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3rd AFRUCA Summit on African Children and Families in The South of England 2015

Theme: Safeguarding, Everyone’s Responsibility

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 Date: Saturday 10th October 2015

Time: 9:00am to 4:30pm

Venue: Kensington Aldridge Academy (KAA)

1 Silchester Road

W10 6SQ.

Event Convenor: Modupe Debbie Ariyo OBE, Founder of AFRUCA

Event Host: Afua Hirsch (Social Affairs Editor – Sky News and AFRUCA Vice Chair)

Keynote Speakers: Kevin Hyland OBE (UK Anti-Slavery Commissioner) and Sue Berelowitz (Former Deputy Children’s Commissioner)

Special Guest of Honour: HRH Queen Naa Tsotsoo Soyoo I (Queen – Ga tribe in Accra, Ghana)

Summit Aims and Objectives:

This year’s Summit on African Children and Families is a follow up to the very successful events held in October 2013 and October 2014. It aims to explore key safeguarding issues and challenges faced by children of black and African origin across London with a view to generating ideas and solutions to help combat the problems. This event aims to empower young people, their parents and the community to take ownership of the myriad of challenges confronting them to be able to ensure better safeguarding and protection for children.

Participants will spend the day sharing knowledge, ideas and professing solutions to help support families who are facing challenges leading to risk of harm to children.


Summit Format

This free, one day event will be in the form of plenary and workshop sessions. Many agencies and community organisations working on different issues are also exhibiting at this event. They will be on hand to take referrals from parents, young people and others who may require help and support in different ways.

Themes of this Summit

Themes will be explored through 4 different plenary workshops and 1 special session on Female Genital mutilation (FGM). Participants will be able to attend all workshops.

For further information and to register your place please visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/3rd-afruca-summit-on-african-children-and-families-in-the-south-of-england-2015-registration-17187837284

A moment with Fashion Designer Pamela Samasuwo-Nyawiri‏

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An ox hide must be folded into shape whilst its still fresh” Zimbabwean Proverb.

Her style is as grounded as her soul. I love that she labelled her collection ‘Vanhu Vamwe’ meaning ‘One People’ in our Shona language. Her work is mouth-watering and mesmerizing with an award collection to match. Last year she became the first African to be nominated for the Vogue and Musee International Emerging Fashion Accessory Designer in which she was a finalist. She has said her work is inspired by the African way of life and the stories are evident in every piece of her work. When Pam kindly sponsored me to attend an Ebola Conference in London earlier this year, I was touched by her generosity. In this interview we explore fashion, Africa and  the art of giving.

ME:  Pam you very kindly sponsored me to attend an Ebola Conference in London recently. What made you give so freely and how did it feel to observe the Ebola crisis from  Diaspora lenses.

PAM: Thank you Dorcas. I am very passionate about any situation that affects the Continent, and so therefore I decided that I would do my best to support those who were in a different turf to me, but working towards making a difference. The Ebola crisis is not an African situation, but a global one. I was very much affected myself especially when I heard that some families were losing up to four generations and those left behind faced a life of desperate hunger, poverty and isolation. I believe that it is not only being on the ground and helping physically that helps, but attending the conference like you did, brings more awareness and  sharing of information that is vital.  I admire the work which you do. I am inspired and sometimes frustrated that props are given to people making no difference at all, and just seeking popularity, whereas there is Dorcas on the corner working diligently and seeking no acknowledgement. I will support you any day without hesitation. 

ME: My hunch is that African Philanthropist like you, Oliver Mtukudzi and Strive Masiyiwa do not get as much exposure and acknowledgement as others, what would be your advice on how we can improve this?

PAM: I totally agree with you. It is no hunch, but a fine truth. The problem with this society is that it is obsessed with the ”fetishist celebrity life style”, highlighting stories of Madonna adopting a black child, or Big brother Africa mayhems, and leave out the real issues, or the real heroes. Indeed there are serious philanthropists like Mtukudzi and Masiyiwa, who have spent the majority of their careers making a difference without any expectancy. I am always frustrated with the African media, Our generation has come up with feeble journalists, who are more interested in sensationalizing issues than reporting good, well researched material. Africa is already under scrutiny from the western world, and our attitudes to our situations do not make it any easier for the already misconception of Africa. I think if we all had the same spirit of development, it would be easier to celebrate the people within our community who were doing a great deal of work. 

