Oroma Elewa Founder and Editor of POP’Africana (the shiznit in my vernacular) is interviewed for Vogue Italia by Bethann Hardisson. Oroma is beautiful, young, gifted, brilliant and African! Check out the Video interview here, she rocks a Maki Oh piece with a Maasai garb..how chic can we get!please please watch the video interview on the Vogue Italy site!
"My work is inspired by a vision I have for Africa and Africans. A vision of an Africa that shelters and respects individualism and for Africans, that the world’s opinion of us is redirected"
Why did you leave Nigeria?
“Moving to America for my family and I was somewhat of an economic exile. We left Nigeria for the U.S. to pursue a better quality of life offered through academic opportunities and work.”
What do you feel is missing in America’s understanding of African culture?
“The diversity in our culture and traditions. A lot of people don’t get it and I don’t expect them to - unless you are African and have lived life as an African or have operated with that salient identity, it’s quite hard to fully understand or wrap your head around the psyche, or know how to fully present who we are as individuals to the world.”
What is your main inspiration, in other words what drives you to create?
“My work with Pop’Africana is inspired by a vision I have for Africa and Africans. A vision of an Africa that shelters and respects individualism and for Africans, that the world’s opinion of us is redirected.”
Pop’Africana your magazine, what made you think you could publish a magazine on your own? Did you have publishing experience?
“Sorry to disappoint, I don’t have any publishing experience, but you have to admit, the audacity is what makes it interesting. Besides, publishing is changing, there’s room for experimentalism. Independent publishing, from blogs to e-zines, has given a lot of individuals a voice to discuss issues or express themselves. I simply seized advantage of the zeitgeist. To answer your question about why I thought I could publish Pop’Africana on my own, the need to document the African experience and redirect the opinion of the African superseded the need to have everything in place first. I do not claim to be the most professional anything but what I did was that I take a shot at what I truly believed and what I truly believed was lacking for a global African community. My hope is that people will see this before any of my shortcoming.”
What is your favorite thing about New York?
“Access. None of this would be possible if I didn’t live in New York City. So to be in a place that has sheltered and facilitated my ideas as a creative and connected me to likeminded people is why I’m grateful to New York.”
What intrigues you about Europe?
“I’ve actually never been to Europe. I think I would like to wait until I visit before I talk about my intrigue. I have experienced Europe vicariously through books and films, but there has to be more to it than just scenes from films.”
If you no longer publish your magazine, what would you consider doing and why?
“I would still want to be heavily involved in the arts. Whether it’s working for another publication or independently as an art/creative director, curating fashion presentations or striking out independently as a fashion portrait photographer, my foot will always be in the arts.”
Are you political and if so, what gets you the most passionate to discuss, and if not politically, why not?
“I wouldn’t consider myself political, but I have an opinion.”
Women in the world, who is most impressive, for any reason?
“I don’t see things as who is the most or best at anything. I am impressed by a lot of amazing women, including my grandmother, Brenda Fassie, Nina Simone, Grace Jones, Anna Wintour, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I draw inspiration from these and many other very gifted, strong women.”
If you could change anything, what would it be?
“There are just too many things that warrant change, both at a personal and worldly level. Do I answer it selfishly or in a sophisticated, humanitarian sense? I’m torn, so I’ll simply pass.”