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From aid to opportunity in the conversation age

April 30th, 2007 | 4 Comments | Posted in Books/Magazines, Business, Charity, General, Politics

Sometimes, I wonder why I do it to myself. Over the past couple of years, I’ve developed a pension for trying to do more with little. Maybe it’s because I feel guilty for partying my college years away or maybe because I really believe that I’d rather do it all while I’m still young(ish) so I can bask in the African sun sooner than later. But at times like this when my days are filled with family and work-related deadlines, I feel the most energized. And as I meet each deadline, I feel a sense of accomplishment.
In my 1 week absence from posting here, I finally finished my chapter for the Conversation Age e-book. I planned to write about “the Age of African conversations” but as I put pen to paper, the focus of the chapter began to shift. I never realized how little 400 words were and how difficult it is to put all your thoughts into one paragraph (I DO tend to be long-winded). I’ve gotten used to writing here on Annansi Chronicles, and writing for my own business materials (mission statements, press releases, business plan etc.), but writing for a book is a lot harder. And to think I was looking to get into authoring soon. So after the 10th edit, late nights collecting my thoughts, and numerous discussions with members of the debate team AKA the Annan family, I’ve settled on penning a piece tentatively titled “From aid to opportunity: Afri-activism transitions into a new consumer market”. If you can’t tell from the title, the chapter is about how, if approached through conversation with Africans, the Africa aid movement can and does help develop the African consumer market. The chapter has been signed, sealed, and delivered to the two publishers, however I would like to hear your opinion on the topic anyway. Can Afri-activism – strategies where a person, group, or company engages Africa through aid and charity – be used to grow the African market? Is it too weighted in negative presumptions to allow market growth?

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Africans aren’t affluent enough

April 24th, 2007 | 6 Comments | Posted in Books/Magazines, Business, General

I was speaking to an acquaintance last week and she told me a story about trying to get advertisers for her magazine. She had contacted a large Africa-based corporation to see if they would be interested in taking up an ad in her publication. After getting the runaround, the ad agency, which was handling the ad placements for the corporation, told her, “We only place ads in publications with an affluent readership”. Here’s some background: The corporation – not to name names – is well known in African communities and I know many people who have used their services in the past; their product is more for a Lexus (car) brand customer than than a Bentley customer. The publication is targeted to African women between the ages of 18 – 45 living in the USA. The content is something like Essence Magazine or Vibe Vixen AND the publication has comparable. From my perspective that demographic is very much part of the corporation’s customer base, but for whatever reason they feel this demographic on it’s own is not worth any kind of investment. I, for one, know more than enough Ghanaian women who have the money to afford a luxurious lifestyle in the US AND send money back home frequently. I know I’ve been quite vague in relating this story, but this is an issue that comes up time and time again no matter the industry or product. Why isn’t this or any other demographic of Africans considered to be affluent enough? Is luxury really luxury anymore? And what consists an affluent customer anyway?

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This week in African Style 4/14 – 4/20/07

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Poll: Does everyone know more about Africa?

April 17th, 2007 | No Comments | Posted in Books/Magazines, Charity, General, Politics, Travel

Madonna in Malawi againOver 20 years ago, 1985 to be exact, an all-star list of artists – Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Al Jarreau, The Pointer Sisters, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and Lionel Richie among others – got together to “raise funds to help famine relief efforts in Ethiopia”. Named USA for Africa, the group recorded the colossal hit “We Are the World” and performed the song as part of Bob Geldof‘s televised Live Aid concert. That was the beginning of the Africactivism movement. Some would say one of the biggest problems with the movement at that time was it fed into the image of Africans as helpless people in a country (Africa) which was overrun with famine and starvation. It’s been quite a few years now and with all the talk about Product RED (Bono), Darfur (George Clooney), young girls’ education (Oprah Winfrey), adoption (Angelina Jolie, Madonna), blood diamonds (Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou), and water shortage (Jay-Z’s Water for Life), I thought it would be a good time to take a survey on how Africa is viewed compared to 20 years ago. Please take a moment to cast your vote in the poll located in the sidebar to the right.

