Friday, December 26, 2014

French 124

The last week of class was on French cuisine. As has been the tradition for the semester we cooked a meal in relation with the topic. The end result was quite incredible, we had a complete five course meal. From a starter to desert not to forget the background music. I think its safe to say that was my favourite and saddest session ever. Favourite because we all came up with such nice dishes and having done it before we had corrected on what we seem to have forgotten or gotten wrong the other two times. Everything came into place well. The saddest was it was my last class. Who would have ever thought that a class in French culture could be so informative, entertaining, i kid you not, there was never a dull moment where I regretted on picking the class.

You know those things you always know but when asked how you know or if what you are actually saying is a fact? I had those those moment so many times during these class. Marie Antoinette for example I've read and watched movies that have impersonated or mentioned her love for cakes and sadly that is as far as my knowledge of her went. Why France is known as the city of lights? Other sketchy information I had heard of but had no idea were related to France. In short, nothing could have prepared me for what we learnt during this Fre 124. 

For those having doubts about picking this class there is absolutely nothing to be unsure about. It was a breath of fresh air during the semester. Do not get me wrong, it is as important as any other unit. Am just saying that I personally could not wait for Friday. Am sure am not the only one. Happy holidays and thank you Dr. Wandia for the unforgettable experience. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Does it  sometimes ever bother ,  feel bored  here in Daystar when you have to attend lectures of the so called Professors and Doctors? Don’t you get stressed up when you have to turn pages of your note book, spending sleepless nights writing term papers in readiness for the CATS, Quizzes and the final semester exams? I do and am not alone.

It’s  equally important attending these lectures. However, being in the same environment-Daystar doing things the same way, the same style year come year go, I consider it what the French French would say ‘ Tres ennuyeux!!’( very boring). Therefore doing things differently in the same , surrounding also builds one confidence and, enhances better learning in campus
Voila!!! You just got it right when you enter in her French lectures-Dr. Wandia Njoya’s . No written monitored  EXAMINATION. Lot’s of interesting activities: Shopping and cooking different cuisines and eating, watching films and listening to music thus discussing about them . Who doesn’t like stories? I am pretty sure you would. Her stories would leave you so! So! So! so! Jealous and having the need to listen to more. Dr. just comes down to your age group- talking and laughing. C’est cool ‘ it’s cool’  That was the lecture to be in, for that was the place, for anywhere around the place was not the place. All complete with my outgoing classmates that Dr. Wandia would call them “ Les belles/ jolies dames” meaning the beautiful ladies. Nina who asks for sweets in every lecture Ahaaaaaa!!! Very sorrowful and sympathetic in heart  as I would describe her  And Maya – the biblical Peter, who could curiously ask questions, fascinated with fashion and wanting to learn some French words.

I wouldn’t miss such opportunity when it’s there again and so do you. Please, please ,please you should not miss registering for the French class. Such a great semester Indeed.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Bon appetit!

The final class of FRE 124 ended on a good note as we chose to sample French food to end the semester. I was more nervous than excited when I began searching for recipes of French cuisine. Unlike the recipes of dishes from Haiti and West Africa, French recipes had hundreds of variations which made it difficult for me to choose the most authentic French dish. It took me a while to go through the thousands of online recipes, I even watched You Tube videos on how to prepare the dishes. However, I finally settled on two main dishes and an appetizer which I submitted to a class guest to make for the class.

Pork Roast

I love eating pork and so when I discovered it is part of French cuisine, I did not hesitate in choosing this for the main course. In France, stews are more commonly used when cooking pork than roasts. However, French-style pork stew would take me about three hours to prepare and since I knew I would be short of time in the morning, I decided to make the pork roast.
The first step (done the night before) was to debone the pork ribs and insert garlic slivers into the flesh for added flavor. This was followed by tying up the pork to give it a good shape. I then began making a marinade for the pork which consisted of ketchup, mustard, thyme, marjoram, balsamic vinegar and honey. I coated the pork in the marinade and placed it in a plastic container where it would marinade overnight.

