Nallah B. Sangaré: Becoming a global makeup artist and beauty brand

Nallah B. Sangaré is a self-taught makeup artist and beauty expert who doesn’t shy away from any bold coloured or textured fabric, accessory or makeup look. Though born and raised in France, she is a deeply rooted Motherland Mogul with her father originally from Ivory Coast and her mother from Mali.

For six years, she was the International Trainer for MAC Cosmetics sub-Saharan Africa initially based in Lagos, Nigeria and then Nairobi, Kenya travelling across the region from Ghana, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa recruiting and training African makeup artists.

Nallah has also become a stylist, a creative director and has also evolved into an entrepreneur. She explores other industry segments including managing African models through her pan-African company Papillon.

What motivated you to join the beauty industry and how did you get started?

I have had an unusual journey. My background is in science and international business. After my bachelor’s in Business in the UK, I didn’t know what I wanted so I decided to shift to the business of Beauty and Luxury. My goal was to explore the beauty field in its entirety while maintaining my background.

I started in department stores for Givenchy so I could learn about skin fragrances and that experience revealed my makeup skills. Then I worked for several skincare brands, in wellness and trained in hairstyling. I learnt mostly on the job.

Afterwards, I was recruited by MAC cosmetics and went from a makeup artist at the counter to one of the very few black managers at their biggest store in the world on the Champs Elysées. When MAC launched in the African market, I applied to be the International Trainer for the sub-Saharan region.

I always had a love for beauty but never knew I could have a career in it as I wasn’t girly despite my sense of style.

The magical part is that with your hands and your kit this job has no boundaries – Nallah B. Sangare Click To Tweet

You started off as a makeup artist but have grown into a fully-fledged creative in the beauty industry. What motivated you to diversify and why would you say the growth was vital?

I wanted a full understanding of the field. I also realized that I wasn’t limited to one aspect and I could express my full vision in a project which has been important in bringing out exactly what I have in mind.

What is the highlight of your career so far?

As self-taught, it would be my role as International Trainer where I shared my knowledge and inspired African talents and worked on Mercedes Benz Fashion weeks. I also took part in projects to extend foundation and skincare lines for darker skin.

Look by Nallah B. Sangare. Source: Instagram


What has been your most challenging professional experience?

I would say working with Givenchy. I struggled with their idea of oppressing my sense of style and their idea of polishing me to their western standards of slick and straight hair & no accessories.

Do you have mentors in the industry?

Many people, cultures and landscapes inspire me. But if I have to pick one I would say makeup artist and beauty entrepreneur Danessa Myricks.

You can be a makeup artist at the counter of a department store or like I have been, an artist at a photoshoot in the middle of the Serengeti- Nallah B. Sangare Click To Tweet


Tell us about the available work opportunities for makeup artists.

From cinema to entertainment, they are so vast. You can be a makeup artist at the counter of a department store or like I have been, an artist at a photoshoot in the middle of the Serengeti with a Kenyan Victoria’s Secret model or designing the look for a Kenyan musical play that played on Broadway.

The magical part is that with your hands and your kit this job has no boundaries.

Do you have a signature look?

Yes, because I’ve gathered knowledge on skin and styling, I can say my craft has a 360-degree vision. I love beautiful glowy skin with freckles which brings out more realness. I also have a special love for colour and boldness.

Look by Nallah B. Sengare. Source: Instagram

Working on the African continent, I have developed the use of Afropointilism and Afrobohemian concepts. Afropointilism points to the use of tribal makeup from sub-Saharan tribes. The name is coined from pointillism, due to its similarity with the painting technique using dots discovered through Vincent Van Gogh. It is a great mark of our heritage in different African cultures.

In Afrobohemian, I fuse different traditional beauty ornaments from scarifications to body painting to show the paradox of similarity while expressing singularity. I also paint the African map on the eye to express my vision of the Motherland.

As a Beauty Educator, what influence does your work have on today’s African woman?

