afrofoto day 3 | my hat is not a snapback, but have i snapped back?

Yesterday was day 10 and that’s what I committed to AND I owe you guys 3 other posts so let me render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.

The afrofoto is not of the nearly snapped back African mother’s body…no. It’s of the floppy sunhat I have loved for years my mom got me in Ghana. There’s nothing particular spectacular about the hat, but it’s strikingly unique in a simple way. The brim isn’t too large or stiff and the print, though colorful, isn’t loud. I’ve worn this hat so many times and always take it with me when traveling because it folds and it versatile and the brim holds up after being scrunched up between waaaayy more clothes than I need in suitcases on 13+ hour long flights.

This past Sunday was so much hotter than the rest of the previous weeks have been so when headed out I knew to lather the sunscreen on and wear a hat to protect my face. I wish I had some hats like this for baby (I’ll let my mom know) because I know they’d be a comfortable wear.

Since I mentioned the nearly snapped back African mother’s body, I might as well indulge you guys.

To be completely honest, it hasn’t been easy getting back in shape (the literal shape I was in pre-preggo) because someone told me starting to work out for a breastfeeding mom would reduce supply. I looked it up of course and like anything many humans experience there are strong opinions on that and the complete opposite. I decided not to take my chances since I’d committed myself to breastfeeding exclusively. My supply’s been good and baby is now starting on foods so I decided TODAY to get on my “fitness journey” (the ” ” are especially true). I did my first crunches probably in a year – 30 of them! Whoohoo and I know I’m going to suffer if/when I laugh tomorrow, but no pain no gain. I’ll do it again tomorrow and take it small small, un peu un peu, mbijana mbijana, poco a poco…we will get back to the 4 pack. I’ve been eating healthy before, during and after delivery so we’re good on the food front. I might show you guys some progress pictures in a few months.

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*@afropolitaine*

#afrofoto day 10 | I went into a stinky graffiti alley for YOU!

What have I learnt so far?

That it is impossible very difficult to blog everyday when a small human being depends on you for nourishment, entertainment and prefers you are mostly within her lines of vision [unless she’s sleeping] on weekends…and you also enjoy doing that AND need to nourish and entertain yourself with her.

I owe you guys 3 posts now! You will get them I promise! As I type this one I already have tomorrow’s *insert salsa dancing lady emoji*.

Today was HOT (upper 80s) and we started the morning sleeping in a bit. We got up to get ready per the usual when my cousin called saying he wanted to take us (his niece really lol) to the farmer’s market in DC so we ended up doing that. We went to the Union Market area where there are a lot of wholesale fruit, veggie, meat and all sorts of in between vendors only to find them closed so we ended up going into Union Market itself. We walked around to choose something to eat and settled on  Takorean. So good! Afterwards….well earlier when looking for parking we’d seen 2 guys taking pictures in one of the graffiti’d alleys so we decided to do the same. My cousin loves his car and is into that type of thing so me too I joined in. I remembered #afrofoto and that I was WAAAAY due for a post so I thought hey me too let me get some pictures in here. It was stiiiinkyyy in that alley, but because I love you guys I endured it 🙂 I love how the pictures turned out with absolutely no filter 💗!

(no filter no nothing)

This basket-bag was my late grandmother’s and I got it from her while she was still alive. She’d already been in the States for 2 years undergoing treatment at that point with my grandfather coming and going between here and Zimbabwe months at a time. At some point while he was in Zim, I decided to go and visit him since he was mostly in the house alone and it had been a while since I’d seen him/been in Zim. This bag was in the closet in the room that used to be mine as a kid and is always where I stay when I go. I really liked the bag so coming back I used it as my carry on to hold those extra things we somehow accumulate despite having come/traveled light. My grandmother and I would be on the phone coordinating the things she wanted me to bring back for her and there was quite a bit.

She definitely got the bag herself when she went to Tanzania while my mom lived there and Kilimo Kwanza, in Swahili, means Agriculture First. I’m not quite sure if it may have been promotional for something or just was like that at purchase. What I love about it is how durable it is! It’s made of woven rafia (i think) material and reinforced along the edges and straps with fabric so it does not give no matter what you put in it. I also love the wide strip of kikoi on the front with the fringe uncut. I used to use this as my bag at work, but retired it for something else in the rotation. Today I came full circle back to it for the market because it could fit my baby necessities, wallet AND I’d have been able to add whatever we would have gotten.

Happy Sunday folk and may you go into the new week with new energy, joy and focus….says the person typing a blog post at a quarter to midnight on Sunday night and hasn’t finished packing the baby bag for the baby sitter because it’s better to let the baby sleep than end up waking her up accidentally for that.  Yes…!