Pork in the marinade

The next morning, I was up early and I started out by heating a baking tin on the stove with juice from the marinade along with added herbs like rosemary and basil. I also threw in some diced carrots. This was to prepare the tin for baking the pork and ensure maximum flavor is achieved. Herbs de Provence was a term that frequently popped up when I was searching for recipes. It is a combination of dried herbs used to add flavor in several French dishes. The main herbs being savory, marjoram, thyme and oregano. Unfortunately this exotic blend is not available in Nairobi and so I used the individual herbs that were available locally. Finally it was time to put the pork in the oven to cook for the next forty five minutes. This dish was a combination of several different recipes found online (recipes are at the end of this post) and most of all the making of a professional chef who I helped me make this dish.

The finished pork roast sprinkled with coriander leaves

Vegetable Ratatouille

I enjoyed watching the 2007 animation, Ratatouille, which featured a rat, Remy, that also happened to be a culinary master. In one of the clips in the movie he made this dish which won the heart of a tough food critic. I resolved to make this dish and see if my cooking skills could match Remy's.
I was able to get most of the ingredients required in making this dish except summer squash, which is not available locally however one can substitute it with pumpkin.

I began by preparing the vegetables the night before to make things easier in the morning. This involves dicing up red onions, yellow capsicum, tomatoes and garlic which were put in a plastic bowl and sealed with cling foil then placed in the fridge to maintain freshness. The same was done separately for courgettes or zuchinni with some olive oil and thyme drizzled and sprinkled on them.

From left: Sliced courgettes and diced assorted vegetables in a separate bowl

After, finishing up the pork I began on the ratatouille. First, I fried diced white onion in a pan with oil and added the assorted vegetables after the onions were golden. Chopped herbs were then added. The vegetables for about ten to fifteen minutes and they were ready to be taken out the heat.

Frying the vegetables

Next was to cook the courgettes in low heat for them to be relatively cooked through. I would warm the dish before class and thus I did not want to overcook them.

Cooking the courgettes

My favorite part in making the dish was placing it in the casserole dish in a pattern that gave the ratatouille a layered look. I began with tomatoes at the bottom, followed by the cooked vegetables and lastly the courgettes at the top.

Layering the ratatouille

I chose not to bake the dish as all the ingredients were well cooked. However, if you want your ratatouille to be cooked further you can place it in the oven for about 30 minutes and you can add shaved or sliced cheese on top, prior to baking.

Pumpkin soup

Pumpkin soup is a popular entrée dish among the French and goes well with sliced baguette bread spread with butter on top. We used butternut pumpkin which is widely available in Nairobi. The process began by dicing an onion and frying it in a sauce pan. Freshly made chicken stock was then added followed by large chopped chunks of the butternut and mixed herbs.  This boiled for about half an hour as I attended to the ratatouille. I then turned off the heat and placed the cooked ingredients into a blender to blend into a smooth sauce. After blending I put the soup back into the sauce pan to cook further and added black pepper and salt to taste. Another twenty minutes and voila!, the soup was ready.

The pumpkin soup served up

It had an amazing time cooking the dishes and unfolding French cuisine practically at home. I would like to acknowledge Greta Hakim, a professional chef and family friend, and Claire Kariuki, my class guest and aunt, for being of invaluable help when making these three dishes. I am eternally grateful!

The three dishes were also eaten along with other appetizing French dishes from Nina and Dr. Wandia. We had Piperade (made by Nina), Aligot and Beef burginion in the main course and also mouth-watering Fruit tarts and Madelines brought by Dr.Wandia and Crepes made by Nina for dessert.


Pork roast:

Vegetable Ratatouille:

Pumpkin soup:

Saturday, December 6, 2014


"Tigadeguena" is a popular dish in Mali which is chicken in peanut sauce. It was definitely my first pick when I was searching for a dish to make for class the next week. My undying love for chicken was also a great motivator to creating this dish and so I immediately set out to find the ingredients in good time.

