Connect with us

Fashion & Beauty

Girl vs Fro: A Lazy Natural’s Guide to Conquering Wash Day

Your natural hair journey is one that’s unique to you, and finding out what methods and potions work for you is part of the fun!

Published

on

🖼In frame IG @official_adjo 📸Image shot by IG @justshootitnana #Ghana

Tiisetso Muloyi

Stop! That’s it sis, back away from the shears! Cutting all that gravity-defying hair would be a crime to the natural hair gawds. A most punishable offence! Trust me, I know wash-day is no walk in the park, but Aunty TT’s got your back!

As my natural hair journey has progressed over the years, I’ve been all types of natural. I’ve been the novice, the professional big chopper, the kinky curly guru and of course, the “if-all-else-fails-we’ll-just-go-full-on-bald-baddie-mode-like-Nandi-Madida. But, alas the shape of my significantly larger head doesn’t grant me the same freedoms (and yes, having a big noggin makes for a rather taxing wash day) – but, no stubborn ‘fro formed against us shall prosper!

As of late, however, I find myself settling into the role of the dreaded lazy natural – and you know what? That’s okay! Our hair isn’t our number one priority and it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t mean we should completely abandon it though either.

Through the love-hate relationship (me showering my hair with endless love and affection while it continues to fight me at every turn) I’ve formed with my hair, I’ve learned that sometimes what’s good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander. What I mean by this is that, what may work for other naturals, may not necessarily work for you, and that’s okay too! At the end of the day, your natural hair journey is one that’s unique to you, and finding out what methods and potions work for you is part of the fun!

Here’s Aunty TT’s hacks to a quicker (and happier) wash day:

1. Pre-Poo

And what exactly is the Pre-Poo? The term pre-poo is an abbreviation of pre-shampoo. This is the process of prepping your hair with a hot oil treatment, a conditioner, or a mixture of both, in preparation for shampooing. The purpose of this process is to both protect and strengthen hair from the harsh stripping effects of the shampoo and wash process.

Here’s a few of my absolute fave pre-poo recipes:

a) Coconut Oil & Honey

A god-sent for dry, brittle hair! Mix a 1/4 cup of warm (not hot! Because nothing screams ‘sexy’ like a 3rd-degree burn) honey, and three tablespoons of warm coconut oil, and then apply to your dry hair before washing.

b) Avocado & Banana

Combine a ripe avocado and an equally ripe banana. Blend very well until creamy.

Pro-tip: strain the mixture through a cheesecloth, muslin cloth, or a good old pair of stockings, otherwise you’ll be picking bits of banana out of your hair for the foreseeable future. Trust me!

Alternatively, a mask could also be made by mixing a ripe avocado with an egg yolk. Apply to your hair then allow it to sit. It goes without saying that this mask should be washed off using cold water, lest you enjoy an egg scramble in your luscious locks.

2. Shampooing

Dividing your hair into manageable sections makes for a far more effective process. The shorter your ‘fro, the more sections you’ll need, be it 4, 6, 8 and so on. The longer your mane, the less sections required. These sections are paramount when aiding in the detangling process too.

Image Source: https://www.naturallycurly.com/

Pro-tip: Use a paraben, sulfate and silicone-free shampoo. They’re less harsh on the hair, and they keep the stripping of your natural hair oils to a minimum. Should you have no other choice, make sure to dilute your shampoo with water before applying to the hair. 

3. Detangling

Image Source: https://www.naturallycurly.com/

Using a product that offers good slip is important here. Without detangling, your natural hair is more prone to breakage, tangling and knotting. And trust me, ain’t nobody got time for that kind of struggle!

Applying a generous amount of your chosen product (albeit your pre-poo, deep conditioners, or hot oil treatments) to your sections, one by one. Make sure your coils are saturated in the product. Gently start detangling from tip to root. Using either your fingers or a wide-tooth comb.

Pro-tip: Sis, as a natural, I implore you; throw away your entire collection of fine-tooth combs. Throw ’em all away!

What helps me keep my hair detangled is how I let it dry afterwards. After thoroughly rinsing out my hair, I make sure my hair is tied in a manner that allows it to dry, stretched out on its own. This could range from using the banding method to simply just leaving it in either the 2 or 3 strand twists that it was washed in, so my hair dries stretched rather than coiled.