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Design Made in Africa exhibit opens in NYC

April 16th, 2007 | 1 Comment | Posted in Art, Events, General

Design Made in AfricaOn April 12th, the Design Made in Africa exhibit opened in New York at 4 World Financial Center. The exhibit is the first major traveling exhibition of contemporary African design. It presents a selection of 30 designers from 14 African countries featuring both utilitarian and decorative objects, including seating, lamps, tableware, wall hangings, graphic designs and body ornaments. The exhibition will be on display at the Courtyard Gallery. Featured designers are: Algeria: Amira Atallaoui-Deverchere, Abdelaziz Bacha, Mhedi Izemrane, Mohamed Faycal Guenni; Burkina Faso: Vincent Bailou and Vincent Rossin, Anthony Labouriaux, Hamed Ouattara; Cameroon: Sandrine Dole, Jules Bertrand, Wokam; Congo: Frederic Ruyant and Julien Robert; Cote d’Ivoire: Issa Diabate, Vincent Niamen; Ethiopia: Fasil Giorghis; Mali: Cheick Diallo, Marianne Montaut; Uganda: Sanaa Gateja; Rwanda: Laurent Hategekimana; Senegal: Balthazar Faye, Frederic Hardouin, Babacar Niang, Dominique Petot; South Africa: Marisa Fick-Jordaan, Maira Koutsoudakis, Piet Pienaar, Strangelove (Carlo Gibson and Zimek Pater); Togo: Kossi Assou, Ameyovi Homawoo; Zimbabwe: Ralph Gallagher.
Design Made in Africa poster

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Business management programs travel to Africa

April 16th, 2007 | No Comments | Posted in Business, General, Travel

African cotton NY Times
Businessweek reports on French business school, HEC, which is leading the way by taking the management programs to Senegal. The program’s focus is on the African cotton industry. Could this be a new trend in African business development?

We need to adapt to local contexts and cultures. When we go to Africa, we need to respect the local specificities but at the same time we have to adapt our own approaches to the reality in those countries. We cannot import our own view. We have to have a different perspective and be open to different views. This is what corporate social responsibility is all about. We think we have a responsibility to contribute to these countries. – Bertrand Moingeon, Associate Dean for executive education and professor of strategic management.

Also the NYTimes reported on the African cotton industry back in January.

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This week in African Style 4/7 – 4/13/07

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The Age of African Conversations

April 10th, 2007 | 1 Comment | Posted in Books/Magazines, Business, Charity, General

Conversation Age graphicI don’t consider myself a writer or even a journalist, but I will admit that I am opinionated and prone to debate. If anyone ever spends any time with my family you’ll notice that we constantly get into debates, some outsiders say we like to debate for the sake of it. That may be so, but so far that attitude of challenging the things even I know are normal has kept me going for this long so why stop now. A large part of what I enjoy about a good debate is the conversations that are spawned from the different sides. As the old saying goes “Opinions are like A**holes, everybody’s got one”. And the fun of blogging or writing for that matter is sharing your opinion as part of the larger conversations that ultimately can change the world around you.

When I heard about Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton‘s efforts to create a collaborative e-book titled “The Conversation Age” I jumped at the opportunity to lend an African perspective to the project. As Gavin puts it “Far from seeing an implosion, we are living in a time of proliferation — ideas build upon ideas, discussion grows from seeds of thought and single headlines give rise to a thousand medusa-like simulations echoing words whispered somewhere on the other side of the planet. All this — in an instant.” And that is the idea behind the Conversation Age and the e-book which I will be contributing a chapter to. Having never written much beyond this blog, this will be my first entrance into a formal writing project and from the list of current contributors, I’m in great company. So in the next few weeks I’ll be racking my brains coming up with 400 words to express my opinion on what the conversation age means to our growing African community. If you would like to contribute to “The Conversation Age” project please email Drew before the end of day tomorrow (Wednesday, April 11th) with your topic. “The Conversation Age” will be dedicated to fellow blogger CK‘s mother who passed away last week while 100% of the proceeds from the book will go to Variety the Children’s Charity – which serves children across the entire globe. All submissions are due by April 30th.