The makeup classes I give include knowledge about skin, hair and styling that enable professional makeup-artists and women to work on their image individually or in a group.

I incorporate self-love and self-confidence coaching as well as modules for African women to understand the history of our beauty and the specifics of our cultures.

What are your top 3 tips for young African women aspiring to be makeup artists?

  1. Be passionate and dedicated to your craft by practising. Maximise the opportunity to learn from mentors.
  2. Be patient when it comes to developing your personal artistic style.
  3. Love what you do.

Sela kasepa: Powering Zambia’s First Robotics Team

Sela Kasepa attended her first semester at Harvard University in August last year. Just months prior, the 21-year-old was mulling over her education, uncertain of her future plans. That changed after watching a CNN insert featuring the first Pan African Robotics competition founded by Dr. Sidy Ndao. Sela was captivated.

That same evening she took a chance and sent a cold email to Dr. Ndao inquiring about robotics, and he responded two days later, encouraging her to pursue robotics. Sela found inspiration from the Pan African robotics founder and her interaction with him made her believe that she too could create with her hands. This encounter set a trail for her journey as a robotics mentor.

Sela never imagined that one day she would take a mechanics class, let alone at the prestigious Harvard University. She completed her schooling with funding from the Zambia Institute of Sustainable Development (ZISD), acing her GCSEs with 10 distinctions in 10 subjects. She had excellent grades and big dreams, but two years after graduating grade twelve she had little else to show for it.

Her passion for astrophysics fueled her ambition to study at a university that encouraged holistic learning – she took her first SAT tests on her own and thereafter sent applications to Ivy League Universities in the United States. Her first attempts were futile, with no scholarship offers.

During those difficult years of uncertainty, Peter Lungu, executive director of ZISD, reached out to Sela because of her interest in the SAT programme the non-profit institution offers. That small action pivoted into a mentorship relationship, with Lungu urging Sela to continue applying to her desired universities. After redoing her SATs with her mentor’s guidance, she got a perfect score in Physics (800) and a 790 in Maths Level II.

On the final day of call for applications, Sela submitted her applications to Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Michigan State University, and the University of California Berkeley. She was successful with each admission offering scholarships.

Two semesters in, Sela signed up for an engineering robotics class. The joy of creating something that works rekindled her love for the functionality of machines.

“It’s a time when you realize your hands are capable of doing so much,” - Sela Click To Tweet

A lunch chat with a Rwandese friend turned to development talk. She was fascinated by how Rwanda, a country with few natural resources, was making groundbreaking progress far ahead of her own country. Her friend’s comment that a country’s’ top resource is its people, struck a chord. “If we the people don’t take the reins to develop our country, no matter our resources, we cannot develop,” she says.

In the coming days, Sela spent hours online looking for a competition her country could participate in until she eventually came across FIRST Global Robotics competition. Another cold email later, the organizers advised her to enlist Zambia. Even though she was above the age restriction to participate in the competition, she had the opportunity to mentor a Zambian team – if she could build one last minute. She picked up her phone to call Lungu to ask him to help prep a team to participate in the FIRST competition.

Peter Lungu mentoring a student

Lungu never expected to co-mentor a robotics team. He had never been versed in engineering or robotics. His role at ZISD was a vocational call after a long lucrative career as an auditor. When he was awakened in the middle of the night by Sela with the news that Zambia could participate in the FIRST Global Robotics if they got a team together, he did not hesitate.

While he already had access to the country’s most brilliant students, none of them had any knowledge of robotics before. The 2017 robotics challenge was about water and required tools, equipment, preparation, and travel for the competition. This meant that funding was needed for the team.

First Ever Nigerian Exhibition At The Venice Biennale

What can we learn from the past, how do we find meaning in the present, and what awaits us in the future? These three questions provide the bedrock of the first ever Nigerian exhibition at the Venice Biennale, otherwise known as “The Olympics of Art”.

