Tag Archives: continent

Naomi Campbell and Franca Sozzani Discuss Vogue Africa

Posted: April 7, 2014 at 9:45 pm

In the international family of Vogue magazines, Vogue Italia has often seemed like the politically incorrect uncle who makes a racist joke at your wedding reception. As recently as the March issue this year, the magazine featured a white model in blackface, posing alongside taxidermied safari animals. Then there was the infamous “Haute Mess” editorial of March 2012, which seemed, to many, to be poking fun at the culture of African American women and the incident in 2011, when an online gallery of hoop jewelry was titled “Slave Earrings.”

For all of these reasons, you may not associate editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani with the empowerment of Africa but that is what shes been working toward since June 2012, when she became the global goodwill ambassador for Fashion 4 Development. The campaign is a United Nations initiative that aims to help build the fashion economy in the developing countries of Africa, and has matched up talented fashion workers with scholarships to develop their skills. At the Vogue Festival in London last week, Sozzani sat alongside Naomi Campbell and British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, and spoke about her experiences of the continent.

In slightly broken English, she explained why shed created the May 2012 “Rebranding Africa” issue of LUomo Vogue. For me, LUomo Vogue is not a fashion magazine I mean, it is, of course, but its more how to use fashion as a media to awareness for something else. So when we did [the] African issue, for example, I stayed two weeks in Africa, I interviewed the president of Nigeria, and we put, on the cover, Ban Ki-moon [secretary general of the United Nations]. The goal of the issue, she said, was to show some of the many positive things happening within the continent because if we go home and say Africa is poor, Africa is civil wars, Africa is AIDS, Africa is malaria how can people go there?

Her work for Fashion 4 Development seems to have had two main tactics: nurturing African talent and encouraging the development of a fashion economy; and drawing international attention to the best creative work. She spoke about the talented designers and beautiful fabrics shes seen in Nigeria and Ghana, but lamented that many fabrics sold as “African” are currently manufactured in Holland. More manufacturing needs to happen on African soil to build a sustainable industry, she suggested.

In the midst of this discussion, Naomi Campbell turned to the front row and directed a public request toward Jonathan Newhouse, chairman of Cond Nast International. Im hoping, Jonathan, that we can have African Vogue, she said, laughing in the deadly serious way that only she can. I would be the editor, said Sozzani, and Campbell replied, Ill be an assistant. (Now theres a reality show wed like to see.)

But when pressed by Shulman, Sozzani said she thought the possibility of a Vogue Africa was still very far off. We really have to work much more, and to have more people believe in [Africa]. There is not confidence in these countries [from the international fashion industry] because theyve seen too many things, and of course in the newspapers they only put [negative] things. The good side is huge So now, everybodys talking about Africa, and probably something will happen. I hope so.

Though some parts of the discussion seemed to sweep the continent of Africa into one homogenous whole, it left little doubt that Sozzani is enthusiastically engaged with African fashion and culture. Its just a shame that the biggest magazine she oversees, Vogue Italia, still has a long way to catch up.

Naomi Campbell and Franca Sozzani Discuss Vogue Africa

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For Africa Media Leaders, Press Freedom Isn't Top Concern

Posted: November 9, 2013 at 6:42 am

African media leaders concluded a three-day conference in Ethiopia Friday, where press freedom was not on top of the conference agenda, even though many journalists on the continent face restrictions and repression.

Conference organizers said their core focus was on business development, technology innovation, and leadership and ethics. They believe discussions on the business side of media will automatically result in debates on press freedom.

Alison Bethel of the International Press Institute findsit worrisome that the African Media Leaders Forum did not prioritize the issue of press freedom.

There needs to be more time dedicated to the issue,” she said, “because besides from business models and licensing and other things that are crucial to the media here, press freedom also is a very, very important part of doing business.

There was a one-hour side event organized on the practices and challenges of press freedom in Africa. Journalists from different countries shared their experiences of being harassed, detained and threatened for trying to do their job.

The Committee to Protect Journalists urged the media leaders to address repression in Ethiopia, where the conference is being held. Last week, two Ethiopian journalists were detained for about six days without charges after reporting on local corruption.

More than 75 media publications have been closed in Ethiopia in the past 20 years and seven journalists are currently imprisoned on charges of terrorism.

Amare Aregwi, managing editor of Ethiopias largest English newspaper, The Reporter, says his media colleagues on the continent can also play a role in improving press freedom in Ethiopia:

They can advise you, share their experiences and train you in such things,” Aregwi said. “Sometimes, you dont find people or the government being ready to listen. On the other side also, some of the international media enjoy criticizing and ridiculing rather than helping.

Twenty-eight journalists died on the African continent in 2012, with Somalia being the deadliest country. Twelve African countries have passed freedom of information bills, but they include countries such as Ethiopia and Uganda, which are regularly accused of cracking down on media practitioners.

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For Africa Media Leaders, Press Freedom Isn't Top Concern

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Give nation civics lesson for birthday Third of native-born citizens fail naturalization test

Posted: July 4, 2012 at 12:15 pm

By the time John Adams became president, Americans already had taken to noisy celebrations of Independence Day, of which he heartily approved.

“It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other,” he wrote to his beloved Abigail.

That tradition continues, of course, to the point that not only Independence Day, but its underlying ideals and the sacrifices that made it possible, might be taken for granted.

Immigrants learn civics

The Center for the American Dream at Xavier University recently conducted a survey, asking native-born Americans any 10 of a group of 99 questions on the civics portion of the naturalization test taken by immigrants.

Whereas 97.5 percent of immigrants achieved a passing grade of 60 percent, only 65 percent of citizens born here passed. If the passing grade had been 70, the Xavier researchers reported, only 50 percent of the natives would have passed.

The natives tended to do well on questions related to geography, national symbols and holidays, but poorly regarding principles and ideas.

About 96 percent knew that the Statue of Liberty is in New York Harbor, for example, and 100 percent knew that each star on the U.S. flag represents a state. About 99 percent knew that Barack Obama is president, but only 71 percent correctly identified Joe Biden as vice president; 38 percent could name the governor of their state or the speaker of the U.S. House, and only 37 percent could name one of their state’s two U.S. senators.

Only 7 percent knew that the Constitution has 27 amendments; 8 percent could name any of the authors of the Federalist Papers: John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison.

The right not to know

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Give nation civics lesson for birthday Third of native-born citizens fail naturalization test

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