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Bridging The Divide As An African In America

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In my travels, I have come to understand that as women of African descent, whether you are in England, Brazil, St. Maarten, South Africa or in the United States, we face many of the same challenges. Most of us are dealing with unrealistic European standards of beauty imposed upon us from the time we are born. This, combined with the expectations of our parents and community, leaves us feeling like we always have something to prove.

This used to be me. Born in Uganda, my upbringing as an African in America shaped my sense of identity and self-worth. My ‘Africanness’ in a world where light skin and long, straight hair were preferred, was almost taboo.

In elementary school, I detested my first name, Julian, because in America, it was considered a boy’s name. To add what I thought was insult to injury, my last name, Kiganda, was extremely difficult for Americans to pronounce. So it was butchered often. Because my mother kept mine and my four sisters’ hair short, I was asked more than once by students at school if I was a boy or a girl. Beauty and success to me were not synonymous with being African.

Two major turning points in my life happened to flip this erroneous belief on its head. The first was the opportunity to travel the United States (US) as a member of an all-women’s East African performing arts group called Kayaga of Africa. Showcasing our culture on stages where many in the audience still had a very backward view of Africa was both empowering and life-changing. As American audiences showed appreciation for the beauty and diversity of my culture, so did I.

But I still struggled to reconcile who I was to who I thought I was supposed to be. Then in 2006, my firm won a bid to design an African American slavery museum in Alexandria, Virginia, US. It was a project which would completely change my perspective of African Americans. In public school, very little is taught about slavery or African American history in general. So my real introduction to black history came as a result of designing this museum.

I began to understand how Africans were forced to give up their languages, their identities, and their names to take on that of their white slave owners. The atrocities Africans in America suffered were indescribable. That’s when I began to understand my role in bridging the divide between Africa and her diaspora.

Since designing that museum, my work as an artist, author, community activist, teacher and entrepreneur has revolved around bridging the two cultures which have played integral roles in shaping who I am today: a black woman who is proud of my African roots, and comfortable defining beauty and success for myself. I use every opportunity I can to educate my brothers and sisters on both sides of the Atlantic on the fact that we are more alike than we are different: history and current circumstances speak to that.

As an old African proverb states: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, gotogether.”

We need to build bridges that will bring greater collaboration, cultural exchange and opportunity. I believe women play a key role in building those bridges. Thankfully, I’m not the only one.

On a recent trip to Johannesburg in South Africa, while being driven around the city by a Malawian Uber driver, I asked him what he thought of Joyce Banda, his country’s immediate past president and second female head of state in Africa. His answer pleasantly surprised me:

“I think she did a good job. We would have a better world if we had more women as presidents. There is something that God put in women which we men don’t have. Women are multi-taskers and considerate. If you think about it, we live in the wombs of our mothers for nine months. If they can take care of an entire family, they can take care of an entire country.”

You may not aspire to be the next president of your country, but as a woman, you are uniquely equipped to succeed. Just remember, part of your success depends on your willingness to accept and embrace who you are: in all your Africanness. Understand your true value. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. Instead, blaze your own trail and define success for yourself.

 

– The writer is based in Washington DC and is founder and CEO of Bold & Fearless, a lifestyle brand and online magazine for professional women of Africa and the diaspora.

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HUGO BOSS Partners With Porsche To Bring Action-Packed Racing Experience Through Formula E

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Brought to you by Hugo Boss

HUGO BOSS and Porsche have partnered to bring an action-packed racing experience to the streets of the world’s major cities through Formula E.

Formula E is known for its fascinating races globally. The partnership will have a strong focus on the future of motorsport. In doing so the races will host a unique series for the development of electric vehicle technology, refining the design, functionality and sustainability of electric cars while creating an exciting global entertainment brand.

HUGO BOSS which boasts a long tradition of motorsports sponsorship – has been successfully engaged in the electric-powered racing series since the end of 2017.

In this collaboration, HUGO BOSS brings its 35 years of experience and expertise in the motorsport arena to Formula E, as well as the dynamic style the fashion brand is renowned for.


Alejandro Agag (Formula E CEO) and Mark Langer (HUGO BOSS CEO)

Mark Langer HUGO BOSS, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) says that though they have been working successfully with motorsports over the years, he is exceptionally pleased that as a fashion brand they are taking the cooperation to new heights.

“As a fashion brand, we are always looking at innovative approaches to design and sustainability. When we first encountered Formula E, we immediately saw its potential and we are pleased to be the first apparel partner to support this exciting new motorsport series,” he says.

The fashion group is also the official outfitter to the entire Porsche motorsports team worldwide.

The fascination with perfect design and innovation, along with the Porshe and Hugo Boss shared passion for racing, inspired Hugo Boss to produce the Porsche x Boss capsule collection.

Its standout features include premium leather and wool materials presented in the Porsche and HUGO BOSS colors of silver, black and red.


Porsche x BOSS: introducing a new collaboration | BOSS

Since March, a range of menswear styles from the debut capsule collection is available online and at selected BOSS stores. In South Africa the first pieces of the capsule will come as a part of the FW 19 collection.

Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO of Formula E says he is confident that the racers will put their best foot forward on the racecourse.

“This new partnership will see the team on the ground at each race dressed with a winning mindset and ready to deliver a spectacular event in cities across the world. As the first Official Apparel Partner of the series, we look forward to seeing the dynamic style and innovation on show that BOSS is renowned for,” says Agag.


Hugo Boss x Porsche  

Oliver Blume CEO of Porsche AG says Formula E is an exceptionally attractive racing series for motorsport vehicles to develop.

“It offers us the perfect environment to strategically evolve our vehicles in terms of efficiency and sustainability. We’re looking forward to being on board in the 2019/2020 season. In this context, the renowned fashion group HUGO BOSS represents the perfect partner to outfit our team.”

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Life

Taking A Bite Out Of Africa

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Hungry in London with a stomach dreaming of home? From the smoky to the sensory, the city offers distinct African culinary encounters.

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Champagne And Caviar In Private At 30,000FT

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The glamorous world of private jets is no longer the domain of the super-rich. Private aviation is set to soar in Africa as business keeps checking in.

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