Chicken in peanut sauce
I was up early that Friday morning and prepared the kitchen with all the essentials I needed to cook. I had bought a whole chicken a day before and had it cut into pieces by the butcher (my knifing skills are not that impressive). I fried the chicken in a little oil till it was brown on both sides and removed it from the pan to set it aside. I then fried onion and garlic in the same pan and put in some tomato paste for added flavor. I then returned the chicken back into pan and added the peanut sauce which gave off a tantalizing aroma. Finally, I added some water and spices to taste and let the chicken simmer for a while until it was ready. The chicken is traditionally served with plantains or a plate of rice. A more detailed recipe can be found here along with other dishes widely enjoyed in Mali.

I discovered other great dishes from Mali worth trying out:

Maasa- these are sweet millet fritters served as a snack or as an accompaniment to soup.

Akara- this is a dish of fried bean balls.

Couscous de Timbuktu- these are granules of wheat cooked by steaming.

Meni-Meniyong- this is a sesame honey sweet.

Kulikuli- these are deep fried peanut biscuits

Djablani- it is a popular West African beverage made of hibiscus juice and ginger. Perfect for quenching one's thirst under the scorching Sahara sun!

From Left: Maasa, Akara, Couscous de Timbuktu, Meni Meniyong, Kulikuli and Djablani

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Republique du Mali

"One people, one goal, one faith." This is the national motto of the Republic of Mali, a land-locked country in West Africa. When I was informed that I will be presenting on Mali during one of our classes I was very excited. When I think of Mali ancient towns rich in history and desert tribes with an enduring culture comes into mind. Being the self-proclaimed "culturalist" (if such a word ever exists) that I am, I set to researching as soon as possible.

Mali was once part of three West African empires that controlled the Trans-Saharan trade. In the Mali empire, the ancient cities of Djenne and Timbuktu were centers of trade and Islamic learning. Disciplines like Mathematics, Astronomy, Literature and Art were taught.
In 1960, Mali achieved independence from the French and established itself as a democratic and multi-party state in 1991. The country has a majority of Muslims with 55% of the population practicing Islam. Malians speak Bambara as their national language and the state's capital city is located in Bamako.

Ancient Sankore University in Timbuktu

People of Mali

Mali has a wide variety of ethnic groups. The major ethnic group is the Mande which is made up of the Bambara, Maninke and Soninke sub-groups. The Mande people make up 50% of the population. The other half of the population is made up of Fula, Gur-speakers, Songhai people, Tuaregs and Moors and lastly Europeans.

I found the Tuareg ethnic group most interesting as they dwell in the remote regions of the Sahara desert. They have an Afro-Arabic ancestry and live a nomadic lifestyle by traversing the desert on camel back. The Tuareg men traditionally wear a Tagelmust which is a cloth that serves as both a turban and a veil. The cloth is practical for the desert as it provides protection from the harsh desert conditions. It is usually dyed using indigo and this is known to stain the skin of the Tagelmust wearer permanently. As such the Tuareg are often reffered to as the "Blue men of the desert."

From left: Fulani man, Tuareg man and Maninke woman

"Dama Dance" of the Dogon people

In the south of Mali is the Dogon Village of Songha. The Dogon people practice a traditional religion that involves the beliefs of spirits. The people hold a traditional dance known as the "Dama Dance" every sixty years! The dance is carried out to create a bridge to the supernatural world.

Dama Dance

The Dogon community is popular among stargazers due to their advanced astronomical knowledge. French anthropologist, Marcel Griaule, studied and interacted with the Dogon people. Marcel reported that the Dogon people have knowledge about Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. I found it amazing how the Dogon people possess such information yet they do not have access to star-gazing instruments. This shows the great power of oral tradition as this information is believed to have been passed down from generation to generation over the years. You can read more on the Dogon people here.


