'african tales' is the new diy zine from searingly cool london collective born n bread

We talk to the team about growing up in Africa and why black culture isn’t a trend.

by Tish Weinstock
Jul 22 2016, 2:52pm

Bored of the changing face of Peckham? Tired of seeing another Cereal killer café crop up just outside your front door? Then stop what you're doing immediately and pick up a copy of BORN N BREAD, because it was precisely this sense of disillusion that led to the zine's creation two years ago by five friends: Olivia Jackson, Adelaide Lawson, Chika Wilson, Stephanie Sesay, and Abigail Jackson. BORN N BREAD has since expanded into a collective, a fortnightly radio show on NTS, a series of club nights called After Dark, and ultimately a way of being — one that doesn't conform to the status quo. In fact, one that actually challenges it. For the collective's latest issue, the girls have moved beyond south London, exploring, instead, their cultural roots back to Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Ghana. Indeed African Tales examines the many facets of the black experience. It's their most considered issue yet.

How would you describe your overall aesthetic?
I would say our overall aesthetic is DIY and just keeping it simple. We love collage scrapbooks, where you put all your ideas on the page and let the artwork speak for itself. When we [make a] zine, we meet up and create together as friends joking around and chilling. I guess it's the same with our NTS show, where we are basically having a chat and listening to music on air.

What can we expect to see in the new issue?
You can expect to see us expressing or culture via our house girl glam fashion story in which we transform into glamorous house girls — slang used to describe females doing house work. We have an agony aunt page written by Aunty Shade which shines a humorous light on the advice or words of wisdom you get from that aunty or family friend who knows all the answers to everything. We have interviews from artist Kione Grandison, and afrobeats artist Mista Silva, as well as DJ Kenny Allstar.

Is there an underlying theme?
The theme is very much our culture. It's stories of how we've grown up and the commonalities, trials, and tribulations we've all faced growing up African. When we came around to making it, all we could think of is how similar our lives were, yet our cultures differ. It's also a commonality with our readers, too — that they can go, "ahh yes, I remember that" or, "I remember my friend telling me this" and that feeling of, "I'm not the only one!" I guess also platforms like Twitter and Instagram where people make memes and share tweets of their experiences make you feel like, "yes that happened to me too."

What are you proudest of?
The fact that we created something tangible in an era of online content.

What does your zine stand for?
Our zine stands for self-expression. Our zine helped to give us a voice when we didn't see ourselves in media.

How does it differ from past zines?
Our first zine discusses our nostalgic memories of growing up in London in the 00's as black females; our second issue documents our month in New York. This new zine, African Tales, was created as a form to express and appreciate our individual cultures — Sierra Leonean, Nigerian and Ghanian. We often discuss our backgrounds and being from different parts of Africa we all have experienced a similar yet different Black British experience.

What's the hardest thing about making a zine?
The hardest thing is taking it to print; we all have jobs and spending time and money to create the zine is the hardest part. But we love making it together so it's a sacrifice we make to create something ourselves.

How do you find contributors?
Most of our contributors are our friends but some of our contributors and interviewees we find from social media and we reach out to them via their DMs.

Appropriation and the Black Lives Matter movement have become part of the cultural conversation in a way they haven't before, why do you think this is?
Growing up black in Europe and America, there are experiences you share —  like haircare. But it is not homogeneous; coming from London, we can share and discuss our experiences. Seeing our culture being used as a form of costume without any respect or knowledge or acting like its brand new — bantu knots for example — after being ridiculed for it can make you feel like this "trend" after being on your skin is non relevant or disgusting but on other skin is fresh new and cool. That feeds into Black Lives Matter, as your black skin can be fetishized and turned into a costume, but then not respected and not considered worthy of human dignity.

What positive changes would you like to see moving forward?
Young people being heard in general — more opportunities for younger people to find funding to create their own publications.

What's the bravest thing you can do as young people?
Believe that change can happen.

What's next?
We want to have more nights creating a space for enjoyment in these difficult times. We will be having an all day, free event at Bold Tendencies space on July 30; from 12pm-11pm we'll be live streaming our show then ending with a party. We also have a Nollywood film night on August 6; we'll be screening the hilarious Nollywood film Osofia in London at Deptford Cinema.

The new issue of Born N Bread is available via Rye Wax and Bigcartel, and soon will be available in the ICA bookshop.


Text Tish Weinstock

Black Lives Matter
Cultural Appropriation
african tales
born n bread