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Forbin Audrey Nene: @AsanteAfrikaMag #EverydaySheroes

I was raised by a single mother who made womanhood and motherhood look effortless and stress-free.

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Celebrating Women’s History Month 2021

Meet Forbin Audrey Nene, a pristine example of versatility. A singer, songwriter and lover of all things artsy, who still finds the time somewhere in there to pursue a BSc. in Chemical Engineering at the Catholic University Institute of Buea. She takes the effect her music has on her listeners seriously, stating that she aims to, “provide a safe haven for her listeners”.

What is the hardest thing about being a woman?

I was raised by a single mother who made womanhood and motherhood look effortless and stress-free. Now that I am older and a bit wiser, I am starting to understand how much she must have had to deal with as she kept her head above rocky waters and raised me (Shout out to you mama, you’re amazing!).

Aside from having to survive a misogynistic and extremely sexist society where on most days total strangers, for some odd reason, feel entitled to your time and energy, I would say our own anatomy plays a big role in how uncomfortable being a woman can be. There is the effect of hormonal fluctuations due to our monthly cycles, and our bodies constantly evolving as we age and experience different things. Sometimes it feels like fighting the world while having to fight yourself as well. Women are literally superhumans just by existing.

“Women are strong, beautiful, life-giving, powerful, and inspirational beings. It is such a beautiful time to be alive as a young African woman.”

What aspect of being a woman did you think was important when you were younger, only to disregard now?

I didn’t give much thought to becoming a woman when I was younger. I just knew I would grow up eventually, have boobs and wear makeup and fancy grown women clothes like I saw my aunties do. I soon realized that there was a lot more to becoming a woman than that. There were period cramps, stereotypes, childbirth, catcalls, harassment, relationships, setting boundaries, braving odds etc.

I think womanhood caught me off guard, and in fact, still does so every other day. I actually think it catches most women off guard. It’s a rough transition for some more than others, where one minute you’re everybody’s sweet little girl, and the next minute you’re just not anymore. You are grown up, setting goals for yourself, and getting your life together while working to create a pleasant enough present and future for yourself.

Forbin Audrey Nene: @AsanteAfrikaMag #EverydaySheroes Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Forbin Audrey Nene

What advice do you wish was given to you earlier?

• “Say what you mean and mean what you say” There’s this misconception that a woman’s “no” really means “yes” or “ask louder” or “try harder”. I don’t agree with this narrative, and so I try to live up to my word as much as I can, and speak only when necessary. It’s a thing of self-respect and integrity for me.

• “Your life, body, and mind are yours. Don’t let anybody take them away from you” I wish I understood early enough the importance of setting boundaries and protecting my sanity jealously.

• “People come and go, and that is fine”. Over the years I have found myself holding on to situations, relationships and friendships that didn’t serve my greater good, till I learnt that it’s ok to move on.

According to Forbin, women are “strong, beautiful, life-giving, powerful, and inspirational beings. It is such a beautiful time to be alive as a young African woman.” And I couldn’t agree with her more.

Interviewed by Hazel Lifa

hazel@asanteafrika.net

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. MadeOfGod Tv

    March 22, 2021 at 3:43 pm

    Adulthood indeed catches women off guard. Nice one Nene

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Lifestyle

Morley Chagurika: @AsanteAfrikaMag #EverydaySheroes

I wish someone had told me I didn’t need a man to save me, marriage is a lovely thing, but it is not all I am made for.

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Celebrating Women’s History Month 2021

Morley Chagurika, like many born into the hard life of farming communities in Zimbabwe, had all odds against her. Being a girl put her at risk of a number of issues like sexual predators, becoming a child bride, and denial of education, which for Morley happened when she was working towards her O’ Levels.

Despite such a disadvantage, Morley today helps many young girls and boys who like her didn’t have the best of starts in life, protect and educate themselves through her work with the DREAMS Programme in her district of Mazowe in Mashonaland Central Province, Zimbabwe. Morley is one of the leading programme’s facilitators in regards to a number of young people she has managed to engage with.

Her power to take her life whatever direction she chose was taken from her, a power she today is giving back to countless youths though her hard work. The mother of seven loves her job, and feels a personal connection with the girls she helps as she has experienced most of the injustices and abuse they face first hand. A real #EverydaySheroe who now laughs in the face of her adversaries by working against them.

“I don’t always have to put myself down for the sake of other people’s pride.”

What is the best thing about being a woman?

It might sound cheesy to someone, but being a mother for me is just wow. The love I have for my kids took me by surprise, I didn’t expect it to be so intense. That aspect of motherhood also comes into play when I go out and meet vulnerable young girls; I immediately feel very protective of them and want to help them.

What advice do you wish someone had given you when you were younger?

• I wish someone had told me I didn’t need a man to save me, marriage is a lovely thing, but it is not all I am made for. I am fully capable of taking care of myself, a piece of advice that would have definitely aided, hell, even saved me from my first marriage.

• My opinion matters; whether it be an idea, comment, or passion. It matters, and I am worthy of people’s attention. I don’t always have to put myself down for the sake of other people’s pride.

What is the most interesting thing about your job?

This point brings together motherhood and my work. Being a mom to boys and knowing how harsh the world can be towards girls and women at times, plus the implications of gender roles, I try by all means to be mindful of what my husband and I teach them, what it is to be a man, and how they relate to women. A lot of the issues I meet in my work are born of social philosophies and ideas that are taught from a young age. No one is born thinking so.