Since 1895 the world’s oldest cultural biennale has risen to become one of the most prestigious art exhibitions. Eight African countries are represented at the prestigious showcase this year: Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia, and Zimbabwe.

Nigeria makes its solo debut this year. Though superbly rich in artistic and cultural talent, the country hasn’t had nearly enough representation on the international art scene. Godwin Obaseki, Governor of Edo State and commissioner of the Nigerian Pavilion, says that “opportunities like the Biennale offer a platform to establish national pride and develop a more positive narrative for the country.“

Curated by Adenrele Sonariwo and Emmanuel Iduma, the Nigerian exhibition at the 57th Venice Biennale, titled How about now?, features a rich multi-layered journey showcasing the country’s past, present and future, with an emphasis on the present, or as preferred by the artists, “the now”.

Mixing videos, conceptual art, installations, and performances, the exhibition showcases exceptional pieces by award-winning visual artist, writer and photographer Victor Ehikhamenor, acclaimed writer, poet and mixed-media storyteller Peju Alatise, as well as performance artist, Qudus Onikeku. The combined genius of these three artists creates a contemporary, as well as far-reaching exhibition, that tells a fresh African narrative, while presenting Nigeria as part of the global art community.

 

Biography of the Forgotten BY VICTOR EHIKHAMENOR

standard bankPaying homage to the unsung and unrecorded pioneers of Nigerian art, Victor Ehikhamenor’s “Biography of the Forgotten” amalgamates bronze, mirrors, thread and acrylic to create a pure masterpiece.

In this installation, he tinkers with both the dilemma and material form of history while paying homage to the historical Igun Street in the heart of the ancient Benin Kingdom. He sources hundreds of Benin bronze heads from the World Heritage Site that still maintains its guild structure to this day, addressing a fragmented history.

Against large canvases, Ehikhamenor alternatively places mirrors and the bronze heads, which bear metonymic weight, as symbols of colonial encounter – the former often exchanged for commodities as valuable as humans, and the latter plundered. In addressing the now, “Biography of the Forgotten” reenergizes historical time and material, reviving the past in an effort to bring meaning to the present.

 

Flying Girls BY PEJU ALATISE

Using metal, fiberglass, plaster of Paris, resins, and cellulose black matte paint as primary mediums, Peju Alatise uses her storytelling skills to create a fantastical masterpiece. Based on a book that Alatise is set to publish, the piece describes Sim, a little Yoruba girl who lives in two alternate worlds.

In one world she is a nine-year old girl who is rented out as a domestic servant working in Lagos, and the other world Sim lives in a dream world where she can fly at will. Alatise describes “Flying Girls” as a body of work dedicated to girls in Nigeria that offers them a little safe place for them to be children.

 

Right here Right now BY QUDUS ONIKEKU

 

Harmoniously combining elements of modern and African dance, contemporary choreography, and aspects of age-old Yoruba spirituality and philosophy, Qudus Onikeku presents his artistry in three sections:

Of Contemplation, Of Poetry, and Of Engagement.

His dance film brings into clear focus the tensions between the various senses of time, and how an audience can be triggered to remember. It draws from his recent and ongoing work to infuse dance with the energy of Yoruba spirituality, with emphasis on the significance of self, the commune, and the divine in imagining the role of aesthetics, beauty, and art.

Onikeku says: “I’m not interested in the present, I’m interested in the now, the present is concerned with the past, but the now is so powerful that it doesn’t have time to think about the past, it’s grabbing at the future. That’s when dance becomes so interesting; it’s constantly inventing the now.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Ibeabuchi Benson


Carpe Diem: Engaging Africans in the Diaspora for development

Diaspora Demo Day

Every year, the Motherland loses some of its most brilliant minds to other parts of the globe. They leave for a number of reasons that include political instability, repression, conflict, and poverty, and do so in the hope of getting better education and job opportunities. They become a part of the diaspora, non-resident Africans who still feel a strong connection to their origins.

