african · Diaspora · Sierra Leone

Thoughts On Moving Back Home

Relocating once is hard enough, having to do it several times over a short period of time isn’t any better.

When I was about 5 years old, we moved to Kenya and lived there for 12 years, later on to Ghana in 2012, and back to Sierra Leone in 2016. Due to my father’s profession, this could have been a lot more frequent.

I was speaking to an acquaintance fairly recently, and he asked me what my thoughts on this subject were – If it were up to me, would I have moved at all, or stayed put?

I wasn’t keen on moving around as it meant I had to start all over again: making new friends, getting to know my new surroundings, language, culture, new school, the list goes on.

However, I am grateful because I feel like I have become more cultured – recently I was even referred to as a ‘third culture kid”. Because of that exposure, I have been able to grow and develop in dynamic and multi-cultural environments.

In any case, I have been observing a few things with Salone youth (both here, and the diaspora) especially on social media. For instance, soon after the devastating flood and mudslide which affected Freetown last week, there were discussions on various social media platforms about ways to help victims, and ways in which the country can move on from this. Take a look at one particular tweet below:

There seems to be a divide with Sierra Leoneans living in the diaspora – some have decided that’s their home now and they would rather stay there, whereas others have the intention of returning to Sierra Leone in the near future.
Why?

Those who want to move back home acknowledge that the country is ours. In order for us to see change, we have to be that change. That starts by using our knowledge and expertise from various fields from wherever we may be living now, and bringing that home. Sierra Leone is our country and is in our hands to build and improve.

Much work has to be done, but how can we improve the country if all we do is condemn it? The issues at hand are rather complex – we know – but change has to come from within. It will certainly not be an easy task, but that does not mean that it is impossible.

I touched on this topic in my first post HERE. We are always complaining about the country, often from a distance, but are not interested in coming back to make the changes we feel are necessary for our country to flourish.

Going back to my family, the plan was not to move back at the time we did – but now that we have, I am content that it was the right thing to do. I am seeing the obstacles that our country faces firsthand, but I am also blessed to see the beauty and all of what Sierra Leone has to offer.

Youth in the country are taking initiative and it is refreshing to see. Projects such as Operation Klin Fritong which involves volunteers cleaning the streets in the city.  Non-Profit Organisations such as Girl Up Vine Club Sierra Leone. Girl Up is run by a young Sierra Leonean Yasmine Ibrahim. The main goals and objectives are: – Girl Up aims to promote the health, safety, leadership and education of adolescent girls in Sierra Leone through advocacy, community outreach and public speaking workshops. Notably, their main goal is to unlock the potential of the average Sierra Leonean girl and have her know her basic rights. A major goal they’ve accomplished is that 90% of the girls involved in the Girl Up program have become more outspoken and confident, and have also improved their English. Joining Girl Up has also had a positive effect on their class performance and peer interaction.

In addition, I have also teamed up with a friend – Elaine Williams, and the both of us have started a YouTube channel – Young In Freetown. We plan on using that as a platform to not only showcase Sierra Leone in all of her glory, but to also talk about our experiences moving back home (good and bad), our expectations for the country, places to hangout, shining a light on Young Sierra Leoneans doing inspiring things, fun events, just to name a few.

Subscribe and stay tuned for more information.

Featured image by Ronnie’s Photography

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Beauty and Lifestyle

Series: Young, Gifted and African – Maryam Taib – SpoonFullOfHoney

This week on Young, Gifted and African, we will be shining a spotlight on Maryam Taib.

If you are not familiar with my Young, Gifted and African Series, check out my previous posts  HERE, HERE, & HERE

Maryam Taib aka SpoonFullOfHoney aka the only bubble in my Sprite.

We have so much in common, and have been friends for at least five years now. We followed each other to England (she followed me) and when I wasn’t visiting her in Keele, she was in Bristol with me.

