Month: February 2014

London Gallery showcases Andrew Esiebo’s Barbershop Photography

I wonder what people think when it comes to their local Barbers or hairdressers? Black barbershops are not often seen as a culture of their own. Nevertheless American films have stereotyped them as no holds barred locations where men chatter about everything from current events, politics, sports, culture and women. Much of the British audience will be familiar with Desmond’s TV show (an old Channel 4 TV show in the U.K) whilst French movies such as ‘Fatou La Malienne’ illustrate the cultural aspects of Africans wishing to work at salons abroad.

I was with Andrew Esiebo at the Tiwani Contemporary (one of the UK’s leading Contemporary African Arts Gallery) drawing inspiration both from the Gallery and the Artist. The barbers is a place where the Nigerian Artist and Photographer has explored the surroundings, cultures and lifestyles of barbers and their shops across eight west African countries. Esiebo’s work was launched on Thursday January 9th at the Gallery premises off Oxford Circus in Central London.

“I had a deep desire to focus on cities, the Monrovia experience was pretty funny – not because of the city but I forgot that the country was not part of ECOWAS so there were slight delays before I could enter; but this aside the four month travelling journey was enjoyable.”
Andrew Esiebo

Whilst it is clear that African Art is gradually gaining recognition in Brussels and Paris; the same can certainly be said of West African Art in London. The gallery brought together many smiles and thoughtful ponders on the Artist’s captivating work. What makes Tiwani Contemporary special is the fact that they are a Gallery dedicated to showcasing emerging contemporary arts coming directly out of the continent. This is a fresh and innovative approach from the gallery bearing in mind much of the European African Art industry is dominated by historical artefacts, sculpture and pre-colonial artwork. This passion was shared with the Gallery Director, Maria Varanava.

“What makes us [Tiwani Contemporary] unique is that our Curatorial Programme comes directly from the continent as we work directly with the Centre of Contemporary Arts in Lagos and Bisi Silva who is our advisor. Contemporary African Arts is important as it showcases the creative elements of African Painting, sculpture, metal art, gun art, photography, installation art, contemporary textiles recycled art, printmaking and mixed media for an audience of today.”
Maria Varnava, Tiwani Contemporary Director,

The photography that was exhibited on the night displayed icons, religious images, pictures of hip-hop artists, posters of soccer teams and icons of global black culture. It is clear from the night that Esiebo is a vibrant and dynamic photographer within Nigeria’s contemporary photography network; one who has an admirable ability to investigate, bring to light and tell stories about the minor realities of contemporary African life – hence why I caught up with him.

“Barbing is something a lot of African men do when migrating to move abroad, but after being inspired by a conversation I had with a man – I decided to venture throughout west Africa and depict how is profession is shared and differs from state to state. The barbershop is an intimate space where people come to discuss what they cannot speak about in their homes or in public, including politics and even their lovers,” said Andrew Esiebo, who has photographed scores of West African barbershops. “It’s one of the few spaces where people from different walks of life, from different classes, mix.”
Andrew Esiebo

Esiebo went on to meet hairdressers and barbers of Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Senegal and Mauritania. Through them, he entered their world of the African male identity which is wrapped between posters footballers, movie stars and jars of shaving cream. It became a story about the most popular styles in the big cities and the personal stories of hairdressers.

The exhibition, titled Pride runs from January 10 – February 8 this year and is a photographic investigation of the relationship between hairstyles as well as individual and collective identities at the Gallery. Esiebo, born in Lagos, Nigeria focuses on integrating multimedia practice with the contemporary African lifestyles of sexuality, gender politics, popular culture, migration, religion and spirituality.

Marketing ‘Africa’ Abroad in 2014: Gambia’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism Leads the Way

“The Gambia, which is known as the smiling coast of Africa has a lot to offer, with its cultural potential, clean beaches, arrays of five star hotels and others, peaceful disposition and conducive business environment for investors which is the ideal place to invest in West Africa.”
Angella Colly Iheme, Gambian Ambassador to Nigeria

These were the words of HE [Her Excellency] Mrs. A. C. Iheme at the Akwaaba Africa Travel Market staged in late 2013 in Lagos, Nigeria. African Ministries of Culture and Tourism have been increasingly recognising the importance of forming partnerships with various stakeholders and members of the Diaspora oversees with the aims of driving future tourism. Within academia, this is often called ‘Nation Branding’ and embodies the expertise required for actors to enhance the image of their nation worldwide. Representatives from Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda made a joint announcement of the East Africa Single Tourist Visa at the World Travel Market Summit in Europe in 2013.

