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7 Day Guide to Cape Town & Johannesburg South Africa

7 Day Guide to Cape Town & Johannesburg South Africa

Written By: Rebecca and Sukina Added Pictures: By Mechelle

Early May, my friends and I got together for a group trip to South Africa to celebrate our Queen Rebecca King’s 30th birthday. Somehow we managed to fit  what seemed like a 10 day trip into 5 days. We visited both Cape Town and Johannesburg, two distinctive and must see cities when visiting South Africa! During this time of the year, South Africa is in their fall season. Although the temperatures were okay, our first day was rainy and cloudy. May 8th was also the presidential election. Between the rain and the holiday, we didn’t go precisely by our itinerary, but we managed to check off almost everything on our to do list.  

Unfortunately, the weather and timing did not permit us to visit Boulders Beach, but it’s something to look forward to seeing when I return. This was an amazing trip and I hope this itinerary can be guide to help plan your next trip to South Africa!

***Please Note: Time and days are tentative. Liable to change if we have a different preference***

Day 1- JFK- AMS- CPT

Cape Town:

May 6th

3:30 pm– Arrive at JFK Airport to catch flight to Amsterdam

6:30 pm– Flight departs

Day 2- Arrive in Cape Town

May 7th

7:50 am– Arrive in Amsterdam

10:05 am– Depart from Amsterdam

9:25 pm– Arrive in CAPE MF TOWN!!!!!!!

9:45 pm– 10:00 pm- Depart airport and head to the Airbnb

10:30 pm– Arrive at Airbnb, get settled and prepare to walk di people dem streets

11:15 pm (optional)- Walk the streets and find a nearby restaurant for takeout. Maybe TheGolden Dish where we can get the famous “Gatsby Sandwich”.


(Gatsby Sandwich Image found on Google)

Day 3- First full day in Cape Town

May 8th

9:00amTable Mountain (Cable Cars $30) **Advance Purchase**

Table Mountain is one of the 7 wonders of the world and the most iconic landmark of South Africa. It is much more than a scenic photograph background or a place from where you can take a breathtaking photo of Cape Town.There are about 2,200 species of plants found on Table Mountain and 1470 floral species. Many of these plants and flowers are endemic to this mountain. Besides the parks, the whole area has a biodiversity that is rare to find in other places on earth. Its many valleys and streams make it an idyllic getaway from Cape Town. The national park’s most unique feature is its fynbos vegetation that is displayed here better than anywhere in the world.


We have the option of hiking for free: In order to participate at the walking guides, hikers must wear strong boots. They must also have a hat, sunscreen, water, raincoat and a snack. A wild card must be obtained from the Tokai Tourism Sales Office (+27 021 712 7471)(closed daily from 12:30 – 13:00). There is no payment for the walk. Enquiries at John 021 782 2379; Ian 021 782 8552.

11:30amKirstenbosch Botanical Garden ($3)

Kirstenbosch is an important botanical garden nestled at the eastern foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town. The garden is one of ten National Botanical Gardens covering five of South Africa’s six different biomes and administered by the South African National Biodiversity Institute.



Canopy Walk Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

2:00pmBoulders Beach ($5)

The beautiful Boulders Beach is one of Cape Town’s most visited beaches and the only place in the world where you get close to African Penguins. Cape Town definitely has no shortage of amazing beaches, but Boulders Beach in False Bay offers something extra special – a colony of African Penguins in all their smartly dresses, waddling glory, right under your nose. In fact, it’s the only place in the world where you can get close to African Penguins.

5:00pmHolden Manz Vineyard ($9)

Sheltered next to Cape Town’s Franschhoek Kitchen and tasting venue, the Holden Manz Winery features state of the art design which enables our winemaker to fully express the terroir and its fruits in every possible way. With average production sitting at 100 tonnes of manually harvested, high quality grapes, an intimate approach with emphasis on ‘attention to detail’ is maintained throughout. Smaller tanks allow for separate, small-batch fermentations, while an open-plan barrel cellar provides our winemaker the access to tend to each barrel individually. A smooth flow from delivery to bottling rounds off the winery, minimising handling and shock on the wines – another way we ensure our wines arrive in the glass in premium condition exhibiting character and bouquet in all its glory.

7:30pmFreebie

Day 4: Sightseeing/ Bday Dinner for Rebecca

May 9th

10:00amTandem Paragliding **Advance Purchase**

Return to Airbnb to Relax or walk di people dem streets until we’re tiree. There’s a lot of other local things that can occupy our time. We can continue on the hop-on hop-off tour.

Soaring high over Cape Town’s iconic mountains makes tandem paragliding a truly awesome experience. With flights taking off from Lion’s Head or Signal Hill, visitors get a bird’s eye view of the city that is like no other. Cape Town Tandem Paragliding accepts guests of all ages and fitness, as their trained and experienced guides accompany each flight to ensure the safest and most exhilarating experience possible. Tandem paragliding involves a passenger being securely strapped into a flying harness in front of a trained pilot. The passenger is securely connected to both the pilot and the glider by spreader bars. Cape Town Tandem Paragliding launches from two sites in Cape Town, that vary depending on the wind direction: Lion’s Head and Signal Hill. The popular Lion’s Head launch site has a lower launch allowing for trips during strong wind, as well as an upper launch for light wind. Launches from Signal Hill require a North-Westerly or Westerly wind for an ideal flight.

