“They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To” ~ Mary Sibande

Mary Sibande is a South African artist based in Johannesburg. Her recent series ‘Long live the dead queen’ was featured within the city on the side of buildings and other structures as large, photographic murals. The series, like Sibande’s practice as an artist, ‘attempts to critique stereotypical depictions of women, particularly black women in our society.’

“When the music changes, so does the dance.”
— African proverb

Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance and music. It was created in Brazil mainly by descendants of African slaves with Brazilian native influences, probably beginning in the 16th century.
Capoeira has a long and controversial history, since historical documentation in Brazil was very scarce in its colonia

l times. Evidences, studies and oral tradition leave little doubt about its Brazilian roots, but it is impossible to precisely identify the exact Brazilian region or time it began to take form. Nowadays, Capoeira is a symbol of the Brazilian culture, symbol of the ethnic amalgam that characterizes Brazil, symbol of resistance to the oppression, Capoeira definitely changed its image and became a source of pride to Brazilian people. It is officially considered intangible cultural heritage of Brazil.
-Black Poem Music

The African Lens: Movies of the Diaspora: The First Grader.

The true story of an 84 year-old Kenyan villager and ex Mau Mau freedom fighter who fights for his right to go to school for the first time to get the education he could never afford.

To win a copy of this movie read our contest rules by clicking  and don’t forget to check out the other fabulous movies in today’s series. SUBSCRIBE TO AFRICLECTIC MAGAZINE FOR MORE POST LIKE THIS.

Please take the time out to support fellow Africans with the premiere of a new lifestyle magazine and website, dedicated to the beauty of the African continent by providing positive images and stories, and engaging debate with our community - the African Diaspora. We examine our many cultures through looking at current topics addressing Blackness, photography, cinema, fashion, and lifestyle. Please share and join the movement!


Sibande is the first in four generations of her family not to be a domestic worker. It was a fourth year varsity project which saw the birth of Sophie. She says she wanted to create a maid who had “stuff - things like her madam did.”

Sibande, a 28 year old artist who grew up in Barberton, Mpumalanga, and graduated in Fine Arts from the University of Johannesburg, has ‘arrived’ in town in every possible meaning of the word. Her life-size sculptures and photographic prints are right now in the process of being bought by the South African National Gallery and an American museum. She was also invited to enter her work in a competition for the United Nation’s headquarters in Bonn, Germany, and three of her print editions (10 to an edition) are already sold out.

In the 18 short months from her first solo show at Gallery Momo in Rosebank, Joburg, Sibande’s art is already fetching double its original price and is predicted to soar even further with the increasing international acclaim - she has been featured in the New York Times, and when we meet, has just touched down from her fourth art residency in Sylt, Germany. The other three have been in Paris, New York and Basel, Switzerland.

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It is with great pleasure that we inform you of our exciting new site Africlectic is a life-culture magazine with a deep desire and commitment to uplift, educate, and inspire a positive wave of social change in the African Diaspora. Our magazine serves as a visa for anyone wishing to embark on a cultural voyage to see the African Diaspora through the lens and perspective of a new generation of dynamic people of African descent. 

The “Africlectist” reader is a combination of two words,  ‘African’ + ‘Eclectic’. Who is the Africlectist? You are a multidimensional person of the African Diaspora whose true essence is greatly influenced by the rich cultural diversity and heritage they share with Africa. You have embraced your roots and made your voice heard, sharing and creating engaging conversations surrounding our communities back home and in the Diaspora. Together, we represent with pride and dignity the culture that has made us into individuals of the twenty first century, fighting to get our people to unite in this ever changing world.


Through the African Lens: Cinema of the Diaspora


Pulled between his strict Muslim upbringing by his father and the normal social life he’s never had, Tariq Mahdi (Evan Ross) enters college in a state of confusion. New relationships with Muslims and non-Muslims alike challenge his already shaken ideals, and the estrangement with his mother (Nia Long) and sister troubles him. Slowly, he begins to find himself with the help of new friends, family and mentors, but when the attacks of 9/11 happen without warning, he is forced to face his past and make the biggest decisions of his life.

