“When I am writing, I am trying to find out who I am.”

“Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God” – Maya Angelou
Rest in Peace Mama Maya..Your words remain a legacy..

Cole Haan “Maya Angelou (Director’s Cut)” from Ben Hughes on Vimeo.

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Phenomenal Woman

By Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman” from And Still I Rise. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou.

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The Daily Post

Maya Angelou by Spanglej, CC BY-SA 2.0.Maya Angelou by Spanglej, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.

Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin — find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that it was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.

When I am writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, how…

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AFRODREAMFEST – Celebrating AfroMusic Globally

My idea behind AfroDreamFest was inspired by the passion  to promote and give a platform to the new wave of indie African/AfroConscious/Afropolitan artists in the diaspora who do a variation of genres of Soul – Jazz – Roots – Folk – World – Afrobeat – Acoustic music laced with African elements, merging genres of music creatively and beautifully with Afro~cultural influences,musically and lyrically on a contemporary platform.

Afrodreamfest is an event that celebrates and promotes Neo Afro-fusion genres of music from the African continent and in the diaspora.

These are true Artists of African origin around the world who are this generation’s throwback to past eras of real meaningful music, keeping alive and making soulful music that is so uniquely creative and relevant across borders, infusing language and cultural aspects that reach for the soul and spirit.

Photo: http://afrodreamfest.brownpapertickets.com/
Art by Nequa Gay specifically for Afrodreamfest

The vision is to tour the concert across different cities annually around May 25, the commemoration of African Liberation Day. It is currently independently produced and is open to partnerships and sponsorships to further expand the concept and its reach. The response to the movement has been positive and encouraging so far. Indie Afro artists need the on-ground presence to share their talents, and promote culture. I am one of them so I feel the need to step out as a visionary and make it happen.

​ The first edition of Afrodreamfest took place at the Southwest Arts Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

Recap:

The second edition which will be a benefit concert for two non profit organizations giving back to the African continent (Clean Water for Uganda and Adopt A Guitar Inc ( partnering with ‘Playing For Change’ ) will be taking place in Houston on May 25, 2014 at the Freneticore Theater featuring Yours truly :), Micheline Ewang, Ade Oniye and Babatunde. Tickets are still available at http://www.afrodreamfesthouston2014.eventbrite.com/ 

To stay updated on Afrodreamfest, like on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AfroDreamFest , follow on Twitter @afrodreamfest and check out videos at www.youtube.com/afrodreamfest. Website: www.afrodreamfest.com

Beautifully Dreaming… Positively Doing..

xoxo

Tosinger

Spotlight : Miss Uganda USA 2014 (@missugandausa)

During my stint as an Editor-at-large  for Applause Africa magazine, I wrote a feature on a darling pearl of Uganda, Hasifa Meriam Kivumbi, who is a dancer and a social entrepreneur with a touching story to tell, this would be the beginning of a budding sisterhood and an eventual program partnership in the coming weekend. I am so excited about the second edition of my Afrodreamfest project- Afrodreamfest Houston 2014 which will be a benefit concert/silent auction to support Hasifa’s platform/project Clean Water for Uganda and my new NGO – Adopt – A – Guitar. See flyer. Hasifa is the current, running Miss Uganda USA 2014 aiming for the Miss Africa USA 2014 crown. She undoubtedly has the beauty .. and the brains, the passion… and the drive to give back to the community and especially her continent.

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Get to know Hasifa Meriam

Hasifa Meriam Kivumbi is the creator of 180 degrees, a non-profit organization with a mission to “create doors in places where there were once walls” through motivation, inspiration and celebration of personal achievements. As a representative of Uganda, she has taken on the challenge to partner with the Global Water Partnership in their efforts to create a water secure world by 2020 as her platform. In 2012, Miss Kivumbi was crowned Miss. UNAA (Uganda North American Association) and has since been working on bridging the gap in personal achievement between continental Africans and Africans in the Diaspora through 180 Degrees.
Miss Kivumbi has been serving her community for years and has received many accolades for her passion for life and compassion towards others. In 2012, she was named the year’s Local Hometown Hero by the Modern Woodmen of America Fraternal Organization. She has been highlighted for her talents in dance, writing and modeling in the New York magazine Applause Africa and has been featured in many beauty publications including BHF Fashion and Photography magazine.

Do not be fooled however, Miss Kivumbi is more than just a pretty face; she has a passion for learning and education. In 2010, she was initiated into the National Society of ‘Who is Who’ among American Students. In her professional life, she owns an independent beauty consulting business that she uses to motivate and inspire women to feel their most beautiful both inside and out. For three years now she has served as a website weaver for Helpothers.org, an online community of over 1 million participants. The website encourages people to change the world through small and random acts of kindness. She has served as the spokesperson for the Breast Cancer Initiative of East Africa and wishes to share her journey and experiences in humanitarianism in her upcoming book. Currently her energy is directed towards improving the lives of the people of her native Uganda with the Clean Water for Uganda Project

Hear her speak:

To follow Hasifa’s journey to become the next Miss Africa USA 2014, like her Facebook page here, and to support her CWUP platform click here.