As part of her recent official visit to the United Kingdom during the World Market Tourism Summit in London, Gambia’s Tourism and Culture minister Honourable Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie launched ‘Camp Africa’ at the same event in London in November 2013. With the objective of promoting Gambia’s diverse cultural and natural heritage; Camp Africa aims to develop a more positive image for the nation for tourists and ‘followers’ of Gambia abroad. Earlier in the same year, the Tourism Minister launched the Gambia Tourism and Hospitability Institute, which was a transformation of the former Gambia Hotel School. She announced that the transformation of the former Hotel School into what is now the Gambia Tourism and Hospitability Institute is in response to the skills challenge in the tourism sector and in keeping abreast of ever-changing training needs of the industry.

“Africa has a market share of only three percent in the global tourism industry. This could partly be attributed to poor training in the sector that does not match current market needs. This calls for the need to invest heavily in human resource development in order to have the requisite personnel that can deliver high quality services in tourism and hospitality. Today, the discerning tourists are spoilt for choice and will not entertain sloppiness of services. It is therefore important that we understand and master the needs of the tourists that we are out to serve.”
Fatou Mas Jobe-Njie, Gambia’s Minister of Tourism and Culture

Gambia’s Tourism Minister Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, who has often been accredited by many within the nation as creative, energetic and essential towards the growth of Gambia’s emerging Tourism industry views ‘Camp Africa’ as key to Gambia’s tourism development and represents one of the Ministry’s main objectives of implementation in 2014. The programme (which will run in Gambia) will educate local, regional and international students, academics, tourists and other interested stakeholders alike through workshops, developmental projects, intercultural dialogues, excursions and sports activities which promote sustainable tourism and provide ongoing support to health, education and developmental projects in Gambia and the rest of Africa.

Woka-Kuma (Let’s Talk); Burkina Faso and Cultural Diplomacy

Cultural diplomacy is known as a type of public diplomacy and soft power that includes the “exchange of ideas, information, art and other aspects of culture among nations and their peoples in order to foster mutual understanding. Explorers, travellers, traders, teachers and artists can be all considered living examples of informal ambassadors. Through the interaction of peoples, the exchange of language, religion, ideas, arts and societal structures have consistently improved relations between divergent groups. In 2014, we can see a good example of African Cultural Diplomacy in the little borough of a West African capital city: Ouagadougou.

Ouagadougou is known as the capital of Burkina Faso. However, outside the governmental and business functions of this unique city remains the unknown fact that the city is one of the cultural capitals of the world. The city hosts several major festivals: the International Craft Show of Ouagadougou, the Festival International de Théâtre et de Marionnettes de Ouagadougou (The International Theatre and Puppets Festival of Ouagadougou), the Jazz Festival of Ouagadougou and two other important theatre festivals.

Early January 2014 saw the launch of this years FESTICO (Festival de danse et de musique traditionnels de Colsama; the Festival of dance and traditional music) in Bobo District 07 (one of the numerous boroughs in the country). For its first edition, 2014 FESTICO pushed the traditional lines in the organization of festivals. It is clear that the producers wanted to perform something different this year. Inspired by Abdoul Aziz Sinka and his German friends, it was oordinated by the Association Woka – Kuma; a combination of Bissa and Dyula words which means “Let’s Talk”. Mayor Moussa Hema (Sponsorer of the first edition) and his assistants of technical services played a key role in making FESTICO 2014 into what many would interpret as a success.

Casually, FESTICO can be a gold mine for the development of District 07 and starting from Bobo. The developers of the Festival were already in good terms with the German’s idea of brewing cultures and open doors. Cultural exchanges had taken place prior to the festival between German and Burkinabe delegates. A member of the Bobolaise council delegate was invited to Berlin for the Oktoberfest.

An opportunity and agreement for Burkina Faso to export local products that were pleasing also materialised from the pre-festival talks. This illustrates the effectiveness of dialague, exchanging of ideas and willingness to open up cultures for stakeholders beyond the country and the continent. Furthermore, Burkinabe artists are to be invited to Germany by the cultural promoters of this country through hoteliers, airlines and restaurants as there are expectations that Burkina Faso that will host a larger FESTICO event next year in 2015. The German delegation impressed by the Burkinabe promised to return with more men and women next year according to the Burkina Faso in Switzerland.