Interviewed by Hazel Lifa

hazel@asanteafrika.net

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Fashion & Beauty

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?”

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@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.

Neka Malone - From Wrongfully Convicted & Homeless Mum of 6, To Trailblazing Entrepreneur in Ghana Asante Afrika Magazine
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.

Neka Malone - From Wrongfully Convicted & Homeless Mum of 6, To Trailblazing Entrepreneur in Ghana Asante Afrika Magazine
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!

Neka Malone - From Wrongfully Convicted & Homeless Mum of 6, To Trailblazing Entrepreneur in Ghana Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Echoes in the Darkness
Neka Malone - From Wrongfully Convicted & Homeless Mum of 6, To Trailblazing Entrepreneur in Ghana Asante Afrika Magazine
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!

Neka Malone - From Wrongfully Convicted & Homeless Mum of 6, To Trailblazing Entrepreneur in Ghana Asante Afrika Magazine
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.

Neka Malone - From Wrongfully Convicted & Homeless Mum of 6, To Trailblazing Entrepreneur in Ghana Asante Afrika Magazine
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

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Creative Outlet

Impressionism – Lessons in Art History By Ntuthuko Mpofu

The significant art movement which had an influence on other movements was impressionism, which is deemed to have the emphasis it places on any human’s ability to perceive the world and the truth.

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Impressionism – a 19th-century art movement characterised by relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes, open composition, emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities (often accentuating the effects of the passage of time), ordinary subject matter, inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience, and unusual visual angles. Impressionism originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s.

wikipedia

The Significance of Impressionism

We are about to explore more than just art history or an art movement; this is an engagement about the influence of a movement. Every time people ask me questions like “Why is art expensive?”, in response, I get to say, “Do you understand the evolution or innovation of material and techniques used?” Let’s take one of your old photographs for instance, can you analyse a few things about it; What does that image mean? if you can’t answer that, it means you are in the right place where you will get to find answers to such questions. .One reader told me that at least they know about the material used in painting, but they were looking forward to learning what paintings mean.

It’s been a year since Covid-19 broke out, and the pandemic has changed it all. We may have lost our loved ones, but let’s continue to stay safe while waiting for the next trend in our lifetime. Everyone is faced with challenges; if you are doing well, it’s most likely because you were able to transform to digital platforms to conduct your business. The established, emerging artists, art galleries, blockchain-based art markets and art funds codex have been affected heavily, but I am sure like any business, they’re all trying to move to the digital space.

Impressionism - Lessons in Art History By Ntuthuko Mpofu Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Impressionism

The significant art movement which had an influence on other movements was impressionism, which is deemed to have the emphasis it places on any human’s ability to perceive the world and the truth. The emphasis shifted to the human act of perception itself, its mechanics and motives, and away from preconceived ideas of what was worth perceiving. People will reject you, not knowing that they’re actually opening great avenues for you; this led to the great movement which today we say played a huge role in the art scene.

Claude Monet was the founder of impressionism, but his work was refused by society because he did not follow certain rules. In the modern age, a gallery will sign an artist thinking that they will make money from him or her; that was Monet when they rejected his work. Impressionism in France then began a new chapter, on a path we are still on today. That is the best way to define its significance in this day. Impression developed in France in the nineteenth century and is based on the practice of painting outdoors and spontaneously ‘on the spot’, rather than in a studio from sketches, as defined by Tate.

Impressionism - Lessons in Art History By Ntuthuko Mpofu Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Impressionism

The main impressionist subjects were landscapes and scenes of everyday life. Art imparts its perspective to everyday reality. Art inspires, so the normalcy of artworks should be an inspiration to something.
Impressionism coalesced in the 1860s when a group of painters including Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley and Pierre-Auguste Renoir pursued plein air painting together.

American John Rand never joined their ranks as a preeminent artist, but as a painter living in London. Over time, other artists joined in the practice, and their exploration together moved from indoor studios to outdoor cafes, with regular get-togethers to discuss their ideas. There are a lot of artists doing this in malls in South Africa; Sanusi Olatunji is a great artist who practiced his work at the Union Buildings.

Eve Corrigan minored in Art History in College, specifically focused on Impressionism because when the French impressionists started painting in the early 1800s, they were creating a radically new style and approach to art; painting many different colors to create a unified ‘impression’ of what they saw, especially to convey how light affected the image. They typically used broad brushstrokes, painting complementary colors next to each other while still wet, to create an image of softer focus, and to emphasize the placement of colors as integral to the whole; this also focused on the importance of colors over line in the painting’s creation; the majority of such works use noticeable brushstrokes, some to the point of appearing sketch-like.

Impressionism - Lessons in Art History By Ntuthuko Mpofu Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Impressionism

Many artists worked in ‘plein-air’, especially at sunrises and sunsets, and used these techniques to effectively convey the immediacy of the work. This was a departure from the previously established practice of painting inside a studio. Some major impressionists (including those who rejected the term) were Paul Cézanne. I think the significance of impressionism in Western Art is that it freed art to more fully express human thought, feeling, and experience. Today, art does the same more fully, with more artists expressing their feelings. In a conversation with Vusi Mbulali on this topic, his view was that “Expressionism added to realism would be the best definition for impressionism.” Monet said, “I wish I had been born blind and suddenly was given sight.

Impressionism - Lessons in Art History By Ntuthuko Mpofu Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Shadow King, Vusi Mbulali

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Facebook: Ntuthuko Mpofu

Twitter: @ntuthukompofu

Instagram: iam_ntuthuko

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