4. Styling

Image Source: https://therighthairstyles.com/

This is where the fun comes in! Let your creativity and personal flair shine through here. Takes risks, accessorise, and have a ball!

Pro-tip: Style your hair in a manner that doesn’t require you to have to constantly restyle your hair throughout the week. Moreover, you can do slight variations of that particular style on your hair during the week.

The puff is the go-to style for lazy naturals worldwide. From the high puff to the low puff, side puff, or the double space puffs. There are plenty of variations to tickle your fancy.

5. Sleeping

Image Source: https://shoppeblack.us/

The easiest (and by far most enjoyable step of all) is both quick, easy and requires low manipulation to have you in bed quick, fast, and in a hurry!

This is where we work to retain moisture and encourage hair growth while we’re off in la-la land.

And thus, I present to you… the LCO method.

This method involves applying a liquid (leave-in conditioner or moisturizing agent), followed by a cream (such as whipped shea butter, or styling creams) and finished off with an Oil (such as olive oil, or castor oil). Once done, either twist, band, or even pineapple your hair up, and wrap in a satin/silk scarf or bonnet. Done!

Pro-tip: Remember to moisturise your edges too! A dab of Jamaican black castor oil on the perimeter should do the trick!

Figuring out what works for your hair is a process of trial and error – trust me, we’ve all been there sis; but once you’re more comfortable in your ‘fro journey, it gets easier.

That’s it! Hacks to being a lazy natural, and still having healthy hair; K.I.S.S: keep it simple, sexy!

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fashion & Beauty

How Anne Kiwia Started Making Headbands & Empowering Tanzanian Women: Every Queen Deserves A Crown!

…our Headband became a Crown to symbolise that sisterhood can not just create a beautiful product, but can also overcome anything, together.

Published

on

By

Image: Fashion and Graphics Designer, Anne Kiwia

Her Tanzanian father was one of the very first Africans to travel to Romania in the 70s to enhance his studies in Medicine on an exchange programme. He settled well there and fell in love with a Romanian woman, and they soon had a daughter named Annemarie.

Growing up in Romania as a mixed-race child and also being one of the very first Afro-Romanian people born there was not easy for young Anne.

“I remember Trevor Noah’s Biography with the title “Born A Crime”. I could say that I carried the same stamp, being the first generation of African-Romanians. My family and friends used to hide my identity, saying I got a good tan and perm. Most importantly though, I received so much love from my Grandma and parents, that nothing really mattered to me,” says Anne.

Anne spent her first years with her Nanna (maternal grandmother), as both of her parents had to work. “She really knew how to paint my world bright and colorful. We used to sit together in the kitchen and sing along to radio, and stitch table runners with cross-stitched figures. Our house was a museum of handstitched crafts. We lived a simple life, and the little we had was shared with the community and friends. I remember queuing in the early hours (3am) for bread and meat. Sometimes we would go home empty-handed, but there was always someone who could help us out. We would commute between the city block apartment and my grandmother’s village house which had no electricity or running water. At the village house we used to plant our own vegetables and sell them at the markets,” smiles Anne, who vividly remembers her early years.

Due to some unforeseen events, her father soon had to return to Tanzania, and left Anne to be raised by her mother and her grandmother. Read on to find out how Anne ended up as an entrepreneur in the country of her father’s birth.

“…no matter what circumstances you find yourself in, it’s the decisions you make that will determine your destination. Poor decisions are worse than being poor.”

anne kiwia

Your maternal grandmother taught you how to hold a needle, sew and stitch at the age of three. Would you say that that is what made you gravitate towards a career in Fashion Design?

I believe that she created an early awareness of different textures, patterns and colours. I was encouraged to create something beautiful on my own, even if it was a little table runner. I also had a little blanket called Nana to fall asleep with. I remember how the texture felt like in my hands, and the washed out pinkish colour.

Many a time as Africans, we assume that Europeans have it good and easy, but that was not the case for you in your early years. You went through quite a lot of hardship with your mother and grandmother and survived on very little. How did you manage to get through that tough period, and did it shape who you are now as a person?

I believe difficult circumstances shape people to become more innovative. Believe it or not but with the little my Nanna had, she could make a feast like Jesus did. I even remember eating pure garlic on a piece of bread by the age of 4. That’s something kids of today have never heard of. But the quality of the homemade bread and the homegrown garlic had a magnificent taste.