Cultural Diplomacy certainly produces opportunities. FESTICO can also be a catalyst for tourism growth in the borough district and Moussa Hema (Mayor) with offers no shortage of future potential. Best, South / North relations between the borough and 07 German cities can be ripened. In any case it is the wish of Moumouni Sinka, president of the Kuma – Woka Association to promote the best traditional dance festival in Burkina Faso and West Africa.

Between the 2nd and 11th of January; a play titled L’héritage was another partnership between two nationals Augusta Palenfo (one of the leading Burkinabe actresses, comedians and director of FIRHO, the International Festival of Laughter and Humour) and Swiss director Roger Nydegger. It was staged at the Carrefour International Theatre in Ouagadougou (Cito). The drama covered a multitude of topics including the problems found in Africa and elsewhere. Through this stage, the promoters of this show wanted to draw attention to the similarities that may exist between an African and European families.

“Through this theatrical piece, we wanted to show that there is indeed a certain modernity in Africa and also that blacks and whites are experiencing the same problems, the same concerns and issues. This is because when both continents talk about the other; both see themselves one way and the other continent in another way.”
Roger Nydegger (Swiss Film Expert).

The city is also the meeting place for all lovers of African cinema. Since 1969, every 2 years, the Ouagadougou Pan-African Film & Television Festival (FESPACO) welcomes thousands of festival-goers and represents must-see festival. At the very beginning of this new millennium, Ouagadougou was once again the leader of another cultural phenomenon, The International Hip Hop Culture Festival born under the name Ouaga Hip Hop. There is certainly scope for the cultural diplomatic practices of creative people within this city to grow – Let’s hope this will be the start of something other West African festivals can follow.

The Leading Women of West Africa’s Culture and Tourism Sectors

I don’t think I would receive much criticism if I say there certainly seems to be a positive uprising of women within West African Politics; especially when it comes to the Ministries of Culture, Arts and Tourism. Even from the top of my head; when I look across the political spectrum of ECOWAS and the general Culture and Tourism sectors; I think of Mrs. Elizabeth Ofosu-Adjare of Ghana, Mrs. Fatou Mas Jobe-Njie of Gambia, Mrs Sally Mbanefo of Nigeria and Mrs. Yahaya Baaré Aoua Abdou of Niger. These are currently some of the prominent female Ministers of Culture and Tourism within their respective states; Mrs. Sally Uwechue-Mbanefoor is the popular Director of the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation. This is without mentioning the Female Ministers of Mamata Bako Djaouga (of Benin), Guillermina Mekuy Mba Obono (of Guinea) and Sengalese Prime Minister Aminata Toure and you get my point.

Sub Saharan Africa’s tourism industry is set to spur more economic growth for the continent and directly employ 6.7 million people by 2021, according to a new World Bank report released in October last year. The report ‘Tourism in Africa: Harnessing Tourism for Growth and Improved Livelihoods’ states that tourism accounted directly or indirectly for one in every 20 jobs in Sub Saharan Africa in 2011, and is one of the few industries on the continent in which women are well represented as employees and managers. Sub Saharan Africa is outpacing other regions in tourism growth.

Aside from the mention of female appointments to ministerial departments; the significance of African women in general within the cultural sectors cannot be underestimated. Many African governments promote ethnic tourism using glamorous images of women in traditional dress. Many women are also involved in the ethnic handicrafts and marketing of them in nearby towns and cities. I am familiar with the Hausa culture and the beautiful ‘aike hannu’ (Hand crafted items) that dominate tourism expos in Niger, Northern Nigeria and abroad. Growing research highlights the different roles men and women of the global south play in selling their traditions. In Southern Africa, the famous traditional dances sold to tourists seem to be dominated by the men whilst in West Africa; it is the women.

