She describes herself as a “proudly African, visionary, believer, ambitious, fashionista, fashion enthusiast and fabulousity addict”, the Kenyan Chepkemboi Mang’ira aka Miss Vavavum has created the #OwnYourCulture movement, which turns viral on social medias in Africa and all around the world these last few months. Time for us to know her better with this interview !
WANA: Who is Miss Vavavum ? Introduce yourself !
Miss Vavavum: Miss Vavavum is an alias name from my blog and social media pages. Vavavum which means extra-ordinary spectacular was coined by my friend to describe dresscodes whenever we were going out. This also describes my preferred fashion styling. My real name is Chepkemboi Mang’ira. I am very passionate about culture, fashion and art. I am a writer, researcher, designer and occassionally stylist under my OwnYourCulture brand.
WANA : Why did you start to promote the #OwnYourCulture movement throughout the social medias ?
Miss Vavavum : I created #OwnYourCulture to present a fun, appealing way for young people to share, discover and promote stories behind cultural jewelry from their communities. We have a very rich, diverse heritage in Kenya with over 42 tribes. During the colonial period traditional jewelry and art was erased. This was a big part of who we are and I believe the pieces are still relevant today. So to bring back the ‘cool’ in traditional jewelry, I opted to style it in what I know best ; contemporary fashion and this is where it was born. Soon after launching, the movement spread across the continent !
WANA :Did you expect at the success of the hashtag “#OwnYourCulture” ?
Miss Vavavum : Truth be told, #OwnYourCulture is something I am very passionate about. Just putting it out there was enough success for me. So no, I did not expect it to go as far as It has as well as the amazing travel opportunities it has afforded me and the amazing collaborations undertaken.
WANA : Is it a way to show an open-minded Africa ?
Miss Vavavum : Yes it is. But the main focus of #OwnYourCulture is for us as Africans to create our own positive agendas, stories in art, media and fashion. #OwnYourCulture is really about taking pride in who we are as a people right from our historical life and achievements.
WANA : Is it possible for you to promote (physically) this movement outside Kenya or, why not, outside Africa ?
Miss Vavavum : Yes, this is absolutely possible. I am very open to collaborate with anyone from anywhere to do this.
WANA: We know many Kenyan athletes, we also know Kenyan musicians like Sauti Sol or Akothee… In what others fields that we don’t know Kenyan people are excellent ? What are the others Kenyan specificities ?
Miss Vavavum : We are very entrepreneurial. We are very innovative. There are different innovations everyday in different fields. From mobile solutions for farmers, mobile money, solar powered lighting solutions for those living in rural areas and so on. We are also very friendly and conversational people.
We have a very rich cultural heritage, from beautiful jewelry and art from all our communities to unique musical sounds from different commnities. Cutlural Jewelry is amazing ! We have optimistic attitude and i’m not forgetting Lupita Nyong’o and President Barack Obama.
WANA: Who is/are your Kenyan designer(s) ?
Miss Vavavum : Monoxrome ; M+K they’re new but their stuff is something to look out for ; Coloured Sugar ; Angela Ola and Adele Dejak
WANA: Who is/are your African designer(s) ?
Miss Vavavum: Toju Foyeh, Rich Factory, Missibaba, Loza Maleombho, David Tlale, Farai Simoyi, Adele Dejak, Taibo Bacar, Afri-garde.
WANA: What are your next projects for the future ?
Miss Vavavum : The biggest project at the moment is community development. I am open to collaborating with individuals or organizations to develop sustainable programs to alleviate poverty. We are also looking to own a gallery space for our collections. And finally to publish work from my travel research and findings. To include different cultures from every continent.
WANA: What is your definition of the “New Africa” ?
Miss Vavavum : For me, New Africa it’s we the people taking control and creating for the continent, to grow the continent in every aspect.
WANA: One last word for our readers and your fans all over the world ?
Miss Vavavum : Anything is possible if you believe.
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All credits photo : Miss Vavavum blog.