Belize model Destiny Wagner, 25, made history last weekend after being crowned Miss Earth 2021. In addition to bringing the first major international crown to the Caribbean country, she also broke a 19-year record without a Black woman winner.
Founded in 2003, Theopolis Vineyards is a small lot vineyard and hand-crafted winery located in California’s prestigious Yorkville Highlands of the Anderson Valley.
British-Zimbabwean actress Thandie Newton will revert to her original name ‘Thandiwe’ in what she describes as ‘taking back’ what is rightfully hers.
Located in what is now Senegal and parts of Mauritania, the Waalo kingdom was one of the strongest and oldest kingdoms in Senegal existing since the 11th century. Before the invasion of the Arabs, the people practised the matrilineal system which gave women equal rights and privileges as men.
When the French arrived in Senegal in 1855 to colonize it, the first resistance force they encountered was a woman. Her name: Ndaté Yalla Mboj.
On October 1, 1846, Princess Ndaté Yalla Mbodj became Queen of the Waalo (Wolof) Kingdom after the death of her older sister Queen Ndjeumbeut Mbodj who had ruled since she was a teenager after the death of their father King Amar Fatim Borso Mbodj.
Although her ascension to the throne was easy, her rule fast became a tireless one in her determination to preserve what was left of the kingdom while protecting her people from the Moors, French and Arabs who wanted to take their lands and totally colonize the kingdom. Despite being an overwhelming task, Queen Ndaté was able to lead her military into war.
Her first major and successful task as a Queen was in 1876 when she opposed the free passage of the Sarakolé people by sending a letter to the governor expressing her willingness to defend the respect of her sovereignty.
“The purpose of this letter is to let you know that the island of Mboyo belongs to me from my grandfather to me. Today, there is no one who can say that this country belongs to him, he is mine alone.
Ndaté therefore considered himself the sole ruler of the Kingdom of Waalo and throughout her reign she would challenge the French and wage a bitter battle against them. In 1847 she demanded the free passage of the population of the Saraokés who supplied the Island of St-Louis with cattle. In her letter to the governor, she writes:
“It is we who guarantee the passage of herds in our country; for this reason we take the tenth and we will never accept anything other than that. St Louis belongs to the Governor, Cayor to Damel and Waalo to Brack. Each of these leaders governs his country as he sees fit
Ndaté will not hesitate to plunder around St Louis and threaten verbally or by correspondence the Governor. The French will demand a refund of the damage caused by the looting and Ndatté will refuse categorically and proudly.
This is how it ends up making its rights to the Island of Mboyo and the Island of Sor prevail (current city of St Louis).
On November 5, 1850 Ndaté banned all trade in the backwaters of its outbuilding and pushed the French to the end of what they could bear. Faidherbe orders a battle against the Waloo troops who this time do not resist against the technological power of the enemy
In 1855, Queen Ndaté was faced with a French army of over 1500 men who planned to take over her Kingdom, dethrone her and colonize the Waalo which would make them have total control over Senegal.
Before then, the Queen had led several successful battles against both the Moors and the French and although her army made up of both males and females was small, the Queen led them against the French. Before going to war, the Queen gave a famous speech to her army saying:
“Today, we are invaded by the conquerors. Our army is in disarray. The tiedos of the Waalo, as brave warriors as they are, have almost all fallen under the enemy’s bullets. The invader is stronger than us, I know, but should we abandon the Waalo to foreign hands?” “This country is mine alone!
The Queen’s brave army was no match to the French and she lost the first battle. She led her army to sneak up on the French and defeat them thereby starting the Senegal War of Resistance which continued way into the 20th century.
Queen Ndaté was able to fight off the Arabs and her battles led to the creation of Senegambia. She was captured by the French and exiled into the north of Senegal in Ndimb where she remained until she died in 1860.
Although by the time of her exile the Kingdom was in ruins, her son, Sidya Leon Diop took over the throne and continued the war until he too was captured and exiled in Gabon in 1878.
To date, Queen Ndaté Yalla Mbodj remains a symbol of resistance in Senegal. A statue of the Queen can be found in Dagana, in north Senegal that was made in her honor.
The tech giant has named Ojo chief marketing officer of Prime Video and Amazon Studios
Ukonwa Ojo, whose previous positions included CMO for MAC Cosmetics and for Coty, will lead global brand and originals marketing for Amazon.
She will report to Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios.