Today I’m living in Tanzania which is considered a third-world country, and I witness poverty on every corner. When I share stories with my home team (staff at our home) about my poor childhood, they start giggling. It’s funny to imagine that you can be poor and eat apples and grapes all day (available in Romania on homegrown trees) but you could not get hold of a banana, besides the fact that you don’t even know what it looks like. I remember the smell of the first oranges that my African dad brought home. It filled the rooms with an unknown sweet fruity fragrance.

All in all, I can say that no matter what circumstances you find yourself in, it’s the decisions you make that will determine your destination. Poor decisions are worse than being poor.

Leaving Romania and moving to Germany with your mum and stepfather was a blessing for you in terms of educational opportunities. How was your schooling experience in Germany compared to Romania?

For sure I was blessed to be able to gain my education in a country like Germany. As of today, many people argue about race and discrimination in Germany. But as for me, I can only say I was welcomed like any other. I could visit public schools and gain the same quality education as rich kids. My parents were able to make a living and start a new life there. No country is perfect, but I believe Germany is trying its best. In Romania we would have no future in those times as corruption was rife.

Being in Tanzania reminds me of the unbalanced society. There is such a gap in education. If I could be an ambassador for something, I would choose to lighten the education sector with an ‘international standard’ to set up a basic quality education for everybody.

After completing high school, your parents wanted you to get a ‘normal’ job in a bank or as a hotel manager. How did you handle the pressure of being told what to do and trying to live up to their expectations?

I basically failed every bank interview and test I went to. Nevertheless, I never got too upset as I didn’t desire it. Therefore there was no way I could work in those fields

Once I did my Bachelor’s in my chosen field, they could hardly divert me.

At university, you chose to do a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphics and Fashion Design. How do you merge the two, seeing as designing graphics on a computer and fashion design seem so different to a layman?

I was a bit naïve when I subscribed to the programme, thinking that it would be mainly designing fashion. To my big surprise, graphic design played a bigger role, and I had to just go with it. It was only later on that I discovered the benefit of it. Being able to design my own adverts and develop my own branding and have an idea of marketing and PR is worth gold in this field.

As hard it is for me to sit down on a computer, I do appreciate this combination.

What career options were you looking at after attaining your qualification which could encapsulate both aspects of your skills?

I looked at graphic design at the start, as there was a higher chance to get employment. But at the back of my mind I always kept the door open for Fashion and entrepreneurship. Doing internships in Fashion was really more interesting, but to climb up the ladder was also much harder. It was only when I got to work for German Vogue Magazine that I felt I had reached a platform that could set me up for the Fashion industry.

After graduating, your parents gave you some money to get started in life, with the choice to start a business start a business, and instead, you decided to use the money to travel the world. Can you tell us a bit about your world journey? Which countries or cities did you enjoy being in the most, and which ones were the most disappointing in terms of your expectations?

Yes, to the biggest disappointment of my parents, I chose to travel the world as a Backpacker. When I first reunited with my biological Dad in Tanzania I felt so encouraged to travel, as it was my first time in Africa. After my Bachelor’s, it seemed the best time to minimalize my life into a 13kg backpack and explore the world. I purchased a round-the-world ticket from STA Travel, which took me to South Africa – Australia – New Zealand – Indonesia – Singapore – Malaysia – Thailand – Laos.

I was not prepared for South Africa as a friend of mine had invited me to her wedding in Pretoria, and my plans were made around the wedding. I really didn’t expect to see such a diverse and beautiful spot of the world like SA. I immediately fell in love with Cape Town. The culture mix and the individual touch made SA so unique, never mind the breathtaking landscape that never gets boring. It was the perfect place in my identify search, I would say.

The other countries also had their charm, but I wouldn’t have wanted to make them a home. Laos was very original, and quite an adventurous place to travel. Their France-influenced dishes and traditions were inspiring.

“I felt privileged that I was able to gain those experiences in the high fashion industry through Vogue Magazine and luxury online store mytheresa.com. But I also knew that I needed to move on in order to find my calling or purpose.”

anne kiwia

What did you learn from your trip, and how did it impact the direction of your career?

My English improved immensely, and I really got inspired culturally. But the biggest impact it had was that I had the courage to do it on my own, despite all the doubts and fears of friends and family. It gave me a ‘courage-vaccine’ that would set me up for life, without listening to much of what other people think or say. Despite that, my travel year didn’t lead me to miss out on any employment opportunities at all. It actually set the barrier to understand that an opportunity will arise at the right time, at the right place.

