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Photo by Anthony Gebrehiwot.

This Is What Toronto's 2018 AfroChic Festival Looked Like

AfroChic Cultural Arts Festival is not just any annual festival—it's very black and filled with immense pride.

If you have not already, you should visit Toronto, Canada or at least start looking into flights. Toronto is a vibrant city that is bursting at the seams with creativity. Basically, the whole city is a vibe, but during the annual AfroChic Cultural Arts Festival, the city really proved that it is truly special.

When I got off the elevator at the CarlU, I was thrusted into another world. It was a mix of Wakanda meets a magical rainforest. Before checking in at the registration table, a live band dipped into Bob Marley's timeless catalogue and life size paintings of beautiful black women lined the room. Before I knew it, I was headed to the market that hosted all the vendors. I literally spent all my cash on black owned products. Some of my favorite vendors were Mamas Life Products (I basically bought all their shampoo and vanilla scented shea butter), Eyeni, JV Accessories, Anna Fora and Stolen from Africa.

The AfroChic Festival is not just any annual festival, it is very black and filled with immense pride. Attendees don't just pull up looking regular. They show out.


Photo by Anthony Gebrehiwot.


One of my favorite acts of the night had to be Trap Yoga Bae, who walked us through various ratchet affirmations and VERY Black yoga poses such as how to "back that ass up like Juvenile into a downward facing dog pose" or the "secure the bag pose." She was entertaining and I felt represented in so many ways.

The hosts for the evening were none other than, Femi Lawson and Amanda Parris. They are staple voices in the city and it was a proud moment for all of us to watch them introduce a star-studded line up and the festival's headliner, DJ Lo Down Loretta Brown a.k.a Erykah Badu. The artists who took the stage have been carving out their own lanes both locally and internationally. We saw performances from Shi Wisdom, 11:11, Jayd Ink and then Ms. Badu played a DJ set that really made us all feel present. As I looked around there wasn't a single person standing still.

Day two of the festival consisted of the most beautiful weather, a panoramic view of the city, a panel discussion and an intimate conversation with Ms. Erykah Badu. Yes—she spent two full days with us. The panel discussion covered so many things. My notebook was filled with resources and companies I will surely be looking into. The panelists were diverse in terms of the type of work they do, but one of my favorites was Lauren Simmons, who recently took social media by storm with her story of being the youngest black woman to work for the New York Stock Exchange. She was very sweet, articulate and wise beyond her years. I still cannot believe she is 23 years old.

The room was attentive and calm. Everyone showed up to learn something new about building generational wealth, themselves or the community as a whole. Some guests greeted friends with emphasized shrieks of happiness and hugs filled with love. I think I saw a softer side to the city on this day. There was honesty and a lot of vulnerability. I saw young black men thank Erykah Badu for her contributions, a few women shared their personal stories and many sat within the stillness that could only be felt if you were really tapped into the moment. Ms. Badu reminded us that we are all human. What is for us will present itself when the time is right. She is a nurturer and I felt as though parts of me were healed simply by being in her presence.

That said, AfroChic is a festival you do not want to miss! See you next year?

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Image supplied by Candice Chirwa.

In Conversation with Candice Chirwa: 'Menstruation is More than Just Bleeding for Seven Days.'

South African activist Candice Chirwa, the 'Minister of Menstruation', speaks to us about what a period-positive world looks like, the challenges menstruators face even in 2020 and her important advocacy work with QRATE.

It's 2020, and naturally, tremendous advancements have been made across various spheres of society. From the prospect of self-driving cars and drones delivering medicines to rural areas to comparatively progressive politics and historic "firsts" for many disenfranchised groups, we've certainly come a long way. However, in the midst of all that progress, there is still one issue which continues to lag behind considerably and consistently, particularly in less developed countries: menstruation.

Candice Chirwa is a young Black woman on a mission to fiercely change the disempowering narratives and taboos that still shroud the issue of menstruation. The 24-year-old South African activist, who is endearingly known as the "Minister of Menstruation" on social media, wants young girls and women to not only accept but embrace their bodies fully in a society that insists on speaking in hushed tones about a perfectly normal biological process. Both Chirwa's research and advocacy work with the UN and her award-winning NGO, QRATE, has focused on dispelling common myths about menstruating, removing the shame and stigma around it and giving menstruators the knowledge and tools they need to navigate their world through impactful workshops.

And when Chirwa isn't collaborating with Lil-Lets, one of the biggest sanitary product brands on the continent, or co-authoring a bad-ass book titled Perils of Patriarchy, she's dominating the TEDx stage and making sure that her audience, no matter how diverse or varied, leaves the room feeling comfortable and courageous enough to boldly shout the word "vagina".

We caught up with Chirwa to discuss what initially compelled her to become a "period-positive" activist, her continued advocacy work with QRATE and what kind of world she imagines for menstruators.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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The Nigerian Army Has Denied Opening of Deadly Fire on #EndSARS Protesters

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