Update: Here is the final list of contributors to the “Conversation Age” ebook. You might not recognize some of the names but these are definitely authors worth reading.
Gavin Heaton

Drew McLellan

CK

Valeria Maltoni

Emily Reed

Katie Chatfield

Greg Verdino

Mack Collier

Lewis Green

Sacrum

Ann Handley

Mike Sansone

Paul McEnany

Roger von Oech

Anna Farmery

David Armano

Bob Glaza

Mark Goren

Matt Dickman

Scott Monty

Richard Huntington

Cam Beck

David Reich

Mindblob (Luc)

Sean Howard

Tim Jackson

Patrick Schaber

Roberta Rosenberg

Uwe Hook

Tony D. Clark

Todd Andrlik

Toby Bloomberg

Steve Woodruff

Steve Bannister

Steve Roesler

Stanley Johnson

Spike Jones

Nathan Snell

Simon Payn

Ryan Rasmussen

Ron Shevlin

Roger Anderson

Bob Hruzek

Rishi Desai

”Phil Gerbyshak

Peter Corbett

Pete Deutschman

Nick Rice

Nick Wright

Mitch Joel

Michael Morton

Mark Earls

Mark Blair

Mario Vellandi

Lori Magno

Kristin Gorski

Krishna De

Kris Hoet

Kofi Annan

Kimberly Dawn Wells

Karl Long

Julie Fleischer

Jordan Behan

John La Grou

Joe Raasch

Jim Kukral

Jessica Hagy

Janet Green

Jamey Shiels

Dr. Graham Hill

Gia Facchini

Geert Desager

Gaurav Mishra

Gary Schoeniger

Gareth Kay

Faris Yakob

Emily Clasper

Ed Cotton

Dustin Jacobsen

Tom Clifford

David Pollinchock

David Koopmans

David Brazeal

David Berkowitz

Carolyn Manning

Craig Wilson

Cord Silverstein

Connie Reece

Colin McKay

Chris Newlan

Chris Corrigan

Cedric Giorgi

Brian Reich

Becky Carroll

Arun Rajagopal

Andy Nulman

Amy Jussel

AJ James

Kim Klaver

Sandy Renshaw

Susan Bird

Ryan Barrett

Troy Worman

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Puma adds Namibia to list of 2010 African World Cup teams

April 10th, 2007 | 1 Comment | Posted in Books/Magazines, Business, Fashion, General, Sports

Puma Africa Plays On compilation CDPuma recently announced a sponsorship deal with the Namibian Football Association (NFA). Namibia’s national team, the Brave Warriors, will be supplied with Puma’s latest v-Series technical apparel and footwear beginning with the African Cup of Nations 2008 qualifier home game against the Democratic Republic of Congo on 16 June 2007 and for the next several years through the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. While I’m not really a sports fan, I’ve been following Puma’s push to “increase its African footprint” by sponsoring the most African football teams by 2010. Having already signed deals with Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Egypt, Tunisia, Senegal, Togo, Morocco, Mozambique, Angola and Botswana, Puma is already on it’s way to reaching that goal in the build-up to the 2008 African Cup of Nations in Ghana and 2010 World Cup in South Africa. As I reported previously, Puma began this journey last year by sponsoring the most African teams for the 2006 World Cup. Along with their sponsorship last year, Puma launched a targeted campaign in support of African football which included a huge press event with notable African personalities including Akon, a book “The African Game” by Nigerian photographer Andrew Dosunmu, a music CD, “Africa Plays On”, featuring music from various artists including Akon, John Legend, Amadou & Mariam, Cheikh Lô, and Daara J, and the related Puma Charity Collection. If last year’s campaign was an example, it looks like Puma be living up to its goal of pulling out all the big guns for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Now that’s what I call strategy.

“This association underlines PUMA’s commitment to African Football and specifically to the growth and development of Football in Namibia. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the NFA.” – Jochen Zeitz of PUMA AG

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Code Z interviews Wangechi Mutu

April 9th, 2007 | 1 Comment | Posted in Art, Books/Magazines, General

Wangechi Mutu
Here’s a really nice interview at Code Z Online with one of my favorite African artists Ms. Wangechi Mutu. Kenyan-born Mutu is a true talent.
Link ia My Global Hustle blog

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