Kwesi Abbensetts is a South American born photographer, hailing from the country of Guyana. In 2006 while in his final year of film school at Brooklyn College, Kwesi purchased a FUJI 5600 digital camera and from thereon his love for photography blossomed. Photography gave him the immediacy that was missing from film. A self taught photographer, Kwesi had no prior formal training. Having traveled around the Caribbean, Kwesi has shot travel photography in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Being self taught has allowed Kwesi to create and shape his own individual template that is identifiably distinct when it comes to creating images.

Is Natural Hair the End of Black Beauty Culture?

There is a natural hair revolution going on among black women in the U.S., and this time the revolution is being televised. Last Sunday, the “Melissa Harris-Perry” show on MSNBC included a roundtable discussion on black hair in which the entire panel of black women donned natural styles. Just two weeks ago, the posted filmmaker, Zina Saro-Wiwa’s short documentary film, “Transition,” and her corresponding op ed on the increasing number of black women who are choosing natural hair, as opposed to chemically straightened hair or weaves. While it might sound like a throwback to the 60’s Black Power era, the tenor of the current natural hair movement is decidedly different. While black hair certainly has political implications, the constant refrain of the current natural hair movement is self-acceptance, freedom, health, and spiritual growth.

While many, including me, celebrate the natural hair movement’s emphasis on self-discovery, I cannot help but wonder if something has also been lost with this cultural shift. For all the horrible things about hair straightening, the experiences associated with it have created a powerful thread that connects the vast majority of black women. Even if you have kinky hair now, you probably have memories of time spent with family and friends in kitchens getting your hair done by someone who loved you and who you trusted enough to wield a sizzling hot straightening comb next to your ear. You probably remember that first trip to the beauty shop where black women talked about grown folks’ business, and nearly every sentence began with the endearment, “girl.” It does not matter if your mother was a teacher or housekeeper, or if you were in New York or Alabama because these experiences crossed class and region. Hair straightening was a rite of passage, an entry into the world of black women.

Full disclosure: I am happy to be nappy and have been for over eight years. I do not miss the fiery sensation of chemicals caustic enough to smack the kink out of my hair. Nor do I miss treating an element as basic as water like it was napalm because it made my straight locks explode into kinky curls. I do, however, miss black beauty culture, spaces where laughter, love, information, and insight commingled freely.

Yes, there are salons for natural hair, especially in major metropolitan areas, like Atlanta, D.C., and New York. But the natural journey is not salon focused. In fact, natural hair allows for a certain amount of freedom from salons, which is good because many natural salons cost significantly more than traditional ones. For some who are natural the cost of certain curly salons is prohibitive. In addition, there are regions where natural hair salons are few and far between. The focal point of the natural hair community seems to be online message boards and YouTube, rather than beauty shops.

My experience with salons and natural hair is vastly different from the beauty shop culture. I go to the salon no more than twice a year. Recently, I crossed one of the most powerful color lines in America: I let a white girl do my hair. She gave me a good cut, and I was back on the street in 20 minutes. In comparison, my mother whose hair is chemically straightened goes to the beauty shop every two weeks for a couple of hours. She comes home smelling of oil sheen spray and full of news. She knows everything, from the platform of candidates for the school board, to the proposed sight for the new grocery store, to who was admitted to the hospital last night. She is not just informed; she is engaged, full of laughter, concern, and outrage.

My mother is part of a powerful community that I remember fondly. When I was teenager, my hairdresser’s abusive husband showed up at the beauty shop demanding that she come outside. My mother looked up from her chair and told him to leave. A dozen heads, some in rollers, others dripping with hair dye, nodded grimly at him, before he scurried out. We could not stop what he did at home, but the beauty shop was our space, our time, our community.