Maryam is from Mombasa, Kenya and one thing I LOVE about her, and her culture is the way they speak Kiswahili. Yani, it sounds like a song, and is such a joy to listen to. Also, with me being West African – ya’ll know how we like our pepper and spicy food, she is the same! I have never met another Kenyan who loves chilli as much as I do.

More about Maryam and her YouTube journey below!

Maryam’s full name is Maryam Taib but she uses the alias “spoonfullofhoney” online. Originally from Mombasa, Kenya but currently living in Nairobi.

Maryam says that Kenya has some of the most amazing animals in the world and amazing scenery. Kenya is also very diverse in culture, and for those of us that LOVE food, one of the major advantages of this, is the range of food that you can sample there. “… we have some amazing, diverse and delicious food 😍 By diverse I mean you can find authentically Kenyan Indian food, Kenyan Arab food, Kenyan food and the Swahili food! And by delicious I mean -you’ll be licking your fingers while ordering a third plate- kind of delicious 😋”

Maryam described herself in three words, and said that she is – Impulsive, creative and funny.
Talking more about her passion, she said that her passion is to live life doing whatever makes her happy and gives her the income and platform to help shape this world.

“People always talk about their one true passion like they do their one true love. Some people will find just one person they will fall in love with in their lives but most people will find love a few times before finding ‘THE ONE’. Similarly I think we all have more than one passion and can grow passionate about different things as you discover and learn new things.”

She went further to explain that at the beginning of this year, she would have said makeup is her biggest passion in life, but as her YouTube channel is growing and she has become more comfortable using her camera and making videos – “creating aesthetically pleasing videos is now one of the top things I’m passionate about right now!”

She said that when it comes to her passion for makeup, she has always been obsessed with creating different looks and using makeup as an artistic outlet.

Whereas, with creating content for videos, she said that after making “a few mediocre videos” and uploading them on YouTube, she found that she was rarely pleased with the end result of the video quality. So taking matters into her own hands, she started researching ways on how to make videos and learnt of all the different ways you could tell a story using a camera.

What drove her to pursue this?

“I wanted to make a YouTube channel about makeup and my lifestyle because I wanted to show other girls from my community that our place doesn’t have to be at home and we don’t have to live our lives secluded and away from society. One of the ways I learnt this was by researching hijabi women like myself on YouTube and Instagram. So, I decided I would step in front of the camera and do what I love which is makeup. Through that I use my videos to speak on female empowerment and lead by example.”

 

This is something I am massively proud of her for doing. Maryam is not the only one on YouTube making videos about makeup. However, she is putting her own spin on things, and doing it her way. She is using her channel to not only share makeup tutorials, but to also talk about topics such as religion and tradition, marriage, female empowerment, education, and also giving advice to other young hijabi women like herself on topics such as these topics and more.

 

Maryam went on to say that her mum, dad and younger brother are her biggest supporters. Her younger brother Mzaham even goes so far as to help her with all her shoots and various content for her Instagram and YouTube pages. She looks up to her parents the most because, she says “they have taught me humility, patience, perseverance and how to keep your faith even in the most trying of times. Also Beyoncé, but I’m sure I don’t need to explain why for that haha you know why!”

Sigh – I feel like this girl would marry Beyoncé, if she could. *Rolls eyes* Don’t believe me? Keep reading!

Who would Maryam love to meet Dead or Alive and Why? – “Alive; I would love to meet Beyoncé, again this is self-explanatory everybody! She’s the queen of the world and I have a million questions to ask about how she works so hard, how she runs her empire, how to stay humble through it all and most importantly how to perfect your craft like she has.” See my point? Case closed.

She also went on to say that if she could, she would also love to meet the Prophet Mohammed (SW).

When asked about some of the biggest obstacles she’s faced so far, Maryam said (surprisingly) that, that would be herself. “When you’re a YouTuber you are your own boss, manager, videographer, director, editor and everythinger! things get tough”

She said when she gets insecure about a part of herself, it shows in her work, or if she is too lazy to do something, then the overall quality of her video suffers… the only person she can hold accountable is herself. She has had to push herself hard to stop looking at her footage and pictures from a vain point of view and  instead, focusing on editing and shooting things very objectively – “as if the person I’m dealing with isn’t me.”