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Beautifully Dreaming… Positively Doing..

xoxo

Tosinger

 

 

Spotlight: Miss Ghana USA 2014 @whitneyprolific

In the coming days, I will be shinning the spotlight on two intelligent and beautiful contestants in African pageantry in the USA. First up is Miss Ghana USA – Whitney Osei who I met a few years ago. At our first meeting, I loved her personality,  she has a very enthusiastic and warm energy. I was also intrigued by her passion for entrepreneurship and impressed by her intelligence. Over time, her wisdom and compassion shone through the projects she took on and she continues to be an inspiration as she selflessly supports others.  So I was very excited to learn of her being a Miss Ghana USA 2014 finalist. I know she will represent well.

Whitney Appeanimaa Osei hails from the Akyim-Abuakwah capital Kibi located in the southern part of the eastern region of Ghana. Growing up, Whitney was always outspoken and ambitious, proving herself to be a leader at a very young age. After spending the first six years of her youth in Ghana, Whitney migrated to the United States where she lived in Maryland briefly before relocating to Atlanta, Georgia where she currently resides. As a young adult, Whitney faced many obstacles which only fueled her hunger to achieve success. She relied on her ambition and determination for inspiring creativity and innovation across the African diaspora to persevere through her toughest challenges.


In 2011, Whitney represented Ghana in the Miss West Africa USA scholastic beauty pageant and was crowned First Runner-Up. During her reign, Whitney developed Influence Africa: a social media platform that allows young Africans across the diaspora to shed light on current projects and innovative achievements as well as network and share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating the next generation of African leaders and decision-makers
. Read more about her here

Whitney Osei hosting Afrodreamfest Atlanta 2013

Whitney is also a great hostess and radio personality.  She was my undisputed choice to emcee my concert project last year at Afrodreamfest Atlanta

The Miss Ghana USA organization was founded on a very clear set of goals and aspirations.

Vision: To be recognized as a world class organization that consistently brings amazing women to the forefront and supports them as they work to achieve their individual goals in the context of their cultural roots.

Mission Statement:The Miss Ghana USA’s mission is to find and promote exceptional women with a strong interest in education, humanitarian issues and the Ghanaian culture.  The 2014 pageant takes place on July 12th at the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in New York. More info at www.missghanausa.org

 

Whitney Osei – Miss Ghana USA 2014 Finalist
Whiteny Osei tagged her platform as the “3 E’s” –   EDUCATION, EMPOWERMENT AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP.

Whitney says:

“I’m 23 and I am the founder of a fashion start-up company Julie A. which I am using to create job opportunities for Ghanaians and one of my goals is to build a garment manufacturing company in Ghana to provide jobs. I will be developing programs to educate business owners and give them the tools to build strong businesses so that they can hire their fellow Ghanaians that are right out of college. This also comes with empowering women to become entrepreneurs and leaders in their communities.”
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Stay connected. Follow her journey. Show your support! Facebook at facebook.com/WhitneyForMGUSA2014 and her instagram @whitneyprolific. Voting will start soon at www.missghanausa.org

 

Beautifully Dreaming… Positively Doing..

xoxo
Tosinger

Fashion Spotlight : Afua Sam (@dmaxsi) in the Politics of Fashion

It gives me joy to write about Africans in the Diaspora who are talented and  getting the well deserved attention for their excellent creative works. Multiple award winning and highly sought after Ghanaian fashion designer, Afua Sam is one on the spotlight in the fashion industry. The founder and brain behind STUDIO D’MAXSI, one of the fastest growing fashion houses based in  Washington, DC. Unique, innovative, and edgy STUDIO D’MAXSI, creates masterpieces for the chic, bold and funky modern woman. Born to a family of six, remarkably self-taught Afua draws her creative artistic inspiration from her late father who was a touring musician and her rich Ghanaian culture. Having come from a poor and humble background, Afua’s journey in fashion and design started in Ghana, West Africa and continued after she relocated to the USA. Despite hardships and personal life challenges she faced growing up and also later in life , fashion designing was the only thing that kept her going.

Afua Sam – Fashion Designer (Studio D’Maxsi)

STUDIO D’MAXSI ‘s first collection was in 2007 for DC Fashion week; numerous fashion shows followed,  charity based ones like Fashion Fight Poverty, Steps To The Cure, Fashion Fusion, Fashion For World Peace, others like the New York African Fashion Week,  Golden Scissors Awards Show, among numerous others and recently ‘Runway For Moms’ just to name a few.