According to a well known Chinese proverb, women hold up half the sky. In the tourism industry, women hold up more than their fair share, as hosts, as workers, as images of touristic adventures. Whilst this may strike intriguing debates amongst African feminists and academics; Erve Chambers (Professor of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland, College Park) narrates how women are siginicant and treated within domestic and eco-tourism initiatives:

“In my general overview of cross-cultural touristic literature, women as hosts and folks provide a multiplier impact on tourism: they supply usually poorly domestic service and other forms of wage labour; they supply artistry; they supply avertising images; they supply entrepreneurial skills to the economic sector and they supply their sexuality for sale. A change of scenery for visitor has multiple meanings when women as hosts, native girls, and folks are concerned.”
Erve Chambers, (Anthropology Professor)

‘Karifi’n mata sai yawa’n magana’ is a Hausa proverb meaning ‘the strength of a woman is in her tongue’. What a woman says and doesn’t say is important; especially if they hold a key position within their nation’s political future. In Rwanda, women have often citied their maternal nature as having gifted them with the skills of peace-building and reconciliation after the genocide crisis. Within West Africa, more women are coming out voicing how the cultural sector is not only dominated by women but important for women.

“It is better for Liberian [women] to engage in arts and crafts to help them become self reliant and strengthen the cultural sector in Liberia by promoting tourism.”
Mrs. Fatu Gbedema, (CEO of Game Changers Liberia)

Liberia represents a country where women are no longer dependent on men to support. They no longer sit in their homes waiting for their husbands. ‘They have risen to the occasion and decided to use their hands to become self-employed them’ according to Gloria T. Tamba (Daily Observer, Liberia). I think her view would be shared by many within the region if not on the continent. Tourism has been recognised as a force within Africa’s development and role of women as producers has certainly been identified.

LIST OF SOME OF WEST AFRICA’s KEY FEMALE INFLUENTIAL CULTURE AND TOURISM DRIVERS INCLUDE:
Ms. Guillermina Mekuy Mba Obono (Equatorial Guinea Secretary of State, Head of Culture and Tourism)
Aminata Touré (Current Prime Minister of Senegal)
Mrs. Fatu Gbedema, (CEO of Game Changers on the left with Petroleum Guru, Jacqueline Khoury Director on NOCAL Board
Mrs. Mamata Bako Djaouga (Benin Minister of Handicraft and Tourism)
Mrs. Fatou mass jobe njie (Gambian Minister of Tourism and Culture)
Mrs. Yahaya Baaré Aoua Abdou (Niger Minister of Tourism and Handcrafts)
Mrs. Elizabeth Ofosu-Adjare, (Ghana Minister for Tourism, Culture & Creative Arts)
Mrs. Sally Mbanefo (Director General of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation NTDC)

However, with the appointments of women as ministers of Culture and Tourism within their respective home states illustrates how the future certainly looks bright with regards to the opportunities the cultural sector presents them. It is clear that tourism provides African women with employment opportunities that, although in the informal sector, are significant because of the autonomy and independence they provide for women.

EXPOSITION DE PEINTURE: Alhousseïni Yayé Touré expose au CCFN de Niamey

Au coeur d’un véritable artiste réside et la puissance infinie de la création, chaque nouvelle peinture est plus expressive, plus beau et mieux exécutée que les precedents. C’est notamment le cas pour Le célèbre peintre nigérien Alhousseïni Yayé Touré. Il est à la fois artiste-peintre, professeur d’art et écrivain.

Yayé Touré ALHOUSSEINI (peinture et sculpture) Yayé est âgé de 28 ans. C’est un autodidacte qui a suivit de nombreux stages et formations dans son pays auprès d’artistes de Niamey et d’artistes belges, italiens ou français. Il a commencé sa formation en 1987 par le dessin et la technique du batik puis les arts plastiques où il a enchaîné des formations jusqu’en 1998. Il expose depuis 1998 essentiellement à Niamey, il est lauréat de plusieurs concours organisé par les autorités de son pays. Il travaille avec les pigments de terre, des matériaux de récupération et d’autres supports.

Le célèbre peintre nigérien Alhousseïni Yayé Touré expose ses œuvres du 17 janvier au 1fevrier 2014 au Centre culturel franco-nigérien de Niamey. Le jeune maître de la peinture contemporaine nigérienne fait découvrir aux nombreux amateurs des couleurs et de formes sa dernière collection complète riche de plusieurs tableaux. Dans ces œuvres, Alhousseïni Yayé exprime son émotion, son sentiment devant les véritables réalités de la vie. La cérémonie de lancement de cette exposition peinture s’est déroulée en présence du Secrétaire général du ministère de la culture, des arts et de loisir Maï Fernand, des membres du Corps diplomatique et Institutions au Niger et de plusieurs amoureux de la peinture.