A griot or jeli is a West African story teller, historian, praise singer, poet or musician. The griot uses oral tradition to pass down information to his tribes people and he passes this down to his descendants to continue passing on the community's history to other generations. They tell tales of the community's past, sing songs of praise about certain individuals while playing a xhalam and even make political commentaries. Griots are celebrated in Mali and thus the Association of Bamako Griots was established in Mali.
 I think this is such a beautiful way of preserving culture and a community's history for years to come.  

A griot holding a xhalam

Fashion in Mali

Malian fashion is strongly influenced by traditional fashion and style. Traditional textiles include:


This means "made from mud" in Bambara. It is a West African textile that is dyed red or yellow. Mud from the River Niger is applied on the fabric and a rich black color is produced once the fabric is dry and washed off.

Bogolan textile

Indigo Clothing

This is a fabric that is dyed using the indigo-dyeing method which involves obtaining dye from local plant sources e.g. dried balls of crushed leaves of indigo bearing plants, and dipping the cloth in fermented dye, drying the fabric and then beating it to impart a shiny glaze.

Indigo cloths

 During my research on major players in the Mali fashion industry, I came across Aboubakar Fofana, a famous Malian designer well known for his expertise in indigo-dyeing. He resides in both Paris and Bamako, with his workshop based in Bamako. Aboubakar uses an environmentally-friendly process of producing organically dyed indigo cloths. More information about Aboubakar's unique fashion technique can be found here.

Aboubakar Fofana

Hawa Diawara, is the other personality that I came across in my research of Malian fashion. At the age of 17 she started modeling and she is now a popular fashion model in the United States.

Hawa Diawara

 Malian Music

Malian music is ethnically diverse with the Mandinka community having the greatest influence over the country's music.
The music's diversity depends on which ethnic group it hails from. Mande music, Tuareg music, Fula Music and Songhay music make up Malian music.

Popular Malian Musicians

Salif Keita

He is an afro-pop singer and song-writer from Mali. He descends from Sundiata Keita, the founder of the Mali empire. His music combines traditional West African styles with influences from both Europe and America. Salif suffers from albinism and one of his albums, "La Difference" is dedicated to the struggle of the world's albino community.

Salif Keita

Habib Koite

He is a solo singer, songwriter and guitarist based in Mali. Habib's vocal style is intimate and relaxed, emphasizing calm, moody singing. His first album, "Muso Ko" rose to number 3 on the European World Music charts.

Habib Koite



This Malian band has got to be my greatest new obsession in the African music scene. Tinariwen, meaning deserts in Tamasheq (Tuareg language) is a group of musicians from the Sahara desert. The band members are all of Tuareg descent and the band has received world wide acknowledgement for their unique rhythm influenced by Rai music. The band currently has nine active members with their lead singer being Ibrahim Ag Alhabib. In 2012, the band won the Grammy Award for Best World Music album for their album Tassili.

Tinariwen's album cover for Tassili

I gained so much knowledge as I learnt more and more about Mali's culture. Every day my eyes are opened and made more aware on how rich Africa's culture is and how we should take necessary measures to preserve it. In my opinion, establishing a griot school in Kenya would be a great start:)


Sunday, November 23, 2014

La Vie en France: French Citizenship and Immigration

We  recently had a class where we discussed about acquiring French citizenship and the hurdles involved in migrating to France for non-citizens. Europe is a dream come true for many people from countries plagued by poverty, unemployment and political instability. However, there is a challenge to moving to greener pastures. Integrating oneself to the new environment and culture and having your way of life accepted by the other culture has proven difficult.

Definition of a French citizen

There are different versions of what people define being 'French' to mean. To some being a French monsieur, madame or mademoiselle you should be of Caucasian descent while to others being French means to be born in the country or living in France for several years and acknowledging the language and culture of the state regardless of race. This has resulted in racial discrimination towards some immigrants and even citizens of France who are not of Caucasian descent.

French Citizenship

Upsurge of different cultures

Immigration to France increased significantly between the periods of 1945 to 1974. Most immigrants are from Africa, other European countries and Asia. Most African immigrants came from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Mali, Senegal and Cote d'Ivoire. This influx of immigrants saw an introduction of several cultures into France in terms of language, religion and even cuisine.