1:00pmRobben Island ($26) **Advance Purchase**

Robben Island, the unique symbol of “the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, suffering and injustice” with a rich 500 year old multi-layered history, is visited every year by thousands of people eager to understand and honour the important aspects of South Africa’s history that the Island represents. It is known for being the place former South African president Nelson Mandela was jailed for 18 of his 27 years, but the Island was the home of prisoners from outside South Africa, notably Namibia (can take a ferry from here).

4:30pmV&A Waterfront

The V&A Waterfront is a mixed-use development comprising residential and commercial property, hotels, retail stores, dining, leisure and entertainment facilities. Spanning 123 hectares, it’s a space where you can work, live, eat and play.

Can do a Harbor (Sunset) Cruise for $4.

7:30pm- Return to Airbnb

Get dressed for dinner.

9:00pmBirthday Dinner- Gold Restaurant Cape Town-African Cuisine and Experience

Get cute to head out to a beautiful restaurant for Rebecca’s birthday dinner!


Rebecca’s Bday Dinner at Gold Restaurant

Jo’Burg:

Day 5:

May 10th

5:50amDepart Cape Town

7:50amArrive in Jo’Burg!!!!!!

8:50am- Arrive at Insignia Luxury Apartments (122 Patricia Road, Sandton, 2031   Johannesburg, South Africa) to drop off excess bags. Check in is not until 2:00pm.

10:00amSoweto Bicycle Tour (2-$39 or 4-$45 hour tour–lunch included)

A shorter tour of Soweto that will take you to some of the most interesting historical sites around Soweto. Visit the formal migrant workers hostel and be introduced to conditions of male mine workers and meet the families that live here today. Get the opportunity to have a taste of Soweto by tasting the home brewed beer at the local shebeen as well as some local treats at the street market. Cycle through the vibrant community of Meadowlands, and continue to the Hector Pieterson Memorial, the historical landmark of the 1976 student’s uprising, proceed to the famous Vilakazi street where Nelson Mandela used to live. Cycle back to Lebo’s where we invite you to chill and relax with a drink or two.




Mechelle, Sinead, & Rebecca pictured with some school children in front of Nelson’s Mandela’s house in Soweto, Johannesburg, SA

1:00pm or 3:00pmReturn to hotel (Rest up and get prepared for dinner).

7:00pmYeoville Dinner Club ($30)

10:00pmReturn to hotel

11:30pmTaboo Night Club



Yeoville Pan African Dining Experience. It’s normal for surprise visits from friends and neighbors.

Day 6

May 11th

9:00amLion & Safari Park (Prices vary from $5-$60 depending on desired experience)

The new park offers a wealth of exciting activities such as animal interactions, guided game drives and self-drives.  You are guaranteed to get super-close to some of Africa’s favourite animals whether you go on an informative guided tour or self-drive.  Guests also have the opportunity to engage in the experience of hand feeding a selection of animals including giraffes, ostriches and various other antelope species that roam freely on the 600-hectare property and frequently visit the wetlands in front of ‘the Wetlands’ Bar and Restaurant.


Mechelle Pictured with a sleeping baby lion

4:00 pmReturn to hotel to pick up bags

5:00pmHead to airport

8:00pmDeparture from Jo’burg

10:00pm Return to Cape Town

DAY 7- Last day

Back to Cape Town & Back to NYC

May 12th

12:00pmMzoli

7:00pmHead to Airport

11:05 pm- Departure from CPT

Food Options:

Yeoville Dinner

Miriam Kitchen

Gatsby Dish

Fish and Chips

Recreation:

Green Market Square (shopping)

Kloop & Long Nightlife





I love Gemini’s and Gemini szn and here’s 10 reason’s why you do too!

As told by your favorite Gem from Brooklyn #justagirlfrombklyn

Gemini Season is my favorite time of the year (5/21- 6/20). We get a lot of hate but that’s because the other signs don’t like to admit how much they a) love us so much and  b) how much they want to be us. It’s all good because this time of the year does something magical for me. Ruled by mercury, the planet of information and technology, it’s no wonder that around this time of the year I feel the most creative.

This Gemini season is special because of COVID-19 pandemic and social- distancing. Spending time at home gives me time to reflect and as I sat and watched the clock switch to 12:00 am on 5/21/2020 I felt a surge of good energy and reassurance that no matter the current situation we’re all in this together. And now that it’s Gemini season some of the things that would make me feel misunderstood, I find solidarity in knowing I’m not alone in my quirky-weirdness. I decided to write about some of the top things I love about Gemini’s and being one. In no particular order here’s a list of reasons why I love Gemini’s. 

1) Gemini’s like to shake shit up! We do controversy for sport and one of our toxic traits is that we like to get even. Let’s take a look at the greatest hip-hop beef of all time: Biggie vs Tupac. Of course a beef between two Gemini’s would lead to a rivalry between the east and the west coast. Diddy and Biggie always claimed that the song “Who shot ya” was not about Tupac, while it may be true, I know Biggie had to have enjoyed the fact that Tupac, the biggest rapper out at that time, thought it was. Pac in true Gemini form was not having it, and responded back with song “Hit ‘em up.” Though the beef led to their tragic assassinations, it changed the scope of rap beef and violence in hip-hop. 

Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur pose for a portrait at Club Amazon on July 23, 1993, in New York.
Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

I sometimes wrestle with how controversial  I can be, often ending up in online debates or arguments. I don’t mean to come off argumentative but I do like banter, and if something isn’t agreeable to me I’m almost always going to say something about it. 

2) Gemini’s are so fly. Some of my favorite Gemini’s are entertainers and music artists. Such as Kanye West, Andre 3000 and Prince to name a few. Not only are they all musical geniuses, they are some of the most iconic visionary dressers in our generation. Gemini’s crave attention and admiration. We have the need to be the best dressed every time we step out.

I love taking fashion risks. People often ask me why I never sought a career in fashion and I’d simply respond “I wouldn’t want it to become work- I love it too much and while it’s natural for me it’s also very fun for me.” Getting dressed in the morning is my favorite part of my day. And I love when someone compliments me on my outfit, in which I’d meet with a twirl or a pose to say thank you.

Hey Ya GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

3) Gemini’s play all day While we have a crazy work ethic- usually juggling multiple jobs at once,  it has to be something that brings us joy. Gemini’s love passion projects, but working without play for a gem is torture. As productive as I am, I pride myself with the amount of time I give myself to have fun. I live my life to the fullest and never been the type of person to be tied down by work. Gemini’s are also super silly and we never take ourselves too seriously. 

4) Gemini’s are not two-faced, in fact we’re multi faceted. While yes, we are the twin sign, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re fake or inauthentic. One of my favorite things about being a gemini is my versatility. You can catch me in Trinidad for Carnival turning all the way up, but I also love sitting quietly at the beach or in a park. I must admit we are easily tempered, but that’s just because we are extremely passionate. I typically have two moods, either I’m really happy or I’m really sad/mad. These days I’m exploring what it means to be in the middle because what I have learned that moods are temporary. And a part of Gemini’s versatility is moving on and not being stuck by a particular emotion. 

Art by Brittany Everette @b.evert, instagram

5) Gemini’s have a way with words, yup, it’s true we love to talk, write,and  tweet. Words are our strength and like my mom would say about me in teacher-parent conferences “she’ll talk to a lamppost if you let her.” Lauryn Hill is also a Gemini and even though she’s a singer she’s often regarded as one of the best lyrical MC’s in hip-hop. I had an ex boyfriend tell me once, that I talked in punchlines and metaphors. I do admit, that I often go off into the deep end and every time I finish ranting about whatever philosophical inquiry I thought of, my sister always comments, “Okay, Kanye.” 

I’ve kept a diary for as long as I can remember and  in Junior High School, I majored in creative writing. Even though I wanted to be in the drama magnet with all of my friends, I appreciated the fact that I got the chance to read and write poetry. At home, we had a word processor software and before social media, I’d spend a lot of time creating digital collages with word art and the images found on microsoft.  I’ve always loved how writing has given me freedom to fully express myself. 

6) “Gemini’s are geniuses”  Kanye West tweeted this once and when I saw it, I thought, “exactly.” It’s not that I think I’m smarter than everyone (sometimes), it’s just that most Gemini’s are creative thinkers and are very intellectual. Kanye West elaborated in an interview with Steve McQueen he talked a lot of things Gemini, and stated: “I’d be biased to think that the community of Geminis is the most consistently in tune with what their spirit is telling them to do or why they have breath in their lungs,” said Yeezy. “But I do think that creative Geminis—Tupac, Biggie, Prince, Miles Davis, all being Geminis – have, throughout history, been really in tune with those things.” 

Although we tend to speak without thinking. We’re understanding and reflective. High functioning Gems know when to admit when they’re wrong and misspoke. To be honest, we probably don’t even remember what we were saying anyway, so if you say I said something wrong, I’m cool with that. I’ve already moved on to the next topic in my head.  

Donald Trump Tweets Analysis

7) We love deeply and forever. Gemini’s are natural flirts, but that’s because we are super friendly and we love attention. But contrary to some belief, gemini’s are extremely loyal and loving. I have 20 plus year friendships and that’s because I love and value the people in my life. My only tattoo reads “love without a limit” and I got it because love is endless and forever.

When a Gemini loves you | HappyShappy

8) Gemini’s are  motivational speakers. We love being our friends biggest cheerleaders. If you ever have a crazy idea, run it pass a Gemini because we’re going to always tell you to do it! I love being an educator because of how fulfilled it makes me to inspire and encourage students. 

Actual footage of me crying at my best friend’s graduation from Law School

9) Warm weather and Memorial Day Weekend I was born on memorial day in 1989. My mom loves sharing the story of how she was at my family’s cook-out, waiting for shrimp-kebabs when her water broke. She didn’t rush leave, she simply grabbed a towel, put in between her legs, as the kebabs finished cooking on the grill. I imagine my mom being rolled into the delivery room with her shrimp kebabs in hand. 

I also think about who was all there waiting for my delivery. My grandmother cursing at my mother for not going to the emergency room right away, my aunts laughing, and my cousins running around the playground. Memorial day weekend not only represents my birthday but also the time of the year when the weather finally breaks. It’s like a preview of the summer and as a kid it seemed like my birthday was at the forefront of that.  My birthday twins include John F. Kennedy, Carmelo Anthony, and like 5 other people I went to school with. 