Andy Donkin will move from head of global marketing for video operations to a new, as yet unannounced position, Hopkins told staff in a memo published by Deadline.
In the memo, Hopkins described Ojo as “one of the world’s leading marketing executives,” with a “two-decade track record as a builder of top global brands.”
Ojo’s “wide-ranging experience will give us a broader perspective on how to connect customers to the Prime Video brand and grow our business by marketing our content in innovative ways to develop an even stronger emotional connection with our audiences,” he added. “Over the course of her career, Ukonwa has been recognized with over 50 awards and honors for driving outstanding market-leading results and delivering creative campaigns and innovations that motivate people to act.”
At MAC, Ukonwa focused on customer engagement and product innovation. At Coty, she led P&L, brand development strategy, advertising, innovation, social/digital, design, and media planning/buying.
Previously, she was a senior vice president at CoverGirl, and held brand and general management positions at Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser, General Mills Corp. and Meadwestvaco Corp.
Ojo holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Read Hopkins’ memo announcing Ojo’s hire:
Hello Team –
I’m writing today to share some news. One of the world’s leading marketing executives, Ukonwa Ojo, is joining the Amazon team as Chief Marketing Officer, Prime Video and Amazon Studios. Ukonwa begins her new role leading our global brand and originals marketing on September 21st, reporting directly to me.
Andy Donkin will be moving into a new position at Amazon, which will be announced soon; in the interim, he will continue to report to me. Andy will help Ukonwa transition into her new role and get to know the marketing team. His direct reports will now report to Ukonwa. I want to thank Andy for his significant contributions in helping to grow the Prime Video business over the last 2½ years and for his leadership of the marketing team.
As an award-winning marketer, Ukonwa has a fantastic two-decade track record as a builder of top global brands. Her wide-ranging experience will give us a broader perspective on how to connect customers to the Prime Video brand and grow our business by marketing our content in innovative ways to develop an even stronger emotional connection with our audiences.
Ukonwa comes to us from M∙A∙C Cosmetics, where she served as Chief Marketing Officer, responsible for championing M∙A∙C’s brand positioning and increasing its presence and appeal to a global consumer in growing markets around the world. She helped drive customer engagement strategies and delivered breakthrough product innovation in order to maximize consumer connection to the iconic brand.
Before joining M∙A∙C, Ukonwa was Chief Marketing Officer, Consumer Beauty at Coty, where she oversaw brand development strategy, advertising, innovation, social/digital and other areas including collaboration with some of the biggest names in the entertainment business. She also held brand and general management roles at Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser PLC and General Mills Corporation.
Over the course of her career, Ukonwa has been recognized with over 50 awards and honors for driving outstanding market-leading results and delivering creative campaigns and innovations that motivate people to act. Her recognition includes Business Insider’s Most Innovative CMOs, AdAge 50 and A List, Adweek 50, WWD Brand Builder of the Year, WFA Global Marketer of the Year List, Financial Times Upstanding 100 and Black Enterprise’s 25 Women Changing the World. She is also a member of the 2020 Class of Henry Crown Fellows within the Aspen Global Leadership Network at the Aspen Institute.
I’m proud of our incredible marketing team and I’m looking forward to the exciting possibilities under Ukonwa’s leadership.
For a virtual introduction to Ukonwa and a preview of her marketing philosophy, click here. Please join me in welcoming her to the team.
A highly-effective all-female anti-poaching ranger unit called the Akashinga is protecting wildlife and revolutionizing the fight against illegal trophy hunting.
We’re on a mission to scale our community-driven conservation model, empowering disadvantaged women to restore and manage a network of wilderness areas as an alternative economic model to trophy hunting.
Since being founded in 2017 as part of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF), the Akashinga (meaning The Brave Ones in the Shona language) helped reduce elephant poaching in Zimbabwe’s Lower Zambezi Valley by a whopping 80 percent.
Many of the women join the program for stability and income, completely transforming their lives for the better. They are trained and equipped just like most armies, and hold their positions with pride.
In an interview with Elle, two of the army’s sergeants detail the lengths that poachers will go to, including using cyanide to kill the animals or even encountering the women with weapons when confronted.
Despite the dangers associated with their position, the women have been able to make hundreds of arrests in the last few years, and have helped bring down the elephant poaching rate by around 80%.
To learn more about the work of the Akashinga, you can visit the International Anti-Poaching Foundation’s website.