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*@afropolitaine*

afrofoto day 7 | on necklaces and STUFF like that…and whatnot…or whatever

I moved exactly a month ago now and it’s taken much longer to get settled. I definitely reduced the number of boxes that were unpacked and have a functionally arranged closet….along with a pile of cloths still on the floor to be sorted through. In realizing I still possibly another year of breastfeeding my honey bunny I’ve tried to organize clothes by keeping those that are practical and easily accessible for that and then there is the sentimental reasons keeps, then the this is one of a kind how can i get rid of it. Those last 2 categories are mostly what is on the floor because I am strongly aspiring minimalist. Moving really really really reinforced that. You/we like to think we have not that many things until it’s time to move. Even then you look around yourself and see the big furniture items and maybe think I don’t have that much stuff, but once the furniture and big pieces are out, the STUFF is really where it’s at. I was so upset with myself for how much stuff I had. I’ve got boxes at the door of things I already identified as having been unused or unnecessary at the other place. Thank goodness for the silver lining of babies outgrowing things at a pretty consistent pace. On the one hand yes you have to keep getting them things, but on the flip side you get to get rid of things at the same pace.

Anywhoooo I finally got to a box that has my jewelry and I’ve also sorted through that. Quite a few ended up in the bucket of jewelry I will NOT be keeping. Some are just because I never really loved them, but many are just not practical for a grabby baby who’s teething at this point. Today’s #afrofoto is one I kept. I have loved this necklace from the time I got it at one of the African themed jewelry stores at OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg. In fact, many stunning pieces I have are from shopping I  did transiting through that airport. Pretty pennies were paid for them. I’ve definitely outgrown the jeweled phase of my style for now…or until my boo boo is well beyond being fascinated by colorful things around my neck. So yeah.  What does the necklace have to do with moving and the stress of it? Nothing or something necessarily,  but it was part of the STUFF we find ourselves with in these situations.

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*@afropolitaine*

afrofoto day 6 | am I a “sweet mother”?

Today was a hard day. It really tested me not in the general general sense of testing, but in that LIFE revealing way. I will not get into details and save that for my memoir or maybe sometime way down the road when it’s actual comedy…one of those things people tell you many years after the phase that oh remember that time when such and such, now look at you. By the time the day ended early evening baby and I came home and I had a snickers ice cream bar, a glass of wine, some kettle butter popcorn, 2 lollipops, a huge salad, some pasta and mussels I made. I came home from battle I won and enjoyed the spoils if you will. Sooooo in all of that I completely did not think about #afrofoto until literally right now. I don’t even have a picture, but I was like I can’t just skip this day. I already have a skweredi (debt) with you guys for day 3. I really have nothing for you guys today, but also a LOT. But since today has already been a LOT, I will leave you guys with this picture and leave you all to your imaginations on what the mood of the day was and now is.

#mood

Looking at myself in that picture I relish looking like an African mama – it’s a superpower! and as I thought that the song Sweet Mother and it’s lyrics came to mind.

Sweet Mother – Prince Nico Mbarga

It’s funny cuz on Mother’s Day when I went to church (mostly Ghanaian), that was the song they played on the letout. It was originally sang by Prince Nico Mbarga a Nigerian-Cameroonian highlife artist. It’s ever poignant and ever timely for mothers universally and today was one of those days me myself the song could be about me, but just generally a reminder of how much mother’s go through and still keep going. I’m so proud to be a mother and I’m glad in everything that motherhood takes I managed to get #afrofoto day 6 up.

Also, the cloth wrapped around me was my grandmother’s and she got it in Zim and I think I’ve had it since I was like 18. (cloth talk again lol)

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afrofoto day 5 | red red wine (pinotage)

Sooooo….confession time. I have another blog. At some point it completely pulled me away from this one here and I was completely absorbed into developing and growing it. It was about wine. Correction, it IS about wine and I enjoyed doing it so much and gained a teensy teensy bit of “fame” from it. It was during the time I lived in NE DC and would look for wine related events like tastings, launches, readings, pairings, etc. There was this ka-YUTE little wine shop that opened [I hope is still there] called DCanter (toooootal play on words) I enjoyed going to in Capitol Hill a comfortable walk or short bike ride to. Cute decor, not HUUUGE selection, but comfortable and they always had great events featuring sommeliers, vintners, viticulturists etc. The guy who owns it or is the manager was just genuinely engaging without being salesmany and it was just altogether lovely. Anywhoo back to my “fame” surely I can’t miss a chance to share with you guys. I walked in there looking specifically for a pinotage totally expecting to find just 1 bottle/type. Nope they had a few and he also put me onto something. We get to the front at check out and he asks me why I haven’t been writing recently. Guys! Like those are the small moments bloggers/I live for. Of course I died of shyness and was more interested in how he knew it was me….silly question i know, but you know…self doubt. Little ol’ me. Anywhooo back to wine. 