Touré a été plusieurs fois lauréats de concours nationaux:

• 3ème prix du concours national de dessin organisé par le ministère de l’environnement (1993)

• 4ème prix du concours national de bande dessinée organisé par le ministère de l’environnement (1993)

• 2ème prix du concours de dessin, organisé par le ministère de l’environnement (1994)

• 1er prix du concours national de logo relatif à la scolarisation de la jeune fille (1998)

• 3ème prix du concours national de sculpture organisé par l’Ambassade de France au Niger (2001)

• Touré a représenté le Niger aux cinquièmes jeux de la francophonie (2005)

• L’artiste réalise également des décors et logos tels que:

• Logo du Salon de l’Artisanat de la Femme (SAFEM) (2000) (Niger)

• Décors des stands nigériens aux 4èmes jeux de la francophonie (2003)(Ottawa – Canada)

• Décors de la compagnie de théâtre Les Tréteaux du Niger Décors du groupe nigérien de musique Mamar Kassey

L’artiste peintre présente dans ses différentes œuvres, la vie et la nature, qui d’apres ce dernier « sont la base même de mon attirance esthétique de mon approche picturale, je les transporte en de vastes compositions apparemment visionnaire dont les limites s’inscrivent scrupuleusement dans les dimensions de la toile ». Alhousseïni Yayé Touré a découvert très jeune sa passion et son inspiration débordante précoce pour la chose artistique et culturelle. Ainsi dans le cadre de la réalisation de ses œuvres, l’enfant prodige de la peinture au Niger fait recours à un mélange de terres du Niger aux pigments et l’utilisation de certains matériaux utilitaires, des éléments de récupération ou encore des morceaux de tissus. Plusieurs fois lauréat aux differents concours nationaux et internationaux, le jeune Alhousseïni Yayé Touré a démarré très jeune sa riche carrière d’artiste peintre et plasticien. Il a réalisé plusieurs décors et logo dont le dernier est celui de la Haute Autorité de Lutte Contre la Corruption et les Infractions Assimilées (HALCIA). Issu d’une famille modeste, le jeune artiste a fait ses premiers pas d’artiste en 1987 à l’occasion d’une formation au Musée National du Niger à Niamey.

Dilemmas of young Africans growing up in the Diaspora

After discussing with some friends whether Africans in the Diaspora should feel or have an obligation to help loved ones back ‘home’; It brought about insights into a growing ‘cultural gap’ that exists with many young people (born of African origin) in the UK and certainly within the rest of Europe. There were many divisions at first within our discussion; but we came to a conclusion that whilst ‘blacks’ are not obliged to visit, help or undergo working life back in Africa, if they do ‘feel’ obliged; then they should not be scorned.

The topic of Identity is becoming more and more complex for young people born and raised in the west. One explanation put forward is that the young Diaspora wherever they come from become more integrated into host countries and gradually lose connection with their countries of origin. Unlike their parents who have direct emotional connections back home, young people find that their emotional demands are within easy reach, from within their immediate environment.

In the UK, more black people are identifying with the terms ‘black’ and ‘Afro-Caribbean’ ahead of ‘African’. Those who call themselves ‘Africans’ (not just via the ethnic minority sections of various university and job application forms) as an affirmative portrait of one’s identity highlights a recognised affirmation of connection to the continent. So the terms ‘Black is Beautiful’ and ‘Black and Proud’ (which dominate some of the discussions within some of the Afro-Caribbean barber shops and hairdressers) means one thing; but to be ‘African’ and proud can mean another. The question of Culture and Identity remains both a blessing and burden with regards to the question of ‘Where is home?’ for many young people of African origin living within the UK. Whilst travelling between London and Brussels, I have met more and more young blacks insisting to me that though they are Black and their parents are of African origin; they don’t feel inclined to help Africa since the host country is now their home. ‘Home is where you lay your head’ according to some brethren; a statement I personally do not fully disagree with. As a result; ‘Africa’ is compartmentalised into the box of ‘Where I am from’ and not necessarily ‘Where I belong’ or ‘Where I am going’.

Whilst it can be said that we are living in a day and age where a young person’s perception of ‘Africa’ is gradually changing and becoming more positive; certain trends still remain the same. ‘Africa’ in terms of media coverage is collecting a sense of ‘positivity’ especially in the areas of the growth of African Film (Nollywood and South Africa Film Industries), Business Investments, Music artists, Tourism expos and Art exhibition gradually receiving appraisals within western media. However, there still seems to be a ‘ceiling’ to where these appraisals end.

