Salam all, based on the numerous requests that we received via emails, IG, FB and Twitter messages, we have decided to help the ambitious Somali student who also works to cover his tuition fees. We want to raise $1500 that should cover his tuition fees, book materials and transports. As per our previous drive, we will be as transparent as possible making sure that every donated penny goes towards his education. We will make sure, insha’Allah, that he reaches his full potential with your help. Please share and donate generously.


Kaamila: Queer Somali (USA)

“It is critical that we tell our own stories, rather than be made invisible or be misrepresented through other people’s narratives of who we are. Through this project we can be seen and speak our truths, through our style, through our stories, through these images. This is important and powerful work.

- Kaamila (Queer Somali, She/Her & They/Them, IG: @kaamoh)

Read Kaamila’s Full Interview + View their Full Shoot: Here

About Limit(less):
Limit(less) is a photography project by Mikael Owunna (@owning-my-truth) documenting the fashion and style of LGBTQ African Immigrants (1st and 2nd generation) in diaspora. The project seeks to visually deconstruct the colonial binary which states that one cannot be both LGBTQ and African. #LimitlessAfricans

Learn More:

Donate to support the project: HERE

Follow Limit(less):

Facebook | Tumblr  | Website | Flickr | Instagram

Africa Week!

Lapis lazuli female figure
Egypt (3650-3300 BCE)

You see that brilliant blue stone? That’s lapis lazuli, all the way from Afghanistan. People were trading between South Asia to North Africa before Egypt even had kings.

Lapis lazuli is found in limestone in the Kokcha River valley of Badakhshan province in northeastern Afghanistan, where the Sar-e-Sang mine deposits have been worked for more than 6,000 years. Afghanistan was the source of lapis for the ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations, as well as the later Greeks and Romans. 

Ancient Egyptians obtained this material through trade from Afghanistan. During the height of the Indus valley civilization about 2000 BC, the Harappan colony now known as Shortugai was established near the lapis mines.

Yup—the Indus Valley civilisation was in contact with the Egyptians! (Pity they didn’t put their seal inscriptions on the Rosetta Stone.)

But that lovely blue stone turned out to be super-useful in decorating:

Golden Mask of Tutankhamun
Egypt (c. 1323 BCE)

Scarab pendant
Egypt (1300s BCE)

Pendant in the form of a Hathoric head
Egypt (874-850 BCE)

I’ve actually blogged about the distant origins of lapis lazuli twice before (it was later used in Europe and China, too!). I just hadn’t known it was used so damn early in Egypt.

But it was also kind of expensive. A cheap homemade substitute would do the trick. Enter Egyptian faience:

Standing Hippopotamus
Egypt (1961–1878 BCE)

Called the “first high-tech ceramic”, faience is a siliceous vitrified and glost ceramic, made of a body of fine ground quartz or sand, coated with an alkaline-lime-silica glaze. It was used in jewelry throughout Egypt and the Near East beginning about 3500 BC. Forms of faience are found throughout the Bronze Age Mediterranean, and faience objects have been recovered from archaeological sites of the Indus, Mesopotamian, Minoan, and Egyptian civilizations.

Another example of Egyptian innovation, then?

Scholars suggest, but are not completely united, that faience was invented in Mesopotamia in the late 5th millennium BC and then imported to Egypt.

Aww. But let’s be real here: no-one in the ancient world made blue look so good as the Egyptians did.

Glazed faience head of Ptaichos
Egypt (500s BCE)


‘A ray of light shines through the leaves of the mango-tree, it is time to start composing the flowers bouquets.’

For these boys in Central African Republic, flowers are more than just decoration.

Bonheur and his friends make bouquets to sell in the street between the tennis courts and the Rock Club.

After picking fresh flowers, they gather in front of the Rock Club to spread their harvest. Flowers are all over the ground.

Photo credit:  Vincent Tremeau/Oxfam


Africa Week!

Remains of the Anu Ziggurat, Uruk
Iraq (c. 3517-3358 BCE)

Step Pyramid of Djoser
Egypt (2667-2648 BCE)

Great Pyramid of Giza
Egypt (2580-2560)

Great Ziggurat of Ur
Iraq (2000s BCE)

Let’s talk a bit about the ancient Middle East

We know there was prehistoric contact between North Africa and West Asia, so it’s kind of tempting to assume that Sumerian ziggurats inspired Egyptian pyramids. I’d always thought so, anyway.

But as it turns out, the current consensus is that they developed more or less independently. Sure, they look similar, but that’s because it’s kind of intuitive and structurally sound to make a mountain-shaped pile of bricks. And they have loads of differences:

1. Pyramids are simply tombs or burial grounds while ziggurats are more of temples.

2. Ziggurats have steps or terraces on its sides and multi-storied while pyramids just have one long stretch of staircase.

3. Ziggurats were said to have temple tops while pyramids don’t have any but just a converging point for its sides.

4. Ziggurats are chamber less while pyramids usually have internal chambers.

Related to this is the whole question of where Egyptian civilisation came from. It emerged really rapidly—much faster than Mesopotamian civs. Egyptologist Walter B. Emery says:

At a period approximately 3,400 years before Christ, a great change took place in Egypt, and the country passed rapidly from a state of Neolithic culture with a complex tribal character to [one of] will-organized monarchy.

At the same time the art of writing appears, monumental architecture and the arts and crafts develop to an astonishing degree, and all the evidence points to the existence of a luxurious civilization. All this was achieved within a comparatively short period of time, for there appears to be little or no background to these fundamental developments in writing and architecture.

The civilization of the Jemdet Nasr period of Mesopotamia and the archaic period of Egypt are apparently roughly contemporary, but the interesting point is that in Mesopotamia many of the features of civilization appear to have a background, whereas in Egypt they do not. 

It is on this basis that many authorities consider that Egypt owes her civilization to the people of the Euphrates. There is no doubt that there is a connection, but whether direct or indirect we do not know.

Unfortunately, this brings us to the icky early 20th century theory that Egyptian civilisation were the product of a superior invading race, because of course native Africans couldn’t have developed all this on their own. (Ugh.)

The truth is, of course, that none of us did it on our own. All cultures borrowed or stole from each other whenever they could, especially Western culture.

And wherever Egyptian culture came from, it sure gave us lots to steal:

Replicas of Egyptian Pyramids and Sphinx in the Window of the World, Shenzhen
China (1994)
African Economic Outlook 2016 - Sustainable Cities and Structural Transformation - en - OECD

The African Economic Outlook 2016 presents the continent’s current state of affairs and forecasts its situation for the coming two years. This annual report examines Africa’s performance in crucial areas: macroeconomics, financing, trade policies and regional integration, human development, and governance.

For its 15th edition, the African Economic Outlook takes a hard look at urbanisation and structural transformation in Africa and proposes practical steps to foster sustainable cities. A section of country notes summarises recent economic growth, forecasts gross domestic product for 2016 and 2017, and highlights the main policy issues facing each of the 54 African countries. A statistical annex compares country-specific economic, social and political variables.