The most memorable thing to happen so far, is whenever someone who follows her on social media approaches her to say hello in person “it’s the best moment!!! I save those memories like little gems in my head that I’ll never forget about.”

 

Her most embarrassing moment?

“Haha all my spelling mistakes on my snapchat and even on my YouTube video titles!”

This happens so many times, I have lost count. Maryam has LLB and LLM qualifications, thank God for that, because if she was a doctor her patients would struggle (still love you though)

In the next three to five years, she sees her brand as becoming even more successful – especially her YouTube channel, and hopefully launching a makeup brand of her own.

I also asked about her plans for furthering her education, and how she will combine the two. “I currently just finished my Master’s degree in Law and I plan on taking a break between my PHD. Since I am educated in law of all things people usually say ‘oh what a waste since you are doing makeup and YouTube now.’  But actually it helps a lot in my YouTube and beauty career, I have been trained to research thoroughly, understand complex issues and fix them and most importantly how to draw up my own contracts.”

Any advice for someone that is just starting out, in a similar field?

“Just start!” she said. “Don’t over think it just wake up tomorrow and do it!”

Follow the homie on her social media platforms below!

 

@lumeebajaber

 

@spoonfullofhoneyy

 

spoonfullofhoney

african · music

Series: Young, Gifted and African – Mumala

 

If you are not familiar with my Young, Gifted and African Series, check out my previous two posts HERE and HERE!

Nicole Maloba is a talented singer and songwriter from Kenya. We go waaay back, and even used to sing in school assemblies together! Shout out N.I.S!

With her stage name – Mumala, she is taking the Kenyan music scene by storm!

Mumala Maloba is a singer songwriter who began to cause a stir within the crop of young musicians in Nairobi. Having come from a musical background, she started her musical journey very young. By age six she was participating in Christmas musicals and carols and had even begun writing songs at the age of ten. Her second grade teacher called her a young ‘Miriam Makeba’, but Mumala had never heard of her until she discovered her music and fell in love.

She also grew up listening to the sounds of legends that her elder siblings listened to, such as Racheal Ferrell, Jill Scott, and Yvonne Chaka Chaka amongst others. While studying in Nairobi International School, she met the current Penya – Africa Director, Natalie Lukkenear who mentored and encouraged her to join ‘Sauti Academy’ which is a one-year music program designed to manage talent and develop artists.

The budding musician believes that for her to continue to grow and learn more about music she surrounds herself with mentors such as June Gachui, Sara Mitaru, Sauti Sol, and Elani. Mumala released her first Single “Where did the love go” in April 2013 then following with the release of her 2nd single “Paper chasing” ft Octopizzo produced by Polycarp ‘Fancy Fingers’ in 2014. After a long hiatus in the music scene Mumala’s latest single ‘Lose Myself’ was released in November last year.

Mumala has performed at various events such as Soulful Expressions,the Kinanda Arts Festival, Soul for Soul Concerts, Chords and cords unplugged show, Nairobi and Naivasha Fashion Market, TML100 feat Zonke, Blankets and Wine, Thursday Nite Live at Choices, Up Live II, Rift Valley Festival, Story Moja Hay Festival, Simplified Soul J.A.M, Industry Nite and private events such as weddings. Mumala has shared stages with Kenyan artists such as Just a Band, Sara Mitaru, Ayub Ogada, Kato Change, Sauti Sol and Elani amongst others but has also shared stages with International artists such as Grammy nominee Joe Thomas during a grand concert in 2012, Zonke at a TML100 concert and International Zouk star Zulu from Mauritius leading to them collaborating on a hit single in French and Swahili dubbed ‘Sweet life’. Mumala recently graduated from Middlesex University with a First class honors in Law. The 23 year old is definitely one of the female vocalists to look out for in the coming months.