According to the World Bank, there are 39 million Africans in North America, 113 million in Latin America, 13.6 million in the Caribbean, and 3.5 million in Europe. They are well-educated professionals and together they send over 40 billion US dollars in remittances to the Africa every year. Per

The power of the diaspora lies in their duality. They identify with both cultures and act as a bridge to communicating the true African experience. Utilizing this duality can help in a number of areas.

Fighting the negative imagery

A number of Diasporans are young, talented and optimistic about the future. They’re also eager to return to help Africa progress. Having achieved success in their respective fields, they defy the perception of despairing poverty, corruption, and repression that often overshadow Africa’s success stories.

The politics

Our global representatives can also make changes in foreign policy. When it comes to negotiating interventions and support, diasporans can provide an authentic African voice to political discourse by communicating the needs, potential and realities of Africans.

Sharing skills

They can also apply their knowledge and talent to close the skills gap, which would help attract foreign investment. After all, the Motherland doesn’t lack intelligence. What Africa lacks are opportunities to apply and develop its talent.

So how do we put this into practice?

Almaz Negash, a respected business executive and non-profit leader, has a feasible solution. Negash was born and raised in Eritrea, and went on to study in the US. She now works to connect Africans on the continent with those in the Diaspora.

Negash suggests using the African Diaspora Network (ADN), an online platform, to convert the $40 billion remittances into investments.

This is easier said than done. The ADN solution requires reliable infrastructure and policies that are conducive to conducting functional businesses. These include enforcement of property rights and political stability. There are concerns over whether or not African governments have the capacity to enforce such policies or even comply with them themselves. The ADN must also figure out the best way to engage with the diaspora. Not all diasporans are Pan-Africans so some may focus more on their own countries than the entire continent.

But, if successful, the creation of a diaspora database could work as a platform for the Diaspora to share their entrepreneurial capacity with those at home, and be a forum for Africans to seek investors and donors. This will allow Diasporans and resident Africans to form partnerships and invest in each other.

ADN could also function as a space for nonprofits to connect with Africans and share ideas on how to best tackle development problems and create sustainable solutions. Over half a trillion dollars has been spent on aid to Africa since independence, and almost nothing has come of it. The ADN could be the missing link.

Proof of Concept

A similar model has worked in India. As a country that is dependent on remittances, the Indian government has made a conscious effort to engage with the Indian diaspora. Through liberalizing their trade policies, India has been able to attract its diaspora’s investment. They have also established the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs that connects to the diaspora through youth teaching, cultural education, and annual awards to revered Indians living abroad.

So…what are we waiting for?

Sadly, African governments aren’t doing the best they can to connect with Africans abroad. At least 32 African countries have set up specialized units or ministries to engage with diaspora, but these units tend to be under financed and understaffed. As a result, African governments are not engaged with their diasporans.

But Ethiopia is making moves

The country established an Ethiopian Diaspora Directorate in 2002. It now has a web portal with information for the diaspora about potential investment and trade opportunities, on-going development projects, and the Ethiopian diaspora policy. Ethiopians born outside of the country can get “yellow cards” allowing them to travel without a work permit or visa. The Ministry of Health also attracts professional diasporan doctors to work in their health sector. Ethiopia now has its first emergency response residency program.

SLA also knows what’s up

We too have recognized the need to harness diasporan potential. In November 2014,  SLA co-produced and co-hosted Diaspora Demo Day, a social impact pitch competition. Diaspora Demo Day is the largest convention of African startups, entrepreneurs, and angel investors outside of the continent. SLA took seven African startups to the showcase where growing tech companies and social enterprises focused on Africa and the diaspora were presented.

Demo Day took place in Washington DC and was attended by policymakers, impact investors, journalists, development professionals, and leaders of African enterprises. Participants gained media exposure from multiple outlets like Washington Post, BET.com, and AllAfrica.com to name a few.

Carpe Diem

6 out of the 10 fastest emerging markets are in sub-Saharan Africa: Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and Sierra Leone. So now is time better to invest in Africa’s future.