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ME: You gave up your job at the BBC to chase your career in fashion, how did you manage that and what would be your advice to anyone sitting on their dreams?

PAM: I am generally very aggressive in life, and from a very young age always believed that I can do anything. My mother always asks me if ”I just wake up casually in the morning and things would have happened overnight”, and this makes me laugh, because while, my mindset is pretty much ” DO- ACHIEVE”, I sometimes have moments of doubt in my life. For example leaving my journalism career to pursue fashion, more of the strength to do that came from my husband who is so supportive and he gave me a lecture on how he never wanted me to ever regret not doing what I loved. The financial implication was the hardest, leaving a stable career to go back to University and start from scratch, but when you have overwhelming support like I did, it was never about what we could not afford in those three years, but about what I could achieve. I always say ” what you think you become”, and that is the only advice I can give. If you have a passion, do not keep dreaming, dreams are great, but that is all they will ever be. Adjust your mind, and just walk into the battle field to work until you achieve. 

ME: What’s your take on the huge discourse between natural hair or weaves? 

PAM: I am very much a natural hair beaver, although once in a while I do wear ”natural hair protective styles”. I must admit though that the fine appreciation of my own hair came with age. As a woman in my twenties right up to my mid thirties, I would never be caught dead with my natural hair out. That was like voluntarily going for a slaughter!!. The thing is all this is a colonial mindset, where we have trained ourselves that there are certain features that make us look more acceptable to the rest of the world as black women. I know I can never win this argument, and I hear all sorts like ”it is my preference”, ”my choice” , but from my own experience, most of it is deeply physiological. We have issues with the way we look, and once you get over trying to be pretentious and presenting a falsified version of yourself to the world, you are winning!

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ME: What fashion item could you absolutely not live without? 

PAM: No doubt my head wraps!. 

ME: It’s a tough world out there for an African woman in the fashion industry, what would be your advice to young women starting out in the fashion industry? 

PAM: I always sound a little arrogant when I answer this question, Tough?, maybe, However I think we make it tougher ourself. We go into the global industry wanting to be recognised as ”good African designers”, however it is more important to be just a good designer, that way you are displaying traits of one who is able to represent fashion globally. Our industry is never open to new ideas, and you would think with the wealth of inspiration from the continent, we would be on top. There is a terrible copy cat spirit, which has been highlighted even more since the ”African print” came into play. I mean can we get even more boring???. With the vast use of traditional techniques around Africa, there should be a serious fashion revolution happening on the continent, but instead we chose to jump on the same bandwagon. My advice would be to research, find a niche within the industry which is unique to just you, and run with it!. 

ME: Could the fashion industry do more to raise awareness on gender violence, if so what would that be? 

PAM: Fashion has a comprehensive and universal appeal and can thus be a powerful instrument to raise awareness and promote action on awareness on gender violence. The industry definitely has the opportunity to influence, challenge and change social norms. Look at current digital and social media it has given people power that is unmatched in history. There is so much we can do as an industry.  I highlight Vogue Italia’s stand on gender violence. They decided to dedicate a whole issue to domestic violence, together with images that depicted it. I think it was a very strong move as it’s an issue of exposure – fashion is approachable by so many people and everybody knows about fashion through the internet.  So, to use fashion in a way to communicate something else was very powerful and in my opinion gave people the opportunity to have a voice, for awareness. 

ME: Who are your favourite writers? 

PAM: I just adore Camara Laye, Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie NO DOUBT! 

ME: How important is Africa to you?

PAM: EVERYTHING I do is a clear dedication to Africa. Africa is home, my refuge, my shelter, my love, my precious. Every move I make must highlight and glorify this land that is perhaps the most powerful globally. Africa is my heartbeat.  Africa is all to me, Africans are all to me. 

ME: If you weren’t a fashion designer what would you be? 

PAM: While doing my A’levels, I was hell bent on being a Marine Biologist. Sadly the Mukuvisi in Zimbabwe did not offer me that much hope!

ME: What’s your favourite African dish?

PAM: I am very experimental with food, and while the taste of Zimbabwe will always be my favourite, I am head over heels in-love with Jollof rice and egusi soup 

Pamela thanks for talking to me, I very much appreciate your time and keep up the brilliant work.  

The photos are published with permission from Pam Samasuwo-Nyawiri.

Dorcas Gwata

Tribal Sands May 2015