Keep reading to get to know more about the vocal powerhouse -she tells us more about her passion, her plans for the future and everything in between- during her interview below!

  • What is your name and how old are you?-My name is Nicole Maloba I’m 23 years old.
  • Where are you from, and where do you live now? I’m proudly Kenyan. I live in Kenya at the moment.
  • What do you love the most about your country? The fast paced life, always keeps my adrenaline pumping!
  • Describe yourself in three words. Funny, Talented , Intelligent lol
  • Tell me about your passion? My passion… music and advocacy. The joy of songwriting, performing however I don’t do it as much as I used to. Being a full time lawyer, there are struggles in finding a balance. But I’m figuring it out…
  • When did you discover this passion? Since age eight or so. My grade school teacher would always call me Miriam Makeba… I guess she sensed my creative side way before I did.
  • What drove you to pursue this? The answer to that is what didn’t. Lol I have too much soul in me the voice is always yearning to be freed.
  • Who is your biggest supporter? My sister, she’s my rock and support system. Always there even when I didn’t need her to be. Constantly grateful.
  • Who do you look up to? Jill Scott. Her music has purpose and drive it’s like she is an advocate but in song. She not only inspires in songwriting but also in performance, I’m utterly ‘wowed’ every time.
  • Who would you love to meet, Dead or Alive? Why? Gosh not fair so many people but top of my list would be Aretha Franklin. Dang she oozes finesse, effortlessly soulful.
  • What are some obstacles you’ve faced so far? Like most people self-doubt. There are times I’ve felt defeated, exhausted and drained. But I’ve learnt that there is only so much one can do. Motivational books, music and documentaries have become a daily dosage for me. Trust it to keep my mindset where it needs to be.
  • Where do you see your brand in the next 3-5 years? I’d like to perform at festivals all over Africa and at large. Using music as my tool to conquer.
  • Do you plan to further your education? How will you combine the two? Yes I actually intend to go back to university for my masters. I try not to worry about the future cause plans don’t always push through. All I know is that I shall be singing as long as I can.
  • Any advice for someone that is just starting out, in a similar field? Patience, one needs a lot of it and also staying true to your sound and beliefs. A lot of challenges will always crop up but as long as you keep doing you with honesty and to the best of your ability then the fruits will be reaped just keep calm.Follow Mumala on her social media:@MumalaMaloba

     

    Mumala Maloba

     

    @MumalaMaloba

Personal

Are You A Procrastinator? – Symptoms and Tips On How To Fight It

Recently, a friend approached me about content from my post When Life Gives You Lemons. (Hey Merilyn girl!) She mentioned that it was important to identify the manner in which people use my suggested tips -as people like herself- could be tempted, and use some of them as a way of procrastinating.

Therefore, how can you tell the difference between; reflecting and taking some well-deserved time out, as to when you’re just flat out procrastinating? And how do you snap out of that and become more productive?

Well, I put my hands up and say that I sometimes struggle with procrastination. I’ll set out various tasks that I need to do and allocate time to do them. Let’s say for instance- I plan on sorting out a work plan for the week at 8 PM, believe me when I say, if I look up at the clock and the time is 8:15 PM ha! I’ll “try again tomorrow”. This becomes particularly easy to do when I’m watching my favourite show as well! Especially when I’ve missed a couple of episodes – one turns into three, and before I know it, it’s 3:00 AM the next day.

Let’s try to reflect and be real with ourselves for one minute here. If you are not sure that you are a procrastinator, here are a few signs.