Today there exist restaurants in France that serve Cameroonian cuisine or Chinese food. There is also the presence of other religions like Judaism and Islam. This has changed the face of France and it is now seen to be a multi-cultural country.

African Restaurant in France and the Grand Mosque in Paris

Life of Immigrants in France

There are pros and cons experienced by immigrants on moving to France. France provides better opportunities for employment compared to the home countries of immigrants. There is also security due to political stability and higher standards of living. High quality educational facilities are also more accessible.

The negative experiences might include difficulty in attaining citizenship documents even after meeting the requirements for application. The novel Un amour sans papiers by Nathalie Etoke, an author and professor of French in an American university, looks into the world of immigrants living in France. We were honored to have a Skype chat with Nathalie during one of our classes where she touched on issues regarding French citizenship and her experiences while she lived in France.                                                   
Immigrants may also face racial or religious discrimination while trying to settle in France.

The Future of immigrants in France

It is my hope that France will grow to integrate a variety of cultures and to become a state that appreciates cultural diversity. Also appropriate measures should be taken by the French government to protect immigrants and their descendants from any form of discrimination.

Cultural Diversity


Saturday, November 22, 2014

A fashion feast - with Pat Mbela

Last week I had hoped we would watch Indochine because I wanted the class to see a classic movie with the iconic Catherine Deneuve. Unfortunately the shop where I borrow DVDs and where I was sure I would get the movie didn't have it, so I settled for us watching Coco before Chanel with Audrey Tautou.

Which was just as well, because it provided a good background to today's discussion on the French fashion industry. I had sent the students the first chapter of Noel Palomo-Levinski's book The World's Most Influential Fashion Designers, which captures the history of early 20th Century European designers like Paul Poiret and Coco Chanel. The book does a good job of tracing the evolution of fashion from the days of couturiers for the nobility to the pret-a-porter (ready-to-wear) industry of today, as well as how early designers inspired the latter day ones.

For me, the two most important things to note were the impact of the revolution on the fashion industry, in that even fashion got democratized (if only slightly) and no longer the preserve of the aristocracy, and that synergy between fashion designers like Poiret and Yves Saint Laurent and painters like Picasso and Matisse. Third was the role of Paris as a city of the arts in inspiring creativity.

What is the situation in Kenya?

I was privileged to get connected to Pat Mbela of the Poisa Fashion label. We have been friends on facebook and I love her work, especially because she uses bold colors and East African-rooted bead jewelry. The plan was to look at her work before making the call to discuss her thoughts on the fashion industry. But time wasnt enough.

But the discussion was still fun. Pat took us through the history of the industry from the 80s when a handful of designers would showcase their work at Serena as people were having lunch, to now where there are fashion markets and more opportunities to show case work like at the Swahili fashion week and FAFA. What was so impressive is Pat's professionalism, her determination to hold Kenyan fashion design at international standards. She also talked of Joy Mboya's role in gathering artists of different genres at the Go-Down together, and her experience doing the Kenya Airways cabin crew uniform and showcasing her work in different cities of the world. While we celebrated the milestones in Kenyan fashion, we also talked of the limited support that Kenyan fashion design gets from government in terms of an enabling environment and from the Kenyan public who still don't understand the difference between professional design and tailoring. Many Kenyans also prefer mitumba and don't consider African designs like kitenge suitable for the office wear.

After the conversation with Pat, I told the class that if there's anything they should get out of the discussion, it's that well done clothes are worth their investment. One of our guests, Sheila Obilo, is now dressmaking, which was great because we now discussed the intricacies of well-finished clothes like good cuts, darts, lining and invisible hems, which are often missing from locally made clothes because customers don't want to pay for good finish and fitting.