Here I am in one of her designs – 🙂

Tosinger in Dress by Studio D’Maxsi, Photo by Lola Scott

The ‘Fashion Designer of the Year’ ( 2nd Annual African Awards USA) award winner is also passionate about giving back and empowering young women through her Foundation – Operation Prom. ‘Operation Prom’ is a competition open to academically excellent high school female students who will get a custom made prom dress. Her clientele include Jamie Foster Brown, Grammy nominated Artist Carolyn Malachi, Glynn Jackson of the Golden Scissors Awards Show, Abiodun Koya Opera Singer, Miss Ghana Universe , Miss China America First Runner Up, Miss Maryland, Miss Black USA DC among others . For more info on STUDIO D’MAXSI, visit http://www.studiodmaxsi.com/

Adorable kids strutting in Studio D’Maxsi

Afua says “My message through my fashion brand is “Be As Bold As You Can Be But Very Chic And Sexy At The Same Time” Afua believes her life’s story is a perfect example of what can happen when one is not afraid to go after their dreams no matter how poor or disadvantaged they may be. She believes “you don’t have to be rich to help anybody. As long as you have a voice and a will, you can have an impact on someone’s life. You don’t have to be somebody’ in order to make a difference”

Afua Sam (Studio D’Maxsi) has been cast  to feature  in ‘The Politics of Fashion: DC UNBOXED’.

Directed and Written by Elaine Mensah of SVELTE LLC, ‘The Politics of Fashion: DC UNBOXED’ is DC’s first ever fashion documentary, a film that takes you on a journey from the perception of DC fashion by the outside world, through its evolution in retail, style, and business, to the debate about whether or not DC fashion is heading towards a true industry or is just a fashionable city. It opens in AMC Theaters in Friendship Heights, DC  on June 3, 2014.  For more information, visit  http://thepoliticsoffashion.com/

STUDIO D'MAXSI ANNOUNCES SPRING/SUMMER 2014 EVENTS

The Politics of Fashion: DC UNBOXED hosts other nationally recognized cast, including Pulitzer winning fashion writer & critic Robin Givhan, runway coach extraordinaire Miss J Alexander, Washiontonian Magazine fashion editor Kate Bennett, Gilt City DC senior curator Marissa Schneider, Bloomingdale’s Operating Vice President & GM Susan Cannaday and many more. See the full cast list on IMDb.

View trailer

The Politics of Fashion Poster

Beautifully Dreaming.. Positively Doing,

xoxo

Tosinger

The Role of the Creative Arts to #BringBackOurGirls

It is a proven fact that the creative arts can be weapons of social and political change. The Arts have and do still play a role in the struggle for justice. History confirms that some works of art, music, poetry, film are linked to waves of  social, economic and political change all over the world e.g  Playwright and Writer Pushkin’s work as it affected Russian politics in the 1800s, or Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat music as a tool to address the corrupt government, numerous ‘Free Mandela’ songs in the fight for apartheid and many more.

Listed below, are creative works, specifically Art, Photography, Music, Fashion and Literature that have in one way or the other attracted public awareness and media attention to the unsettling issue of the abducted Chibok girls in Northern Nigeria. The social media outcry which got the attention of international media eventually moved the complacent government to seek the help needed. As at today, the kidnapped girls by extremist Islamic group Boko Haram, are still being held with reports of 2 already dead, and 20 sick. Boko Haram also released a video saying they intend to sell the girls.

In today’s age, new media is playing a great role as a great platform to exercise the voice of the people through social media, as seen in the case of Libya and Egypt also. On Twitter, the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls led to rally formations and protests across different cities globally

Photography

At the Atlanta rally, where I was present, Atlanta based Photographer Terrell Clark had an artistic vision to capture all the ladies who came out to #RockACrownfor234 and highlighted their headwraps against a dark and moody backdrop of their faces.

Terrell says:

In the spirit of “darkness” surrounding our sisters, I intentionally underexposed the photographs under the banner of “until our girls are found and brought home, we are all living in the shadows”

View gallery here, password ‘girls’

Fashion

Headwraps hold a significant meaning and symbolism to Africans everywhere.It is the African woman’s crown, a fashion statement, an accessory. Head wraps have served as a head cover for Africans,  since the early 1700s.The colorful cloths represent the history of the African people and are worn proudly by both men and women – ehow. It was worn as a representative of a cultural significance and an item of solidarity for the missing girls.