Do you tend to:

  1. Tell yourself you’ll do a certain task “tomorrow” when you know deep down it’s not going to happen?
  2. You focus on doing little tasks here and there, rather than getting stuck in on what’s really important?
  3. Have the strong urge to watch the new episode of GOT before you get started on work?
    Because how can you focus on all your deadlines when you don’t know what ‘Littlefinger’ has up his sleeve this time!
  4. You suddenly have the strong urge to nap. You know… to brace/gear yourself up for the work load that awaits you.
  5. You suddenly can’t stop reloading and refreshing your Snapchat, Instagram, even Twitter feed, knowing damn well that there’s nothing new to see on there… because you just checked SIX SECONDS AGO.
  6. You usually gulp down dinner in five minutes, but now, it takes you a solid thirty minutes because you want to indulge and appreciate all the flavours…chewing two minutes per spoonful.

Said ‘YES’ to more than two of those? Well, here are some tips n tricks, to see us all through this struggle:

  1. Set reasonable targets and deadlines.
    You need to be honest with yourself. If you have a 5,000 word report due in two weeks, start off with a couple hundred a day, because that all nighter you’re planning to pull… that is the day that your laptop will refuse to come on, you lose your bus pass so you struggle to make your way to the Uni library, and when you do finally get there all the desktops are booked for the day. I could go on, but don’t be that guy. Set realistic goals and targets and you will have no problem in accomplishing them.
  2. Use Peer Pressure
    If all your friends have started their own tasks, you’ll feel more inclined to get started on yours too, especially if its Uni related work.
    However, if you have a circle of friends that are also procrastinators then -na wah for you oh!
  3. Treat Yourself
    For every page of that recommended reading for your next class that you do, treat yourself to a smartie, skittles, m&m.
    Side note – This does not work with alcohol. For obvious reasons.
  4. Stay Away From Your Phone
    Honestly you’re not doing yourself any favours. Replying to that ONE text from *insert your crush/bestfriend/boy/girlfriend’s name here* will turn into ten, and then suddenly it’s the next day, you haven’t slept and you’ve missed all your deadlines.Put your phone off and focus on the task at hand.
    The most important thing to do is to actually start a task. No matter how small that initial input is in the beginning, once you’ve started, just keep going. Keep moving forward.
african · Beauty and Lifestyle

Series: Young, Gifted and African – Shiro Mugo

This week, our Young, Gifted and African Series story is on Shiro Mugo. A 23 year old fire cracker from Embu, Kenya!

If you are not familiar with my Young, Gifted and African Series, check out my first post and introduction HERE!

Shiro and I met in 2010 -in High School- and have been friends ever since.

She has always been artistic and very expressive, -having directed a High School play before she even turned 18.

Talking to Shiro about what she loves about 254, she told me loves how innovative and creative Kenyans are. There’s also warmth in Kenya which she says she can’t put in words -not just warmth as in the weather (which is amazing btw), but it’s something to do with the people. She says she would best describe it as radiant.

“I also love our sense of humor, -even during the most trying moments. Kenya is also quite scenic; -literally everywhere you go feels like it’s been painted; -our country is art!”

Hearing her talk about Kenya like this, made me miss living there all over again.

I asked Shiro to describe herself in just three words, and the answer I got was “I don’t know whether that’s possible. I’ll have to say indecisive, soulful, adventurous and goofy. That’s 4, damn it! I guess “breaker of rules”?”  Yea, that’s Shiro, such a rebel LOL.

About 5 months ago, Shiro created a YouTube channel, -I asked her to tell me more about that. “I have always been passionate about creative and performing arts, be it poetry, books, music, film or fine art. I love seeing how people use their craft to entertain, educate or even just as a means of therapy. I feel like my life wouldn’t really have meaning if I wasn’t a part of the creative world. It’s what keeps me going. It’s what makes me who I am. With my YouTube channel that’s what I aim to showcase.”

She went on to say that for as long as she can remember, she’s always had this passion… to be creative, producing and appreciating various forms of art. She told me that her dad always brags about how she could read when she was about 2 years old, and so he knew that her life would have something to do with the literary world. While on the other hand, her mum could always tell that Shiro was going to be an entertainer of some sort. This is because she would always be up for entertaining guests by singing and rapping along to all sorts of songs and always acting or putting up some sort of performance. “I was also very chatty and inquisitive. I had my first acting role in kindergarten and I think from there I knew I wanted to be a part of this world.”