For example, the London definition of ‘representing your roots’ for an increasing amount of young blacks may be to go to the Independence Day celebration or support your nation if they make it to the World Cup or African Cup of Nations; but anything further requires more national pride. Furthermore, whilst many Africans within the continent may continue to attack the negative propaganda western media is feeding Africa’s Diaspora; the old English saying goes ‘there are two sides to every coin’. Indeed; there is another side to the belief that western media are sole cause for negative diaspora perceptions of the continent.

Who said Africa’s negative perceptions only comes from the problematic elitisms of western Media? Our own parents, aunties, uncles, older brothers and sisters have contributed to the negative perception of some of our children in the diaspora.

Some of our elders usually have something bad to say about their own upbringings, experiences and troubles from ‘home’ which also affects the mind-sets of our children. These conversations do not only take place at the hairdressers or the barbers; but also at home. And the desire of the young; especially towards ever wanting to live or travel to ‘that nation’ called Ghana or Sierra Leone or Nigeria becomes tarnished. The mother tongue issue also reveals some insights; I’ve been privileged to have met quite a few European born and raised Nigerians, Ghanaians and Kenyans who wished their parents conversed in their mother-tongue more at home. I also have met blacks who understand their mother-tongue efficiently but ‘’refuse’ to speak it. It’s not that they can’t speak it but they don’t have the confidence to due to their own elders mocking their accents or abilities.

“When I don’t speak my mother-tongue; they’ll complain that I’m losing touch with my culture; when I try to speak the language – they tease me instead of encourage me. It’s not an excuse but for a teenager this can be very off-putting.”

These are some off the words of the few young Africans in the diaspora that have or had the desire to speak their mother-tongue but were later down-heartened by their own. The same children that we desire to grow interested with our cultural heritage are discouraged from the very same people who point the finger to them; their loved ones. But what does this have to do with ‘feeling obliged to help’ Africa?

According to Junior Mutabazi, several scholars have argued that an increasing number of young Africans born or brought up in the Diaspora, compared to previous generations of African migrants, are increasingly finding reasons to stay put and contribute to the economies of their host nations instead of their countries of origin.

“The young African Diaspora have pointed to reasonable life comforts such as employment, investment returns, and social security opportunities accessible in host countries as opposed to negative perceptions associated with Africa, including political instabilities, lack of trust, and poverty to be additional explanations for the lack of financial connection with Africa.”
Junior Sabena Mutabuzi, 2014 UK Parliamentary Trainee

Many a time, the Black Diaspora in search of identity and ancestral heritage are sometimes taught to re-value and appreciate their home in Africa; but when it comes to spending our future there it may be a different story. Some argue: “It is better for a young African to be in the Diaspora yet wanting to make an impact back in Africa than to be in a land far away having no knowledge of your ancestral roots? Whilst some say home is where the heart is; others say home is where you make it to be. Meaning; where I live is where I belong; and here is where we find our priorities. Within sociology and anthropology there is a term known as ‘Moral Economies’. These are the ‘moral’ obligations that make a community feel obliged to perform to another; I wonder whether this term be used to analyse some of the black Diaspora communities towards their continent?

I am encouraged to see a growing number of young people of African origin taking an interest in developments back home; perhaps this is due to the growing news that Africa is the next place to invest in and how things are improving in some countries socio-economic wise. However one can argue that this is where it starts and stops. If one (living in the Diaspora) is to make a difference; one must travel. One must travel to see his or her own place of origin before arriving to any personal conclusion; because at least a personal conclusion is better than one that has been defined by the hearsay of parents, aunts and uncles or negative media. Even merely attending the many tourism expos and Africa ‘conferences’ hosted in the diaspora about the wealth and colours of the wonderful continent has it’s limits – to talk is good but to go is better. We all have a role to play in projecting the beauty of our beloved motherland not just to foreigners but our children too. God has blessed us with this beautiful continent; not just to keep to ourselves – but to share with the generations of tomorrow. Let us be encouraged.

