Happy New Year everybody!! What a year 2016 was, I am so excited for the year 2017 and what it has in store for us. I am thankful to the Most High for the year we had in 2016, so much growth, so much necessary growth that I suppose catapulted this platform into a direction that feels more aligned with the vision and the reason why Afrika on My Sleeve is a thing. I am also thankful for each and everyone of you for standing with the vision, for seeing the growth and transformation and continuing to support. You have no idea how much it means to me, this platform was created for us and by us, so when the community is backing, when we are all involved we create and carve our own space, and to me there is nothing more beautiful than the manifestation of the spirit of Ubuntu. 

2016 was a year when it was important for us to come together and begin to build a place where our voices and representation were from us. For so long our stories have been told from the lens and mouths of others, and it was time to start writing our own stories, telling our own stories and representations that matched our reality.  This resulted in the I AM project which was about countering one-dimensional narratives about people of African descent in New Zealand using visual methodologies and participatory photography. The result was a gallery with people that we knew, with stories of people that we knew and beautiful social media images that encouraged us to be who we are as people of Afrikan descent. 

Look at all those beautiful people! The best part is there were more photos that came in from people all over New Zealand. Then there was the exhibition part which we worked on with Julz Glover. The stories, the imagery, the people, the people, phenomenal people I tell you was an other worldly experience.

Another one of my highlights for 2016 were the spoken word nights we hosted at Neck of the Woods. The topics that we covered ranged from navigating womanhood, the danger of hyper masculinity, the questionable factor of the intimacy that we share with the other and ourselves and my favourite the dialogue regarding the representation of Afrika. Check out the video below, filmed by Phodiso Dintwe. 

In addition to the spoken word nights were the conferences I got to attend and speak at about the work that Afrika on My Sleeve was getting involved in, in the digital activism sphere. In September I travelled to Wellington to speak at the SOCIAL MOVEMENTS, RESISTANCE AND SOCIAL CHANGE III and then later that month spoke at Auckland University's Switching on Digital Activism Cafe. It was a privilege to be a part of those conversations. 

Now the goal for 2017 is to tell more of those stories with more people and with more involvement from the community especially our youth. In 2017 I am embarking on a research journey as part of my Master of International Communication studies. The research will involve working together with a group of youth of Sub-Saharan African descent to create narratives/content that relates to their identity and who they are. I am looking forward to embarking on this journey as I won't be seeing myself as the researcher, I will be a co-participant working alongside other young people to create visual representations of us. 

In addition to the research we will be hosting events in Auckland designed to create a space for women of colour. We had our first unofficial gathering in early December and we will be having our first event at the end of this month. The purpose of the events will be for women of colour to come together, share their dreams/goals and receive the support of a community of like-minded women. It is bringing back the power of the sisterhood and about recognising the achievements and capabilities of women of colour. Sign up to our newsletter for updates on these events. Our first event of the year will involve head wraps, photographs and intentions setting, I am excited to share more details about the events!

A bit of a sneak peek into what's inspiring the first Black Girl Magic event of the year. 

A bit of a sneak peek into what's inspiring the first Black Girl Magic event of the year. 

As I wrap this up, I am sending love and light to you and yours. This is your year! I look forward to working together in the spirit of Ubuntu to continue to create a space for us by us. If you have any ideas on how we can work together, please do not hesitate to contact me. Remember to follow Afrika on My Sleeve on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram to get the goods!