Meet Meryanne Loum-Martin, A Parisian lawyer turned entrepreneur and founder of Jnane Tamsna, The only Black woman-owned boutique hotel located in Marrakech, Morocco.
Black is King or a marvelous narration of black pride that displays black beauty, strength and culture through Disney’s Lion king protagonist Simba, journey with the music of The Gift curated by Beyoncé. The film premiered the 31th of July on Disney+ and the next day on African platform like DSTV, Canal+ …
After getting amazed by these high quality visuals with dances, rhythm and researched aesthetics with the collaboration of our amazing creatives from African countries through direction, fashion and filming production we have to point out and show those references that made us lift up from our chairs.
The film was in work since 2019, proving again that Beyoncé’s NDA contracts have enough power to silence anybody. We’ve seen colors, Afrofuturism aesthetic but most importantly blackness through ages and all over the world.
Beyoncé represents an ancestor that will follow the young king into his trip and teach him about the circle of life and witness every moment of his ascending to be a king despite sadness, anger and lost of his own self, from his dreams, and his new accomplished life with Nala and their new baby. In this narrative Beyonce amplifies women gift to give life and show that women are in the center of the creation of the world.
Through African Tradition
The symbol of White
The first scene revolves around Baptism, like the birth of Simba in the circle of life. We can see ancestors, priests sagging and priestess with Calabasas washing children faces and feet, holding flowers and praying. In many African cultures white means “Purity” and also remind us of Komians women in Akan societies, these women considered as medium were able to be in contact with the spirit world and ours. They wore white, had nude feet and could see the future and always accompanies the King and royal family in their reign through protection and even afterwards, whe he passes.
The ceremony use body paint on the young king by his ancestors that solidify his status, and ritual of purification as young king, it reminds us of kaolin (White Clay) that is used in ritual and symbolize joy (Dan people with yangbah dance), peace and mourn, cultural ceremonies in Akan societies and all over west African tribes. Even the Fang of Cameroon and Myene in Gabon, the dead will cross the river of tears to become a spirit , in Gabon the Ogooue they use white clay also to represent ghosts.
But white is also refered in ancient Egypt as mourning, it symbolize death through mummification of passed pharaohs, shroud that can be seen in Nile video clip that represents “The king has died” after Simba’s naivety and fight against the image of funeral always symbolized by black in western societies.
The use of Calabasas is really symbolic, a non-edible fruit that grows in Africa and America that isused to create utensil, musical instrument (balafon, maracas, djembe), its round form is a symbol of cosmic energy and women that are the perfect recipient for holding life. For example in Yoruba’s Orisha myth, Odudua and Obatala merge like two half Calabasas form the universe and represent the duality of the creation of the world.
Snakes can be seen as evil creatures in western religious belief, but in many tribes in Benin, togo vodun, and even dogon tribe where they represent their past immortal ancestors, they are seen as sacred, protectors. The Nommo androgynous twins of dogon is a python.
African spirituality is rooted in animal source of power and image of spirit and are used to portrays divinity and venerence. We can see a bull head of batammaribain Benin and Togo, mursi women in Ethiopia, the bull was a symbol of fertility in ancient Egypt whose horns were worn by Hathor goddess of love, family and also by Odiani people of igbo.
Golden and Divine status
Many great scenes representing the masai jumping contest in suit From Kenya and Tanzania. We’ve seen lot of wraps display in plenty of scenes, represent symbol of marriage, status. The lip disc from east Africa, popular in Ethiopia, Chad, Mozambique and are symbol of social status too.
The Akan crown, golds and umbrella Ohenekyinnie that means authority over his people. Omo people in Ethiopia, Guere in cote d’ivoire, mastered the art of body painting as cultural expression in Africa and flowers head pieces.
Scenes about balance reminds of Maat one of the most known goddess in Egypt, without forgetting Gods in Vodun Liza and Mawu through he portrayal of good and bad, light and dark that cannot exist without one another.
Adinkra symbol, one of the first written languages from Akan (Most popular in Ghana), is represented in this scene, and this sign is a symbol of wealth, power abundance and solidarity.
Red ochre by Himba women in Naminia mixed with cow milk is used to to protect their skin from the sun, give them a beautiful rich hydrated skin. Their thick hair symbolize fertility. In the film they are symbolising duality of male female spirits/ancestors .
We can see art from the Ndebele of south Africa, Masai jewelries of kenya, celebration of love and return back to the values of motherland that is the real royalty, not the crown and artifacts.