On returning home, you managed to land your dream job at Vogue Magazine Germany, thanks to your recently spruced up portfolio after travelling the world. Can you tell us about your experience working at one of the best magazines in the world?

I remember how nervous I was on my first days at Vogue. The environment was so professional and accurate. Despite the picture that most people would paint about Vogue, I felt it had a very driven and passionate environment that would not fall into the cheap gossip image. I got to know different departments and to see and taste a wide range of luxury products. I loved going to the beauty department to look through the latest fragrance and cosmetics. It was a mind-blowing experience to be behind the scenes of fashion, and another step towards creating my own brand.

Getting engaged to your then-fiancee whom you had met in Australia during your world journey meant that a few years after you started working in Germany, you had to move to England where he is from, and living in a small town outside of London meant that you had to put all your dreams on hold. How did you handle having to compromise or sacrifice your career for love?

Well, we had been in a long-distance relationship for almost 3 years, and so it was about the right time that one of us would sacrifice. I felt privileged that I was able to gain those experiences in the high fashion industry through Vogue Magazine and luxury online store mytheresa.com. But I also knew that I needed to move on in order to find my calling or purpose.

Besides having recently found your biological dad after not seeing him or being in touch for 20 years, and having connected with his side of the family for the first time, what else motivated your decision to move to Tanzania?

I united with my dad 20 years ago and came occasionally to visit. I think a sense of freedom called me to stay permanently in Tanzania in 2012. Freedom to make choices even if they were bad. I felt I lived in a vacuum of restrictions and rules that could not unfold my potential. My love for community and relationship were above business, and so there was a desire to see if I could find it in Tanzania.

How did you convince your husband to move to Tanzania with you?

Just before we got married I expressed my desire to live in my father’s country, and if he would consider it once we were married. As we both met while traveling the world, we were soon unexpectedly in for the unknown chapter of a new life in Tanzania.

What pushed you to become an entrepreneur, and what gave you the idea to start the high fashion brand, Anne Kiwia Headbands?

Starting out my new life in Tanzania, I really saw a chance of becoming an entrepreneur. Besides that, I wanted to inspire a nation with my skills and work experience gained in Germany, and set an example of diversity and working together to create.

My research of high-quality fabrics led me to the Mitumba Markets (vintage markets). From there I started a little shop with upcycled fashion, with only one tailor and a sewing machine. But soon with my first kid, I didn’t have the time that I needed to make it work. There was a lack of good tailors in the country and that made me shift to one product, working with unskilled people but with great potential.

Having seen a headband that a friend brought along, I made the decision to focus on one product. With the inspiration of an article in Vogue Magazine about a Pocket Square tissue for $30, I had a vision. We tested the headband at local craft markets, and the international and local response was amazing. When I first thought of a brand name I considered our poor copyright laws, and thought it might be the best to use my own name. It’s not easy to pretend to be Anne Kiwia.

Image: Anne Kiwia
Image: Anne Kiwia Headbands

How is the quality of life for you in Tanzania compared to being in Europe? What do you appreciate most about life in Africa?

Well, we kind of established ourselves here in Tanzania, and having family helped a lot. It hasn’t always been easy, but we made it work. I appreciate the opportunity to work with people not just outside home but also inside my home. I have a great team at home helping me with the household and raising my kids. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to do what I do.

Here, I appreciate that time doesn’t matter. There are no deadlines, but we work to our best potential.
Perfectionism exists only in your mind, and if you can see the beauty in a beautiful chaos, you can definitely step ahead.

How has your business journey been like in Tanzania so far? What are your biggest wins, and what challenges do you face?

Growing a brand in Tanzania is a slow process and requires lots of patience and belief in oneself. Even when we face difficulties we always find a way to work around it. The biggest win is that I gained so much trust and respect in the last three years from my team. I started with ‘my’ vision and it became ‘our’ vision. I have no doubts that the people that work with me are so inspired and empowered by my work that they now have the confidence to start their own business if they needed to.

Secondly, I’m proud that Tanzania is slowly adapting to my mixed race identity. I just recently got elected for the first time to join a Tanzanian women’s platform of talented local Designers that have made it in Tanzania. (Check https://makeitmatter.org/).

Lastly, I’m extremely proud to state that our product was selected as the first Tanzanian accessory to be featured in Vogue Magazine.