To be sure, beauty shop culture is far from dead. Most black women still have chemically straightened hair, and there are still people who consider natural hair socially unacceptable. When a web poll asked if the U.S. was ready for a first lady with natural kinky hair, 56% of respondents said no. Black hair is still political. Even those who view their natural hair journey as an internal process are engaged in a powerful political act, just by virtue of reclaiming the meaning of their natural hair. As more and more women make the choice to go natural, I wonder what it will mean for the beauty shop.

Right now, the beauty shop is still there, but I am not. I will not take my daughter there because I want her to love her perfect springy curls. She will hear me laugh with my sister about the time that she ‘kissed’ my ear with a hot straightening comb, but my daughter will never know how such a tool of pain could evoke such warm intimacy. I want her to love her hair as it grew out of her head, but I also want her to know a place where tired black women can shame a man with a word and look. But I cannot have it both ways.


Cassandra Jackson

Professor of English, The College of New Jersey


Kenyan top model, Ajuma Fights Skin Bleaching. 

A few weeks ago Africlectic ran a whole series on skin bleaching. You may check out one of our most popular posts from the series here 

We are happy someone is finally stepping up to be the voice against this phenomenon plaguing our society.

“It’s a pity that people don’t appreciate black beauty,” she said.

These days whenever she has the opportunity, Ajuma speaks out against skin-bleaching, and she is taking it on as her own fight.

Attitudes against colour and the increasing promotion of skin-lightening products are placing a burden on dark-skinned women.

Read More here

“Information about the Black reality and experience must be transmitted as broadly and as intensely as possible. Black singers must sing about it, Black researchers must identify it, Black actors must act it, Black scholars must conceptualize it, Black teachers must teach it, and Black preachers must preach it. From the cradle to the grave, we must submerge ourselves; from books, pictures and whatever source that will bring messages to our minds. Each bit of information helps to mold the keys which will open the chains that remain on our minds.” -Naim Akbar

 Muhammad Ali and Grandson for Louis Vuitton

The three-year-old in the photo, who is often called “C.J.,” is the son of Mr. Ali’s daughter Laila, a retired boxer, and her husband, former National Football League player Curtis Conway.

Lonnie Ali, the fighter’s wife, says Mr. Ali requested that his grandson be photographed with him. “The two share a special bond. "Of all the grandchildren, C.J. looks the most like Muhammad. And he even acts like him,” Mrs. Ali said. “That child—I’ll tell you!"

I Like to Buy My Hair  

By Mpho Mosia for Africlectic Lifestyle


One black woman after the next, came into the smoky, chemical infused haven that women call the salon, some even to my shock were children that looked like they were 7 or 8 years old- all wanting to either straighten their hair with a relaxer or sew in a new stylish weave. Not to be biased, I really felt special amongst these women and wondered why- Is it because I have natural hair and they don’t? Or is it because I felt special in a negative sense, in that I am not in the in crowd? I guess whether black, white, or Asian, hair is a central aspect of a woman’s life and our continuous questioning of it is part of our daily lives. Yet more and more increasingly the idea of black women keeping their frizzy, nappy, afro hair, freaks them out or is not even something to consider. I wonder why?

While I was observing my surroundings I found myself philosophising about the whole phenomena of the weave and straightening one’s hair and it lead me to compare and contrast the ideas around hair and identity. It is a subject matter that people want to explore, but many fear criticism or feel they may be subjected to “no comment” responses, yet it is a fundamental part of a woman’s identity, because it revolves around self-image. Black women in particular see hair as a statement, whether it is propelled by status, fashion, the desire to be different, or the desire to fit in, it all represents an ideology of how you see yourself and more specifically how you want the world to see you.

The debate concerning black women and hair is further emphasised in a documentary done by the famous American comedian Chris Rock called Good Hair. In Good Hair Rock explores the question ‘what is all the fuss with black women, weaves, and straightening ones hair?

I guess through Rock’s male perspective it seems overrated, costly and unnatural, not recognising the importance for his own two young daughters to feel happy and content with their own natural hair. He suggests that the more unnatural your hair is, the less black you should claim to be, considering that weaves and relaxers requires chemicals and fake hair that has travelled from either India or Indonesia and is applied to a black woman’s natural hair.