I wasn’t able to drink wine while I was pregnant and for a long time after I had my little booboo, but you know I decided to not be so strict on myself because no one would cut me some slack. So once in a while…

My favorite reds and possibly variety overall are pinotage (hyperlinked to one of the best resources for wine info and knowledge at whatever level (Wine Folly) and tempranillo. That first one is a variety unique to South Africa that wasn’t, until recently [nearly famous], that well known in the “traditional” wine world (French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish – European). It was/is still sort of seen as an outsider, but from the moment I tasted it years ago I loved the depth of the flavor. Besides the typical bouquet of notes and flavors, it has an additional smokey essence (wouldn’t quite call it taste) to it. Like how things back home sometimes do. It’s a slow and unrushed sip. One where you take a sip and listen to what it does to your mouth and how it warms your chest like a cuddle. Ok that’s it this is not my wine blog, this is —-> https://thatoeno.wordpress.com (ThatOeno on twitter as well).
Today’s afrofoto features a wine my little cousin (she’s grown guys, but will always be my little … *wipes tears at what a wonderful young woman she has grown to be*) bought me. She’s actually one of those people who since having the baby has presented me great wine drinking opportunities. She’s in the navy and brought me back some heavy thick madame full bodied red from France when she came back from her voyages. Last week she asked me what are some good reds because she wants to stock up for her place and of course without hesitation I said “pinotage and tempranillo”. Here she comes on Friday like she’s just visiting and hands me a bottle of each for mother’s day


The pinotage is a 2015 shiraz blend at 15.5% alcohol (the higher the percentage alcohol of a wine the slower it’s suggesting you sip it …to me) and it tastes like all the wonderful poetry I started to tell you all above. Besides “Wine of South Africa” one of the signature markings of wines is the screw top. Another reason why European wines/industry kind of hates on them. The South African industry has always been about sustainability and has been able to adapt with the times. Corks, although traditionalists mad at the democratization of wine consumption might beg to differ with a pinky in the air, especially natural ones, are terrible for the environment and sometimes the wine itself. More on environmental effects at this website – Academic Wino – another incredible place on the internet with my types of information superheroes. They also, as I’ve experienced too many times, sometimes crumble into the wine and are difficult to remove. It also makes it so you have to finish a bottle because it doesn’t keep that well once the cork isn’t airtight.

So afrofoto day 4 – pinotage. Ladies and gentlemen, you’re welcome. Check out the other blog if you will. It’s not dead, it’s dormant. AND to the one person who asked me to keep going with the story about the road trip from South Africa to Zim, can we just meet over a cup of tea/glass of wine, there’s so much to tell….sike! I definitely will one of these longer days 🙂

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*@afropolitaine*

afrofoto day 4 | cut from the same cloth (on upcycling my late Gogo’s fashions)

FullSizeRender-27Continuing from my last post, one of the things I did whilst in Zim was get some clothes made. Until that point I hadn’t bought anything maternity because quite frankly its all hideous and unflattering…to/for me. I wanted some cute African print somethings I could maybe even wear beyond pregnancy.

 My grandmother was, to anyone who knew her, a very very stylish lady even well into her goto-ness (grandmotherness). ALL, if not 95.9% of her clothes were African print dresses, skirts and tops and whatnots from fabric she’d collected from all her travels. She visited my mother in all the countries she lived in and did quite a bit of traveling herself to others. Those were a lot of countries and she had a LOT of clothes. Like the rooms that were ours when we were little have closets full of her clothes. Her room’s entire wall of closet had more clothes….I’ll just leave it at a lot.

In being my grandmother’s handbag when I was little and well into my adulthood while she was alive one of the things we enjoyed doing together when I’d be in Zim is going to her tailor maNdlovu. They had a very special relationship so while I was home in July I took a day where I picked 2 of my grandmother’s outfits whose print I liked and took those to maNdlovu to upcycle them. At this point it had been a year since my grandmother’s passing and when i walked into her shop she started crying….and then I did too. I think especially that I was pregnant must have really touched her because she knows how my gogo would jokingly nag me about her great-grandchildren. MaNdlovu immediately recognized the outfits I brought because she’d sowed them.