How do you juggle being a wife, a mother, and an entrepreneur who is contributing towards women empowerment in Tanzania?

I’ve built a little empire at home and put talented and passionate people in the right positions. Salama loves to cook. She joins different cooking classes that I sponsor. We are thankful for having her looking after our health and wellbeing, while we support her with a fair salary and a team-spirit-led work environment.

Saidi our security man is also the solution finder. His way of thinking around problems helps me often to unlock my brain and find better solutions for local problems. All in all, we work together and they know that I can be hands-on on everything they do.

Image: Anne Kiwia (far right) and her team

A few years ago you had to look after your father who was dying from cancer. How did the headband studio team contribute to your healing, and what impact did this partnership have on the overall meaning of creating headbands?

I believe it was the hardest season I have ever faced in my life. Despite looking after my dad, I had several other challenges that were overwhelming and threatening my mental health. I really don’t remember having to deal with so many challenges all at once. In this time I used to seek shelter at my workshop and listen to the ladies singing so joyfully, despite their brutal and violent stories of their neighborhood. When we matched the fabrics of the headbands, It felt like a healing process and a safe place to be, a place to rest my heavy soul for a bit.

Image: Anne Kiwia and her team inside the workshop

At the same time, Salama my right-hand at home looked after me. I had lost 8kg in a period of two months and despite her marriage breaking up around that time, she kept looking after me like a caring sister.

Surrounded by this kind of warrior, I got out of the darkness and got back on my feet, but I needed to share this wonderful experience that was shared with me.

“Every Queen deserves a Crown” was born and the queens that inspired me the most were my very own people I was surrounded by. Suddenly our Headband became a Crown to symbolise that sisterhood can not just create a beautiful product, but can also overcome anything, together.

How do you want women to feel when they wear Anne Kiwia Headbands?

Like a queen! They should celebrate their uniqueness and feel empowered and inspired by the sisterhood that creates them. We are ordinary heroes!

It makes me proud to see the receptionist at my son’s school and many other teachers and parents wearing our headband. Every time my team spots a lady on the street or at church with our headbands, they know they have a special gift, and they are proud to be part of this mission.

Image: Anne Kiwia Headbands
Image: Anne Kiwia Headbands

What are your parting words to young African women who are free-spirited like you and would like to chart their own journeys in life, yet parents or society may be pushing them in other directions?

Don’t be afraid to fail as there is growth to come out of failing. Fear is the worst enemy of finding your path and passion. Sometimes the unknown can lead you to find out what your gifts are. Be patient, and don’t drive for fast money.

Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu

admin@asanteafrika.net

Connect with us via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook: @asanteafrikamag

Continue Reading

Fashion & Beauty

Colourism, The Daughter Of Racism

While the mixed-race offspring of black and white parents were considered less than for being half black, their lighter complexion granted them favour and positioned them somewhat better on the spectrum.

Published

on

By

Image: Colourism; Image Source - unsplash.com

Hazel Lifa

Colourism is this ugly family secret that everyone knows about, but doesn’t care to discuss; a droning sound in the background we have become accustomed to, and can’t remember a time without it. It is described as prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.

This colourist mentality has deep-seated roots in the racial pecking order of black and white people, which have seeped into other ethnic groups with the same premise of, ‘the lighter the better’. During the colonial and slavery eras, white settlers/slave owners made it a point to establish white superiority, and deemed black less than.

This idea created a ‘spectrum’ per se, where black was the extreme negative, and white the extreme positive. While the mixed-race offspring of black and white parents were considered less than for being half black, their lighter complexion granted them favour and positioned them somewhat better on this spectrum.

This prejudice is very subtle in its appearance, but has lethal and life-changing effects. It can be seen in the praise of lighter-skinned individuals and the undesirable label given to dark-skinned black people, all under the guise of preference. Looking closer at the situation, it is undeniable that colourism has a close relationship with racism, a by-product, or as I have said, a child of racism. Like racism, colourism is taught. No one is born with this idea, but rather has it drummed into them through channels like media.

Furthermore, it is important to note that this taught preference is more directed towards black women, hence making the situation gendered. We see this learned preference in areas like dating and the entertainment industry. Hail the ‘yellow bone’ that seems to have it easier and seen as more of a desirable woman than her darker sisters. This very notion is what drives the billion-dollar business that is bleaching; this colourist standard of a black women’s beauty has fuelled the market of dangerous creams, lotions, pills and treatments, all in the pursuit of fairer skin.