(left to right: Maya, Bonaventure, Nina and Sheila)
If there's something that the French have done well, it is to elevate their cultural expressions such as clothes and food (next week we sample French cuisine, or gastronomy) into art, and the world has embraced it as well. As Maya says, we Kenyans also need to experiment more, especially in food and clothes. And Pat Mbela is one Kenyan who does that. And beautifully too.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Salad Adventure

by Chris Lyimo

Saladu Awooka àk Mango
(Avocado–Mango Salad)
I was invited to attend a class on Francophone World at Daystar and if I chose to, I could come along with a salad from one of the French speaking countries.

Putting together this salad was an unanticipated adventure. I figured that the ingredients were simple and easily available in my Ongata Rongai neighbourhood market and that there was nothing particularly Senegalese about them.

With that I left it to the morning of the class to look for the ingredients. There was enough time to put together the salad given that I was not doing any cooking. Oversight no. 1

You know what they say when you ass-u-me. That was me at the market on the day. And I should have taken a photograph of the salad with me. Oversight No. 2

First stop was Tuskys Supermarket to look for the non-perishable ingredients. I had never heard of either peanut oil or canola oil, and though I often pride myself regarding my culinary skills and love for cooking, on this day, that pride was severely tested. It turned out that several of the supermarket staff had also not heard of the same oils. I walked down the food aisle looking for peanut and/or canola oil. I gave up and settled for regular salad oil. Cholesterol free as an added bonus. I was also going to use regular salt because I didn’t know what kosher salt was either. With the shredded coconut in the cart, I was good to go.

To the market

Though I recalled what, say, jalapeño looked like in the photo I was sent with the brief, I neither knew how to describe what jalapeño looked like or its correct pronunciation. And what was/is a navel orange anyway? I quickly consoled myself that this wasn’t an exam. The sigh of relief was deeper when I conveniently remembered I wasn’t even a student of the class or even Daystar. This was a fun thing to do. I could even chalk it up in my Do a New Thing Every Month activity for September.

I’ve always thought parsley and dhania was the same thing. I couldn’t believe I was now making calls to consult of these ingredients like my life depended on it (perhaps it did in one dimension but that’s a story for another day)

Nobody knew what jalapeno was but when I described it and what I intended to do to the grocer, she suggested I go with a yellow sweet pepper. The regular green peppers are good for a vegetable salad and not a fruit salad. I know lime juice, in a bottle. This adventure was bringing new surprises at every turn because I’m embarrassed to admit that this was the first time I saw what limes actually looked like. I got the oranges, and I dared not embarrass myself further by asking for navel ones. Avocados were in plenty but the mangoes, being out of season, were the most expensive I have ever bought.

I was now getting worried about the serve chilled part. I was quickly running out of time to prepare the salad and effectively chill it.


I followed the instructions pretty much as prescribed. I diced the avocadoes in ¼” chunks rather than the 1” as suggested. I should have stuck to this suggested to avoid them getting soggy. I had over an hour to chill the salad so I put it in the freezer rather than in the lower refrigerator. I need to leave in order to get to class in good time.


In spite of the Friday afternoon traffic, I was confident that I would arrive on time. I was doing quite well up to two or so kilometres from Daystar when the matatu made an about turn due to the heavy Friday afternoon traffic. The main snag was then the conductor sat at the front with the driver and there was no way i could get access to him and they were now heading to town via Industrial Area.

A huge inconvenience to my well laid plans. I alighted and tried to figure out the most efficient route I could use. I got a boda boda motorcycle taxi and got there feeling sweaty, hungry. Fortunately the class time had been pushed forward a few minutes and I was on time. Sweaty, frazzled but on time.

Sharing the Meal
Serving the meal

It was nice to hear the various descriptions of how the others prepared the recipes assigned to them. One student shared that he didn’t get  the couscous  but the adventure of looking for it in several stores and supermarkets counted for something in the adventure .

The sampling of the various foods presented made for the best the class experience I have ever had.

It was good to know that francophone Africa has such a rich food heritage aside from the reputation of their football teams always beating our national football team, Harambee Stars.