What drove her to pursue this? “God, Passion and Desire. I say God because I believe he’s the reason that I exist and he put my wants, needs and desires in my heart and so it’s my duty on earth to achieve these things and I can only do it through God, hard work and determination.” Shiro mentioned that she doesn’t think that anyone can really commit to pursuing something unless they are passionate about it. Also, having support from the right people has definitely given her that extra drive.

Shiro expressed that her family and best friends are her biggest supporters. “I genuinely don’t know who, what and where I would be without them. They are the realest ryyyddaass.”

Don’t know who a “rider” is? Or as Shiro put it “ryyyddaaa” – someone who motivates you, supports you, and essentially sticks with you through thick and thin.

When asked about who she looks up to, she said that would have to be her mother! “She is everything I want to be. She’s not only beautiful inside and outside but she has such a pure soul. She is such a hard worker, a dedicated mother and the best support system. I also really look up to Oprah Winfrey and Mo Abudu because I want to build global empires just like them and influence and inspire. They are such bosses. #BlackGirlMagic”

Shiro’s answer to my next question proves why she and I are meant to be friends! I asked, who she would love to meet dead or alive, and why. She said – “Rihanna, because she is the baddest to ever do it, and I love people who are unapologetically themselves.”
PAUSE. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love Rihanna, her boldness, her diverse talent, her aura, her passion to give back and as Shiro herself put it she is unapologetically herself.

Shiro would also love to meet Tupac. She explained that this is because, (I decided to directly quote her on this, so ya’ll can see how much she loves him) “I truly believe he is the love of my life and we would have made beautiful poetry and babies together.”

HA! If only eh?

Showing her love for poetry, and plays, she also says that she would love to meet Shakespeare, “have you read his work? He is lit!” and Maya Angelou “because she was one woke sista!”

 

Back to Shiro -and her Youtube channel, her journey so far- I also wanted to know what obstacles she has faced. She said lack of support. “The lack of support from people who you know have links to bigger possibilities as well as people you thought would support you. It really dampens my drive but I constantly have to remind myself that I can do it on my own, just stay committed and put in that extra work.  People not taking what I do seriously. There’s still this unfortunate stigmatization about creative people. People think it’s just a hobby that you’ll soon get bored of.”

I can totally relate to this. At an event recently, I was asked what I did and I explained that I was previously in a marketing role, but I now blog, and I am enjoying showcasing Sierra Leone and all she has to offer. The look I got said it all. Later on that day, I met another fellow creative soul, and -we got to talking about the event and how it went. I told him about the response I had received when I mentioned that I blog and he wasn’t at all surprised, because he has faced the same while doing his photography- and creating designs.

There is still the belief, particularly in Africa, that if you opt to go down the creative route (fashion design, singing, photography, make up, blogging and even producing content under a YouTube channel) that it’s a hobby -and it’s not serious work. Most of these start out without monetary gain, and it’s hard for people to grasp the concept that you love what you do, and that comes before making money.

Moving on, we also got the chance to talk about the most memorable thing to happen to Shiro on her YouTube journey so far. She told me that meeting strangers who know her through her channel would be one major thing. “It’s really crazy because sometimes I don’t think people outside of my family know my channel exists. It’s so inspiring and encouraging to hear people say such positive things. Social media has so much power. Also, other “creatives” wanting to collaborate (just like this), it’s so heart-warming and makes me want to go even harder.”

Her most embarrassing moment? “Yo. There’s toooo many. I’m one of those people that things that don’t normally happen to other people happen to. (I hope that makes sense) The moment that stands out as the most embarrassing would have to be my cousins wedding. I was one of the flower girls and we had to walk over a bridge and it had just been polished. The way my face hit the ground, yeah? Probably the most-talked-about wedding moment to date.”
Ha! Trust Shiro to steal the moment from the bride, in a way only she can do.