Black women in entertainment have attested to the fact that this public secret exists, from South African entertainer Khanyi Mbau, to Lupita Nyong’o all the way in Hollywood. Mbau has never been secretive about her bleaching, among other elective cosmetic procedures she has had done. She spoke to her bleaching being mainly a ‘maintenance issue’, rather than for her job in an interview. She also spoke on the favour which fairer-skinned performers like Pearl Thusi get because of their looks.

Image: Khanyi Mbau, before and after bleaching her skin

Across the globe, Lupita Nyong’o claims she has been told at an audition that she is too dark for television, but stayed true to her talent. Simply watching television, one can see the living and breathing examples that in my opinion perpetuate the self-hate that is colourism. Because we have become so used to it, we fail to recognise that this mindset is essentially making us hate ourselves. We have young men flooding the internet with how much black women disgust them, to careers judged on skin tone rather than the actual talent, to little black girls who grow up feeling ugly.

Image: Lupita Nyong’o

At the end of the day, we are subscribing to a white man’s opinion of our beauty, not ours. Looking down on your own race speaks volumes to just how embedded this construct of self-hate is drilled into the African’s psyche; he/she feels she sees the world through his/her own lens, yet it is clearly not the case.

Colourism is just another one of the ugly invisible chains of colonisation that still live within us, generations after the fact. Think to yourself before you label a darker-skinned individual unattractive, less intelligent or any other negative label. What is so bad about their features or performance or mannerisms, whether it be in everyday life or in front of the camera, besides their skin tone? When you can do that honestly, then you are thinking for yourself, and not following someone else’s lead.

Connect with Hazel:

Email: hazel@asanteafrika.net

Instagram: @word_smith96

LinkedIn: Hazel Lifa

Twitter: @Hazel_Lifa

Continue Reading

Careers

Neka Malone – From Wrongfully Convicted & Homeless Mum of 6, To Trailblazing Entrepreneur in Ghana

I even considered suicide once, and what stopped me was the thought of “Who will love my children unconditionally, and who will teach them the foundation of faith?”

Published

on

By

Image: Neka Malone

@asanteafrikamag #EverydaySheroes

Providing a stable and comfortable home for your children is every parent’s dream, but for many years, that was something that Taneka Kahilia Malone was not able to do for her children. Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the United States, the mum of six went through a most challenging period in her life. Heartbreaking as the experience was, read on to find out how Neka and her kids managed to get through some of life’s greatest challenges.

What motivated your decision to study Psychology at university?

I studied in Dallas Texas, and I was very intrigued with how the mind works and the behavior of people. My mission in life is to help people heal from past challenges and struggles, and identify with who they are.

Around 2011, as a single mother of five boys and one girl living in Dallas, Texas, you went through a lot of challenges, the biggest one being homelessness. Can you briefly tell us about those challenges which you faced? What led to you becoming homeless?

Watching my children make pallets on people’s floors was heartbreaking for me. I used that pain to push myself to become financially stable. I was wrongfully convicted of a felony in 2006, which put a huge strain on me professionally, hence I was not able to find sustainable income. I was forced to take jobs that did not pay me enough to maintain housing.

What gave you the strength to get up each day and do odd jobs, while also continuing to look for better jobs to look after your children?

My children were my motivation, the fact that they smiled and laughed through the storm. Some nights we stayed up all night just talking and thinking about the future, and that gave us all hope. My children managed to still graduate high school and build their athletic careers. It was imperative that I kept my faith and continued to rise, even if it was just a few steps at a time.

Image: Neka Malone

I can imagine that at times it got so difficult that so many things would go through your mind. Did you ever get angry at God during your lowest moments, and did you ever give up and think you would never get out of the misery?

I’m only human, and for a long time I thought I had angered God, and that God was not hearing my cry for help. I never stopped praying, and even with all the anger and resentment of life in my heart, I still prayed and believed that there had to be an opposite to my struggle. I even considered suicide once, and what stopped me was the thought of “Who will love my children unconditionally, and who will teach them the foundation of faith?” By God’s grace, I’m still here.

“In Africa, I do not feel afraid because of my skin colour. People respect you more, you’re acknowledged as a woman entrepreneur…”

From moving across homeless shelters, motels, and friends and family’s places, sleeping on the floor and surviving on government support, what inspired all your children to stay in school, stay humble, stay smiling, and stay well-behaved and finish school?