This visual send us far than earth, but to the creation of the world through the Dogon people, a tribe living in west Africa (Mali, Cote d’ivoire…) that refused the arrival of islam and Christianity and have a belief deeply rooted into nature, celestial bodies as the universe and their knowledges of space, astronomy till this day fascinating modern day scientist. In their spirituality the universe was created by the Amma and this God created the earth who was a women and fertilizes her to creates Nommo an androgenous twin deities and its first inhabitants to represens duality. They even have masks that represent the movement of the sun called Sirige. Beyonce represents every celestial mentioned in their tale like the stars, the sun, Sirius, Comet, Black Hole, the pleiade seven sisters to portray how the dance of all these bodies created the world like the dogon speak of in their oral tradition.
We can see green man that represents water genie in Bambara, dogon, Azuza of west Africa (Ghana, benin, togo) pygme genie male, Congo with ireyi cult Toula in Niger, also created by the foam of the sea.
We can see Kanaga masks wore by the Awa society, a mask that is used in a ceremony called Dama and establish the connection between the earth and the sky to usher the sprits and accompany the dead into the spirit world that show this vision of the creation of the world to the young king and his ancestors portrayed by the stars. They always pay homage to their first ancestors like mufasa showing his ancestors to simba.
Representation of Black Beauties
In brown skin girl, The film is pushing Black girls and woman in Disney spaces and is a real statement on universial beauty that misrepresented in its film and Disney princesses. Those girls that beauty is and always have been undeniable through their versatility and diverse characteristics, the song praises darker skin in this colorist society, an ode to black beauty portrayed through Kelly Rowland, Naomi Campbell. She portrays young girls in contemporary princess outfit thinking about cendrillon ballroom, reference to Rapunzel with huge braided hair, Beyonce included herself as Rapunzel, to celebrate versatility in Afro.
We’ve Fulani braids, bantu knots , Nigerian hair scuplture, hair from Hamer people of Ethiopia, mangbetu with lipombo skull elongation which is a sign of beauty intelligence and power making us think about Nefertiti representing beauty through ages.
Beauty universiality and blackness through the world with south/east Asia where colorism is harsh and economy allow the commercialization and encouragement of bleaching.
African Women bodies
Busiswa wearing Isicholo of zulu, is celebrating african woman curves that have been demonized and sexualized all these years reference to Saartjie Baartman a south african enslaved woman that lived a terrible life because of racism. The hips movement like the earth reminds of assiko dance in Cameroon or dances in Congo that are centered on the hips.
African Spirituality and water (Like Fela says water no gets enemy)
Water is source of life, purification to baptize, regeneration and is important in the circle of life (Ships were seen as trip to the afterlife).
Its very important in African spirituality. We’ve seen her dance with water, on water (river) mazina maganda an Uganda dance to vibrate and bring life to the water. She pays homage to african deities that are connected with water , the orishas from Yoruba mythology, that she mentionned that accompanied the young king through his fight for enlightment, we can mention Yemaya (igbo) also Mami watta in Benin, Togo, vodun, Faro in mali link to Niger river and has a strong relationship with water through music reminds of blues,in saheli tribe where water is a necessity which they are always seeking for.. We remember that the Nile was the center that explain how African migrated through the whole continent, Abla Pokou that sacrified her child to save her people (Baoule myth), water has memory and recover the truth and hold our spirituality, water and woman share life that they give. In mali they have a strong relationship with water, nobody can exist without water. The image of African women taking charges on their head in calabases walking kilometers to get safe water from well or rivers for their family.
Through Lion King
In Mood 4 eva, we can see a display of eccentricity and careless and fantasy world that reminds African dictators through presidential wealthy mandate like Mobutu and Marie Antoinette in RDC with his cheetah famous hat. Its represent the famous phrase “Hakuna Matata” which is a celebration of life. The animal prints are here to remind us of the animals in Lion King the film, we have the morning report by Zazu reference with beyonce reading her morning paper, and the flamingo scene with synchonised dancers in the pool with pink. This dream will send Simba into a world where he will only see his fantasies that scramble his perspection of reality and build his illusion of happiness to ignore his worries.
We can see Beyonce in a tree as Rafiki in Already and others scene th Lion King’s fans will love.
Black is king is a counterbalance narrative towards the hate, incomprehension towards Black people in the world ! Lets seek wealth, real royalty that are not represented by monarchy but by our community values, knowledge and love for each other.