Does it make a woman less African and in touch with her natural roots?

Does it emphasize a foreign concept of beauty that has been imported- literally- from the West and East and adopted into the community of black women, and in this context, particularly South African black women? It can be argued that as much as the media, social cultures, and celebrities are feeding children and women of all ages, images of Beyonce, Bonang Matheba, Rihanna, Oprah and Winnie Madikizela Mandela with weaves in their hair, that they are painting a picture of what is conceived as beautiful and acceptable.

The buying of hair itself is a costly business, when I ask women who have weaves, they openly tell me it can cost anything from R300 to R5000 (approx. $40 to $600 US dollars), all depending on the quality of the hair. On the contrary the 100% natural hair, meaning the weave is taken straight from women’s heads that have really great hair- from Brazil or India- can cost from R2000-R5000 (approx. $250 to $600 US dollars). It is truly amazing the pride that goes into buying the more expensive weave, even men share this sentiment of good versus bad weaves. I approached 2 young black students and asked them their thoughts about weaves and straight hair on black women and the answers were certainly shocking, as they both agreed that 95% of the time they would choose a woman who had natural hair over a woman who had a weave or straight hair. They continued to say that there is nothing worse than a bad weave or one that looks cheap and those black girls who use blonde, red and other colours in the weaves are especially a turn off. They also mentioned how ironic it is that “how come if a guy pays for their girlfriend’s weave, which is so expensive, they are not allowed to touch it and if you suggest going for a swim it means war or death!

It is quite interesting when speaking to women who have dreadlocks or an afro or who merely have no interest in weaves but will do braids because they all have different opinions; some don’t have issues with it but as a preference have no desire to buy or wear a weave. A particular lady said that she used to straighten her hair but because of the damage the chemicals did to her hair, she chose to keep her hair natural. A Rastafarian woman enforced the notion of it being against her religion and culture and that black women must take pride in their hair because it has been given as a blessing from a higher power. But the one conversation that was intriguing was a young lady who has a fake or synthetic afro and has dreadlocks underneath the afro, explained,

‘My hair doesn’t define who I am, I am more than my hair, my clothes and yes I used to be Rastafarian, but realised that boxing myself and criticizing others because of the way they look makes me fake and unholy.’

The point was made, so what if ‘I Like to Buy My Hair’, it is a preference. Hair shouldn’t be a platform used to judge or criticise people. Identity is complex and is not merely rooted to a woman’s hair.

Afri-Art: Tired Nanny by Joseph Eze: 

“Tired Nanny, revisits the safety of babies in the temporary custody of day care culture in most urban areas. Most families, according to him, consider the nanny alternative as necessary. But Eze asked: “Is the nanny really indispensable in stressful city like Lagos?” The answer, he argued, could be found in the fact that “some families cope without the nanny, anyway. The nanny culture, he warned, could be a sign of the failure in parental responsibility.”

From producer/director Yanick Letourneau comes the feature documentary, United States of Africa: Beyond Hip Hop. Released in Canada, the USA, and South Africa, the film follows rapper Didier Awadi as he tours 40 countries, outlining the tragic defeats of various African leaders who were thwarted in their progressive aims, often by Western powers. This documentary gives us a picture of the past and hope for the future, all through the lens of music and politics. More than any genre except folk, rap has fused those two things; this is a stirring example of that fusion and the power it can have.

Historical Origins

Hip hop in Africa traces its origin back to the 1980s. South Africa had its own musicians. The likes of Yvonne Chaka Chaka, the magnificent Miriam Makeba and Chico Chikaya. East Africa had taarab music. West African music was alive with the afro-Jazz scene thanks to one legendary guitarist and saxophonist (Fela Kuti, anyone?). The Congolese music scene was vibrant in African so much so that lingala music was synonymous with African music. Franco, T.P.O.K Jazz, Mbilia Bel, Tshala Muana among other Congolese musicians boasted of a fan base that crossed continental boundaries.