 10) Gemini Season sets the vibe for the whole summer. My birthday is May 29th and I always feel a surge of positive energy and my most productive. Past Gemini seasons have been been super good to me. I’m looking forward to it this year even if it means being in doors. Plus I know how to have fun in any situation. Happy Gemini Season, I wouldn’t want to belong to any other zodiac.

P.S. I bet your favorite person’s favorite person is a Gemini. Here’s some famous Gems I didn’t mention: Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, Marilyn Monroe, Naomi Campbell, Patti La Belle, Heidi Klum, Angelina Jolie, Kendrik Lamarr, and of course Beyonce’s Gemini Twins.

A tribute to my 20s

Farewell to my 20s!

Today is the last day of my 20’s and as I sit with that I just want to reflect:

1) The idea that success, life, and other adulthood goals have to be completed in your 20’s is false. Success doesn’t have an age limit and whatever I wasn’t able to accomplish then, I actually have the tools and the wisdom to execute in my 30’s.
2)However, I did achieve a lot that I’m extremely proud of, such as:
2a) Attending and graduating college. First, with my bachelors degree right before my 23rd birthday and then I completed my masters degree the day after my 29th birthday. 
2b) Although I’ve been working for CUNY since I was 23, my love and career in professional development didn’t begin until I was 27. That year I began working for John Jay College. I’m still working here as a career advisor and it’s fulfilling.
2c) I moved out of my parents house at 26 and a couple of months before turning 28, I had to move back in. Although I’d been out for a almost 2 years, I learned a great deal of what it takes to keep a household, patience, humility, and a new fond love for staying at home. 
2d) 26 is also the age I began exploring opportunities that’ll allow me to pay myself. I started learning about entrepreneurship and started the process of developing my own online business.
2e) At 27, I got paid for my first campaign on Instagram and began promoting myself as a blogger and influencer.
2f) And I traveled! During my 20’s I visited about a dozen of countries, went on countless trips around the country, traveled solo, and earlier this month, I finally visited Africa! Travel is more than a hobby for me, it’s my way of life and I absolutely love it. 
3)Because I will be 30, my outlook on life is different. Self acceptance and understanding are priorities to me, more than they have ever been. Over the years, and at age 29 specifically, I’m realizing that I come first regardless. With that said, practicing mindfulness is key to my success, and I’m at a very happy place. I started going to therapy this year and have a deep appreciation for mental health awareness
4) I’m also in love. This love is different, it’s empowering and it’s GROWN. I’m so grateful❤️. At one point I thought I may be too complicated for relationships, but my man is accepting and loves me fully and wholeheartedly. 
5)Yo, I’m turning 30 and I cannot wait! I use to be afraid to grow old, to be, and to feel old. When in actuality, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Youthfulness, joy, and energy all comes from within! Plus, the way my mom looks, I’ll be looking 30 for the next 30 years!

Who Celebrates Kwanzaa Anyway? A Guide to Celebrating the ONLY holiday dedicated to Black People and the African Diaspora

Five years ago, I was at my job’s holiday party, and I leaned over to my co-worker and asked her, “Hey, who celebrates Kwanzaa anyway?” She turned around, shrugged her shoulders and responded:” I don’t know-Jewish people.”

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Here we are two Black girls, one African-American, the other Haitian-American, ignorant about the only holiday that brings us together based on our African culture. Growing up, I knew of Kwanzaa, I learned about the principles in school, and I knew it came the day after Christmas. However, I never really celebrated it or conceptualized who or why it was celebrated. Granted, I was on the Step-Team in HS and we’d put together Kwanzaa Showcases every year- yet, everyone around me still had no clue as to what Kwanzaa is really about.

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Over the past couple of years, I have been refining my African Culture. I identify as Black, African, and American. It defines my race (as it’s described in America), my heritage, and my nationality. Historically, the “American Negro,” didn’t have an identity in this country. Activist, and educators such as Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, and W.E.B Du Boise (to name a few), helped to push the Pan-Africanism movement forward. They believed in the solidarity between all people of African descent, including the Caribbean and in Latin America. And that unity is vital to economic, social, and political progress. Kwanzaa reinforces this belief.

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Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana “Ron” Karenga, a professor of Black Studies, in 1966. It is not a religious holiday, nor is it meant to replace Christmas (Cuz We know how much Black people LOOOOVE Christmas!). Dr. Karenga established Kwanzaa to help African descendants worldwide reconnect with their African cultural and historical heritage. Through the “Nguzo Saba,” the “seven principles of African Heritage,” a communitarian African philosophy, we unite in meditation and study of African traditions. The name Kwanzaa is a Swahili word for “the first fruits of the harvest.” Swahili was chosen because it is a non-tribal African language which encompasses a large portion of the African continent. It is observed from Dec 26th through Jan 1ST. The principles go as follows:

Umoja (Unity): To Strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and our heritage.

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Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

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Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our sisters’ and brothers’ problems our problems and to solve them together.

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Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together. Support Black Owned Businesses!

