwa Savage, DBanj and more at the Eko Atlantic. Tickets available for the 2st December to 23rd December event at: Naijaticketshop.com

Flytime Music Festival‬—Flytime Music Festival‬ kicks off on the 21st of December with the annual Rhythm Unplugged Concert featuring Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Davido and more. It is followed by a Bobby Brown and Bell Biv Devoe headlined concert on the 22nd of December, and climaxes with an Olamide Live event on the 23rd of December. Get tickets at flytimetv.com

Afrobeat Fest—Celebrate the best of Afrobeats at the Afrobeat Fest with Patoranking, Timaya, Runtown, Tekno, Mr Eazi, Femi and Seun Kuti, on the 22nd of December at the Eko Suites Hotel. Tickets available at naijaticketshop.com

Made in Lagos—Wizkid ‬headlines his second event this December in Lagos on the 23rd with the Made in Lagos concert. Performing artists include Tiwa Savage, Mr Eazi and more. Tickets available at naijaticketshop.com

Olamide Live in Concert—The Motigbana hit maker Olamide‬ headlines his own show at the Eko Atlantic Hotel on the 23rd of December with a host of other amazing performers.

‪Rare. Live—The Nigerian alternative sweetheart Odunsi‬ the Engine is set to thrill audience to music from his newly released album Rare. at the Hardrock Cafe. This event will take place on the 24th of December.

All Black Everything—Celebrating ten years of this phenomenal annual Christmas party on the 25th of December at the landmark event centre. Don't forget to come dressed in all black.

Island Block Party‬—The organizers of Mainland Block party bring the all day rave to the Island on Christmas eve. Buy tickets for the premiere event at mainlandblockparty.com

Eat Drink ‬Festival—As if all the Christmas meals are not enough, Sterling Bank fills up Lekki Coliseum with food vendors for the two day food festival. Join other foodies on the ‪26th and 27th of December at the Eat Drink Festival.

Burna Live—The king of vibes, Burna Boy‬, headlines his show Burna Live at the Eko Hotels on ‪26th of December. Performing his classics as well as songs from his 2018 album 'Outside', Burna Live promises to be unmissable.

Copacabana—Copacabana promises an endless summer with this sunny rave at Tickle Bay on the ‪26th of December.

Positive Vibes Only—If you love Champagne showers, the PVO party in Lagos on the 27th of December assures you of endless bubbly and of course, positive vibes.

Native Land—Music and Pop culture magazine Native Mag hosts their annual Native Land concert at the Muri Okunola Park on December 28th. ‬Last year's event hosted UK musician Skepta, Not3s, Mayorkun, and more. Excited to see this year's lineup.

‪Palm Wine Music Fest—The boys of Showdem Camp round up an amazing musical year with the alternative music festival of the year. Happening at the Muri Okunola Park on December 29th, Palm wine Fest looks like alternative music haven.

Mainland Block Party—The monthly mainland rave ends the year with a bang on the 31st of December with one last throwdown. Get tickets at mainlandblockparty.com

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Photo courtesy of Pearl Thusi

Quantico Actress Pearl Thusi Will Star in the First Original African Series by Netflix

It's the first of many original shows aimed at African audiences says the streaming giant

South African actress Pearl Thusi, best known as our beloved Black Pearl, will be starring in Netflix's first African series Queen Sono. This comes after the company's recent announcement that it wants to produce more Afrocentric content as it looks for emerging markets for international growth opportunities.

In an interview with South Africa's Independent Online Vice President of International Original Series for Netflix, Erik Barmack says, "We are excited to be working with Kagiso and Pearl, to bring the story of Queen Sono to life, and we expect it to be embraced by our South African users and global audiences alike."

Thusi made the announcement in a tweet this morning:

The star of ABC's Quantico will be starring alongside her Catching Feelings colleague, Kagiso Lediga, who created the series. The series will follow a badass female spy tackling challenging missions and her own personal life within a South African agency. Thusi took to Twitter to express her excitement about the series set to be released next year saying, "I'm so proud and grateful for everyone that made this happen. This was a dream of mine as a little girl. Let's make history."

In Photos: Pearl Thusi Speaking at OkayAfrica's Next 100 Summit

Thusi is a prominent South African actress who has starred in local productions such as Isidingo, Happiness is a Four-Letter Word and Catching Feelings. She is one of few South African actresses to make it internationally, having landed a role in the US-based series Quantico. Last year in an interview with OkayAfrica for our annual 100 Women honours, of which she was a recipient, Thusi shared one of her philosophy's about success:

"Show people results, and maybe show them preparation later, but don't ever share your dream before you've actually covered the seed and watered it."

Queen Sono is set to hit screens in 2019.

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The Best Ghanaian Songs of 2018

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