Where does she see her brand in the next 3-5 years? Well, Shiro wants her brand to be one that is “on everybody and their mama’s lips.” In addition, she is also starting to take photography and poetry more seriously. She believes that this will lead her to where she ultimately needs to be.
“I want to be well known for all the right reasons. I want to be a reference point for young black girls. I want my work to touch people’s lives. By the grace of God, I want to be a global empire. I want my brand to be a source of income and something that makes me happy to wake up each morning.”

She also plans to further her studies by obtaining a Masters in either Media and Public Relations or Film and TV production. She believes that there’s still so much that she has to learn, noting further that -as an English Literature and Film Studies graduate, she thinks that furthering her education will make her a cut above the rest. She wants a clear and in-depth understanding of her field; plus, she said she also likes challenging herself and is well aware that getting a Masters degree is going to take a lot of hard work and determination. However, she wants to be a professional and taken seriously.

Her parting words saw her give advice to someone starting off in a similar field –“DO NOT let anybody tell you, you can’t. If I listened to all the nay-sayers then I wouldn’t be where I am today. Surround yourself with the right energy and vibes, people who genuinely want to see you win. There’s so much power in vibes. Don’t limit yourself and always practice your craft. Always remember nothing good comes easy. Stay grounded and believe in yourself. Do not seek validation from social media and ignore the haters at all times… it will just dampen your light and you deserve to glow!”

Check out Shiro’s YouTube Channel here! She talks about –music (yes that includes Rihanna’s new releases, d’uh), relationships and friendships, hot topics, and so much more (lots of laughs guaranteed)

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFd3N85ANgwIYAC_8vv70Vw/videos

Follow her on her other social media pages too!

https://www.instagram.com/oh_oh_shiro/

https://twitter.com/Oh_Oh_Shiro

 

 

 

Personal · relationships

Toxic Friendships – Let. It. Go.

Do you have that one friend who never has anything positive to tell you? You want to start a business – they are against you doing it. You want to change your hairstyle – “that wouldn’t suit you!”

You’re always the one who calls and reaches out to them? They are always criticizing you and/or other people with a self-righteous attitude. They can never be wrong, and even when they are, they never apologise.

Are they really your friend though?

Do they support you? There is a difference between telling you some home truths and flat out being a hater. Do they want you to choose?  Like it’s either them or no one.

I had one “friend” – everything was always a competition. I didn’t see it at the time but thank the Lord, I SAW THE LIGHT! If they fell out with someone (which happened regularly) a major sign to look out for btw, I was expected to stop talking to them as well. When something embarrassing happened to me (which happened a lot, I think I might actually be accident prone) they would yell it out to the world, so everyone would know about it. Loved to gossip. One thing to take note of – if they gossip to you, they will most definitely gossip about you. When I found out, it hurt, but I realised that I wasn’t crazy for having doubts, and I finally cut off all ties.

If you are around someone who is always saying they can’t stand drama, and drama always “finds” them? That’s because they ARE the drama. You don’t need that kind of dead energy.

You need to realise that your time, your friendship, your love, your energy is precious. Share those qualities with people who actually value you. It’s tough to cut people off, but when they’re draining you it’s worth it.

And if after reading this, you feel as though you may exhibit some of these behaviours, it’s never too late to do better, and be better.

african · Entrepreneur · Fashion

Series: Young, Gifted and African – Lauretta Mtike

Having had my blog up and running and creating content for a little while now, I am constantly thinking of ideas for content and various ways in which I can shine a light on my Sierra Leone, but also Africans doing big things in Africa.

For Summer 2017, I will be starting a series – “Young, Gifted and African” featuring very talented individuals, some of whom I am fortunate to call my friends. They are all incredibly talented and are doing remarkable things in various fields such as music, fashion and fashion design, blogging, Youtube, and photography just to name a few. They are building a brand and producing some killer content!

Let’s get straight into our first feature!