I had a couple of pictures for what I envisioned and of course she had to chime in about the length of the dress and the snugness of the dress I wanted…i had to sternly, but lovingly remind her she was not making a dress for gogo anymore and that gogo would have wanted me to wear whatever the hell i want. After all, in her own heyday, my gogo was a stylish shasha (fly girl)!

Cut a long story short, today’s #afrofoto is what maNdlovu made. It’s cute in and of itself, but sooooooo far from what I showed her. She is one of those tailors, especially when you are first going to her, you need to go back to 7 times for the first 5 things she makes for you before she learns you. I’m glad it managed to be wearable post part.

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*@afropolitaine*

Today was Africa Day and I’m bringing back #afrofoto – Day 1

I have 2 alarms set in the morning. The first one goes off, but it’s not for getting UP. It’s for WAKING up…I have 20 minutes to check into the world outside the 4 walls around me (news, email, social media etc.) AND feed baby for the morning while we lie in bed. I get into Instagram and there were a few posts, especially by people/Africans in time zones ahead, wearing their African print clothes, showing off jewelry and/or flashing back to their last trip back to the continent. Did Africa die…? no! It was all for #AfricaDay!! Today was/is Africa Day. Quick history behind it – May 25 marks the founding of the African Union in 1963. It’s celebrated in many African countries and, OF COURSE, by Diasporans – we no dey carry last.

I typically choose my outfit for the day the night before so I thought to myself *insert thought bubble* “How can afropolitaine the blogger mark this here day in her own way? – CLOTHES of course”!! There’s a dress I’ve worn just once that I bought while in Ethiopia when I went to the market on an in country work trip to Bahir Dar. There were so/TOO many dresses like it, but something about the color combination caught my eye [it wasn’t the combination of either neon colors nor the red-yellow-green]. I haggled HARD for that dress because the market was HOT, had WAAAAAY too much going on and I knew I didn’t want to have to come back so I was getting everything in gifts for others there and being DONE. I wore it the first time while living in Baltimore (just moved a month ago) at Artscape to a Wyclef Jean concert (life was gotten there [he really is/was such a talented artist and I didn’t realize how many hits he’s had throughout his career….but that’s a convo for another day]).

The dress. Let’s talk about the dress. It’s the typical/traditional woven off white cotton called shemma. It’s a pretty casual style and a bit see through because the weaving is light so I wore a beige short tank dress underneath as a liner. I actually fell in love more with it now because I previously thought it would only be cute during maternity – this dress said no girl you can wear me anytime!

 I enjoyed wearing it and got several compliments in it *insert dancing salsa girl emoji*  (yes …i just realized dancing and salsa make that redundant, but also it could be salsa the food).

Onto where this blog stands currently. OBVZ I have not blogged not nearly enough. Actually, even not near enough is way more than what I’ve done. Motherhood has taken all those moments I used to use for stuff like this and replaced them with a completely different set of joys. When it’s not those joys its also just enjoying the teeny tiny sweet ounce of doing nothing. Funny how doing nothing also means something completely different now that I’m a mom. “Doing nothing” can be folding laundry you meant to 3 days ago when it dried, doing your OWN laundry, clearing out the clutter indoor inbox…lol…it’s different. I do, now that she sleeps better (earlier and longer) want to ease my way back into blogging. It was, after all, one of the joys I had before. I’d like to make a commitment to you all so STARTING TODAY, I’m bringing back the #afrofoto daily series! I’ll commit to 10 days first and push to make it past that day by day.

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(guys I couldn’t [be bothered to] figure out how to shrink this a bit…but shoutout to Riko for taking the pic)

So yeah this whole post was Africa Day and #afrofoto day 1. The dress is from Ethiopia, I’m excited to be back…ARE YOU WITH ME?! Ok, let’s do this together 🙂

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*@afropolitaine*

Caught the Bouquet

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On the weekend of Easter some friends and I drove to Johannesburg just to have a change of scenery and roadtrip/hangout. We left early in the morning at about 2:30 in the morning and eventually arrived in Jo’burg later that day about 2:30 in the afternoon. Yes a whoooole 12 hour long drive. I’ll definitely tell you more about the drive in a separate post.

While I was in Jo’burg I was torn as to when I would come back to Bulawayo because my friends I’d gone with were planning on coming back on [maybe] Wednesday. To be fair she was coming to see her boo so I fully anticipated the possibility of staying longer, but knew I couldn’t be away from home that long. A friend of mine was getting married in Bulawayo that Sunday, but I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to attend. That Saturday morning my grandmother called me telling me she wasn’t feeling well and asking when I would be back. That was all i needed to know  I was leaving THAT very day. I logged online and bought my Intercape bus ticket for the bus leaving at 6pm. I  was going to make it to the wedding after all. I got into Bulawayo on Sunday morning and showered and took a nap once I got home. Woke up and went to the wedding with my grandparents.