The Pen Patat

by Ndanu Mbunga

Cutting the pie
The Pen patat is a rich dessert from Haiti. My friend Dr. Wandia asked me to make it for her class and I was both stressed and delighted. Stressed because it was actually sweet potato pie which was a whole new concept to me and delighted because the thrill of the possibility of actually making it well was so cool.

Wandia sent me the recipe and I remember taking leave just so I could bake it and attend the class too. The hardest part of making the Pen patat was grating the sweet potatoes. Grating raw sweet potatoes is tiring and quite messy too. The peeled sweet potatoes begin to turn color and I could not help like feel I was doing something wrong. I finished the grating and followed the recipe to the letter after which I put the mixture in the oven. It took nearly 2 hours to dry in the oven and I was going to bed at nearly 3am.

Everything paid off during the class when I saw everyone enjoying the pie. It turned out great and with a few tweaks, it is something I could gladly make again especially for my parents. It is a new way to prepare the sweet potatoes they love so much

I was amazed at how much work and detail Haitians put into preparing their food. They definitely take their food and culture seriously. It was an honour to be part of them in this small way! Here goes the recipe. The foodies and kitchen lovers can definitely try it out....

Monday, November 10, 2014


During one of the classes we had this semester, I was assigned to present on Haitian fashion. I was excited to have this topic to present on since I am an avid reader of any fashion related material. At first, I was really clueless as I had never known about or heard of any popular fashion trends, designers or models related to least that is what I thought. However, what I discovered about Haitian fashion was really amazing.

The Karabella dress and Guayabera were the results I got from researching on traditional Haitian wear. The Karabella dress is a beautiful pompous dress with layers of ruffles at the skirt section of the dress and it is worn with a head piece that resembles the Gele often worn by West African women. The dress is worn by Haitian women at festivals especially during the Quadrille dance. On the other hand, men wear the Guayabera, a white shirt, which is also worn by men in other Caribbean states.

Karabella dress and Guayabera shirt

Carnaval De Fleurs, a festival celebrated by Haitians that seeks to highlight Haiti's flora, really caught my eye during my research. The festival which is celebrated annually is full of energy and color! Residents dress up in flower-like costumes and put on complementing accessories to brighten their outfits. The women also apply heavy glam make-up by putting on popping eye shadow colors and shouting lipstick hues. The festival was also established to boost Haiti's tourism.

Carnaval De Fleurs

Stella Jean is one of the notable fashion designers from Haiti whose work I fell in love with. She uses traditional fabrics with rich patterns and with the help of Italian high-fashion technology, she creates clothes with a contemporary design. Stella, a Haitian-Italian, uses her brand to develop Haiti by creating sustainable jobs for Haitian artisans and craftsmen.

Stella Jean

Stella Jean designs

  Another notable fashion designer of Haitian descent is Hassan Pierre. His garments are constructed with organic, eco-friendly fabrics, natural dyes and recycled zippers. His work has even been featured in world class magazines like Vogue and Marie Claire.

Hassan Pierre

Hassan Pierre's designs


I love seeing African models feature in catwalks or in high-end fashion magazines. That's why I just had to write something on the beautiful Jany Remponeau Tomba (above) in this post. She was a model in the 1960s and 1970s. She is a Haitian who moved to America as an immigrant and was discovered by a fashion magazine editor. She has appeared on magazines like American Girl, Woman's Day, Mademoiselle and Essence.
Former fashion model and actress, Gracelle Beauvais (below) is also of Haitian descent. I have seen her in a few of Hollywood movies but I previously had no idea of her origin. She has also appeared in Essence magazine and modeled for well-known cosmetic companies like Avon, Mary Kay and Clariol.

Haiti also has a fashion magazine called Amour Creole that also offers readers the latest in movies and music along with expert relationship on relationships, family, careers and so much more.

 Like many other countries, Haiti also hold an annual fashion week which they call Ayiti Fashion Week (A.F.W) that brings together major players in the Haitian fashion industry and promotes Haitian designs and culture.