Lulu's blog is one of my recent discoveries and I must say, it was "blog crush" at first. Her About page alone had me nodding my head. When I wasn't being taken in by all the pretty pictures and photographs, I was captivated by her series, especially the interviews and all the goodies under the tag "Country-Specific". I decided that I needed to know more about the lady behind this gorgeous blog. So, here is Lulu in her own words.
1. What made you decide to start blogging?
I've always enjoyed writing and sharing my thoughts and flights of fancy. When I was younger I would create these handmade 'zines. I'd write stories on a typewriter at my Dad's office, draw pictures, cut and paste everything and give photocopies to my friends. Soon after I finished university (I had embraced computers and this amazing thing called the internet by then), I discovered these really interesting blogs that I would go to every morning, before doing anything else. It was the thing I looked forward to most and it just made sense that I should create one for myself. That's how my first blog Pandemonium Today (http://pandemoniumtoday.blogspot.com/) started.
2. Where did the name of your blog come from?
My main blog at the moment, Afri-love, is inspired by one of my great passions – the continent I come from. I was born and raised in Kenya but have not lived there since I was 18. In my experience living in other people's countries, I have come more and more attached to home. I've had the opportunity to meet people from almost all of the countries on the continent and have learned much from these encounters about their different cultures, experiences and so on. The thing that has always struck me though is, there is much we share. And I'm talking about beautiful, positive, inspiring things. I knew that this is what I wanted the blog to explore and I wanted a simple name that captured this. Hence: Afri-love.
3. What do you write about?
Self – how everything starts with the self. I strongly believe that we can't make effective change externally until we get ourselves in order first.
Passion – I dream of a world where the majority of us are doing what we love. I try to showcase people who are successfully doing just that, in an attempt to inspire more people to look fear in the eye and follow their dreams. I try to be an example of that myself and I share my, sometimes challenging, journey.
Creativity – as a creative professional you may say that I'm biased but, another strong belief of mine is in the power that creativity has to effect positive change. Along with showcasing creative work that I like and find inspiring (whether that be art, music, design etc.), I share stories of how creativity and imagination are creating a positive impact in people's lives.
Essentially, my blog is about change. Creating the lives we want. So it starts with being proud of who you are, appreciating all that comes with that, being inspired by the good and taking all of that to create the life you dream about. If each of us focused on just that, the collective effect would be grand. The collective would inevitably be transformed as a result – our families, our communities, our institutions, our countries … our continent…
Fellow blogger, MsAfropolitan, said it best when she described Afri-love as a blog about Africa's modernity on its own terms. That's exactly it and on all levels. Each of us living our lives on our own terms – not chasing expectations that were imposed on us (by our parents, by our societies, by foreign countries and so one).
4. Tell us a little bit about your cultural background.
I was born in Kenya to a Kenyan father and Tanzanian mother. I lived in Kenya until I was 18 and most of my immediate family still lives there so, when I talk about "home," that's what I'm referring to. Everywhere else I've lived has just felt like an extended visit.
5. How do your experiences and your cultural background impact the way you view the world?
After living in the US and now in the UK, I am very grateful for the fact that I grew up in a place where the majority of people look like me. When it comes to dreaming and ambition, it's harder for me to make excuses that have to do with the colour of my skin.
I spent a lot of time as a child at my grandparent's farm in Tanzania and with my grandparents in rural Kenya. I realise now as an adult, how this inspired a love and appreciation for nature and the joy that can be found in simple things.
My father is a staunch patriot and I think that a lot of it has rubbed off on me. I am extremely proud of where I come from and can get very defensive about it! He also instilled with me this work ethic and self-reliance that has me believing that I have the power to create the life I choose.
6. In your opinion, what does it mean to be a woman today?
It's a good time to be a woman (for example, it's apparently quite easy to get loans if you're a female business owner in Kenya). Seriously, when I talk to my mother and think about the opportunities that were open to her and to the generations of women before her, I feel really blessed. There are fewer people second-guessing you because you are a woman and those who are have to do it under guises because it's less and less socially acceptable. You can dream knowing that there is probably no real reason for anyone to prevent you from achieving what you want, because of your gender. You may still have to fight a little harder but I think, as women, we have that strength inbuilt (contrary to what they would have us believe about ourselves). I personally have never felt that I cannot do something because I am a woman – I have only been limited by my own fears and perhaps, by caring a little too much about what other people think.
Going back to my mother and grandmother, they have been such amazing examples because, despite the barriers they experienced, their strength, resourcefulness, joy and compassion are worth emulating today and always. And the so-called "soft" attributes given women are part and parcel of what makes us so phenomenal.
7. Finally, If someone asked you to recommend some music, what would you say? What are 2 songs you just can’t help replaying these days?
Difficult question! I love "Kelewele Pimpin'" on M3NSA's album No. 1 Mango Street (not that I fully understand the cultural references – can anyone enlighten me on what kelewele pimpin is? Lol!). In fact, I've been replaying the whole album for months now – it doesn't get old. I'm also really enjoying "Dont' Go" by English rapper Wretch 32.
[Kelewele Pimpin' is swagger, West African style? lol. Anyway, what a fun song!]
Thank you for the interview, Lulu! We had fun getting to know the person "behind the words", a little more.
Pictures courtesy of Afri-love.