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Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and development of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness

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Kuumba (Creativity): My Favorite Principle! To always do as much as we can, in the way that we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

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Imani (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our parents, our people, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle

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Kwanzaa has seven basic symbols and two supplemental ones. Each represents values and concepts reflective of African culture and contributive to community building and reinforcement. The basic symbols in Swahili and then in English are:

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  • Mazao (The Crops)These are symbolic of African harvest celebrations and of the rewards of productive and collective labor.
  • Mkeka (The Mat)This is symbolic of our tradition and history and therefore, the foundation on which we build.
  • Kinara (The Candle Holder)This is symbolic of our roots, our parent people — continental Africans.
  • Muhindi (The Corn) This is symbolic of our children and our future which they embody.
  • Mishumaa Saba (The Seven Candles) These are symbolic of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles, the matrix and minimum set of values which African people are urged to live by in order to rescue and reconstruct their lives in their own image and according to their own needs.
  • Kikombe cha Umoja (The Unity Cup) This is symbolic of the foundational principle and practice of unity which makes all else possible.
  • Zawadi (The Gifts) These are symbolic of the labor and love of parents and the commitments made and kept by the children.

The two supplemental symbols are:

  • Bendera (The Flag) The colors of the Kwanzaa flag are the colors of the Organization Us, black, red and green; black for the people, red for their struggle, and green for the future and hope that comes from their struggle. It is based on the colors given by the Hon. Marcus Garvey as national colors for African people throughout the world.
  • Nguzo Saba Poster (Poster of The Seven Principles)

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Don’t Know Where to purchase Kwanzaa Symbols? If you’re in the New York City Area, check out “The Cultural One-Stop-Shop,” Nicholas Variety shop in Brooklyn and in Harlem. Don’t want to go to the store? Check out these Black Owned Online Markets selling Kwanzaa Symbols and Kinara Sets:

Nicholasreggae.com

https://www.africanheritagecollection.com/

http://www.sankorepress.com/kwanzaa-shop1.html

https://webuyblack.com/

https://www.etsy.com/market/kwanzaa

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So, now that we got that out of the way-How do you actually celebrate?

It is important to note the placement of the candles. The black candle is always placed in the center of the Kinara. Red candles are always placed to the left of the black candle and the green candles are always placed to the right of the black candle.

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  • Day 1: Light the black candle in the center of the Kinara on the Dec 26th for Umoja
  • Day 2: Light the red candle on the first left of the black candle, on Dec 27th for Kujichagulia
  • Day 3: Light the green candle on the first right of the black candle, on Dec 28th for Ujima
  • Day 4: Light the red candle on the second left of the black candle, on Dec 29th for Ujamaa
  • Day 5: Light the green candle on the second right of the black candle, on Dec 30th for Nia
  • Day 6: Light the red candle on the third left of the black candle, on Dec 31st for Kuumba
  • Day 7: Light the green candle on the third right of the black candle, on Jan 1st for Imani

December 2017 was the first time I celebrated Kwanzaa at home with my family. I was introducing Kwanzaa as a new holiday tradition and had to teach myself and my family how to celebrate it. With the help of some friends and the internet, I learned that Kwanzaa can be modified and celebrated however you see fit. While, of course staying true to the symbols and the spirit of the holiday. Because it’s celebrated 7 days straight, I knew my family members will only be together on a few of the days. I requested for everyone to be available the first night of Kwanzaa so that we can light the first candle together. I also printed out a Nguzo Saba guide to help us keep up with the principles and to practice Kwanzaa greetings.

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Starting Dec 26 everyone greets each other by saying “Habari Gani?” which is a standard Swahili greeting meaning “what is the news?” If someone greets you, respond with the principle (Nguzo Saba) for that day.

Me: “Habari Gani?” Them: “Umoja!”

* Non-African-Americans are also welcome to participate in greetings. The traditional greeting for them is “Joyous Kwanzaa.”

Heri Za Kwanzaa- Happy Kwanzaa!

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Some activities throughout the seven days include drumming and musical selections, readings of the African Pledge and the Principles of Blackness, reflections on the Pan-African colors, discussions of African Principles of the day, recitations of chapters in African History, and artistic performance. You can pick and choose all or some activities.

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The Kwanzaa feast is a very special event that brings everyone closer to their African roots. It is traditionally held on December 31st and is a communal and cooperative effort. Decorate the place where the feast will be held in a red, green, and black scheme. A large Kwanzaa setting should dominate the room where the feast will be held. A large Mkeka should be placed in the center of the floor where the food is placed creatively and made accessible to all to serve themselves. Before and during the feast, an informative and entertaining program should be presented. Traditionally, the program should involve welcoming, remembering, reassessment, recommitment and rejoicing concluded by a farewell statement and a call for greater unity. During the feast, drinks are to be shared from a communal cup, the Kikombe cha Umoja, passed around to all celebrants. Gifts of Kuumba are creative gifts exchange and should be artistic and educational in nature. They are usually given on the last day or can be given on each day to reflect each principle.

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Last year, we held our Kwanzaa feast on Dec 26th. We ate leftover Christmas dinner, and afterward, we gathered around the Kinara to share what Unity means to us as a family unit, and as Black People. My dad started and took the first sip out the Unity Cup, as the oldest in our home, he represented the elders in our family. My mom, myself, and brother followed after and my baby sister took the last sip, to represent the youth and the children in our family.  I poured libation to give thanks to our ancestors. We drank grape juice. This can be done with any beverage and if you’re weird about sharing your cups and utensils-this can be altered as a toast with everyone lifting a glass.

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Each day I lit a candle and tried to do something that represented the principle of the day. I found that these principles can be applied to my lifestyle and that Kwanzaa can be celebrated every day of the year! It was intimidating to me at first because there was so much history that I didn’t know. It caused me to do some research, but also made me appreciate Black culture even more. If you’re new to Kwanzaa, welcome! The best way to learn is to just celebrate it and you’ll begin to make your own Kwanzaa traditions.