La Beauté togolaise sur le toit de l’Afrique: Mlle Alexandrine Yawa Hantz

Certains de nos gens vont dire <<Dans une culture où l’on détermine la valeur d’une femme en fonction de la beauté de son corps, l’identité devient directement liée à l’apparence>>. Néanmoins au Togo, bonnes choses se produisent. Le secrétaire d’Etat, chargé de l’industrie, Olivier Assogba a lancé officiellement le mandat d’Alexandrine Yawa Hantz, élue Miss Beauty Africa 2014 le 20 décembre dernier à Yaoundé au Cameroun parmi des miss venues de tous les pays d’Afrique. Miss Africa fait référence à l’éclat et la beauté présents au coeur de chaque femme travailleuse et déterminée. Si l’esthétique d’un sac réussit à parler d’une femme, beaucoup plus s’arrive à faire avec l’enquête de son contenu; c’est certainment le cas pour le jeune femme énergique et très éloquente et qui a de l’assurance et une grande beauté intérieure.

Alexandrine Yawa Hantz entend s’engager en faveur de la paix et de la stabilité au Togo en sensibilisant les jeunes aux valeurs de tolérance et de coexistence. Mlle Alexandrine Yawa Hantz a été déjà élue première dauphine au concours Miss Ecowas-Togo/2013. Ce qui l’a poussé à se présenter au concours Miss Beauty Africa/2014. << Je suis très heureuse d’avoir remporté cette couronne pour mon pays >>, a déclaré à l’Agence Savoir News Mlle Alexandrine Yawa Hantz.  Pour son mandat, elle réalisera un projet social conjointement avec Miss Ecowas Togo 2013, autour de thème : “la beauté au service de la paix et du développement”. « Mon ambition est encore plus grande. Je me suis retrouvée dans un monde où la plupart ne connaissaient même pas le nom du Togo. J’étais un peu blessée mais je suis arrivée en finale et j’ai été élue Miss parce que j’ai cru au rêve togolais », a déclaré la Miss. Durant son mandat d’un an, Alexandrine Yawa Hantz va mettre sa beauté au profit de la paix et du développement. Ce sera conjointement avec Miss CEDEAO Togo 2013, Doris Yawa Guinhouya.

Le projet qui sera exécuté s’intitule « s’unir pour la paix et la stabilité au Togo ». Il s’agira de permettre que les jeunes aient des connaissances sur la non violence en adoptant des comportements de la paix, disposer d’un savoir réel sur la paix et la non violence. Pour le secrétaire d’Etat chargé de l’industrie, Olivier Assogba, le gouvernement soutiendra ce projet qui s’exécute à une période où notre pays est en plein chantier de réconciliation sincère et véritable entre ses filles et ses filles.

« La mission de la lauréate togolaise de Miss Beauty Africa 2014 est de représenter l’Afrique et le Togo dans l’univers international des industries de la beauté, aux fora de la mode, de la culture et d’inciter les investisseurs des industries culturelles à s’intéresser à notre continent. C’est avec plaisir donc que le gouvernement togolais accompagnera les organisateurs de l’édition 2014 du concours panafricain Miss Beauty Africa », a déclaré Olivier Assogba. Le Togo organise la prochaine édition de la Miss Beauty Africa en décembre prochain.

L’un des objectifs de ce projet est de permettre aux jeunes de connaître les notions élémentaires de la paix et d’adopter des comportements civiques de non violence.

“Nous débuterons le projet social en février et il se fera à travers des séances de sensibilisation dans les écoles, l’organisation de soirées culturelles sur la thématique de la paix et de la non violence. Nous organiserons également de gala de football. Le but est d’apprendre aux jeunes à cultiver la paix entre eux, afin qu’ils l’enseignent à leur tour à leurs parents”, a-t-elle précisé. M.Olivier Assogba a pour sa part, promis le soutien du gouvernement pour l’exécution du projet.

“Le gouvernement soutiendra ce projet qui s’exécute à une période où notre pays est en plein chantier de réconciliation sincère et véritable entre ses filles et fils”, a-t-il souligné.

 Notons que Mlle Alexandrine Yawa Hantz aura également pour mission de représenter l’Afrique et le Togo dans l’univers international des industries de beauté, aux fora de la mode et de la culture en incitant les investisseurs à s’intéresser à l’Afrique et au Togo. En rappel, Miss Beauty Africa honore chaque année, une reine de la beauté représentant un pays en fonction du nombre de votes enregistrés. Seize pays sont initialement sélectionnés pour la phase finale.  La est Miss élue lors de la finale, après une phase éliminatoire, des quarts de finale et demi-finales.

 

(credits: T. Alli, de la CEDEAO, D. Assogba, Savoir News C. Mensah, duTogo; photo – cameroonfashionweek)