Click photo below for gallery from Finding Paola:

Music

KennyK’ore , a popular Nigerian Gospel Singer released a song ‘Bring Down Boko Haram’

Annoyed and livid at the gruesome killings and bombings happening in Nigeria, popular gospel artiste Kenny Kore has decided to cry and plead to God in this new single ‘Bring Down Boko Haram’ for Nigeria’s deliverance and salvation. “I love the northerners, but I hate Boko Haram. Bring down Boko Haram, cut down Boko Haram, shut down Boko Haram”…K’ore sings. He features vocals from the Late Benson Idahosa – PraiseWorld

Download/Listen here 

Art

 Numerous graphics are everywhere on social media with the trending hashtag #BringBackOurGirls . Visuals are the running engine of social media, and these are just a few that caught my eye.

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with the names of the girls embedded by MADC
Art by Abinibi
Art by E5Studioz
Unknown
Art by Laolu Senbanjo of Afromysterics

Literature

A short story by Patrick Elay, a Switzerland based Nigerian Writer/Scriptwriter

“If you open your mouth, I’ll kill you!” His eyes shone red in the night and his hands held firm to the axe as he drew her hair with her lips quivering beneath her hands. They all sat lost in the reality of the moment. The cries had gradually turned into sobs, fading into gasps and finally had become silence. … continue to read here

So what can you do?

Let’s continue to use the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. Every little bit goes a long way.  Call or write your government – Change.org petition Let us come together and tell the world that we do not condone violence and  we want our girls rescued, the Nigerian government should work hand in hand with international governments and organizations to rescue the girls, because at this point it is obvious help is needed. Pray for the girls and the families, this is also a spiritual battle. Join www.facebook.com/bringbackourgirls for news and updates. Prayers, Protests, Petitions and Platforms of expressions …all go a long way in effecting the change we want to see.

Malala lends her voice

 

Beautifully Dreaming, Positively Doing…

xoxo

Tosinger

Rock A Crown for #234 #BringBackOurGirls

Parents of the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls are still holding out hope for their safe return, two weeks after they were kidnapped.Unconfirmed reports emerged yesterday that some girls may have been taken to neighbouring countries and sold as brides.The Government Girls Secondary school in the Chibok area of Borno state was stormed by gunmen believed to be from the separatist group Boko Haram on April 14. Official figures say 129 girls were abducted but the school’s principal said 230 were taken and about 187 are still being held – aworldatschool.org. The complacency of the Nigerian government incited a social media public uproar to get the international  community’s attention to help track down and rescue  the girls with the hashtag – #BringBackOurGirls #BringBackOurDaughters

There is a petition on change.org that can be signed also.

Creatives are weighing in anyway they can and in New York city on May 3. Finding Paola  (Paola) of Fanmdjanm and LoveFola (FolaSade) of 1953 who both own headwrap lines, are coming together to to be part of a headwrap/gele wearing rally to bring awareness to the issue, an event tagged “Rock A Crown for #234” taking place in various US cities.

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Folasade  of 1953 collection says on her instagram:

234 female secondary school students were abducted from their boarding school by a group of people who are believed to be a part of the Boko Haram sect in Chibok, NorthEastern, Nigeria. The girls (between 16 and 18-years-old) had literally just finished their final school exams and were rounded up at gunpoint. New reports are suggesting the missing were sold as brides to Islamist militants for 2,000 naira This literally hit very close to home. I have young cousins both Christian and Muslim living in Nigeria who value their education. And to think that they can’t achieve the education they desire without worrying about their lives is quite baffling, shocking and heartbreaking … So this actually did hit home because I’m praying that this will never happen to my family members and praying for the families who are suffering at this very moment. WEAR YOUR CROWN WITH A PURPOSE || Please join us on Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 in Union Square for a prayer and to bring awareness so that this situation can be given the right level of coverage in international media. I will also be providing headwraps from the #1953Headwrap Collection. Wear your crown with a purpose! These 234 girls need to be found and returned to the safety of their families and homes. KINDLY SPREAD THE WORD!! #1953for234 #234#bringbackourgirls #rockacrownfor234#my234crown #gelefor234 #1953#howiwearmycrown #wearyourcrownwithapurposeSigns and Posters are WELCOME!! See you Saturday.

For more info about LoveFola/1953 check her site

Folasade , owner of 1953
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LoveFola.com 1953 – How I Wear My Crown

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Paola Mathe is the Owner of Fanm Djanm. Fanm Djanm means strong woman. A headwrap line and brand to celebrate strong women around the world. For more info, check the site

Fanm Djanm
Paola Mathe (Owner of Fanm Djanm)

fanmdjanmpromo1

As we keep prayers up for the girls and the affected families, we will all weigh in on what we can do to get our leaders, home and abroad,  to overpower this jungle army and bring the girls back home, every little bit of effort goes a long way….

Parents of kidnapped Nigerian girls. Photo from @toptennaija

And in Atlanta

Beautifully Dreaming.. Positively Doing…

Tosinger