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This year, my parents moved to North Carolina, so I’ll be celebrating by myself. However, I’m not alone. If you’re looking for ways to celebrate with others here are some cool events happening in New York City, including a modern twist of the holiday- A Kwanzaa Crawl to Black-owned restaurants and bars around the city!

Kwanzaa Celebrations in New York Metro Area

Apollo Theatre Kwanzaa Celebration

Kwanzaa Crawl

Heri Za Kwanzaa my beautiful Black People! Share how you’ll be celebrating in the comments below!

A NYers guide to staying fly and warm during the winter season

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New Years Aftermath in Times Square: Image found on google

Happy 2018! January 1st not only marks the first day of a new year, but in New York City, it’s usually the coldest day of the year. That doesn’t stop us from going out and dressing up in our “New Years” best though. New Yorkers are some of the most trendy, swaggyiest  people (if I say so myself) and one thing’s for sure, cold weather does not stop a great outfit! To get through this seemingly long winter season, here’s a list of ways New Yorkers stay fly and warm during the coldest time of the year.

Rule #1   Always have a good coat and everything else will come together        


A nice winter coat is almost a given. In the city that never sleeps a winter coat is more than a piece of outer wear that keeps you warm-its a statement! As the great Kanye West put it: “DID YOU SEE THIS COAT?!” The winter coat is reflective of your mood, type of event, and the temperature. In any borough you’re bound to see people wearing puffer coats, downs, parkas, over sized wool coats, leather jackets, and fuzzy coats (faux fur/real fur) in the most stylish colors or patterns.

Rule #2: You can never go wrong in pair of constructs                                

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Mood after getting a fresh pair of construct

One thing most New Yorkers can agree on is our preference in the classic wheat Timberland Boot, also known as constructions. Even though you’d see us in a classic Ugg boot, duck boots, and other winter shoes, you can NEVER go wrong in a pair of constructs! No matter what you call them;  they go great with just about any outfit and keeps your feet warm, and dry in the most brutal winter storm.

Rule# 3: The bigger the scarf the better!

Remember that winter when Lenny Kravitz broke the internet with his big ass scarf? Everybody was hysterical about it, when I was just trynna figure out where can I find one? Winter Accessories such as scarves, ear muffs, head bands, gloves, and scully hats, are ESSENTIAL to staying warm. As much of a statement the winter coat makes, winter accessories can have everyone in the room talking-especially if paired correctly.

Rule: #4: Layering, Layering, Layering 

For the below 30 temperatures, no matter how fly you are-you have to keep yourself insulated. Layering is key to any winter fashion hack. Want to wear shorts in the winter?With tights and thigh high socks you’re good! Want to wear a cropped sweater? Pair it with a button down. Want to wear a graphic tee shirt? Throw a hoodie underneath it! Hate wearing big bulky coats? Long Johns, long sleeve shirts, and double socks will keep you nice and bundled with a light jacket. Layering can add flavor to any outfit, without you catching a cold doing so!

Rule #5: Can’t be fly without swag

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Shoulda been number one to me. Clothes don’t make you fly, and being fly doesn’t mean you have swag. As a friend put it “Swag is not what you have, it’s who you are. And truthfully, either you have it or you don’t. It’s almost in our culture to be cool, without having much slip ups holding us back. Literally. Snow and freezing rain brings upon sleet, and black ice. Yet, New Yorkers have mastered the art of sliding on ice sheets, and the long jump over a large puddle of water, and dirty wet snow (Can’t mess up the buttas!).

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Stay Fly lovelies, but most importantly stay warm! What’s your favorite winter look this season? Write it in the comment section!

 

Personal Preference: Money

Over this past week, I’ve been offered to post on Instagram promoting two dating apps. I normally wouldn’t sign up for a dating site, but since I’ve been given a free trial for a week; I figured I’d make an account and if I meet someone-cool. But other than completing my profile,  I’m not going to put much effort in searching for a potential suitor.

While filling out my preference in men, the question of income came up. Which made me think: is income a big factor for me-or is it more important to know how he’s come to make this income? Is he comfortable? Does he love what he do?” How can I have a preference of how much a man makes, when I know that I’m currently not making the money I’d like to. I’m not complaining, and have been blessed with finding ways to supplement my income. However, the current amount sitting in my bank account doesn’t account for my drive, my work ethic, or project how much I will make in the future. With that being said, selecting an income range for an ideal man doesn’t reflect his success; and/or his goals.

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Money is such a determining factor in dating preference and even how men feel about themselves and the lack thereof. Ideally; I’d love to be courted by a wealthy man. I think after season 6 of Real Housewives of Atlanta everyone was looking for their “African Prince “(literally). Truthfully, I don’t care about how much money a man has. In fact it prompted me to write a poem called:

“I care”

I don’t care about a man with money.
I care about his dreams.
His aspirations.
His goals and how he executes them.
I care about his determination to himself and to his craft.
His drive.
His motivations and what keeps him going.
I care about his passions.
His interests.
His heart and how he shows compassion.
I care about his beliefs and his relationship with God.
His character.
His freedom and will to live.
Then and only then he won’t ever have to complain about money, or whether I care.

