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New Magazine Celebrates African Style


Now to a groundbreaking new magazine that celebrates African style. A new African hair and fashion magazine, Karama Umuntu, will launch this fall in the United Kingdom. It's a brainchild of Ugandan-born Florence Abwoyo. Here's how she explains the magazine's title.

Ms. FLORENCE ABWOYO (Ugandan-Australian Actress and Model): Karama means celebration and umuntu means a person. So a celebration of African people.

CHIDEYA: Now that's obviously very positive. What do you want the vibe or the experience to be when people check out your magazine?

Ms. ABWOYO: Basically, what I want people to do is just to learn about Africa and then, of course, thinks about Africa that it's normally not portrayed in our mass media. And you know…

CHIDEYA: Like what?

Ms. ABWOYO: I mean, African achievements around the world. I mean, we have a lot of African business that are not really highlighted in most places. And that's what we are trying to bring out, you know, the art of Africa. Whether they are based in Africa or based abroad. So we are dealing with the whole Africa as a whole.

CHIDEYA: So when you have this magazine, do you consider it a fashion magazine? A lifestyle magazine? How would you describe it?

Ms. ABWOYO: It's more of a lifestyle magazine because our main aim is just to portray a positive Africa and inspire the young Africans who are brought up in Africa just to follow their dreams.

CHIDEYA: Why don't you tell us how you actually put this together in the sense of did you go about raising money? Did you find investors? How did you actually make this a reality?

Ms. ABWOYO: I mean, I worked in the fashion industry. I'm a hairdresser, a make-up artist and then I do a lot - I have a lot to do with beauty. So, I mean, I own a hairdressing salon for four years. And in the course of four years, I met a lot of African people. And the idea came to me of, you know, putting all the African countries together, just uniting them under one umbrella.

CHIDEYA: Do you think there's a conflict right now in African fashion between that more generous curves of the traditional African beauty and the thinner body of the Western model?

Ms. ABWOYO: I just - I mean, I grew up in Britain. So to me, to say there's a conflict would be wrong because, I think, everybody looks at their own life in the way they want to. I mean, there is nothing that is so African in body shape because I - my models are from size six to size 16. So, really, that sense, there is no what to describe that African girls are either very curvy shapes or they are very skinny. So I think - I believe that, you know, everybody's got, you know, their own sizes.

CHIDEYA: You've mentioned that you grew up in the U.K. Did you ever feel that in the U.K., there was not enough representation of African women as beautiful? How were you brought up in terms of your ability to see yourself in the media, and how did that affect how you grew up in the choices you made?

Ms. ABWOYO: I think when you look at the media is what you want to take from the media. I mean, it's up to the Africans to put themselves forward and show the world that they're beautiful as well, and that's what I'm trying to do. So in that sense, I would say the only thing that we lack in the U.K. is the exposure of African magazine that, you know, explain our culture. Being a British-African, I've never seen a magazine that explains what Africa is. Normally, regional magazines from east to west to south is never been a complete African magazine with the whole continent.

CHIDEYA: What's your goal in the long run for yourself personally?

Ms. ABWOYO: I think my main goal is just to inspire as many people as possible, young people, whether them being Africans or not Africans, because I solely believe that my purpose in this life is, you know, I should live my life in a way that I can inspire anybody that's around me.

CHIDEYA: Well, Florence, thank you so much for your time. We wish you good luck.

Ms. ABWOYO: Thank you very much.

CHIDEYA: Florence Abwoyo is the creator and publisher of Karama Umuntu magazine. It debuts this fall. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.