They have never seen me give up in life. The countless sacrifices I made to make sure they attended school motivated them to want to provide a better life not only for themselves but for me also, and my children encouraged and motivated each other.

Image: Neka Malone

After moving back to Minnesota and staying with family for about a year, finally in July of 2017, your prayers were answered and you and your family got approved for a four-bedroomed family home. Reminiscing on everything you had been through, how did you and the kids feel when you first moved into your new home?

One word – Peaceful!!!

God has been gracious to you and your family, the kids finished school and now almost everyone has a place of their own. How does that make you feel?

As a mother of six, this parenting thing was not easy. I’m beyond proud that they have been taught that no matter the depth of the sea, keep swimming, because greater things lie ahead. I’m very much humbled and blessed, and the love and admiration my children and I have for each other is incredible. They are my biggest cheerleaders, as I am theirs.

You also co-authored two books, one of which made you an Amazon No.1 Best-Selling Author. Can you tell us about the books?

‘Echoes in the Darkness’ was a joint collaboration of women who are domestic violence survivors. Amazon Best-Seller ‘Women Who Inspire Greatness’ was targeted towards the youth, and young women in particular, to help them learn about different women who overcame various obstacles while building their careers. Both books allowed me to be authentic, genuine, motivational, and inspiring, and contributing to them was so much fun!

Image: Echoes in the Darkness
Image: Women Who Inspire Greatness

When was Fire on the Runway born, and what was the inspiration behind starting it?

I started the Traveling Fashion Production ‘Fire on the Runway’ in 2015. Our first show was in Dallas Texas, U.S. in 2016. After becoming triumphant over my journey of homelessness and joblessness, I felt I had a deeper calling, so I started my entrepreneurial journey in mid-2014. My family was led by my Aunt Liz Adams, and we started Diamond Girls Fashion, an online clothing store with a focus on providing nice affordable wear to women in the military.

Fire on the Runway has now grown internationally, and will be touring Africa with our ‘All Eyes on Us Fashion Tour #RefocusAfrica’.

What are your biggest achievements so far as CEO of Fire on the Runway?

Changing the lives of others around me, growing my brand internationally, and now owning an all-black organisation!

Image: Fire on the Runway

After all your kids had left home, you decided to move to Ghana. What made you decide to pack up all your belongings and move to West Africa?

I started visiting Ghana in April of 2018, and from the first day I fell in love with the culture. Later on learning about the growing economy here and opportunities to build several businesses was very interesting to me, so I stepped out on faith, and the rest is history!

In 2020 you started an online store. Can you tell us about your business and how it is doing?

The store is called Kahilia’s Kollection and we sell sophisticated everyday wear for women. A year later we are still maintaining and growing our clientele.

You’ve been in Ghana for nearly six months now. How is it going there, and is it everything you imagined it would be?

I totally love Ghana, there is a very peaceful vibe. It’s not what I imagined, to be honest, it’s more than I could have even thought of. The beauty of the country alone is captivating. One month after arriving I was appointed Social Media and Marketing Manager for the Tourism Society of Ghana, which for me was a huge accomplishment.

What are you enjoying most about being in Africa, which you could never get or experience in America?

Freedom! I do not feel afraid because of my skin colour. People respect you more, you’re acknowledged as a woman entrepreneur, not just being a black woman entrepreneur. I can’t leave out the food; my favorite is Jollof Rice and Groundnut Soup with Red Snapper fish.

In most countries in Africa, we take for granted that someone can own an all-black company or organisation, but in the United States that is such a big deal, and opportunities like that are celebrated. What is the significance to you of now owning an all-black organisation?

I feel very accomplished and honoured that I achieved something that most people in America can only dream of.

Image: Fire on the Runway Event Flyer

What are your plans for the next five to ten years?

I will continue building Fire on the Runway and writing books, including my own story in fullness. I also will develop a mentorship program for the youth who are interested in the fashion industry.

What would you say to a single mother who is facing similar challenges to those which you faced, and all hope seems lost to them?

Keep going, It’s all part of the process! Stay strong in faith, never give up, and remember you are doing your best. Remember to love you as well!

Connect with Neka through her Instagram, @fireontherunwayllc, or visit her website, www.fireontherunway.org.

Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020. Powered by @dubecreative and @zenanitech