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Like, Comment, Share: What are some of dating preferences? 

Yellow “Crush on You” Lil’ Kim: and why her being a “regular” Black girl was and still is enough

Back in 2000 in a Newsweek article Lil Kim was quoted saying “I have low self-esteem and I always have. Guys always cheated on me with women who were European-looking. You know, the long-hair type. Really beautiful women that left me thinking, ‘How can I compete with that?’ Being a regular black girl wasn’t good enough.”

In 2000 I was only 11 years old, too young to be picking up a Newsweek paper, and certainly too young to be reciting any Lil Kim lyrics; but if you asked me who was my favorite female rapper-without hesitation I’d say and still will say Lil Kim.
Back in the 90s there wasn’t any Youtube, Vevo accounts or streaming sites to watch your favorite videos on. Other than BET, there hardly were any stations playing hip hop music videos regularly. Like many others during that time, my mom had a VHS tape of recorded music videos of her favorite artist. The infamous “June’s Videos” had music videos from artist like Dru Hill to Busta Rhymes; and like any true New Yorker, all the top videos from Bad Boy including Lil Kim’s “Crush On you” video.
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Me being the vibrant child that I was-and still am, loved the color schemes of the video. I especially loved that not only her outfit matched the color of the set-but so did her hair! It was the first time I could recall seeing a black girl wearing different color hair, and finesse ALLL the looks. Til this day it’s hard to pick a favorite. Even though I donned her yellow look, I equally love all of her looks the same.
Becoming an adult and seeing her transformation with all of her cosmetic work always been a shocker to me. Here’s this woman who is petite, fly, loves pink, and Barbie (the first black Barbie-before Nicki Minaj was a household name) hella dope, and about the same complexion as me, kind of remind me of me-only sees herself as “a regular black girl.”I wish she knew, to a girl like me, she was never just regular. She’s bold, and dynamic. Her sexual fluidity encourages me to be unapologetically sexy-no matter how uncomfortable others may seem(or how I perceive them to be.) And not to mention iconic. If the slut walk happened 20 years ago-lil Kim would most likely be the front runner of it! I think all of us had that sigh of approval once Diana Ross tapped her boob at the MTV music awards in her famous purple outfit. Did she not know what she meant and still mean to regular black girls around the world? I wish she knew.
In college after breaking up with my ex boyfriend it was lil Kim’s verse in “get money” that was empowering to me . Her harsh explicit lyrics gave me the freedom to express how I felt. Raw lyrics only expected from men-she spit. Things I naturally would not say but will rap along to like…“Yeah what nigga? I ain’t got time for this So what nigga? I’m not tryin to hear that shit Now you wanna buy me diamonds and Armani suits Adrienne Vitadini and Chanel 9 boots Things that make up, for all the games and the lies Hallmark cards, sayin, “I apologize” Is you wit me? How could you ever decieve me But payback’s a bitch motherfucker, believe me” Forever Mood.
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At my first college party in Norfolk State University when “put your lighters up” came on and every girl from Brooklyn went AWF! To even watching the Kappas shimmying to “freaky girl” remixed with her on it. I wish she knew what she meant.
Around the same time I decided to dress up as her, I came across a meme that compared a picture of Kim in her infamous squatting pose to a recent picture of her now in the same position. About more than 20 years later– and with a toddler-I wouldn’t expect much of the iconic rapper. But the surgeries over time completely distorted her look making her almost appear unrecognizable. We’re always quick to point out her flaws, and in the same breath discount her surgeries; without even realizing that we (the public) contribute to her insecurities.
22789124_2119832331376040_3140946040042926983_n (1)I knew once I decided that I wanted to dress like her for a costume party, I had to do it right. The yellow outfit seems like something I’d wear and can easily put together. I had to get the hair, the accessories, and the shoes right. I had to remind everyone of the Kim we once knew and loved, with hopes that maybe she get to see my picture to remind her that she is beautiful. What she did in hip hop and in fashion for black girls like me is monumental-and I hope I was able to reflect that.

Dressing as her, I turned so many heads, and received so many compliments. Perhaps if we and the people in her life treated her like how people treated me-dressed as her; she’d know just how much of “enough” she is. What’s your favorite Lil’ Kim moment? Write it in the comment section.
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**I haven’t read anything recently about her insecurities and self esteem, but I pray that she’s finally content with herself. 

black, single, and broke, but i still love to travel

Over the past decade, traveling has become the new black. You see much more people catching flights, especially black people. Many are still discouraged from traveling though. I’ve heard everything from: “I don’t have anyone to go with,” “that seem like a place you go with your boo-and I don’t have one” “I don’t have any money” “I’m trying to stack my paper, before I start to travel” “black people don’t travel” –What? What? What? And Whet? As someone who is black, single, and broke, I can’t see how anyone can travel any other way! This is not a guide or  a “how to travel on a budget” kind of post. Traveling not only relieves me of everyday stresses, but it opens my mind to so many possibilities. So, instead of my blackness, relationship status, or bank account being an excuse, it’s the very reason why I HAVE to get away. That might sound crazy, but let me explain.