Lauretta Mtike is 24 years old and born in Malawi, now currently living in the DRC. She also lived in Kenya for just the same amount of time as I did, if not longer! We met in High School, and have been friends ever since. She is a bubble of energy and her super fun loving personality makes it hard not to love her.

Lauretta has always had a passion for fashion and in 2015 she created Vivietta Designs.

Despite no longer living in Malawi, I asked Lauretta what she loves most about her country.  She said that the scenery in Malawi is unbelievably beautiful and the people are so kind and warm hearted. When asked to describe herself in three words, she said that she is Fun, Adventurous and Vivacious, and I can honestly attest to that!

Talking about her passion, she says “My passion is making clothes… the art of designing and sewing the designs. From as young as I can remember I have always had this passion.” I asked her what drove her to pursue this passion, and turn it into a reality. Lauretta explained that her friends and community inspired her to pursue it -“my friends would always ask me to make them clothes and pretty soon I had other people contact me and ask me to make them clothes as well and before I knew it, I was living out my passion.”

She expressed that her biggest supporter is her uncle. She further explained that she doesn’t really think he fully understands what it is that she does, but he’s always pushing her to achieve more and is the one that has made most of her showcases possible.

In general, Lauretta says she looks up to her mum, and career wise she looks up to Silvia Awori. She went on to say that if she could meet anyone dead or alive, it would be Silvia Awori. “Growing up, she’s the only person I ever looked up to… she has been my role model for pretty much more than half my life – meeting her would be life changing for me.”

Talking about obstacles she has faced during her journey, she says the biggest one would be the non-acceptance and stereotyping of fashion and fashion designers in her country. “Most people do not believe in fashion design as work or take it seriously.  Some even view it as a taboo of some sort and those who do it as uncultured and ill-mannered, which is really sad.”
On the other hand, the most memorable thing to happen to Lauretta she recalls was during her first fashion show. Someone went up to her and told her that they loved her collection and had actually been following her on social media. Lauretta says that at the time, she was “super shocked” because she had only just started and thought only her close friends and family knew about it. “It was a humbling experience” she says.

Talking more about Vivietta designs, Lauretta said that she created the name by combining her name. “My middle name is Vivien, hence the Vivi and then I took the Etta from Lauretta.”

When you are an entrepreneur with a business, it’s important to create goals for your business. So I asked Lauretta where she sees her brand in the next 3-5 years. In the next 3-5 years, she wants to see Vivietta designs in magazines, on models, and taking part in international fashion shows. She said “I see my clothes being available to everyone worldwide through shipping and having 2 or 3 retail shops in different countries.”

In terms of her education and how she plans to combine the two, she says she plans to finish her ACCA course (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and then start her MBA. Combining the two is not going to be difficult, she asserts. She started designing while she was in University and managed just fine –“I created a healthy routine that entertained both designing and my education.”

To lighten things up a bit, I asked Lauretta to confess! To share her most embarrassing moment. “My most embarrassing moment happened recently actually.  There was a fashion show I was to attend and when we got there and set up and everything … no one showed up! That was super embarrassing and frustrating most especially for the organizers but as fashion designers we also felt the sting.” These types of things are bound to happen, but you have to dust yourself off and keep going. I am confident that at the rate Lauretta is progressing, the only way is up from here on out.

Concluding, when I asked Lauretta what advice she would give to someone who is just starting out in a similar field, she had this to say, “My advice would be KEEP PUSHING even when you make mistakes or encounter massive obstacles, just keep on moving and maintain your sense of style and personality – uniqueness is the only way to get ahead in fashion.”

Lauretta will be showcasing some of her designs at the Urban Music Party, that will be hosted in Blantyre and Lilongwe in the coming weeks. If you’re in Malawi, head on down and support ya girl!

 

Follow Lauretta on her personal social media page!

@empress_etta

Do you like the designs showcased in this article? Want to place an order or have a query? Send an email to vivietta_des@gmail.com OR mtikel@gmail.com

Want to have a look at more of her designs? Follow Vivietta Designs!

@vivietta_designs