Shifting Space

December 28, 2009 2007 - articles, Editorial

by Atim Annette Oton, March 2007


Sitting in Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris enroute from Lagos back to Brooklyn, I reflected on my almost three weeks in Lagos, perhaps the most cosmopolitan city of Africa, and realized that the city is regaining the stature and appeal that my American-born mother recalls when she arrived there in the early 60’s. It is what she fondly calls “good old Lagos” — the sophisticated city of West Africa, full of energy and verve and the promise of great things to come.


I am happy to say, even in the wake of negative reports on CNN and ABC, that there are  many signs of  a renaissance in Lagos — you see it in  people’s faces and building facades, as well as in the facts and figures of economic indicators. The “diaspora generation,” of which I am a member, are reconnecting and returning; new businesses like ZimaZee, our new Lagos store, are opening up; and very much like Brooklyn, there is  so much new construction that every day seems to bring an astonishing new edifice or perspective. This issue tries to tap in to that zeal, to explore the ways that Brooklyn and Africa seem to be engaged in a delightful dance of cross-fertilization.


As I finalized this editorial, I noticed a short article in the New York Times: a Nigerian filmmaker, Newton Aduaka, had won the “African” Oscar – the top award at the 20th Pan African Film and Television Festival. It made me pause to ask, from film to design, is Africa the next frontier to influence the world? Are Africans paying attention? Will African-inspired design take over the industry? What are the influences, who are the designers and where can you find their work? Brooklyn designers from Moshood to Raif are African, how are they influencing design in Brooklyn? And is there an African aesthetic that marks Brooklyn style? This issue attempts to answer some of these questions.


March signals the beginning of Spring, and we selected our cover model Allison Palmer, to continue to acknowledge the importance of taking care of your health and as a statement of solidarity with one of the many cancer survivor in our midst. This issue also has award-winning poet Patricia Spears Jones’s column, Cosmopolitan in Brooklyn, recognizing the end of the Slave Trade, and giving us a glimpse of Brooklyn’s Africanism. Style maven Bonnie Sandy Sterling returns to showcase African flavors in fashion and urges African designers to collectively work at marketing their talents. The home decor feature unveils a Lagos hideout, Bogobiri, a respite for tourists, business travelers and the diaspora generation. Food columnist, Wendy Taylor, dives into Deacon Blue, a hidden jewel on the edge of Prospect Heights and Crown Heights. Writer and photographer Laylah Amatullah Barrayn, just off the plane from Cairo, takes a break from her culture and arts column to showcase this beautiful Egyptian city and others on the Nile in words and photography.


As Spring approaches and the cold breaks, go outside and enjoy the warmth again. And while you are at it, please stop by our store, Calabar Imports; we are, after all, an African place in Brooklyn with a mission and purpose.

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