 

I’ve been blessed to visit many places, however, people I know growing up, or even in my family has never left the country. I truly believe if we were meant to stay put, we would have roots for feet, and remain idol as a tree does. Having  a companion whether it’s close friends or “Bae”, brings comfort in the idea of having someone to talk to, relate to, and share the same experience with you. However, that should not stop you from going somewhere if nobody wants to go. There’s so many people in the world; traveling alone brings so much opportunity to meet people. Plus, if YOU want to do something, you don’t have to take a “consensus of the group” you can just do it! I’m definitely not opposed to traveling alone, and being without a man. 

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Hand up to receive, Hand down to give back. Mural De La Prehistoria

I’m very friendly, approachable, hell, I’m also very pretty. I attract men (and women) EVERY where I go. I don’t say that to sound cocky, but it’s the truth. I’m a natural flirt, but because my relationship status has not changed for a while now, I take full advantage (in a safe, non-hoeish kinda way). Men and women love the company of other women and men. It’s less inviting to other people, with a group full of people who are in relationships. Sure couples can meet people too,  but unless there’s other couples in the group, in my observation, most people I’ve met have been other singles especially if they were men. I just think it’s better that way. If a man asks me to dance and  the vibes call for it…I’m going to dance, and not feel guilty about it. If he buys me a drink…I’m going to drink it! And, if he’s been to other places I haven’t explored in this new city, I’m going to be open to check it out. Now, I’m not saying go out and get yourself kidnapped, let’s be smart, but I  do think my singleness allows me more freedom to meet much more people than I probably would, if I had a boyfriend. 

I’m an educator. The bureaucracy in public higher education alone is enough to want to get away! But my pay check certainly doesn’t reflect the places I’ve been. Money does not influence whether I’m going somewhere or not. The experiences I receive from traveling, trumps the experience I receive from getting paid-ANY DAY. Don’t get me wrong, securing my financial future is a priority, but securing my youth, peace of mind, sense of adventure, is also a priority. I don’t want to be that rich person on my death bed with regrets of places I should have went, or things I should have done because I was too busy working and “stacking my bread.” With a spreadsheet, airline subscriptions, or travel groups/clubs, and some faith, you can go anywhere!! I’ve been to Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico, many places in the states with next to nothing. When there’s no money there’s faith, and faith would get you more places than money. I’m not saying faith alone is the cure, but my faith allows me to always find work, or earn money to fund everyplace I’ve been, and places that I’m going. 

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Swim up bar. Azea Resort Pafos, Cyprus

Many of us are privileged and don’t even realize it. Being black in America is totally different than being black any where else. In many places the people have either never seen a black person, or have ever talked to a black person. Being black in Cyprus is totally different than being black in Cuba, however, I’ve experienced  culture shock from both places because I’m also American, and to the people there that stands out the most.

I’m so NY in any city in the states, but being “so NY” is synonymous with being very American. The way we approach food, connect with people, dress, style our hair, is a big signaler of my American-ness. When some places becomes overwhelming, there’s comfort in knowing my home is in America, but traveling also gives me the wisdom to check my privilege, and it’s very humbling. In this current political climate, many joke around saying they’re moving to another country. I found that to be hilarious because the people who are saying that don’t even have a passport, or even begin to know how to get one! Many of us also expressed moving to Africa, but yet many of us had yet to travel there. It’s certainly not impossible to move to place you’ve never been, but a benefit of traveling allows me to learn different cultures, customs, and to be open to talking to diverse groups of people. 

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On top of the antelope canyon, with native-Aaron

I’m black, single, and broke, but it doesn’t define who I am, or where I’m going. Get that passport, book that trip, and no matter your circumstances-GET OUT of New York and GET OUT of America. You’d  definitely find yourself blown away. 

 

 

I wear America around my neck but, it’s just a scarf.

Not sure if it’s in my head or not, but, while I ride the subways, or walk into public places, people stare.

I don’t know how people make of it, sometimes they look, curious, they even look perplexed. I’m fully aware of the political tension around me; people are not feeling very prideful in America-especially black people. Trump is president, and people are protesting and burning this very flag, yet I wear it around my neck-nonchalantly.

So, why do I wear it? I wish the reasoning was super deep, but simply:

1)I like it.
Not much explanation, I’m a big scarf person, I’m ALWAYS cold and the neck and head coverage it provides is perfect.
2) It matches almost EVERYTHING I wear.
3) My younger brother gave it to me about two Christmas’ ago.

And
4) Contrary to many belief, I am American.

Let me clarify that last point.
I’m black. I’m African. I’m American.
My parents were born in NYC, grandparents, great grandparents all born here.

Unfortunately, I don’t know where my heritage come from, like many black people. What I do know, is that I’m African, most likely descendant from slavery, stolen from royalty;  yet, through it all-I’m American.

It’s apart of my story, and what makes me me.

My grandfather is a Navy Vet.
My dad served time as a Marine.
My uncles served in multiple branches.
My favorite cousin is an active airman- and she’s a woman.

They’ve served for a country that don’t necessarily deserve their service, but they did it for me. That makes me proud.

I’m American.
I’m also pro-black. The juxtaposition of my stance on culture, and me wearing America as a scarf-is intriguingly provocative…at least to me. I guess somehow you can’t be pro-black, and love America at the same time. I’m a walking contradiction to that stereotypical belief.  There’s days I hate America, and days I don’t. Sometimes I wear the scarf,  and other times I don’t, however, one things for sure, it’s all apart of me.

When people stare, it humors me, because they’re assuming so much, but they have no idea. It’s just a scarf.