It was a lovely garden style wedding. The girl was getting married to a Belgian guy and his brothers and boys had come all the way for the ceremony. There was very good entertainment and the food was decent. The dance floor opened up and then the announcement for the bouquet throwing came. I smoothly and sharply went to take my seat with a childhood friend’s parents as we caught up and chatted a bit. Music stops and single ladies are asked to get on the dancefloor for the catching. I sat there and rolled my eyes because I always haaaaate this [silly] part.

My grandmother shouts from the other side of the room that “Pumpkiiiiiin!! Sukuuuuuuma [get up]!!” Oh snap, how do I say no or not  stand up? So I did. All the dressed up ladies are all screaming at the bride to throw it at them, some are pacing so as to maximize the surface area and probability of catching the bouquet. Since I was not the most excited to be up there I stood still in the back. The bride approaches, turns around and chucks the bouquet. Before the flowers even left her hands all the other ladies were screeching and jumping/dancing. As if in slow motion, all I did was put one arm up and the flowers came straight to my hand. I didn’t even lift my calf or ankle or anything [the heel on my shoe was so high I might have fallen had I tried to anyway).

I was glad I came back because my grandmother was happy and actually felt better with my return, but LOOK at GOD?! – I caught the bouquet for the first time I stood up 🙂

Apparently I have a year according to the people who came to congratulate me. A year to do what I’m not really sure. It might be to have a wedding or it might be to meet someone….*shrug*. My mom, who wasn’t able to attend because she lives in South Africa and had travelled to Indonesia during the wedding, called the mother of the bride to confirm that I had in fact caught it lol…..

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I came home and put the flowers in a vase. They died about 4 days later.

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*@afropolitaine*

afrofoto *day 24: Swahili Village

 

Patiently waiting for the food to come with the fruit cocktail drink that matched my outfit that day – random! My bag was yellow and my nails were red -_- …..

 

Woke up on Sunday morning in absolutely no rush for anything. Simply enjoying what the  Italians, according to Eat, Pray, Love, call the sweetness of doing nothing – dolce far niente. Went with a friend who hadn’t been there and we both had a taste for some goat meat. Swahili Village it was!! The game with Italy playing some other European team was on, music was semi-blasting, the sun was shining outside and the air conditioner was blowing quite comfortably inside.

 

I ordered chapati with ndengu (lentils) and a side of mbuzi (goat) nyama (meat) bites. When I used to live in Kenya, one of the neighbors in the compound had a cook [I remember his name was Jogenya] who used to make the bomb chapati and ndengu and all the kids would conveniently go and play at that house when he was cooking them. Mama Sam didn’t have a problem and now that i think of it, Sam could have used the “popularity” now that I realize how much younger than the rest of us were.  It was scrumptious and filling…i couldn’t even finish it and ended up bringing the rest home.

Chapati and ndengu have origins in South Asia – India to be specific. There is a large diaspora Indian community not just in Kenya but throughout East and Southern Africa! Thanks to the British and their expansionist colonial movements decades/a century ago. They are heavily involved in businesses and commerce and although they stand out as other, a good number of them have assimilated pretty decently. It’s quite common to see Indians speaking Swahili in different parts of the country. There were a lot of them when I attended Hillcrest Prep School, I had them for neighbors and best friends while there for 3 years. *Sigh*
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*@afropolitaine*

 

afrofoto *day 23: Bukom!

BUKOM!!!

Tucked away in the heart of the heart of DC that is Adam’s Morgan you will find Bukom Cafe! It is a landmark of the city and going there is part of experiencing chill/alive/cultural/musical DC. It isn’t the monuments nor is it the white house, it isn’t the museums nor is it the interesting government buildings. It’s it’s own experience and satisfies so many feelings you may or may not actively be in pursuit of when you go out. One thing that is for SURE (put $$$ on it) is that it will always be a right decision to go there. I also heard it was featured in landmarks of DC somewhere. The food is amazing and although, when busy, it might take a little while, the live reggae band interesting mix of patrons of all races, ages, religions etc will keep you going AND the food is always #FRESH. The worst that has happened to me is the food took a little longer than i’d like, but I was in great company and had walked in there FAMISHED.
I had seen people order this on previous visits and was determined to have it one day so it finally happened. It’s a whole grilled Tilapia garnished with spices and veggies :p
(after)
The address is 
2442 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
You should definitely check it out!! It’s Ghanaian and Nigerian owned (a married couple who are always there <3)
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*@afropolitaine*